As the year draws to a close we are all preparing for our winter holidays, though this year preparation looks a little different. In our household, holiday traditions are steadily shining through the uncertainty and cautiousness weighing heavily on our minds. The lights went up on the porch, our star lanterns went into the windows, we put up and decorated our tree. This cheer was scattered as we felt inclined to do so, as a fire was lit in our hearts to do so, to cut through the darkness that some so early in the day now, and lingers well into the morning.

To be clear, I love the darkness of winter. This year, however, seems a little darker. Winter feels much heavier, due to the brevity of COVID-19 and racial injustice; the wake of their looming presence often seems impossible to stay afloat in.

I confess, we did decorate a week earlier than we would have otherwise. Well, not the lights outside on our porch–those wen’t up per our household’s tradition: on the first snow. You better believe I had been waiting for them to float down from above to signal the beginning of winter. When I saw flurries, the lights immediately went up! Then a few days later my husband fixed them.

This year we’re giving smaller gifts to everyone. I chose a theme as well for them: cozy. If it was an item someone could use to relax, or snuggle with a loved one, I picked it up. Matching socks, essential oils, a beard grooming kit, favorite snacks… just to name a few. My hope is that these gifts will bring simple cheer and truly be cherished day-to-day in the coming year, that they’ll brighten the lives of the people I love in a small and effortless way.

To all of you, who have stuck with me this year as a subscriber: thank you. Please do not feel pressured to decorate for whatever holiday you celebrate, if you aren’t in the mood to do it. But also, do decorate if you’re feeling it in your heart. Put on a little music that gets you going, have some festive foods. Do small things for yourself and let go of expectations.

Lastly, as is my own personal holiday tradition, I’d like to bring awareness to the Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It’s 24/7, even over holidays, with prevention services for you or someone you love.

Happy Holidays and be kind to one another,

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