Wednesday, December 30, 2009
So I'm not sure I will have much to say this week. We'll see. If he goes off to do some of his guy stuff, I may write more, but if he's home, I will be present. He's my favorite activity.
Talk amongst yourselves :-)
Saturday, December 26, 2009
The idea of New Year's resolutions dates back to at least 153 B.C. to a mythical King named Janus (where we get the month named January), who had two faces. One face was capable of looking into the past and the other of seeing into the future.
We've all made New Year's resolutions, but have you ever stopped to ask yourself if the resolutions you make are for you or for someone else? The most common New Year's resolutions are to quit smoking, to quit drinking, to lose weight and to get physically fit. Even within these seemingly personal New Year's resolutions, they become cliche', wrote and automatic. It's easy to go to these stand-bys when your belly is full and you've been over-indulging.
Are you making a resolution (a promise to yourself), based on what you really want for yourself, or are you making them based on what someone else wants you to do, what you think you "should" do, or what culture or society might think is good to do? Those promises made for any other reason than a deeply personal one, are not likely to be kept.
If you make resolutions this year, spend some time formulating what you really want for yourself and write them down in the affirmative (avoid such terms as "quit", "stop", "do less of this", "don't"). Here are some that I am considering. This list may be too long to be manageable, so I may decide to focus in on one at a time. And many are not likely to be achieved in a year, but will be a lifelong goal or process:
* Love my body, just as it is.
* Make healthy choices (notice how these first two can easily incorporate the top 4 listed in the second paragraph?).
* Speak only of and about myself, allowing others to tell their own stories.
* Make time for daily meditations. Sit in silent connection to my god.
* Think kind and loving thoughts of myself and others.
* Do something this year that scares me.
* Give - be open to opportunities for generosity.
* Express love and gratitude.
* Re-read: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay, A New Earth, and Stillness Speaks (both by Eckhart Tolle).
If there is a labyrinth in your area, consider a New Year's labyrinth walk. As you spiral into the center, reflect on the year just past. Consider leaving a small token or object in the center (a shell or small rock, a pack of cigarettes) which represents something you wish to leave behind. And as you move forward out of the labyrinth, think ahead to your personal desires for the coming year.
Both Wikipedia and Ezine Articles have some very fun and interesting facts about New Years you might want to explore, that simply go beyond the scope of the purpose of this article. And here are a couple of goal setting and problem solving video clips which might be useful.
Skip the clip below if you have a seizure or migraine disorder. The spinning and movement could be a problem.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Is it hard to feel the Merry in Christmas this year? You're not alone. Thanksgiving and Christmas can be among the most depressing days of the year for some people for any number of reasons. Suicide rates soar. And it's hard not to be a downer to others when you're "just not feelin' it".
There is an odd yet interesting set of expectations for what literally is, just another day on a calendar. There is nothing intrinsically better or worse about holidays and the days surrounding them, than any others. That's the reality. Yet we cling to the fantasy. The Norman Rockwell, Hollywood version of abundance, happiness, magic, sparkles, family, love, and togetherness.
Truth is, at any given point in time, on any given year, there is unhappiness and pain. If you're feeling that way, you're not alone. I'm feeling that way this year, and I'm joining in unity and connection with all others who are feeling less than jolly.
This morning, I went to quickly get a couple of things at the grocery store and to rent a stack of movies. I arrived at the video store about 45 minutes too early. I really felt like getting the errands done and not having to go back out again today so I sat in my car in their parking lot, with my heater running and the radio playing, sipping my cup of coffee and leaned my head back so that the sun could bathe me full on my face. There were some tears and yet also a sense of connection to my god. Not "G.O.D." in the regular sense, but in that being that is my comforter and my friend in an undefined, not religion connected way.
As you may have read from my articles "Connect to Loved Ones"... and "E.T. Phone Home...", my son is far away both figuratively and literally. After some searching (which I go through on a regular basis), I was finally able to speak to him by phone last night. It's not that we don't deeply love each other, not that we are estranged as in "had a misunderstanding", but I live in a place of not understanding him. We don't breathe the same air or speak the same language. His life is so hard for me to even hear about. He lives with daily dangers and traumas that are so far beyond my comprehension my mouth hangs open and my brain short circuits. Hearing about his world, and even hearing parts of it in the background of our phone conversations causes me vicarious trauma. I can't make it better for him, he can't seem to make it better for himself yet, and the pain is overwhelming at times. The songs that went through my head this morning were "Wild Thing", and "Born to Be Wild" and an image of "Animal" from The Muppet Show.
So while other people are celebrating, I'm feeling like my limbs have been torn off and shoved through a chipper like a bad scene from Fargo. I've been thinking of a friend of mine whose husband shot himself on Thanksgiving this year and what their Christmas will be like. And I wonder why, even though I know that the holidays are days like any other in the literal sense, that I cannot seem to wrap my brain around that literal concept and am instead, caught with so many others in the fantasy and the expectation that it should somehow be better than this, better than the day before it and the day after it. All I can do is join my hearts with all of the other broken-hearted and place us all in the hands of the one who can hold us all and all our pain, and smooth and stroke and love us, bearing witness to those hard places and sitting with us until we are strong enough to move forward once again.
There may be many others out there, like me. I attended a church service years ago, the year my son suddenly, and violently left home. It was a special service for those just not feeling the season. Those who had lost a loved one, or were having their own, individual struggles of ill health, loss, estrangement, whatever. In that quiet space, we bore witness to one another, and we supported each other. May you make it through this painful time. May you feel the Divinity that surrounds you and holds you in it's loving embrace. May you feel in your bones that there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow, or day after, or day after that. That healing and resolution are always on the horizon. If there is a step you can make to make it better, may you have the strength and feel the support to do so. If there is truly nothing you can do, may you find peace in surrender and trust. Trust that your pain is witnessed, and trust that there is a bigger plan that you cannot see, nor may ever understand fully.
There are bright places to focus on if we try really really hard. For me, I express gratitude that I was able to speak to my son and tell him I love him. I gave him the links to the various things I've written, and I got his new MySpace link. I have a phone number that at least for last night, worked. He is in a temperate area so he won't freeze tonight. He's alive. As long as he has breath, there are opportunities for growth and change and improvement and happiness. I have an amazing husband and we're healthy. There is love and joy and life in the world. There is kindness and love and there are peaceful places. If the only thing you can find to be grateful for is that your eyes blink and your heart beats, miraculously, all on their own without effort or thought, so be it. Cling to what is good and pure and full of light. Let it sustain you. May you be richly blessed.
What's not to love about sexy Elvis in his prime with Blue Christmas? I remember and honor him and the personal pain that took him from us too soon.
And here is Animal from Sesame Street with Wild Thing.
This is a song that has always been very near and dear to my heart as I pray for peace of heart
This also holds special meaning for me
He'll be alone on Christmas, housing, job, finances, friendships all less than satisfying to him (to say the least). But he's alive. As long as there is breath, there is hope and chance for change, improvement, redemption, all that good stuff.
I gave him all of the URLs to the stuff I write but I think that's a tad overwhelming. So I doubt he'll read it. He gave me a URL to his new MySpace page so I was able to see a couple of more updated photos. WOW. So much has changed. It leaves this place in my chest that physically hurts. Hard to describe.
It is so very true that we live in different atmospheric conditions, like different planets, where neither of us can survive in the other's. It is an amazing challenge to have a love this big with a chasm that wide. I'm amazed we ever bridge it at all, but we do.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
The ingredients in Physician's Formula Organic Wear Tinted Moisturizer are pretty good...not perfect (cuz who needs alcohol right?) but pretty good for a drugstore product. For my skin, I buy the Light to Natural color. It works just as well as a foundation. I use it on days when my skin feels dry, or I just want a quick, slap-on color boost.
