Friday, December 20, 2013

Christmas Is For Children

"Oh, I wish you were coming home for Christmas, I'm really having a hard time with it this year," sighed Laura.  "Everything is different and I just want the Christmases when we were little.  Driving home in the dark from your house on Christmas Eve, I looked out of the car windows and hoped I'd see Santa in his sleigh.  I loved those Christmas Eves with you.  The pretty white tree upstairs and the the fun colored lights on the tree downstairs.  Sean and I loved being with that tree and watching television while we listened to you all laughing and talking upstairs.  I just want my white pizza and caesar salad and the same foods we always had.  Your tiny house on Falkirk Road and all the same people who are so close to us!"

She gave me the very best Christmas gift when she said that.  Really.  Because isn't that what Christmas is all about?  Working and planning to see the wonder and light in a child's eyes?  Creating the magic that is such a part of it?  And, really, who doesn't yearn for the holidays of their youth?  Don't most of  us wish that we could keep the traditions alive and unwaveringly the same?  We might be able to cope with the changes that life throws at us all the rest of the year, but in December we want to hold things in crystalline perfection.  The Christmases of our childhood... 
Big Brother Glenn & 1, 1957

When I was a little girl, I would go to bed on Christmas Eve and wake in the morning to a house completely and magically changed.  In the corner where the wing chair had been was a huge Christmas tree with the large colored lights and tinsel and presents wrapped under it.  Does anyone do that anymore?  Do children still get the thrill of seeing the magic Santa brings when he creeps into the house for all the good boys and girls?  I hope so...but considering that we have pushed Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas into one big mashed up marketing mess, I doubt it.  And, that makes me sad.

Remember, since my father was incredibly physically disabled, it meant that somehow, he arranged for other adults to take time away from their Christmas Eve to come to our address to put up a tree and make the magic happen for his child.  One year, so I've been told, the Shift Sgt. of the Northern District Police Station wrapped on the apartment door.  When he came in, he found several burly cops with their tunics off, sleeves rolled up and in the middle of erecting a Christmas tree.  He just leveled a look at my father and them and asked, "Do you know that I don't have one cop on the streets in this part of the district?!  When you are finished being elves, get back to your duties.  Merry Christmas, Jimmy," and with that and a smile, he left. 

As a child grows, it's with the background of our traditions-  of dinners at a particular home and visiting with those who you don't see as often as you like.  The frantic ripping of paper and bows gives over to the art of sharing time and stories over dinner and dessert.  That's when you begin to learn the beauty of sharing the gift of your Presence as being more important than the presents that come with this time of year.  For our family, it meant making the trek to Aunt Katherine's house.  She always had it decorated so gloriously with flower arrangements and treasures from her Christmas collection.  Dinner was always a feast.  And for me, the drive to and from just Dad and me, was my favorite time of Christmas day.  We'd talk about everything and nothing.  The quiet allowed us to decompress from the hectic, and let's be frank, sometimes stressful hours of La Familia being together.  If we saw pretty lights in the deep dark, I'd slow the car so we could take them in.  Peaceful and meaningful was this time with my Dad.

The King & I chatting at Christmas Dinner, 1978
When Doog and I moved into our tiny row-home on Falkirk Road in 1979, even though it was only 18 feet wide, we knew we wanted to share it with others for the holidays.  Sean and Laura were at the age when they simply couldn't wait to open gifts.  The notion that they might have to wait for a couple of days after Christmas until we could all get together was just crazy!  So, that's when my idea of having them over for Christmas Eve started.   Our intimate gathering included friends Carole & Al and Jim. Others would stop by, but for the most part it was just the closest friends and my brother's family.  The meal?  White pizza and Caesar salad made in my galley sized kitchen with lots of tasty hors d'oeuvers and cookies.  Each person brought their favorite and that was our Christmas Eve meal.

Presents were shared.  We laughed a lot.  And we talked until the childrens' eyes drooped.  I looked forward to that night every year.  To learn that they mean so much to Laura, is truly a gift.  Over time, the address changed, but the tradition continued.  My home on Long Green Road was the Christmas Eve spot for many years.   Two children were the reason for all those years of holiday get togethers.

My Brother & Sister-in-Law, Linda
My house was larger and more people came to be part of the annual celebration, but we were lucky to have those same core merry makers there, too.  I still did two trees and the meal remained the same.  More people could cram in my kitchen as pizza was being made. The laughter and the chatter still a major focus. 

Laura, Linda, and Yours Truly
I worried as Laura and Sean got older, that Christmas Eve wouldn't be as important to them as it had become to me. I shouldn't have because, even when they started dating and being independent, they still made their way to my house to share 'their' night.  So the years passed and the Christmas Eve celebrations merrily continued.

When Michael and I moved away, I turned over the Christmas Eve celebration to Laura and Linda.  I'd be lying if I didn't admit that I wish that I was still the hostess for that special night.  Some years I am with them and other years, like this one, I am with them in spirit.  Laura and Eric, (Eric loves hosting parties,) have become the Christmas Eve house.  And, here at our home, Michael and I share the day with the love of Melissa who will be here with Pete for Christmas Eve.  The traditions we have made as a new family are different from those I knew; we will be having a standing rib roast instead of pizza for our special dinner.  Evan will call from Florida and we will wish that both of our children were with us but understand that life has changed and so must our celebrations.  I cherish these new traditions with my new family.

