AUTHOR | SPEAKER | PHILOSOPHER | DESIGNER
Happy, Happy New Year! This past month was especially joyful because of our anticipating going to Maryland to be with our precious grandchildren, to spend time with their new puppy Homer, and to be together for Christmas. And, we have been looking forward to the publication of Happiness For Two: 75 Secrets for Finding More Joy Together, December 26, 2007.
Peter and I were blessed to spend quality time with family and good friends in December, increasing our sense of appreciation for all our blessings. This year we decided to simplify the gift giving and concentrate on the young children with toys, books, and exchanging “Nini’s,” e.g. little inexpensive presents, to our adult family and friends. As a result, we were able to avoid self-induced stress, feeling pressure instead of love, and trying to keep up unrealistic expectations that only lead to disappointment and exhaustion.
None of us were sick this holiday season. No matter how busy we were, we were able to keep our balance and spend time thinking of the true meaning of the holiday season. I’m happy to say we all kept our promise, and because of this, our times together were all about sharing our presence.
I didn’t know until Christmas that our daughter Alexandra went to both of her twin’s school rooms to do a non-holiday project. She arrived with an empty box for each child, lots of pretty wrapping paper, bows, note cards and hearts. She read The Gift of Nothing to the class, and explained that the gift of nothing is for children over twelve and for adults. Young children want something in the box besides love!
I’m touched by this because our happiness deepens when we’re able to give from a full, open heart. The best times we’ll ever have are times we share with family and friends we love and adore, who love and adore us. There is so much unnecessary tension when the expectations are too high and people find themselves rushing to keep up, wanting to “get through,” “get by,” and literally wishing for the holidays to be over. I don’t suffer from this stress, perhaps because I’m older and I don’t have young children waiting for Santa Clause to come down the chimney with every toy and present on their wish list.
When I hear people say they’re going to “read again after the holidays,” I feel sorry that they are so caught up that they neglect their intellectual and inspirational growth that requires daily nurturing through daily reading and studying. Peter and I, as a result, spent quiet days in our writing rooms. I wrote my first article for Victoria Magazine, “The Joy of Two Writers Writing Together,” and I’m writing two new books that continue to stretch and challenge me in wonderful ways. I’ve discovered from my experience as a writer that the process becomes harder, not easier, the more I write. The reason is that I really care and have to continually stretch myself in order to use my potential and grow. Nothing important is easy. I’m reminded of this whenever I’m in a knot trying to untie the confusion and find purpose and clarity in my work.
The highlights of the season were going to the Christmas pageant with the “grands,” singing favorite hymns, reading together, doing craft projects, making up stories and playing with “Homer.”
Peter and I had a wonderful time in Las Vegas, where I gave a talk at the Design Center and had dinner with a dear friend at the spectacular Wynn hotel. We stayed on for two more days (before flying to New York City) in order to see the Christmas lights and decorations of Las Vegas and enjoy the most delicious food at newly opened restaurants of some of the chefs we most admire. The non-gaming hotel we selected had grand views of the mountains, and from the 29th floor room we had plenty of light in order to keep up our reading and writing schedule.
In New York City we saw some family, and friends. The most memorable annual Christmas lunch with my friend and literary agent Carl Brandt was especially touching this year because of all the stimulating discussions about my new books, and the excitement of Happiness for Two coming out Dec. 26th. A photographer from a Rhode Island magazine came to take my portrait, giving me an excuse to arrange some favorite flowers – pink roses, white hydrangea, and blue delphinium – to have in the photograph. The day of the photo shoot we had a snow storm and the cottage felt especially cozy with the snow on the evergreens in the window boxes. Creating this flower bouquet in the kitchen overlooking the snowfall in our back yard filled me with joy. I realized how much we love our cottage and our life here in Stonington Village.
Even though it gets dark early this time of year, we are now gaining light every day, and the hope of Spring will never disappoint us. The sunsets have been breathtakingly beautiful. Everyone who came to the last Happiness Weekend saw with their own eyes.
Thank you for your warm wishes, your holiday cards, pictures of your family, and your continued encouragement. If you could see my desk in the downstairs study you’d understand I’m a bit behind in my correspondence, but in my writing room I’m moving ahead quite nicely, and trying to maintain a healthy balance as I greet a new book tour starting in Westport, Connecticut where I came at age five to live from Weston, Massachusetts.
One of the sweetest moments of the season was a private champagne luncheon party to celebrate the 45th anniversary of Peter’s and my world-favorite restaurant, Le Grenouille, where we courted almost 35 years ago. The memories everyone shared, the love of beauty, fine food, flowers, and the feeling of being a part of a family, set the tone for the days ahead. Sometimes we have to be reminded of the importance of excellence, of devotion to the highest standards, and how important it is to celebrate together.
2007 was quite a year. We made some surprising choices, and I suspect we will continue to, in this fresh, new year. 2008. I hope to see you while we tour the country. Please try to come to a Happiness Weekend. The next one scheduled is in High Point, North Carolina at the Adam’s Inn, Leap Year Weekend, February 29, Saturday, March 1st, and Sunday March 2nd. Happiness For Two! Come and bring someone you love. (For reservations, contact Sue Stanley, (336) 882-3267)
We ended 2007 at a New Year’s Eve party in New York City, hosted by one of our dearest friends. Let us continue to remind each other how much we love. My great wish for you for 2008 is that you grow more deeply in love with life and share your love as far and wide as possible.
Great love to you.
Love & Live Happy
Order a Personalized Copy!
If you would like to order a personalized copy of Alexandra's book, please send your order (including inscription information) to:
Bank Square Books
53 West Main Street
Mystic, CT 06355
Cindy, Alexandra and Lyn
November Happiness Weekend
Peter, Shawn and Alexandra at the "Banquet."
Peter, Alexandra and Roberta at Upriver Cafe'.
Peter, Alexandra, Joe & Vicki enjoying themselves at the Upriver Cafe'.
Can you believe this sunset over the harbor in Stonington? Thank you Shawn for the beautiful photograph!
Riot Relief Fund
Alexandra pins Brenda for the Riot Relief Fund.
Peter, Brenda, Alexandra & Steve
Peter pinning Kerry for the Riot Relief Fund.
Peter and Alexandra are proud to pin Matt Kennedy for the Riot Relief Fund.
We have received numerous emails regarding subscribing to Victoria. Please visit www.Victoriamag.com where you can sign up for delivery or to receive email Newsletters!
Whoever loves much does much.
Thomas a' Kempis