Like my professional lingo? "For a quick, slap-on color boost..." Ahhhh, I should be in advertising!
It can be a little gummy, so work fast when you smooth it on. It can leave your skin a little tacky so adjust the amount. It is hard to apply other products over it, so I just use it alone...with a "schmear" of lip gloss and I'm out the door (or straight to the computer more likely).
It was about $10-12 at Wal-Mart and two 1.5 oz tubes came in a pk...enough to last me a long while. If you try it, let me know what you think.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Every family has their own Christmas traditions. When we grow up, we may keep, reject, or slightly alter these traditions of our youth. Family traditions may change over time or remain quite constant within families.
Here is the evolution of some of the traditions from my family of origin. How are yours different or the same? There will be a quiz. OK, maybe not.
The Opening of Presents: Growing up, this happened ONLY on Christmas morning. No Christmas Eve presents in our house, no-sirree-Bob! That's what we did when my son was growing up as well, only with the slight variation being that I allowed a sort of Hanukkah-like tradition to develop. My son could open a small gift every day up until Christmas once he got so worked up that waiting was akin to a root canal. We don't typically give gifts on Christmas these days, but if we do, we open them on Christmas morning.
Christmas Tree: In our house, I couldn't tell you WHEN we got the tree, but I know we begged and nagged for it to be put up sooner. Sometimes we helped pick out the tree, sometimes not. But Dad would bring the tree inside and get it all set up in its stand and then let it "rest" for about 24 hours so the branches would warm and settle. Depending on what type of tree it was, he may even do some artistic "grafting" to fill in bare places. My folks were serious about a symmetrical tree. Then we would watch in anticipation as he put the lights on. Not sissy lights either. These were the hot, colored, night light style bulbs.
Then whenever it was deemed time to decorate, we began with a couple of heirloom decorations. A silver horn, and a bell that were of the WWII vintage. We were each allowed to ring the bell once, and toot the horn once, and then they went up high on the tree, not to be touched again. All the old and fragile ones went up top. Do you think they didn't trust their four darling daughters?? We each had a few ornaments that were our own: a little plastic nativity, a red boot, and there were some foil stars. I can't remember now but the three eldest of us had green, red and blue with one of those colors being "ours". We looked forward to seeing these every year.
Then we decorated. Usually an argument (or seven) ensued about who put what where, who was weighing down what branches with too many Play-Dough ornaments hung out on the end, who threw tinsel/icicles and who neatly placed them. Often there were tears. Often someone was sent to their room (OK, perhaps that was usually me), and the much looked forward to event didn't ever turn out how I imagined it would.
As an adult, it took me a really long time to figure out why I DREADED putting up the Christmas tree but loved it once it was up. It was those early brawls with my sisters and parents over the putting up of the perfect tree. One year, I told my son that I would let him do the tree himself after my husband got the lights on it and I gave him full permission to send me to my room if I got bossy. I got sent to my room within the first 5 minutes. And I liked it there. And the tree turned out beautiful without my bossiness! In this way, I was able to interrupt the cycle of Christmas tree bickering.
We haven't put up a tree for the last 5 years. My son does not spend Christmas with us, our house is really REALLY small (like 550 square feet small), so we just quit getting one.
Church or the reading of the Bible story: In my family, we didn't go to church on Christmas or Christmas Eve. Most years, we would sit before bed and my dad would read us the story of Christ's birth from the book of Luke. I was sort of bored by the story, but enjoyed hearing my dad's voice, the family gathered together and the dim lighting from only the tree lights and the fireplace. I tried that a few times when my son was small, but he didn't groove to it, so that tradition fell by the wayside.
Songs/Carols/Christmas Music: Sometimes, my mother would play Christmas songs on the piano and we would stand around it and sing along as a family. On occasion, I think I went caroling with church groups although not enough for it to become a tradition. And Christmas music (records, or vinyl, as they say now), was a staple. My husband doesn't like Christmas music, so I play it on occasion when he's at work, but not much. Hearing an old carol here and there is plenty to get me in the remembering mood.
Baking Christmas Cookies: My mom loves to bake. Many many different types of Christmas cookies being baked was definitely a part of my childhood. We girls were part of the assembly line. We helped cut, decorate, shape and stir. As an adult, this is not a tradition that has endured. I don't like to eat them or give them or bake them or pay for the ingredients. This is not an important tradition for me. I once made about a billion gingerbread men with my son and he defected after the first batch.
The Watching of Christmas Specials on TV or renting Christmas movies: There weren't very many Christmas specials when I was growing up but we watched all of what there were. Most regular variety shows had Christmas specials, and there was always the standbys of Charlie Brown's Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Those were my all-time favorites. When my son was little, I taped every stinking Christmas special that our non-cable TV would show, plus some on my mother's TV WITH cable. When he would get antsy for Christmas, he would watch hour after hour of Christmas specials. Enough to rot his brain I'm certain. I don't watch very many of those any more. I tend to be a "seen-it-once, done-with-it" type of movie watcher and my hubby is not fond of holiday programs.
Gift Giving: Now this is one tradition that has changed so drastically it is hard to believe. Our family bought presents for each other. Back in the day, with 6 in the family, my parents would give us each $5 and we bought a $1 present for each of the 5 other family members. Then of course, they bought for us, and sometimes Santa left a present or two. We always had filled stockings and this included Mom's and Dad's. As I got older, there just never seemed to be enough money. I stressed and fretted over gift giving. I still tried to buy for immediate family, and a friend here or there. With my son being homeless and not having an address, I no longer buy gifts for him, and my husband and I quit buying gifts for each other. It just seemed like an luxury we could ill afford. I still buy a gift for my mother (my father is deceased). Sometimes, in lieu of presents, my husband and I will try to take a trip to the coast for Christmas, just the two of us, in some remote little coastal town with zero Christmas hype. That's if we can afford to. People so often ask, "are you all ready for Christmas?" and we always reply "Yes. It's easy when you don't do anything for Christmas". People look at us like we're from a different planet.
Decorating: In my family or origin, we had a tree, and usually a wreath on the door and a nativity scene (which is now in my possession). We were each allowed to arrange the nativity scene once, and then mother would arrange it and it was off-limits (unless we moved pieces when we walked by). As an adult, I never really bothered with a wreath unless it was one of the several my son made in school. We usually had a tree (when we could afford it), and I hung his school Christmas art all over. We hung stockings. I've never had outdoor lights. On a few occasions we put some small lights around one window in the living room or in my son's room but that's about it.
Christmas Cards/Letters: I'm not really sure how my mother approached Christmas cards. I think it was primarily family on the card list. As an adult I gave cards every year to family and friends. Once I was further away from family I would often include one of those oft maligned Christmas letters...you know the ones! Some people HATE them, and some people LOVE them. I really rather like them, if they're honest and not just a fruity, sticky-sweet version of what's going on in the family when you know darn well it's a giant lie. I like honest, heartfelt letters. I enjoy hearing about what's happening with people, especially those I don't keep regular contact with. I like photos. I always feel a bit let down when I get a card with just a signature. It seems a wasted opportunity. Having said that, this year I sent cards to a reduced list with a generic holiday motif and just a signature. I debated not sending them at all. We really didn't have any news this year. However, that IS one of the traditions that seems important to my husband, so send them I did.
