Antoinette Stockenberg, Author(524K)

December, 2018

picture(1200K) Dear readers,

Everybody knows that from Halloween through Thanksgiving to Christmas Day takes approximately two weeks -- never mind what the calendar foolishly claims.  For Pete's sake, we haven't even put away the nicer gift bows to use again next year when someone or other is dropping a big ball in New York.  Happy New Year!  One and done.  We chip away at the mountain of Christmas cookies but will barely finish them before having to bake a carrot cake for Easter.  Then, after working through the fourteenth different recipe using leftover Easter ham, we find ourselves slapping burgers on the grill for the family Fourth of July bash.  Forget about Labor Day -- everyone is too busy laboring to celebrate it, and besides, school has already been in session forever. (Ask the kids.)  Indian summer?  Slow-moving fall?  Apparently not.  Halloween candy and costumes start showing up in August nowadays—I used to be offended when CVS put 'em out in September!—and here we are at Halloween again.

And there you have it.  I've finally figured it out:  it's the holidays' fault that time flies by so quickly.  I used to be so naive, blaming smart phones and gaming and social media and even my advancing age/declining attention span, but no.  The real culprit is the holiday calendar.  We are always looking forward, rushing toward, here it comes, how soon will it be here.  That kind of thinking is fine when you're seven—you have all the time in the world to look forward to—but when you reach a certain age, wanting time to fly seems a little counterproductive.

For a while now, there has been pushback.  It comes in the mindfulness movement.  (I'm not real crazy about that word mindfulness; it has a trendy ring to it that makes me want to roll my eyes.)  Google it and you'll come up with dozens of definitions, but basically they have one thing in common:  an intense awareness of what you're doing or feeling, without judgment, by which I assume they mean, without second-guessing.  So if you're brushing your teeth, you're supposed to just focus on the simple feel of the bristles on your teeth (I believe I read that in the New York Times).  And if your teenage son drips gravy on the new Christmas tablecloth, you should assume that he didn't do it on purpose.  (It's probably, though not entirely, a safe assumption.)  You're pruning one rosebush but can't get to the others?  Concentrate on the one you're trimming and forgive yourself for not doing them all.

The whole point of mindfulness is to be more accepting and to live more in the moment.  The good news is, it reduces stress without drink or medication.  The bad news is, at this time of year it's really, really hard to do.

But we have to try, haven't we?

With all best wishes for a happy (and reasonably stress-free) holiday season,

signature, Author(1K)

Click on the mantel village below for a holiday experience that doesn't require standing in line, spending money, or circling a mall parking lot, waiting for an available space.

Mantel (47K)

A note to readers:

The Christmas section on this website features many seasons of my ongoing Christmas tale.  But there is a limitation:  you can read the story, or you can look at the detailed photos of my mantel village, but you can't do both at the same time.  It's a little frustrating, I know, so to solve the problem, I've begun publishing each season as an eBook.  In each eBook the pictures are embedded right in the story itself.  You can click on or tap any image and it will zoom to full-screen size.  (I can just hear my little tin figures now:  "We're ready for our close-ups, Mr. DeMille!")

Click on any of the covers below to read more about each season's eBook.

cover(44K) Keep(44K) cover(44K)
The eBooks are designed to be read on any tablet, or on a PC or Mac.  Season One is free in all eBook outlets—so try it out and see how it works for you!