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.

Candlelight and contentment…

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The winter days are almost as cold as the nights, and last night brought more snow than we’ve seen in two years, and while I like to hide away in the warmest nooks of our house, I do emerge. I must. My cats like to lie on the heat registers and sleep, but I can’t quite pull that off. I thought I needed a bit of April in the middle of January, so I brought home the prettiest bunch of flowers and surrounded them with my favorite votives.

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I’ve kept out the candles from our last dinner party and added a warm, cozy faux fur table runner. The faux fur is supremely soft, and I think it gives the table a wintery, cozy look.

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Candlelight visually warms me. I miss the glow of the lights on all my Christmas trees, but by the first week of January I’m ready for my home to take on its winter look. I bring out the warmest blankets, and my seasonal pillows usually match the hues of winter themselves; ivory, white, fawn and other soft browns. I open the windows to let in light during the day, but as soon as twilight steps in, the curtains are closed and I turn to my candles to add happiness to my day.

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Everyone has colors that make them happy and mine are greens and blues, and maybe I’ll get to the point where I decorate in those super summery hues. Until then, I find flowers that scream happiness to me. Okay, maybe that’s not the best word choice. Should I say the subtly whisper to me? I’m lucky enough to have a store with a large floral area, and the first thing I do is buy an iced tea, and then I wander through the flowers. These pinks and yellows are summery, and I’ll take it.

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I know I just told you about my stark winter home, but I need a pinch of summer to keep me going. My imagination takes me fairly far, even to the point where I can imagine the steady sounds of traffic at my mom’s house to be the sound of ocean surf, gently lapping at the shoreline. But in January, I’ll take my dose of happiness in reality, please. And so can you. How? When you barely have enough money after a delirious dose of holiday spending? When January has you choosing between beans and rice for dinner, again, or a bowl of cereal (takes me back to college…cheap and barely any dishes to wash)?

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I’ll tell you. Right when I enter Target they have a little area with deals for a dollar or so, and I find the best home decor there! Seasonal and inexpensive. And then I scour the clearance at Kohl’s, Home Goods, and TJ Maxx. You have stores like these by you, I imagine. Look for clearance items or do what my daughters do. Go to thrift stores. My eldest picked up a very expensive candle for $1.00, and it had been burnt only once! Happiness for a song!

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Try to enjoy winter wherever you are. Turn on your kind of music, keep the lights low and the candles bright. I’m hanging on to my sweet tea and trying to enjoy this very cold season. My friend with the heater inside her coat would side with my other friend who moved to super sunny California, but I’m here in Cincinnati (actually Kentucky as I write this), to stay. When I walk through my home at night, when the house is quiet, I feel peaceful. Content. And that makes me happy.

 

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Until next time…