This morning I am thinking of all you readers in your cozy little homes in woods and cities, suburbs and mountains, small towns and lakesides.
Some of us are busy: rushing to and fro, wrapping gifts, preparing for company. We’re sizzlin’ and crazed trying to cross items off our to-do lists.
Others of us feel less overwhelmed. Perhaps we even wish for more busyness, more loved ones around, more hugs and laughter.
Perhaps we’re comfortable with what is, whatever is appearing.
Perhaps we’re feeling ALL of these feelings at various junctures of the day.
Wherever you are in this holy-day week, I wish you many blessings to fulfill your soul’s purpose on this bright and crazy and dark and wonderful shining planet.
We are feeling relatively quiet and peaceful in our little house in the woods.
On the evening we returned from Georgia Barry cut down a spruce in an overgrown area near our burn pile. He hoisted it up on the deck with my assistance and put it in our heavy green Christmas tree stand. We strung lights in ten minutes flat and–wa-la–our first outdoors Christmas tree! No fuss, no muss, no tinsel, no watering, no falling needles.
We sip coffee in the morning and admire the twinkling lights. In the evening I meditate with the tree in the background: Silent night, holy night. The world may appear to be going to hell in a handbasket, but there’s the message of Christ in a manger, isn’t there? The calm in the midst of the storm. Remember, you struggling human beings, remember what lies in the center of seeming chaos. Remember what exists just beneath the surface of what threatens.
I listen to the silent beating heart and nod. Yes. I will try to remember.
A snowstorm blew through last weekend dumping eight inches of snow upon us. A 50 mph wind blew and shook the house. The Christmas tree on the deck spun around in its stand like a dancing Frosty the Snowman. We tied it it down with ropes to keep it from spiraling up to the heavens.
Then comes the snowplowing. My job involves shoveling, scraping, defrosting and moving cars. Barry plows. It’s a never-ending job throughout the long winter. Snow, plow, snow, plow. Over and over endlessly. (Except last winter. We only plowed four times. Go figure!)
The weather shifts and shifts again. One day there’s bright blue on the bay. The next day roiling black clouds and lake-effect snow.
Oh December, oh darkest time of the year, we remember thee. I love that Solstice offers its hope right in the center of the Holy-days.
Another view of our outside Christmas tree before I begin to vacuum, dust, clean. We’re having two friends over this afternoon for appetizers and drinks. My contribution will be smoked paprika hummus with rice crackers and stuffed mushrooms. They want to be home before dark because they feed the deer late afternoon each day
I would love to hear what you will be doing during this Christmas season.
Again, Merry Christmas to all! Or whatever Holy-days you celebrate. May any Grinch-like parts of our hearts expand three sizes. May we experience the peace of our wholeness. So many blessings… Love, Kathy
Merry Christmas to you and your family! The snow looks lovely though I know it is a chore to keep up with. There is joy and wondering lying beneath all the chaos that swirls around outside of us. The Spirit of the Holiday arrives out of our hearts being present for what is.
Jeff, Merry Christmas to you, too! I love how you described the Spirit of the Holiday. Wishing you a joyous time this Christmas and a blessed 2022. ❤
Merry Christmas to you.
Thank you, dear ladybug! A very Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.
“May any Grinch-like parts of our hearts expand three sizes.” Love your blessing. Beautiful photos. No snow here. In fact the predicted temp for Christmas Day is 64ºF which is not normal. However we’ll still have a good time. Why not?
Good Christmas Eve morning, Ally Bean. Hope all our Grinch-like parts got the holiday blessing, lol! Barry was wondering where you lived, and he was shaking his head to think it will be that warm. Love your attitude!
I love your surroundings, and mine too. Living 100 miles or so south of you in Houghton Lake, we don’t have the snow that you do. In fact, we never get as much as you do, but it’s so beautiful and I love the way it clings to the pines. It’s the time for listening to Christmas music and reliving Christmas seasons gone by. We have deer coming in to feed at night and an abundance of squirrels and birds. May God richly bless you and yours in this wonderful season of hope and joy.
