Delightfully December…

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We’ve made it. Arrived. December sits at our feet and what do we do with it? Rush around, picking out the perfect tree, lit with fifteen strands of lights at least, baking perfectly homemade cookies, while attending holiday events looking incredibly composed even though we feel slightly crazed, desperate to create the perfect holiday (as if that exists), with Christmas cards written and sent before December 25th.  I forgot the gifts! Shop for the perfect gift for everyone on our overly long lists, including the mailman, as long as the monetary value is less than $20 per regulation. But not me. Not this year. I’m embracing a form of simplicity. I decorated with eight Christmas trees because that is my thing, but I let other tasks slide. Store-bought cookies taste great. That’s why I buy them.

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The point is to do the things you most enjoy. Christmas brings out the tree fanatic within me, but my neighbor rocks an outdoor colored light show each evening, and my friend bakes long into the nights, sharing her assortment of cookies with us every year. What do you like to do around the holidays? What makes you happy? Focus on that. Bring your brand of beauty to December, and the other stuff is just stuff.

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Christmas is not a competitive sport. No one wins an award for doing it all, even if we did it all well. Which isn’t humanly possible. Here’s a secret to my eight trees: I don’t adorn every one with ornaments even though one year my mother decided to bring a U-Haul filled with Christmas to me, as a surprise. I have enough ornaments (massive understatement); I just don’t feel the need to place them on every tree. Though the first year after the U-Haul I did re-create a Santa tree, and all my kids said that year was how utterly creepy the Santa heads with full beards and no bodies were. And I placed the Santa-head tree in the front room so everyone had a month of laughter each time they strode through the door. Not quite the look I was going for, but, I laughed too.

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In dark December, I crave light, and my trees bring that to me. I have different lights on each tree and the glow makes my soul warm even in this terribly chilly month. Candles, fires, lanterns and lights bedazzle my eyes and I don’t feel the dark descending upon the world. I love the soul who places a lit Santa next to our winding, heavily treed road, and this year Mrs Claus joined him. I smile every night and wonder how many extension cords they needed to plug in the Clauses in the middle of their woods.

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Embrace December, regardless of your beliefs. Be willing to change traditions. I don’t know how this started, but after going to church on Christmas Eve, my family loves to go to China Town Buffet. So we do. I only have to produce one dinner then, as expected on Christmas Day. But if you don’t do Christmas, go to the movies (though I think that is becoming very popular), or stay all day in your P.J.’s doing what you love. Spend these dark nights with those who light up your world.

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And even better than that; spend some time with others who struggle with bills, loneliness, bad health, and face a bleak winter. Give. Give away your manicure. One December, I really wanted to take a romantic horse ride through the city, but decided to hand the cash to a homeless man. I’m so warm thinking of his smile. I feel it years later. Find the beauty in this month. She might be hiding a bit, but search for her.

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I’m back on the hunt for beauty and happiness, and it feels so good. Spread the warmth. Light up your soul. My goal this month is to set aside the time to read a good novel. Iced tea and a book, even if December brings more cold and cloudy days.  I’ll sit by my Christmas forest and smile in sheer contentment. I’ll be back in a few days. We have so much to look forward to…together.

Sunflowers in winter…

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Happiness. We all want it. Sometimes we go to great lengths to attain it, and somedays we pursue our happiness at the expense of someone else’s. Their happiness. The flowers I really wanted to bring home this week were beautiful tulips, those harbingers of spring, but my husband really wanted the bouquet with a sunflower in the middle of it. I calmly explained sunflowers, to me, belong to late summer and fall, but he steadfastly remained fixed upon the sunflower. I bought the happy little sunflower, and it’s nice. Look…

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I had my hot cinnamon tea with his sunflowers, and a side of sugar. So what is it that makes you happy? Truly warm to the tips of your toes and singing in the shower kind of happy? For me, right now, I just noticed the slant of the sun is higher. We’re almost six weeks past from the winter solstice, and at that point the temps begin to rise a bit and the sun swings her way higher and longer each day.

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While I sipped my tea and thought about what book to delve into next, my mind drifted to you. Are you as affected by the weather as I am? Do you suffer with cabin fever too? We can have days where we stay inside and hibernate, but going out is a great remedy for winter doldrums. That and finding little celebrations in life. Valentine’s Day? Oh yes, please! Ever since Andy made me a huge homemade Valentine back in fifth grade, I’ve loved Valentine’s Day.

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Now I send Valentines to all of my family, and not just the one I love romantically. Spread the love. As soon as that holiday passes, I’m onto St. Patrick’s Day. Seriously. Give me Mardi Gras, Easter, Boxing Day and I’m on it. Life’s little celebrations bring happiness.

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I just came across an article about people in India who use their cell phones to wish all their friends and family, “Good Morning!” along with an image or a motto for the day. They do this every morning, wanting others to know they are thought of! How cool is that? I say that knowing full well my friends are sweet enough to wait until I am fully awake and properly espresso-ed before wishing me a “Good Afternoon”. I think all those people in India sending greetings out is a fabulous way to celebrate the day.

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Find something to celebrate this week. An event. A day to enjoy. A small bouquet of flowers you give yourself. Even if it has an out of season flower right smack in the middle of it. Eat a cupcake this week. Watch good t.v., something inspiring. You can have little celebrations throughout this week. And no, it hasn’t escaped me that it’s Monday. Save some time for you. Take a bath, a run, read, sing, laugh, even on a Monday. Especially on a Monday!

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Wherever you are, feel happy.

Until next time…