spark joy
(and my go-to holiday recipes)

IMG_5882When our sons were young, there was no holding off Christmas. Henry, born December 18, absorbed holiday melodies in the womb, from “Jingle Bells” to the Messiah. His in-utero nickname was Bing, for Crosby, which morphed into Der Bingle after a visiting friend introduced us to the German diminutive. (Of course, we had no way of knowing then that music would turn out to be his “language” of choice but now, looking back, it seems almost pre-ordained; he arrived in a season of shimmer and twinkle, surrounded by love and borne into our arms on a wave of joyful noise.)

That year, in the final weeks of my first pregnancy and with a December due date looming, my husband Steve and I were organized in a way we’ve never been before or since: all our gifts bought and wrapped and shipped weeks in advance, a tree up and decorated the day after Thanksgiving; holiday cards mailed December first and a newly appointed nursery awaiting its tiny occupant. All was in readiness, every diaper and onesie neatly folded and stacked, every holiday ornament shining in its place.

Four days before Christmas we brought our precious newborn home from the hospital, dressed him up in the miniature velveteen Santa suit my brother had given him, and snapped our first family photo in front of the tree.

And so it was that the holiday and Henry were linked for life. At three, he donned his own Santa hat and sat at the dinner table on Christmas eve, singing “The Twelve Days of Christmas” by heart while his newborn brother Jack dozed in my lap, just over a month old but already a bit too big to be squeezed into that wee hand-me-down Santa suit.

The traditions accumulated with the years: driving through nearby towns on an appointed wintry evening to view Christmas lights in all the different neighborhoods with Bing Crosby and Leon Redbone providing a familiar soundtrack in the warm, dark car and the kids singing along at full tilt from the back seat. Unpacking the boxes full of miniature fir trees I’ve collected over the years and creating small forests of them on the mantel and shelves. Placing the slender metal angel silhouette on the top of the tree. Baking cookies and cranberry bread and spiced nuts. Attending the Christmas Revels in Cambridge with our dear friends and former next-door neighbors. Reading Truman Capote’s A Christmas Memory out loud in front of the fire.

Always, Henry has been the instigator of Christmas in our household, and the rest of us are generally content to let him take the lead. It was Henry who made sure the box of Christmas books was carried up the basement stairs and unpacked the day after Thanksgiving. And it’s Henry who insists our Christmas morning breakfast include both oatmeal scones and Jimmy Dean sausage balls, which he willingly makes and freezes a few days early, knowing that if I had my druthers we would quietly eliminate Jimmy D. from the menu.

IMG_5886It was Henry who, at age six, organized the first of many annual Christmas shows, with all the kids in the neighborhood singing carols under his direction and, in later years, performing on their various musical instruments. And this year it was Henry, now on the faculty at his old high school, who taught the students the choral arrangements for the annual Nativity pageant — yet another tradition embraced and passed on.

But this year, as Thanksgiving came and went, I found myself resisting Christmas even as those around me were eager to embrace it. The very thought of hauling the decorations out made me feel irritable and tired and overwhelmed. It seemed as if there was already too much – too much to think about, too much to do, too much stuff in every nook and cranny of the house.

Maybe everyone has their moment: the sudden realization that you simply can’t move forward without first turning around and digging into what’s been piling up around you. I do wish my own flash of motivation had come a few months ago, when things were just a little less hectic, but we can’t control these things. I hit my breaking point the day Steve and Henry arrived home with a Christmas tree tied to the top of the car.

“I just don’t think I can start Christmas yet,” I admitted to them. “Please, give me a couple of days.”

And then I picked up a small book that’s been sitting by bed for a while now, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. According to author Marie Kondo, there really is magic in order, happiness in tidying, transformation just waiting to happen as soon as we start taking out the trash.  A few weeks earlier I’d read the first few pages and immediately decided I probably could part with the years worth of old New Yorker magazines I’d piled into the bookshelves in our bedroom.

