Christmas is Over

Christmas is over. Obviously.

Christmas on Vashon Island

But it helps to put it in writing because I’m sitting directly under mistletoe, my tree is still brightly lit, and I just took the stockings down today. But hey – I should give myself a break – we’re only three, er 18 days post-Christmas… Yikes.

Despite my lack of activity on the blog, I’ve been very busy living up to my “slow it down” mantra. Ben and I had a staycation on Vashon – a total of 12 days without having to leave the island (minus a romantic pre-Christmas date.)

Christmas on Vashon Island | Cottage kitchen
Evergreen bough decorations on Vashon Island
Christmas decorations on Vashon Island.

We’ve read books, enjoyed company, played video games, sat on our butts for an entire day, cleaned the house extensively, cooked extravagant Christmas meals for two (but could honestly have fed an entire army and up until a few days ago were still enjoying the leftovers in the form of a ham and split pea soup), and really enjoyed the heck out of our little home and blossoming relationship.

However, and that’s a really big however, the weeks leading up to our staycation were anything but slow. I literally baked myself sick. Nights of baking sweet treats until midnight, only to wake up at 6:30 a.m. for a full day of work will do that to you.

Christmas on Vashon Island | KitchenAide Stand up mixer
Decorated Christmas cookies
Snowflake cookies

After a week of decorating hundreds of cookies for friends and family, Thursday evening found me at the height of my exhaustion, when I had to bake four dozen macarons and a tray of brickle for an island bake sale. Until now, I had simply been really tired.

But after baking until 2 a.m., I awoke with a frog in my throat and a dawning premonition that my pervasive sleepy state had taken a dark turn and was now heading for a mucus-filled coughing coma. I may be a witch, because that premonition was spot on.

I was sick. Like, crawl under the covers with a box of tissues and close your eyes all day kind of sick.

(**Note – before reading any further, I’d like to assure those who received a box of cookies that all were individually wrapped and boxed days before sickness set in. You’re safe.)

Christmas tree and wreath cookies
Christmas wreath cookies
Snowman cookies
Santa Claus cookies
Christmas stocking cookies
Christmas tree cookie
Gingerbread cookies

Despite my snotty state, I dragged myself through the motions – enjoying family, wrapping gifts, sending packages, and drinking the maximum allowance of DayQuil to get through it all.

Thankfully, I was able to kick it in the butt by Christmas, and enjoyed a beautiful break with my favorite people and fur kids.  

This was my first year really enjoying the beauty of the island at Christmas. Lit up candy canes line the street, attached to every other telephone pole. There’s a small Santa Parade, in which Santa and Mrs. Claus light the tree. And despite a lack of snow, it really feels like Christmas all around. This year, I didn’t want to be anywhere but home for Christmas.

Christmas decoration on Vashon Island
Christmas decorations on Vashon Island
Christmas Tree Vashon Island
Christmas stockings
Christmas coffee on Vashon Island

Despite having lived here for two years, the holidays weren’t my only “first” on Vashon.

This time last year, I was going through a bad breakup. One of those relationships that you pour your heart into and keep trying and trying, only to realize that it was wrong from the start.

I fell in love with Vashon from the moment we were introduced, but I was unable to foster that love because I was constantly commuting to my partner’s town. The breakup, while hard, was a blessing in disguise.

Not only did it mean that I was able to meet Ben and fall madly in love with everything that he is, but I was also able to fall in love with Vashon all over again, and discover and the beauty that it holds in each and every corner. How can you form a community when you’re never there?

Christmas macarons on Vashon Island
Christmas macarons on Vashon Island
Christmas poinsettia on Vashon Island
Gingerbread men being cut out of dough
Christmas Yule Log

So, this year is going to be a year of growth. I’m picking up new hobbies and meeting new people. In just the last few weeks, Ben and I have joined an island bee association and gone for drink dates with new-found friends. It feels so incredibly good to be growing our skill set and community group.

This first year of the blog has been a discovery in itself. I’ve struggled to discern what it’s really about. Initially, I wanted to write down recipes, share my gardening stories and write about island life. But when I stop and think about it, I want to write about what it’s like to get back to the root of things – I want to write about slowing down.

Vashon Island Ferry Christmas Ornament
Letter from Santa on Vashon Island
Lily dog with a stick of butter
Suki cat sitting on yellow chair

That motto has manifested itself in curious ways. I used to be so career driven, so motivated by climbing the ladder. Now, some of my favorite days are spent with a hot cup of coffee, open windows and the sweet smell of spring drifting in.

I want to explore small farming, adding goats, chickens and honey bees to my herd. I want to get back to the basics and move away from the hustle and bustle that the city holds. I want to make pasta from scratch and get really good at a sourdough. I want to jump into Quartermaster Harbor on a hot summer day, and scream from one too many jellyfish brushing against my leg. And I want to photograph and document it all right here.

Pigeons on Vashon Island flying off Tramp harbor
Old truck driving through the fog on Vashon Island
Ben and Lily being silly on Tramp Harbor on Vashon Island.

So, maybe each post isn’t performance driven. Maybe it’s not evergreen content that will get a lot of engagement on Pinterest. And maybe this year I won’t gain one subscriber. But I’ll have a collection of memories of my year on Vashon. A collection of recipes, stories, photos and experiences on this lovely little island in the heart of the Pacific Northwest.

Happy New Year!

Author: Elise Giordano

Elise is a photographer living on Vashon Island in the beautiful Evergreen State. When Seattle became too much, she set her sights on island life and never looked back. Today, she is trying to find ways to slow down through cooking, gardening and exploring.

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