There are a few Christmas traditions that I’ve forged for myself since heading out east and starting my own family. I’m also so looking forward to sharing this Christmas with Charlotte. I think it’s the first one where she’ll understand that something fun and special is going on. On top of all that, I get to spend it in Massachusetts with my family. We’re doing a more modest under-the-tree celebration this year, but there are still a few things I’ve found worth sharing (especially the Christmas poem at the end). Here are some of my favorites this year:
Thymes Frasier Fir Candle
Hands down, one of my favorite holiday accents is the Thyme Frasier Fir candle. I buy at least one every year. Maybe three years ago, when my sister Claire lived in NYC, I took the bus down for a weekend away, and I brought her one of these candles as a present. Knowing she’s a huge fan of them, I thought it would be a big hit. We’re at a happy hour gathering at a bar with a few of her coworkers, and I mention I brought I gift for her. “I have a gift for you, too” she says. We each reach into our bags and exchange matching gift-wrapped squares, each containing identical Frasier Fir candle. As her coworkers looked on in disbelief, we happily swapped candles. It seriously is the best.
In the Company of Women
By Grace Bonney (Design*Sponge)
I’m super excited about this book. Grace Bonney is a blogger I found this past fall who’s posted both beautiful images on social media, paired with strong, powerful messages and commentary about women in the midst of a stormy political events. Her book is a compilation of the words of women who are creators and entrepreneurs, which resonated with me this year, when my business has seen such growth and change.
Favorite Gifts With Little Ones in Mind
Pomelo Explores Color by Ramona Badescu and Benjamin Chaud
This will be one of the presents under the tree for Charlotte this year. She’s starting to learn her colors and connect them to objects (blue cars instead of just cars, green spoons, red shirts, and on and on), and this book has such eloquent, alliterative descriptions of both expected colors and more nuanced shades.
I’m skipping all the versions of The Night Before Christmas. Instead, I’m reading this poem by Maya Angelou to Charlotte before bedtime this Advent season. It’s very apropos for this year’s holiday season in particular. I’ve copied out the full poem below, but the visuals that go alongside the words are beautiful (so many POC in the illustrations).
by Maya Angelou
Thunder rumbles in the mountain passes
And lightning rattles the eaves of our houses.
Flood waters await us in our avenues.
Snow falls upon snow, falls upon snow to avalanche
Over unprotected villages.
The sky slips low and grey and threatening.
We question ourselves.
What have we done to so affront nature?
We worry God.
Are you there? Are you there really?
Does the covenant you made with us still hold?
Into this climate of fear and apprehension, Christmas enters,
Streaming lights of joy, ringing bells of hope
And singing carols of forgiveness high up in the bright air.
The world is encouraged to come away from rancor,
Come the way of friendship.
It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.
In our joy, we think we hear a whisper.
At first it is too soft. Then only half heard.
We listen carefully as it gathers strength.
We hear a sweetness.
The word is Peace.
It is loud now. It is louder.
Louder than the explosion of bombs.
We tremble at the sound. We are thrilled by its presence.
It is what we have hungered for.
Not just the absence of war. But, true Peace.
A harmony of spirit, a comfort of courtesies.
Security for our beloveds and their beloveds.
We clap hands and welcome the Peace of Christmas.
We beckon this good season to wait a while with us.
We, Baptist and Buddhist, Methodist and Muslim, say come.
Come and fill us and our world with your majesty.
We, the Jew and the Jainist, the Catholic and the Confucian,
Implore you, to stay a while with us.
So we may learn by your shimmering light
How to look beyond complexion and see community.
It is Christmas time, a halting of hate time.
On this platform of peace, we can create a language
To translate ourselves to ourselves and to each other.
At this Holy Instant, we celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ
Into the great religions of the world.
We jubilate the precious advent of trust.
We shout with glorious tongues at the coming of hope.
All the earth’s tribes loosen their voices
To celebrate the promise of Peace.
We, Angels and Mortal’s, Believers and Non-Believers,
Look heavenward and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at our world and speak the word aloud.
Peace. We look at each other, then into ourselves
And we say without shyness or apology or hesitation.
Peace, My Brother.
Peace, My Sister.
Peace, My Soul.