Regarding the Elusive Christmas Spirit Muse and how to conjure her into your heart:
Sometimes you have to give the 1st Christmas present to yourself.
Sometimes you have to do that by determining how much you WANT to do versus how much you really NEED to do for this holiday season.
Sometimes it's a matter of wants vs. needs.
We all WANT our homes to look like a page in holiday catalogue...but that takes a whole lot of work. And some years my WANTS just have to shut-up and listen to my NEEDS.
I NEED less stress.
I NEED a pretty tree with SOME Christmas decorations around the house.
I NEED to keep Christmas in perspective.
So THIS YEAR I can promise you that the Good Housekeeping Christmas Photo Shoot will definitely NOT take place at MY HOUSE.
This year, LESS IS MORE.
I didn't put OUT as much stuff, cause it was stressful to consider the work involved in putting it OUT and even MORE stressful to contemplate the work it would take to put it UP.
So, I only put out what would make ME feel good.
The tree is beautifully done, but we did NOT go HOG WILD this year with decorating.
And to be truthful...it was JUST what I needed to do.
I have determined that this year will be a soft & gentle Christmas.
Some years, it seems that Christmas rolls in like a Freight Train...you can tell she is coming from far away. Lots of lights and whistles and rumbling...and she rattles the windows as she strains toward December 25th.
Other years, my Christmas rolls in all soft and velvety like a fog bank on a low lying field. She is beautiful but she is quiet and contemplative and gentle.
And on Christmas Morning I wake to find that she has blanketed my world...and I smile.
This year, I NEED a Foggy Gentle Christmas.
I NEED to play my Christmas songs.
I NEED to see White Christmas.
I NEED to see a few packages wrapped and under the tree.
I NEED to sit and soak up PEACE.
We are not doing as many gifts this year either...which is going to keep us from feeling the monetary stress as well.
And I guess that one last thing I can share with you is this...
Grace's "Sure to Conjure The Elusive Christmas Muse" HOT Chocolate Recipe:
1. Favorite Coffee Mug...not huge a soup mug... but a nice big mug
2. TWO packets of hot chocolate mix (I prefer the RICH Chocolate type)
3. Add water slowly and mix gently as you do, so that most of the mix is wet and will dissolve when heated in the microwave. (btw, make sure you pay attention to this process since some microwaves can cause an overflow and a big mess. FYI, I tend to leave an inch between the rim of the cup and water level before I put it in the microwave.)
4. Add a Nice shot of Mexican Vanilla (it's stronger and more flavorful than vanilla extract). Don't put too much...take it easy until you know just how much of this you like cause too much can ruin it.
5. Add 1 Cinnamon Stick...just plunk the thing into the hot mix.(This is the stick that looks like curled up tree bark, THAT kind of cinnamon stick, NOT the candy stuff that calls itself a cinnamon stick)
6. Stir the contents of the mug, (including the vanilla and cinnamon stick) a few times so that everything blends well into the hot chocolate mix. (Leave the stick in the mix, and be aware that it's there so you don't choke on the thing. It will continue to flavor the hot chocolate through the whole time you are sipping it.)
7. Top plentifully with a ton of baby marshmallows.
8. Blow enough to cool...take a big swig...get melted marshmallow on your upper lip...smile like a toddler with a milk mustache and say "YUM!"
9.Plop yourself in your favorite easy chair.
10. Sip slowly while contemplating each blessing you have. List them. Even the teeniest tiniest things...like the Favorite MUG you are drinking from and the fact that you even HAD real cinnamon sticks.
REPEAT AS OFTEN AS NEEDED
This little ritual has been known to conjure Christmas Spirit for me and I hope it works for you too.