It’s all in the experience

It is Christmas and we are celebrating with food and family. We are in a space and time where holidays are not about physical gifts so much as gifts of time together. It is about providing space for family and friends to gather. It is about providing food and drink so people have just enough to be active but still lots of open time to talk and enjoy each others company.

During Thanksgiving we did this with my husband’s family. Two different evening where people came to eat. The first night was a bit wild since all of us DSC05183.jpeghad not been together for a long time. So much to catch up on. The second gathering we had all calmed down a bit so eating happened and then we gathered in smaller groups to play games, chat, and draw (there were 9 kids present). It was lovely.

It is now Christmas and we are repeating that cycle with my family. We began Friday night before Christmas with a traditional Swedish meal of meatballs, rice pudding, rye bread and more. The first hour or so was wild talk – all of us having not been in the same place for awhile. As the evening moved forward we settled to small conversations and relaxed fun.

Christmas eve brought us a small gathering at my daughters home. There were 6 of us enjoying a late evening dessert (gingerbread and warm applesauce) while watching Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales.

(If you have never watched it you should. It is a quiet little story of Christmas past with beautiful language.)

Today (actual Christmas Day) we will gather this time at my niece’s new home and what I expect will happen is small groups, deeper conversations and food will be the connecting factor again.

It is these repeated visits that help develop the relationships and deepen the connections with friends and family. We all know this but for some reason the year gets moving and it becomes harder and harder to pull us together for a shared meal and conversation. Some of that is distance – several of these folks live about 5 hours away and some of it is just we have trouble breaking away from our daily routines.

We do still provide gifts to the kids (books of course – the teacher in me can’t help it.) Our own adult children get their stockings filled as well – again reading material, dark chocolate, fruit and socks – “always socks”.  ( Watch the movie and you will know why socks!)  Really that is all that is needed.

We skipped the bigger commercial mess for this year and are just enjoying the experience of the holidays – food, conversation and reflection. I fully understand that when little ones are involved the story changes and more of the gift giving is involved but for now I am appreciating the slower more quiet Christmas after years of working, hurrying to get gifts and running from family to family to “enjoy” Christmas. It is nice to just slow down and enjoy the stillness of a winters day!



(This is winter last year – right now we have a mix of grass and a light covering of snow.  Although, I hear snow is on its way for the next few days. I may have new winter pictures for you next week as we walk into the New Year.)

Merry Christmas, happy holidays to all and see you in the New Year!

About Joanne Toft

I am a retired Minneapolis Public School teacher. I walk, garden, care for my Grandson and write. Life is good!
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3 Responses to It’s all in the experience

  1. arjeha says:

    One of the most of Christmas is getting to spend time with family. We are going to my brother’s later where family will gather. Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  2. Trina Haase says:

    I love your tradition of spending time together and gathering over food. All holidays should be like how you celebrate!

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