I spent Christmas alone. To be clear: I chose to spend Christmas alone. There was no shortage of tables at which I might have gathered, all of them surrounded by family and friends who I love dearly. But as the year draws to a close, as we reflect on the storms and sunshine of the past twelve months and look ahead to unknown waters, I wanted a day of still seas. No pressures, no demands, just the sound of my own voice without the winds of the world to overpower it.
I did miss my family and our Christmas traditions—the pancake breakfast, the pile of carefully wrapped gifts from Santa. But for every pang of nostalgia, I created a fresh memory for myself. I tried my hand at making homemade vegetable stock. I broke my previously held record for length of time spent in the shower. I read the January Martha Stewart Living. Read it. Cover to cover. Not flipped through the pages and took notes for later research. It's a smashingly good issue. I know this. I read it. (We can thank it for the images in this post.)
While I was chopping carrots for stock, getting pruney in the shower, resisiting the urge to pull out my laptop as a companion to my magazine, I thought a lot. I thought about wanting. About gifting ourselves more with what we want, as I did yesterday. Not selfishly, but intentionally. So that when we do go out to weather the winds of the world, we have built within ourselves a strong and solid hull of incontrovertible truths. In my case, I know I am: a girl who still needs to tinker with her veggie stock recipe. A girl who takes fifteen minutes to wrinkle up in hot water, give or take an hour. A girl who can face the fear of a Christmas alone and come out the other side, happy.
I shared these thoughts with a wise friend who brought my attention to an essential element in conversations about wanting: gratitude for what you already have. Gratitude for material possessions, yes. And for accomplishments, absolutely. However, I'd like to add gratitude for that quiet inner voice that needs still seas to be heard. Because when we listen to that voice, we realize that we have within us everything we will ever need.
Images: Martha Stewart Living, January 2013.