For me, Christmas carries with it many implications, but the most persistent is the quietness.
The dull ache caused by the absence of lost loved ones is mercifully relieved by gatherings with my living family — the best of which involve the raucous adventures of sweet nieces and nephew. But regrettably, these get-togethers only last a few hours at most, and I’m left to face the rest of the season in the virtual silence of my apartment or my car on long drives.
Not that I’m complaining. I’m more efficient when I do things solo — especially shopping, wrapping presents and decorating. I use time off from work to clean and organize and prepare for a new year. If the weather’s bearable, I spend time outdoors. I go to movies. I read books. I travel incessantly.
I would obviously be lying if I said I didn’t look forward to the day when I’ll have a husband to wrestle my tree up the stairs for me and children of my own to spoil, but I am really trying to drink up this season of my life. I appreciate the freedom to go anywhere and do anything I want, and I know that when it’s my turn to have a family I’ll miss these days.
But despite a jam-packed trip to the Music City Bowl and a long trip to California coming up in May, I think what I’m going to remember most about my time on my own are the mornings I spent on my porch or curled up on my couch with no television, no phone, a sleeping cat and no distractions. Just me, some long deep breaths, my thoughts and a big cup of hot chocolate.
Warm drinks are one of my favorite holiday traditions simply because they’re comforting, you can put as many marshmallows in them as you like, you can drink them out of your ancient panda bear coffee mug and revel in the fact that you don’t have to share them with anybody — they’re just yours.
I usually make my hot chocolate mix from scratch, from a recipe of my mom’s. It’s much better than store-bought and more economical as well. Apart from indulging in it myself, the mix makes for an excellent gift for friends and coworkers if you put it in Mason jars with some cute ribbon and gift tags.
Homemade Hot Cocoa Mix
- 10 cups dry milk powder
- 4 3/4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 1 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 3/4 cups powdered non-dairy creamer
In a large mixing bowl, combine milk powder, confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder and creamer. Stir till thoroughly combined. Store cocoa mixture in an airtight container. Makes about 15 cups mix, or enough for about 45 servings. For 1 serving, place 1/3 cup cocoa mixture in a coffee cup or mug, and add 3/4 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve. Top with dollop of whipped cream or a few marshmallows, if desired.
Kate Salter is a lecturer at Mississippi State University. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org .