Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Samhain, Start of the Holiday Season

October 31, 2018

You probably know that Halloween is my second favorite holiday, because I’m always rambling on about the candy and the costumes.

My no-mess Halloween pumpkin

I also like Halloween because its roots are from an ancient Celtic harvest festival, Samhain. It is a festival of thanksgiving, and those are useful celebrations. I think of Halloween as the beginning of the holiday season, a time of joy and giving that leads into November’s Thanksgiving. Since I’m a vegetarian, the turkey-ness of Thanksgiving recedes, leaving room for the family-and-friend-ness of Thanksgiving. That leads into December, and all the holidays of joy and gratitude. Then there’s New Year, a celebration of hope and change.

Hidden within all this gratitude and hope is a little fear. Perhaps the new year won’t be as wonderful as we would like, perhaps this is the last time we’ll feel joy, perhaps we aren’t grateful enough. That’s another reason I like to think of Halloween as the start of the holidays, because its roots include a time of fear and wonder. At Samhain, the veil between our world and the spirit world was pulled away, allowing space for the unknown to invade. Halloween reminds me that a little fear can be useful, as long as you don’t let it prevent you from stepping forward in hope.

Thanks, Maya, for the painted fabric!

Luck and wisdom!

Seasonal Petulance

November 26, 2014

This time of year I sink into my own slough of despair, and revel in seasonal petulance. The holidays are too crowded, too commercial, too costly. Whine, whine, whine. I guess the universe got sick of listening to me kvetch, because – try as I might to be grouchy – I have been surrounded by kindness and love. “Self,” I said, “get over yourself.”

A pie crust in waiting

A pie crust in waiting

The first thing I decided to do was give myself permission to celebrate all the holidays in order. Thanksgiving comes first, and I am extraordinarily thankful for my grandmother’s never-fail pie crust recipe.

Original Recipe

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten

2 teaspoons vinegar

4 teaspoons cold water

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Sift dry ingredients together, then cut in the butter. Gradually add the egg and vinegar. Pour water over dough and mix.

My Version

2 cups flour

1 cup butter

1 egg, beaten with 3 teaspoons vinegar (cider or sweet balsamic for a sweet pie, white wine for a savory pie)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Put the butter and flour into a food processor and pulse until mixture resembles corn flour. Add baking powder and salt; pulse a couple of times. Add egg/vinegar mixture. Blend until smooth. You will need to heavily flour the board and pin when rolling out the dough.

The start of my personal, private Advent calendar

The start of my personal, private Advent calendar

Next comes Advent, which for me means the little calendars with numbered boxes and chocolate prizes. The bad news is this year I missed out on my favorite one – they sold out before I even put it on the shopping list. The good news is, I made my own version with all those mint tins I’ve been saving, and some leftover holiday trims.

Lani Longshore Christmas ornaments

Next comes the Ceremony of the Tree. My daughter has decorated the tree for years, but she won’t be home until spring. I was all set to skip the tree, when I remembered the new ornaments a friend gave me. My daughter has her own favorite ornaments, so this year I’ll put up my new ones and some of the older ones that have been buried at the bottom of the storage box.

Lani Longshore Christmas card

I don’t write the Christmas letter until Christmas day. The cards get sent out sometime between Boxing Day and Epiphany. This tradition stays.

Lani Longshore Christmas fabric

Last is the Time of Forgetting. This is the celebration of discovering you’re a day late and a present short. It’s not the best tradition, but it’s one with a long history in my house. I guess it stays, too.

May your season of holidays – whichever ones you celebrate – be joyous.

Luck and wisdom!

Notebooks and Deadlines and Lists, Oh My

November 27, 2013

My pumpkin pie is baking as I write. The good news is I won’t have to hide it from the family, because we’re celebrating Thanksgiving today. My son works tomorrow, and my daughter is house-sitting for traveling friends, so today is our day.


Tomorrow is list day.


Every year, I leap feet-first into a major panic at Thanksgiving. Did I remember to buy the stuffing (I forgot one year)? Do I have enough wrapping paper for the presents that have to be mailed in the next week (and can I find it)? Have I overbooked myself once again with things that sounded like so much fun when I said yes in August (and do I dare turn the calendar page to look)? Can my aging brain cells keep all the things I need to remember in a safe place?


I’ll never know the answer to that last question because this year I decided to use a safety net.


My brain for the next six weeks

My brain for the next six weeks


My notebook collection includes one that is festive enough to find easily. I jammed it and the pen in my pocket as I was heading out yesterday, determined to write down all the stray thoughts, stocking stuffer ideas, and notes to self about projects I agreed to do. I filled two pages in three hours.


“Self,” I said, “you’ll probably need another pocket notebook. It should be sturdy, bright enough to be seen under the stacks on your desk, and cheap.” Then I remembered one of my many abandoned projects.


My back-up brain for the next six weeks

My back-up brain for the next six weeks


I bought some shiny red card stock months ago to make . . . well, I can’t remember what I was going to make. I cut it in half, then folded it, then gave it the pocket test. It’s slightly bigger than the notebook I’m using now, but it will work.


Finding paper to put inside was a snap. I have lots of stationary left from the days when I sent newsletters via the post office rather than the internet.


Who's old enough to remember this?

Who’s old enough to remember this?


Since this notebook only has to last until Christmas, New Year’s at the most, I decided to bind it with quilting thread.


Not time seeping through a crack in the universe - just thread and a flash

Not time seeping through a crack in the universe – just thread and a flash


The tiny knot on the inside doesn’t interfere with folding or writing at all.


Hurrah for the quilters' knot!

Hurrah for the quilters’ knot!


I am inordinately proud of myself for finishing this project. It is useful, pretty, and made from supplies I already have. Best of all, it might even calm my jangled nerves when my holiday panic hits, knowing I can find my notes.


My pie is done. Happy Thanksgiving!