To be honest, December was an up and down month for me this year. The Christmas season is always my favorite time of the year, but this year I struggled on some days to find the joy of the season. We're just a few months into our new life here in North Carolina, and so many things are different this year as compared to years past. I have so many blessings, but some days they were hidden from me by my own sadness of missing things "the way they were". On the whole, I think these sad moments were just a part of managing and coping with all the changes we've seen this year, and I know that as we continue to move forward, these moments will be fewer.
With that as background, here are some of the things I learned this month:
1. There are no cut-your-own Christmas tree farms near my home, at least none that offer Frasier fir trees, my favorite kind. So our annual tree-trimming tradition was modified, and we purchased our tree on Thanksgiving Friday from the local Farmer's Market. The tree was beautiful, and the world didn't end from changing our tradition.
2. I'd been told this, but now I know for sure that the weather in NC is considerably warmer than in Maryland in the winter. We have enjoyed highs in the 50's (or higher) quite a bit this month, which has allowed me to really enjoy our back porch this season. I love having this space, and I had a lot of fun decorating it for Christmas. I already have ideas for what I'll do with it next year.
3. I found a few yummy new recipes this year for my Christmas candy-making - a really good Coconut Macroon recipe, and a fun and easy way to make Minty Oreo Cookie Pops. For the last few years, I've gone all-out and done lots of chocolate candy, doing my own tempering and dipping, plus lots of other recipes too, but I have always ended up with way too much candy. This year I made fewer recipes, but we all had plenty no one really missed anything.
4. We watched the movie "Elf" with Will Ferrell for the first time this year (my husband gave it to me as a gift for Christmas), and now I know where all these cute sayings and quotes all over Facebook are coming from! I enjoyed it, and am happy to have it in my collection. My favorite Christmas movie of all time is still National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, but Elf is a good one to add to the mix.
5. Browsing Pinterest one day, I came across some fantastic photos of decorated Christmas cookies. This led me to browse a number of blogs of cookie artists, which opened up a whole new world of culinary arts mixed with visual arts. Blogs like: The Sweet Adventures of SugarBelle, and Cookies with Character. I had no idea that these kinds of cookie artists are out there, and now I'm a regular follower of a few of the blogs I've found. All I can say is: Wow!!!!
6. On a particularly down day, I learned for the first time what it means to feel sad at Christmas time. I realized how fortunate I've been all my life - I honestly have never, ever, felt sadness at Christmas time --- I've always had my friends and family around me, and I've always had enough to make a warm and cozy holiday season for my family. This year, though, I felt a wave of sadness that was tough to handle, missing my kids and missing my friends from Maryland, and not feeling like I fit in here in North Carolina. Soon enough the feelings ran their course and I found the warmth of the season again... but not without a pinch of salt mixed in with the sweet.
7. To accommodate our kids' travel schedules, this year we delayed our Christmas celebration by one day. The idea was that we could still have our "Christmas morning" tradition together, even if it wasn't really on the morning of Dec 25th. In doing this, I learned a little bit about how to relax - unclench - chill out - and not take things so very seriously. But I also learned that I didn't like changing the schedule that way. Honestly, it was difficult for me on the morning of Dec 25th to watch all the Facebook and blog posts about my friends and family enjoying their Christmas day, while I was pretending it wasn't yet Christmas Day. It felt fake and contrived, and at some point, pretty ridiculous to pretend that Christmas Day was really Christmas Eve. (Am I or am I not 45 years old, for goodness sake????) I'm pretty sure we won't do it again this way. If we need to adjust our gift opening celebration, we will, but I think I'll just accept that we're changing the schedule, and allow it to be so. I'm grateful to my family for humoring me this year --- I'm pretty sure that I was the one who was most worried about how to preserve our special traditions, not them. Before it happened, it felt really important to me to keep things "the way they were." But hey, look at that --- things changed, and things were still really good, and the world didn't end from changing our tradition. :-)
Looking back at the month of December, it was high and low, joyous and bittersweet, but in the end, overall, I re-learned that as all things are, it was truly beautiful
Chatting At The Sky