Pause and Reflect

This Christmas what I wish for doesn’t come packaged inside a box or glammed up in a gift bag. Long ago, I boxed the photographs and tucked away the memories of Christmases past.

 

 

Tree is Up
Tree is Up

 

Perhaps it’s the wisdom of age. Or just plain old weariness. I long for simplicity and gifts that can’t be placed underneath the tree. There is nothing I need; the possessions I own just fanciful and temporary, faded and broken.

I long for Peace. Peace on Earth. I want to live in a world that is kinder, a more compassionate place. A world where wars become stories in history texts.

I long for love and belonging. No child forgotten.

I long for family to circle round. The world is way too big now.

And finally, as I think about the upcoming holiday season, I whisper a “thank you” to my friends. You hold space in my heart.

x

Believe

Long ago, I stood at the window, my small fingers crossed. I prayed for snow to fall. A child who believed that with some divine intervention, she could will the fluffy flakes to float from the heavens above.
My hand lifted the iron latch, pushed the window open a crack. I leaned into the space. Cold air kissed my cheek. Stillness lingered and paused within the eerie morning’s quiet breaths. Tall, gnarly branches of oak canopied the street. The oaks waited too. Waited for snow to dress them in winter finery.
A voice broke through the silence.
“Hurry up girls,” our mother commanded, “We’re leaving in thirty minutes!”
Time meant nothing to me then. Yet, this morning I had reason to dash.
Mother was taking us to see the annual Christmas displays. I recalled the twinkling lights and little elves dressed in red and green that bustled about Santa’s miniature village. It was the reindeer I coveted. How do they fly?
“It’s magic,” our mother said.
Quickly my sister and I ran to the hall cupboard, opened it and grabbed our newly sewn velvet coats.
“Where’s my fur hat?” I asked.
Scrambling through the corners of the dark hall cupboard, I retrieved the faux fur hidden beneath my father’s plaid scarf. The hat was a gift; the muffler disappeared at school.
“Found it!” I cried out.
I watched my sister; her small fingers struggled to slip the shiny buttons through the stitched openings.

Gently,I took her hand and showed her how. We slipped stocking feet into fur-lined rubber boots, momentarily teetering, off-balance from the weight of our outerwear. My sister and I stood in the doorway; two winter snow-babies waiting for snowflakes to tumble.
Our mother, wrapped in Persian lamb, led the way as we headed toward the bus stop at the end of the block. As we waited for the 41st Street bus to appear, I looked up and peeked through the canopy of tangled branches that crisscrossed overhead. An empty nest sat tucked within a nook of hardwood. I wondered if Santa would leave a small gift for the birds to open when they returned in the spring. Perhaps a pine cone adorned with a strand of tinsel snagged from a glittering cast off Christmas tree.
The bus rolled up to the curb, we clambered on board, dropped our coins into the cash slot and took our seats.
“Hold on, Grace,” my mother tipped her head toward the shiny pole. As the bus lurched forward, my fingers held the metal pole, the other hand wrapped around my sister’s small one.
We watched as passengers came and went about the business of life. Near the end of the line, a dapper man stepped aboard. He wore a top hat and wrinkled pin stripe suit.
“Ladies,” he nodded and tipped his hat.
In one hand, he held a scuffed leather briefcase; in the other he held a bouquet of bud roses, white as fallen snow.
A second man stepped aboard; the white whiskers on his chin visible. His threadbare overcoat patched at the elbows. A red scarf scrunched about his neck. As he passed by I caught the acrid, heavy scent of cigarettes. Golden fingertips gripped the metal pole. When he smiled at us, there were dark spaces where teeth should have been. I looked away.
It seemed to take forever to reach our destination. As we rose to exit the bus, the man with the whiskers spoke,
“Merry Christmas,” he said and reached into his deep pocket, pulled out two wrapped candy canes, and grinned a toothless smile. My sister and I hesitated. The man smiled and reached deep into the other pocket and pulled out a plastic angel. Golden wings glinted and gleamed.
“This you must share,” he murmured. He reached out and handed the angel to me.
“Say thank you, girls,” our mother said.
“Thank you,” we whispered.
He nodded, “Merry Christmas, children. Don’t ever forget that once someone did something kind for you”
I gingerly stepped from the bus, a candy cane clutched within one small fist; a sugared angel twinkled in the other. How would I manage to share such a treasure?
Once again my mother took the lead and hustled us along to the Christmas displays. The miniature Winter Town hummed and bustled, alive with visions and sound. Holiday songs punctuated the scene. Candlelight shone through a small window as an elf stationed at a workbench hammered wheels onto a train. Another elf stood alongside and wrapped a gift. He placed it atop the growing pile of presents from Santa.
Bells jingled and lights twinkled, snow blew from a machine and dusted our boots. It was the reindeer I had come to see. They lay upon hay; their thick whitish coats brushed and glossed, their velvet antlers strong and upright. At the peak of the stable hung an angel, a heavenly guardian hovered overhead.
We heard the sleigh bells jangle and the familiar chortle of Santa’s low voice as he boomed,
“Ho, Ho, Ho! Merry Christmas!”
Who wouldn’t believe in wishes that come true, magic, heavenly beings and a hope for snow?
***
That was a beautiful moment so long ago. The wondering child rarely surfaces anymore; the woman is grown. Time is fleeting now; it rushes by her. She remembers the man on the bus; recalls his curious words,
“Don’t ever forget that once someone did something kind for you.”
Grace still doesn’t understand human nature; choosing to believe in goodness. She understands the science behind snow, the necessary ingredients of weather systems. Still, every December she pauses at the window, opens it just a crack. She leans in toward the opening and waits. For what you ask? For the cold wind to kiss her cheek, for those first flakes to fall, for that magical feeling of love to wrap itself around her, for an act of compassion or a kindness shared, for Santa to arrive, and for peace on earth. Believe.
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Let it Snow

