My ‘day’ began at 12:34 AM (count me the odd one as I get a bit of a thrill out of glancing at the clock and seeing numerical sequences or patterns, such as this). After half an hour of wakefulness, I got out of bed, donned my robe and slippers, grabbed my journal, my current read (‘Melmoth’ by Sarah Perry) and an assortment of poetry journals. One of my morning rituals is reading a variety of poems – duly noting them in my journal – and since it was technically “morning”, I began to read and record the poems as I experienced each and every lovely one of them.

My winter solstice was off to an early start indeed, so perhaps my day – this designated shortest day of the year – will feel a little longer than it really is. As I noted in my journal (in the wee hours of the morning), the days begin to lengthen from here on out and that is truly something to celebrate! Especially here in the frigid Midwest with a winter storm bearing down on us right before the holidays.

Two hours later, I was ready to crawl back under the covers. I slept well after that. This is one of the perks of being retired. Can’t sleep at night? No matter. I don’t follow any schedule other than whatever my heart desires these days. I can sleep in, if I want to or need to, although this particular morning I was surprised to be awake, and up & at ’em, about eight o’clock, even after an interrupted night of rest.

So here’s to the Winter Solstice and the return of increasing light in the weeks and months ahead! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all. 🙂

Christmas. Just one week away.

How much a non-day event this becomes the older I get. Not a NON-day actually. Every 24-hour cycle is, technically, a day.

What I should have said is what an ANY day Christmas has turned into over the years. “Special” only because our society and our culture and our religious norms and the calendar itself say it’s so. The requisite time spent with family during the holidays – images of jolly laughter, yuletide carols, warmth and comradery – feels forced, somehow. Contrived. In reality, this time of year is often more stressful and chaotic than it is calming and cleansing. Expectations are high, emboldened by the trappings of social media, for a glitzy, candle-shrouded, Hallmark Cards experience to rival anything Hollywood could muster up on the big screen. We’re bombarded with photographs and images, tweets and postings positively dripping with hygge-inspired loveliness that render our drab, ordinary lives pathetic by comparison.

Here’s an idea. What say we treat every day as special, each day a Christmas? Loving one another, treasuring the earth, showing kindness, embracing gratitude every 24-hour cycle. And for good measure – and for sanity’s sake for ALL of us – let’s shrug off what we think and believe others are doing and how others are living their lives and just focus on what makes US happy for a change?

Now that would be cause for celebration.

Whether from the glow of candlelight or the shimmering gold of ornamentation or the laughter of children or simply (and most importantly) the good vibes generated from the season’s sights, sounds, scents and scenery, it is the warmth of the holidays that instills us with a sense of goodwill, peace and harmony this time of year.

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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.