I’m noticing a lot of grumpiness out there about one holiday treat (at least I think so) that I look forward to year after year.  In fact, as soon as the clock falls back and darkness comes early, I’m up for it.  Can’t wait.  That is, the lights and decorations.

 My inspiration came some years ago from passing a display in a window with a branch that was suspended horizontally with fish line.  I can’t remember what it was displaying, but it got me thinking, couldn’t I take that idea and translate it to my home?  We live among the trees, in one degree or another, in the Pacific Northwest, so I began.

Over the years we’ve hung madrona branches still brown with berries attached.  We’ve hung branches over the fire place laden with ornaments, outside our dining room window, and over a cabinet with photos of all our dinner guests.  It was such fun to witness the joy in others as they sought out their own likenesses.

Roll ahead to this year – two days after Thanksgiving.  I mentioned to my husband and son that I really wanted a holiday branch that had lichen, one that showed age and grace.  No leaves or needles.  We’d long since given up a traditional living tree that needed watering.  That evening a beautiful branch appeared from a friend’s yard.  I was as delighted as a child.  After putting it into a makeshift stand, I covered the branches with hundreds of twinkle lights.

The household was asleep by then, but I just couldn’t contain myself.  Our family is generally not together for Christmas, so I wanted everyone to experience the magic of the holiday tree the next morning before taking off for their homes.  So down I went to the basement in search of the “goo-gah” box, aka decorations.

Up went the ribbons, the birds with fluffy tails and butterflies.  There were strands of gold and some glass balls.  I cannot tell you the utter joy I personally feel from creating this magic.  My husband calls it “gypsy art”.  There is no wrong way of putting it together, of placing the baubles; it’s all free form, just as I please.

The next morning, at an early hour, even for Santa and Grandmas, delightful squeals of glee were heard. The look on my grandchildren’s faces was sheer happiness. Only one bird had to head for the birdie hospital, and immediate plans were made for their own tree back home.  I can’t wait to smell their pine tree and see all the colorful lights highlighting break-proof ornaments that will surely be used.

So, here’s my long-winded way of saying, enjoy the holidays, whatever they may be at your home.  If they seem burdensome, scale back, change traditions. Create new ways of doing things –real tree, dead, fake or none.  Twinkle lights of white or all the colors. Outside decorations or not.

Make it fun.  Make it festive.  And above all, make it yours.

Happy Holidays, dear reader.

Susan Levy
Publisher, Well-Fed Heart

This week’s featured recipe:

 Dreamy Carrot Soufflé