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On Being Merry and Bright

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time.” ― Laura Ingalls Wilder

As I sit here today, reflecting back on these past couple of crazy-world horrific weeks but – whew! – feeling lucky that we dodged that whole end-of-the-world thing, I find that I am peaceful.  Amidst the frantic preparations, the crazy shopping, the mounds of food, the gallons of nog and the general overabundance that is seemingly heaped upon us at this time of year, to me, there is a beautiful underlying sense of calm community that seems to emerge as the holiday decorations are hung.  It feels like we all are gentler, kinder and more mindful of greeting each other genuinely and sincerely . . . and for me, it brings up bits of child-like wonder.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ― Norman Vincent Peale

There’s a warmth this time of year that takes me back to my roots and all the anticipation over what Christmas morning would bring.  My mother, bless her sweet soul, loved making Christmas special for all of us.  I can still picture her sitting on the couch, her usually perfect coif rumpled from us dragging her out of bed at the crack of dawn, sipping her coffee and trying to shake off the cobwebs of the few hours of sleep she had gotten while preparing our sumptuous gift-feast.  Honestly, our living room looked like a department store display.  At some point in all the unwrapping hullabaloo, I would watch my parents share a quiet smile as their tired eyes met; they had grown up very poor and were thrilled to deliver the spoils of their life’s work to their children.  We certainly could have done with less.  We could have done with more quality time together rather than the gifts, but it was important to them to give us the things they never had.

My life has been bankrupt in some ways but always abundant in material goods.  My childhood longings have given way to my adulthood desire to no longer partake in the gift exchange tradition; rather, I prefer to think of every day as a gift.   My goal is to find something in that every day gift that reminds me to be a better person, to exercise gratitude in being here.  Some days are MUCH easier than others in finding these gems.  We survived the Mayan apocalypse this week, but I say let’s not go back to our cozy nooks and crannies where we tend to dwell.  Let’s grab those things near and dear, take big risks and continue to leap into the unknown every day.  Find out what makes you come alive and unwrap it with the eagerness and gusto of the kid you were and the kid you still are; the one who has faith in the unseen, the one who believes that all things are possible and that you really can be whatever you want to be.

“I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.” ― Charles Dickens

For everyone in my life who brings a little holiday cheer to my every day, who make daily adventures feel like opening a beautifully unexpected gift and who foster my inner child, I send deep, heartfelt hugs and lots of love.  Thank you for all of it.

Despite all the mayhem, the world is still a beautiful place.  Happy, happy holidays.

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  • Geoff

    Your words are as exquisite as your photographs. Love that one as an infant… those beautiful eyes haven’t changed, only to become more mesmerizing!! Happy Holidays, in all sorts of ways to you, Cynthia!!

  • Paige

    I love the pictures of you when you were little! Thanks for taking me back in time to our family Christmas memories – those were magical moments and still stick with me to this day. And thank you for your inspiring words. Love you sister and Merry Christmas!

  • leonie

    You make my life more beautiful, simply by being in it. Happy holidays, friend.