Work and Christmas

Just dropping by to let you all know I’m still here! Life has been busier than usual with several people on leave at the library so that I have been working extra hours. And Christmas is almost upon us, making it busier than ever; baking Christmas cookies, decorating for the holidays, etc. etc. Well, most of you know the drill. At any rate I just wanted you all to know I miss you and am sending out my very best wishes for Happy Holidays for all. Here’s a couple of photos honoring the season – hope to be back soon with something more to say. Stay well my friends….

Taken a week ago on a very cold morning, but the sunrise was so captivating I just had to grab a shot of it 🙂
Our teeny, tiny Christmas tree, up and decorated in no time 🙂

Christmas Stars and Christmas People

I never did get to see the “Christmas star” with my own eyes. We attempted to a couple of times. I had great hopes on Christmas eve when the skies were mostly clear, but though we got to the place we’d picked out for watching the skies in plenty of time, alas and alack the clouds rolled in again just after sunset. That’s okay. The Christmas star did its part in buoying up flagging spirits and instilling a sense of wonder, and, more importantly, hope.   I have seen some spectacular photos online of this wondrous event. It really is enough to know it’s there, above the cloud cover, instilling hope in many a heart.

As we drove toward the spot we’d picked out, we passed several vehicles parked along the side of the road. Some were there, like us, in hopes of catching a glimpse of the celestial wonder.  Others had snow mobiles loaded onto pickup trucks for a drive into the woods. My favorite though was the young woman skating around the pond with her new baby in arms. That spoke to me in ways that I find difficult to put into words. As I watched her glide around the pond, I could not help but think of another young mother millennials ago who also held her babe in her arms. These were my Christmas people. People I did not know by name but fed my soul with hope.

This has been a very difficult year. We have all been carrying the burdens of worry and stress that covid has caused. I know that I was hope-starved (too many bad news stories, I guess). At any rate on this 26th of December I am exceedingly grateful for the gifts of hopes I have been given, not least of which is the vaccine that promises to allow family visits and socializing again in the not-so-distant future. And I am grateful for Christmas stars and Christmas people who instill hope in our hearts, not just at Christmas but throughout the year.

Star of Wonder, Star of Night

Aw, the Christmas season with all it’s blessings of hope and peace. And in this pandemic year we all need that more than ever! I have been looking forward to seeing the “Christmas star” all month long! But, true to form the skies were blanketed in clouds last evening so I did not get a glimpse. That has been the case all year! Every time there was a special celestial happening the skies would be inevitably cloud-laden. Yet, just knowing such a miraculous event is going on is enough. I get to see the beautiful photos that those who were more fortunate than me were able to capture. And it still gives me hope and a pleasant joy in the fact that it exists at all. Yes, I know it is the planets aligning and not a single star. Still the old Christmas song plays in my head: Star of wonder, star of night, star of royal beauty bright….westward leading still proceeding, guide us to that perfect light. The song is called We Three Kings, just in case you didn’t know.

I miss some of the old Christmas Carols that were a mainstay of my youth; The songs that sparked joy, peace, and love in my heart; the songs that spoke to my spirit. I don’t hear them on mainstream radio. Still, the internet has blessed us with choice and I can make my own playlists. But I digress, this is supposed to be about the Christmas star and the hope it has instilled in so many people. Where would we all be without hope? It is as necessary an ingredient as food, water, and shelter. I am so grateful for the beautiful images I have seen from different points on the globe of this wondrous and beautiful “star”. Wherever you are and whatever may be going on in your life, I wish you peace. I wish you great joy. I wish you hope to carry on. And, I wish you a Merry Christmas!