Mary Anne, thank you for your blessing. That is lovely! Maybe I told you before–my husband grew up going to Houghton Lake every year. That’s why we ended up moving to the U.P.–because he loved the north woods so much. Your peaceful Christmas time sounds wonderful. Merry Christmas!
That’s a beautiful tree! I love the idea of an outdoor tree. We will be spending the day at home with just the four of us – a welcome respite from the stress of the last few years. And it will be 80 degrees, so no fire in the fireplace, and no bonfire on the bayou.
Have a wonderful day with your friends! XOXO
Stacy, I hope Pere Christmas (I forget what you call him) can find his way to your house and your beautiful granddaughter without the bonfire. Actually, I suspect he will. Merry Merry Christmas to you and yours! And many blessings as 2022 dawns next week. xoxo
Thank you, Kathy. Merry Christmas to y’all! (We call him Papa Noël. ) XOXO
Papa Noel! Yes, of course, that sounds so endearing and wonderful. ❤ ❤ ❤
How smart you are to put your tree outside your window like that! Would that we could all do such… darn, darn, darn! 😉
Our Christmas is officially cancelled as one brother-in-law is positive (no symptoms) and the other brother-in-law had spent the previous day with him installing a dryer. If my mother feels well, I’ll be having her over on Christmas day (she was not feeling up to par so hopefully it`s not Covid).
Sad as I am not to spend it with my sisters and their families, I think I shall take advantage of this quiet time to relax, read, right, walk…
Merry Christmas to you and yours! xoxo
Oh Dale I am so sorry to hear that your Christmas has been cancelled. No fun at all. I hope everyone who gets covid remains symptom-free or has a very mild illness. It sounds like your attitude is going with the flow, and may you enjoy the unexpected relaxation and peace of the season. Merry quiet Christmas to you and yours as well!
We are rather bummed. More so this year than last because this time we were going for it no matter what…. well, no matter what until there was a positive result, that is! And yes, my attitude has been go with the flow all my life so, this is the same. My mother can come over, at least! I will definitely enjoy the relaxation and peace.
Thank you for the lovely wishes, Kathy!
I hope you are having a relaxing Christmas today with your mom. ❤
Brunch made by my son. I’m preparing the stuffing, putting the bird in the oven shortly and picking up Mom at 5..
Hope your day is lovely!
Merry Christmas, Kathy! I love your outdoor tree — and it’s so pretty decorated with twinkling lights against all that snow. I agree with you: these “dark” days will pass and in the meantime, we should relax into them and learn the lessons they impart. After all, we know the end of the story, don’t we??
Debbie, I am glad you like the outdoor tree–the snow does make it sparkle and shine. And I like your idea about relaxing into the darkness and learning what lessons are there. Merry Christmas to you and yours and little Monkey too!
Happy Christmas to you and yours over there in India, Rehoboth!
Merry Christmas, Kathy and family!
Shirley, how nice to see your holiday greeting! Merry Christmas to you and your whole family too!
I love your blog Kathy! You seem to always speak to my heart when it needs to hear it. God Bless and Merry Christmas!
Kim, I love that you read my blog–so we’re even! I kept thinking of you when we were young ‘uns yesterday. Merry Christmas to you and your family and many blessings for 2022!
Such a pretty little tree! Thanks for sharing your lovely corner of the world. Merry Christmas to you and Barry. ❤️
Oh thank you so much, wsquared! Merry Christmas to you and yours!
I am smiling now. What a relaxing read this is. Here is very very cold, and the electricity price is skyhigh – so I cook on the oven – mostly. The chimney sweeper and his trainee visited ( at my request) and told me that I had to let the air in through the ventils – or else I would feel real bad. And he was right. now I have opened them all and curiously enough, it does not feel colder. And the fireplace gets lots of oxygen and is happy! I am getting my daughter and boyfriend/ partner for guests tomorrow, and we have decorated 15 small knitted christmas trees and walk around them and sing carols – feeling like giants in a tiny wood. And I have enough wood I believe! Happy holidays, dear Kathy!
I hope you are having (or had) a wonderful time with your daughter and her partner and the knitted Christmas trees. And am very glad that you had your vents opened on your chimney and won’t be endangered by fumes! Happy holy-days to you, dear Leelah!
