Anne Elizabeth’s favorite holiday traditions
ORNAMENTS AND REMEMBRANCES
Opening holiday storage boxes is an emotional experience. We carefully unwrap childhood trinkets, handmade ornaments, craft projects, old pictures, weathered stockings, and scented candles. Even as the wood in the fireplace snaps and crackles, emitting small plumes of smoke, we carefully fill the surfaces of the living room, every table, chair, and couch with our mementoes. Putting together an old recycled Christmas tree and placing the cool-lights around, we place the ornaments together.
For my husband and me, this has become a time of heartbreaking sorrows and soul-touching moments, remembering those who have passed or those who have become physically or mentally more fragile. We honor these precious souls by decorating ornaments with their names, quotes, or pictures to honor each spirit with a unique creation and then we place it on the tree. It does not erase the pain, but it helps us celebrate treasured souls and share experiences about what these individuals have meant to us.
As we dim the lights and plug in the tree, we are grateful for each opportunity to love. Every day is a gift, whether it is for a brief moment or a lifetime, it adds to life's journey. From our home to yours: May your holiday season be blessed with health, happiness, and delight, and may peace and joy flourish.
Do you have handmade ornaments? Do you treasure them? And, how do you remember those who have passed?
During the holidays, music fills the house. Some of our favorite singers are Eartha Kitt and Nat King Cole. The holiday classics make us nostalgic, and I love those times when my husband pulls me into his arms and dances with me. Oh, to dwell in those romantic moments, as we cuddle close and move slowly to the rhythm. This harmonious connection chases away every thought, except for one--being together. As my husband nuzzles my neck, I smile musing on the fact that this is my all-time favorite part of the holidays. Being together. Connection and music, whether it comes from the stereo or from our hearts, this time is the best gift of all.
Is there something special you do with your mate, a friend, or family member?
On Christmas Eve, it's a tradition in our home to make hot cider. I'll pull out the chipped crockpot with the broken handle. After rinsing the detachable bowl and top, I'll add fresh cider, granny smith apple slices (leaving the skin on), the peel of half of a lemon and the entire peel of a whole orange. Then I'll add three cinnamon sticks, a dash of allspice, and anise, and as soon as it heats to a boil I'll add a tablespoon of maple syrup. After stirring in the syrup for a full minute, I turn the heat down to warm and prepare to serve it about twenty minutes later. The scent of mulled-goodness fills the room as I make popcorn with real butter and a dash of pink salt. It might not be the most gourmet approach, but for us, the taste sensations are delicious. Have a blessed holiday season!
Are there any special recipes that you make during the holiday season?
RAISE YOUR VOICE
Holiday songs remind me of my childhood. Attending church with my parents and brother, and listening to the exuberance with which the congregation sang inspired intense warmth and comfort. Voices lifted in song varied from out-of-key to perfectly pitched tones, and it was wondrous! Each individual contributed to the joy as we created these beautiful sounds together.
After services, most of the congregation was full of cheer and would hurry outside for hot cocoa or tea. With cups in hand, we walked as a group down to the live action crèche. It was here that we sang the last Christmas song of the night, Away In The Manger. Of course, the goats bleated and donkeys brayed along with the clucking chickens and mooing cow; and all the sounds blended together. To this day, I still wonder if the animals were commenting or singing along.
Do you have a special holiday song, and why is it a favorite?
Living in Southern California, snow is a rarity. In Julian, we see snowstorms now and then, but nothing can compare to the snow seen in the rest of the United States. Yet, we are full of glee the moment a flake drops from the sky. I always rush outside and turn my face upward in hope of tasting the first snowflake. When I was little, I believed that each snowflake tasted differently, because my brother said that this was so. Even though, I'm all grown-up now, in my imagination I still pretend that there are sorts of unique flavors out there, and I'll keep catching snowflakes in remembrance of him.
Are you ever tempted to catch snowflakes on your tongue? What's your favorite childhood winter memory?