It happens every December. I fall head over heels into the holiday season.The sight of first snow, tumbling flakes dancing across the blog page, to the real version, delights. I imagine the forgotten child who once found beauty in the simplest of gifts. A first snow evokes glorious moments, past holiday memories. I will that child’s sweet feelings of hope to return.

More than the beauty of the season beckons. Yes, it’s true~ possessing a need to touch the shiny surfaces of the glass ornaments laying in shop baskets, I pause and lift one. Glitter and sparkle catch my eye. It is more than the superficial. I know that.

Momentarily, I become a child again. Tip toeing through the quiet living room, wandering to the front window to gaze out, my eyes look up to the heavens. Enchanted. Nightfall blankets, a starry sky twinkling back as the first flakes tumble to earth. Beholden to a powerful spell, captivated by a belief. I know the world truly is a magical place.

So long ago, a tree stood in a corner of the dimly lit room, evergreen boughs laden with twinkling lights. A soft glow illuminated the darkened room. Branches sparkled, adorned with colourful glass baubles. A shiny star graced the uppermost tip of the tree. Tinsel dripped, hung like frozen icicles from the branches. A cheap, chubby plastic Santa leaned into the base of the tree. We begged mother to buy it. Just a doll yet it looked so real.

It’s so simple. A child waits for Christmas to appear. A child believes.

Older now, I muse, If only it was that simple. If only wishes really did come true. Picking the plastic Santa from the ornament box I notice the colour has faded, rubbed away. The eyes still twinkle. Sighing, I need a moment to collect myself. Sometimes memories ache.

I know the world isn’t such a magical place. Poverty is real, children go hungry; they shiver in fear. Disease consumes. War and hatred rage on. Love is fleeting. Tears rain and hearts break. What we do to one, passes to another. We understand that as children.

The plastic Santa remains, a child’s symbol for hope. It really is simple. Be compassionate. Show up for someone. Share friendship, exchange a hug, hold a hand. Donate to a worthy cause. Keep an open heart. Be grateful.

I place the plastic Santa beneath the tree, an endearing symbol for hope.The world truly is a magical place. Believe.

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Imperfect Beauty

Imperfect Beauty

It is important, this deep and personal need to create simple, beautiful spaces. Whether it is, cuttings gathered from nature, vignettes, gathered bits and pieces, sparkle and shine, or a simple lit candle shining brightly in the dark.  Our spaces comfort through their serenity, simplicity, and simple beauty. A book close at hand, a blanket to snug beneath, and a mug of hot tea or coffee to round off the bliss.  Why do we choose to nest the way we do, our individual styles often different?  Our homes tell our stories.  Look and listen.

It works like this.  The beauty and creativity that my mother possessed now passed along to me.  “Always look at an item with fresh eyes, see the beauty in the broken, repurpose a piece,” are her wise words.  Fill your spaces with only that which inspires you or tells a meaningful story.  Sometimes, our stories are sad.  For that reason, I choose to feather my nest with that which makes me smile, the pretty, the broken, the chipped, evidence of love and beauty. Imperfect is beautiful.

The hunt to discover an object of beauty is compelling and sourcing the area for an affordable price point is addicting, an alluring drug to the soul. No apologies, I seek beautiful store-bought and found items. Through writing, decorating, planting and doing, my heart heals. Comfort and joy await those who enter through the door.  Spaces are pretty, soft, unusual, old, and consciously created, staged for effect, purposely creating a careful lived in shabbiness of chic.

A promise to myself, many years ago, that when I became a mother or grandmother, I would be the best that I could be.  When they forgot, I remembered. My family would know love; there would never be a question or a doubt.  No one left, forgotten, dismissed, omitted.  Always, forgiven, always loved. I would have wished as much as a child and now as an adult, those wishing words sent forth on the chilly winter winds. Some can’t hear them, though. Perhaps, you will catch the whisperings in the silent spaces beneath the twinkling stars.

