Twinkling lights and terrifyingly long to do lists.
Christmas carols and absolutely no parking anywhere within a 20 mile radius of a shopping mall.
Adorable antler and Rudolph-nosed SUVs hitting the streets and fussy children in grocery store lines, whining to parents who can't wait for them to go back to school.
Seriously though, I love the holidays.
And a big part of that for me, at least this year, has been baking up a storm.
There's just something so familiar, comforting about the smell of homemade treats filling the air.
Which explains why the oven has been in overdrive around here, since Thanksgiving (or before).
Last night, while reaching for our go-to cookie dough of late, I laughed at the heaping pile of rotten bananas taking up valuable door space.
I used to give my mom such a hard time about collecting brown, bruised bananas, particularly since they would attack my poor toes everytime I opened our over-stuffed freezer.
But seeing them last night made me smile.
For all the ways growing up is hard, and often sucks, it also makes you appreciate your parents in a whole new light.
Thrifty as I've become in my post-teen years I suddenly get not wanting to waste a (literal) bunch of bananas.
I also get looking past those mushy bananas for 11 months of the year without a second thought, knowing when the holidays hit you'll find your inner baker again.
And that what once seemed lost - waste - will take on new life.
It's crazy realizing the disgusting over-ripe bananas actually make the very best bread.
And oddly comforting realizing Mom was right all along.
I finally get it, Mom, is what I'm trying to say.
And also, sorry for all that crap playful teasing I gave you in my younger years.
Turns out I didn't know everything back then.
Turns out it's nice realizing there is still so very much left to learn.
This morning the house smells heavenly. Our freezer is beautifully cleared.
And my heart is full knowing that home is not a place, as much a state of mind.
It's the smell of banana bread baking, memory making...
And the flicker of Christmas lights reminding me to thank God I'll never outgrow the magic of the season.
I hope you have the most wonderful holiday with your family and friends.
I look forward to seeing each of you in the blessed New Year!
*And, for anyone in need of a SUPER last-minute Christmas gift, this banana bread is delicious, simple to make, and would look (and smell) super good under your friends' trees.
If you haven't been hoarding mushy bananas all year, no worries. There's a way to make it with fresh produce too. :)