Christmas Eve: I don't remember a lot about Christmas Eve as a kid besides the very long night. As stated, Dad might read us the Birth story, we might sing some carols at the piano, and we might watch some Christmas specials. We put out cookies for Santa (I don't think we put out milk). For most of my childhood, I shared not only a room, but a bed with my youngest sister (5 years my Jr). We could NOT sleep on Christmas Eve. And we were forbidden to get up and Christmas morning could not begin prior to 6:00 a.m. So we quietly sang songs, and gave each other back rubs and hand and arm rubs, and told stories and I'm sure fought and slapped a few times too.
One year, my son and I tried baking a cake for Baby Jesus. Yeah, that was just weird. We only did it once.
When my son was growing up, waiting was visibly torturesome for him. We would take walks, watch specials, read books, and generally, kill time. We kept the get up time to no earlier than 6:00 a.m. after he once woke us up sweetly to tell us it was Christmas and it was 1:00 a.m.
And now, Christmas is barely a blip on the radar. I will often rent a stack of movies, or, we may just go to bed early and watch the burning logs on OPB. Yes, we are party animals!
Christmas Morning: Besides the "not before 6:00 rule", in my family of origin and in my next family, presents were opened on Christmas morn. Stockings were plundered first. Then presents. It was a free-for-all. In later years we would take turns opening presents so that we could each see what the other got and we could prolong the greed just a little longer. The rest of the day was usually spent hauling our stuff to our rooms, putting things away, trying on clothes, cutting off tags, playing with gadgets and cleaning up ribbon, paper and tape. We were also to make a list of what we got and who gave it to us for thank you cards later....my favorite thing to do...NOT. It sometimes took my son until May to get all his thank you cards sent. Between having many generous givers, and having the attention span of a Jack Russell Terrier, it was a chore. He sometimes got done by the time his birthday in May rolled around and then we started on those Thank You cards.
My husband's family insisted that breakfast must be eaten before the opening of the gifts. That seems like cruel and unusual punishment to me, but whatever floats your boat. My mom sort of gave up on big meals or organized meals on Christmas day because no matter what she said, we hid and snuck candy, eating it all day long and then refused to eat meals. We just sort of pick at things on Christmas and don't have any great plan for sit-down meals.
Who To Spend Christmas With: That has always been about immediate family. I do remember a few Christmas' spent at the homes of grandparents, but not very many. It was just us 6. Then after leaving home, we pretty much spent Christmas' with our new families. And now, other than perhaps a Christmas Eve meal with my local mom, it is just my husband and I. And we like it that way. We like peace and quiet and each other's company.
Special meals/foods: Well I think I covered this. As I recall, there really wasn't anything particularly special in the foods of Christmas at our house. Lots of dang cookies and fudge. And since I hate cooking, that is not happening at my house.
When to take the tree down?: I don't really know for certain without asking, but I'm pretty sure my mom took the tree down within a few days of Christmas. I remember how sad and bare and spent it looked after Christmas. Then when I had trees of my own, I did the same thing. I was never one to leave it up until New Year's. Once the fun was over, I was done with it. It also depended on my days off and what my work schedule would be as to how soon it was taken down. Taking down the tree was a job I detested.
New Year's Eve/Day: and I suppose no look at holiday traditions would be complete without examining New Year's Eve and New Year's Day. I think my folks bought chips and crackers and dip and Apple Cider (things THEY liked, not things *I* liked), and we played games and tried to stay up until midnight to yell "Happy New Year", but rarely made it. My folks did not go out for New Year's Eve and I've only been out for New Year's Eve a few times. I'm not into crowds of drunk people. Just not my thing. Remember New Years Eve 1999? Y2K? We stayed home for that one too and I bought a commemorative coin that said something like "Stayed home 2000". The world went nuts that year with celebrations. New Year's day seems to be about (boring) football (*yawn*). I never liked that day.
What were the Christmas and New Year's traditions in your family of origin? Did they change once you had a family of your own? What traditions did you get rid of and which new one's did you add and why? What has been the purpose and benefit of these traditions. I hope you'll share some of your memories below!
The joke was on me for buying this book thinking that it would be a collection of George Carlin's thoughts on spirituality and religion. Nothing could have been further from the truth. While I stuck it through to the end, I can't recommend it.
I was probably a teen and young adult when comedian George Carlin was at his height of popularity. Back then, I totally loved his irreverent, edgy style. The way he "stuck it to the man". I had a lot more anger and edginess then too. But I've changed, and I think, perhaps, if anything, George just got a little angrier.
George's book When Will Jesus Bring the Pork Chops? (2004) is simply a collection of his random, humorous thoughts. Little snippets of stand-up routines. I have a high school chum who adores this book more than almost any other. I'm sorry, but I didn't love it. And lest you be one like me who judged content by title, don't. This has nothing to do really with spirituality or religion or his commentary on either. There are perhaps a few references to these but they are few and far between. I should have read more about what I was buying. That's "my bad".
I've grown a bit weary in my old age of gratuitous spattering of the "f-bomb" in writing. It has it's place and it has been known to escape my lips on occasion, but I don't enjoy it being used as frequently as the word "the". This book has sicker humor than even *I* would dare, and that's saying something! Much of it made me cringe, and wonder what was making this man so angry inside. My inner counselor went wild with theories.
On the plus side, there is humor to be found and he has an uncanny way of breaking down "euphemisms" that we use all the time. I always find language, and how we use it rather interesting. His political commentary is often right on the mark (at least from my perspective), and he seems to blast left and right almost equally. He's not a systems man, and he does like to bash systems.
Perhaps it is a sign of my age that I find his edge too sharp for even me. 'Whod-uv-thunk-it?' I say pass unless you're sure what you're getting into. Have you read this book? What did you think? What do you think of my assessment of it?
Monday, December 21, 2009
Revlon Skinlights is one of those things I like. I don't use it every day but I have different products I use for varied purposes. I don't wear make-up very often but on a day when my skin just needs a little boost, I will take 30 seconds and put this stuff on. It comes in a squirt bottle but here is my tip to you...Don't use it like foundation, and don't use a lot and don't use it around your mouth and under your eyes (it just accentuates problems there.
When I use it, I only use a slight, BARELY partial pump...the smallest amount I can get out (I can always use more if I need to). I dot this in the center of my forehead, down the center of the bridge of my nose and on the mid to outer portions of my cheeks. Then I quickly blend it. You'll know when you get it in the wrong places. It won't look good. And your face may need it in different places than mine.
I would say my skin is quite fair, although not the porcelain-light. I use Skinlights in the tint of Bare Light.
It is a light lotion like stuff with a tint and it has light reflectors in it. It gives a brighter appearance to your skin and does so quickly and easily. Slap on some lip gloss and this is a very quick, very easy everyday lift.
You can also use it in the same way over your regular foundation. But, I've I'm using foundation, I'm probably going for the whole glam look and have other products I use for that. This one is great to take on vacation, cuz you can take just one tube and be ready for anything quick.
Now, do I use it every day? Nope...most of the time I'm pretty much wash and wear. But I've always liked make-up...I just want somebody else to do it for me...that and my hair. Oh Lord don't get me started on my hair!
If you try it, let me know what you think.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Who else but me can call you that and live? I tried to call you - yet another disconnected number. How many is that? I've lost count. I start trying early in the hopes I'll get lucky and reach you. I hope you remember our date with the moon Christmas Eve. I'll be there. I don't even have an address to send you a card or a gift. The last time I saw you was Thanksgiving week 2001 (or was it 2000, I forget). I've only seen a couple of photographs of you since.
I know you won't understand this, cuz it's a 'mom-thing', but it's really hard, no matter how old a child gets, for a mom not to get to lay eyes and hands on her 'baby'. We like to sniff our cubs every now and then. You have a smell all your very own. We moms could pick our cubs out of black darkness, simply by touch and smell alone.
