Happy Holidays from Lake Oswego!

I remember one year, in my first marriage, my ex and I hosted Thanksgiving dinner, serving turkey and all the trimmings. Between my extended family and my ex’s extended family and all our friends, I mailed out well over 200 Christmas cards complete with letter and photo collage. We decorated a Christmas tree and the house, and he put up lights outside. My stepsons were still fairly young and their father dressed up as Santa Claus. We bought presents for each other, the boys, and plenty of our family and friends, mailing several packages out of state. I probably made toffee and cookies, too. I don’t remember if we went to Christmas Eve service, though, which is interesting. I do remember my sister-in-law hosted Christmas dinner and all I had to bring was crab cakes.

No offense to Chevy Chase’s Clark Griswold, but looking back…it was all a bit…much.

I grew up in the Presbyterian church in Raymond, South Dakota. I’ve always loved Christmas. So many relatives came to our farm house for Christmas dinner, it was always a magical day I never wanted to end.

After I graduated from college and moved away from South Dakota, I kept those old traditions alive – in my own way – for years…until I started realizing some of them weren’t so much fun anymore.

I slowly started asking friends if they wanted to stop exchanging Christmas gifts. With one notable exception, they all responded with a resounding yes. I started scaling back on the holiday letter list, although I still send them every year with gratitude, looking forward to hearing back from family and friends – some from high school I only correspond with this time of year. Not everyone is active on social media.

I haven’t cooked a turkey in years. I don’t dislike turkey; I’d just rather have something else. (And we still have plenty of leftovers, for those who make the turkey because they like the leftovers.) I’d rather roast a chicken or make a lasagna.

But that’s me.

And you’re you.

We’re all allowed to pick and choose which traditions sing to us and which don’t. To create our own, to choose and make our own music. And that’s fun!

If you’re feeling stressed during the holiday season, try alternate nostril breathing. Here’s a video for your support. https://www.youtube.com/shorts/0xA0lTjTYao Breathe in through the left nostril, hold for a beat, out through the right nostril. Breathe in through the right nostril, hold for a beat, out through the left nostril. Repeat 5-10 times. This is one of the most calming and grounding breath practices I know.

For the inner vocalist or pianist in you or your loved ones, gift certificates are available. I’m also giving away one free hour of training for anyone who purchases a five-pack of lessons between now and the end of January. You can use the six hours for yourself, or for a musical family member or friend.

Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas if you celebrate, and a splendid New Year’s celebration to you and yours! I’m sending you warm wishes for creativity, inspiration and joy in 2024.

This gem of an eBook takes you on an emotional journey with Abella, whose dream comes true the morning of her 9th birthday. Her best birthday present ever is a real, live horse! Yet, before the end of the year, Abella is an orphan who loses the ability to speak her truth and express herself. This eBook includes videos for vocal training. Fiction readers will love meeting Abella, and the friends and animals who help her regain her voice and uncover her strength and purpose. Speakers and singers looking to improve their vocal quality and longevity will love the vocal training videos! Abella’s lessons apply to all of us who at one time or another want to make our voices heard. Is it a fantasy fable? Or is it a book on vocal training? Lucky for us, How Abella Found Her Voice is both. Find it here: https://laurahandke.com/product/how-abella-found-her-voice-e-book/

Love Your Voice & Voice Your Love,