I have tiny celebrations in December. Not the biggies, like a big turkey dinner with the family on Christmas Day. I mean little things that only I know about that commemorate the change of season. They help me indulge in the coming cold and the new life that follows. It’s a meditative time, always.
Though putting up the Christmas tree means enlisting help to get it out of the attic (Yes, its fake, industrial strength, and cat-proof.) it’s part of a solitary winter ritual. As soon as I wake up I crack a window for the cat to enjoy the cold air. Then I brew a mug of tea and sit near her in just the twinkling light given off by the tree. I usually burn some sort of balsam candle so that it at least smells like a real tree. I think I’m practicing for the day I live in that cabin in the mountains, embraced by trees.
Something about a little draft of cold air coming into a warm house- it’s just enough to keep you awake, to remind you of what you have to be thankful for. I can easily lose myself to my thoughts, finding an hour has slipped by. I need this now.
Another personal ritual is pulling out my Christmas project bags and stitch markers. This is a new thing for me, as I didn’t have but a couple of bags and markers that were themed like this. Then, a sweet friend I’ve met online sent me some more progress keepers from Chapel View Crafts and Sucre Sucre Miniatures, so now I have one for every project. It was an early Christmas and felt like such a luxury. Each one makes me feel cared for and a little excited about the coming days.
I’ll be using one for my Christmas Eve Cast On that Dani, of Little Bobbins, has encouraged me to do on Christmas Eve. I cast on her ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas sock pattern as my project last year.
That feeling of warmth in the midst of cold repeats itself in the evenings when I try to walk my dogs past rows of homes lit with color. Sometimes it is actually really cold here. I don’t mind. The cold does clear my head so I can review my day. And it’s not like I haven’t trained, with 15 years of knitting, for this. I have my StripeEd cowl wrapped twice around my neck and face and can be dragged down the street like it’s the Iditarod just as easily as in the summer.
My last little ritual, that I am conscious of, is playing a certain few Christmas albums each year. At some point I have the Charlie Brown Christmas special soundtrack, Elvis’ Blue Christmas, and Christmas Island in heavy rotation. And don’t forget the techno wannabe Christmas Dance Party CD that I’ve played as I decorate the house since my kids were tiny. One year we had a tree that spun around when you flipped a switch. I know!? This cheesy music seemed the natural companion. The thing is, my family knows I play it, sort of jokingly, when we decorate the tree each year but I don’t think they know I listen to it a lot by myself. It transports me to the time when my babies were babies and always just a few steps away. A time when their excitement could be mine too, and vice versa.
So, I haven’t been able to get the tree down by myself yet this year, but I have the candle burning and the cat crack going. My mind is revisiting the past even if my body is quite still on the end of the couch. With what little rituals are you welcoming winter?