I love the Christmas season; it’s absolutely my favorite holiday of the year. There’s nostalgic music playing all month long on the radio, Peppermint Mocha frenzy, people in forgiving moods, festive lights in the neighborhood, an excuse to adorn the home with unnecessarily fun decor, and the perfect reason for loved ones to gather together around events and good food. I love every cheesy, even played out, minute of December. The predictability of the season has been especially comforting during this tough period of transition, which seems to be occurring everywhere these days.
I’m finding myself more and more facing the unknown. Both J and I are involved in professional changes, with my new job having started in just the first week of December and his in late November. With our new busy schedules, our home still in disarray from the wedding and from clearing out our garage boxes in the fall, and my husband working the Christmas Eve and Day weekend, I try my best to incorporate bits of holiday cheer in our home. Seeing J for brief moments in the morning or evening is not quite how I pictured our first Christmas together as husband and wife, but I am grateful for every minute that we claim. I’m unsure of how 2012 will unfold for us in our new married life, but I am happy in celebrating the here and now with him.
We were fortunate to take a mid-December trip to Las Vegas to celebrate a friend’s birthday, where dazzling lights, late night festivities, and food filled our gluttonous weekend. The Bellagio, Venetian, and Palazzo hotels were decked out in fine Christmas attire for the season. It was a boost for the holiday spirit, and I wanted to keep the fire going. Arriving back home, I arranged to visit a local Christmas concert with my mom. One of my goals for the new year is to spend more quality time with her, especially since this summer’s wedding had put a strain on our relationship. However much we disagreed this past year, I know how important it is for us to be close again. If it’s one major thing I learned from the wedding, it’s that love is really the most important element in a relationship – be it with family, friends, or your partner. People are not perfect, but if they love me and I can trust them, that is a good place to start. And why not start during Christmas? One evening, we sat and listened to an orchestra at the cathedral where J & I were married in August. The melody of violins and cellos echoed throughout the walls of the church, filling my being with a sense of joy, awe, and peace. My mother linked her arm through mine and turned to beam at me. I felt happy to share the moment with her.
In addition to developing my new relationship with my mom and J, I am also charting a new career path. After four years of working in college events and programs, I decided to return back to the academic world and work with writing on the collegiate level. It’s been five years since I last taught high school English so it’s tough to start over and feel like the “new kid on the block” again. It was a lonely start filled with doubt and unanswered questions. Lani, the friendly office assistant who had helped me get settled in, announced earlier that week that she was taking a leave of absence. I was surprised and saddened by the news. On her last day, she handed me a wrapped piece of homemade raisin rum cake and told me that everything will be okay. She gave me a comforting good-bye hug and I sat back in my empty office, eating the light, fluffy, and familiar tasting pound cake. It was delicious and its subtle sweetness instantly brightened my spirits. It was strange, but after that, I felt ready to move forward with my day. I don’t know how tomorrow will turn out, but I knew that even if it wasn’t perfect, it would still be okay. In that small unexpected gesture, Lani gave me hope that the unknown, during this Christmas and this upcoming new year, can still hold surprising promise and joy.
Lani’s Rum Raisin Pound Cake
1 box of supermoist yellow cake mix
1/2 cup rum
1/2 cup oil
8 oz. sour cream
1 bag of vanilla sugar
1/4 cup raisins
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix all of the ingredients together using an electric mixer for 5 minutes. Pour the mixture in a cake or bread pan halfway, sprinkle in the raisins, and then pour in the rest of the batter. Bake for 40 minutes.