The most wonderful time of the year.

deerI am the queen of NOT throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I grab that baby, wrap it in a towel and the water can go to hell. Which is just a confusing way of illustrating that I am adept at culling what I like out of things and being just fine ignoring the rest. Nothing is perfect, so why not focus on the good parts and be a little lighter in life? It requires a flexy mind, a blind eye, a deaf ear and a bit of focus or non-focus, depending on how you look at it, but I think it’s worth it.

It would be so easy for me, as a moderately cynical and non-gifty-type person, to abhor this time of year. I also don’t love the smell of cinnamon and Christmas carols sung in Chipmunk voices. But, oddly, I don’t hate it. I love it. I don’t love everything about the holidays – I just love certain aspects quite a lot.

There’s a Dutch word – gezellig – that is untranslatable in English, but as far as I can tell begins to describe exactly what I love about Christmastime. It means cozy, homey, pleasant, convivial and fun. It’s about having your people around you in a warm and lovely environment. It means holing up and eating and drinking and laughing. It means togetherness and twinkle lights, roaring fires and long conversations. It means merry and bright.

We all trim our homes and string up lights and create the spaces to accommodate this cozy time of year and there is something really comforting about it. Whether the party be a grown-up-dress up affair with rivers of booze or a long afternoon at home with just the family, some tunes and some games – it just feels good to preen the house, to hibernate, to be together, to cook and to take stock in the passage of time.

Apropos of time passing, there is honestly no better marker of time for me than the annual Christmas concert. You sit in a pew, shoulder to shoulder with your honey watching as each class performs their little songs. Your friends’ kids who started in kindergarten angel wings are suddenly gigantic 8th graders. You watch chubby cheeks grow progressively slimmer as each grade takes the stage and you marvel at the changes over time. The constant (the church, the lights, the songs, the pews) allows the change (the children) to jump into focus and it is always staggering and beautiful.

And so, with fresh reminders of how quickly it’s all going and how lucky we all are to be going at all, we gather in our homes with each other and try to stop time, for just a little while. We pull out all our tricks to get ourselves to stay still long enough to feel the wonder again, to spread it around, to fill our cups for the rest of the year.

Merry Christmas, my friends.

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