I don't know you anymore. You're a man now, with a life of your own. Sure, we talk on the phone a few times a year, but we live on different planets. You truly ARE, my E.T., my 'little' extra terrestrial. It's like being a mermaid and a human - we don't have the structures to live in each other's atmospheric conditions. We barely speak the same language. Just enough to get by.
***Remember the movie E.T.? Remember how we sometimes did that thing where we would hold up our finger (pretending it glowed), then pointing to each other's hearts said "I'll be right here"? I will always carry you in my heart, and I will forever dwell in yours. Just like E.T., space nor time can sever our bond.
***Remember how I used to sign to you in the grocery store when you were getting wound up: "You are a big, BAD, wolf!" and you would sign back "NO!" People watching us would give us that "Oh, look at the poor little deaf boy" look which we thought was funny. There was nothing wrong with your HEARING, you just didn't LISTEN. I would sign to you as a way to get you to bring your voice down and not yell so much in public.
***Remember signing "I love you" through the car window when I dropped you off at school because saying it or kissing you in front of your friends was no longer "cool"?
You were seven months old your first Christmas. I bought you Smurf tennis shoes, a Glow Worm and a bunch of other stuff you didn't need and don't remember. Heck, I hardly remember that Christmas since I had a miscarriage on Christmas Eve. You turned out to be the only baby I would ever have. I remember all the Christmas' in between. How excited you got!
***Remember that weird game we played in the stores called "Find the Scrooge"? When you would complain that I was mean, I would find a mother somewhere in a store with a short fuse saying something mean to her kid like "Put that down, you ain't gettin' nuttin', and their ain't no Santa Clause!!!". Then I would say "Hey, would you rather live with her?" Suddenly, I didn't seem so bad. Then, you would come find me saying "Scrooge Alert on Isle 5!!!" and we would race to the location and listen. Then I'd say "Wanna live with them?" and you would laugh and squeal and say "No Way!". It's sick that we did that. Just sick and wrong. Wasn't it fun?
***Remember the year you asked me to "tell me the truth, and don't lie to me, is there so-such-thing as Santa?" Or the year you got caught opening presents and I yelled "Great! Why don't you just open ALL your presents and ruin ALL the surprises?!!!"....and you DID? Christmas Day sure was quiet that year.
***Remember asking me "Mom, how many more wake-ups-and-go-to-sleeps until Christmas? And we would cross off the days on the calendar?
I finally figured out that I could break from tradition and avert some tantrums and treat Christmas a little more like Hanukkah. It was so very hard for you to wait, the excitement and anticipation nearly crushed you under its weight. So I would keep some small things under the tree, things with activities to do, and keep the bigger things at someone else's house. Then when the excitement threatened to pick you up and carry you away, I let you choose one gift to open every day until Christmas. It sort of let some of the steam out of the top of your head and gave you something to do. We actually discovered that you enjoyed and appreciated each item more this way than with the Christmas morning feeding frenzy.
***Remember the hours and hours of Christmas specials I taped?
***Remember on Christmas Eve when you were so wound up you were practically hanging from the curtain rods? We would go for really really REALLY long walks in the snow and eat at the Chinese restaurant. Remember that the owner loved you and gave you free stuff even though we didn't understand her and she was sort of crabby to everyone else?
You probably don't remember that on your second Christmas (age 1.5), after we fled from your birth father, we were so broke that I made a Christmas tree out of green poster board and taped it to the wall at floor level. We drew on it with markers to decorate it. OK, maybe you got a little marker on the wall too.
***Remember all the cool presents your babysitter Donna got you? And Pam? The G.I. Joe tank you could get inside, and the Big Wheel that for whatever reason, you called your 'oder-moder"?
***Remember making Gingerbread men for the tree, or how mysterious it was that after I put candy canes on the tree, all of them at your height just disappeared? I wonder what happened to them, do you know?
***Remember going to the Hallmark store each year and picking out one ornament that you wanted for our tree that year?
***Remember the tiny, cheap glass nativity I bought and one year you made a barn out of a cardboard box and strung lights on it to surprise me?
I still have every play-dough, clothes pin, glittery ornament you ever made. Wreaths made of garbage bags or cloth and a wreath made out of many construction paper hands just your size. All the gluey, glittery heavy things that weigh down the branches of a tree. Every poem from school projects. All priceless, irreplaceable bits of history and memory. Each evoking a slice of time - a snapshot of life.
You're 25 and we haven't been together for Christmas since you were 17. Boy, that Christmas sucked! You left Dec 5th of that year and didn't ever live at home again. That was a weird, awkward and heartbreaking Christmas for both of us. The intensity of our mermaid/human relationship was bound to separate like a limb torn off.
And this Christmas, I'm writing an on-line letter, because I have no place to mail it, no phone number to speak it, and you wouldn't have the patience to read or hear these thoughts anyway. And I cannot sniff my cub.
I'm asking anyone who reads this to pray or focus their energy for "E.T. to Phone Home", for your safety and happiness. That's all I've ever really wanted for Christmas, since your first Christmas which you actually spent warmly inside my body. It just got harder after that didn't it?
I know we can't live in each other's atmospheric conditions and survive, but we can connect, heart to heart this day and every day. Always know how much you are loved. That never changes.
A song from the heart with scenes from one of your many favorite childhood movies. The Santa Clause.
Friday, December 18, 2009
The Capitol Christmas tree in Washington, D.C., is decorated with 3,000 ornaments that are the handiwork of U.S. schoolchildren. Encircling evergreens in the 'Pathway of Peace' represent the 50 U.S. states.
The world's largest Christmas tree display rises up the slopes of Monte Ingino outside of Gubbio, in Italy's Umbria region. Composed of about 500 lights connected by 40,000 feet of wire, the 'tree' is a modern marvel for an ancient city
A Christmas tree befitting Tokyo's nighttime neon display is projected onto the exterior of the Grand Prince Hotel Akasaka.
Illuminating the Gothic facades of Prague's Old Town Square, and casting its glow over the manger display of the famous Christmas market, is a grand tree cut in the Sumava mountains in the southern Czech Republic.
Venice 's Murano Island renowned throughout the world for its quality glass work is home to the tallest glass tree in the world. Sculpted by master glass blower Simone Cenedese, the artistic Christmas tree is a modern reflection of the holiday season.
Moscow celebrates Christmas according to the Russian Orthodox calendar on Jan. 7. For weeks beforehand, the city is alive with festivities in anticipation of Father Frost's arrival on his magical troika with the Snow Maiden. He and his helper deliver gifts under the New Year tree, or yolka, which is traditionally a fir.
The largest Christmas tree in Europe (more than 230 feet tall) can be found in the Praça do Comércio in Lisbon, Portugal. Thousands of lights adorn the tree, adding to the special enchantment of the city during the holiday season.
'Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree': Even in its humblest attire, aglow beside a tiny chapel in Germany's Karwendel mountains, a Christmas tree is a wondrous sight.
Ooh la la Galeries Lafayette! In Paris, even the Christmas trees are chic. With its monumental, baroque dome, plus 10 stories of lights and high fashion, it's no surprise this show-stopping department store draws more visitors than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower
In addition to the Vatican's heavenly evergreen, St. Peter's Square in Rome hosts a larger-than-life nativity scene in front of the obelisk.
The Christmas tree that greets revelers at the Puerta del Sol is dressed for a party. Madrid's two-week celebration makes millionaires along with merrymakers. On Dec. 22, a lucky citizen will win El Gordo (the fat one), the world's biggest lottery.
