Tidings of Comfort and Joy…

Early holiday greetings, Friends! I have once again let time slip away from me since my last visit to the blog world. I apologize!

This year more than most, I feel like the holiday season arrived at the door before I was ready. I have been trying to fit everything in, but it’s been some loong nights! One of my biggest Christmas wishes is to some day have enough time to do all the projects and crafts and baking that I would love to do! In the meantime, I do what I can in the weeks leading up to the holiday.

Those who know me best know that once December 1st rolls around, I become a pinch of Buddy the Elf, a dash of Clark Griswold, and a bit of Tasha Tudor. Whatever room I am in has either the Westminster Choir or Bing Crosby crooning in the background. The kitchen smells of spice, orange, and cranberry most evenings. The closets are stuffed with wrapping paper rolls that will likely crash into the head of anyone who dares crack the door open. The candles in the windows hold vigil each night. And the greens are everywhere…the trees, jugs of holly, sprays of boxwood, cedar, and juniper…

The trees are like memory boxes opened just once a year…ornaments recalling previous trips, beloved pets, momentous occasions, anniversaries, favorite hobbies, tattered childhood projects…They are also a celebration of history and the outdoors…apples and oranges slices similar to Williamsburg decorations, starfish and mussel shells in a nod to our coastline, dried flowers from the garden, birds nests and tiny twig woodland creatures…

This year, I tried to experiment with ornaments as gifts. In the autumn, I collected the last of the blooms and greenery and tries to press them into clay. Success was variable, depending on what I tried to use, but I was quite pleased with some of them. I’m hoping that in our fast paced world, a homemade gift is still appreciated. They were certainly made with love.

Which brings me to the heart of the season…finding joy in all the preparation, and the giving and receiving of love. I think that the reason that I enjoy Christmas so much is that it is a time to reflect, appreciate the simple things, and take the time to reconnect. Spending time with family is the greatest gift of all.

So I’d like to take a moment to invite you in for a Briar and Bramble Christmas. No matter where you are or whom you are, take a moment to find comfort and joy in the next few days. Thank you for being here. I’ll leave you with a post that I had written for friends last year…it is still relevant this December-

“As Christmas approaches in this most troubling of years, I can’t help but think of how the world has faced adversity around the holidays in crises past. Despite wars, natural disasters, personal losses, or financial hardship threatening to “cancel Christmas”, it always comes. If people open their hearts to the season and those around them, whether near or far, it always comes and brings a little light and cheer. So while everyone has experienced some adversity this year, great or small, find a bright star somewhere. My heart breaks for all the families with empty seats at the table, and I will hug my loved ones a little closer…even if it’s in thought rather than deed. Those who know me best know how much I love the holiday season. So I never considered anything other than decorating as if were any other year and as if the whole family was coming, as had been planned for the last (now, two) Decembers. It will be quiet here at this home we have come to love, but I’d still like to share our preparations. Come on in…”

So please, take a tour and you are most welcome to our home. Be safe, be well, and Merry Christmas!

A Sprig of Rosemary, for Remembrance…

“There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance. Pray you, love, remember. And there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. . .”

I would like to dedicate this brief post to the memory of my Aunt.

She left us two weeks ago, after a battle (with cancer) hard fought. I’m still trying to comprehend the loss. I’m in my forties…a time in life when the harshness of human frailty begins to come into focus. it’s the time in our lives when we realize that wolves circle just beyond the comforting fire that our family and friends are seated around. But understanding and reconciliation are two different things. There are so few people in this world whom we share life’s experiences with…and even fewer who love us for who we are.

My Aunt’s home had an open door. And everyone who passed through it was family in her eyes. She loved them all unconditionally. Many of them were friends who passed through my cousins’ lives briefly, but no matter. While they meant something to her children, they were treated as family. She was a presence in my life at every step…every holiday, every birthday, every graduation…as proud of her niece as she was of her own children. And though we saw each other only infrequently as I became an adult, I always knew that she was there, with her door open.

And so this is my little posey of rosemary and pansies…memories and thoughts…I’ll remember her love of gardening and crafts, her eye for repurposing things others considered too worn out to value, her Christmas babka, and the afghan she made that still lies at the foot of our bed, the penchant she seemed to have for dogs almost the same size as she was.

Our families are like candles…they burn forever bright at one end and, with time, grow shorter at the other. But the memory of all those who gave it light will continue to guide…