So, Thanksgiving has come and gone. The Holiday Season has begun. What that means is up for grabs. My guess is that for most of us it is a combination of decorating, shopping, cooking, year end/Holiday events, It can feel frenzied. With family expected by the middle of December, I too am grappling with my to-do list. I’d like to get plenty done before their arrival so we’re able to make the very most of our time together. It’s been three and a half years since we last got together – so this feels particularly emotional and exciting.
But first, there’s much to do. Getting the house ready for our first house guests since the end of 2019 and Work From Home having changed the general configuration of how we now function means some creative thinking is in order. It seems as though every room must be reconsidered for purpose and aesthetics. I’m feeling excited and yet daunted by the challenge.
There’s shopping, baking, cooking and decorating too. I really want to get most things done before the guests arrive. And everything will indeed get done IF I stay on course with my agenda. At first, that aforementioned agenda started out looking really packed. But after some good deep breaths and common sense prevailing, I’ve simplified it. That’s the key – keep it simple. And authentic.
Simple, yet hearty meals cooked and frozen. Stews, soups, baked eggplant Parmigiana, lasagnas are ideal. Add a fresh, green salad, good bread, fine wine and dinner is served. I also love cheese boards, fresh fruits, crudites with a variety of creative and healthy dips ( homemade and/or store bought), an assortments of nuts, finger foods ( again homemade or store bought) in lieu of traditional meals. It’s about enjoying the company not about trying to impress anyone.
I find cleaning and organizing very cathartic. And typically, I do a big sort out in every room twice a year. Early spring and early winter. Hence, at this time, it’s all about getting cozy and comfortable. After a thorough cleaning, extra throws and blankets are brought out, the fireplace is made ready for use all winter, reading material and good lighting easily accessed, ditto for board games and puzzles, all the makings for enjoying the season. Candles and the paperwhites and amaryllis bulbs I’ve got going keep the home looking and smelling festive. Dried hydrangea spray painted gold adorn the mantel. In other places the hydrangea are left in their natural state of faded beauty. Pine cones, acorns and seed pods, leaves still clinging to branches, sprigs of evergreens and other treasures found around the garden adorn the house. I find it enormously comforting to bring the natural world in – they remind me of our divine connection to Nature and the part we play in the grand scheme. It humbling too.
As we enter the final month of the year, I think about the seasons gone by – the highlights and low-lights. More specifically, I assess the role I have played. What am I proud of, where did I fall short, what could I have done better or different? What am I trying to achieve and how can I do it? My covenant with Nature is lifelong and constant. As a result, what I do and how I live matters. My choices in products I buy and use matters. I think about what more I can do to better align myself to my mission of doing right by the environment. These thoughts are most often examined when I’m on my daily walks. They inform me on how I address my daily chores and leisure. Which comes down to how I deal with the demands of the holiday season – Do no harm, keep it simple, natural and most importantly, honest.
Being home for the holidays is the ultimate luxury.
Note: Images from previous years –
(c) 2022 Shobha Vanchiswar
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