Musings + Essays

Let Me Hold You While I May.

By: Jen Shoop

In the morning, my daughter comes to my bedside and whispers that “Mella is awake” before padding off to her bedroom to wait for me. When I enter her room, she often asks me, “Are the lights OK?” as I squint into the unwelcome incandescence. This diminutive consideration routinely startles, then warms, me and I reassure her and thank her for her thoughtfulness before raising the blinds.

Last week, moving through this familiar routine, I was struck suddenly by the unfamiliar:

The maple tree in the cul de sac out her window, for so long a shock of orange-y red in the silver-blue dawn, stood bare, a brindle of branches.

How had it happened? Winter had crept in, cat-like, and stolen the last of autumn.

I was flooded with nascent nostalgia. The first fall in this house, likely to be our forever home, now gone, and so, too, the final vestiges of my daughter’s babyishness. Here now is a young lady who asks me whether the lights are too bright for my taste.

Despite my assiduous, continued efforts to slow down and appreciate the present, time continues to pilfer from me. I’ve nearly deleted the previous sentence four times because I am frustrated with the persistence of this refrain in my writing and my thoughts on motherhood. But, here we are, on the other side of the punctuation mark with no novel insights as to how I can better “live where my feet are.” I continue to find it hard to sit down and watch my two-year-old put puzzle pieces together for the umpteenth time without simultaneously itching to clear the breakfast plates or answer the text from my sister or begin to load a digital cart of groceries. But — this is my one wild and precious life! I torture myself imagining I am spending too great a share of it behind my screen, or preoccupied with chores. When I am old and gray, I want to remember my son’s pudgy baby hands manipulating the pieces and his chirpy little commentary and his joyous hop after placing the last piece and to thank myself for taking the time to drink him up in his two-year-old glory. That is, to exclaim, principally to myself, some words borrowed from a poem in praise of a “normal day” –

Let me hold you while I may!

This, then, is my resolution for the holiday season: to pop up above the cloud line in the midst of the sunshowers and realize I’m in a golden moment while I’m living it. I want to lay under the Christmas tree looking up at the lights with my children, just as I did with my sisters when I was a child, and let that moment hang out and breathe. I want to enjoy an extra cup of coffee in my pajamas and slippers watching Mr. Magpie assemble the Lionel train around the tree with our children, resisting the urge to get everyone dressed and ready for the day. I want to sit in front of the fire drinking Harney and Son’s Holiday tea and reading a book or working on a Christmas puzzle, dismissing the call to fold laundry or check my phone. I want to make dozens of holiday cookies without getting too fussy about the smushed and finger-printed ones my children leave behind, or the amount of chocolate they’ve licked from the bowl. I want to sit outside watching the children run around in the first flurry without worrying about bedtime.

I want take this season as slowly as I can, because I can already sense it’s a Christmas I’ll never forget. The first holiday season post-COVID, post-New-York, with my parents and in-laws and sister and her family down the road and two children who understand the contours of Santa Claus. There must be an obscure German word for this feeling: the anticipation of nostalgia. The fact that I have experienced this sensation twice in the past few weeks suggests that I am living high on the hog at the moment, and —

let me hold you while I may.


+On taking things good and slow.

+My most treasured holiday cookie recipes — I especially love my Grandma Carm’s “Horns.” I made them in NYC last winter when we did not come home for the holidays and I farklempt the entire time.

+The other day, I stumbled upon this old post inspired by an interview with my girlfriend Inslee, and the provocation is: stop what you’re doing, periodically, and ask yourself What are you doing to enjoy the day

+Time is a thief.

+Slow parenting.

+Something funny happens to time as a parent.

Shopping Break.

+I just panic-ordered like ten rolls of wrapping paper. I had a full cart of Sugar Paper x Target gift wrap and nearly all of it sold out before I clicked “order”! Thankfully, a lot of the Wondershop patterns are cute this year, too, so just ordered a bunch and will order some Rifle Paper to supplement (waiting to see if they run a Black Friday deal). My order:









+One thing I feel good about: I made sure all the gift wrap patterns had some red in it and bought a bunch of red velvet ribbon. Now am mulling over which personalized gift tag to get, but know it will need to prominently feature red so it all ties together. A few favorites:




+I also found these clever personalized gift stickers for gifts from Santa — in case your children are beginning to understand the resemblance between your manuscript and Santa’s.

+Oo, I’m not usually a black dress gal, but this would be a workhorse in my closet. So chic!

