Beauty and Christmas for One . . . or Two

December 18, 2020

Years ago when working in Special Education, I had read about the importance of beauty in our lives. Of course, I then wanted to try it out!  We had a group of five rowdy young boys, ages 7 – 10, who came yelling and sliding into our room at school each day, no matter how we tried to make this different. Then I had the idea to beautify the room and our table. We spent time planning and then decorating.

The next day as the boys slid into the doorway, they stopped, and slowly entered a decorated room, including their table with a handsome tablecloth and napkins, lit candles, glass dishes, fancy cookies, and a floral centerpiece. The overhead lights were dimmed.  One by one the boys quietly sat in their chairs. No one spoke for the longest time. It was a life-changing event — for the boys and for us as teachers.

Deepening and enhancing our appreciation of beauty will make our lives happier, richer, and more fulfilling. That day those boys told us they had never seen or personally been in such an environment.

Each of us needs some solitude and some sense of wonder in our lives. And this sense of wonder may be closely bound up with a sense of beauty and mystery. And in the presence of beauty we feel neither desire or boredom.

Some artists and writers place beauty above all things and argue that its creation should be the center of our lives. These aesthetes believe that beauty should be everywhere, woven into the fabric of everyday life, from the way we dress to the way we decorate our homes. Some believe that a reverence for beauty will lead to a more humane and moral society. If we loathe ugliness, we will behave decently because cruelty is ugly.

So this Christmas, if you are struggling with being alone or with just one other person, create your own beauty. I have been alone many, many holidays and have learned to embrace these days and turn them into days of beauty. Here are some ideas for your holiday meal:

Plan your menu with YOU in mind: choose your favorite foods to cook. If you do not want to cook, the day before choose take-out or purchase premade foods at a grocery store. Make or buy a favorite appetizer.

On the holiday, early in the day (so you can enjoy looking at it longer!), set a table of beauty. Think mystery, theme, colors!

Use a pretty tablecloth. Use cloth napkins. And napkin rings. Make or use place cards. Choose music you like. Place flowers and candles wherever you’d like on the table. Use your best/prettiest dishes (or nice paper plates if you don’t want to wash dishes.) Use your best silverware. Pour juice or wine or whatever in wine glasses. Consult the Internet or a cookbook regarding placement of silverware.

Before you dine, dim the lights. Light the candles. Put on the music. Plug in the tree lights.

If you’re married or in partnership, while you dine visit about your first date, your first Christmas together, when you knew you loved him/her. Stay positive, and enjoy the beauty and the foods you have created/chosen. Make a commitment to take your time and dine, not just eat, on this holiday.

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