The Place “Just Right”

The Santa Claus Parade and Festival of Lights have started the holiday season in my little town, and this is my weekly newspaper column dedicated in part to that tradition and my own traditions which are, if I do say so myself, a bit quirky:

The strains of holiday cheer fill the air. In my mind’s eye I can see the Christmas parade replete with bands in their regalia, floats full of red cheeked faces, drummers drumming, and the festive evening’s darkness cut by glowing lights. I imagine the jolly old elf punctuating the night air with “ho ho ho”; his lovely wife loyally by his side waving and smiling at the crowd. And I see the children full of hope as the magic of the holiday season begins in our fair town.

I see these things clearly. But this year I participate from the warmth of my home. The thought did cross my mind to leave the toasty confines of my little red chair in the corner of my living room, but it was fleeting. No one wanted to accompany me the half a block walk to the corner of my street to watch the annual parade and I did not want to bundle up and venture out on this cold cold night by myself. I noticed on Facebook the day after the parade that several of my friends tempted the cold and watched the parade, but their conclusion was the same—the parade was wonderful, but it was “freakin’” (a term I am convinced was coined by Regis Philbin) cold.

Nevertheless, I did participate in a way that has become somewhat of a tradition that I have donned since my kids have grown up and are no longer interested in standing out in the cold with me. I left my chair and the glow of the TV and climbed the stairs to my upstairs bathroom. From that vantage point I could see the fireworks that both noisily and colourfully ushered in the “most wonderful time of the year.” I corralled my youngest son to join me, and we gazed out the window together, warm and cozy in that little utilitarian room. He got a little agitated at one point, wanting to get back to whatever he was doing before I asked him to join me, but I prevailed upon him with that most poignant of tools a mother has in her arsenal—guilt—so he stayed until the bitter end. Which was not bitter at all.

From our perch on the bathroom counter we had a view most others could not replicate. There was no straining of necks, no chill up our spines, no jockeying for position in the crowd. We could just enjoy the display and hear the oohs and awes of the crowd a mere few blocks away. I actually oohed and awed a few times just for good measure and ironic pleasure—but to be honest, there were some undeniable wows in the display. It was a fitting way to begin the season. I have quietly been introducing a few decorations into my home décor—a “real” evergreen wreath on the front door, a festive planter on my coffee table, some red and green ribbon waiting patiently to festoon its way through the house.

As I write this there is freshly fallen snow outside, forming crests on our bushes and adding newness to our surroundings. According to the weather men and women we are in for a November week that rivals mid-winter. And that is okay. We have to make the transition and if it is early this year, so be it. I will be taking on decorating with fervour in the next couple of weeks, my motto being “if it takes a day or so to put up and a day or so to take down, I need to enjoy it for a few weeks”. I am someone who is no stranger to hard work (and don’t let anyone tell you that decorating is not hard work) but I like the fruit of my labours to last for a while.

This year, as in others, I will start out determined to simplify Christmas, and get it down to an art. But Christmas is not an art. It is not perfect. I have come to the conclusion that it is a craft; one that is original every year yet has aspects of its forebears. A favourite little ditty that I love and brings to mind all that is simple and good (and unattainable) follows. It is called “Simple Gifts” and is attributed as an American Shaker hymn. On the surface it sums up how I would like life to be in general, and Christmas in particular: “ ‘Tis the gift to be simple, /‘Tis the gift to be free/‘Tis the gift to come down/Where we ought to be/And when we find ourselves/In the place just right, /Twill be in the valley/Of love and delight……………..”

Here is hoping that in this Christmas season, we all land “in the place just right.”

Where is your Christmas “place just right”?

The Other Side of Greed

Money cash

Money  (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

WordPress Krista asked today: “What is your least favourite personal quality in others? Extra points for sharing your least favourite personal quality in yourself.”

 My least favourite quality in others is greed. It is also my least favourite quality in myself. I have trained myself to be generous, but I have to admit that though I love to give, I also love to receive.

I was talking to a friend yesterday who said that someone he knows and respects posted on Facebook that Christmas to her is no longer wanting things, but being grateful for things. I would like to join her league—but this friend and I have not been quite as fortunate in life moneywise as the person who posted on Facebook. We both laughed and he said—“Yeah, Peace on earth and goodwill to man, but I would be grateful for a new truck.”

