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Farewell to fall and, depending on where one lives, hello to the beauty and bluster of winter. For some of us here in the Midwest, we’ve gotten an early taste of what perhaps awaits us in the long months ahead.

Autumn is my favorite time of year, chock full of warm and welcoming colors and that indescribable scent and weight and feel of the invigorating, crisp and, at times, brisk air. The inevitable cycle of the seasons dictates, however, that fall must give way to what comes next: snow, wind, ice and cold.

Enter the holiday season with all its pageantry, light, love, laughter and cherished traditions. Thanksgiving, that unique American celebration, replete with feasting, family, food and football, sets the tone for Christmas. More of the same and then some…

Childhood memories and nostalgia for what was (or perhaps that which we believe had once been) is a mighty force behind the potency of the Christmas holiday. We recall the eager anticipation and countdown of Santa’s arrival, the heady excitement of seeing the bounty beneath the tree come Christmas morning, the songs and carols that still make us smile, the red and green and gold and silver of holiday décor triggering a feeling of contentment unlike any other event of the calendar year.

The holiday season is upon us now, providing those of us in more frigid climes with a welcome distraction from the bitter wind-chills, icy roads and snowy driveways that winter promises to deliver in the weeks and months ahead. And yet, winter in December can be beautiful. Softly falling snow, the calm stillness of winter woods, frost on windows and the delighted cries of children playing outdoors, rosy cheeks and colorful caps, scarves and mittens to keep them warm.

Perspective is everything and I, for one, choose to embrace this transition from fall to winter just as I did when I was a child: filled with starry-eyed wonder and an appreciation of the changing of the guard from one season to that which follows.

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A simple timer to switch on twinkle lights coiled up inside a heavy, green glass jar provides a gentle glow, casting subtle shadows and turns a darkened room into something almost magical. Whenever I sit in this room, quietly reading in my comfy chair, sipping a hot cup of chai and I hear that click, I look up and smile. Its warmth and blush of glimmering light always makes me happy.

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The eating season is upon us.

Purists, myself included, might argue that Thanksgiving is NOT the true starting point of holiday gluttony. It’s Halloween, instead, that really kicks off the Season of Eatin’ in my mind. Sure, the kiddos are scarfing down sugar at an alarming rate on All Saints Day; however, only the most disciplined among us fail to hold back our favorite candies from the Trick or Treat Trough for our own enjoyment later, leaving little ghosts, witches and goblins a paltry mix of Dots, Butterfingers and hard candies instead of the really good stuff – Tootsie Rolls, Milky Ways and Hershey bars.

And so it’s Halloween when our caloric intakes begins its steep ascent. By the time we’ve eaten our way through our private stashes of chocolate (and let’s face it – that’s the stuff we tell ourselves we’re buying for the children but we all know we buy those bags of miniatures for US, not the neighbor kids), we’re only a few weeks away from Turkey Day with the named main course, hard to resist side dishes, buns, rolls and pies, pies, PIES!

As we scramble to locate needle and thread to refasten all the buttons that have popped from stuffing ourselves silly at Thanksgiving, our eating thresholds now risen a few notches, the pièce de résistance – the countdown to Christmas! – begins. Endless potlucks, company luncheons, goodies showing up at work every other day, holiday get-togethers and the Big Day itself with ham and potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole and platters brimming with sausages, cheese and crackers. And that’s just the warm-up. The real business is yet to come – Christmas cookies, bars, more pies, decadent desserts of every kind. To wash it all down are soft drinks, eggnog, wine, steaming hot cocoa and apple cider and other choice beverages, several of which are alcoholic in nature.

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The holidays just wouldn’t be the same without the warmly traditional yet rich, calorie-laden, sugary, fattening, gloriously delicious foods of our childhoods. Come January, we’ll pay the price but for most of us, we wouldn’t have it any other way.

One of the things I treasure most about where we live is the view from the picture window in our living room or while standing on our deck. We are fortunate to have some incredible sky shots and with our north by northwest vantage point, we are front and center to the whims of Mother Nature, fickle and ever changing as is her prerogative. Whether the skies are sunny blue or angry gray, I am always in awe of the power and majesty of this world just above us.

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