Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Lights aglow inside and out. Table is set. Food is prepped. A night to relax after much preparation.
I must admit I am a perfectionist. I cannot walk through my house without straightening up, touching up , lining up, making a list and then checking it twice. I am here simply because on this day I am aware that not everything in life can be fixed. Sorted. Rearranged. Settled.
It all began with a TABLECLOTH. I hated it. I grabbed it in a hurry, as we added two leaves to the dining table and now nothing fits. Too long or to short to make sense. I told myself…in a very stern voice…
Get over it!
I didn’t listen. Instead I drove through Pre-Christmas traffic, to roam the aisles, sidestep the throng, seeking the perfect tablecloth. I walked to the very back of the store, only to find I was out of step with commerce. The Christmas tablecloths gone, replaced by Valentine heart covered pink too soon too soon , useless tablecloths. I was not alone in my search.
A woman stood beside me, tsk tsk tsking in chorus with me in our mutual disdain. I showed her my list with the new table measurements, and we both scoured each shelf, knowing I was out of luck. Red, I said. I just wanted a red tablecloth. She smiled. I turned to leave and noticed she had a package in one hand. She reached out to touch my shoulder, and handed me the package. A beautiful red tablecloth. For you, she said.
For your Christmas.
Why is it so surprising, when unexpected kindness drops in your lap? I shook my head and said no no I cannot take that from you. Yes. Yes, you can, she said. Consider it a gift from me to you. We hugged and whispered to each other Merry Christmas. Then she said. Go HOME.
It was a long line waiting to check out, but I could not help noticing that everyone in the line seemed different. More patient. Gentle with each other. Smiling easily. Making jokes.
Surely as anxious as I, to get to my car, and to be HOME.
Not everyone can be HOME for Christmas. Or so I used to think. The truth is, no matter where you are on Christmas morn, you ARE home. In your heart, you can always be HOME.
Years ago I designed a picture for my artwork. I pulled it out a few minutes ago, and remembered the incredible folks who found comfort in these words.
So from me to you, this Christmas Eve, a gift.
A reminder that wherever you may be,
you can always find your way HOME…
As you travel,
I wish you unexpected kindness…
HOME IS A SPACE, NOT A PLACE.
IS WHERE YOU CAN SLIDE IN FEET FIRST, AND BE SAFE.
HOME IS WHERE YOU CAN WEAR FLANNEL PAJAMAS, GOOFY SLIPPERS, BAGGY SHORTS AND WELL WORN, BUT DEARLY LOVED OLD T-SHIRTS.
HOME IS FOR NAPS, AND CUDDLES, AND POPCORN.
HOME IS…A PUTTING FEET UP ON THE FURNITURE,SCRATCHING WHERE IT ITCHES, CRYING IN THE DARK, AND LAUGHING TILL IT HURTS …ZONE.
HOME IS WHERE WE FEEL REAL…
UNGUARDED, RELAXED…AT EASE.
HOME IS FOR MESSES, AND MISSES AND LOSSES.
HOME IS FOR CELEBRATORY CONGRATULATIONS.
HOME IS OUR HISTORICAL LANDMARK, OUR OWN PERSONAL MUSEUM. PHOTOGRAPHS,TROPHIES, CHILDHOOD ART, NICKS ON TABLES, GROWTH CHARTS ON WALLS , AND PET BURIAL GROUNDS MARK OUR TERRITORY.
HOME IS A SPACE, NOT A PLACE.
HOME IS WHERE WE BELONG, WHERE WE MUST LEAVE,
AND IF WE ARE VERY LUCKY...
WHERE THE MAT BY THE FRONT DOOR,
ALWAYS READS “ WELCOME” WHEN WE RETURN.
Thursday, December 14, 2023
The Result Of Good Behavior
Santa leans down to my ear, his silky white beard tickling my cheek, and whispers…have you been good?
The child in me answers breathlessly…Yes Oh Yes
The adult me, now grown, older and not necessarily wiser, flexes my muscle memory reaching for the past.
Truthfully, my reply is…I tried.
I tried to be good.
Why, I wonder, are painful memories so easy to retrieve, and moments of joy the last to come forward.
Christmas is the time for giving and not for getting.
I keep my muscles in shape in the gym, reaching bending, stretching, lifting weights, walking and rowing.
The muscles in my brain, not so much. Going through the motions is not an easy task.
Is the brain a muscle that can be exercised?
The answer is YES.
How do I know?
Because even Santa knows…
Christmas is for BOTH giving and receiving. The love sent out returns to you. The kindness I offer in a smile, a kind word, or a simple unexpected thank you, returns to me. Perhaps only a nod, a grin or a smile, fills me with a memory of joy. The tank, therefore, is never empty. What is given for free, becomes a receipt marked paid in full.
Even when I feel less than , or am struggling with oh boy what do I do now, doing for someone else is simply trying. To try for someone else, to ease their way, is often just the first hint of exactly what I need for myself. A touch of kindness, a breath of fresh air, and a moment of sharing life with another.
Giving, exercises the muscles needed,
to receive the kindness when it is offered.
Giving AND receiving is good for others,
and a blessing for me that will surely be returned.
If..if like Santa…
I am willing to believe that I have been good…
Then I am open to making memories of joy.
I believe in SANTA.
I believe in YOU.
I believe YOU and I need each other to stay in shape.
Merry Soon to Be Christmas…
Santa knows you have been good.
Friday, December 1, 2023
Another year with all of you.
It is the time for Christmas trees and twinkly lights. For me, decorating the Christmas tree is a SOLO performance. I turn on the Christmas music, open boxes of ornaments, garlands and begin to design. It is a Zen moment. The best part saved for last. Dusk outside… and inside, just the tree and me…we both light up the room…and my heart.
Christmas is a celebration of each and every one of our senses. Best of all our sense of smell and taste. For it is time for Christmas baking. Gingerbread, chocolate morsels,
Christmas cookies, fudge, pies, candy canes, and please lots and lots of chocolate!
However, this is also the time to pull out the family albums of Christmas past. Yes, I know everyone has a cell phone these days, but when was the last time YOU swept through those thousands of images and saw the faces and places you shared once upon a time.
We have photo albums. The kind with the plastic sleeves, or the even the older ones, where each picture is cornered in little black edges on parchment pages. Long ago I wrote about our Family Album. So as I sit here under the twinkling tree, I thought I would share that with you.
Our family photo album is a running slideshow of memories. Current images are clear and sharp, while others reveal red eyes, vintage clothing and dated hairstyles. Corners bent and dog-ears , a few are treasured. The Favorites. The ones we linger over to freeze frame in time.
Details, where and when and who.
Names and dates.
The flash of the camera.
Wedding cake, the first house, Dad awkwardly holding a newborn, first steps, birthday parties, swimming lessons, first day of school, graduations, new driver standing by old car, old driver standing by new cars, wedding, reunions, funerals, gatherings, firecrackers, car trips, summer cabins, tiny fish
dangling from big poles, young faces with big grins, old faces with warm smiles.
The album is just that, a MEMORY vault.
When we think we have forgotten who we are, what our family means, we can run through the slideshow, flip the pages to find that those pictures become what is the very best part of being a family…
Memories…yours, mine, ours.
…A SINGULAR TALE OF LOVE OVER TIME…
You have almost an entire month to make new memories to hold you close through the coming year. The best and simplest present of all.