It’s that time of year—the season of fir and spruce and garland, light and scent and spirits. We plan and shop and bake, hang wreaths on our doors, and drag ornaments and stockings out of storage. And we decorate.

I’m in awe of people whose homes sparkle for the holidays. I always wonder how they know which decorations will glitter and beckon and appear as if they were meant to be where they are. There’s a gift to choosing and arranging I don’t have. Maybe because I didn’t grow up with it, or maybe I just don’t have that gene. I wish I knew.

My house always looks off during the holidays, no matter how carefully I study what others do. There never seems to be the right place for our candles; favorite nutcracker ornaments stand like cross, unruly sentries on the mantel, and two mismatched golden wire trees look as if they’re pining for company. Every year I consider buying more of them, imagining them surrounded by a gilded forest, but it feels frivolous somehow….

Then there’s the tree, and those fragile-footed birds placed into the same position on two branches as if they are about to kiss, without being close enough to do it. I wonder if they gossip when all the lights are out, or if they merely sigh and say, “Well, here we are again.”

Yes. Here we are.

And so, I wish you forests of good company to cheer you, and a season that sparkles with love, light, and the blessings of abundant joy and well-being.

Until 2020…


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…seems a world away in weeks.  Yet, it’s not.

There will be old things to go through, irritants to shed, habits to abandon in 2019.

And I will have to make lists to keep myself focused.

There will be a long list for writing projects (yes, I changed the point of view again; no, Character One is not going to have the stroke), a musical list of pieces I want to learn (finally), a list for home improvements (that runner on the staircase has GOT to go, as do the bedroom curtains—whoops, there’s another item for that list: MAKE CURTAINS; but first, find a place for the sewing machine), and there’s a list for appointments which need to be made, letters that have to be written, and more and more.

No one living I know has a birthday or anniversary in January, thank goodness, but the new calendar will have to be marked with the correct dates (which list does that go on?), and 2018’s holiday decorations will have to come down.

Did I mention the closets that have to be cleaned? The stack of books near my chair?  Or time for play or leisurely chats with friends and family? Or movies I want to see? Or reading the paper, watching the news? (Well, maybe not.) And I haven’t even addressed exercise and diet.

Oh, the lists on my desk will be many, and definitely unruly as they mount. And then I will have to make another list to prioritize them.

But that’s next year. For the moment, it’s still 2018. So, my hope for you is this:

May your lists be manageable, your holiday merry and all you wish, and your New Year sparkling with promise.

Joy, peace, and love to all.

©2018 All Rights Reserved



A Humble Offering

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As we all know, another holiday season is upon us, which means an assortment of activities, invitations, and celebrations involving food.

I am not shy about admitting  I’ve had a love-hate relationship with food all my life. Growing up with food allergies was no picnic (sorry, couldn’t resist). Finding out in midlife that I could no longer eat wheat, rye, or barley was both a relief and an inconvenience.  How was I going to eat out? What was I going to do if I was invited to someone’s home for dinner? And on and on.

Oh, I messed up a few times, wound up as a guest in someone’s home looking at a table full of dishes that were forbidden to me, but, gradually, I learned how to survive. Which leads to the following….

If you are on a restricted diet, and are invited to someone’s home for a large sit-down or buffet dinner (buffets are definitely easiest to navigate), please let your hosts know about your restrictions as soon as you receive the invitation and ask if they’ve planned the menu. If they have not, ask if you can contribute one of your favorite dishes to the meal. If they have, offer to bring one or more of the dishes your host wants to serve made to serve your needs (I always offer to bring gluten free baked goods, since they are my specialty). So far, I have not encountered a host or hostess who has balked at help, particularly with a big guest list. If they do balk, even after you’ve explained there are things you can’t eat, ask if they would be terribly insulted if you brought something for yourself. If that idea upsets them, and you still really want to go, then eat beforehand, stuff a protein bar or some other filling snack into your purse or pocket for discreet nibbling between courses, and eat whatever looks safest. (Tip: if your host is preparing a salad, and you’re concerned about the dressing, you can always ask if they would set aside a portion of it for you before they dress and serve it. Most cooks don’t dress their salads until right before they bring it to the table, to avoid wilting, so this is usually a safe request, and will avoid the embarrassment of having to explain why your plate is empty.)

I say all this as one who has done all of the above. I do not expect hosts to cook special dishes for me. I do hope they will allow me to bring complementary dishes I can eat and share, but if they don’t, I come prepared in other ways.

Everyone is stressed during the holidays, and the fact that everyone’s expectations for a greeting-card-perfect holiday season are high just magnifies that stress. If you’re like me, and have special dietary needs, please remember that your hosts are as stressed as you. Being honest and offering them help will go a long way toward alleviating that stress for all of you.

Just a little advice, for what it’s worth.

Have a joyous and blessed holiday season, dear friends.


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