'Tis the Season

Dec 13, 2021
Window displays created by Myoshin Thurman

Holding onto traditions, creating new ones, letting go of others — and appreciating the glorious ride

Happy Holidays beautiful souls!

With Thanksgiving and our tofu casserole under our belts, we are one holiday down with a few more to go…and I wanted to check in to see how’s that been working out for you — in your heart and house?

Last year’s holidays seemed like a blur and a struggle for many as we renegotiated the way we always did things in the past. Being forced to stay away from friends and family, we experienced celebrating in a new way. The part I missed most was hearing the stories of my guests and community — seeing pictures of grandchildren, parents, kids and animals. I missed gazing at the way faces lit up as they recounted and shared. I’ve always loved connecting this way; listening, learning, observing and living vicariously through it all; the joy, the laughter — even the bloopers we rolled our eyes over. I loved hearing what people cooked and how they celebrated. All of it. I missed this window into my people.

I want that back; I crave the intersection of our lives in this beautiful way. And I wonder what this year will bring as we return (albeit tentatively) to some of our norms and traditions. What did we learn? What did we miss? What didn’t we miss? Some of us may have come up with some surprising responses.

We’ve missed the things that tug upon our heartstrings, desperately wanting to reclaim them.

I guess you could say it gave us a new appreciation in one way and in another, may have allowed us to release things we didn’t like, that didn’t feed us. Either way, it helped us create new traditions, more conscious ones. I know I certainly regained a new sense of gratitude for simple pleasures.

For example, my house is currently in what I refer to as a “True takeover”. In other words, True, my daughter, has taken over the place like a magical Christmas elf swirling about. The Christmas tunes are cranking, and the paper snowflake-making is in full throttle. Up next…the tree, the grand dame of our celebrations. Paper cuttings are sprinkled about and each day a new decoration appears either taped to a wall or window or hanging from the ceiling. Yes, the spirit of Christmas is alive and well and dancing about my cottage.

That is Christmas to me. The gift of her love and creativity transforming our home into the North Pole is not lost upon me, never something I take for granted. It is what I treasure most. I sighed a huge relief when I first witnessed the scissors, paper, tape and supplies appear on the dining room table. Yes! I get another year. You see, I know my days of her holiday enthusiasm in this way may be numbered. So, for now, I soak it all into my heart and hold this precious routine tightly.

It’s amazing what a set of twinkly lights can do for a place. It imbues us with a little wonder and fa la la, helps us forget our troubles and hassles. The minute I walk in at the end of the day I am hugged. I don’t know about you, but we typically don’t let our decorations go too easily. True looks at me with puppy dog eyes welling up as I gently hint at the dismantling of our wonderland. I’m usually a pushover in this department, because I know that Christmas is a child spark that dims and fades with time — one to be stoked and kept alive for as long as possible. And yes, sometimes it remains until Valentine’s Day is rounding the corner. I told you I didn’t let go easily. Ha!

And I feel the same way about our glorious café windows, decorated each year by my creative friend Myoshin Thurman. She’s my magical elf who transforms the café into something that feels like you are sitting within a holiday snow globe. I never know what she is going to grace us with, but her creativity and heart never disappoint.

This year she surprised me with glorious white doves and an abundance of silver and gold. Like a child on Christmas morning, my heart is all aflutter the first time I get to see her completed masterpiece. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving I am banned from showing up until it is installed. As our windows proudly declare:

Getting is Good. Giving is Golden.

Doves are non-denominational and appear in the symbolism of Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Paganism, and of both military and pacifist groups—and beyond. They cross religions, boundaries, divides and are a symbol of love, hope, peace and grace — something we could all use a good dose of and bestow upon each other this year.

Life changes, friends. Sometimes we lose loved ones or the world is turned upside down. We are left to choose how to keep joy alive within us. Amidst this season of hustle and bustle, may you remember to make choices that fill you and those you love. Letting go can be hard, but it creates space for something else to come in — even if that space is just stillness, room to breathe and daydream. 

What choices are you making this season to support your holiday sanity? Remember what is most dear to you…and do more of that. Identify what is less so, and give yourself permission to let some of that (if not all of it) go. Most of all, beloveds, ‘tis the season to allow some fa la la back into your spirit. Maybe some paper snowflakes are in order?

I’m sending you my love and hoping to reconvene with you, to see all of your pictures and hear all of your stories! Focus on the memory-making!

Merry, Happy, Peaceful love to you all.

—Lea Haas, Owner, The Garden Cafe Woodstock


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