Turning the page to the delight of December! After a long roller coaster ride filled with dread, gotchas and two many pivots to count, I’m giving myself the gift of living in the moment.  A holiday season with the traditions, closeted for the year of 2020 year, happily revived!

The moment is a good one! Grandchildren, now vaccinated, will make the trek to Grandma’s house with their parents and pandemic puppy and spend several days in the world of Christmas past—all the way back to 2019!  The hustle and bustle of preparation for the long awaited return seems to energize me like a tonic—the sadness and grief of the past losses are still with me, and with all of us, but, this seems like a time to celebrate getting this far.

This past week I went to a live musical production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” A rare large venue event for me this year. Vaccinations and masks required of course, but sitting shoulder to shoulder in a full auditorium was oddly comforting, not scary. The surprise benefit was that I heard no coughing or the annoying unwrapping of cellophane over a lozenge—perhaps a side benefit of social distancing and masking? 

Another party this week and a few lunches out with friends post booster and I feel like a new woman! It’s such a relief not having to entertain friends in my frigid garage this winter. Precautions taken for the times are still the name of the game, but seizing the moment when all of my loved ones are vaccinated and boosted if possible, and Omicron is not quite the threat, yet, of Delta, I’m feeling like a reprieve has been announced.

December has now re-taken its place as the month of planning, sweet anticipation of things to come, and memories to be made. The last week of the year will be celebratory—and there is so much fun leading up to it. I have made quite a bit of progress so far. My outdoor lights are hung on the new patio fence, flameless candles are set on timers throughout the house, giving this darkest month a pleasant glow. Fortunately, we just got our first real snowfall of eight inches which helps to brighten the streets and sidewalks for the occasional walk through the neighborhood in the evening to see new light displays added.

My gift buying is complete, well, is it ever really complete? I’m heading to a Christmas market Tuesday which will tempt me, I’m sure! Most of the wrapping is finished….

Fortunately, as I was going through my cookie cookbook I found ear-marked pages to remind me of our favorites, and a lovely surprise—a handwritten note from post Christmas 2019 describing my choices that year and what worked and what doesn’t need to be repeated. Baking cookies is therapeutic for me; I usually save the baking until close to party time, Peanut Butter Blossoms, Cappuccino Flats, Almond Ricotta Bars and New Scenic Cafe Spirals are on the list this year. The Minnesota tradition of storing tinned cookies in the garage to save room in the fridge is one I heartily recommend—and a good use of the patio table placed there.

Christmas wouldn’t be ours without Julia Child’s Plum Pudding. I made it just after Thanksgiving and it is already in the garage, still in its decorative mold. This recipe is one I pulled from a Parade Magazine in 1985, and it’s still a keeper. Let me know if you want a copy!

My photo for this month shows another point of anticipation. Fostering an Amaryllis bulb or two has been a ritual for many years, and one that I cherish. I’m hoping this one will bloom around the 24th—wish me luck!

Best Wishes for a Happy Holiday Season. May you, too, be surrounded by loved ones.