The early morning air crisp and clear, the woods dark and still, a hint of light to the east. A tattered blanket of snow, barely covering the ground. A few days ago, a lovely snowfall followed by rain and sleet. Roads treacherous and icy, cars sliding off the road into ditches. The days filled with holiday preparations, my heart laced with sorrow and sadness for the families affected by the horrific event in Newtown, struggling to understand. A season of home and hygge, lighting candles to keep the hope, coaxing light out of the darkest days. I gather strength and comfort from my loved ones, and hold them extra close.
My holiday traditions end up being a mish-mash of Danish-Norwegian, Scandinavian American and Vermonty, with a sprinkling of my own creative interpretations. I decorate minimally, and prefer moss and birch bark over glitter. Red and white and lots of hearts brighten the gray days. The air heavily scented with cardamom, I bake the same cookies that my mother and grandmothers baked. Though not as many – and definitely not the seven sorts they always had on hand during the holidays. But enough to share. The giving and wrapping, a joy. I roast nuts in our own maple syrup, but succumb to marzipan and chocolate. And I am tempted by sweet and rich flavors and foods, driven more by nostalgia than taste. But in this season of starkness, the touch of plenty and goodness is welcome. And the simple act of gathering with family and friends is what matters the most. There is much to be grateful for. God Jul.