Merry, Merry…

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 This season, this year, is a quiet time for me.

Work is at a slower pace, with many folks away for Christmas.

My children are grown, so the frenzy to have all decorations in place, all traditions in play and “enough” under the tree is no longer a part of Christmas.

There was a time when we added, each year, to our collection of mismatched, hand-made ornaments, balanced with an ever growing collection of tiny baskets, tied onto the branches with red ribbons. Each basket held a small gift, or a bit of Christmas candy. Santa Claus figurines in ever-growing numbers were displayed in front of the books on their shelves. The nativity set was given a place of honor on the old army trunk, which was draped with the Christmas-colored granny-square afghan. A trio of musical angels sat on the kitchen counter; rings of brass bells strung on bright yarn were hung from each door knob; Christmas cards were hung for display.

There was a time when I felt it was absolutely necessary to have a big pot of chicken and stars soup simmering on the stove on the evening we decorated the Christmas tree. The “stars” were cut with a small cookie cutter from pasta dough. A glazed ham had to be prepared on Christmas Eve, just as my mother always had, with left-overs put out in case Santa Claus wanted a sandwich to sustain him on his long night, and ham slices to accompany sweet bread on Christmas morning. The bread was a complicated, scalded milk, butter and sugar recipe with multiple risings. I shaped one half of the dough into a Christmas tree shape. The other half, I rolled out and cut out with my doughnut cutter…and one star. I shingled the base with overlapping rings of dough, then filled each center with preserves. Apple, blackberry and cherry, for the colors they presented. The little circles – doughnut holes – were each dipped in beaten egg white, then course sugar, and arranged on the tree. The star was placed on top. The entire thing was given an egg wash, covered and place in the refrigerator overnight, taken out to rise and bake on Christmas morning.

Christmas Eve, in addition to all the food preparation, was putting finishing touches on home-made presents and last minute gift wrapping.

I loved it all, every crazy-making moment of it, and sometimes I madly miss those days.

Often, though, I find I relish the calmer, more peaceful holidays that punctuate my life today.

I brought gifts down to one daughter and grandson when I went away two weeks ago.

I was late with making decisions, shopping, wrapping, packaging and sending for my other daughter’s growing family…at this point, no matter what, their gifts will arrive late and I am amazingly calm about that, too.

Thinking I still had a stack left over from last year, I didn’t get Christmas cards purchased this year, so that’s another chore that has been set aside. I think I’ll write January letters instead.

I made cookies for a holiday fund-raiser, and doughnuts to bring to work. I’ll make something to contribute to tomorrow’s Christmas dinner, and that’s it for my holiday baking.

This year, I won’t travel for Christmas, except – in the evening – the four miles to Aunt Katie’s house, to have chicken dinner with her.

I’ll take the dogs out in the snow. Last year, they wore red bows for their Christmas walk, which made me smile all the way down the road.

There is time for reflection, for planning, for setting good intentions.

This is a good Christmas.

Whatever shape your holiday takes this year, I hope yours is good, too.

Merry Christmas!

 

About cindyricksgers

I am an artist. I live on an island in northern Lake Michigan, USA. I have two grown daughters, four strong, smart and handsome grandsons and one beautiful, intelligent and charming granddaughter. I live with two spoiled dogs. I love walking in the woods around my home, reading, writing and playing in my studio.

23 responses »

  1. You’ve so well described the way Christmas often is after the children are gone. To both miss by-gone days and to cherish the quiet of today. Merry Christmas to you on Beaver Island.

  2. Bittersweet. A simple, quiet Christmas (with family or not) is much more preferable than one filled with stress and chaos. I hope you find peace and contentment in 2014. I’m so glad I’ve gotten to know you and wish you the best Christmas ever.

  3. Merry Christmas Cindy…I know what you mean, our daughter has left home a couple of years ago to start a new life with her own children – so it is very quiet here. I miss the hustle and bustle, but it is nice to have the quiet also.

  4. Cindy, it sounds like you have achieved true peace. You have beautiful memories, for sure, but to be able to miss those days, yet still appreciate the way things are now is wonderful. Merry Christmas, my friend. Thank you for another heart-warming post.

    • I hope your Christmas was wonderful, Kate, and that the new year brings you everything you want. You are a treasure! It’s always a treat to hear from you, whether a blog post, your funny and heartfelt missives on facebook, or a message here…thank you!

  5. I’m glad you had a good Christmas Cindy! Ours was also very good. I am tired today after two days in the kitchen and will be restful for the remainder of the year.

  6. I, too, sometimes miss all the activity and activities of when the children were young and growing up. Now Christmas is quieter, and I cherish that. The image of the dogs with their Christmas bows made me smile. It’s so often the little things that bring us joy.

    • I hope you had a lovely, quiet Christmas this year, Joss, with everything new going on in your life. I have a feeling your peace comes from within, no matter where you are or what’s going on. Best wishes for you in the new year, too!

  7. I hope you had a fabulous Christmas, Cindy! I prefer the quieter holiday moments, too. Your elaborate description of the breads and feasts of Christmases past made me so grateful to have a simpler time during the holidays. (I think we even ordered Vietnamese takeout on Christmas Eve– scandalous!) Anyway, all the best to you in 2014!

  8. I don’t think I ever told you: last christmas (2012) you helped me immensely when we emailed back and forth during my first strange holiday waking up to an empty house. The inner peace you’ve expressed in this post was very obvious to last Christmas too, and it calmed me when I needed it most. Thank you for your kindness and friendship! 🙂

    • Thank you for telling me this, Karen…I write for what it does for me, but it’s nice to know that what I write sometimes connects or resounds with someone else as well. I hope your Christmas was outstanding!

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