From Twelve to One


And peace on earth goodwill to all

Once again, I am writing about Christmas, but this is about something that really bothers me. I was raised Catholic, and maybe that’s partly why I have always thought of Christmas as a season and not just one day. The Christmas tree went up on the 24th of December and was not taken down until after Olde Christmas Day on the 6th of January. When I was a child Christmas meant going to church, visiting my grandparents, and spending time with family and friends. When I was very little there was a lot of excitement surrounding gifts and anticipating what Santa might bring, but as I grew older, and especially after I had children of my own, I grew to appreciate the beauty of Christmastime. And not just the scrumptious food and merry-making, but the deeper, long-lasting values of selfless giving; of the importance of goodwill, faith, peace and love. The charitable impulses often lost in the daily grind are more on display at Christmas than at any other time of year. Thankfully that still seems to be the case today.

Yet, in this more secular world are we losing out on some of these values? A young person I worked with seemed aghast when I said I might wear my Christmas sweater to work on the 27th – I had been telling an employee who was not there last year about how chilly the place is after being closed a few days and how she should wear something warm. My Christmas sweater is very warm. At any rate, my young co-worker was surprised at the idea of my wearing it after Christmas day. It led me to wondering once again about how fast-paced life has become and how the season of Christmas seems to grow shorter and shorter year after year. It saddens me. Have the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ been shortened to only one?

What does Christmas mean to you? Is it only one day out of the year, or like myself, do you see it as more than that? I think, more than ever, we need that spirit of goodwill; of peace on earth. And we need to have more than just one day to celebrate it.

Christmas and Callie Cat


Callie, my fur baby

This photo was captured by my talented daughter and remains one of my most favorite photos of Callie, my fur baby. Christmas can be so hectic and often my poor baby is neglected – there just does not seem to be enough hours in the day. Finally, Christmas is here, and I can get back to normal routines – well almost anyway.

Our fur babies bring so much love and joy to our lives, it makes me feel terribly guilty if my little cat does not get the attention she so richly deserves. I do enjoy the holidays, but I have to admit I am looking forward to the slow, steady days of winter once Christmas is past.

Callie has been very patient – she can teach me a lot about what’s really important in life. So now, like my cat, I am going to curl up on my bed and take a much-needed break.

Wishing you all a very happy holiday from Callie and me.

Searching for meaning


It was a strange dream in many ways. I dreamed Caitlin was receiving the sacrament of Confirmation, which is strange because she was not raised Catholic. Confirmation is a sacrament in which the person is asked to confirm promises made by the parent at baptism. In essence the person is asked if they want to be a member of the church; to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Of course, dreams are never straight forward, and least of all this one.

In the dream I was supposed to prepare Caitlin to receive the sacrament. I also had to give a sermon, or a talk about the sacrament and its meaning at her confirmation ceremony. It was a dream about faith, spirituality, and about family and forgiveness.

Caitlin’s father, my brother, Chris, was killed when a drunk driver crashed into his van as he was headed home from work two years ago. In my dream several family members were interrupting my speech to talk about Chris, not to dishonor the proceedings but because many are still grieving and healing.

The name, Christopher, my mother often told us, means Christ-bearer. That also came up in my dream. As the dream progressed Bob Marley’s tune, Redemption kept playing. So, what was the message I was being given? Confirm the Christ Bearer? Confirm Christ? Forgiveness? Redemption? Family?

There’s a lot to tease out of this dream. It is the 23rd of December and Christmas is approaching. But the dream was not about Christmas per se, even though it is the day we celebrate the birth of the Saviour. But Christmas does put a lot of emphasis on family with the Holy Family taking front and centre, or at least it does in most Catholic households.

I am searching for meaning – not just of my dream, but of life itself; of spirituality and what divine love means to me.

May this Christmas bring peace to us all and to our world that is in dire need of peace and love and all things good.

Remembering Christmases past and wishing you all the best of the season


Merry Christmas!

