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Home & Hearth Magic

Text by: Kari Cadenhead

Recently I found a tutorial on how to create your own fairy wings. I chuckled as I read the disclaimer, "Your house will be full of glitter. But that's okay. Because now your house is magical instead of messy." Immediately I envisioned our carpets, animals, toys, and food coated in a fine dust of glitter. Sparkly dreaminess would be everywhere we look and on everything we touch. It would no doubt be entrancing. Alas, I have a boy, so there will probably be no fairy wings in our near future, but the idea of a magical house makes me smile.
© Elizabeth Ellenbecker Photography

This time of year tends to playfully elude to magic at every turn, with twinkling lights and candles, kitchens full of sugarcoated treats, and for the lucky, a glittery dusting of snow topping off the season. As the holidays fade into ordinary daily life, I tend to grasp with an unyielding heart onto the traditions that fill my home with such special comfort. Family, friends, food, the gift of giving to those we love and those we hardly know - these things make me yearn for a bucket of glitter to toss around, recreating the ambiance of the holidays.

Of course I don't need a ton of glitter to conjure up enchantment; just a little thought and love will do the trick.

In Greek mythology there is a goddess named Hestia. She is the goddess of hearth and home and is unmoving in her position, much like our family standing by our holiday traditions year after year, comforting in the resulting warmth and joy. Hestia was once the most influential goddess, known for being of service to her family and community, always welcoming with open arms those travelers and adventurers of mythological tales. Over time her importance faded, as has our resolve as a culture to keep the smaller, opened-armed traditions alive.

© Elizabeth Ellenbecker Photography

Letting warmth and love fade into the background of daily life seems much less appealing than greeting the world with open arms all year long. It would only take small gestures to bring those feelings back into our lives each day.

I am often drawn to a blog called "Clean" that highlights the magic of everyday occurrences. The author, Rachel, writes of finding serenity in simplicity, and I think that's the key: Keep it simple; keep it beautiful. She is amazing at sharing her small family traditions with others, which often reminds me to start new traditions and stand by them, sharing them with anyone who is willing.

When your normally vibrant child is feeling under the weather, brew up a large pot of fragrant soup. In our house we have cabbage soup with greens and chickpeas - easy, yummy, and comforting. Yesterday happened to be a sick day in our home, and I had a large pot going by ten a.m. Only I doubled it and gave the extra to a friend who is also battling a cold. It took no extra time or effort on my part, but it put a big smile on her face and warmth in her belly.

Tonight is pizza night, as it is every week. Friends join us at our house and put together a pizza of their choice, and we simply sit together enjoying one another's company. Sometimes we watch a movie, others we sit on the patio watching the sunset. It doesn't matter what we are doing. What matters is we are taking time out to spend an evening with together, week after week.

© Elizabeth Ellenbecker Photography

I prefer to share my time (and food!) with others, but there is magic in solitude as well. A quiet, clean, empty house is a guilty pleasure of mine. As my son naps, I will (quickly) pick up the house, turn off the music, light some incense, and then just sit, basking in the stillness. During winter the charm is enhanced by the fire my husband often has going in the fireplace. Having a friend to sit with in the quiet is a comforting addition as well, as we busy ourselves with a quiet project such as writing or knitting, or drawing.

The outdoors are my utmost favorite place to reconnect with that simple magical feeling - pausing to watch the birds flying overhead and the leaves floating in the breeze, or that setting sun. The simplicity is striking. Bringing the simple outside wonder in was something my grandmother had perfected. She taught us to make daisy chains in the summer and waxed crimson leaves to hang around the house in fall. These days we use a neighbor's apples to make pies for our friends, literally sharing the fruits of our 'hearths' as Hestia would have on any average day.

© Elizabeth Ellenbecker Photography

We don't need a special occasion to feel special, or to make another feel that joy as well. We don't need the holiday season to remind us to be thankful for the gifts of life and our loved ones, and you can forget about that bucket of glitter! All we need is a thoughtfully made pizza, some friends, and a sunset to really create some magical moments. Our own small unmoving traditions really carry those moments and good thoughts out into the world to be shared with anyone at any time.