IMG_5724That first, heady purge led to several bags of books, pulled off the shelves and donated to the local library. The newly emptied spaces in our bedroom seemed to glow in the sunlight and the newfound sense of spaciousness inspired me to vacuum under the bed and clean my bathroom drawers. Pretty soon, though, I got busy again and the cleaning came to a halt. But I didn’t forget the sense of relief I’d felt at finally tackling just a few of my cluttered spaces.

IMG_5725The New York Times has called Marie Kondo, a phenomenon in her native Japan, a kind of “zen nanny,” and so she is, at once likable and firm. She’s a little woo-woo, too: Socks have souls? Sweaters prefer to be neatly folded? Our personal possessions have lives of their own and brighten under our care? And she’s nothing if not down-to-earth: “Effective tidying involves only two essential actions: discarding and deciding where to store things. Of the two, discarding must come first.”

I was in.

Marie has one rule of thumb, and it makes me laugh. “The best way to choose what to keep and what to throw away,” she suggests, “is to take each item in one’s hand and ask: ‘Does this spark joy?’ If it does, keep it. If not, throw it out.”

And so I spent the first few days of December in search of some joy of my own — not stringing lights or shopping for gifts or baking cookies, but cleaning out the basement, and holding one random item after another in my hands.

I applied the “joy test” to old clothes, to winter hats and gloves, to boxes of my own unsold books (including multiple copies of foreign editions –what to do with ten copies of Mitten Strings for God in German??). I applied it to the kids’ school papers, tablecloths and dishes from a suburban life that ended a decade ago, lamps without shades, still perfectly good but hardly harbingers of happiness. I texted photos to Jack in Atlanta: a moldy basketball, a box of Magic cards, an old guitar amp, a tangle of cables and a box of unidentifiable electronics. By the time I got down to vacuuming mouse poop and swabbing grimy hidden corners and sweeping spider webs away, I didn’t even mind doing the dirty work.

The basement led, a day later, to the cellar storage freezer where I discovered, among other hoary artifacts, rock-solid remnants of the 2010 Christmas ham, carefully wrapped and labeled. The bags of blueberries we picked last summer? Yes, there is joy in every one; we will be eating blueberries on our morning oatmeal all winter long. Those petrified loaves of bread covered with freezer frost? Not so much. Another trash bag, filled and carried out the door.

On a roll, I headed up the stairs to the pantry. There, I was met with half-gone boxes of pasta, a small shop’s worth of expired spices, old cans of things and old things in cans. There is no joy in an unlabeled bag of unidentifiable grain, nor in a bottle of cloudy vinegar, nor in that dusty box of faro purchased for some summer salad that never got made. But it was, indeed, a joy to take every single thing off the shelves, wash every surface, and carefully choose what went back. It was a joy to send a box of good things to the local food bank. And how happy I was to find the blackberry jam I bought at the farm stand last July and then forgot all about.

IMG_5898By day three of my cleaning extravaganze, I felt as if I’d set down a heavy burden I hadn’t even been aware of carrying. I kept slipping into the pantry, just to have a look and smile. My step was lighter, my holiday spirit finally starting to simmer.

“You know, Mom,” Henry pointed out, “if you don’t stop cleaning and start decorating, Christmas will come and go and the tree will still be in the corner in the garage.”

He was right, of course. The office, the linen closet, and the laundry room can wait till 2015. We’ve spent the last few days readying the house for Christmas, in no hurry at all, playing our favorite Christmas music and carefully choosing what goes up and what gets put into a box to take to the still-good table at the recycling center so that someone else can find a treasure and bring joy home.

It feels as if getting rid of some things that no longer serve us well, that no longer make us happy, that no one in our family really needs or wants, has opened up some emotional space as well as physical space. Confronting my own possessions has made me less inclined to shop and more inclined to offer Christmas gifts of time, of food made with love, of experiences that can be shared. As Marie says, “We need to show consideration for others by helping them avoid the burden of owning more than they need or can enjoy.” Exactly so.