How beautiful! It’s been so long since I’ve seen a snow. Even though I’ll be missing one daughter who can’t travel due to COVID, we have other family coming and plans for several walks, hikes and visiting friends. I have a friend that comes for Christmas Eve and stays the night, so it will be a jolly time. My daughter takes over the kitchen. YAY! My gift was the grocery shopping, hers, the cooking.
I am imagining you having a wonderful Christmas today (minus the daughter who can’t make it) and hope you feel totally pampered as your daughter takes over the cooking. What a precious gift! Merry Christmas, Anna.
I have a little outdoor tree with lights, too. And of course we live in a forest, though the forest service is doing a clearcut for fire prevention behind our property. In the evening, we like to sit by the glow of our indoor tree, with a fire burning and candles flickering, talking about our day and the (loose) plans for the next. Family has already visited as have several good friends and neighbors. Bob and i will spend the holiday alone. I’m asking Santa for snow so we can use the touring skis on trails behind the house. Happy Holidays to you and Barry!
Barb, I imagine your Christmas in Colorado is similar to ours here in the Upper Peninsula. Just got off the phone with my brother and his wife–the ones who visit Breckenridge sometimes–and they are traveling “up north” in the Lower Peninsula and crossing their fingers for snow for skiing and snowmobiling. Hoping Santa grants your wish and you get lots of lovely snow!
These are such beautiful photos. You live in a beautiful area. Happy holidays to you and yours ❤.
Thank you LaDonna. We are very grateful to live here. Happy holy-days to you and your loved ones as well!
I love your outside Christmas tree, especially covered with snow. And I love how peaceful everything is at your little house in the woods. Merry Christmas, Kathy!
We have a coating of snow this morning, but it is due to melt this afternoon and we’re expecting rain for Christmas day tomorrow. Hopefully everyone will test negative this morning when our daughter and her family arrive from North Carolina. My sister and brother-in-law plan to join us tomorrow. More people in our house than we’ve had in ages! (Some of us might be wearing masks and coats if we open the windows for ventilation.) After our take-out Christmas ham dinner our son-in-law is taking over the cooking (he loves to cook!) for the remaining days of the visit. 🙂 Keeping our fingers crossed that all will go to plan! Can’t wait to hug the grandchildren!
Merry Christmas, Barbara! I am glad you like the snow-covered tree. We’ve had some challenges with the lights, though, and Barry spent 1.5 hours this morning trying to get half a strand to start working again. Finally he fixed it. I am imagining you all enjoying a very happy holy-day, and hope everyone tested negative. Oh I hope so. And how lucky you are to have a son-in-law gifting you with cooking!
“Only plowed four times ?” We would consider that a hard winter. Once in a season is more than enough.
Our new normal is Spring like weather in December followed by tornado threats (if not actual ones).
We are due to warm up to 72 degrees on Christmas Day. Imagine that !! Rain Monday night through Wednesday night. We only hope no tornadoes. There has been enough of that kind of Spring like severe weather already.
Tonight I am forcing my family to watch The Polar Express and yes, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. I have to have my Christmas movies, even if the family doesn’t love them like I do. Tough luck for them. Mom rules on this one.
Deb, it’s hard to imagine you hitting 72 degrees today. It’s like Christmas in summertime. I, too, hope that you have no tornados. Glad to hear that Mom rules on some things like watching Christmas movies. I have never watched The Polar Express and probably should one of these years. Merry Christmas to you and your family!
Thank you for inviting you into your home at Christmas, Kathy. It’s always a treat to have a window into other’s traditions. A small group in our house tonight. We are expecting snowy weather here in NW Oregon for the next few days. Cheers and Merry Christmas to you and family!
Merry Christmas to you, Alanna. My daughter did tell me that snow was predicted in Portland the next few days. She and her husband are headed to the coast for a night next week, which makes me hope that we will be able to travel to Oregon sometime in the near future and visit them there. Hope you’ve had a great holiday so far!
Merry Christmas to you both, your home looks like a winter wonderland.