Hostess with the Mostess, Laura and Ava

 I suppose it's what we learn about our traditions; they must flex with life while still exerting their magical ability to remain fixed,  reminding us of what we value, what we cherish, what is meaningful and good about life.  The address may change.  New people may join the group.  And, we remember those who are no longer with us, often smiling and tearing up while doing so.  The magic is that they feel so much closer to us at this time of year!  We realize that they are now part of the traditions that mean so very much.  We take the time to let those we love know how incredibly important they are to us.  We hug a second or two longer, handshakes are stronger and we are more free with our kisses.  For those of us who are grown, this is the magic of Christmas. 

My Beloved Brother
We value the moments that make us rejoice in the power of our festivals of light and love.  We need them.  So, we must invest in them and never take them for granted.  As I explained to Laura, "If you love your Christmas Eves, don't be sad that they've changed because the traditions we started with you and your brother are yours, now, to share with your girls.  Honor the memories we made for you by building traditions for Livy and Ava.  It's now your turn to make Christmas magic for them so that they will always look back at the Christmases of their childhood with the same love and longing that you look at yours and I look at mine.  It's time to do it for your girls."

The idea that she can take the magic we made for her and spread it to her girls seemed to help both of us.  It takes away the sadness of  inevitable change and gives power to the fleeting days of  our Yuletide.  Because Christmas, after all, is for children...

My Lion and Olivia
...and since we are all children of The Creator who loves and adores us, it means that Christmas, and all our tradition, continues to be for all of us no matter how far away we are from each other or how long we have lived.  Merry Christmas to My Daughter of The Heart.  I love you very much.  Thank you for making Christmas so meaningful for me.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Aunt Holly, Great Aunt Holly, New Guy

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Many Faces of Love

This is the chair in my office.  As I sit here typing to you, it's directly behind me.  That's Argyle laying there taking a snooze.  I generally never know if he's there because he's very quiet and sneaks in to rest.  He's allowed in the chair, so it's not as if he's trying to pull one over on me, he's just very quiet in the house.  The only time he's acting The Wild Highlander is when he's outside being part of the Midnight Bark or returning salvos of information down the long country road to tell the farm dogs what's going on up here on his end of the road.

I notice as time goes on, he's been with us two years now, he's very often here in the office with me.  It makes me happy.  And, it makes me feel safe.  But, today as I sit here listening to Christmas songs, it occurred to me that it also makes me feel loved.

Now, you need to know something about terriers: they are not, let me repeat, are NOT lap dogs.  They aren't necessarily all that cuddly.  If you want a dog who needs, wants, demands to be with you all the time, you'd best consider a Pom or a Poodle, or any number of breeds, just not a terrier.

It's not that they aren't social or pack animals because terriers certainly are, it's just that they're not needy that way.  Let me see if I can tell you how it goes with them:  A terrier goes about its day and every once in awhile they realize they should check to see where you are and if you are where they left you.  Once they determine that all is the way they want it, they go about their business and allow you to do the same.

This part of the terrier personality is one of the reasons I've always been drawn to them.  But, I will admit, there are times when I wish that I had a snugly, lovey dog who just wants to curl up with me all the time.  Times like now, when Christmas is here, and sentimentality takes on a life of its own and can swamp me with emotions.  Just having a wee soul that thought of me as the center of its universe and that could take the place of those I wish I was with for the holidays but will only be with in spirit.

A dog to curl up on me when I'm sitting exhausted from all the doing that the holidays brings on the ribbons and bows trailing through our lives.  A quiet presence that makes me relax as we sit together and just rest. 

But, alas, I have terriers.  And, it's just not their way.

So, when I turn around and see Argyle, it occurs to me, that I feel loved when I spy him there.  Even though he's doing his thing, he's doing it in the same room.  And, it reminds me that he likes resting with me someplace close by.  He's deliberate in his choice of where to be...  he loves me in his way on his terms.

And, that's what I wanted to say today.  Love, comes in many different aspects and is presented to us in ways some subtle and some overt.  But, love, like most profound emotions generally doesn't shout; instead it slips in and fills us up.  Like Argyle quietly slipping up into the chair to rest as I work.

This holiday season, I hope you have the gift of awareness to discern and accept the aspects of love that are in your life, especially if you are struggling with feeling loved or are missing special folk.  I hope you can let go of the ideas you have about what love is and is not, and instead, open your hands and hearts to the love that is there, all around, subtle, quiet, waiting.  Love that is yours as a gift from The Creator who sends out the very best for all us, especially at this holy and profoundly moving time of the year.

Thank you, Argyle, for reminding me of the many faces and facets of  love.  We brought you home, two years ago for Christmas.  You continue to be a wonderful gift who makes me smile.  I love you, too. Yes, I understand you're trying to rest here.  I'll be quiet now.

Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka Argyle's Mommer

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