This is What Christmas Feels Like

star-tree

Christmas is about the anticipation, the preparation.  It’s about all things glittery and bright, lights shimmering in the night.  It is small hands hanging treasures on the tree, a chorus of words we sing from memory.  Christmas is savory and sweet, sparkling drinks and crackling heat.  It music and memories, laughter and stories.  Christmas is about hugs and kisses, sweet surprises, celebration and imagination.

I Heart Christmas

After a busy few weeks, I finally took my camera out to capture the Christmas decorations around the house.  It is a fun time to use my Lensbaby, and normally it’s the lights on the tree that work best with the creative aperture kit.  When I aimed my camera at this pompom tree, though, I got a pleasant surprise.

abstract-christmas

It’s Beginning to Feel a lot like Christmas…

christmas-love

With the snow outside (that we’ve had since the beginning of November, mind), the front porch decorated, and an array of ornaments scattered throughout the house, it’s beginning to feel like Christmas around here.

With the stress of gift buying (particularly when the gifts on the lists are impossible to get) – not to mention the madness in the stores and the harried traffic –  it is sometimes easy to forget what this season is all about.

But when I see the excitement in our children as December 25 nears, I am reminded of the true gifts that we have in our lives and it becomes easy to see what Christmas is all about:  Sharing this time with the people we love best.

I’ve Been Published!

published-article

I opened the paper this morning, and there I was!

I had recently submitted a Christmas story to our local paper, The Northern Light, and had no idea whether it would make it into the Christmas stories section. Not only did it make it in, but I got my own headline, too!

Here is the story I wrote:

The Paper Tree
by Dawn Blanchard

In November 1997 I boarded a plane bound for Japan. I had been hired to teach English in Hamamatsu, and I was on my way.

Twenty-five hours and more than 10,000 km later, I arrived jetlagged but excited in Osaka. The Shinkansen (more commonly known as the “Bullet Train”) took me to my new home. For the next year, I would be living with a girl from England and one from Northern Ireland.

Christmas in Japan is significantly different from in Canada. For one thing, it is not a national holiday. On that first Christmas in a foreign country, I had to teach for the full day while back home my family was celebrating. Christmas in Japan was more a romantic holiday than a family one; gifts exchanged among couples were more common than those given to children.

A whipped cream, strawberry-topped Christmas cake could be bought; a roasted turkey could not. Department stores were decorated for the occasion. Intricately designed stationary and holiday-themed anime lined the shelves.

There was not, however, a Christmas tree to be found.

My roommates and I did our best to make the holiday festive. We cooked a meal of vegetables, rice, and chicken, and toasted with sake. We even bought a Christmas cake.

There were a few gifts wrapped in Christmas paper that had been sent from our families, but the ones we bought for each other were wrapped in plain paper. There was no silvery garland to hang from the ceiling; there were no snowmen to stand on shelves. We had gifts, but no tree to put them under.

So, I decided to make one.

On a large sheet of yellow paper, I outlined a Christmas tree with black marker. We drew a feathery garland and added a few sporadic ornaments in green and red and blue. One of us drew a crooked star at the top.

Published in The Northern Light, December 24th, 2013.

Children Singing

Christmas-Bells

We had been hearing snippets of Christmas songs at home, lines practiced but not shared so as not to spoil the surprise.

We arrived early so we could sit close to watch our children in their school Christmas concert.

A Christmas cup song and rocking jingle bells were executed without a hitch.

Seeing our son and daughter on stage is the sweetest thing.

Christmas in November

christmas-balls

December 1st is usually the earliest I will decorate. But the kids have been bugging so yesterday we took advantage of the nice weather to put out the outdoor Christmas decorations.

I started off feeling grumbly about digging through buckets and cranky about tangled wires. In spite of myself, though, I quickly began to enjoy the task. Snowmen stand on the front porch, lights are strung from the back pergola, and crinkly Christmas ribbon is tied in big bows around the house.

The festive feeling has arrived.