IMG_5835I could have spent Tuesday at the mall, but instead I spent it in the kitchen, making granola for everyone on our list. (My fool-proof and quite adaptable granola recipe is here; I hope you’ll try it, too!) Thursday, it was spiced nuts: the perfect stocking stuffer or holiday hostess gift. (The recipe I used is here. I increased it times ten and filled small Weck jars with nuts for a beautiful presentation.)

IMG_5880Saturday morning, as sun poured into the kitchen, I made a double batch of cranberry orange bread from the recipe my mom always used and then went out for a walk while the loaves baked. When I got back to the house and opened the door, the sights and smells of Christmas at home did indeed lifted my heart: baking bread in the oven, holiday greens in pitchers, cherished decorations carefully arranged. As my mom packs up a lifetime’s worth of things from her home, some of her favorite decorations have made their way to me this week, and now the Santa who once graced her mantle has found a new home on ours.

IMG_5852In a few days, Henry will turn twenty-five and, as always, Christmas and his birthday will be all wrapped up together. Jack will fly home and our family will be under one roof at last. As always, we will gather with our friends this weekend for the Christmas Revels and for chili and cornbread around their table afterwards, as our grown children make the same jokes they always make about the sword dancers’ dwindling numbers and the shuffling guys holding up reindeer antlers in the second act.

Some night next week, we’ll sit in our living room and I’ll read Truman Capote aloud till the last page, when I’ll pass the book over to someone else to finish so that I don’t have to read through tears. On Christmas Eve, Henry will play the service in the church where he served as musical director when he was just out of college. And the next day our house will be full with family and friends and dogs and all the stuff of Christmas.

There will be joy. There already is. Joy slipped in quietly and took up residence in the space I cleared for it.

I wish you and yours much joy and peace abounding through this holiday season and into the new year.  Thank you, my dear friends, for showing up here so faithfully and for engaging with me in this ongoing conversation about our ordinary, extraordinary days.  I am grateful for each and every one of you!

IMG_5903

 

my mom’s cranberry-orange bread

(This recipe will make two loaves; I make the recipe two at a time, working in two separate bowls, so I can slip four loaves into the oven at once instead of two. I’ve also cut back on the sugar and upped the spices from her original.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

2 C. whole wheat flour

2 C. white flour

1 T. baking powder

1 t. salt

1 t. cinnamon

½ t. nutmeg

1 t. ground cloves

1 C. brown sugar

½ C. white sugar

½ C. unsalted butter

1 heaping T. grated orange rind

2 eggs

1 ½ C. fresh orange juice

2 C. fresh cranberries

1 C. chopped walnuts

1 C. raisins

Combine dry ingredients. Cut in butter. Combine orange juice, eggs, orange rind. Add to flour mixture and mix until just wet. Fold in cranberries, nuts, and raisins.

Pour into 2 greased and floured loaf pans. Bake 55-60 minutes. Cool on wire rack after removing from pan.

for my reflections & inspiration

your comments

  1. Last year I made your granola, and we loved it! This year I am going to try the bread. As always, thank you so much for your words. They always warm me up inside. I am giving my dear sister a copy of your Magical Journey book for Christmas. I hope she will love and treasure it as much as I do! Merry Christmas!

  2. Tamara Willems says:

    this is so timely (as always seems to happen) and so wonderful from you today Katrina. I’ve been feeling a bit stuck and just a little down this Christmas season, as I have just recently had surgery and have been unable to do much of our Christmas preparations about the house. My daughters put up the tree, but little else has been done.
    Just this morning, with a little more mobility, I was feeling ‘right time to do a bit of a tidy and get some Christmasy things out’. A daunting task, as things seem to have accumulated on every surface. Time for some serious discarding I think.
    Wonderfully, I came across this post, and suddenly I am filled with Joy at the prospect.
    Thank you for this,
    Merry Christmas to you and your family, and here’s to a bit more of Breathing Space 🙂

  3. Katrina- your post rings so true right now. I have been organizing my house as a recent empty nester delaying Xmas decorating until this week. Both my stepfather and aunt have died ( one week before Tgiving and now one week before Xmas). This unexpected “halt” in our family’s plans has paralyzed me. However, I appreciate and comfort that creating order is allowing you to give room for Joy! I cherish this concept and look forward to celebrating the holiday with my two college sons, family and friends.

