Archives for posts with tag: Christmas

Christmas Stocking

Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today I was reminded  I could be happier in the present moment if I quit focusing on the way I think things should be. I know this is true, but something has been eating at me ever since I got home from visiting my father over Christmas. I have a dear friend who explained to me  holidays are like exclamation points—–they call attention to aspects of our reality that don’t match the way our culture says they are “supposed to be.” Many face Thanksgiving, Christmas, and/or New Years Day without a significant other(s) present. Every time a thoughtless person asks, with all good intentions, “How was your Christmas?” that person may be reminding someone of how painful and different his or her experience of Christmas was in comparison to the special shared time our culture expects it to be.

Yes, it helps to know that Christmas is really about celebrating Christ’s birth. I have often sat alone in my home reading the Christmas Story from my bible on Christmas day. Calls to my father and sisters help at those times, but it is still not what anyone would call a “traditional Christmas” experience.

My experience of Christmas has not been traditional for quite some time. It stopped being what television told me it should be when my mother and father divorced. Somehow having to “go home” to two separate homes at Christmas time at that point in my life took much of the magic out of Christmas. No matter how hard people tried, I always felt like a guest in both homes and did not feel as if I belonged in either one of them.

I like to think I have come a long ways since those days. I have learned Christmas is not all about “me”—-or my expectation that it be like it was, or I thought it was, when I was a child. The magic returns when I can let go of those old expectations and focus instead on making it better for others. I was lucky this Christmas. I got to spend it with my elderly father and youngest sister. It was special. I will always cherish the memory of the time we spent with each other. However, I still need to be careful not to automatically ask everyone I meet how their Christmas went. It may seem a bit strange, but I am trying to learn to ask people how they have been rather than how their experience of a specific event was.

Well, that is my rant for this afternoon. I am hoping all of us can experience a pleasant “now” in the present moment, moment by moment, as we travel through the day.  May God bless and keep you.

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shopping cart

Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I went smile hunting today. You know, last minute Christmas grocery shopping. Had to park out close to Kingshighway at Schnucks. Smiled at people as I was going into the store and they were coming out. They all looked serious and determined to get to their cars without smiling. I almost felt like I was back in New York City when I was there on a youth outing back in the ’60s—–a place where I quickly learned strangers didn’t smile back at you.

When I got in the store, I had to navigate through all the traffic. There were slow movers, dead stand still shoppers, speed through the traffic with no heed to bumping others shoppers, and people like me who would wait courteously and smile. A few smiled back, and that felt good. The friendliest smile of all, was that of the man shaking the bell and collecting money for the Salvation Army. His smile was warm and genuine regardless of whether donated to his red bucket or not. Another man was sitting at a table in the deli area, and he actually initiated a friendly conversation with me. Like me, I think he was aware of  and responsive to the people around him.

The “ask attendant for help” guy in the self-checkout area was also friendly and helpful. Good thing, because that is where the shortest lines were. Simply put, the aisles throughout the store were chaotic.   I think the fast movers who ignored everyone else in the store could actually be dangerous for an older person unsteady on his or her feet. The overall “ambiance”  reminded me of the “help, it’s going to snow and I have to get groceries” crowd—-only this crowd, for the  most part,  seemed less friendly. By the time I was finally escape to outside, I still smiled at people—-only it was harder, and I understood the “shell-shock” type affects I had encountered earlier on my way into the store.

Where am I going with all this? I don’t really know except to say I am certain this mad and determined grocery driven rush I encountered while shopping both inside the store and in the crowded, car honking-filled parking lot when I tried to navigate my escape home is not what God had in mind when Jesus was born to Mary and Joseph so long ago. I am sorry to say I succumbed to some of the “bad vibes” and found myself thinking a few “bad words” or phrases once or twice. Thankfully, I was able to redirect myself with a chuckle and the thought, “better watch it, or you’ll become like all the other ‘Grinches’ and ‘Scrooges’ roaming the aisles!”

It wasn’t until I got home, unpacked, and put away my groceries that I was able to sit down, take a deep breath, and realize, that with that intake of air I was once again attuned to the God within that loves us all. The feeling of quiet serenity that comes with prayer and “being” with God in relationship was a welcome relief, and I am very grateful for that gift.  It can’t be found in crowded stores, or anywhere else , as far as that goes, unless one consciously seeks it out.

I want to close by thanking God for being there and allowing me to feel his spirit regardless of where I am or what I am doing. I am also asking him to help me get better at it in crowded, busy places where I can sometimes forget to acknowledge, accept, and welcome his presence. My God bless and keep you.

Christmas decorations

Image courtesy of Feelart/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

It is a dreary, gray day. At least we are not getting slammed with snow and ice like other places are on this, the first day of winter. I’ll take rain and temps in the fifties any day over freezing temps, sleet, and snow.

It seems like a good day for a nap. My dogs are all curled up snoozing away. There is an intermittent gurgle coming from my essential oil diffuser, and the fiber optic light show on my little Christmas tree is blinking its magic.

Perhaps it is time for me to quietly reflect on  what Christmas means to me now that I am an evolving elder and am no longer a child. Am I simply celebrating a birthday of a  religious figure born centuries ago? Am I caught up in being the  best “gifter” in my family or circle of friends? Does it mean sending a Christmas Card filled not so much with wishes for a blessed Christmas as much as bragging of family accomplishments?

I can only give my answer for this moment. I have not sent Christmas cards. I have the single, small, aforementioned Christmas tree blinking in a corner of my living room. I am wearing Christmas themed socks as well as a Christmas themed sweat shirt. I have been and am being a “busy little Christmas elf” as I crochet gifts for my family and friends.

But, all that aside, Christmas is not about “extraneous accouterments”  for me this year. I have been seeing Christmas through a new “lens” in my proverbial sunglasses. I have been taking intermittent excursions inward, seeking to communicate with God as I understand him,  and focusing on building a stronger, more intimate spiritual relationship with my Creator. Christmas is a miracle that is taking place in my soul as I reunite with my Creator, acknowledge and accept his love, and attempt to share that love with others.

Is this magical event limited to the last month of the year? To December 25th? No. I am participating in a relationship that lasts for eternity. God’s love is always there, but it is up to me be aware of it, accept it, and share it. Somehow, doing so is much more important than simply saying “Happy Birthday!” one day a year. I am coming to believe life is meant to be a continuous celebration of God’s love and creation, one day at time, throughout eternity.

Take Care. Stay safe, dry, and warm. May God bless and keep you.