There is no ideal Christmas; only the one Christmas you decide to make as a reflection of your values, desires, affections, traditions. ~ Bill McKibben, American author and environmentalist
The winter light is bright in the garden, starkly shadowing the browns and grays of winter, yet still beautiful to me. The winter solstice has passed and now each day is a little longer, a little brighter.
The rooms were very still while the pages were softly turned and the winter sunshine crept in to touch the bright heads and serious faces with a Christmas greeting. ~ Louisa May Alcott
It is that time of year that nature is brought into the house in the form of greens and berries and fruit. I have been taking my time this year to “deck the halls”, making slow but steady progress in decorating the house, baking cookies and bread, writing Christmas notes by the fire, and just . . . remembering.
The trees are the first order of decorating business, no matter that it now takes me a week instead of 2 days to light them and hang the ornaments. Favorite Christmas music plays on the stereo while I place each ornament laden with nostalgia on the trees. I remember where and when I found each treasure – many came from our travels, pressed paper ornaments from New Mexico and a rustic nativity set handmade in Peru. Some were gifts from friends and family, who knew I loved angels as well as Angel.
Peruvian nativity set
The woodland tree in the family room is warm and earthy in tones of copper and brown, inspired by the view of our woods from the window. It is full of feathered birds, woodland creatures, rustic Santas and sparkling glass ornaments. (Click any photo in the mosaic to see a larger image)
Bird and feathers
The tree in the hallway is altogether different, hung with musical instruments, angels and celestial bodies in white, silver and gold. This is the tree that can be seen from the front entrance, glowing in the dark of night.
Musical Christmas tree
Angels and star
Guitar and bird
Tree seen from outside the window
I went the extra mile this year, creating wreaths and arrangements of greens to “deck the halls” with color and fragrance.
My favorite book of carols sits on the piano, and I play through a few each day. Music has been an integral part of Christmas for my whole life and I don’t think that will ever change.
It’s about making your own raft of time. Your own doorway into Christmas. . . Ritual isn’t about multitasking. Ritual is time cut out of time. Done right it has profound psychological effects.” ~Jeanette Winterson, Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days
It is in the quiet moments of preparing for Christmas that I recall memories of family, of past holidays. As I baked cookies from my mother’s cookbook of favorite family recipes, I thought often of her. She passed away this May and I haven’t fully processed that loss, but it was comforting to bake familiar treats from her book. In addition to her many other talents, she was a marvelous baker – she made bread every weekend when my brothers and I were growing up, and was a master of pies, cookies, and cakes.
One of the joys this year was finding a new home for my mother’s beloved cat after she passed. Through the help of friends, sweet Olaf had a soft landing with a wonderful family who loves him and he even has a new cat brother Toby. Olaf seems content this Christmas with his family and I am so happy for him. (Photo courtesy of Lisa Nogrady)
It’s Christmas Eve now, time to play carols, read stories, wrap presents, maybe watch a favorite holiday movie. Wherever you are and whatever holiday you celebrate, I wish you a beautiful season full of light, warmth and love. Stay safe, my friends.
I will honor Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year. ~ Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol
All text and photos ©2021 Lynn Emberg Purse, All Rights Reserved, except where noted.