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      It seems to be the challenge of our later years: to fully experience the sadness of loss AND, at the same time, to stay soft and open enough to keep celebrating the moments we do have with our loved ones. Wishing you a beautiful holiday, even as you mourn these departed loved ones.

  4. Thank you for a wonderful post, Katrina! It is so freeing to discard belongings that no longer give you joy. I have always loved January, since it has been my month to declutter and start fresh. We went to storage last week to get out some Christmas decor. The boxes, of course, were in the way back, so I just said never mind. I’ll be happy with my simple tree and bowl of ornaments. Instead of all that time I use to spend decorating, I did small good deeds for others. A little more rewarding. With the kids home for the holidays next week, we are planning a day to comb through our 300 boxes in storage. If we have lived without it for two years, it’s probably not that important. We’ll see how we do. I have also loved this blog, becommingminimalist.com. Wishing you and your family much joy this Christmas. Lots of love to you!

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Oh Tracy, I know the challenge you face. It was much, much harder for my kids to say “toss” than it was for me. And the book had prepared me for that; Marie advises us to stick to our own stuff, and I did my best to follow her advice. (Jack didn’t want any of those old cords of his thrown out, so I packed them all into one box.) Good luck!! (300 boxes. . .yikes.)

  5. I felt as though I was with you in your home as you were both cleaning, and as you were baking as well! Your writing truly is a gift! So glad your Christmas spirit lifted you up! Merry Christmas, Happy Birthday Henry, ( My son Corry will be 24 on the same day!) and a Happy, Healthy, Blessed new year!

  6. This wonderful post is gift I’ll treasure always. I loved reading about how carefully you prepared for Henry’s arrival and how music was a part of him even in-utero. It was fun to peek at your much-loved Christmas books! (I keep an entire shelf of our treasured Christmas books on display all year long.) I definitely need to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up – thank you for the recommend. Your home looks festive and inviting, and your Christmas plans sound lovely. (We listened to a CD of the Christmas Revels every year. Love that you attend them in person!) Thank you for inviting us in to share your special memories and your joy. Along with your many friends and devoted readers, I am beyond grateful for your presence in my life, Katrina. May all the gentle love and kindness you send out into the world come back to you in delightful and unexpected ways. xoxo

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Amy, I feel the same way! So glad we share this online world and have made a connection through the ether.

  7. Katrina, reading these words comforted me. Last year, my son went away for his first year of boarding school and I could hardly face the holidays. This year, my daughter went away to college, and I was determined to find joy. I spent the fall cleaning and purging and somehow, Christmas is happening! Thank you for always putting into words what my heart is feeling.

  8. Tina Mandeville says:

    Such another beautiful post, Katrina! Thank you for always sharing and saying things that pierce so deeply to our core about these ordinary, extraordinary days! You and your words are a treasure! Wishing you and all those you love a blessed holiday and a new year ahead filled with everything that means the most to you!

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Thanks Tina! Your comment is a good reminder that none of us is really doing this alone; I’ve learned that if I try to put what I’m feeling into words, there’s usually someone out there (or many someones!) who are going through or feeling the exact same thing.

  9. Katrina, I cannot thank you enough for your beautiful posts that always seem to resonate with me. It is such a comfort to know that we are not alone on our journey, that many of the feelings that I carry in my heart are shared by others. Wishing you and your family and all of your followers a blessed Christmas and a happy, healthy 2015.

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Thank you Denise; I, too, love this little online community of kindred spirits. It feels as if we do travel the road together, sharing so many of the ups and downs.

  10. Katrina,
    Just what I needed to read this morning….thank you!!!

  11. Thanks for writing about your thoughts this holiday season. I read it first thing this morning and could so relate to much of what you wrote. My boys will not be home for Christmas, but perhaps I will spend some time digging into some things that have “piled up” over the years so I, too, can clear some space and move forward.

