it’s in the air, i know it. it seeps in through those unsuspecting places, the nooks and crannies of the heart that must be so hungry.
hungry for quiet, for the magic of christmas — the original hushed and hidden-away story, one that brings me to tenderest tears every time. every time i really truly stop to think the whole thing through, to absorb every blessed drop of a story that begins in deepest humility: travelers, bone-weary travelers trekking by donkey, who can’t find a room, who settle in the hollow of night in a shadow-laced barn, where a baby is birthed, wonder child, and laid in the feed trough, where the lowing of cows and the bleating of sheep fill in for the heavenly chorus.
it’s a story that begs silence, the in-rush of awe. it’s a story that begs us to listen. to stanch all the noise and perk up our ears. and our hearts.
i found myself nearly glistening yesterday, wrapped in the gray of the afghan day out my window. christmas-y tunes cranking loud and emphatically. dumping flour by the cupful into a bowl where eggs had been cracked, vanilla dolloped, and my grandma’s cookies once again were soon to be pulled from the oven. kitchens, of course, are magical places.
and this is the season for magic. this is the season that sparks the little child inside us all. maybe that’s why we wrap it in tissue-y papers, and tie it with candy-cane string. maybe that’s why we loop glistening lights onto already beautiful boughs from the forest. and dig deep in the recipe tin. to unearth a little bit of the child we were and always will be.
yesterday, i marveled at the circles of life: marveled that my grandma’s century-old recipe was printed onto a recipe card that came with a book that i wrote, and i was once again rolling out that buttery dough for those cookies, this year to be ferried to the school, the inner-city break-your-heart school, where my firstborn is now a teacher, teaching children from kindergarten to eighth grade how to read. i don’t think the layers of christmas get much more christmas-y, much more blessed, than that.
this year, especially, i’ve noticed that christmas — and with it a host of wintery blessings — comes whirling through the air, whether you’ve decked the house, or tucked away boxes. or not. this year at our house, not many boxes are tucked away. we’ve somehow slipped into a fairly box-less christmas. we’ve certainly dialed down the mad-dashing. i suppose i’ve spent too many christmases plum tuckered out by the time i panted across what felt like a finish line.
and the beauty of that — i seem to have discovered — is that i feel just as filled with christmas, with the essence of christmas, without all the noise. maybe because there’s so little noise.
there is simply a blanket of sumptuous calm — a gift in december, indeed. it’s rare, and it’s blessed. and it calls us by name, and by whisper. come, savor this hour; this hour is holy, this hour is yours.
in the spirit of quietly sharing this unfettered gift — the abundance of heart that tumbles down from the heavens (not unlike the few flakes that, on cue, just started to fall out my window) — i thought i’d bring to the table this morning a string of the wintery blessings my beautiful friends at abingdon press (the fine folks who published slowing time) made for me to sprinkle across the december landscape.
they must have workshops of elves who whip up these sweet little morsels. they’ve taken lines from the pages of slowing time, and made them into delectable little picture postcards (that’s how i like to think of them, anyway; in current vernacular they’re called “memes,” a word whose origins escape me completely). (p.s. of course i had to look it up, and my online dictionary tells me it’s a term coined by controversial evolutionary biologist richard dawkins in 1976 to convey the way cultural information is transmitted. aren’t you glad you now know?)
anyway, i thought i’d sprinkle a few across the table this morning. and they’re yours to keep, to do as you wish. you could print them out to make a holiday card. or tuck them into the pages of your favorite book. you could pin them on a cork board, of the actual or virtual variety. or you could simply scroll by, and think, oh, how nice.
and, oh look, here’s another…
and then there’s this sweet one….
and, at last, there’s this little bit of story time. so grab your mug, curl your toes under your bum, wrap in a blanket, and here’s little old me reading a wintery story……
those sweet elves made even more — a recipe card, among the stash — but that’s enough for this morning. if you care to see more, and happen to be on facebook, they’re being posted, blessing by blessing, on the Slowing Time page. or search for #WinteryBlessings.
for now, though, i’m slipping off to chase a few sugary sprinkles out of their hiding places. in the deep dark of last night, we had no real idea where the sprinkles were landing….
but first, deep-down wishes for the quietest, most blessed moments this season of stillness has to offer. may you find joy rushing into your heart, and awe filling your soul.
what do you count among your wintery blessings?
hullo again. i decided to try to leave the recipe card for christmas-eve elves’ french toast here. click on this link and — if all works according to plan — up will pop a magical recipe card: http://www.abingdonpress.com/download/549/RecipeCard.pdf
Thanks for all the Christmas gifts in one posting!
tis the season of overindulgence….xoxo
merry christmas to you, too, sweetheart. hope you and yours will all be huddled under one big fat blanket!
I’m sad to say I never thought about willie’s students’ needs You are sending cookies. Can they greet 2016 with somethings they need?
Andrea Lavin Solow
dear darling, you mean you don’t think they NEED my cookies?!?!? i love the way your beautiful mind and heart work. willie’s beautiful kids probably do need a something or other. willie teaches 72 kids every day. i will ask him his thoughts. and in the meantime, i send so much love. xox
dear dear A, just talked to sweet will — now home from never-to-forget christmas party, hosted by the pastor of st. malachy’s — and he nearly melted when i mentioned your kindness. his reply to the question of what would be needed: “pencils and a pencil sharpener. an electric pencil sharpener would be AWESOME,” said will. so, there you go. the kids need plain old no. 2 pencils. xoxoxo
Dear Friend, I count YOU among wintery blessings. I LOVE that we can SEE you here now, and reading from your darling book that looks beat to heck with use, as well it should. I also love the “memes.” I’d heard the word, but thanks for defining it. These are lovely. As are you. Heart, soul, mind, body, every way. May your holidays be blessed, peaceful and bright. Will look forward to hearing more, too, about what Will thinks his kids could use. Love, hugs and kisses.
you’re an angel atop my christmas-y tree, sweetheart. happy merry blessed every single day and hour, from now till far beyond….
I so love imagining you busy about your kitchen, baking your grandmother’s delectable cookies to send along to the dear children at Will’s school. This to me is the essence of Christmas – to give with sweetness, and from the heart.
Thank you for every succulent paragraph of this post… I savored each crumb, like a wee mouse at your table! Blessings and love and wintery blessings to you, dear friend. xoxoxo
dear darling, oh, if only you could have been here by my side — you in your apron strings, and me in mine. your kindness is never ending. maybe some day there will be a “chair” kitchen, and we will all wander in with our stories and hopes and dreams and i’ll have the tea kettle whistling away. and there will always be somethings sweet being pulled from the oven…..
wrapped in the gray of the afghan day…..a winter blessing of words….
bless YOU, dear sonja. i know we’ve got our seasons upside down up here on the far side of the equatorial divide. you must think i’m batty with all my chatter of snow, while you bask in the launch of summer. merry christmas to you and yours…..