Many of us are aware that Oprah shares a list of her favorite things each fall. In 2017, my husband ordered maple syrup after seeing it on her 2017 list. We enjoyed it all year with weekend pancakes and reused the pretty wooden box for other things. It was quite delicious.
I decided to start my own favorite things list, a holiday twist on gratitude.
Here is my list of 21 2021 Favorite Things. Photos follow. May it inspire you to list yours. Scroll through photos on your phone. I can guarantee those photos are filled with favorite things, moments, people to inspire you for this activity.
My good dog(s)
Classic Christmas movies, especially from my childhood
Christmas is around the corner with New Year’s Eve and 2021 just beyond that. How are you feeling today? Are you, like me, working to wrap your head around a pandemic Christmas? Are you looking at your 2021 calendar hoping for better days? I cannot believe we are still dealing with these restrictions, over nine months later.* Is pandemic fatigue or frustration fogging your season?
I made a list of my favorite things about Christmas, the fun and meaningful ones. I assessed the list and realized most of my Christmas favorites can still be part of Christmas 2020. That was so encouraging and provided a good perspective. A few things were adapted in new ways. And just a couple were actually put on hold this year.
Perhaps you too have noticed how much is similar to past years. For instance, here’s a few:
Decorations inside and outside our home
Enjoying some of the same favorite holiday foods
Stockings are hung
Pretty presents wrapped and ready for delivery
Holiday music playing
Steaming hot cocoa fills our mugs on cold evenings
Taking a drive after dark to see Christmas lights
Favorite Christmas movies and claymation stories entertain
Cards and letters are trickling in
Plenty of Hallmark movies with quaint snowy towns and holiday romance. Who ever tires of a happy ending?
And yet hovering over everything is the ominous CoVid19 cloud and all the challenges with that. It has taken the shine off this time of year for many, even if only slightly. It also brings a more intense sense of missing and longing for people and traditions, not part of this year. I have to acknowledge that for many of us this time is also littered with disappointment, stress, uncertainty, painful loss, and limited social life for those following guidelines. Those are weighty things for sure.
Sometimes this virus feels like a Grinch ready to steal Christmas. So much is so different. Yet we can choose to not let the pandemic ruin Christmas. I hope we can all find a centered place of contentment, reflecting on the good we have encountered this year. What can you find to enjoy? Who can we encourage? Maybe we can express thanks to any essential workers with whom our paths cross. Perhaps we can focus on what we have, what we hope for, instead of what is missing and has been lost. Then the Grinch virus will not ruin Christmas. It is about more than the fixings and the fuss.
I know some are so lonely and blue this Christmas because of cancelled plans and limited contact. My heart goes out to them. It is so hard to overcome in these circumstances. I pray those dear ones can find hope and joy in their holiday, too.
Here in Los Angeles County, we are on a stricter “Stay at Home” order through Christmas. For most years of my adult life, I’d be thrilled to be asked to stay at home for Christmas. But somehow this is not exactly what I meant.
We are having a very different December. Christmas celebrations for us won’t include the physical presence of family or friends beyond our CoVid home bubble. We choose to do what we can to slow the spread and to follow the county and state requests. That isn’t easy, but we feel like we want to contribute in that way.
I hope you and your loved ones are doing OK as you finish planning and preparations. I also hope you are kind to yourself this year, accepting what you cannot control, and enjoying what you can. Maybe if we just have a day without controversy, conspiracy, or conflict. That would be a good gift. And I hope you, like me, are able to enjoy a slower schedule.
In closing, I also want to wish happy holidays to all my friends who celebrate different traditions with family and friends. Perhaps you recently finished the meaningful time of Hanukkah. For those honoring Kwanzaa, you will begin soon and are probably already looking forward to the feast. As the different celebrations always remind us, we can get through this together.
Stay resilient, my friends! And merry Christmas to all celebrating the birth of Christ this week.
P.S. *Speaking of nine months of pandemic life, here come the babies! Perhaps you’ve noticed that we are heading into a little baby boom, and it’s underway now. New sweet little ones are making their way into the world, and we are cheered by that for sure!
Just a quick greeting to say I’ll be away from the blog for a few weeks to slow down and enjoy the holidays. At our home, we celebrate Advent and Christmas. Today is Christmas Eve. I have spent time throughout recent days like you probably did. Decorating, spending time with friends, seeing Christmas lights in neighborhoods, participating in holiday events, eating favorite foods and cookies, enjoying cooler temperatures, and watching movies on the Hallmark Channel and annual favorites of mine, including The Holiday. We’ve also volunteered at our church and visited with family locally and by phone. I have indulged in a long nap or two, as well. We keep it simple over here, and that takes away the stress, leaving the fun and meaning. And I have a week off from work, which is a luxury.
We wish those of you who celebrate Christmas a very merry one.
To my dear friends who celebrated Hanukkah, I hope it was a special and meaningful time.
If you honor African culture and traditions through your coming Kwanzaa celebration, I hope it is a time of deep connection to matters of the heart.
If you are feeling lonely at this time, or have a heavy heart due to difficult circumstances or a sense of loss, my heart goes out to you, too. May you find moments of peace, a sense of all you have enjoyed in other times of life, and a closeness in spirit with love in your life from friends and family past and present.
Our upstairs housemates decorated a cheery tree on the landing of the stairway.