Posted by: jeannineatkins | December 22, 2010

Ho Ho Ho! or Do You Choose a Quiet Merry Hum?

There are still packages to wrap, cookies to bake, and pans to scrub, but yesterday I decided to get my nails done to mark a line between some of the hand-battering holiday prep and the fantasy of sitting and enjoying music, decorations, and tea with those cookies. While Shawna rubbed something creamy into my hands, she told me this will be her first Christmas with her boyfriend, who was getting introduced to her family’s traditions. The guy’s first clue that he was in for a ride might have been that she’s been watching a holiday movie every night. When he asked why she was making gingerbread and sugar cookies a bit obsessively, Shawna said, I can’t help it, which he should have gotten seeing the street where she lives by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles houses all lit up like Vegas. She showed me the necklace he gave her last week, causing dirty looks from her the family (you’re supposed to wait) such as those given to new girlfriends or wives who suggest that maybe names should be drawn for gifts. And when they drove to see her Grandma at a retirement place, they pulled up to a shared driveway, one apartment with an old wreath of autumn leaves, and the other festooned with brilliant colored lights and Santa. Which one is your Grandma’s, the boyfriend asked. Guess, she said. Which got even easier when a woman ran out in reindeer ears waving a bottle of Scotch.

We’re not quite that wild here, but between my husband and daughter, I’m the one with a quieter shade of the spirit. My husband gears up before Thanksgiving and couldn’t be more generous. Our daughter has a talent I envy for finding gifts perfect for their recipients. I’m just pretty good with the cookies. I love the wave of family and friends I don’t often see, but savor quiet parts of the day. I like feeding the dogs their usual breakfast on Christmas morning, setting out bread to rise, and maybe catching a few minutes of reading by the tree before the festivity begins. I like the broken memories shifting through the day, and angels with chipped wings made by my Grandmere (which my sister has let me keep custody of along with photo albums, rather than split them up: yeah, a shepherd and wiseman for you, but it gets touchy splitting up Mary and Joseph or deciding if you want the childhood or adolescent album).

It’s often moments by the kitchen sink or hanging up a coat, when some few precious words are exchanged, that touch me most. I like songs with lyrics I at least half-know, and trying to get through a poem without thinking of all the stuff I failed to do, and this year giving my grand-nephew a book I loved reading with my daughter: Who is Coming to our House written by Joseph Slate and illustrated by Ashley Wolff.

Seeing circles start to come around.

Wishing you happy holidays, and quiet moments within.



  1. The part about the grandmother with reindeer antlers waving her bottle of scotch, and the looks given to new wives or girlfriends who suggest drawing names this year, cracked me up. 🙂
    Wishing you quiet moments of joy. (The manicure sounded heavenly!) Merry Christmas!

  2. I was lucky to get stories along with softer hands!
    Merry Christmas to you, Jeni, with lots of book and lap time!

  3. I love this entry. Thanks for sharing it!

  4. It’s such a season of quiet mixed with chaos–feel lucky that the balance (or unbalance?) makes me happy. Probably the only time of year that I’d choose to add the chaos, but I do love this time of holiday! Sounds like you are having some lovely times at your home.

  5. And a merry quiet from me to you, too, Jeannine. Wishing you health, joy, and much creativity in the new year!
    Love Grandmere’s angels, too.

  6. Nothing wrong with specializing in cookie-baking. You’ll have more friends and compliments than those who specialize in decorations!

  7. “I’m just pretty good with the cookies.”
    Jeannine is being very modest — she does a lot more than make cookies (though she does that extremely well). For example, you should see the wonderful quilt she made for me out of some of my old t-shirts last Christmas. Beautiful! — PL

  8. Shawna’s story is a trip. Things are pretty low-key here this year, but I’m enjoying my tree. I hope you all have a fabulous Christmas!

  9. Thank you. And happy holidays!

  10. You’re in such a state of balance, Becky! I’m not sure I’ll ever love the chaos, but I do love people who love chaos and excess and jubilation of all kinds, so I enjoy… then slip back to the kitchen for a while.
    Happy holidays to you and your family!

  11. Thanks, Toby. Sending all those wishes back. I have a feeling your year will be a most creative one.

  12. Thanks, Candice. But I am in awe of your decorating skills! Merry Christmas!

  13. Thanks, Kelly. Hope all of you have a wonderful Christmas, too.

  14. from Laura @AuthorAmok
    Happy holidays, Jeannine!

  15. Re: thanks
    Thanks, Pat. I hope you do blog. But not if it becomes at the expense of all your other words.

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