Sweet, sweet Callie and Christmas

Like many others I finally succumbed and put up the Christmas tree. I have very rarely put the tree up much before December 18th but this year is a year of change in many ways. I needed the lift that staring at a brightly lit tree gives me. Callie loves Christmas, I think. She loves to lay under the tree as if to remind us all of what a gift she really is – and she is! And a blessing in many ways. I don’t know how I would have gotten through these difficult months without her. I know cats have a reputation for climbing (and often destroying) Christmas trees. Callie has never been destructive in any way. (Her mama raised her to have good manners LOL – wasn’t me, she came to me when she was two years old haha.) Here she is in all her Christmas glory:

My very sweet Callie-cat

A Covid Christmas

I am vexed – so vexed. How many times have I read or heard people say Christmas will be cancelled because of covid? The answer is too many times. Seriously? Well, I guess it will depend on what Christmas means to you. What exactly do you celebrate? Is it piles of gifts under the Christmas tree? Is it time with family and friends? Is it a spiritual celebration? Okay, I could go on, but I am sure you get the point. However, I will say, if you are following health care professionals’ guidelines and doing the whole social distancing, mask-wearing, hand-washing thing, then you likely won’t be getting together for Christmas gatherings of any kind. And in that sense, it may feel like Christmas has been canceled this year. And that is hard stuff. I know that it is family gatherings that I most love about this season and I am not looking forward to curtailing those this year, but I will.

In October we celebrated Thanksgiving Day here in Canada. At that time leaders implored the masses to forego the usual family gatherings in order to slow the spread of the virus. That advice was ignored by many. Weeks later the number of cases climbed and they continue to climb here in Canada. As we had been warned they would back in October.

Yet, Christmas can never be canceled, if you, like myself, celebrate the spirituality of Christmas: the giving of oneself in imitation of the greatest gift ever given. There are things we can do that will not put our loved ones, or ourselves, at risk. Things like donating to food banks or other charities; like sending our love and care through cards, phone calls, or virtually through zoom, duo, or other online conduits. And, dare I say, through prayers for loved ones, for neighbours, for the world at large. It may well be a Covid Christmas, but that does not mean Christmas is canceled!

Boxing Day 2019

Aw, the day after Christmas day, the very large bins behind our apartment building are overflowing, a sad commentary on our excesses as a society. Yet, the ravens are crazily happy tearing open the garbage bags to retrieve their own feast. Perhaps this is a day that scavengers celebrate. The little dog that lives in the house behind us is also in his glee, barking furiously and racing back and forth and seeming to thoroughly enjoy his game of chasing ravens. The ravens ignore him and continue with their business of dumpster diving.  Squawking rends the air as the little dog takes part in the cacophony of discordant sound.

photo by Anastacia Hopkins

As for me and mine, we are draped limply in chairs and on couches in an attempt to recover from the bustle and rush of Christmas preparations. The day is done, but I hope the season of giving continues, not the presents, but the presence. The gifts that come from the heart: the lovingly prepared meals and snacks; the comfort of loving embraces; the gift of company for the lonely; shelter, clothing, warmth, and cheer that does not come in a box but wrapped in sincere concern for one another. May that concern never be boxed in or thrown into a garbage bin. May the ribbons that festoon our daily lives be ribbons bright with love and humanity. May they be ribbons that do not chaff or constrain, but drift warmly around our very souls. May our hearts be worn bravely on our sleeves as we continue through the days and weeks and months ahead. Amen!

Christmas trees and traditions

I was scrolling through memories on Facebook and looking at the Christmas trees we have decorated through the years – always the same decorations. It never changes, and nor do I want it to. The ornaments each have their own special memory attached from the hand made ornaments my children made when they were little to the store bought “treasures”. Isn’t that what creates tradition?

Other traditions are not physical, like certain ceremonies and symbolic actions that help us build our lives around all that is life-giving and good. Last evening, I sat with my daughter making a few home-made trinkets. That togetherness and time spent crafting and creating is another fond tradition. I hope that when I no longer walk this earth that all our traditions will bring a sense of continuity and comfort to those we leave behind. Christmas is such a sentimental time of year. At least it is for me. Trips down memory lane are frequent and never fail to help me appreciate the love of family and friends.

I hope you are enjoying this time of year and counting the many blessings of the season. Wishing all my readers a blessed and truly joyous Christmas.

