Mix Messages-A Wintry Mix


The holidays used to be a fruitcake-fueled frenzy for me. Armed with checklists and calendars tabbed and color-coded, I would join the swarms of harried people trying to find time for shopping, baking, making gifts and decking halls. I would still be unearthing glitter-covered pinecones in mid-February, reminders of the reason for my tighter clothes and my empty bank account.

Because I love so much about the holidays, I tried to cram in as many experiences as possible with craft fairs, open houses, candlelight strolls, concerts, and every local version of A Christmas Carol in between crafting/baking/wrapping marathons. It was a strange “I’ll sleep when I’m dead” attitude, and I was too busy making gifts for friends to actually see them. I was a holiday super-fan, one click away from tailgating before Portsmouth’s Strawbery Banke Candlelight Stroll, bellowing out Victorian carols and tossing back roasted chestnuts. This lovely event, featuring candlelit paths leading to historic homes adorned with seasonal decorations, isn’t really the type of event to instill the desire for rowdy antics.

It wasn’t until a brutal sinus infection knocked me on my figgy pudding that I had to rethink the frenetic pace. My family dubbed that year’s holiday the “Just Enough Christmas.”

In lieu of overextending ourselves, we would enjoy “Just Enough” of the season. We scaled down everything. Instead of seven types of cookies, we baked one, which we gave as gifts that year. We selected a couple of craft fairs, including a new one for us, rather than trying to attend every fair on the seacoast. Instead of cramming in plays, concerts, and recitals, I selected one as the event of the season. I savored every moment during Strawbery Banke’s Candlelight Stroll that year. Quietly savored.

Time opened up with this new philosophy. I could take longer routes home from work to enjoy the festive decorations. I visited friends since I wasn’t knitting misshapen scarves that resembled Swiss cheese for them. I made one trip to the post office, mailing Just Enough packages and cards. Cards were something I wouldn’t eliminate and with my newfound time I could include longer handwritten notes instead of preprinted greetings. In the freed up space joy and gratitude crept in. The tradition held. Every year since has been a “Just Enough Christmas.”

Cutting back to Just Enough, I found the holidays distilled down to the important things that really mattered, feeling completely in the present moment without the frenetic marathon of decking halls and fa-la-laing errands. In total serendipity, a friend told me about the Swedish word “lagom,” which means “just the right amount.”

I discovered that Just Enough was just right.

May your holidays be lagom and bright!

Wintry Mix is available on Spotify. The library is not endorsing Spotify, and these songs are all available at the Library. Check out our Holiday Music Display. I’ve added Youtube Links, though I had trouble finding any “official” videos. Click on the song to watch the YouTube video. Click on the name of the CD to find it in the library’s catalog.

Wintry Mix on Spotify

“Looks like a cold, cold Winter” performed by Bing Crosby. Available on the Cool December CD.

I’ve Got my Love to Keep Me Warm “ performed by Billie Holiday. Available on the Cool December CD.

“Sleigh Ride” performed by Ella Fitzgerald. Available on the Cool December and Ella Fitzgerald Wishes you a swingin’ Christmas CDs.

Winter Weather” performed by Jo Stafford. Available on the Cool December CD.

“Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!” performed by Dean Martin. Available on the Christmas with the Rat Pack CD.

Winter Wonderland” performed by Peggy Lee. Available on the Christmas Cocktails CD.

“Jingle Bells” performed by performed by Ella Fitzgerald. Available on the Ella Wishes you a swingin’ Christmas CD.

“Baby, it’s cold outside” performed by She and Him. Versions are available on many of our CDs, but this is available on the Very She and Him Christmas.

“Sister Winter” performed by Sufjan Stevens. Available on the Songs for Christmas CD.

My Evergreen” performed by the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Available on the Christmas Caravan Album.

“Winter Wonderland” performed by Louis Armstrong and available on the Louis Armstrong and Friends CD. I realize this song appears twice on the playlist, but they sound so different. And this is a true love song to the season.

Hope this mix is Just Enough.

Mix Messages is written by library assistant Heather Armitage. She enjoys reading fiction and humorous essays, traveling, trying new vegetarian recipes, and dancing in the kitchen. She’s grateful her dog, Floyd, doesn’t judge her moves. If you have suggestions for future Mix Messages, please email her at hearmitage@cityofportsmouth.com.

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