Traditions are a huge part of Christmas. To mangle a line from The New York Sun, how dreary would be Christmas if there were no traditions. It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. For me, traditions come in many shapes and sizes – from Christmas trees to antique ornaments to home-made cookies. Growing up, holiday baking was a family activity – Mom made the dough, Dad squeezed it out of the cookie press, my sister and I were in charge of the red and green colored sugars. Butter cookies were shaped like trees; cream cheese cookies, my favorite, were shaped like wreaths.
With age and lack of time, many traditions either fall by the wayside or become chores that compete with day-to-day life. It seems with each passing year, it becomes more and more difficult to maintain the spirit of the season.
And it’s when I feel myself slipping into that frame of mind that I return to two of my personal favorite traditions. Continue reading
For all of my life, I have been a morning person. As a kid, I loved being the first person awake in the house — especially on a Saturday morning. That was prime television watching time, and I didn’t have to share the clicker. As an adult, my favorite morning is Sunday — it’s designed for pre-crowd food shopping, breakfast, a leisurely read of the newspaper, a crossword puzzle, and a nap — all before 11:00 a.m.
Now that I’m on summer vacation, mornings are even more special. You see, I love my garden in the morning — and there are some times when morning almost feels like a religious experience. The light is soft. The air is fresh. As the sun starts to warm the air, the dew evaporates, so that the few rays of light are like beams.
But it’s the human silence that I appreciate. For many of us, this is the closest we can come to feeling alone, as if we were the first person to set foot on this land. There are no lawnmowers revving. No cars and sounds of traffic. No voices. Just a non-stop soundtrack of songbirds — sparrows, robins, doves, cardinals — all stirring to greet the day alongside me.
Yes, the garden changes throughout the day, and volumes of poetry could be written about the garden and the play of light and shadows as the day goes on. I just think there is more of an intimacy in the morning. The plants seem to agree with me. They appear rested and alive and alert, as if they are determined to put on their best show.