This holiday season I have left many of the Christmas decorations tucked away within the storage space. It will be a simple celebration.  There will be fewer family gathered round the table.  The children are grown and are beginning and continuing their own holiday traditions. In time they will appreciate that it isn’t about them, it is about others.  Love is always about others.

On display, there is a wooden Santa, a symbol of love and generosity.  A tinsel tree adorned with glass birds to sparkle in the winter’s light, a reminder that spring will surely come and there will be new beginnings.  The light will shine a little brighter.  Treats, decadent, rich and chocolate, sit in a glass bowl, delights for the soul.  Offerings.  Mini white lights fill the glass vases and miniature evergreen trees adorn a table.  A glittery box houses a miniature nativity, the Christmas Story. There is a boxwood wreath to grace the front door.  All is calm.

There is an undeniable presence of generosity, compassion, and kindness that gently fills the air.  If only the generous Christmas spirit could stay throughout the year. Note the hope that tenderly rises after the storm has passed. If only these heart-felt beats would live on and on. It is possible.  Love one another. We share this amazing world.  Stand for peace and harmony. Forget self, reach out and offer a hand.  Forgive.  Celebrate family and remember, love is always about others.

I wish you love and happiness.  Forgive another, start the journey to heal, reach out a hand in friendship, and surround your world with love and joy. Thank you for sharing your posts, stories, blogs, re blogs, tweets, “likes,” comments, and writing support.  All is bright!

Snow baby
Snow baby

 

Merry Christmas to you and yours!

x   ~ Grace

Hello, December!

The crisp December chill slaps my cheeks as I pause to take in the scenery outside the door.  There is a reason that I love December so.  It is not for the cold, although it forces my senses to attention, rather, it is the warmth, from the ever-burning fire of December, that captures my heart.

The rains have ceased and the frost of winter has arrived. The earth sparkles and shimmers.  Sunlight from above, kisses the ground below. The sight, breath taking and miraculous. The cold heightens focus, my senses suggesting, take another look. There is beauty in the world.  

A close friend texts, “Where are you?  Join us for coffee.” The mall is busy, yet I seek company.  Somehow, coffee tastes better with friends.  We sit, two generations of women, sharing stories from life.  Their company soothes my weariness and I wish to stay near, savouring the warmth and comfort between sips. What would life be without these friends?  Love and gratitude are sent forth into the universe.

The mall is beginning to fill with people. Young and old shoppers, bustle about.  Strangers to one another. Yet, people pause a moment to smile, hold doors for another, share a comment over the clamouring crowd.  The red suit, a symbol of Christmas, comes into view.  Children stand spell-bound, patiently waiting, in a never-ending line, for a moment, one enchanting moment with, Santa Claus.  The wish to receive that special gift is whispered into Santa’s ear.  A chance that their wishes will come true.  For who does not hear the whispered words of one so innocent to the realities of life.  We never forget this moment.  Did Santa listen?  Hope and love are sent forth into the universe.

Does the magic of the holiday season make us kinder to one another?  Or is it that we remember that moment of youth, when we knew hope and it filled our hearts.  When we whispered our wishes in Santa’s ear and they traveled on the wind to a starlit kingdom far, far away.  Perhaps, human nature wishes for hope and love, and when we lose our way, like a compass, these gifts return to us, setting us right back on course. Forgiveness and compassion are sent forth into the universe.

For these reasons, December is my favourite month.  The twinkling white lights, the allure of gold and silver ornaments, the candle’s light, and the everlasting love that shines forth from mankind.  For a moment in time, stand transfixed by a beautiful world.  The wonder of fairy tale possibilities surround us as the silent snowflakes tumble.

Gently shake the glass snow globe and place it on top of the table.  Watch the snowflakes fall. Remember the good, remember the love.  Pray for peace and show compassion toward one another.

Snow baby
Snow baby

Let it Snow!

When I opened the blog site this evening, I noticed something a little enchanting happening!  Snowflakes, wordpress style!  I had forgotten that the wordpress “elves” can make it snow during the month of December!  Those “followers” that follow my writings from life know that I am bespoke to snowflakes!  Thank you wordpress for reminding us to celebrate the upcoming season of winter and its

Snowflake
Snowflake (Photo credit: Gui Seiz)

glorious gifts!

Let it snow!  Let it snow!  Let it snow!

Today I Remember

my Dad.  It has been just over one year since his passing.  I pray that you are at peace.  With Winter comes snow and when the flakes start to fall, I stop, pause, and think of you.  I try to smile.  I try to understand.  I buy a bouquet of white Chrysanthemums to honor you.  To this day I have unanswered questions and a broken heart.  You know I tried and that I loved you.  I know that you loved me. That should be enough.  Did you leave us the biggest gifts?  The gifts of compassion, forgiveness, a capacity toward kindness.  Today I remember you, Dad and I thank you for gifting me the most important qualities to possess in life.