A token of gratitude for Britain's aid during World War II, the Christmas tree in London's Trafalgar Square has been the annual gift of the people of Norway since 1947
Drink a glass of gluhwein from the holiday market at the Romer Frankfurt's city hall since 1405 and enjoy a taste of Christmas past.
Against a backdrop of tall, shadowy firs, a rainbow trio of Christmas trees lights up the night (location unknown).
CHRISTMAS AT ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY
Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well.
Others have taken up where you fell, the line has held.
Peace, peace, and farewell...
I have no idea if this is truth or myth, but it makes for interesting pondering. Some history about the Christmas Carol "Twelve Days of Christmas":
From 1558 until 1829, Roman Catholics in England were not permitted to practice their faith openly. Someone during that era wrote this carol as a catechism song for young Catholics. It has two levels of meaning: the surface meaning plus a hidden meaning known only to members of their church. Each element in the carol has a code word for a religious reality which the children could remember.
-The partridge in a pear tree was Jesus Christ.
-Two turtle doves were the Old and New Testaments.
-Three French hens stood for faith, hope and love.
-The four calling birds were the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke & John.
-The five golden rings recalled the Torah or Law, the first five books of the Old Testament.
-The six geese a-laying stood for the six days of creation.
-Seven swans a-swimming represented the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit--Prophesy, Serving, Teaching, Exhortation, Contribution, Leadership, and Mercy.
-The eight maids a-milking were the eight beatitudes.
-Nine ladies dancing were the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit--Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, and Self Control.
-The ten lords a-leaping were the ten commandments.
-The eleven pipers piping stood for the eleven faithful disciples.
-The twelve drummers drumming symbolized the twelve points of belief in the Apostles' Creed.
Pa never had much compassion for the lazy or those who squandered their means and then never had enough for the necessities. But for those who were genuinely in need, his heart was as big as all outdoors. It was from him that I learned the greatest joy in life comes from giving, not from receiving.
It was Christmas Eve 1881. I was fifteen years old and feeling like the world had caved in on me because there just hadn't been enough money to buy me the rifle that I'd wanted for Christmas. We did the chores early that night for some reason. I just figured Pa wanted a little extra time so we could read in the Bible.
After supper was over I took my boots off and stretched out in front of the fireplace and waited for Pa to get down the old Bible. I was still feeling sorry for myself and, to be honest, I wasn't in much of a mood to read Scriptures. But Pa didn't get the Bible, instead he bundled up again and went outside. I couldn't figure it out because we had already done all the chores. I didn't worry about it long though, I was too busy wallowing in self-pity. Soon Pa came back in. It was a cold clear night out and there was ice in his beard. "Come on, Matt," he said. "Bundle up good, it's cold out tonight." I was really upset then. Not only wasn't I getting the rifle for Christmas, now Pa was dragging me out in the cold, and for no earthly reason that I could see. We'd already done all the chores, and I couldn't think of anything else that needed doing, especially not on a night like this. But I knew Pa was not very patient at one dragging one's feet when he'd told them to do something, so I got up and put my boots back on and got my cap, coat, and mittens. Ma gave me a mysterious smile as I opened the door to leave the house. Something was up, but I didn't know what..
Outside, I became even more dismayed. There in front of the house was the work team, already hitched to the big sled. Whatever it was we were going to do wasn't going to be a short, quick, little job. I could tell. We never hitched up this sled unless we were going to haul a big load. Pa was already up on the seat, reins in hand. I reluctantly climbed up beside him. The cold was already biting at me. I wasn't happy. When I was on, Pa pulled the sled around the house and stopped in front of the woodshed. He got off and I followed. "I think we'll put on the high sideboards," he said. "Here, help me." The high sideboards! It had been a bigger job than I wanted to do with just the low sideboards on, but whatever it was we were going to do would be a lot bigger with the high side boards on.
After we had exchanged the sideboards, Pa went into the woodshed and came out with an armload of wood - the wood I'd spent all summer hauling down from the mountain, and then all Fall sawing into blocks and splitting. What was he doing? Finally I said something.. "Pa," I asked, "what are you doing?" You been by the Widow Jensen's lately?" he asked. The Widow Jensen lived about two miles down the road. Her husband had died a year or so before and left her with three children, the oldest being eight. Sure, I'd been by, but so what?
Yeah," I said, "Why?"
"I rode by just today," Pa said. "Little Jakey was out digging around in the woodpile trying to find a few chips. They're out of wood, Matt." That was all he said and then he turned and went back into the woodshed for another armload of wood. I followed him. We loaded the sled so high that I began to wonder if the horses would be able to pull it. Finally, Pa called a halt to our loading, then we went to the smoke house and Pa took down a big ham and a side of bacon. He handed them to me and told me to put them in the sled and wait. When he returned he was carrying a sack of flour over his right shoulder and a smaller sack of something in his left hand. "What's in the little sack?" I asked. Shoes, they're out of shoes. Little Jakey just had gunny sacks wrapped around his feet when he was out in the woodpile this morning. I got the children a little candy too. It just wouldn't be Christmas without a little candy."
We rode the two miles to Widow Jensen's pretty much in silence. I tried to think through what Pa was doing. We didn't have much by worldly standards. Of course, we did have a big woodpile, though most of what was left now was still in the form of logs that I would have to saw into blocks and split before we could use it. We also had meat and flour, so we could spare that, but I knew we didn't have any money, so why was Pa buying them shoes and candy? Really, why was he doing any of this? Widow Jensen had closer neighbors than us; it shouldn't have been our concern.
We came in from the blind side of the Jensen house and unloaded the wood as quietly as possible, then we took the meat and flour and shoes to the door. We knocked. The door opened a crack and a timid voice said, "Who is it?" "Lucas Miles, Ma'am, and my son, Matt, could we come in for a bit?"
Widow Jensen opened the door and let us in. She had a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. The children were wrapped in another and were sitting in front of the fireplace by a very small fire that hardly gave off any heat at all. Widow Jensen fumbled with a match and finally lit the lamp.
"We brought you a few things, Ma'am," Pa said and set down the sack of flour. I put the meat on the table. Then Pa handed her the sack that had the shoes in it. She opened it hesitantly and took the shoes out one pair at a time. There was a pair for her and one for each of the children - sturdy shoes, the best, shoes that would last. I watched her carefully. She bit her lower lip to keep it from trembling and then tears filled her eyes and started running down her cheeks. She looked up at Pa like she wanted to say
something, but it wouldn't come out.
"We brought a load of wood too, Ma'am," Pa said. He turned to me and said, "Matt, go bring in enough to last awhile. Let's get that fire up to size and heat this place up." I wasn't the same person when I went back out to bring in the wood. I had a big lump in my throat and as much as I hate to admit it, there were tears in my eyes too. In my mind I kept seeing those three kids huddled around the fireplace and their mother standing there with tears running down her cheeks with so much gratitude in her heart that she couldn't speak.
My heart swelled within me and a joy that I'd never known before, filled my soul. I had given at Christmas many times before, but never when it had made so much difference. I could see we were literally saving the lives of these people.
I soon had the fire blazing and everyone's spirits soared. The kids started giggling when Pa handed them each a piece of candy and Widow Jensen looked on with a smile that probably hadn't crossed her face for a long time. She finally turned to us. "God bless you," she said. "I know the Lord has sent you. The children and I have been praying that he would send one of his angels to spare us."
In spite of myself, the lump returned to my throat and the tears welled up in my eyes again. I'd never thought of Pa in those exact terms before, but after Widow Jensen mentioned it I could see that it was probably true. I was sure that a better man than Pa had never walked the earth. I started remembering all the times he had gone out of his way for Ma and me, and many others. The list seemed endless as I thought on it.
