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Thoughts on the Holidays

Wow! There is no questioning it, winter is here. Last weekend, we experienced our first major snowfall here in the Midwest. For me, Sunday was the perfect day to stay in and bake Christmas cookies. With the snow piling up outside my window, holiday music playing in the background, and my cookie sheets lined up across the counter, I mixed, measured, rolled out dough, and baked all the cookies I would need for family and friends this year. The warm sugary smells in the house were intoxicating, and as always, I couldn’t resist sampling the sweet inventory.

While looking for some ribbon for my cookie gifts, I came across a box which held forgotten family photos, and as I sifted through the memories, I uncovered many from Christmas’ past. My cookies forgotten for the moment, I brought the box upstairs and before I knew it, I was sitting on the floor next to our Christmas tree, surrounded by memories. Many of the snapshots made me smile, and some, while still sweet, forced a lump in my throat thinking about family members no longer with us. I started to line the photos up according to the time they were taken, enjoying the story that I was being told about my family, and how we all have changed and grown over the years.

From my dad playing Santa Claus for his grandchildren- and grand dog – to making gingerbread houses with the girls, seeing the Macy’s Christmas tree every year, ice skating at Millennium Park and enjoying a pizza dinner afterwards, and of course all of us sitting around the dining room table on Christmas night, playing a mean game of Taboo or Balderdash while nibbling on leftover goodies from the cookie tray, Christmas was always a special time.

I have to admit, as I looked back, I felt a little nostalgic. It’s funny how a photo can propel you back in time to moments long forgotten, and yet it somehow feels like it all just happened yesterday. And now, our once full house has been reduced to a busy seventeen year old, who has been flapping her wings in anticipation of her flight to college in the fall, eager to leave our nest. The house is much more quiet.

As I sat in the glow of the tree, with the aroma of my recently baked cookies still warming our home, I was reminded that although our Christmas traditions have shifted and changed with our evolving family, the spirits of those no longer with us along with the beauty, peace, and love of the season can never be lost. As the years pass, I am learning to keep my focus more on enjoying my family, and less on the superficial details of what Christmas should look like. There is something to be said for keeping it simple. I am grateful for my family, and although we can’t all always be together, our bond is strong. Despite the fact that there has been much discord in the world we live in, today, let us all try to love without judgment, and enjoy each other’s company this holiday season.

As I write this, it is early morning and there is a fresh blanket of snow on the ground. I’m enjoying a cup of coffee, the quiet of the house, and the beautiful lights on our Christmas tree where several ornaments made by my grandmother and me have been carefully hung. Our oldest daughter is home from college, my weary husband is home from his business travels, and they are all (including our pup) still tucked in their beds, with what I hope are visions of sugar plums dancing in their heads.

Merry Christmas! ~May

Time was with most of us, when Christmas Day, encircling all our limited world like a magic ring, left nothing out for us to miss or seek; bound together all our home enjoyments, affections, and hopes; grouped everything and everyone round the Christmas fire, and make the little picture shining in our bright young eyes, complete.” ~ Charles Dickens

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