People who make wide sweeping statements such as “I don’t want anything for Christmas”, or “I am just happy being grateful for all I have” forget that others are not as fortunate as they are. I sometimes think that my brush with poverty has made me more aware that not everyone has a silver spoon in their drawer (I do, but my silver was inherited). I am more compassionate now and more willing to give to Missions who feed the homeless, having come close to walking in the shoes of the less fortunate. I am lucky to have family and friends who helped me and my family through some rough times saving us from a dire situation. Not all people are so lucky. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

Have you ever had something unfortunate happen that taught you some lessons?

Published in: on December 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm  Comments (8)  
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TMI

Well here it is–my weekly column. I know many of you await it with bated breath. This week I was channeling Joan Rivers before she became caustic, Erma Bombeck, with a little Carol Burnett thrown in for good measure (where is the King of the Jungle when you need him?)

Funny legs

Funny legs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was an abstainer. No way was I going to join Facebook. I did not understand it. I still do not quite understand it—but it has turned out to be fascinating. I have been on Facebook since January and to say it has changed my life would not be the correct assessment. But it has added another dimension. I can now see my far flung (and for that matter near flung) relative’s and friend’s antics. I have been able to connect to some friends I have not seen since university. I get to see my nephews and nieces and their kids (who are all exceedingly adorable—the originals and their offspring). I get to see what people think is important to share and it is a lesson in humanity and humility, fun and family.

 My picture is on my Facebook page, and while I do not think it does me justice (I am in a time warp—where did all those wrinkles come from?), it does depict me as I am today. A dyed in the wool brunette with a little gray on top I like to think of as my halo;  squinty (I prefer to think of them as sparkly) eyes  arrayed in glasses possibly a bit too prominent for my face; and a slight Mona Lisa smile to keep the jowls from sagging too much. (My niece Chay often gets after me when I humorously “put myself down” but it is a woman’s prerogative to make fun of herself. It does not necessarily mean I have trouble with my body image or the way I look—I kind of enjoy poking fun at myself. Note: I do not particularly enjoy it when other people do though—so if you see me at the grocery store, do not make fun of my nose.)

                I do not have many friends on Facebook and it is mostly by design. I befriended people I knew would not mind and most of those who have asked me—except for a couple of guys who seem kind of suspicious and look like relatives of the Duck Dynasty guys (hey, did you see a pic of some of them without their beards—wow!—but I digress.) Although, on second thought, the Duck Dynasty guys are kind of rich………..

Snoopy as "the World War I flying ace&quo...

Snoopy  (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Facebook is great if you are kind of snoopy. Which I am. Being a reporter is a good thing as I get to peek behind the curtains sometimes. Do not invite me to your house unless you are ready to have the door of your medicine cabinet opened. I do not judge though—I am just curious. (Just kidding). I am amazed at some of the things people share, and not because they share things that are weird and strange (though I do find those things interesting)—they share their knowledge, recipes, family life, reflections, and pictures.

                I understand why some people do not like Facebook—I can see that it could get out of hand—but the way I use it, I like it just fine.  I also have a Twitter account which I understand even less than I do Facebook. I tweet my blog posts and on occasion stuff like “the bird has left the nest” or “the horse is in front of the wagon”. These tweets make no sense, but neither do many of the tweets I have read.

                I could take the time to understand these tools of social media. In fact I will Google Facebook right now and find out what it says. I just love Google—it is such a lazy way to do research.  Okay, according to Wikipedia, “Facebook is an online social networking service. Its name comes from the colloquial name for the book given to students at the start of the academic year by some American administrations to help students get to know one another.” Cool. Now I am in the know. About ten years later than most others on this planet known as Earth.

                Okay, now what does it say about Twitter? Just a minute—or few minutes—my Internet seems to be on a bit of a siesta right now.  All knowing and All Seeing Wikipedia says that “Twitter is an online social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read “tweets”, which are text messages limited to 140 characters.” So that about sums it up. And it is still as clear as mud to me. Maybe in ten years I will understand it and tweet to my heart’s content.

                I am sure this column has been illuminating. Think of all the things you have learned about me that you really didn’t need to know:

1. I dye my hair but not religiously, hence the grey halo.

2. My eyes are close together.

3. It is okay for me to make fun of myself but not for anyone else to make fun of me.

4. I am woefully behind the times.

5. I am in denial about my age.

6. You do not want to invite me to your house unless you have cleaned out your medicine cabinet.

7. I am not, nor have I ever been “cool”.

Published in: on November 12, 2013 at 9:00 pm  Comments (44)  
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Crazy Forgiveness

