Sunday, December 21, 2008


I've found my zen. Yes, we saw Cutie's Christmas pageant and got to see her enjoy the gifts we got her and I went to the gym this afternoon - those are good, stress-reducing things . But more than that...

Right this second there are clean, fresh-from-the-dryer sheets on the bed, I'm in the glow of my pretty Christmas tree, and we just finished our hot Sunday Dinner (turkey-rice soup, using the last of the caramelized onion broth from Thanksgiving). The vase my grandfather gave me is brimming with snowy spider mums and scarlet hypericum. And I've snacked on yummy fruit basket clementines all weekend.

If I were my girl dog I'd hop up on the sofa and wait for someone to rub my belly. Life is good!

There are a few days left before Christmas and some things just aren't going to get done. This afternoon I picked up the new "Real Simple" magazine, and I'd rather curl up and read that than make little poundcakes or whatever. I'm so enjoying this peaceful evening.

Maybe this is what the holiday cards with the doves are trying to convey. I always assumed it was freedom from war and international conflict. But maybe it's this - warm contentment. A little oasis of "I'm happy with" in a vast sea of "I wish..."

Years ago I worked for Big Corporate and handled retail software. Christmas was insanely stressful and impossible to plan, and I used to spend the holidays with a good friend and her family. She made the most wonderful fruity hot tea at the holidays. We would have this hot tea going from post-church Christmas Eve all the way through Christmas Dinner. We were occasionally sidelined by a bottle of wine - two when we had to assemble the kids' doll houses late at night with no instructions in English. Good times.

One of my favorite Christmas memories is one of those serene oases. After Christmas Eve service and a wonderful dinner at my friend's house the baby was ready - more than ready - for her nighty-night bottle. I took her into the living room and we got snuggly on the sofa, her enjoying her bottle and me enjoying her and "It's A Wonderful Life" on the TV. After a little while the 4-year-old quietly curled up next to me. And there we sat - the baby finished and sleeping, her sister finally winding down after a few hyper waiting-for-Santa days, me decompressing after weeks of 12-hour workdays. My friend offered to put the baby in her crib. If you don't mind, I said, I'd kind of like to stay like this for a little while longer. She smiled and understood.

Merry Christmas.

Joy's Holiday Hot Tea

4 oranges
3 lemons
4 cinnamon sticks
2 cups sugar
1 cup pineapple juice
7 regular tea bags

1. Squeeze the juice from the oranges and lemons. Boil the rinds (separate from the juice) in 2 cup of water, for about 15 minutes.

2. To 3 1/2 quarts of water add 4 cinnamon sticks and 2 cups sugar - simmer 15 minutes.

3. Mix above together with juice and add 1 cup pineapple juice and 7 regular tea bags to crockpot. You can heat this on the stove first so the tea will be ready to serve more quickly.

And if you don't have a crockpot, just leave this covered on the stove top on a low setting.

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