stuff in my life right now

I looked back through my blog archives and realized that it’s been a while since I did one of those themeless list posts. Since people tend to enjoy those, and since I’m not sure if I can generate a coherent argument today, here is a list, in no particular order, of things I have going on right now.

  1. I just put my electric blanket on my bed and tucked it in at the end so that it has officially become part of my bedding for the duration of the winter. This will no doubt enhance my quality of life.
  2. I’m in a Peter Pan season. I went to see the strange and delightful play Peter and the Starcatcher Friday night at the South Bend Civic Theater. (By the way, did you know that the novel on which the play is loosely based is called Peter and the Starcatchers? Play–singular; novel–plural.) This week in my children’s lit class, we are reading Peter Pan, and as part of our discussion of Peter Pan as culture-text (a fancy term for the whole conversation surrounding the text–sources, adaptations, connotations, etc.), I plan to show the student clips from the 1953 Disney Peter Pan and Finding Neverland, read them part of Piers Dudgeon’s The Real Peter Pan, and show-and-tell them my Peter Pan Funko Pop. Maybe I’ll even wear my new  Neverland jacket. In summary, I’m way too engrossed this week in a flying, narcissistic, magical boy.
  3. Jordan and I are doing the Whole30.* I am putting an asterisk next to this statement because we are aware that we cannot truly say we have done the Whole30 if we take a break in the middle, which we did last weekend for a very good reason: our wedding reception tasting, which we weren’t about to delegate to anyone else. Also, you’re not supposed to eat sugar-cured bacon or sausage on the Whole30, but it’s dang hard to find non-sugar-cured versions, and I’m not stressing out about it. So we’re doing the Whole30.* Maybe we’ll do it for real later this year. In the meantime, I’ve learned that you can make a really good barbecue sauce using dates as the sweetener. Who knew?
  4. I am doing Yoga With Adriene’s 30-day yoga “journey” entitled Home. (Look her up on YouTube; she’s a phenomenon.) Instead of doing my daily practice in the morning as I typically have in the past, I am waiting until 4:00 or 4:30 pm. This not only frees up my early mornings for other types of exercise but also gives me a delicious (yummy, as Adriene would say) break after the workday. It’s been fun trying to wrap everything up in order to make sure I can get started at the time I’ve written in my planner. (See last week’s post on why I’m giving non-meeting, non-appointment activities like yoga a specific time in my planner.)
  5. I received six goodly-sized jar candles for Christmas. That sounds like a lot, but I love having a bit of fire in my home, and since I don’t have a fireplace, this works almost as well (and smells better). I did have all six out in various places, but today, in an effort to be seasonally appropriate (something I typically don’t care about), I put away Peach Flambe and Ocean Currant for later. I’m amazed by my restraint.

And now, I must go because it’s almost 4:30 and time to do yoga. Let me know what you’re into right now!

Advent week 3: Christmas rituals

Last week, actual tears came to my eyes while I was writing my blog post, and I don’t feel like going through that emotional wringer again (plus I can’t think of anything profound to say this week), so I’m going to write about something more fun.  But first, I have to tell you about a book I checked out of my church library.  It’s called Simply SenseSational Christmas.  The title, interestingly enough, isn’t the cheesiest thing about the book.  Let’s just say that it savors strongly of the 1990s, when it was published.  But although the hip DIY bloggers of 2016 might sneer at much of this book’s aesthetic, its central points are perhaps more relevant than ever: 1. Christmas is about the time when God was born in a stable, so stop stressing yourself out trying to have the perfect showplace home, and 2. Appealing to all five physical senses is possibly the best way to create a memorable, delightful, and even worshipful experience for yourself and your loved ones at Christmas.  The book goes on to offer simple strategies like scattering a handful of cloves around candles so that they give off a spicy, festive scent when they get warm.  This might not be life-changing stuff–then again, it might.

This book has got me thinking about some of the rituals, most if not all of them involving the physical senses, that I enjoy in my own home each Christmas.  This is the second Christmas I’ve spent in my house.  Before that, I was renting an apartment, and while I enjoyed some Christmas rituals there too, there’s something special about celebrating in one’s very own home.  (I also enjoy a number of Christmas rituals in my parents’ house, where I always spend the actual day of Christmas and usually the week or so before and after it, but those aren’t the subject of this post.)  Here are some of them.

  1. I have a number of Christmas albums in my iTunes library, including some that I’ve been listening to with my family since childhood (The New Young Messiah) and some that I’ve acquired in recent years (Christmas at the Renaissance Fair by Moat Jumper–exactly what it sounds like).  I start listening to these while I’m decorating on December 1, and I usually get through the whole collection about three times during the Christmas season.  I also have some individual Christmasy tracks from other albums that I include in the rotation, such as Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Fantasia on Greensleeves” and John Williams’s “Christmas at Hogwarts” from the Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone soundtrack.  I also like to listen to the Nutcracker suite on record #12 of the Festival of Light Classical Music record collection I bought at Goodwill last year for $2.50.
  2. I light candles like a pyromaniac all year, but at Christmas, it really gets out of hand.  I go through tealights like my family goes through toilet paper at a large gathering.  The last year I lived in the apartment, my neighbor made me a lovely set of candleholders created from upside-down stemware decorated to look like Santa Claus, a snowman, and other festive characters.  I also have a balsam-and-cedar scented large Yankee jar candle that almost compensates for the fact that my 1.5 trees (I have a big one in the living room and a little one in my home office) are artificial.  My Pier One Holiday Forest room spray, a gift from a friend last year, also helps.
  3. I love mail.  I check my mailbox obsessively on Saturdays when I’m home to check it, and I actually have a real honest-to-goodness pen pal.  So it’s no surprise that I enjoy sending Christmas cards.  I love writing in them (even if it’s just a simple “Love, Tess”), sticking Christmas seals on the envelopes, and putting a big fat stack of them out in the mailbox.  In turn, when I receive Christmas cards, I hang them with tiny clothespins on twine in the corner of my entryway.  It’s an easy and beautiful decoration, especially when I get cards with gold on the front, which catch the light from my many candles and my tree lights.

I could go on–I haven’t said a word about food–but I think you get the idea.  These rituals are so common as to sound almost banal, but they’re meaningful to me.  I’m sure you have some that are meaningful to you.  Feel free to share in the comments!