Some of my best memories growing up were waking up at the crack of dawn on Christmas mornings, jumping out of bed with crusty, half-opened eyes, to drag my parents into the living room so we could start unwrapping presents. One of the most exciting days in a kid's heart.
Fast forward 15+ years, and while I still get excited for the morning by the tree with coffee and cozy socks, it sometimes feels like the day ends as quickly as it started. And as a now 25-year-old, Christmas means something far different to me than it did at the age of 10, as I hope it would...
Last year, I spent Christmas away from family. Although I wasn't with them, it was probably the best Christmas away I could have ever created. In the swiss alps with my best friend, making chocolate, and eating an exceptional 7-course meal that was so good, we deliberately sat at the table taking deep breaths and long pauses in-between bites in hopes we could make more room. The day ended soaking up the warmth of a hot tub but the breeze of crisp, mountain air. It was perfect.
But despite how wonderful it was, a piece of you feels incomplete spending a holiday, that for me, has great family memories tied to, away from the people you're used to spending it with. So this year, it was important I was home. And this year, though different, felt whole. I started the day baking, per usual, in hopes of enjoying the sweet smell of dough rising in the oven as we sat around the tree. The whole family, together, sipped coffee, shared Christmas memories from over the years, and laughed hysterically at Charles Barkley unwrapping his presents - seriously, the dog should really be in a hallmark movie or something. I'm beginning to understand that as kids get older, and lives more separate, coming together on the holidays can be challenging. So, this one felt special. And even more so when it involves food made from love, deep belly laughs, and real, honest, joy.
The holidays feel a little different for everyone. For some, it's filled with love and happiness. For others, maybe grief or loneliness. The holidays may mean reflection or bringing forward gratitude. They may also prompt anger or uncertainty. I hope that where ever you fall, you find a moment of love. A moment to cherish, and smile, whether that's physically or emotionally. In my eyes, it's not the grandiose gifts under the tree, or whether or not dinner went off without a hitch, it's the moments of a dog running in circles out of uncontainable joy, my dad getting to finish his puzzle, my sister's smile seeing her boyfriend, my mom savoring the sourdough rolls, and for me, the ability to go on an evening walk pain-free. Those are the moments I want to remember each Christmas. The small details that are always around us, but may require a little more focus to see them.