Tag Archives: holidays

Meager Joy

KSM-20141223-Cookies-01If you are young and have never walked through the “valley of the shadow of death” with a loved one don’t read this. Live into the simple joys of Christmas. Let your stresses be finagling a smile in the Santa photo and finding a way to teach the next generation about joy. Smile, laugh, bake and eat cookies!!

My chosen title isn’t quite right. Joy isn’t a simple thing, it isn’t always jolly, true joy is hard in some ways. Just as true love isn’t lollipops, rainbows and roses on a sunny summer day: it gets deeper and stronger dealing with the adversities life throws at you.

A few days ago the Daily Prompt was Jolly. I wanted to do a post related to that, perhaps to have the illusion that I have some jolly joy in my life. But I didn’t get around to it. A common theme this year.

How can I describe the emotional turmoil, frustration, and weariness that are dominating this season of joy for me?…yet also convey that there is joy, even if it isn’t jolly.

I am blessed with “all I really need”, as the Raffi song says: a song in my heart, food in my belly, and love in my family. Many blessings, including that my Grandmother is not just alive and kicking, but actively enjoying many things. Even so, her health is deteriorating. Her heart and kidneys are tired and strained, keeping the balance is becoming more and more difficult for her health care providers. Today I got a call from the nurse practitioner about her kidneys, she is getting close to “stage 4” Kidney disease.

Being a “modern girl” (although “girl” hearkens back to the song from my younger days not my age) I looked it up on the internet. It means “not good”.

This late summer to late fall (technically it is fall for almost another week) has had a lot of what I call “whammies”. There have been a couple this past week. It is hard for me to wrap words around them (which is why I haven’t been posting much). Most have been related to my grandmother: her deteriorating physical capabilities caused by worsening of the underlying health conditions, magnified by the often overwhelming amount of paperwork needed to provide her with care.

I am emotionally ambiguous right now, out of sync with “Joy to the world the lord is born”; my refrain doesn’t have the rhythm and rhyme in the right places (story of my life): “Seek joy in this world. But do what you have to do. Hold on to love, but take care of yourself too.”

Xmas_Card-R1

Never-the-less, it is important to make this time good, for others,  including a scared, ornery, old lady that I love very much, and for myself. I have to smile, laugh, bake and eat cookies…because it is the season of joy, and we are together now, no matter what the future holds.

Meager and Jolly

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Dear Santa

I’ve been thinking about you this week. I came across these pictures from a time more magical. Even though I haven’t visited in quite a while, and the magic just isn’t there for me any more, I really appreciate the joy you brought to me through the years.

JpegThis, in case you have forgotten (understandable since you have your picture taken with so many children every year) was taken in 1994, the last time we came to see you with “Grandma” Barb. James was in school all day after that so our little tradition of visiting you and having lunch on the Monday after Thanksgiving came to an end.

James has grown up and lives in China now. Not all traditions are dead: I sent him a package with stockings for him and his co-English teachers and a new girl friend. It is fun to share that tradition. He uses the stocking and a present to teach his students ideas like in, out, under and over.

We don’t do stockings at home anymore…my husband never caught on and there are just the two of us now, I don’t need to fill my own stocking. Maybe someday…he has warmed to having pets. The Empress rules him with an iron paw in a velvet glove and he has really taken to the little dogs.

This has been a good year: filled with love and good memories. As the year closes we are still working toward a stable situation for Grandma, who broke her hip November 19th. However, she is improving, slowly but steadily, and we go over to visit taking the pups, a treat or two, and British humor DVD’s to watch every week. Keeping up the little things is more important to me now than the big gestures of Christmas, and my energy is low enough that I can’t really do both.

So the stockings are in China, the relatives here will get glazed pecans and baked goods. We have a few decorations about the place, but no tree, and we play some of our favorite Christmas music now and again. Christmas has dwindled to a cozy, low-key celebration of family and love, and that feels right for now. In a world full of violence and vitriol it has its own magic.

Thanks for all of the memories…and, who knows, maybe things will again shift toward the magical. I know you’ll always be there for those who believe.

 Christmas Writing Prompt: Write a letter to Santa

Sweet Textures

I did get to the Gingerbread Village yesterday. This year the theme is the Harry Potter books. The village was amazing. Worth putting off getting my emissions test for. One very cool thing about it is to see all of the ways cookies, candies and crackers are used to create different textures. Here is a small sampler:

I was a good girl and got the emissions test done today. Not nearly as much fun.

Tuesdays of Texture

‘Tis the Season

The prompt “Bludgeon” immediately brought to mind my feeling when I returned home from China on the 20th of last month: it is the election season and, to make matters worse, Christmas is just around the corner. Going through the pile of mail awaiting me were two Voter’s Pamphlets (County and State) plus innumerable vote-this-way-or-that mailers, and several holiday catalogs. Both of these represent bludgeons to me…and I hate that feeling.

This year there are 39 items on our ballot!!!! If, for the sake of argument, you assume that the average per issue is five mailings and 5 phone calls that equals 195 items of junk mail and times of getting up to answer the phone to be disappointed that it isn’t an emergency (the reason I always answer the phone is in case it is Grandma or Dad). The “do not call” registry doesn’t apply to political contests.

In addition to the Christmas catalogs (more arrive daily) I have already received two “black Friday” ads.

Rant #1: the election…but its not what you think

7 initiatives, 2 advisory votes, and a proposition!!! I appreciate the idea of democracy, however, the basic idea of “representative democracy” is that you elect competent people, who are paid to research and make intelligent decisions that “provide for the common defense and promote the general welfare”.

I am a good reader, and have higher than average computational and reasoning skills and it often takes me  an hour or so to go through and reason out the pros and cons on these issues, even at that I often feel like I can’t make an adequately informed decision. How many people do you think do even this much? I am guessing that the average person just reads the top level description and votes a gut reaction. That means that people who do not actually understand the issues are calling the shots.

If the duly elected and paid for professional services representatives can’t do the job then we really need to do some soul searching: on what grounds are they elected? Right now it feels like we are selecting people based on their favorite color (red or blue) not their intelligence or skills.

Rant #2: “the holidays” are far from holy

The reason for the “black” in “black Friday” is that it is the day of the year when businesses, especially smaller ones, move from being “in the red” to “in the black” for the year’s accounts. Everyone is desperate to make ends meet. The desperation comes out in marketing that screams at you and jerks you around emotionally, in bright and flashing lights, louder than usual music (sometimes shockingly bad), and cinnamon and pine scented everything, for me this is a sensory overload.

This time of year I often feel bludgeoned when I go out to buy basics: the general bustle of busier than usual stores with bright and/or flashing lights, singing snowmen and loud music has more than once caused me to turn tail and run home…who needs bread and eggs?

I understand the desperation of stores trying to make money: although I have a bit more trouble with TarWalOsco acting desperate than with local independently owned stores.

Here is what I believe: Christmas won’t be a life changing event because you give or get just the right electronic gadget…and if you use Thanksgiving just to get energy for the mad dash to get that electronic gadget (probably made by someone who is living in pretty miserable conditions) you will lose out on the things that matter.

That said: Merry Consumer-fest!