Lights and Dreaming

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It’s 2am, and I’m putting lights and garland on the tree.

Earlier this evening, it was a mostly joyful and noisy team effort of uncovering boxes and assembling, and tomorrow, after breakfast, we’ll put on the bulk of the ornaments.

But right now, it’s blissfully quiet.

Everyone else is in bed. Loreena McKennitt is softly playing, I’m drinking eggnog, and I’m reminded of decorating the tree in my first Chicago apartment on Janssen Street in 1995.

That was the year I started my tradition of putting up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving.  I usually did it alone, with a glass of wine and Loreena’s To Drive the Cold Winter Away. My parents had given me their old Christmas tree, and I bought white lights and a few ornaments (most of which I still have and will put on the tree tonight). I decorated with red apples and cherries, pine cones, and faux crystal snowflakes and icicles.

I loved that tree.

I loved the moment of sitting on the couch in the dark when it was done, the room transformed. I dreamed big by the light of that tree.

It’s hard to believe that was almost 20 years ago.

I still love the ritual of decorating the house for the holidays, of creating a space for celebration. Including the kids has its own delight, and I especially enjoy having the house full of family and friends on the holidays.

But I cherish moments like this one–quiet, solitary times that allow me to reflect and remember. It’s good to be reminded of the young woman I was back then, to be reconnected with that romantic dreamer.

In the morning, I’ll put on my other hats; but for now, it’s just me and Loreena and the tree, a meditation on nostalgia and dreams.

Published by Valya

Valya Dudycz Lupescu has been making magic with food and words for more than 20 years, incorporating folklore from her Ukrainian heritage with practices that honor the Earth. She’s a writer, content developer, instructor, and mother of three teenagers. Valya is the author of THE SILENCE OF TREES and the founding editor of CONCLAVE: A Journal of Character. Along with Stephen H. Segal, she is the co-author of FORKING GOOD: An Unofficial Cookbook for Fans of The Good Place and GEEK PARENTING: What Joffrey, Jor-El, Maleficent, and the McFlys Teach Us about Raising a Family (Quirk Books), and co-founder of the Wyrd Words storytelling laboratory. Valya earned her MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and her poetry and prose have been published in anthologies and magazines that include, The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, Kenyon Review, Culture, Gargoyle Magazine, Gone Lawn, Strange Horizons, Mythic Delirium. You can find her on Twitter @valya.

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