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Jeanne, Just getting a start on this made me realize how much I have to do –but suddenly the prospect feels a little less daunting. One drawer, one box, at a time. And the more stuff that goes out the door, the better/freer I feel.

  12. Thank you. As always for the inspiration, and this time for the recipes too. I’ll be making that cranberry orange bread before the holiday is over. I’m also going to look for Marie Kondo’s book. Anyone that believes that sweaters prefer to be folded is someone I must get to know.
    Merry, Merry Christmas and a Happy, Healthy Blessed New Year to you and yours.

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      I found myself at first skeptical, and then enchanted, by the idea of happy socks and serenely folded sweaters. Happy holidays to you and yours, too.

  13. i will be stirring and dumping your mama’s cranberry-orange loaf — for that is the moment above when i was OVERCOME with the urge to leap up and join the joy dance. this was a perfectly marvelous opener to these days ahead, and soothed my own sense of oh-my-gosh-i-am-SO-far-behind. at your gentle instruction, i’ll crank the oven, put aside the woulda-shoulda’s and lather myself and the boys i love in your delicious brand of deep-breathing quiet contentment. thank you. and happy almost quarter century to your once-little santa…..

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Thanks Barbara! I hope the bread turns out. We ALL need to take that pause and deep breath, and then to leap into the joy dance, in whatever way moves us, right?

  14. Yes, this is a different Christmas here in Toronto. Many of our friends are having health problems and I find myself cleaning, shopping, decorating to get my mind off the sad stuff. Then I get a call from my daughter…”Can you watch the kids for two days, we’re going to New York for our anniversary?” I jump at the chance to have the dirty hands, play dough everywhere and early mornings with lots of noise, knowing I will be exhausted but very happy afterwards. Blessings to All

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      So wonderful that your daughter can call you to be with your grandchildren. I so look forward to that moment in my life!

  15. Oh my! This came to me weeks too late, but I will try like mad to follow your advice. I, too, had the same Holiday “blaas”! I am comforted by the fact that even you felt the same… My third, Meredith, arrived on December 16th–and I remember that as my most organized Christmas ever–even with two under 5!! Like our most precious present, she sat in her infant seat next to that tree most of the month and the years following we would celebrate her birth with “one big shebang” of neighbors, friends, and family with a surprise visit from Santa! Can it be possible that our “gift” turned 30 this year??!!! Oh, how I wish I could turn back the clock–but, I now have four precious “gifts” of grandchildren to help me celebrate, along with my #4 who will head to college next year! Divorce and moving twice has made me have an abundance of boxes full of “treasures and memories” in my basement and closets and I get anxious when I look at them along with the pile up of books never read and magazines never revisited, as planned…..I always knew, but you confirmed that the sorting job I have ahead of me will help lift my spirits and energy! Your writings are as comforting to me as my daily devotionals–comforting words from God and inspiration from a woman whom I would one day love to meet and call my friend. You have a beautiful gift that touches many hearts which lets us know that we are not alone as you express some of our very own thoughts in such a way that we feel adoringly connected…Please, keep them coming!!
    I wish you all the most wonderful of Holidays and many, many Blessings in the New Year!

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Pamela, thank you for this. To know my words “land” this way means a lot. And yes, I can almost guarantee that once the job of confronting the piles and boxes is behind you, you’ll feel lighter! Blessings to you and yours.

  16. Thank you Katrina! This does boost my spirit!

    Peace and Joy to you!!

  17. Carole Clarin says:

    Although Christmas is not my holiday, your thoughts ring true for all. My children’s daughters share both Christmas and Chanukah with their interfaith parents and I am the provider of the potato latkes that I dread making every year. Luckily I did that yesterday and will do it again when I visit my son and his family. Your post is coaxing me to put the complaining aside and charge ahead and perhaps try your recipes too. Thank you and enjoy a wonderful holiday with your family and friends!