I haven’t been feeling my best for weeks now. But, despite that I am looking forward to Christmas. It can be a bit crazy, even depressing at times, but I truly love this time of year. People seem more caring and empathetic than at any other time. When I was a child our family would drive to the church for midnight mass. We lived in rural Newfoundland, on the west coast of the island. Life was so simple then – or maybe it’s because I was a child and it seems simpler looking back. I remember the moon shining on the bay we drove along and my father remarking on how calm the water was. I remember singing Christmas carols and I remember my parents sitting waiting for all of us to get up Christmas morning. The tree never went up before Christmas Eve and in the morning it all seemed so magical. There were never a lot of gifts, but we appreciated the few things we received.

What is it about Christmas that makes me so nostalgic? As I place ornaments on the tree each one brings back memories of Christmases past and how very blessed and fortunate my life has been. No, it hasn’t been easy and sometimes life seems so unfair – but it is a good life nonetheless.

Wherever you are, and whomever you are sharing Christmas with this year, I hope you feel blessed. I hope joy overwhelms you. I hope you feel the peace and goodwill the season can bring. And above all this, I wish you love. Merry Christmas!

Gifted, Blessed, and with Joy to give


The past two weeks have been incredibly busy, as I am sure they have been for most of us. Christmas is such a blessed time of year, and one I have always loved, but it can also be a stressful time of year with marketing geniuses doing their best to manipulate the masses into buying whatever they may be hocking. For those who are already under financial constraints the pressure can be intolerable, and the emphasis on family depressing for those of us who do not have the support of a loved one(s). So, Christmas can bring a mixed bag of joy and sadness – joy for some, utter dejection for others.

Two weeks ago, I had to call an ambulance to take my husband to hospital and within a few days I was visited by the flu which set me on my butt and added to the stress. In the midst of all this was the pressure I was putting on myself to get ready for Christmas, forgetting we always have choices…. maybe they’re not great choices, but they are choices.

Not long ago a friend gifted me with tickets to Tom Jackson’s Huron Christmas Carol. We were supposed to go together but my friend had to opt out. So, she gave me the tickets so my husband and I could go together. As I sat in the theatre with my husband listening to the beautiful music and laughing at the anecdotes Tom was sharing, I could feel the tension ease off my neck and shoulders.

The entertainer was talking about joy; about gifts; about what we can do for one another – sometimes something as simple as a smile can be a much-needed gift for another. What ‘finest gift’ can we bring?

This was cause for a lot of reflection on my part. We don’t have much money. My husband has been on a disability pension for many years and my job is only part-time,leaving little cash to spare. Giving gifts is a great pleasure for me and for along time I found it quite depressing that I could not give the things I would have liked to give. I do what I can.

And then I met people who are homeless. One man gifted me with his sense of humour that made me laugh so hard that tears started to roll down my cheeks. Another humbled me with a gift of candy – a quiet, gentle person – he reminded me of the innate goodness of humanity and the dignity inherent within all of us that should be respected and celebrated. His gift was pure joy as it came from the heart. Another bakes banana bread and brings it to the library to give to the people who work there. His gift was recognition of the people who go over and beyond what it required of them in their paid positions. His gift was gratitude. A so-called ‘mentally disabled’ woman helped me remember the joy of presence as she regaled me with stories of her life and doings. So, in the end it isn’t the physical gift that matters is it? It is the gifts of compassion, empathy, and connection that are the true gifts.

We all have joy to give, if we choose to do so. We are all gifted in some way –talented in some way. We are all blessed with something special and unique to ourselves. May this Christmas help us identify and share our blessings with others.

Seeking Christmas Spirit


It’s hard to explain to anyone who has not experienced it – this dark cloud that has cast its shadow over everything magical and good. Christmas has always been my favourite time of year, but it is exceedingly difficult to get into any semblance of Christmas spirit this year. My brother’s death on the 19th of November last year did not conjure as  deep a darkness that following the trial of his killer has this year; The next court date is the 8th of January when the defense will do their best to plant seeds of doubt in the judge’s mind.  That date looms over me like a huge black mountain and seems impossible to scale, or to set aside. God knows I am trying. It is a bitter pill to swallow, this knowing that the defendant will be celebrating Christmas with his loved ones while we, the family of the man he killed, do our best to put aside the pain and anguish of our brother’s needless death. Life is not fair – but then who ever promised it would be?

