And another holiday leaves its stamp of approval

Posted on December 28, 2011. Filed under: Health, HowTo, Musings, Philosophy |

 Tweets and Blogs;
Clear the fogs;
Drink the nogs: good cheer.

New solution? New Year.

I wrote the above with reference to my state of mind for the last few months. I haven’t blogged or tweeted much, both activities I used to enjoy. I have always been introspective, but blogging was a way to get my introspection “out”. During times of challenge, though, I tend to go ever MORE inward. My blog, I had thought, was generally uplifting, as I wish to be…but how will this post turn out?

As usual, I enjoyed Halloween very much (in my pagan sort of way) and my American Thanksgiving at the end of November. Then I wanted to skip right to January 2nd. I want this every year! I don’t ever get that wish. 😉 This time of year, I hear, primarily, two kinds of comments: “I LOVE Christmas!” (not me) and “I loathe Christmas!” (pretty much me.)  When I really look at both those sentiments, not only do they seem extreme, but they don’t make a lot of sense (to me). After all…what IS this “Christmas” that both kinds of people speak to?

For those of us that grew up in western culture, and for many more, as well, there is the religious aspect. I can’t really speak much to that, but, basically the word “Christmas” or “Mass of Christ” is a time of year when Christians believe that the “Christ” (Greek for “anointed”) or “spirit of God” incarnated itself in a specific human, namely Jesus of Nazareth. There are many controversies about the traditional stories, but I won’t get into those here. I think that, though, when very religious people say they “love Christmas”, what they “love” is the celebration of what they see as that historical event, and the hope for the world that the “Christ spirit” will live on in us…peppered by the specific beliefs of their branch of Christianity.
That aside, though…there are many that say “I love Christmas” who mean, really, that they love the spirit of giving and receiving; the bright and colourful decorations in this time of less daylight (in northern time zones), the special music, and the festivals and parties to cheer us. Many of the more religious enjoy those aspects too, but the rituals have taken a secular turn in our culture for many years now, albeit most of the symbols and rituals are of pagan origin.
When I was a child, we spent part of each Christmas eve with my parents best friends. They had cake and coffee and egg nog for us. They had a beautifully decorated tree. They gave us presents! But I’d ask my parents: “Why to they celebrate Christmas when they don’t even go to church?” I found it difficult to reconcile all the different things I’d been told by various “authority” figures.

By the time I reached a tenuous adulthood (I’m still working on that one :)), I had lost most of my beliefs in what I saw as inconsistent fairy stories (I like my fairy stories to be consistent! ;)) and began to loathe the “hype” and commercialism. I did enjoy sharing a special meal with friends or family. I liked all the music, even the overly religious kind, because I believe that songs spring from the heart of the soul, which has no words, but which we humans translate as best as we can.

I came to dislike “expected” gift giving, and gradually weaned my way away from that process. If you know me, and I give you a gift, you will know it’s because I REALLY want to have done so; not because it’s traditional or expected that we “exchange” gifts. (Hmm, “exchanging gifts”. Funny term. Maybe I’ll explore that more later too!) I even have mixed feelings about the commercial aspects. I grew up in a self-employed retail business household. My family’s business, like many others, relied on the Christmas shopping season for a good bit of the yearly income. This “season of gifts” put food in my mouth. On the other hand…behold the sales; the advertising; the endless not-such-great canned music in ALL the stores, even the supermarket? I can promise you that hearing “Jingle Bell Rock” at my local Safeway will NOT get me to buy more carrots!

I am well over all that by December 1st anymore, as for some businesses these days, it starts immediately after Halloween. “Here it comes!” I say to myself “…the long, slow descent into the ‘dark time'”…and I don’t mean the shortening of days, either! I breathe a huge sigh of relief on January 2nd. The world can get back to “normal” then. For another 9 1/2 half months, anyway. 🙂

I do take steps to make sure I am not alone on particular days during the last two weeks of December. I go to a few parties, concerts, home gatherings and dinners. I’m contrary, I know, but I’ve learned from experience that to sit home alone and grumble makes me feel even worse! Part of my snarkiness has to do with having fewer and fewer family members to interact with. The poem at the end of this piece is not meant to be sad, but to acknowledge that loss is a part of our path through life. I have concentrated lately on being of what assistance I can, to what remains of my family, and that is part of why have not been around the bloggiverse as much, as such things do make me want to withdraw. But I also realize that, in shutting off my expression, I’ve also cut myself off from a source of inspiration and joy, a fascination with the topics we cover, and the events in the lives of bloggers I have come to care about over the years. I didn’t mean to neglect you, and I hope you will forgive me. I expect the coming year will be interesting in many ways. I hope to refocus and renew my own spirit (in my own secular way) and I wish yours all blessings too.

Happy New Year! May it be bright with hope, soft with peace, and vivid with excitement.

Poem: "The Lure" by Muse, written upon learning the news of which I write:
 My sister is dying,
 I'm "X" decades old.
 My parents are long gone;
 It leaves me quite cold.

I have other dear ones
 but no one quite sure.
 My family comes first
 I am told; but no lure.

