my first for week 18? using my trusty stand mixer to make christmas cookies this year - instead of mixing them by hand. i'm not sure what i was thinking the last few years not using the mixer. anyway. the white chocolate-cranberry-walnut cookies came out very well. they just need a name. i also managed to keep up the running-one-mile-three-times-a-week and writing-a-little-every-day goals this week. and below you'll find my first first for week 19 - the first time i've shared a part of my book on the blog. crazy, right? i'm pretty excited to share, so here goes -
Snow fell on a cloudy Sunday afternoon in early December of 2010, the lit-before-dark lights of the season twinkling through the falling snow, coloring each flake in blues and greens and reds. I spent the afternoon writing, our newly decorated Christmas tree at my side, and helping make dinner for my family and grandparents. Sunday’s snow had left its mark until early in the week, the perfect backdrop for a home beginning to fill with the holiday spirit.
It felt like Christmas coming in. Something I hadn’t felt in a couple years. It found its way back in again, thanks to my surrounding family and friends and the faith that had carried me through it all. Something about cooking - cooking butter- and cream-filled dishes - and sitting around a table full of my family, as holiday cards began to inundate the mantel, made it feel, actually feel, like Christmas.
I don’t know where the feeling went the last two Christmases. A hint of it still lingered from December to December. But being out of place in 2008, and then still feeling out of place a year later, seemed to keep Christmas farther away than usual, just out of my reach. I wanted to feel it, and I tried. But it never quite sunk in. And, for whatever reason, trying to feel it and not being able to felt almost more sad that never feeling it at all. I wanted Christmas back, and I blamed my losing it, in part, on him. Mostly, though, I blamed myself for letting him take it away.
This year, though, with no hint of him around, I knew I’d get my Christmas. I had no desire to call him, either, which seemed unusual to me. Every other holiday that passed, I felt the need to get in touch, to wish him a Happy Birthday or a Happy Thanksgiving, and catch up for a while. Now, though, nearing Christmas, that want, that need, was no longer there. I knew I could wish him well in my heart, and that was enough for me now. “I hate to break it to you, babe, but I’m not drowning,” I heard the Sara Bareilles' lyric stream through my head. I knew his absence was the main reason the Christmas feeling had found its way back to me - that and the progress I felt I had made the past year. 2010 had been a full year, the fullest yet, and I knew, I felt, Christmas would be just as satiated.
Every year, we add several new ornaments to our tree, my family and I do. Some that are musical, some that talk, some that sparkle thanks to the glow of encouraging white Christmas lights. There are those classic ornaments also featured on the tree that seem to have their own place, their own branch, and their own spot in our hearts. And then, there are some older, weathered ornaments kept in the box, as we save room for the newer and more special embellishments. But the tree is always, always full. I suppose in a way that’s how 2010 was for me. I had met and made new friends who seemed to now be a part of my everyday; I had chosen to keep others in shoeboxes and in memory, knowing they were better left behind; and my family and friends who I had known and shared with for years, well, they were there through it all, as always, with their own special places in my life and heart and in the sound of my laughter - just as those classic ornaments that are an essential part of our Christmas tree each year.