Open Heart ~

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I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round, as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys~
Charles Dickens

And let us consent and intend to keep our hearts open throughout the entire year and remember we are all fellow passengers, one human family, that we are all One. And in loving one another and really following the golden rule (which is present in every religion on the planet) we can make a difference round the world ~ nannette

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Putting Away Christmas

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red bowWhat’s with those of who hesitate, drag our feet, nearly refuse to “put away” Christmas?

I’m a member of this group.  And as I drove up to the store last night, I saw several homes remaining in ornamental light mode.  Some with just a tree or two in the yard lit, others “loudly” announcing Christmas with nativity scenes, Santa, reindeer, snowmen.  We don’t want the holiday feeling to go away.

My Christmas tree still holds all of its regalia in its branches.  A couple of days ago a friend let me know that she had just “unplugged” the lights on her tree ~ a start, she said.  Promptly, I walked into my dining room and took down the wreath.  I put away a wintry holiday snow globe yesterday.  Today I will begin to box up the ornaments. This got me to thinking that “dedecorating” might feel better as a process for people like us.

When most of us decorate, we set aside one day and transform our homes with not only nativity scenes, the tree, and endless stands of lights, but also with wreathes, mistletoe, garland, red ribbons, candles and gingerbread houses.  Within a matter of hours our homes change into our own personal magical kingdoms.  The air is different, the energy dances, sweet smells waft from our kitchens and smiles grow broader across our faces.

Of course if we leave up all the décor year round, then we would get used to it and the “magic” would fade.  But what if we systematically took down the decorations a little bit at a time so as to reacclimate into non holiday mode?  Well, I’ll keep you posted, because that is what we are doing this year.  The family has decided to do a little putting away each day instead of seeing the dramatic stark disappearance of the season.

The question remains though: How do we stay living in the season throughout the year?  Hark! I think the herald angels continue to sing.  Don’t store away your kindness, your sense of giving, love and gratitude with the décor in plastic tubs until next year.  I do, and have for the past several years left white lights (year round) outlining the large front window in my house~happy lights~happy reminder.


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Invisible Riches ~

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“Sitting in the flickering light of the candles on this kerchief of sand, on this village square, we waited in the night. We were waiting for the rescuing dawn – or for the Moors. Something, I know not what, lent this night a savor of Christmas. We told stories, we joked, we sang songs. In the air there was that slight… fever that reigns over a gaily prepared feast. And yet we were infinitely poor. Wind, sand, and stars. The austerity of Trappists. But on this badly lighted cloth, a handful of men who possessed nothing in the world but their memories were sharing invisible riches. “
— Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (Wind, Sand and Stars)candle

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Ditto ~ Save on Electricty this Holiday Season

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dec 10 09 001

Took this in Kansas City last week! Nearly had a car accident stopping to take this one ~

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Ode to the Family Ugly

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Family traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world~Susan Lieberman

2009 ~ With so many of us financially strapped and the holidays upon us, maybe it’s time to start a new family tradition.  This won’t cost you a thing, but will provide lots of smiles, laughter and memories.

About twenty years ago one of my brothers, Ben, was about to have a garage sale, when my parents asked if they could give him a few things to include in his sale. “You can keep any money you make. You’re doing us a favor by getting this old stuff out of here,” my father said.

traditionNaturally, my brother took the items over to his house and began to go through and price them. One of the items was a large brown, ugly vase that Ben made in grade school for my mother. My brother called me laughing that our mother had passed off this elementary art project for sale in the own artist’s garage sale! We laughed and laughed until I said, “Wait. Don’t you dare sell the vase!” Ben said, “It’s ugly. Nobody is going to buy it anyway.” I agreed on its unattractive look and said, “Wrap it up and give it to Mom for Christmas. We’ll write a poem, place it inside with instructions for the family “ugly.” Again, we laughed.

Several months later on Christmas morning, all seven of my mother’s children, with our husbands, wives, our smaller children and my father looked on as my mother began to unwrap her present from Ben. My siblings and I knew what was coming. It took my mother forever to peel off the wrapping as we all tried to hold back our excitement and laughter.

As my mother pulled back the tissue paper and saw the vase, she and my father burst out laughing. “I got rid of this,” she managed to squeak out between gasping for her breath.

“There’s something inside. Read it,” I said.

After my mother reached inside and pulled out the piece of paper, she read:

Ode to the Family Ugly

To you we pass on this cherished ugly.
It’s been part of the family for years.
Do not take this passage lightly or smugly.
Or you may be foiled in future careers.

Let me tell you the story of this pottery’s latest travail.
This past summer Dad handed Ben old things in a box,
Ben’s school days brown vase inside must be allowed to prevail,
And honestly upon hearing this news the family felt shocks.

No. No. Not this. Anything but this.
This piece has history, memories and use.
To get rid of this treasure would be absolutely remiss.
Mom, how could you perpetrate such nostalgic abuse?

Take this torch and guard it with respect.
For this is your present for Christmas celebration.
We know you’ve wanted it and wont object.
Shame on you, Mom for attempted abrogation!

However, with this gift do not plunder.
Do not now become overly attached.
After all this ugly may appear as a blunder.
And it must, in the future, be re-dispatched.

We laughed and laughed until we cried. Over the last twenty years this ugly vase has been gifted and regifted to various family members for weddings, graduations, birthdays, house closings, Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day and even one Groundhog’s Day.

The “ugly” has seen some wear and tear ~ one year it was dropped and broke into seven or eight pieces. It was promptly super-glued back to its near original shape.

It has become one of the most delightful family traditions we have. And whenever this “ugly” is gifted, a note which includes the date, the occasion and both the giver’s and recipient’s name, is folded and put inside with all the other notes. To further the tradition, all the notes are reread as the next recipient unveils his/her turn with the “ugly.”

(If I were in possession of the “ugly” currently, I’d post its picture~but right now it’s in the hands of one of my siblings…but not for long.)

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