I could argue both sides of an argument about whether s’mores taste better in a summer campfire or a winter campfire. I could tell you stories about standing sweaty, swatting mosquitos, and singing Girl Scout songs around summer campfires of my youth. The fires danced in the dusky twilight of days that lasted so long they seemed to never sleep. I would smile as I recounted them and probably get so engrossed in the fond memories that I might absentmindedly scratch imaginary bites on my legs. I might smell the lake, the grass, and all the green, growing things that give summer a smell like no other especially when mixed with the scent of burning marshmallow. The warm breeze, welcome relief after the day’s oppressive heat, might make me reach for a pony tail holder to keep the sticky goo from my hair. The campfires blazed past my bedtime, each one a miniature celebration of summer.
Tonight, we had a group of my son’s friends and their parents over for s’mores. Mosquitos did not annoy us, and the scent of leftover November, layers of brown smashed in lingering leaf piles that never fully dry, blew in with the north wind. Twinkling lights on the roof danced to the retro “Christmas with The Chipmunks” album playing in the background. The sun went to bed so early that the campfire easily started by 6:30pm with everyone bundled in layers leaning into the fire’s warmth. Marshmallow torches lit the sky before melting squares of chocolate snuggled between two graham cracker halves.
In a month full of songs and ideals about joy and peace, I find that doing so many of the things that are supposed to be festive and relaxing one after another leave me feeling run down and worn out. Yet, when I took a bite of that s’more, I smiled, and I felt cozy and warm despite my shivering. I had no agenda and no traditions to be upheld. We simply ate s’mores while the kids ran around playing by Christmas lights. Though I love holiday traditions, I sometimes forget the most important things while trying to check off my holiday to-do lists like simply sharing time, kindness, and love with others.
So, which s’more tastes better, a summer s’more or a winter s’more? The answer depends on what you are looking for – a celebration or a hug. On December 4th, I needed a hug and a pause from the celebration. The small winter campfire with friends filled not only my stomach, but also my soul. I am grateful winter provides these moments of pause if I just look around and find them.