Ann Crews Melton
Praying for miracles and making time for celebration are all intrinsic rituals of the holiday season - and a little extra decor doesn't hurt. (DeAnne Billings)

The holidays, as we all know, fall at the darkest time of year -- but humans, with our ingenious, indomitable spirits, created rituals of love and light to fill this time. We hang lights indoors and out, prepare festive meals and engage in gift-giving to show our gratitude.

But as I drag myself out of bed each dark morning, I'm reminded that even the most mundane tasks, like making the bed or brewing that first cup of coffee, can create a moment for mindfulness, especially in the stillness of winter. We carve rituals from our everyday movements, welcoming those precious daylight hours and the new interactions each day brings. Of course getting out of bed in the first place is the primary challenge, but seeing the stars on your way to work can be a small blessing of its own.

I invite you to pause this season to reflect on what's most meaningful to you -- be it family, the beauty of the first snowfall, or the creative outlets you make time for in the midst of all the gift wrap and dirty dishes (or maybe you're one of the lucky ones for whom holiday planning is your creative outlet, in which case you'll find many inspiring ideas in this issue). Whether traveling to India, dancing with a; partner or penning a keepsake letter to your kids, the women highlighted in these pages create meaning from both extraordinary and everyday experiences. I hope these features will similarly inspire you to view the world a little differently, and of course save space for fun.

So eat, drink and Be Merry -- and be mindful of the everyday rituals that make the season bright.

Ann Crews Melton, a native Texan accustomed to installing Christmas lights in T-shirts, is a bundled-up writer and editor who now makes her home in Bismarck.