Merry Christmas to you, too, Tilly. So many blessings! ❤
Voila, indeed. Though “wa-la” is also evocative of the French pronunciation. It means, “See that,” and it certainly does us good to see cheer, for a few days at least. Worth remembering, too, that Christmas is also celebrated in the southern hemisphere, where fake snow in the shop windows, Santas in the baking sun and a Christmas barbie on the beach can be a little disconcerting to those who mark the season by real snow. Merry Christmas to you and all of yours.
You bring up a very good point. How different it is in the southern hemisphere. We’ve visited Georgia and Florida and southern California during the holiday season and it has such a different feel. It’s not all snowflakes and cold. Perhaps another reason why Christmas must be something beyond externals. Thanks for commenting and Merry Christmas to you and yours as well.
Your outdoor tree is so beautiful, especially in the snow. I appreciate the calmness of this post. I hope you had a lovely Solstice and Christmas, Kathy. As for what I was doing, I am still learning the lesson of how to pivot. In fact, I am learning how to laugh at the idea of “making plans.” The plans we made were to spend this week with family, visit with friends, and maybe, if we were lucky, see some snow in NE Ohio. But a sick kitty, Bella, needed us here, at home. She’s been part of our family for nearly 15 years and we couldn’t just leave her with a petsitter (a lovely, very kind and very competent petsitter who would have taken good care of her but not the same). Bella needed her people with her and we are her people.. And it seems to have made a difference because she went from dying to running around here like her old self. She will see the vet again on January 3rd, possibly for surgery. We’ll see. I’m not making plans. 😀
Maybe she faked the illness to keep us at home? lol! Whatever the case, it turns out that we were better off staying home. Several of the family members we were going to visit now have or have been in close contact with people who have tested positive for Covid. Thankfully they all have mild symptoms at this point. To be honest, it was a relief to stay home and enjoy the quiet and peace of the holy days.
Life has been teaching me about “here, now.” That’s where the calm is, the silence that somehow speaks volumes. ♥♥♥
Robin, I was delighted to receive your comment here the day after Christmas because I was thinking of you while falling asleep on Christmas night. It does feel like making plans can only be done very lightly these days. It sounds like staying home with Bella was the right and perhaps prudent thing to do considering the covid wave. That message “here, now” without or added plans sounds like a Christmas message for both of us. xoxo
It’s five days past Christmas and I’m reading (reveling) in your post. Because, really, wouldn’t it be nice if we all acted like it was Christmas, every day? Not the gifts, but that sense of calm within the storm. Of Peace. And Love. Our Christmas was sweet with family and grandkids and cold icy rain that made traveling treacherous, even though we just had a 10-minute drive to our daughter’s home. Once there, we sat in front of the tree and wood stove and laughed and ate and mingled and rejoiced. Rejoicing – feels funny to do that in the middle (end? wishful thinking?) of a pandemic, but let’s rejoice in family, friendship, blogs and lovely writing like yours, Kathy. ❤
Oh hello you Christmas reveler! I am SO not surprised that you left this comment whilst I was writing another kinda crazy blog post utilizing your beloved Natalie Goldberg-inspired methodology. My heart was zinging and zanging not sure which direction the typing fingers would reveal but the creative juices were sizzling hotter than a raw steak on a grill! But back to your Christmas reality which sounds so sweet. So glad the icy cold rain didn’t put a damper on your family celebration. I am rejoicing along with you! ❤
I am SO not surprised either! Natalie Goldberg gives us the steps of writing down the bones- one bone at a time. Besides, I love your Zings and your Zangs
Merry Christmas wishes (VERY belatedly) to you and Barry, dear Kathy. It looks like you had a beautiful, peaceful Christmas season – despite all the snowing and ploughing and storming. Your home looks sooo cosy, and I love your tree! Much love!
Merry very belated Christmas to you, too, Reggie! I often think of you at Christmastime. Hope you had a nice holy-day season. ❤
I love the image you paint with words of your outside Christmas tree spiraling up to the heavens.
Thanks, Lunar. It seems a long time since that beautiful Christmas tree lit up our deck.