The day after Christmas has always been a little heart breaking to me. As a child, the thought of waiting 364 days until Santa returns was unbearable, but even as an adult, I can’t help but feel that something magical has vanished and suddenly all that’s left in its place is the thought that winter, the real bleakness of it, has only just begun. Sigh.
It’s so tempting to just curl up into bed with no honest plans to leave until Spring, but this year (like everything) I find myself wondering what I can do to make the cold days a little more bearable. But with a trip to Hawaii not in the works, and new snow boots waiting by the door to make their debut, I know that the only place the warmth is going to come from is a fire, the heat turned to full blast, or my own little shivering heart. Life in those precious weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to be fueled by a frenzy of glitter and goodwill. People love to mumble about trimming trees and baking cookies and wrapping gifts for other people, but I have to believe that it’s part of the Christmas cheer equation. Hide behind your Grinch face if you must, but I know that tasting the first homemade cookie made you smile, especially if it was mom’s recipe, or maybe something new you came up with yourself. And there’s a reason that the tree looks a little more special when you go chop it down yourself, or when it’s hung with ornaments that each have a little story to tell. The more love you put in, the more love you get out. And that simple equation is the only thing that’s going to keep us warm for the next few months.
So hold your loved ones close. Treat yourself to a cup of hot chocolate and put extra marshmallows in for the 3 year old you once were. Stay up past midnight to watch the snow start falling, and spend an entire Saturday in your pajamas writing letters to your favorite people. Be in awe of yourself and the things that your two little hands can make. Take the time to create little moments of beauty, and most importantly, share them with everyone you can. Because with the days so dark and cold, we need all the light we can get.
And now, from me to you, some Christmas moments of beauty. And my most successful (and easiest!) shortbread recipe of the season. I wish I had a million more pictures, especially of the faces that I love, but I so rarely have my camera on me for those perfect moments. Something I can’t decide if I should change or not. All the same, here’s hoping for the kind of snow that forces us all to watch movies for days and a simple, daily kind of magic that continues the whole year through.
My Shortbread Cookies
3 cups flour
1 cup powdered sugar
3 sticks unsalted butter, the softer the better
2 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325. Mix everything in a big bowl or food processor if you’re lucky enough to have one. Mixture should be light and crumbly. Press firmly into 9×13 pan. Poke holes to avoid air bubbles. Bake for 35 minutes or until lightly golden. cut immediately. Let cool for 10-15 minutes, Sprinkle with *sugar and remove from pan. Enjoy!
*If you want to make these extra special, mix up a little rosemary-lavender-lemon finishing sugar. About 1 tablespoon of each to 2 cups of sugar, but really whatever suits you. Mince up the rosemary, lavender and lemon peel, and mix into the sugar. Be sure to inhale deeply during the chopping process for maximum pleasure. Then just simply sprinkle onto cookies. Save the extra for next time, or jar it up to make a gift for someone you adore.