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      I’m sure your family so looks forward to those latkes! I feel the same way about the annual sausage balls — dread — but I know just what you mean about putting the complaining aside. There’s something wonderful about simply doing the little things that make others happy.

  18. I love this and can relate to every word – especially this year where so many of lives bumps and hurdles are clouding my joy for the season. I am trying, but I do know how wonderful I feel when I de-clutter even one cabinet or drawer, so I am going home tonight and doing that…just one today, but will continue when I have time over the next month until I make room for JOY – even if it’s past Christmas. Thank you once again for the clarity…I needed it. Merry Christmas!

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      You’ve got it! I started with just one shelf, but it still made a big difference in my state of mind. And then ONE bathroom drawer, which only took a few minutes — and made me wonder why I hadn’t just done it months ago. Good luck!

  19. My 2nd Grandmother’s son and wife have been in Cambridge Revels for probably 30 years. I went once and I just didn’t get it. I didn’t like the part where the audience gets up and dances. Maybe they don’t do that now? Thanks for sharing and always being ‘on mark.’ I just cleaned my food cabinet the other day looking for items for the food bank only to find that most of the things were dated 2010-2012. Note to self: Do a thorough cleaning once a year!

  20. Kirstin Rich says:

    I’ve been told that to get a better answer you must ask a better question. Thanks for introducing me to that question, Katrina! “Does this spark joy?” I will ask this question not only of my stuff, but also of those activities where I choose to invest my time. — I have been reading your soul feeding words ever since Mitten Strings first came out. Thank you for encouraging my heart over the years! (My first born son also arrived a week before Christmas. He turns 19 tomorrow!)

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Kirsten, I’ve had the same thought exactly: to ask the joy question about activities as well as things. Yes!

  21. As a retired Head Start teacher, I am happy to be invited to volunteer in the classroom when the children are making gingerbread boys. Their teacher can’t tolerate the sticky molasses mess, and flour everywhere. She looks the other way when I let little 3 year olds crack eggs.
    So after a lovely morning, I was walking down the hallway, and I saw a second-grade girl stapling up holiday pictures. I stopped to talk to her about her work, and she told me about their writing assignment. Inside a decorated present, they were prompted to write: “If I were a gift, I would be…..” Most of them were Xboxes for brothers, or a teddy bear, or something like that. The little girl with the stapler had written, “I would be a tarp for my dad. His old tarp is hard to get the sawdust off. The reason why is he is so nice to me and my brother. He is kind and helps everyone who needs help.” Something like that. I could see what a good kid she was from her shy smile, and as another teacher walked by, I told her to take a look at this amazing gift. I left feeling the spirit of Christmas alive and well.
    I went straight to the corner hardware store, and bought a tarp, and took it back to school. I saw the teacher in the hall, and told her how this little girl touched my heart, and wished her and her dad a Merry Christmas.
    There is so much good in the world, it’s true.
    Nancy O

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Such a beautiful story! This truly does capture the spirit of Christmas. And I’m sure that little girl will never ever forget the gift of the tarp, a magical tale to recount year after year.

  22. Ann Mengel says:

    Katrina, love love love your posts! So, what did you do with the old school bell (that I saw on your shelves in one of your pictures)? Did it spark joy? The reason I ask… I have one just like it! Perhaps they both got passed down to Steve and me from Amah and Hapaw??

    • Katrina Kenison says:

      Hi Ann! I don’t actually know where that bell came from, but it DOES spark joy. I love it. And even more, to think it might have been handed down. All I know is we’ve had it for a long time, and it deserves pride of place on the shelf! Merry Christmas to you all.