Pa insisted that everyone try on the shoes before we left. I was amazed when they all fit and I wondered how he had known what sizes to get. Then I guessed that if he was on an errand for the Lord that the Lord would make sure he got the right sizes.
Tears were running down Widow Jensen's face again when we stood up to leave. Pa took each of the kids in his big arms and gave them a hug. They clung to him and didn't want us to go. I could see that they missed their Pa, and I was glad that I still had mine.
At the door Pa turned to Widow Jensen and said, "The Mrs. wanted me to invite you and the children over for Christmas dinner tomorrow. The turkey will be more than the three of us can eat, and a man can get cantankerous if he has to eat turkey for too many meals. We'll be by to get you about eleven. It'll be nice to have some little ones around again. Matt, here, hasn't been little for quite a spell." I was the youngest. My two brothers and two sisters had all married and had moved away..
Widow Jensen nodded and said, "Thank you, Brother Miles. I don't have to say, May the Lord bless you, I know for certain that He will."
Out on the sled I felt a warmth that came from deep within and I didn't even notice the cold. When we had gone a ways, Pa turned to me and said, "Matt, I want you to know something. Your ma and me have been tucking a little money away here and there all year so we could buy that rifle for you, but we didn't have quite enough. Then yesterday a man who owed me a little money from years back came by to make things square. Your ma and me were real excited, thinking that now we could get you that rifle, and I started into town this morning to do just that, but on the way I saw little Jakey out scratching in the woodpile with his feet wrapped in those gunny sacks and I knew what I had to do. Son, I spent the money for shoes and a little candy for those children.. I hope you understand."
I understood, and my eyes became wet with tears again. I understood very well, and I was so glad Pa had done it. Now the rifle seemed very low on my list of priorities. Pa had given me a lot more. He had given me the look on Widow Jensen's face and the radiant smiles of her three children.
For the rest of my life, whenever I saw any of the Jensens, or split a block of wood, I remembered, and remembering brought back that same joy I felt riding home beside Pa that night. Pa had given me much more than a rifle that night, he had given me the best Christmas of my life.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
As is typical, I will throw in some passable leftovers I need to use up which this time included some taco TVP, BBQ yams (yeah, I know, right?? WTF??), and some chicken stock (funny thing to put in a vegetarian recipe?). But I think I got way too much liquid in it this time. I think it might be soup resembling loose chili...and I fear the cornbread goo might sink and make cornbread snot balls. My poor husband.
Last night we had vegetarian crock pot lasagna. It turned out OK. Maybe I hate cooking so much because I put the effort in and get shit back out. *sigh*
This is me
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
I'm not sure when it happened, or how it happened, but the song in it "Somewhere Out There" became synonymous with our connection to each other. In fact, I could begin the song "Somewhere out there..." and he would reply "Stop it mom, you'll make me cry!".
The same thing used to happen with the book Love You Forever. I would say "I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always..." and he would finish "...as long as you're living, your baby I'll be". Eventually, that one would also become "Stop it mom, you'll make me cry!"
As I may have mentioned before, my son has some significant challenges with his mental health and neurology. He left home at the age of 17 and has been gone for 7 years. That's how long it has been since I've seen him. For all intents and purposes he is homeless, and lives in a car, on the beach, on a park bench, or on the couches of various friends. I don't have an address to send cards or gifts to. The locations change too rapidly to keep track. Sometimes he has a prepaid cell phone, and sometimes he doesn't. The phone numbers change quickly too. I do what I can, but there are often a few months in between contact, with me never knowing how he is, or IF, he is. So, suffice to say, Christmas is problematic in regards to the type of Norman Rockwell togetherness that most families expect.
The first Christmas he was away, I devised a plan. Remembering his love for the movie An American Tale, when I was able to reach him by phone, we made a pact. Every Christmas Eve, wherever we were, we would go outside, look at the moon and connect to each other in thought and in love. I've been known to break out in that song and cry. He won't admit it, but I bet, if nobody's looking, he does too. At first, we would agree upon a time to connect. Then even that became too hard to manage. So with the understanding that time and space are only constructs of man and not truly real, it matters not what time we meet under the moon, or from which time zone. When I'm thinking of him and loving him, he will receive that warm maternal energy. When he is loving me and thinking of me, I will receive the love from his heart. The love he has never been able to express well, due to the many obstacles in his path. We have an understanding. On Christmas Eve, it's just me and him. Like it always was. Like it always will be. Corazon a corazone (heart to heart).
There may be people in your life that you cannot get along with but somehow wish to remain connected to. There may be people that it is impossible to be with due to distance, economics, illness, or any number of reasons. Think outside the box. Find creative ways, with deep personal meaning, to connect. If you need some ideas, let me know. We can brainstorm together.
And now for that song:
And to my "boy" (now age 25), if you should perhaps find this post...I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be. Merry Christmas with all the love a mom can muster. That's a mighty fat lot of love, Peanut!
I've always rather enjoyed McDonald's Egg McMuffins (or as my sister calls them "Hoot-McScoots"). As McDonald's items go, this one is really not that hideously bad for you. Filling, good protein, reasonable fat and calorie content.
Recently, in the frozen food section, I found the DeLights. They come in a variety of options. My fave so far is the Turkey Sausage and Egg White Muffin. I also like the Canadian Bacon and Egg White Muffin.
I'm not going to say they are "healthy" because the ingredients could use a make-over. But for your average, commercial frozen product, they are improving. It takes pretty good (not as good as an egg mcmuffin), are filling and the calorie/protein/fat ratios are in line.
I tend to be a breakfast skipper. I don't like cereals (except for snacks) because they make my blood sugar drop. I really need a strong hit of protein. And I'm lazy...REALLY REALLY lazy...so sometimes the thought of washing out the blender after making a protein drink is daunting. So if it's this or nothing, this might not be a bad option. Nuke for 3 min on timed defrost wrapped in a paper towel, flip it over, nuke for 20-50 more seconds on high. Throw away the "dish".
Here are the ingredients and nutritional info for the turkey sausage muffin. The Canadian bacon muffin has even fewer calories and fat, but the turkey one has a bit more flavor. If you try them, let me know what you think.
Oh, yeah, and the price could use some adjusting too. They are about the same or maybe only slightly less than the price of an egg mcmuffin. Could I make them cheaper and freeze them, using more wholesome ingredients. Perhaps. Would I bother? That is another story altogether.
Serving Size: 1 Sandwich (145g)
Servings Per Container: 4
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 260, Calories From Fat: 70
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 8g 12%
Saturated Fat 3.5g 18%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5g
Cholesterol 35mg 12%
Sodium 760mg 31%
Total Carbohydrate 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Protein 18g 35%
Vitamin A 4%. Vitamin C 2%. Calcium 20%. Iron 10%.
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs:
Calories: 2,000 2,500
Total Fat Less Than 65g 80g
Saturated Fat Less Than 20g 25g
Cholesterol Less Than 300mg 300mg
Sodium Less Than 2,400mg 2,400mg
Total Carbohydrate 300g 375g
Dietary Fiber 25g 30g
Calories Per Gram:
Fat 9. Carbohydrate 4. Protein 4.
