Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Time is Here

 A few quiet moments to share with you some of my thoughts of the season.  I tend to share Charlie Brown's sentiments about the weeks leading up to Christmas:

I like for these weeks to be quiet, contemplative, and very deliberate.  Advent is, after all, a time of watching, waiting, and interpreting signs.  This advent there have been sympathy cards to send and condolence calls to make.  Not personal losses for our household, but very personal losses for people we care about.  For one friend it was the quick passing of a brother living far away.  Yesterday's condolence call was to an elderly gentleman dh and I have known since before we were married.  He is now legally blind due to macular degeneration.  His wife died suddenly this past week, though she has been carrying around an oxygen bottle for a number of years.  Together they were able to prop one another up and stay in their home and drive (!?!) to the doctor and for groceries.  It's not clear that B. will be able to do that by himself...especially not the driving.  Loss in many layers for him.

Yesterday after yoga, one of my classmates stopped me to ask how I had handled it when my son began to question the reality of Santa Claus.  Am not sure why she asked me (ds is soon to be 25!)...except that this gal is also the mother of on only son....and I'm the oldest person in the yoga class.  My response: " wasn't only one conversation...I'm sure of that.  And the thing that I remember most clearly was that I never wanted ds to be able to say that we lied to him".

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you can guess that I took a pretty cerebral and calculated approach.  Here's some of what I told her:

First, our church observes the Feast of St. Nicholas and that was always an opportunity to talk about the beginning of Santa Claus.

Second ds's first grade teacher had them do a "book" about Christmas traditions around the world.  That was a big help because it gave us the opportunity to see that other cultures have traditions that vary from our commercial "Jolly Old Elf" who at that time drank Coca Cola (popular ad that ds picked up on). 

The other thing I remember is using Dr. Seuss' book How the Grinch Stole Christmas and my very favorite Christmas video The Muppet Christmas Carol to shift the thinking from the elf who brings gifts to the spirit of generosity.  And an assurance that  generosity of spirit is at the heart of Christmas giving.....and getting.

So for Jennifer and her son it is my hope that in losing something of that jolly old elf, they will gain something in exploring new possibilities for understanding this holiday.  Something like what Dr. Seuss had to say here (click on the link to read the story of this artwork and poem): 

From here on earth,
From my small place
I ask of You
Way out in space:
Please tell all men
In every land
What You and I
Both understand . . .
Please tell all men
That Peace is Good.
That’s all
That need be understood
In every world
In Your great sky.
(We understand.
Both You and I.)

My new understanding for this year has been the need for us to be less boisterous (ie.Snoopy in the above video) and more tender with one another in this time when the days are short, the nights are dark and cold, and hope may feel just beyond reach.   With thanks for some of  the people who brought this awareness to me these past few days:
  • The woman at the grocery store deli who told me that I had to order a cold cut tray 24 hours in advance.  When I said I needed it to take to a bereaved family, she quickly made up a huge tray of lavash sandwiches while I watched then handed me the sample end, because it was lunch time.  Thank you for reminding me of Grace.
  • For my knitting, spinning and weaving friends who take the time to knit for others.  And who gather together over a cup of coffee to do so.  Thank you for reminding me of the importance of community.
  • The woman who cut me off with her big SUV in an empty parking lot, shaking her fist at me because she wanted to get the spot closest to the door before Costco opening.  Thank you for reminding me that disapproval and disdain of others is very unbecoming.
  • For the folks who maintain the Passive Aggressive Notes site.  Thank you for making me chuckle everyday and for helping me to recognize that my last item was just a tad passive aggressive.
  • And for all of you readers who show up here despite my rather haphazard approach to blogging.  I always look forward to your comments, though I can't respond to the ones without emails.  Thank you for taking the time to read and respond to my rambling thoughts.
Wishing you all the very best for what ever holiday you celebrate this time of year.  May warmth, light, and hope  prevail!


  1. Oh, I am so sorry about the close losses. Big hugs to you and yours. And I love your blog. Keep blogging, haphazard as you wish. May the holiday bring you just what you most need and crave.

  2. Yes, your haphazardous blogging is a real joy to read - because it's always fresh and fun and informative. You are one of the highlights in my life and I thank you.

  3. Gotta love Charlie Brown...especially Linus' monologue at the end. I lost a friend this Christmas too. I feel for your friend who lost his wife. Have a peaceful holiday.

  4. Wonderful post Val. I have always loved the Charlie Brown Christmas - and have the album on my ipod - I play it alot when I'm driving around doing my Christmas errands. As for the response to "Mommy - I don't believe in Santa anymore!" my Mom very wisely answered for me - "that's okay Youngman - I didn't believe in Santa for a while either... but now that I'm older, I know he exists..." It seemed to do the trick - after all Gramma knows everything!
    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

  5. And thank you. Thank you for this thoughtful post - you always make me think. It reminds me to slow down. Especially thank you for the thoughts you have shared with me when I needed them. In my circumstances I've come to appreciate that it's Christmas all year, but I'm glad to take this moment and recall that a time of reflection is important.


tie in the loose ends...