Sunday, December 20, 2009

Let There Be Light!

'Tis the season of chain store advertising inserts that outweigh the actual newspaper, drunken Christmas soirees, cookie-baking hell (ten varieties are currently available here at Flying Squirrel), holly-berries-on-the-corners-of-everything and famous rock musicians on the radio singing covers of old sappy music. I am a self-admitted bah-humbug who can't wait for the craziness that is December to be overwith for a whole new year ahead.

Sometimes I even get depressed about feeling like, for the most part, I am a sugar pusher. I do love to see the joy on little kids faces when they press their noses against the front of the display case pointing to the gingerbread snowman whose head they are about to bite off. And the intense pleasure the kids in the cooking class got from covering gingerbread houses with sickeningly sweet royal icing and artificially-colored-and-flavored gum drops.

In my soul, I would rather just bake hearty, crusty whole grain bread and develop recipes for honey-sweetened bran muffins and gluten-dairy-corn-and-soy-free everything. What's a bakery to do? This time of year, if you're a bakery, you'd better make things rich and sweet, colorful and cheery or you might lose some of your best customers. Yet half of those best customers drop hints of feeling fat from too many holiday temptations or wish their kids could get a handle on the sugar thing while at the same time they choose the Christmas stollen over the whole wheat baguette or the chocolate-peanut butter bar over the kale and scallion cream cheese fresh veggie wrap.

This happens to me every year. The Alaskan winter is long, cold and dark. I don't get outside enough (note to self: add Vitamin D supplements to town list). And now, despite no television, very few visits to the corporate wedlock between Disney and Walmart that is Wasilla, and two rather agnostic parents, my 3 1/2 year old son is still becoming pretty interested in decorating a Christmas tree, not to mention "that guy in the red suit with a big beard." Even if I had the money to be a "snow bird" and fly away from Alaska for a spell, there would be no escaping the holiday overload (another note to self: research future vacation in a warm climate that doesn't celebrate Christmas, any suggestions?).

OK. I'll try to stop.

The good news is that Soltice is upon us. For Alaskans, this is a big deal. In a couple of days we will be headed the other direction - toward warmer temperatures, toward green growing things, toward gardens and local produce, toward summer, toward midnight sun. So, in honor of Solstice and a new year soon to come, here are a few things that do make me happy...

A little light in the darkness.

The light at the end of the tunnel.

Always look on the bright side of life.

Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

Come on baby light my fire!

I am very excited to sleep for a few days and then, hopefully have some fun away from the bakery. My goals for the time off include snowshoeing, skiing, ice skating, swimming, movies (haven't been to the movies for almost 4 years!), a thrift store or two, some house cleaning, a year's worth of filing, and much needed family time with Brian and Oliver. After all of that, it will be back to normal, PLUS some of this...

MAY YOUR DAYS BE MERRY AND BRIGHT! Happy holidays and happy New Year to all.


  1. research future vacation in a warm climate that doesn't celebrate Christmas, any suggestions?


    Cheer up. As you pointed out, on December 22, the days start to get longer!

  2. and I wanted to wish you a quiet peaceful mini vacation, but I know it is unattainable at this stage of your life.
    Love to you, Brian and Oliver Nathan.

  3. I understand your bah humbug.

    But what if we refuse to let corporations or television or the attitudes of other people define what this time of year means to us? I have learned to overlook the ugliness of the malls (luckily not too many around here, but we do have a WalMart), the bastardization of the holiday spirit (all holidays!), and even the warping of Jesus' message that we should all be nice to each other (a radical idea!).

    To me, this time of year is about being with those we love when it's darkest (not as dark here as it is there, but the idea is the same) - lighting candles and little sparkling lights against the darkness, and remembering what is MOST important to us. For us, so far away from family, it's about families biological and chosen. We remember to tell people we love them, and that we feel lucky they are in our lives.

    This time of year, with a 5-year-old, is about watching how delighted he is by everything - the lighting of the Hanukah candles, putting ornaments on the Christmas tree, even being allowed for the first time to turn the tree on himself. He wrote an adorable letter to Santa, and only asked for one small toy.

    This time of year is about remembering how lucky we are in so many ways. Sam's birthday is in late November so he gets inundated at this time of year, but we try very hard to talk about giving, and donating, and he even went with me to a meditative food labyrinth at a local church and genuinely got something "spiritual" out of it, I think.

    This time of year is about song and dance and art. Even in our small town, we have been to more performances than we have Christmas parties - high school band concert, dance performance of The Nutcracker, local production of A Christmas Story, Sam's own dance class family show. I played music at his school last week and they organized the whole school's holiday party around my "concert." Last night I played for a holiday singalong at a community center north of here, emphasis on community!

    This time of year is about food too, and yes, not all of it is good for you. But really there is no need to eat MORE at this time of year. We (in our house) just allow ourselves indulgences that don't even exist at other times of year - rum balls, cutout cookies, eggnog.

    Anyway, I wish I was there to sample your wares, and to give you and your family a hug, and to light candles and sing songs with you.

    Sorry for the long comment, but your post really made me think about this question, of how we celebrate and why.

    Are you open in January? Tom will be in Anchorage and would like to make a road trip with a friend ...

    Love, love, love,