MUFFIN: ENRICHED BLEACHED FLOUR (WHEAT FLOUR, MALTED BARLEY FLOUR, NIACIN, IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE [VITAMIN B1], RIBOFLAVIN [VITAMIN B2], FOLIC ACID), WATER, YEAST, WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: WHEAT GLUTEN, HONEY, YELLOW CORN MEAL, RICE FLOUR, DISTILLED VINEGAR, LEAVENING (SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM SULFATE), CALCIUM PROPIONATE AND POTASSIUM SORBATE (PRESERVATIVES), SALT, FUMARIC ACID, VEGETABLE OIL (SOYBEAN AND/OR COTTONSEED OILS), YEAST NUTRIENTS (MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE, CALCIUM SULFATE, AMMONIUM SULFATE), CORN STARCH, SOY FLOUR.
FRIED EGG WHITE PATTY: EGG WHITES, MODIFIED TAPIOCA STARCH, CARRAGEENAN GUM, SALT, NATURAL FLAVORS, CITRIC ACID.
COOKED TURKEY SAUSAGE PATTY: TURKEY, WATER, CONTAINS 2% OR LESS OF: SODIUM LACTATE, SALT, DEXTROSE, SUGAR, SPICES, SODIUM PHOSPHATES, SODIUM DIACETATE, BHT, CITRIC ACID, CARAMEL COLOR.
PASTEURIZED PROCESS AMERICAN CHEESE: AMERICAN CHEESE (CULTURED MILK, SALT, ENZYMES, ARTIFICIAL COLOR), WATER, CREAM, SODIUM CITRATE, SALT, SODIUM PHOSPHATE, SORBIC ACID (PRESERVATIVE), LACTIC ACID, ARTIFICIAL COLOR, ENZYMES, SOY LECITHIN.
CONTAINS EGG, MILK, SOY AND WHEAT
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Hopefully tomorrow will be better. In the end, I DID think of you...my readers anyway...even if only to bore you with this post so that you feel suicidal or homicidal.
I am making shake and bake pork chops (BBQ flavor), and I had a couple of yams that needed to be used so I peeled them, cut them up and threw them into the shake and bake bag too. Wonder how weird that will be. All dumped together in the same baking dish. I'm all about efficiency tonight.
I'll have someone else post if this meal kills us.
Monday, December 14, 2009
It is always hard to say if others will enjoy or not enjoy a movie that someone recommends because we are all so different. But I really liked it. I'm still thinking about it today.
Yes it is sad, but it has hope and redemption. Every one of the characters is totally lovable. How often does THAT happen in a movie? And it isn't just sad for the sake of sad (and I defy you not to shed a tear). There are interesting and thought-provoking legal, moral and ethical issues in this movie that generated a lot of thought. I'm not sure I could clearly come out with a definite opinion because the sides presented were both viable.
I didn't know that it was first a book. Somebody just told me that today. And they said they heard that the book and the movie don't end the same. So now I guess I'll have to find the book! And just for contrast, my niece said that My Sister's Keeper was the worst movie ever and was totally hokey and that she didn't finish watching it. Goes to show you...opinions are like belly buttons...everybody's got one.
See what you think and let me know. I'm tellin ya, it is WAY better than Bad Santa! Geeze! That was two hours from my life I'll never get back!
See article number one first for background information to this story.
The Christmas Gift. (author's name withheld)
Dearest Sweet, Wonderful Child:
You are the last of my babies and the only one of a matched set of four to neglect questioning your daddy about the reality of Santa Clause. I'm not at all surprised or unhappy that you haven't found it necessary to doubt Santa's existence but I am a little troubled by the weight of your trust. You accept him much as you accept me, even when I'm less than the perfect daddy you think me to be, because you are totally trusting and because you love us. It is because you love me and because I love you very much that I have decided to tell you another "Sam Story!"!
The same Sam that bit his fingernails and ate green apples, once lived in a city, far, far across the ocean at a time so long ago that there were no television sets, or cars or airplanes. It was so long ago that Great Grandma had not even been born. In fact, it was only a few hundred years after Jesus had been born and this, of course, is the subject of the story; Jesus and Sam.
The grownups of Sam's village were full of joy and happiness as were all grownups as the time for the celebration of Jesus' birthday grew near. It was hard for Sam and the other small children to understand this sudden pleasant change in their parents because they were too young to really understand the importance of Jesus. They know the stories of His birth in a stable, and of the wise men and the star, and of the shepherds in the fields. These and other stories they had heard for as far back as they had been able to understand grownup-talk.
But hearing the stories did not bring about the same tickly feelings of happiness that were so apparent on the faces of the grownups telling the stories. The very best teachers in the village tried again and again to explain the joy and freedom that Jesus had brought to the world, but it seemed that nothing helped. As little children became bigger children, they suddenly understood what no amount of careful instruction could teach them. But Sam and the rest of the little people just smiled sadly and felt rather left-out, the same as you feel when your sisters tell secrets and giggle.
Like parents today, Sam's mother and father wanted to share all good things and feelings with their son and they were anxious to make Christmas as happy for Sam as it was for them.
Receiving a surprise gift was one part of the Christmas celebration that all small children, especially Sam, enjoyed very much. Some said that the gifts were given because that is what the wise men had done when Jesus was born. But most of the people in Sam's village believed that the custom had been started by a jolly and gentle priest in their village who became so filled with joy during the Christmas season that he gave presents to people in order to share his happiness. The old priest had died before Sam was born, but people remembered this kind man and continued to give presents at Christmas-time, especially to children.
Sam's parents wished that Nicholas, the old priest, was still alive to brighten the children's Christmas because a gift from mother and dad was never quite as exciting as a gift from a friend, especially a bearded friend in a long robe that might arrive at an unexpected time, usually just before the children had gone to sleep.
Sam's daddy thought to himself how easy it would be to pretend to be old Nicholas. He could borrow a long flowing robe and he could glue goat hair to his face for a beard. It would not quite be like make-believe because Sam would not know that the priest was really his daddy. But it would not quite be like a trick either in that all too often tricks result in tears because everyone laughs while one person is laughed at. With a visit from old Nicholas, Sam might experience the same bubbly feeling of joy that comes to most grownups at Christmas time.
Sam's daddy made all the necessary plans and created a very special gift for his son. The night before Christmas, Sam's father told him that a new friend would visit their house that night and that this friend would bring a gift to Sam much as the wise men had brought gifts to Jesus, because he was good and kind. Sam's eyes sparkled. He had not been so excited since he had held his first wiggly frog! A present from mother was always nice, but a gift from a visitor, well that was so exciting that Sam fairly danced with glee!
After the visit by old Nicholas, who was of course, Sam's father, it was said that this was truly the merriest Christmas since Jesus had come to the world. For in addition to the small package of candy that his mother had made for him, Sam had received the most wondrous gift of all. That gift, of course, was the joy of the spirit of Christmas that his daddy had so carefully prepared for him in the form of old Nicholas.
Other grownups in the village planned visits from old Nicholas for their children in the years that followed and in every home the results were similar. Small children were caught up with the same joy and tingly happiness that their parents felt in the weeks before Christmas. And strangely enough, children somehow understood the gifts that Jesus had brought to the world at a much earlier age than they had in the past. Even second graders understood and shared the joy of Jesus' birth. As they were drawn closer to Jesus, they no longer needed the excitement of old Nicholas' visits but they still loved him and remembered him and treasured him in their hearts. For now, old Nicholas had become more real to them than he had ever been when they were little.
The custom of a visit from Nicholas at Christmas spread from village to village and was carried to distant cities and lands far from Sam's small village. Because people remembered his kindness and the good deeds he had done during his life, Nicholas was eventually called a saint by those who loved his spirit. When the fathers of Dutch children dressed up like Saint Nicholas the children called him Sinter Klaas which was the Dutch way of saying Saint Nicholas. Children in American shortened Sinter Klaas to Santa Clause (probably because they couldn't say their "R"s very well) and Sam's Christmas visitor belonged to the world. Santa's Reindeer, red suit, and his habit of coming down chimneys were added in a story written by an American minister over 150 years ago. And Rudolph was invented by a man who worked for a big department store when daddy was a boy.