As I ride through my days
 in this human conveyance,
 the calendar duties
 keep thoughts in abeyance.

In the end; if it ends, then
 I'll find I'm alone.
 Must come to those terms
 with intent to go on.

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7 Responses to “And another holiday leaves its stamp of approval”

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Ah, dear Muse. It’s good to see you back with thoughts a-flying, even knowing the sadness you are dealing with. You know my heart is with you and your sister. I send prayers, wherever they may be received.

But to honor you and your marvelous spirit, I will add my own small riff on the holiday season.

I grew up in a home that was most definitely not a keeper of Christmas and, although no one stopped me, rest assured my caroling every year with the local Lutheran church received a hairy eyeball or two. I so loved (still do) singing the music – even if it didn’t echo my own sentiments – and maybe more so loved the hot chocolate and warm chit-chat after we had caroled for people in the neighborhood and at the local hospital. I sang Hanukkah songs to the Jewish patients – although admittedly I Have a Little Dreidel didn’t quite match the vocal splendor of Angels We Have Heard on High or Irving Berlin’s beautiful I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas. 🙂

I still love to hear Christmas music – although not the day after Halloween and not in elevators. But with all the rampant commercialism and oft-overlooked spirit of love and peace, what I love most about this time of year are the small Christmas tree forests that spring up on various street corners here in Brooklyn, creating mini parks for me to walk through, inhaling the evergreen smell and experiencing a small welcome retreat in this busy urban neighborhood. My small secret is that I sometimes walk up and down nearby blocks just to keep going through each “grove” of trees.

Welcome back, Muse. I look forward to whatever you are moved to write, whenever that may be. My thoughts are with you.

I wish for you a peaceful, love-filled, soul-fulfilling, life-enriching year.

Hi Muse, I am taking a trip today to visit all my blogging friends. More than half have disappeared. I am hoping to blog more now that I have some extra time. I do love Christmas but I have to say not for the religious reasons. I love the music and the lights and the cooking and the family spending time together though I won’t even discuss Christmas until after Thanksgiving. I only give presents to my two children, my granddaughter and my sister and I would give them presents every day if I could.

I read the comment from someone here. I don’t know what is going on with you or your sister but I am sending you positive energy.and hoping things will get better.

May this New year bring you light and love!

So good to see you here again, although, you will note, I’m a little late in leaving greetings!

Christmas was a strange one for me this year, as my mother died in July, and this was my first Christmas with no family. Quite odd – and the decision, of course had to be made: what to do? I ended up going to Louisiana with a friend to see the bonfires on the levees in the River Parishes. I wrote of it on my blog. It was such a wonderful trip it required three entries to tell the tale.

Now, it’s a new year, and time to begin establishing new routines, new habits. I hope you do make it a habit to appear here from time to time. I’ve always enjoyed your writing, and your perspective on things.

Muse, I had to stop by here and see if you’d updated. You are often in my thoughts. I’m so sorry about your sister.

Amadeus’ father was diagnosed with cancer the week before Christmas, and we lost him a month later. He was the last member of my husband’s family, and they’d all died within five years of each other (his mother, his brother, his son). I’m his family now, but no one can replace those who witnessed your original history, and of course, nothing can ease the pain of losing a child.

A friend sent a card that said, “This is the age of loss.” That little line has stuck with me these days.

Your poem is beautiful, and I hope we see you here again soon. Love.

Hey Ronnie Ann, months later as we are getting ready to celebrate Passover, I can only assure you there are more profound Hanukkah songs than “I Had a Little Driedel.” LOL ! YouTube is your friend should you wish to pursue it. Thank you for your good thoughts about all the things, and looking forward to catching up with you! {HUGS}

Thank you so very much, IdeaJump, my friend. All the things you have wished for me are, so far in this 2012 coming to pass (well maybe one, only semi-peaceful, not quite there yet), so you are one powerful wisher! Hope your year is going well. I’ll come and see you over there!

So GREAT to see you, dear Joan! It is late to commiserate, but I’m glad you have your priorities the way you like them concerning gifts and your families. I surely know what you mean about disappearing blog friends, and I’m doing my best not to be one of them. Thanks for inquiring about my sister, too. She has a terminal illness, but, so far, is still with us. I have missed you too, and am looking forward to popping over to see what you and the lovely Lilah have been up to!

Hi, and an incredibly belated New Year to you, shoreacres! I have been in hiding a bit, but I DID read your comment right away, and it warmed my heart. To receive such encouragement from you meant a great deal. I am very sorry for your loss. I know what it is to lose a parent, and although the missing never quite fades, we do change direction and flow as you suggest. Holidays are, indeed, especially challenging, but your choice for this past season sound splendid! I will be by to learn more about it and to catch up with your more recent writings.

Oh, Moonbeam! I am still catching up here, and recent events propel me to finish replying to comments first. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your words. I’m so sorry that Amadeus has lost family members so quickly. That makes it that much sadder, and recovery time (such as it is) longer. As you say, you are his family now, and I can imagine no finer one! Glad you appreciated the poem too. As you know, I am determined to be around more, and, and a delightful prospect regarding that is catching up with your posts! Love back! 🙂

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