Farewell To The Holidays – The Twelfth Day of Christmas

On the twelfth day of Christmas, the last until next year,

I reflected on the season filled with hope and holiday cheer.

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A bit late, but still relevant — the holidays are finally over and the transformation of the house from festive and bright back to our normal comfort zone has begun. Every Christmas season is filled with ups and down, successes and failures, joy and even sometimes sorrow as we try to make each holiday better than the last. This struggle to keep up and surpass what we experience every year can be overwhelming and add more stress to an already stressful situation. That being said and knowing this to be absolutely true, doesn’t stop me from falling into the Christmas trap every November and December.

This year I nearly gave up and in to the pressures of the holidays, threatening to ruin what can be and should be the most wonderful time of year for the entire family. Sure I’d love to believe that all year we should carry the love and magic of Christmas in our hearts and demonstrate this in our actions, but it is not something I believe can be done. Some people hold the magic longer, some manage to keep it strong inside of them, but there is only one time of year when people are a little kinder, a little more giving, and full of more hope openly without inhibition. In a perfect world this could be maintained 24/7 – 365, but alas perfect the world is not. Life is demanding and that is why I think it is so important not to lose focus during the holidays, although I can’t say that I am always successful.

Still, now that the holidays are over, there is a certain air about the house that continues to be refreshing and comforting. The holidays enter with a bang filling us with expectation and anticipation and then leave us quietly as wrapping paper is discarded, presents are put away, decorations are stored, leftovers are consumed, and family and friends fall back into their “normal” routines. We spend two months preparing for and enjoying the holidays and then the next ten months recovering. This recovery period is when I like to reflect on the holidays. It is this time that gives us the opportunity to really appreciate what we have and relish in the memories of moments that will help to keep Christmas alive in us until next year.

It takes me several weeks to untransform the house from “The Christmas House,” back to our home, and some years I find myself literally throwing decorations into boxes just to get the job over with. The minute I clean an area and clear away every sign of Christmas, leaving it refreshingly bare, I am filled with a certain excitement to have every inch of the house as clean. It takes a lot to contain the excitement I feel as ornaments are wrapped, trees are disassembled, and lights are unplugged and boxed. Saying farewell to all these symbols and reminders of Christmas for another year, allows me to miss them so that next year when they are pulled out, I appreciate them and once again am filled with their magic.

The next couple weeks I will be working on putting the decorations away, catching up on cleaning that kept being put off, and dreaming of what next year’s holidays will hold. After that, it will be time to start thinking of spring, planting the garden, and summer canning, but that is still months away. Winter has firmly made its mark here in Michigan, with bitter cold temperatures, fierce wind-chills, and snow piling up on the ground and roof tops.

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Today is a day for snuggling under a comfy quilt, sipping a steaming hot cup of cocoa, and counting my blessings, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

 

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A Taste of Spring Under A Sheet of White

Earlier this week I was seriously considering running amok with our snow blower and clearing away the snow in the gardens to get a head start on my gardening.  The day I had finally reached my breaking point, it snowed — AGAIN! This has got to end.

Although the snow is beautiful and all…

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I seriously considered bundling up and sitting out in my lounge chair this week. Being cooped up in the house all these months is really taking its toll on my better judgement.

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I’ll trade icicles for popsicles anyday!

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The garden has so much snow on top of it, you can barely see it at the back of our property.

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The plum tree looks so barren, it’s hard to believe that in a few very long months we’ll actually have flowers on it — I hope.

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If I do end up bundling up and heading out to my lounge chair, I’ll have to unbury the fire pit too!

I can’t say I am going to miss it when it’s gone.

Well, I didn’t snow blow the gardens, sit out in my lounge chair, or dig out the fire pit, but I did have Grace paint some pretty white daisy’s on my nails to remind me that spring is coming and made myself a fresh bowl of fruit salad. A combination of winter and summer fruits, was the perfect topper to a light lunch.  Banana, strawberry, grapes, clementine, and cantaloupe helped pull me out of my funk.

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Not exactly the spring I was hoping for, but for now, it will help me get through these lingering winter days, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

In Need Of Some Spring

The weather here in Michigan continues to be bitter, unrelenting, and completely disheartening. With the cold pounding at the windows and snow piled high against the house, I needed a bit of spring this afternoon.  For a few glorious moments, I basked in the beauty of spring’s past.

2013 096 2013 099 2013 110 2013 117I can’t wait for warmer weather, longer days, and budding flowers to fill the air with the sweet scent of spring.  For now, a moments reprieve from winter’s arctic blast will get me through the day, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

Winter Garden

Well, the snow-covered the yard yesterday and we finally look like winter here.  It’s felt like winter for some time, but now the snow has joined the party.

After spending the morning shoveling the drive, sidewalk and our neighbors drive and sidewalk, I decided to hang outside with Bell in the snow for a bit longer and go on a garden walk.

The plum tree is barren - but we are hopeful for another bountiful year.

The plum tree is barren – but we are hopeful for another bountiful year.

The pickle a-frame is covered with the remnants of a wonderful year for cucumbers.

The pickle a-frame is covered with the remnants of a wonderful year for cucumbers.

Our brussel sprouts never did grow.  By the time it was cool enough for them, we got an early bout of snow back in November.

Our brussel sprouts never did grow. By the time it was cool enough for them, we got an early bout of snow back in November.

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The pepper plants finally stopped producing with the snow in November

The pepper plants finally stopped producing with the snow in November

Bell can still find so many interesting smells despite the snow.

Bell can still find so many interesting smells despite the snow.

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Bell is okay with the winter, but really prefers the spring and summer.

Bell is okay with the winter, but really prefers the spring and summer.

The back garden looks desolate now, but in just a few months it will be time to get out there and turn the soil.

The back garden looks desolate now, but in just a few months it will be time to get out there and turn the soil.

DSCF6675Spending some time outside in the gardens again makes me anxious for spring.  Winter is still holding on strong and will be for months.  Thankfully we have a pantry well-stocked with the bounty from last years harvest.

With the promise of spring I can’t wait to get out and begin expanding the gardens, turning the soil, and planting our crops.  Winter gives the soil a healthy reprieve, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.

First Frost

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Woke this morning to the first frost for eastern Michigan.

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A simple reminder that winter is coming.

Fall never lingers here in Michigan.  One day there are trees full of wonderfully colorful leaves, the next they’re bare and snow is in the air.

Today was a wakeup to enjoy the fall weather as much as I can for as long as it lasts, and for this I am — Simply Grateful.