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Entertaining: To Fulfill Ourselves or To Impress Others?

So I've been thinking a lot about how holiday entertaining will look like in the months to come. Is it worth going to all the trouble of decorating and cooking if it's just for you and your immediate family? Will they appreciate it?

I have to say YES! It always troubles me when someone tells me, "well, no one is going to see it - it's just us." It makes me wonder -- are we putting more effort into impressing others or taking time to be fulfilling ourselves? The holidays are the perfect time to practice living slower and appreciating the small things. To intentionally revel in the joys and create warmth during this time of year you may have never felt before. To treat ourselves well is to take care of others. I'm sure you've heard the expression, "you cannot pour from an empty cup".

Because we are so fatigued and overcome by this months-long pandemic and crazy political season, we may not feel like making the extra effort this year. However, to repair our souls and give us a sense of normalcy, we must push through and continue some of the traditions we have created over the years in whatever way possible.

Even if some of those traditions are smaller this year, make them more meaningful. To do so is a form of self-nurturing and self-care. We do so much for others, this year it will be about you. Relish in the things that bring you joy and comfort. Decorate and appreciate your home, then find extra time to sit and enjoy it. Really enjoy it!

Like Sarah Ban Breathnach says in her book, Romancing the Ordinary, "But because I know all too well how much we care about the people we love, I also know how hard it is to care for ourselves. In Romancing the Ordinary I'm putting you first, for mere minutes a day to help you gently learn the sacred soulcraft of self nuture."

This year may look and feel different, but it should still be filled with some of the traditions we have become accustomed to and how much they make us happy. And to remind ourselves of what the holidays are all about, to remind us of why we must take care of ourselves, and to honor those that can't.

Depending on what and how you celebrate, many traditions are very familiar and very comforting. This could be putting up the Christmas tree, your family discovering ornaments they haven't seen in a year, playing holiday music. Many of my friends are doing this -- or following other traditions such as setting up a menora -- earlier this year. You'll cherish it longer. Or perhaps it's taking time to pull out a long-lost sweet potato dish that your grandmother made every Thanksgiving. Give it your own touch with fancy spices and local ingredients. Although your usual guests aren't there to enjoy it, the memories will make you happy. And you can always share the recipe to be created in other homes!

I focus a lot on the Danish concept of the "hygge" and have defined it in previous blogs. However, this is how Oxford dictionary defines it: "It is a quality of coziness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or wellbeing". It's a beautiful way of nurturing the soul and appreciating the little things. It is about creating a life and decorating a home using the senses of scent, touch, sight, taste.

Maybe this year you're not hosting a large gathering, but wouldn't be a nice treat to bring out the nice china and set a beautiful table just for yourself and your immediate family? Family members of all ages love a beautiful setting complete with fresh flowers and sparkling water glasses. Perhaps for you it's simply forcing paper-lily bulbs, creating a lush fireplace mantel and lighting extra candles at night.

This year you might sit by the fire in your favorite armchair or sofa curled up with your cat or dog (or human), brew your favorite tea and take the time to sip slowly instead of running around shopping till you drop. Maybe this year you can take time to pour a natural soap or aromatic essential oils bubble bath and enjoy a long soak. Or maybe this year you take your family outside on a chilly evening- throw out a large quilt-just to look up at the stars. For little children tell them you are looking to see if you can find Santa. This year you could pick up new soft organic sheets in a soft soothing color. Curling up in them just a little bit longer on crisp winter mornings. It's all about the senses. It's all about taking care of you and those that are close,

Helen Keller once said, "use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind, hear the music of voices, the song of the bird, the might strains of an orchestra as if you would be stricken blind tomorrow. Touch each object as if tomorrow your tactile sense would fail. Smell the perfume of flowers, taste with relish each morsel, as if tomorrow you could never smell or taste again. Make the most of every sense; glory in all the facets of pleasure and beauty the world reveals to you."

This year- make it special, make it beautiful, make it thankful. Make it.... timeless.

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