Twelve months of blessings

There is something so special about Christmas time. Something magical and spiritual and absolutely good. I don’t feel that way every year, some years it was just too painful coming on the heels of a death in the family or some other grievous situation. But this year I am so very thankful for the blessings granted us over the past twelve months. So thankful, and Christmas is bringing me so much peace, so much joy this year.

It’s been a challenging year in so many ways, and, as I think back over it, it was an uphill climb in so many ways: emotionally, spiritually, psychologically, and physically. It’s not finished with us yet as we wait for a spot to open up in the dialysis unity here in town so my husband won’t have to be flown to Edmonton once again. I think we’ve had enough of that for one year. Yet, it was a year so filled with blessings as well. So many people people stepped up to help us in more ways than I can list here. God really does work in mysterious ways and I am so grateful for all the people who allowed the Creator to work through them; who reached out to support us in every way imaginable. It is through adversity that we may be tested, but we are also so very blessed, if we are open to receive. I read somewhere that issues come up to either bless us or to help us learn the lesson it brings.

Here it what I learned once again: we are never alone, unless we choose to be. No problem or challenge is too big for the Divine One. People are so intrinsically good and unfailingly kind. If we are open we will receive what we need, and often even more than we pray for. People remark on how they see me as being so strong. Well, I will let you in on a little secret: it’s not my strength they see but the strength of God who sustains me, no matter how big or contentious the issue may be.

So, I am praying that we each receive all we need; that we are open to receive the gifts the Creator is waiting to grant us; that we find true joy in the season; that every moment is peace-filled. I wish you well, my friends. I wish you more blessings than you can count. I wish you enough, always. God bless and Merry Christmas.

Christmas in a seaside village

Silver tinsel on the tree

Frost on the window panes

Out on the bay ice caps frozen

Floating snowflakes drifting lazily from the skies

And in the fields hopping madly

Jack rabbits go bouncing by

Moonlight sparkling on the snow

Smoke curls and lifts upon the breeze

Lifting gently up into the atmosphere

In the cabin, cozy and warm

Fire flickers in a pot-bellied stove

Wood stacked neatly along beside

To keep the fire glowing on the morrow

Sleeping babe in a crib does lay

Beside the bed where parents rest

Coats on hooks upon the wall

Ready for the trudge through snow

Kitty purrs contentedly

Upon a rag rug on the floor

And up top the tree so shiny

The silver star reminds us all

Of another babe within a manger

And the precious gift once given

Across the world many leagues away

Centuries past and still and all

Here in the vast countryside

Beside the sea, now still and calm

Poor folk and rich folk too

Celebrate the wondrous tale

Of Christmas

Christmas preparations

A Christmas past

It’s hard to believe it is the 1st of December already! I used to hear adults talk about how fast time flies when I was a child. I thought they were delusional. Not any more. Age really does make time seem to speed up, or perhaps we just have more to do and more to think about as we get older. At any rate, time has made its circuit of months once again and here we are merely weeks from the big day. At least, in most households in the western world, Christmas is a huge deal. Many people have already dragged out the decorations and trimmed the tree. Not me. I may get into that next weekend. I haven’t decided yet. I do love Christmas. People generally seem more inclined to think of others and become more compassionate at this time of year. Despite my aversion to black Friday commerce, and the unending advertising hocking every possible thing we can think of, Christmas is still sacred and special to me.

Christmas unleashes my creativity and I usually am busy with making home-made gifts or baking goodies to share with family and friends. But more than all the hoopla, I enjoy the spirituality of Christmas. The whole idea of sharing our blessings and being cognizant of the trials and tribulations of others strikes right at the heart of what Christmas can and should be resonates deeply with me. I find myself wandering often through past years and enjoying fond memories of years long gone, but which influence how I celebrate this joyful and spiritual time of year. I feel so splendidly and generously blessed in my home, in my family, in my country, and in the world at large. My heart is both full and lightened. I pray yours is as well. May your preparations bring you more joy than stress. May you have many people to bless and cheer you. And may the days leading up to Christmas day find you with peace in your heart and a smile upon your face.