Some Christmas seasons are busy and bright, a madcap dash through parties and travel and holiday feasts.
Other Christmases are quieter, maybe a bit lonelier, more reflective. I think that for most of us, the 2016 holiday feels less like a celebration and more like a brief refuge from this helluva year.
My Decembers have usually been spent in a rush of paper writing and paper grading, partying when I can and trying to cram in as much doing as possible. For me, this season has been different. It’s held a lot of journaling, a lot of reading, late nights up listening to Ella Fitzgerald sing “All Through the Night” while I sit by the Christmas tree. It’s been about sitting with my thoughts and feelings instead of running from them.
There’s been a savoring in the slowness. Yes, my Christmas calendar shrinks or expands with the year, but I’ve noticed that every year I come back to the same handful of small, personal traditions. They’re portable and inexpensive, yet they ground me.
1. Watch It’s a Wonderful Life
Because “George Bailey, I’ll love you ’til the day I die.” I never get tired of this film.
2. Listen to Tim Curry read A Christmas Carol.
Phenomenal actor. Lovely story. I like to fall asleep listening to this. Almost as good: A Muppet Christmas Carol.
Make my mom’s cider.
Um, I mean wassail. This cider is Christmas in a cup. Or, rather, two dozen cups, because I can’t stop drinking it ’til it’s gone.
4. Read Flavia and the Christmas Legacy
Look at the flying quilt, guys. If all my dreams could be riding through the night sky on a FLYING QUILT, then I’d be a happy girl. This is a quiet, odd Christmas book with a looonnnnggg poem at the end, so yeah–no surprise it was my favorite Christmas as a kid.
Sit by the tree with a good book and a hot beverage.
Accomplished, AND with a dog sleeping on my legs. So, bonus points?
6. Eat peppermint bark.
Attend a Christmas concert.
Two, actually. The Lexington Chamber Chorale and the Kentucky Bach Choir. Both were great, but y’all, the Bach performance was exquisite. I went alone and it was richly restorative to be in a crowd of people but not have to talk to anyone and just enjoy the music.
What are your traditions, the ones that remain despite the flux of glittery trappings from year to year?