What strikes a chord with you?  What do you do that feels as comfortable as putting on that soft, washed hundreds of time, faded, cozy, old sweatshirt?

It’s always the familiar that takes our heart back home, wherever we may be.

No matter what Chapter you’re writing. No matter where you’re writing it. No matter how exciting a stage you’re experiencing. No matter how you ache from a loss, there is something about experiencing what is familiar to us that is settling.

My husband and I are spending the winter in a very different place . . . . Naples, FL to Jackson Hole, Wyoming . . . it doesn’t get much different than that. And while I’m figuring out where things should go and how to deal with boots, gloves, hats, and coats, the minute I sit down to my computer, everything is exactly where it should be.

I can find my friends, my recipes, years of photos, the articles I’m working on, my travel itineraries, my receipts, the jokes I’ve saved. The list of books I’m intending to read. It’s all there.

And I think what’s familiar . . . what is traditional . . . what makes up our happiest memories . . . are the things we treasure most.

Especially during this season.

Wouldn’t you agree?

What Do You Treasure?

What do you treasure more: The gifts you’ve received or the memories you’ve collected?

A close friend recently sent me a reminder of what is special to most of us this season.  It’s not the shopping, or the wrapping.  It’s not the commercialism but the connections we make with people we love that make this such a magical time.

Here is an excerpt of a note from Dr. Cary Nelson, MD a board certified family practitioner and Director of Science and Nutrition for Probiotic America. It struck a chord with me and I think it will with you too.

It’s the holiday season.

Of course, you probably already know that. With all the commercials and store displays and Christmas tunes on the radio, it’s kind of hard to miss.

But just in case you needed a reminder, on Monday night, ABC Television showed A Charlie Brown Christmas.  This was the 50th-anniversary broadcast of the special.  It’s aired on TV every year since 1965.  We all remember the kids dancing in the auditorium…Charlie Brown’s sad little tree…and of course, that mellow jazz music.  As you probably remember, Charlie Brown spends most of the show trying to figure out the true meaning of the holiday.

And when I watched last night, with all the hoopla surrounding the anniversary, I realized something.

A special that’s aired every Christmas for the last five decades: That’s what the holidays are about.
They’re about traditions.

When you ask most people what they remember most about the holidays…what do they tell you?
Sure, sometimes it’s a particular gift they once got…or a present they gave to someone special.
But usually, most people remember the annual family photo…or trimming the tree…or building snowmen.

There’s favorite ornaments and decorations passed down through generations…tasty holiday treats…even the Yule Log on television.

It’s those kinds of things, the moments and events people share with friends and family, year in and year out.

That’s what makes the holidays so unforgettable.

Do you know what else is really special?  Those unforgettable moments are generally the ones we can’t plan for or stress about.  They just happen.

They happen when the unbaked pumpkin pie gets dropped before it goes in the oven.  They happen when flights are delayed or cancelled and you end up making friends with strangers in an airport in the same situation.  They’re the candid snapshots of everyone before taking the posed family photo.   They’re the cat in the Christmas tree.  The little girl hitching up her tights in front of the congregation during the church program.  The look on a child’s face when they get the chance to finally meet Santa and not be afraid.

This time of year, I remember all those moments.  And one other.


Do You Still Believe?

I remember Christmas morning, rubbing the sand from my eyes, and looking . . . just looking . . . at the lit Christmas tree with packages under it that weren’t there the night before.

I believed.  Boy, did I believe.

Even now, when I’m the one who creates the magic for someone else and buys the presents, wraps them, and ties them up with ribbon and bows.  Even now the magic is there for me too.  When I’ve finished placing everything under the tree I turn off all the lights except those on the Christmas tree and leave the room.

I wait five minutes.

And then I go back.

And there it is.  The memory.  The familiar.  The lights and the packages. The wonder and the magic.  For a split second I’m five years old again.

And I believe.  I still believe.

I wish you that same magic.  I wish you a five year old’s joy.  I wish you memory making moments.

Because those are the things that will last way beyond any presents you receive.