There are only two more sleeps ’til Christmas! Before things start to get really crazy around here with all the merrymaking and celebrating, I want to take a moment to reflect on the the little things that have enhanced my holly jolly feelings the past two weeks. Life hasn’t been easy the last few weeks, but my heart is full of joy and gratitude for all the blessings I’ve been enjoying this December.
Small Pleasures: The Second Half of Advent
Watching Illumination’s Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch with Jay. This version of the Dr. Seuss classic is visually stunning, laugh out funny, and heartwarming. I love everything about it and I think Dr. Seuss would, too.
Cookies. Baking them. Eating. Sharing them. It’s all good.
The first annual community Luminary Night. The luminarias turned our neighborhood into a magical wonderland.
Finding jeans that fit, on the first try. Does this need an explanation?
Christmas-themed puzzles. I’m enjoying this so much, I wrote a whole post about it here.
Christmas shopping with my 22.5 year old, married son, Mark. I don’t get to spend as much time with Mark as I’d like so when he asked me to go Christmas shopping with him, I was tickled pink. We hit Target, Ulta, and Barnes and Noble and indulged in some Starbuck’s specialties. I had a blast!
Hanging out with friends. It’s such a pleasure to catch up with friends while eating good food.
This Jingle Bells video by Matt Maher. I dare you not to smile while listening to it.
The past several months have been complicated for me, as I’m sure they have been for almost every human being on the planet. Life is like that. Really good things are mixed in with the rotten. It can be so easy to give into the negative parts and lose track of all the goodness and blessings that come our way every single day. For a long time now, I’ve tried to pay attention to the experiences that bring my heart joy in the midst of living this messy life. Because I’m trying to be intentional about enjoying the Christmas experience this year, my list today focuses mostly on that theme.
Small Pleasures: First Half of December 2021
Working through John Piper’s advent devotional An Indestructible Joy with Jay and Aaron. We are finding some of Mr. Piper’s writings to be over the top, which has generated a fair amount of laughter and silliness. With my twenty year old son, I’ll take it where I can get it, even if it means being disrespectful to a beloved theologian.
Sipping Starbuck’s hot chocolate and listening to Chris Botti’s Christmas album on the way to work. Talk about feeling mellow. I was so relaxed when I got to campus, I practically melted out of the car.
Learning to crochet. There is something about the focus, the feel of the yarn, and the repetition of stitches that I find soothing. It’s both mindful and mindless at the same time, which seems to be a good combination for me.
Watching Christmas movies with Jay. So far we’ve watched Holiday Inn and The Polar Express. White Christmas, A Muppet Christmas Carol and Christmas Vacation are still on the docket along with any other movies that catch our fancy.
Seeing Santa riding a fire truck. Every year our local fire department decorates all their trucks and drives through the neighborhood, sounding the sirens and blasting Christmas music. Santa is always waving from one of the rigs, too. The kids (and dogs) in the neighborhood love it and so do I!
Pisco-jitos at El Serrano. El Serrano is a wonderful Peruvian restaurant in Lancaster. The mojitos there are made with Peruvian brandy called Pisco. Who knew Pisco makes mojitos the best I’ve ever had.
Now that I’ve started thinking about it, I feel like I could go on and on with small pleasures. No matter how much hard stuff I have to wade through in this life, it doesn’t take me very long to find the good stuff if I make the effort to look. Do you have any small pleasures you’d like to share? Please do!
I am having the type of week that turns a person into a frazzled, exhausted Scrooge. The causes for my rotten week aren’t necessarily related to this holiday season, but they certainly impact my attitude toward it. Preparing for Christmas, with all its associated activities, becomes just one more stressor in an already overloaded life. Maybe you, like me, need a gentle reminder of the why of Christmas, the soul of the celebration beneath all the superficial trappings. Linus, in his simple wisdom, hits the nail on the head…
My daughter, Julia, and I took a quick trip to Longwood Gardens (in Kennett Square, PA) this past weekend to celebrate the start of the Christmas season. Even though opportunities where everywhere, I took very few photos. Instead, I just relished the time with Julia as we wandered through the conservatory and grounds. It was chilly enough to feel like Christmastime, but still warm enough to enjoy a slice of pizza outside and walk through the gardens without turning into a popsicle. The theme this year is fire and ice, as you could probably guess from the only three photo opportunities I couldn’t resist. Julia kept using the word “magical” as we moved from one display to the next and I agree. It was a magical way to officially begin Christmas 2021.
Do you do anything special to mark the start of your holiday season? Please share!
“And since all this loveliness cannot be Heaven, I know in my heart it is June.”
My spring was filled to the brim with fun adventures and big celebrations. Everything was wonderful, but also filled my life with busyness and intense emotions. Life is finally settling back into a dependable groove, which is giving me time to reflect on the inconsequential and trivial things that add an inordinate amount of delight to my life. June was filled with so many blessings that the hard part of composing this post is narrowing the list down to only five pleasures. The abundance of so many good things is a pleasure all its own.
Small Pleasures: June 2021
Strawberries. June is strawberry season in Lancaster County and my family indulges daily. We’re perfectly content with fresh berries and whipped cream, but occasionally we went fancier with no regrets. Cottage pudding, strawberry pancakes, strawberry milk shakes and strawberry cake bumped the strawberry eating experience up several notches. Finally, Jay and I finished our June strawberry bender with strawberry basil mojitos at The Hobbit in Ocean City, Maryland for our anniversary.
Gardening. For the first time in years, I have a functioning garden with raised beds and pebble pathways. I am so enjoying watching herbs, veggies and flowers grow. We’ve already been enjoy the results of our labors (lettuces, radishes and herbs) and look forward to more delicious veggies on the way. Spending time at the end of the day putzing around our little patch is a surprising joy I didn’t anticipate.
Mythos (audiobook), written and narrated by Stephen Fry. This audiobook single-handedly saved my reading life from the doldrums in June. Listening to Fry narrate his charming and witty takes on the Greek myths was an absolute delight. My favorite stories are about Eros and Psyche (C.S. Lewis’s Until We Have Faces is based on this myth), Hephaestus, and Prometheus. I will definitely be listening to Heroes and Troy (the latter just published on 6/29/21) for more myth goodness wrapped in Fry’s humor and insight.
FunkyMonkey Slides. These foam slides are cheap, light and very comfy. I’m currently wearing them around the house and out in the garden, but I think they’ll be perfect for the beach, too.
Late afternoons at the beach. Speaking of the beach, we spent two afternoons at the Delaware State Beach at Tower Road during our anniversary trip to Rehoboth, Delaware. Four o’clock is the magic hour at the state beach, the time when the crowds disappear and the beach belongs to a few diehard beach lovers. At that time in the afternoon, the sun is mellow and the sand is warm and the midday heat has subsided. The empty ocean heaves and tumbles and the sea gulls dip and coast. There is space to breathe deep and to stretch out. This setting is so soothing and meditative – a better stress reliever then just about anything else I know.
I hope June has sprinkled your life with many little delights, too. If you would like to share some of them, please do in the comments…