In which I buy paper-white narcissus flowers and stop to smell the gingerbread.

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One of my resolutions is to “appreciate the season and the time of life,” that is, revel in the special qualities of each time of year and each stage of life.

One thing I remember vividly from my childhood is my mother’s custom of having some seasonal ornamentation in the house. Forsythia or cherry blossoms in the spring, squash arrangements in the fall, paper-white narcissus flowers and evergreens for Christmas—not to mention her enormous, splendid collection of Christmas decorations.

I loved all this when I was growing up, but I find it hard to imitate. First, I’m an under-buyer. Second, I hate to shop. Third, I’m not good at making arrangements.

But yesterday I forced myself to stop to buy some paper-whites, and I’m so happy I did. Our apartment seems so much more holiday-ish now, with that distinctive scent in the rooms. And although I’d been procrastinating for two weeks, when I finally decided to make the purchase, I just went to the flower shop on the corner of my street, picked up a box of paper-whites, paid, and left. It was laughably quick.

And appreciating the season also means taking time to enjoy its particular pleasures. Today, as I was walking by Eli’s on 80th and 3rd, I saw that they’d filled a huge display window with a scene made entirely of gingerbread. It was charming.

My impulse was to hurry right by, but I made myself stop for a moment to enjoy it. In a few weeks, it will be gone, and this is the kind of thing that makes the holiday season fun.


From 2006 through 2014, as she wrote The Happiness Project and Happier at Home, Gretchen chronicled her thoughts, observations, and discoveries on The Happiness Project Blog.

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