A Blythe Coach

The Gifts of Winter – Holiday Viewing, Listening, & Treats

“Winter is a table set with ice and starlight. Winter dark tends to warm light: fire and candle; winter cold to hugs and huddles; winter want to gifts and sharing; winter danger to visions, plans, and common endeavoring–and the zest of narrow escapes; winter tedium to merry-making.” 
– From the poem “Winter” by Greta Crosby

Winter at Tanzstudio Odenthal in Huerth, Germany

I know it’s not officially the season of winter yet, but I love a good winter festival of light, and the days are getting mighty short in Cologne right about now. It’s an ideal time for snuggles, hot cocoa, and lots of candles! 

I celebrate both Christmas and the Winter Solstice, but it’s certainly no surprise that many cultures have beautiful traditions at this time of year!

This year I am a bit sad not to make it home for the holidays. Further, our legendary Christmas markets won’t be happening in Cologne to help us through the winter. And, I know that the reason for said restricted travel and cancellation of beloved events has many people much sadder than me. 

It’s a hard time for a lot of folks, and I want you to know that I’m thinking of you. Let’s do what we can to stay safe this winter and bring merriment and joy into the dark season!

“The Nutcracker” Ballet and Music of Tchaikovsky

In the spirit, I wanted to share some favorite winter holiday things with you. Of course, I am enjoying music from “The Nutcracker,” will soon share the story with my young students, and hope to see a performance on video.

Holiday Tunes

I have a LOT of favorite holiday songs and playlists, but I’m getting up-to-date on festive new releases from this list, originally shared by my friend Hayley Sales, who appears on it!: “Best new holiday songs for 2020: Jenn Grant, Carly Rae Jepsen, Lil Nas X, more” 

I then created a Spotify Playlist from it, “Cuddle Up Downtown Christmas 2020” and would love to add some other new additions. What are your favorite new holiday tunes this year? Old classic favorite recommendations are also very welcome, I’ll add them to another list and listen now!


In terms of edible treats, I especially savor drinking the aforementioned Hot Cocoa, as well as German mulled Gluehwein, and I’ll be baking Pumpkin Muffins, Ginger Snaps, and decorated Christmas Cookies as we move into December. 

TV Shows and Movies

I enjoy watching certain shows and movies at this time of year to get in the spirit, including “Gilmore Girls,” “Friends” holiday episodes, and  “Muppets Christmas Carol” (and I adore the soundtrack from that, too!), “Nightmare Before Christmas,” and “White Christmas.” 

Podcasts, Books, & Gift Guides

I have been enjoying the “Soul + Wit” Podcast since it started up this year, and particularly appropriate right now are their: “The Holiday Extravaganza” Holiday Book + Movie Recommendations episode, which has lots of goodies to read and watch, and the “Giving the Best Gifts” Gift Guide of homemade and purchased gifts, consumables, classes, and experiences. I recommend them if you’re looking for things you or loved ones might like!

Minimalism and the Spirit of the Season

My own gift-giving is inconsistent. Sometimes I get it together to select and give some gifts and write some cards, other times not so much. As something of a minimalist, on the receiving end I prefer very small symbolic gifts, sentimental cards, having donations given in my name (or giving donations to good causes in others’ names), and experiences to big, extravagant presents and the pressure to exchange gifts on a strict timeline. 

For me, it’s the time together, getting to talk and reconnect (at least by phone or electronically), and also the feasting, that makes the season merry for me. A few decorations, and witnessing the warmth and generosity of others really make it bright!

Beneficial Gift Ideas

Looking for special gifts to give or contributions to make this “Black Friday,” “Cyber Monday,” “Small Business Tuesday” and so on? I have a few ideas…

A couple of years ago I bought myself the month-long virtual advent calendar 31 Days of Gifts You So Deserve by Courtney Carver, and I liked it so much that last year I shared it with some loved ones. Carver is creator of the minimalist wardrobe Project 333, and a wonderful “Weekly Favorites” email newsletter that I enjoy, as well as co-creator, along with her daughter Bailey, of the “Soul + Wit” podcast I mentioned earlier. 31 Days of Gifts is especially great for folks who don’t want to acquire more “stuff” and those looking to focus on the magic found in the simple pleasures of the season. 

Rufio trying on her new reindeer costume

It’s wonderful to remember your local dance or yoga studio or creative small businesses and community organizations such as: 

Yoga and fitness…
Homegrown Yoga – Rachel Jensen teaches yoga online from Iowa
Infinity Corporate Fitness – based in Denver, CO
Jared Sam – teaches yoga from the Big Island of HI
The Kale Whale – Erin Whalen teaches yoga and vegan nutrition from MA
Sebastian’s Functional Fitness – Sebastian Grubb is in San Francisco, CA

Nonprofits in Dance & Yoga…
Yoga for First Responders – supporting those who support all of us
West Hawai’i Dance Academy – my beautiful home studio in Kailua-Kona, HI! They offer dance for all ages as well as Gyrotonic and other modalities
The Movement Center – “Creating good people through excellent training in the performing arts,” with classes for all ages in Honolulu, HI
Ballez – queer ballet company in NYC, also offering online classes

@nali_makes resin casting and jewelry
@tinyneststudio nature-inspired and educational artwork
CPoArt sticker art
…I know so many talented artists and educators, I’m sorry I’ve certainly omitted many more that I would like to share! If you’d like to be featured in any future gift guides of this type or to collaborate in any way, let me know 🙂

And Causes…
I remember my grandparents’ joyful annual giving to their favorite charities such as World Wildlife Fund, Unicef, and of course Methodist organizations, and also my mother’s dedication to healthcare organizations like Planned Parenthood. Black Lives Matter and environmental organizations would be a great choice this year, or independent media sources such as feminist Bitch Media. It is also always timely to donate to a local food bank! 

I would be remiss if I didn’t share that some of my own offerings in dance, yoga, and coaching would also make good gifts for yourself and others:

It’s a challenging time for everyone, and that certainly includes artists and small businesses, so please think of us in your holiday giving this year! And please also know that your contributions, whether they be tangible gifts and monetary contributions, or time, love, and energy, are enough.

Warm wishes for a delightful holiday season!

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