Today, I’m writing my Christmas cards. I know it’s going to take me hours because I’m making each one short, personal little letters, and I have a lot to update people on this year. I’ve never felt more grateful for the people in my life than I do this year. It’s been a year full of lessons, and struggle, and loss and grief, and gratitude and adventure and uncertainty. But most especially it’s been a year of learning…and strength. I’m ending the year not where I’d thought I’d be in many regards, but ending with a sense of comfort and gratitude, and deeply rooted calm. Over the past 12 months, I’ve traveled there and back across the country eight times; I’ve gone through divorce and come out the other side; I’ve left my home and I’ve moved four times; I’ve made a major transition in my job; I’ve sold or gotten rid of over half of all of my belongings; I’ve experienced crushing and debilitating heartbreak; I’ve felt like I’ve been juggling a dozen highly breakable objects every month since January and if I stop moving something or other will come crashing down, breaking beyond repair. I’ve let drop a few throughout the year out of either desire, stupidity, necessity or pure exhaustion, and they broke. And they’re probably the things that needed breaking, ultimately. But I still walked a fine line this year between feeling like a total failure at life, and feeling like I was courageous enough to walk away from situations that weren’t good ones, and letting them deteriorate. But true – that’s a very fine line.
A tough learning though it was, this year has taught me the value of moving slowly, and the value of taking my time. That likely, the energy I have to devote to things will keep them afloat even when I’m still. And the things that survive through stillness are the only things I really want to be keeping now.
And I don’t mean “moving slowly” in the Youtube “My slow morning routine!” sense of lounging all morning getting pedicures and sipping hot chocolate and reading poetry books before work. I mean moving slowly and intentionally through extremely stressful situations day by day, and not putting pressure on myself to make big decisions and having it all figured out, all the time.
The value of taking my time means I’m relieving myself of the frantic energy to fix things that are out of my control. Taking my time means I’m going to be just fine sitting in the discomfort of unsolved situations. Taking my time means I’m making new decisions from a carefully cultivated sense of rooted calm, even when the crazy is present and pestering.
So, weirdly enough, I made this tea formula (the last of 2018!), with ingredients that basically sum up my year: Chamomile flowers for the delicate calm so desperately fought for, and won; Ginger for the powerful circulating, stimulating, aggressive heat of movement; Lemon for the boost of immunity that’s so needed when stress blows your immune system to smithereens; A slow, sticky drip of sweet, coat your heart with slippery messy love, honey. And that dash of optional (crazy) alcohol. All combine together though, make for one delicious ginger spiked chamomile and lemon hot toddy.
My favorite tea to drink in December is a variation of chamomile, lemon, and honey. It’s what I imagine Mr. Tumnus gave Lucy on their chilly wintry visits, and it reminds me of magical, calming comfort that people will just sink into and make themselves right at home. It’s also the most simple of teas to make, and I really like simple these days. I’ve been doing a whole mess of traveling this year, and there’s nothing quite like flying 12+ hours over and over and over again to make my body feel totally discombobulated and out of sorts. Upon my arrival home each time (wherever that was) especially in the fall and into winter, I make some variation of this calming comforting tea. And recently, with over 18 inches of snow in my town, I’ve been adding a little shot of warming and spicy ginger syrup. And if any cup of tea feels like my own personal version of curling up in my own bed after weeks of traveling, it’s this ginger spiked chamomile & lemon hot toddy recipe.
I made a similar variation of this recipe last December with a Chamomile Comfort Tea. This year, I doubled the flavors for a more potent cup and basically gave it more *zing* with some concentrated ginger syrup and (the totally optional) dash of bourbon or whiskey. I use a hefty steep of dried chamomile flowers, a hearty slice of fresh lemon, a long drip of honey, and a nonchalant dash of whiskey (when it’s getting late). The ginger syrup in the recipe really makes it, and brings a depth of sweet warmth that I can’t get enough of. It’s just a simple combination of honey, ginger, alcohol and water that’s delicious added to any winter tea (or your favorite cocktails). This year especially I’ve been taking a little 1 ounce bottle of this ginger syrup with me on every single trip that involved being on a plane. I’ll ask for hot water and then just add a couple of dropper-fulls and sip for the hours I’m flying. I think this ginger syrup from Mountain Rose Herbs has been my favorite little herbal concoction I’ve tried this year.
In keeping with the theme of most of my tea recipes, be as non-measure-y as you like. Play with the flavors and increase or decrease any of the ingredients to your liking. Just a note – if you add too much chamomile or over-steep it, it’ll be a bit more bitter.
Enjoy, friends. It’s been a joy to continue writing for you this year, and thank you for still being here in my corner of the world. Thanks also to my friends at Mountain Rose Herbs for supporting this blog all year and contributing their incredible herbal products to my recipe developments and sharing with all of you. It’s been pretty awesome to be a Mountain Rose Herbs Brand Ambassador this year <3. Happy Holidays and sweet, slow peace to all of you.
PS – here’s my little Folk Holiday Playlist for you. Been on repeat in my house this past week.