What a way to start the year — freezing with a smile on my face! I had not been back to the Mitten since Jan 2012 and that year, we had no snow until our last day and mostly balmy weather. Well, this trip couldn’t have been more different. It was the perfect weather for cross-country skiing, eating P-I-E, drinking hot tea, playing cards, and opening presents. A great way to start the year indeed!
Our obsession with making things for others is not limited to non-edible items. I shared my favorite holiday drink with some friends and since Christmas was a low-key affair this year, I tried my hand at a recipe I found on-line. It didn’t turn out exactly the same (aesthetically speaking at least), but it was pretty good though.
I love that my best friend in the world, the love of my life, is just as crazy as I am. (I’ve always said, it’s why we work.) We are makers. If it can be made, we’re going to attempt it. His projects are usually larger than mine, but occasionally, I’ll tackle something big too (remember this attic bathroom shower?) The holidays (and birthdays) provide the perfect platform for us to exercise our insanity. This year I made a few personalized items for my recipient, but I spent some time this year making my own wrapping paper. I used regular mixed media paper 14 x 17 sheets and basic acrylic paint. And since I didn’t have near as many packages to wrap this year (as opposed to last year), it was totally doable in one afternoon.
The hubs however, has had his project in the making for about a year. While we were off the grid last year in West Texas, he busied himself by hand harvesting a few limbs of Wild Texas Persimmon. He then learned how to turn that wood into beautiful tools of the civilized world. He made a few pens, pencils, and stylus’. I think they are beautiful. The persimmon has unknown markings with each piece you turn and it just so happened that the stylus for his mother had a beautiful black mark, almost like it was painted there. It was perfect.
My sis put together some treat boxes for family and friends and this year she asked me to make some labels. It was another good exercise for my new Adobe Illustrator muscles. (But interestingly I never saw any of the final products…..!)
She ultimately chose the bottom left for her final decision…
As I drove into work Monday morning the sky was so strange and interesting that I had to snap a photo. Too bad this little iphone photo doesn’t do it much justice (thankfully I was more focused on driving!). The sky was split right down the middle. To the north and west was a perfect blue sky, pushing into what was an entire wall of clouds to the south and east. I don’t know that I’ve ever noticed clouds like that, with a perfect seam. What also interested me was that this intersection was not violent; there were no thunderstorms making way for clearer skies. They both just seem to co-exist and allowed me to drive concurrently with the divide.
As I drove along/under this weather anomaly, I listened to the weekend’s stories about the Connecticut shooting punctuated with Christmas interludes. Paradox.
The holidays in general always seem to have such forced ‘happiness’ (i.e. consumerism) that it’s all too easy for my inner cynic to rear her mouthy head and to be grumpy about unmet expectations; simultaneously however, spontaneous acts of generosity, love and authenticity pepper my advent days. Paradox.
This is the reality in which I live, in which we all live: murder and compassion, grief and joy, consumerism and truth.
I sometimes think living in an “either | or” kind of world would be easier; but “both | and” has it’s place. I guess my lesson is that I need to remember that I (and others!) am constantly experiencing the paradox — and to embrace it rather than try to have an all or nothing attitude. This is a good reminder as we prepare to enter the darkest day of the year, the winter solstice, while also embracing the coming Light of December 25.