  23. Miss seeing you in California, but your words always make it feel like you just visited and spoke directly to me! My birthday is also December 18 and it while it was always a joy to see the Christmas decorations go up as a herald to my birthday season when I was a child, it has become more of a burden to have a birthday with the responsibilities of being a mom. (And I made sure my kids were born in May and June, haha) My adult child will be coming home next Sunday and my college freshman has just come home to CA from snowy Michigan ( his gratitude for his hometown has grown leaps and bounds, btw), and the outside of the house is under remodel, so putting up decorations was just not in my heart. I have resorted to simple flickering faux candlesticks in the windows and a small silver foil tree in the bay window and one lit garland down the bannister. The lighter touches actually feel fresher and more special by their contrast to the usual multi-storage-box ordeal! I just downloaded Marie’s book as a birthday present to myself and I am already delighted by the confidence she has in her ability to effect a change in her readers. Merry Christmas to you and I look forward to the next time you visit LC!

  24. Chris Wells says:

    Thank you Katrina. The book, The Life changing Magic of Tidying Up, has been ordered and on it’s way. Just in time for the new year! I hope to make the Cranberry Orange Bread this weekend, while hopefully getting the tree up…..I am running out of time. Everyone I talk to feels rushed this Christmas!
    Have a wonderful Christmas with your family home! Thank you for the wonderful recipes and most of all thank you for the inspiration!

  25. What a gift to read! Marie’s book was a gift as well, as I unpacked our home into a new home, and new state, this fall. With unpacked boxes still waiting after Thanksgiving, I was loathe to pull out the holiday decorations. My boys and husband brought home the tree—and I too asked for a few days to rally. My youngest is six, and his embodiment of the Christmas spirit is contagious. That has helped. Recent losses make the holidays more pognaint and less easy, and I’m so grateful for your sharing here.

  26. I have ordered that book! I too have not been in the Christmas spirit. Life feels too full lately with crazy long days of work, busy evenings of sports activities, homework nagging, errands to run…and my house is filled to the brim . I envy your time and space to clear out and hope I can do that in the coming days. I haven’t baked a thing..and am still needing to finish up Christmas shopping. It all is wonderful but can feel a bit much…too much pressing down on me. This weekend I intend to finish up my lists, get some baking and wrapping done and hopefully gain some holiday spirit. The recipes look wonderful. As always, thanks for the inspiring glimpse into your life.

  27. I too have been loving Marie Kondo’s book! I’ve been “KonMari-ing” for the last 6 weeks or so. Amazing! Join our Facebook group – Konmari Adventures – if you’re interested in support and encouragement.

  28. Thank you Katrina for your post! I ( I ..like many others struggle this time of year. ) I am in the throws of a very busy life with 3 boys ( ages 15,13,8) all under my roof! My house is loud, active and NEVER peaceful! Ha! Sadly, days after my oldest was born my mother passed away. Dec 16th marked the 15th year anniversary. Your post reminded me to stop focusing on the fact that she is not here, that she never got to enjoy her grandsons, but to celebrate all the love and laughs that are in my house all the time! ( as I write my boys are laughing over the maple syrup that just spilled all over the table ….) Thank you and Merry Christmas!

  29. I’m overwhelmed with stuff right now and dreading the onslaught that will come with Christmas. (Two December birthdays didn’t help either). Sometimes I get to the point of letting go of stuff, but hate to throw it out and don’t always know where to get rid of it, so I get stuck there. I’ve created very small pockets of space and I can feel how much I love them, but it’s so hard to get there all over the house. Feeling inspired after reading this.

  30. Katrina,
    You are my kindred spirit. Happy Holidays to you and your family! Thanks for the recipes!
    Best,
    Michelle

  31. I just had a chance to sit down and read….and enjoy….your heartfelt words once again. Thank you for the precious gift of your writing and for sharing your family and adventures (and challenges) with us. They so resonate with me and my family.

    Best wishes for a VERY Merry Christmas to you and your family! And, Happy Birthday to your dear December “baby.”

  32. As I began to read this lovely post, I thought , ” this is exactly how I feel this year”. Just thinking about the amount of work to be done in the next few weeks, made me feel tired and cranky, but when I had finished it, I was feeling calmer, happier and ready to plunge into the season, keeping those things that bring joy and discarding those that are merely habits that no longer serve. Thank you for my first Christmas gift of the season. Blessings to you and yours.

  33. ❤️

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