Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Christmas Comfort

Christmas is a season of magic.
Time moves in all directions--past, present, future. 

I stood on my tiptoes, hanging a wreath on the tall mirror, and glimpsed my reflection. I didn't see a 64-year old woman. Looking back at me was a brown-eyed girl with curly hair and a snub nose, a kid who loved pecan pralines and make-believe. And I remembered that Christmas makes us all time travelers, pulling us backward into childhood.

All day, the temperature hovered at 38 degrees--too warm for a white Christmas. But in my mind's eye, I saw snow falling on the hilltop and candles glowing in frosty windows. A pot of chili bubbled on the stove, and hot cocoa simmered in the Crockpot.
What are our secret expectations during the holidays? Our feet propped in front of a blazing fire. Chocolate melting over a low flame. The smell of freshly cut evergreen branches and the feel of sticky sap on your hands as you gather pine cones. Nat King Cole singing "The Christmas Song," or maybe Elvis crooning "Blue Christmas."

Can our yearnings keep pace with the non-stop bustle of shopping, decorating, cleaning, baking? Sometimes we push and prod ourselves to keep going, and before we know it, exhaustion has taken hold. 

No time for a break. 

Presents must be wrapped (or maybe bought), and the heater is on the blink. Cookies are baking. The house needs vacuuming again. And you still haven't found a dress for the Christmas party. Oh, well, Mlee. If you keep eating fudge, you can just wear a comfy sack dress, the one that makes you look like a bell in Westminster Cathedral.

This is the moment I take ten minutes for myself. I turn on Christmas music, find something delicious to drink, and sit down. 

Hot cocoa is magic in a mug.

My Mimi had a recipe for comfort and joy:
Take a heaping cup of comfort.
Add a dash of silence, a pinch of nostalgia, and an endless barrel of happiness.
Add chocolate, because chocolate fixes everything.
Mix well.
Pour into a cup and sip slowly.
Repeat, if necessary.

The holidays are a mixed bag, a time when dreams collide with reality. We tell ourselves that this will be the year we get it right, the season we do it better. We'll deck the halls in style, design our own Christmas cards, bake up a storm. This is the year we won't eat too much candy (fat chance). Stress will be in our rear view mirror. We'll fa-la-la slowly but surely. 

Our to-do lists are marvelous things because they keep us focused. Expectations have a purpose, too. How else will we grow and learn?
But what really matters is just being here.
This is the gift.

Wishing you a Happy National Hot Cocoa Day.
Now, come on inside and let me pour you a steaming cup.

Mittens -- Amazon, Ojbro Swedish Made Mittens
Floral Mug -- 222 5th "New Country"
White cups/saucers "Baroque" by American Atelier
Penguin mugs  -- KMart (2006)
Scottie Mug -- HomeGoods
Plaid Mugs -- Williams Sonoma

Shared at:
Metamorphosis Monday


  1. Ah, I love this post. Your thoughts remind me to slow down and enjoy this wonderful season. :)

  2. Your food photography is beyond stunning! Great job! I had fun reading your post. Merry Christmas!

  3. I often say just breathe, be in the moment, enjoy each day. Love your cocoa mugs!

  4. I need to pick up some ingredients for hot chocolate. Tis the season!

  5. Yes, it's a mixed bag this time of year. So much to do, but it's time to be with family, too. I love hot chocolate and make a cup almost nightly!

  6. Well, now I'm craving hot chocolate, without a doubt! Lovely post, Michael, I think we all have the idea that 'this year it will be the perfect Christmas' and perhaps we put a bit too much pressure on ourselves that way!!

  7. I'm finding at my age that I need more frequent breaks to accomplish things. And I agree with you that "time moves in all directions." As Alexander Smith​ states ​"Christmas is the day that holds all time together." May your holiday be a mixture of peace and merriment. With two pups in the house, I know you'll have merriment!

  8. Happy National Hot Cocoa Day! I loved every sip from the happy mugs and Scottie tartan plaid, marshmallows afloat with piles of whipped cream, peppermint straws, beautiful bokeh and cheery mittens. "Christmas makes us all time travelers"...oh so true. Love your Mimi's recipe for comfort and joy, too. ♥

  9. Great post ! I KEEP SAYING ! You need to write a book !! I'll BUY IT ! You are an excellent writer ! Your words are captivating ! Did I just say that ! I don't think I have ever written that word or said that word ! HA !!!

  10. I love all the cheery red, the plaid, and of course the chocolate. Lovely post!

  11. You have made a cup of hot cocoa an art!! Each photo is just gorgeous!! Wonderful post❤️🎄

  12. I loved this post - it made me feel like I was enveloped in Christmas magic. I think the reason I sometimes try to overdo everything for Christmas is because I am trying to recreate the Christmas magic from my childhood. Of course this will never happen; I am now an adult of your age. There are moments that do occur now that seem so perfect. I just wanted to tell you that this post (although cocoa in my house was a much plainer affair)gave me one of those moments. If you are wishing for a white Christmas then I hope that your wish comes true.

    1. Thank you SO much for your kind words. I can't tell you how much they mean to me. Wishing you all the best during the holidays!

  13. Delightful post! Hot cocoa is the only hot drink I drink - and it has to be cold outside. So with a foot of snow and 18' today, I enjoyed a cup!

  14. Michael Lee, this post resonates with me. I stopped at Starbucks late Wednesday between rushing from a museum event to the theatre for Broadway production of The King and I. I gave myself a little respite of calm and quiet while sipping on that cup of comfort. Your cups of comfort are as pretty as they must be tasty. Love that melted chocolate on top!

  15. I will be right over! Makes me want to get some more pretty cups! Sometimes I just love holding the cup of hot cocoa to warm up my hands but those mittens would do the trick!

  16. Thank you for this great post. It says it all.

    Love all the wonderful hot chocolate cups, they look yummy.

    Have a wonderful Merry Christmas.