My friends, relatives, and fellow bloggers are either Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, atheist, Wiccan or followers of other assorted philosophies. I hope you all enjoy the winter season and holidays, each according to your own beliefs and traditions.
You may enjoy this You Tube video which is all-inclusive:
I wish a HAPPY WINTER SEASON to all.
Earlier this year, I found some photographs my father had taken. They were about 30 years old. (My father died in 1982.)
I digitally enhanced my father's photo (right) of the holiday exhibit at Phipps Conservatory in Pittsburgh, c.1979, to create holiday postcards for my 94-year-old mother and used the same image for postage stamps for the cards.
Creating Christmas cards for my mother from my father's photograph was about the extent of my holiday activities this year. A long time ago, when my family was going crazy with gift-giving, we all made the decision to give gifts only within our immediate families. I admit it was one of the happier days of my life. I had always felt so stressed around the holidays, trying to complete projects at work, decorate, shop for gifts and groceries, plan menus, bake and cook.
Now my husband and I choose something we need for our home and something for my elderly mother, but nothing extravagant. She likes sweets, so I always buy her cookies or chocolates. This year, I also purchased a sweater and some smaller items (such as socks and underwear) that she needed.
For the past few years, my mother has not enjoyed big family gatherings. All the people and noise are too much for her. Until last Christmas, I used to roast a turkey or ham after arriving home from work (12:30 to 2:30 am) and make a complete holiday dinner. We packed it in containers and took enough food for the three of us to her place. She lives 45-60 minutes away (depending on weather) so that was easier than driving to pick her up, then back to our house, then take her home and drive back ---three to four hours of driving.
We used to call my mother "Mrs. Clean" for her spotless home. Over the last few years, she was not as neat as she used to be and would forget where she put things, but was doing okay on her own. But in 2007 when we took Thanksgiving dinner to her house, despite calling her several times that week and earlier that day to remind her we would be there, the house was a mess. Every dish was sitting in dirty dishwater, something had boiled over on the stove, garbage had been left on the sink, there was a sticky mess on the floor ---it sounded like walking on masking tape in the kitchen ---the bathroom was a mess, and the dining table was piled high with junk.
We had arrived about an hour before we expected to reheat the dinner, but it took us 3 hours to clean everything just so we could cook and eat. On the way home, my husband and I decided we were never doing that again.
We talked to my mother's doctor about her apparent dementia and finally convinced my mother that she needed in-home care. The helper takes care of personal needs for my mother and also does housekeeping, so my mother's home should never again be like it was that day.
However, last Christmas, we started a new tradition. We eat holiday dinners at Denny's.
It's the only place open on Thanksgiving and Christmas, so it was our choice only by default. But it works well for us. I don't have to shop for groceries or cook late at night. We don't have to pack dinner and carry it with us. We don't have to worry about my mother's house being in good order.
We plan on arriving at Denny's around 2:30 or 3:00 pm to miss the lunch and dinner crowds. Since I go to bed around 4:00 or 5:00 am, I order breakfast. My husband isn't ready for a big meal, so he orders lunch. My mother orders a full turkey dinner and has enough to take home for another meal. We each get what we want with almost no fuss.
So, we are enjoying a relatively stress-free holiday season.
As I write this, it is bitter cold. The temperature on the porch is 2 degrees F. It is very windy; the wind chill is minus 19. I'm always happy when Winter Solstice arrives, because it means daylight will last longer.
My husband and I got into the habit of walking late at night after I arrived home from work in the wee hours of the morning. That was especially nice in the summer because it was cooler then, but at this time of year, the weather can be brutal after midnight.
When we can, we walk in a park in the afternoon, but because I get up so late, we often arrive when the sun is already setting and end our walk in the dark. Thus the longer days will be very welcome.
Happy Winter Solstice to all.
(©2008, C.J. Peiffer)