+ZOMG, J. Crew nailed it with these feather-trim moire mules! The perfect exclamation point for your holiday wardrobe. (Feathers are everywhere at the moment!). Would elevate and add interested to a straight-forward black velvet wrap dress like this.

+And I predict this tartan dress, also from J. Crew, is going to sell out in a NY minute.

+OMG! How chic is this advent calendar for children?! Super similar to the one we use with our own!

+Classic barn coat for a baby boy for $36.

+I referenced this above, but get thee to Harney & Son’s Holiday Tea. It’s a cup of Christmas cheer! I just ordered this four-pack of the holiday-themed teas (20% off with code HOLIDAY21) and some of these initial mugs for teachers at mini’s school and will bundle a mug with a tin in cellophane and tie off with a ribbon.

+I also love the idea of personalized notepads like this or this for a teacher gift.

+I’m intrigued by this Kate McLeod “stones” — moisturizer in bar form that melts right into skin.

+Fun tartan blouse to layer under overalls or tuck into high-rise cords.

+You know my thoughts on coupes. These would be so fun for a holiday cocktail!

+Despite the fact that I’ve been thinking about Christmas for weeks now, I *just* got around to ordering holiday cards. (Yikes, just under the wire.). I’m working again with my girl Erin Wallace, and she’s making a variation on this style for me. Chic chic!

+After years of wearing a lot of denim, I’m finally branching out and wanting all the trousers.

+Also really want these ones from Max Mara.

+If you’re celebrating Thanksgiving somewhere warm, have this shipped to you overnight and be the talk of the table.

+I’ve been talking about Juliska’s holiday china pattern for ages now and just treated myself to a few of these mugs as a starter kit. Looking forward to enjoying my holiday tea and coffee out of them all season long!

+How gorgeous are these matching stockings?! The tartan trim!

+Did you order holiday jammies yet? I ended up ordering candy canes for mini and micro (25% off with code BFCM25) as well as these “antique toys” classic jammies from Petite Plume.

+Have we already discussed this $240 velvet slipper chair?! It is SO good! Reminds me of Jonathan Adler and comes in such fab colors. Considering for my office…

+I shared some chic valet trays from Billy Kirk in this post as a potential gift for a man and they’ve sold out. I also love this leather style with a fish from Orvis and this wood trim one, too. The perfect answer to the pile of coins, keys, sunnies, etc that typically accrue on a kitchen counter!

+The latter brand also carries a watch case that is super attractive. A potential add-on if you’re gifting a handsome watch…

+This anything-but-boring white blouse is on sale!

+This mini lipstick set is such a fun beauty gift! I did end up snagging the Westman Atelier set as a gift, too!

+Just added this well-reviewed cookie cookbook to my cart.

+Handsome, traditional pajamas.

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8 thoughts on “Let Me Hold You While I May.

  1. Ooooh this — “There must be an obscure German word for this feeling: the anticipation of nostalgia.”

    I have felt this so repeatedly in my life, usually on the precipice of big changes. It’s almost this overwhelming sense of peace — of knowing I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and being content there — but also knowing I’m careening quickly towards a new and exciting and good chapter. Close enough to sense it, and all in all, enough certainty to relax into the present.

  2. Hi! Since you’re an Etsy pro, wonder if you’ve come across a “Do Not Open Until ______” tag or tape? Looking for something with fillable dates for a “12 Days of Christmas” were doing with friends. Thank you!

    1. Hi Mary! So odd you wrote this because I just came across this “don’t open until” stamp:

      Unfortunately it looks like it wouldn’t not arrive until after Christmas this year, but you might reach out and see if expedited shipping is available, or purchase for next year.

      For something that is more immediately available, this Etsy shop does stickers:


  3. Commenting to say that I am a cream blush connoisseur, but have been resisting the Westman Atelier blush sticks because they’re so pricey. I finally bit the bullet during the Sephora sale and am here to regretfully inform everyone that they are, in fact, THE BEST. They’re so pigmented but are somehow still impossible to mess up, and they blend beautifully. A new forever staple. Ugh! I’ve been influenced! But no regrets!

    1. I totally agree — those blush sticks are THE best. I love the colors, how natural they look, how easy to apply, etc.


  4. The cookie cookbook you mentioned is lovely. The cookbook left me so inspired and ready to start my holiday baking! I ended up ordering it as gifts for multiple people.

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