So you see, Santa is not a real person whose lap you may sit upon or whose whiskers you may pull. The man in the red suit in the store downtown is probably some little girl's daddy who loves children very much and wants to give them, and himself, a very special gift of happiness. It is very important that you remember that the tingly, happy feeling that you get when you think about Santa Claus is a special part of the spirit of Christmas. The spirit of Santa and of goodwill toward men is as real as gerbils and jack-o-lanterns and party dresses. And you can see it any time you like! Santa's spirit is seen in the faces of happy people, and Christmas trees, and especially in the Nativity Scene you love to play with. The spirit of Santa Claus has its own sounds; like Christmas carols, and crunchy snow and church bells. It even has special smells like you say daddy has. But instead of shaving lotion and pipe smoke, the spirit of Santa Claus smells like pine trees and roasting turkey and wood smoke.
If you're very very careful and remain as happy and full of fun as you are today, you can keep that tingly Santa Claus feeling in your heart every day of the year for the rest of your life. This is a very special Christmas gift to you from Jesus.
This daddy wrote this story for his youngest daughter in December of 1974. He probably never imagined it would become such a treasured part of his family's holiday reflections. His story has continued to be shared with special friends, and the grandchildren who never experienced the joy of knowing him. Through Sam's experience we can share the message of unselfish giving, and the power of love between parents and children. As we journey from Childhood to Parenthood, we realize creating that Christmas magic for our own kids is as precious as our memories of being that innocent child of our past.
Here is Charlie Brown's Monologue from Charlie Brown Christmas:
And this is a favorite of mine. Kids! The boy acting up in the clip is the son of Tennessee Ernie Ford (singing). Merry Christmas!
As a child, I looked forward to Christmas with great excitement and anticipation, and Santa was a big deal at our house. We hung out our stockings and Santa filled them. Sometimes there might even be a single present under the tree with our names on it from Santa. We put out cookies and milk for him on Christmas Eve, and if we had a fireplace, always made sure there was no fire in it that day so that Santa could land safely.
I have absolutely no idea when I quit believing. It just sort of seemed to wear off. But as long as I remained at home, my parents still filled stockings after we went to bed every Christmas Eve. Did my friends tell me there was no Santa? Did I ask my parents and they told me? I have zero recollection. I think that might be the same for many people.
However, each child is different, and parents would do well to carefully consider their child's personality before telling them the Santa myth as fact. It doesn't always turn out so well. I knew someone whose daughter was absolutely terrified by the idea that a man would enter their house after they fell asleep. She was so upset that at a very young age, they had to explain the myth to her.
When my son was little more than 4 or 5, he grabbed me by both arms, looked directly at me and said "Look at me. I want you to tell me the truth. Is there so-such thing as Santa?" Wow, I wasn't ready to deal with this quite so soon! But, I realized that trust is a precious thing. So I said "No. There is no such thing as Santa, but I really want to go on believing it and pretending, so don't ruin it for me". And that was fine with him. I also told him (like I did with the sex talk), that he should not ruin it for his friends either because that was between them and their parents.
And now I'm going to tell you the story of another young child. This child was about 3rd or maybe 4th grade (I'm not quite sure), and it never occurred to her to ask her parents if Santa was real. She believed them when they began the myth and saw no reason to doubt it. Her friends were starting to make fun of her at school as she was rather past the age when most kids believe. However, she staunchly defended Santa AND her parents, because "my dad would never lie to me".
At some point, her dad heard of this and the weight of her trust began to weigh heavy on his mind. He was going to have to tell her. If he didn't, and she went on believing, she would feel betrayed, and may never trust him again. He began to research the Santa myth and to write her a story, wherein, he would break the news.
This daddy and this little girl had a game they played called the telling of the Sam stories. Sam was a little boy who got himself in all types of trouble. They would co-create these stories making them as wild as they could. Sometimes Sam would bite his fingernails so much that he eventually ate himself up, or Sam would eat green apples and get so sick he would turn inside out. Stuff like that. So this dad, worked Sam into the story he created for his little girl.
He spent hours and hours trying to come up with just the right words. Sometime before Christmas, on an evening in 1974, the family gathered and he presented the story to her. Everyone was there to love and support her. She listened quietly to the story, and when he had finished, she said "I suppose NEXT, you're going to tell me there is no tooth fairy or Easter bunny either!!!" There was a deathly silence in the room, confirming this fact. Then the howling and sobbing began. Her little heart was truly broken. And, to this day, it is a source of irritation to her, even as an adult; it is a nagging underlying feeling of betrayal, a feeling she was lied to. It truly left a wound in her life.
In Part two, I will reprint the story this father wrote for his daughter. I will tell you now, I did not write this story, this father did. Out of respect for the family I will not be crediting him by using his name. And if you need to use such a story with your child, feel free to borrow it. You may credit it back to me, so that in the event this family wishes to claim credit, there will be a trail to follow to do so.
Below you will find the text from Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Clause, set to music.
So let's proceed to the story of The Christmas Gift.
Divination tools, also closely linked with fortune telling, has a long and rich history. As we've seen, there are many methods and the type of tool chosen is a matter of personal preference. Hopefully, these tools have been demystified and de-villainized as the object themselves are not the holder of the power. The power resides with the Divine, and with the Divinity that resides within. They are tools and props for self-exploration, introspection and awareness of spirituality.
Quoted from Wikipedia, here are some of the methods of divination and their actual names:
alectormancy: by observation of a rooster pecking at grain.
astromancy: by the stars.
astrology: by the movements of celestial bodies.
augury: by the flight of birds.
bibliomancy: by books; frequently, but not always, religious texts.
cartomancy: by cards.
cheiromancy/palmistry: by palms.
chronomancy: about time, lucky/unlucky days.
cybermancy: by computers.
gastromancy: by stomach-based ventriloquism (historically).
ceromancy: by patterns in melting or dripping wax.
clairvoyance: by spiritual vision or inner sight.
crystallomancy: by crystal ball also called scrying.
geomancy: by markings in the ground, or the way earth or soil lays when thrown.
horary astrology: by astrologically reading the time the question was asked.
hydromancy: by water
I Ching divination: by yarrow stalks or coins and the I Ching.
extispicy: by the entrails of animals.
feng shui: by earthen harmony.
haruspicy: by the livers of sacrificed animals.
numerology: by numbers.
palmistry: by lines and mounds on the hand.
oneiromancy: by dreams
spirit board: by planchette or talking board divination (Ouija)
pendulum reading: by the movements of a suspended article or weight.
rhabdomancy: divination by rods.
runecasting or Runic divination: by runes
scrying: by looking at or into reflective objects
taromancy: by a form of cartonmancy using tarot cards.
tasseography or tasseomancy: by tea leaves or coffee grounds
necromancy: by the dead, or by spirits or souls of the dead.
pyromancy: by gazing into fire
On the link shown above, you will also find a long list of Asian fortune telling methods. The list above is European and American only. From the above list, I see I missed writing about some of the more popular ones I could have covered like palm reading, numerology, feng shui (more than just for decorating your house) and dream interpretation. If you beg me, I'll write something about them. C'mon..beg...I dare you. I double-dog dare you! I TRIPLE-DOG dare you!
My plan (pending the begging mentioned above) is to write some holiday pieces next and then begin a series on psychic gifts. If there is a topic you would like me to research, leave a comment and I'll see what I can do. Let me know what interests you.