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My Own Ground Rules for Giving Holiday Gifts

Holiday excitement hit early in these parts. We started our annual Christmas puzzle in October (I know, I know) and have gone through no less than three sacks of flour since. The garden rosemary is dwindling; the cinnamon restocked twice. For two weeks now, I’ve passed the hallway and smiled at the quiet glow of Bee’s room as she sleeps next to her own personal Christmas tree.

I have, in the past, felt Grinchy about Christmas. I’ve never been a shopper or an entertainer or a caroler, and I’m certainly no hustle-and-bustler. I’m ever-prone to the winter blues if the sun goes into hiding for more than a few days, and it’s often felt as if the season called for a different version of myself than I could offer.

But this year, I started early. Eased into it. Gave myself some time to think about the things that do come naturally to me: affirming words, creative gifts, thoughtful interactions. Eating pie.

(Christmas doesn’t sound so bad this year.)

And behold, a short list of gift-giving ground rules emerged that I can’t help but notice are infusing this particular season with more magic than years past:

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The Silent and Invisible Life

โ€œSometimes I have loved the peacefulness of an ordinary Sunday. It is like standing in a newly planted garden after a warm rain. You can feel the silent and invisible life. All it needs from you is that you take care not to trample on it.โ€ -Marilynne Robinson

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A Simple, 4-Ingredient, No-Knead Rustic Bread Recipe

I don’t know what came over me exactly. I just know that, somewhere in the nostalgic depths of my mind, there is an image of an aproned mother in pearls and lipstick pulling a loaf of homemade, freshly-risen, flour-dusted bread straight out of the kitchen oven. My mother didn’t bake bread. I don’t even think

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My Favorite Kid’s Storage Finds for Every Room

If you visit my home for more than a minute, you’ll know kids live here. There are very often random items strewn about the entryway and living spaces — plastic balls, wooden spatulas, tangible exhibits of the toddler’s current, mysterious obsession with cookware. (I cannot tell you how often I have fished my favorite oven

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6 Bedtime Books to Read With Your Baby

Moon? he says. It’s his favorite question each morning, and soon begins the raising of the eyebrows, a gesturing toward the front door. Moon? Moon? Moon? He wants to see it high in the sky, long after it’s gone, long after the birds are singing and the sun has risen. Often, I do too.

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A Simple Trick to Kick Your Multi-Tasking Habit

Boone Pickens perhaps said it best: When you are hunting elephants, don’t get distracted chasing rabbits. This week’s rabbit: Stranger Things. I’m not a TV watcher by nature, but every now and then, a show will grip my immediate community so tightly that it becomes a focal point for conversation after conversation, theories and recaps

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Currently

Bang trims, watercolors, mango slices. Musical reenactments in the sunroom, her stage. She wants to know how to spell Gaston, needs to borrow a tote as a prop, asks me to put ‘Kill the Beast’ on repeat. For a bit, I say, sliding the door shut. She remembers candied pecans and puzzles from last winter,

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Saying Yes to the Mess

Head’s up: Sponsored by Samsung We’ve been painting lately. Headboards and posters and cardboard forts, as if our bodies are aware the weather’s turning, as if it’s time to fluff the nest a bit. The basket on my fireplace that just weeks ago contained SPF and sunscreen, kinetic sand and sidewalk chalk, has been effectively

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