“You are always writing,” my friend Morgan said to me, “even if you are not literally writing.” These were words I needed to hear when I was struggling to put pen to paper. Or rather, fingers to the computer keys. I hold those words dear and found myself saying the same thing to another friend of mine yesterday as we walked with our babies through one of Seattle’s prettiest neighborhoods, admiring the houses but mostly the frost that gave these neighborhood gardens a special sparkle. She spies a witch hazel beckoning its spidery blooms: “Isn’t it a little early for a witch hazel?” Dakota pondered. It’s not. But we both were surprised to find ourselves deep in December and winter and planning for spring, waiting for our heirloom seed catalogs to arrive in the mail. You can order online but it gives me something to look forward to besides bills bills bills. Besides, doesn’t curling up on the couch with a catalog sound cozy?
Although we may not literally be gardening right now, especially with the temperatures we’ve seen these past couple of days, we CAN still garden in other ways: we can evaluate our garden’s bones, make plant and seed wish lists, find friends to share seeds with (thanks, Dakota), gain inspiration from garden books (I just picked up 3 at the library), and continue forcing those bulbs indoors (amaryllis, paperwhites, hyacinths). Call it low-impact gardening.
At least this is how I am gardening these days. Which means I can say that I gardened today, the last day of 2010 and I plan on gardening more in 2011. Tomorrow in fact.
Baby asleep on my lap. Tree is lit. Paperwhites blooming. Panettone Bread Pudding in the oven. Gifts to be given and received.
A family who eats together stays together. Who first said that? I like it. But I think I would like it to apply to a broader definition of family – that is friends. Or “families by choice” some say. I feel blessed to have both types of families in my life, and the other night we had our dear family-by-choice-friends Amanda and Joe and their sons Lincoln and Ozzie over for what will now be a new holiday tradition for us both: sushi making and eating before we part ways to our respective other “families” for the official holiday weekend.
Tradition. Tis the season for it. And this year I find myself asking pretty much everyone with exception to those I do not know by name, “What are your holiday traditions?” I grew up with many traditions, many of which I hope to continue with Milo – like gathering with loved ones for Christmas Eve Chili Dinner. My mother’s mother started this I think and my mother and her sisters also choose to continue the thread.
It seems like the holidays are the only time of year where “no change” is set apart as sacred. My mom and I were reminiscing the other day about the year that she and my aunt gave us what we kids wanted on Christmas Eve – enchiladas. Big mistake. Not that the enchiladas weren’t delish but it left us still hungry. This deviation taught us youngins’ something about tradition. That is, it isn’t necessarily about the food but about a deeper nourishment that takes place by engaging in an event that has become historical and habitual.
Tradition feeds our spirits.
I love to hear how things become tradition. They don’t always develop intentionally (often traditions “happen” to us) but it seems that it has something to do with the experience of delight or better yet – joy. Thus our desire to re-create and live it anew.
A family who eats together stays together. We create traditions, sure. But traditions create us.
Milo, you will have chili this year and for years to come I imagine. Sushi too I think with one or more of our families. But I look forward to be surprised at what develops between this here family of three. Your very presence may usher us into a new world of tradition entirely. Let the magic begin.
Ornaments for two bucks,
A new stocking to fill (only helping St. Nick) and traditions to create that knit us together as a family.
Freedom is not always freeing if you ask me. Too many choices can overwhelm. Again, for me. So, this holiday season I decided to narrow my scope and count on my neighborhood (Greenwood in the house!) to help me with my holiday shopping. Not only did I get to know some cheerful, creative and kind shop owners, the best part was that I was done in a day’s time. A DAY. Which freed me up to sing Christmas carols to Milo around the Christmas tree, drink my own eggnog lattes (so much cheaper and enjoyable in one of your own ceramic mugs) and channel my inner crafter.
These cards a 5 year old could make. Which is why they turned out to be a success in my book. Just my skill level. I am a wanna be crafter. I think about crafts or things homemade more than I create them myself. This is do in large part to having little to no threshold when it comes to tolerating frustration, which speaks to my inner toddler. Yet I like to think if I surround myself with creative people that some of their glitter will rub off on little ol’ me.
Sure. We “can make that!” we declare as we pick up that stylishly felted floral broach adorned with just enough vintage buttons that make you bust open your pocketbook or trot down to the local craft store to gather the supplies. But the difference between me and them is that they really can and I can’t. I just like to think so. Which is why I prefer to think about making that hand knit stocking or stitching that pretty embroidery pattern rather than try. Sustains the comforting illusion that I can make anything (which is not true of course but it feels good to think so).
Let me get back to shopping. Shopping local, that is. We live in an age and culture that buys (sigh) their values I realize so if you want more time with your families or friends, time to bake cookies, do laundry or to channel your inner crafter I recommend just walking out your front door. Makes for a more meaningful gift giving experience. Not to mention, you get to interact with another human being who lives and breathes as you do and is trying jut as you do to sustain and support themselves. It’s more work than filling up your electronic shopping cart and clicking “pay now” in the upper right hand corner of your computer screen but worth the investment.
Here were my stops:
Sasquatch Studios – LOVE! Local art, homewares, jewelry, delicious children’s clothes, and last Thursday you guys could have scored a free beer from Park Pub and 15% off the merch.
Emma Jeans Antiques – I spent at least half an hour learning about the early jazz scene in Seattle at EJ’s at no extra charge. And talk about treasures…
Top Ten Toys - Fun for the whole family. I wanted to buy Milo (I mean have Santa get Milo) all of those marionettes. They aren’t that creepy.
Wouldn’t it be swell if I could make all of my Christmas gifts? Sure. I value the homemade but there is something to be said for being honest about one’s limitations. As well as those falsely perceived ones.
New Year’s Resolution: Try more. Think less.