I have read stories that tell us that we agree to certain conditions and circumstances before we are born on this earth. That is a comfort to me in a strange way. I can imagine Chris making the decision to be the one to die in order to save the lives of other people who were travelling the highway that day – one of which was a young mother with her three children in her car.

Chris possessed a generosity of spirit that is hard to convey. He was a truly selfless person in many ways. And he was very kind. So I can totally imagine him agreeing to play the role of victim in this scenario. Ah but he was more than the victim of an impaired driver. The many people who approached me and my sisters and brothers following his funeral attest to the mark he made on this world. And not in any big splashy way, but in the small acts of kindness he performed daily. It is this knowing that gives me comfort that no criminal trial or any amount of anguish can ever take away.

Putting up the Christmas tree


We put up the Christmas tree last evening and started decorating the house. It’s not finished yet. There are lots of finishing touches yet to be done, but I have to admit there is something about placing treasured ornaments on the boughs that gave me a much needed lift. The past month has been very trying. As I placed owl ornaments on the tree I thought of Chris – he collected owls. Was there some cosmic spirit at work that moved my daughter to give me owl ornaments? She bought them a few years ago – long before the tragic events that took our brother from us. Now I see owls everywhere – they have become quite a fad in recent years. Owls represent wisdom and a spirituality that lies within the dark of night. May this dark night usher forth the faith and wisdom we all need in our family and in our society and may the peaceful spirit of Christmas bring us all solace and good will.

For the love of family & friends


There are a lot of messages on social media promoting mental health and understanding – that is good! It is November and the Christmas season is fast approaching. Although it is a time of year touted as “family time” and a time of “peace on earth and goodwill”, for people suffering from depression and especially for those who are alone it is a very stressful time of year. The ever present messages exhorting us to buy this or that to celebrate Christmas are overwhelming. For people who may not have the means to buy the latest toy for their child or the means to travel to wherever “home” may be it can be very painful.

I remember the days when a death by suicide was hidden, if possible. It was so misunderstood and socially unacceptable that whole families were shamed at a time when they most needed love and support.

I think we are only just beginning to understand the torturous pain and unbearable challenges that people who die by suicide have been faced with. Mental health issues seem to be an ever growing challenge for society in general. So I do copy and paste messages that promote compassion and understanding. I think it’s important. But the bigger challenge lies with spending time with the people in our lives that are suffering. I hope each of us find within ourselves the grace and the patience and the compassion our loved ones need and deserve. Peace out….

Counting My Blessings


I am trying to count my blessings as Christmas approaches, which is not easy this year as we lost a precious member of our family recently. Tomorrow marks the one month anniversary of my brother’s death. So my heart has been heavy and I cannot help thinking of all the families going through similar pain. Even news out of the city of Aleppo in Syria adds to my own personal grief, though I do not know any of the people there I feel for their terror and anguish. It all makes me feel so hopeless and helpless.

The words of a Christmas Carol, “I heard the bells on Christmas Day” has been resonating with me, especially the words, “for hate is strong and mocks the song of peace on earth good will to men”.  But the lyrics continue with “Then rang the bells more loud and deep, God is not dead nor does He sleep, the wrong shall fail, the right prevail with peace on earth good will to men”. The latter verse is the one I am trying desperately to keep foremost in my mind, for in my heart of hearts I believe in the inherent goodness of humanity.

I have heard it said, “Hate the sin, not the sinner” and I think that is really good advice – for whom among us has not transgressed in some way or other? We all cause pain for others sometimes. If we are big enough and aware enough we apologize and do our best not to repeat an offense, but we are all mere humans after all. We make mistakes.

So as I sit here counting my blessings I think of all the ways I have been blessed. I am thinking especially about the support of a loving family, friends, and wonderful coworkers. I have had compassion and love poured upon me from many incredible human beings. It has been balm for my soul to know I am not alone, that people do care.

There are so many blessings, I live in comfortable, warm surroundings – I am not homeless, as many are. I have enough to eat, clothes, transportation, while many are hungry, destitute, and without the means to travel anywhere. I am employed at a job I enjoy while many face the stress of living without gainful employment, or work at a job they hate. I live in freedom and safety – many areas of the world do not enjoy all that we take for granted in Canada. I am healthy while many are sick. So, while life is not perfect and I mourn my brother, there is still much to be thankful for, and many blessings.