 
Photo: Please Share :)Sun Gazings Photo
A friend shared this with me on Facebook. I do not particularly understand Facebook and I hope to God I am not breaking any copyright rules, but this really spoke to me. I apologize for the little bit of unsubtle language, but it gives the whole thing some oomph don’t you think?
Published in: on August 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm  Comments (28)  
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Bliss is Forgetting Perfection and Embracing Our Messes

Spirit Head

Spirit Head (Photo credit: eskimo_jo)

My response to a blog I read this morning:

Okay – in all of life’s mess, this was a perfect post that I read at a perfect time written by one of my perfect blog friends. Thank you for making the choice to share this–oh, how I needed to read what you wrote this morning. Life is a series of messes and if I would just give in to that I would be so much happier, so much more adventurous, so much less afraid–I will try to embrace this–and as I have before and I am sure I will do again–I will use this on my own blog as it is so perfect–but give you the kudos for discovering it and writing about it so eloquently.

Lake Superior

Lake Superior (Photo credit: kjell)

The blog I refer to is written by Kathy from Lake Superior Spirit, and titled  “Let’s mess up a little today, shall we?”  She used these words in her post from her latest favourite spiritual teacher, Jeff Foster:

Forget “perfection”. 

Forget trying to get it “right” all of the time. 

Here’s to doing your best, falling flat on your face, getting up again, falling down again, fucking up totally, failing beyond belief, being laughed at, ridiculed, mocked, even crucified, and losing what you thought was yours. And here’s to embracing the mess of it all, dying to the dream and waking to the reality of it, loving the perfect imperfection of it, opening your heart wide to all of it, continuing to live your truth despite everything, fearlessly meeting each sacred moment…

You cannot get it “right”, and that’s why you cannot get it “wrong”…

So many times I find that other bloggers define for me what is important in my life. They are brave souls, unafraid of putting themselves out there in order to share with the rest of us. Kathy is one such brave blogger, who captures so much of life on her blog in words that are at once poetic and approachable.

I am going to forget perfection, because in trying to attain it, I am afraid of falling flat on my face (though this has happened many many times due to my bountiful gracefulness); I realize I am going to mess up totally; I am going to chance being laughed at, ridiculed, mocked and even crucified, because really, where has the safe path led me?

I want to open my heart wide, continue to live my truth (and in living my truth, have the gumption to state it) and fearlessly meet each sacred moment—because if I don’t, will I really have lived?

Thank you Kathy for your post. Go and read her—she expressed this so much better than I (or is it me–I often get this confused—but hey, I am forgetting perfection, remember?)

Bliss is to me forgetting perfection: how about you?

~ ? ~ Or Commenting: A Dangerous Sport

Confused Winter Hummingbird

Confused Winter Hummingbird (Photo credit: Ed Gaillard)

Do you ever get comments that you don’t quite get? Or that you think may be humourous, but then again, may not be? And how about those ever so helpful comments you get that tell you that you are wrong about something (because they did not get your attempt at humour). And they always say: “I know you will not take this the wrong way,…..” (but I do). Then once in a while you get these people who take the moral high road and give you a tiny slap in the blog. It does not happen often. I have received (just a minute I am going to check here) 5,523 comments and less than ten were, shall we say questionable or insulting.

 But a few more were confusing—but I confuse easily.

 Because I love to read comments, I will sometimes answer with a ? and then the commenter will elucidate their thoughts (which it turns out was really quite clear in the first place—I am just a doorknob). Sometimes I will serve up a noncommittal answer to their comment with a clever emoticon, or thank them for stopping by when I am not sure what was meant.

When I first joined the blog world I made some mistakes in commenting. Once I was flippant, then tried to cover it up by making an apologetic re-comment. Once I corrected someone who needed no correction and found out that everyone loved her and that if I were to keep my place in the blog world, I better never hint at saying anything untoward to her again (sorry again Brigitte, though the angel that you are, you took no offence).  And once I did correct a spelling mistake in someone’s blog—because the rest of it was so perfect, I could not help myself. They thanked me, but I will bet they did not really want to.

So I have given. And I have received. But I have learned. And I am shocked that I have made so many friends—seriously who knew? I guess people who have a Facebook account know that you can have cyber friends, but I do not have a FB page. I have a Twitter account, but for the life of me, do not yet understand it. So my blog is my foray into having friends at the other end of a keyboard—and I must say I like it (I really like it – this is me channelling Sally Fields in a rather warped way).

So, if any of my comments ever offend you—I am sorry. If any confuse you, just ask me to explain, because I am sure it is my confusion not yours that is to be blamed.

 Adieu, and keep on commenting. (Yes, I mean you brother John. Sister Peggy comments on everything! lol)