childhood, Christmas, gratitude, holiday, hope, spirituality

Memory Beads of Christmas’ Past

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Not everyone loves Christmas, but I do.  Not all of the beads on the string are beautiful, in fact, several, especially the early ones with my mother, whose anxiety spiked with the pressure of creating a good Christmas, were pretty rough.  Somehow our father and my three brothers and me always found a way to enjoy the day anyway.  We’d just move around her, avoiding the whirlpool of her energy so that we wouldn’t be pulled down with her.  It wasn’t her fault, she was just trying so hard for it to be wonderful that she was miserable.

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Among other things, Christmas is about expectation.  There is no other day of the year that has so many hopes pinned on it.  If those hopes are not too extreme, it reminds us that good things are coming; that life gives to us as Her children, so that whatever suffering we’re experiencing, there is the possibility of relief.  Each of our lives is unique, each of us suffers, and at Christmas we’re reminded that good can and will come.

Mother made a Santa suit for my father.  We’d have poor-boy sandwiches, then father would disappear and reappear as Santa Claus.  Since I was the oldest by the time this ritual was enacted, I already knew who was under the suit, but my younger brothers did not.  He’d come in with a very loud, and hardy, “Ho HO HO” and scare the youngest of them half to death.  I loved that and felt quite grown up to know the secret.

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The tree was always beautiful, the gifts, thoughtful, and the food–Mother being French she was a very good cook–was yummy.

In those early years, my favorite thing was to lie down under the tree and gaze up at the lights above my head, when I’d give in to my imagination of flights to the stars; a habit that has continued through all the beads of my Christmas’s.

So, I do love Christmas; for it’s magic, it’s hope, it’s gratitude for our connection to others, no matter how challenging their particular nature.

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My favorite beads were when my own children were born and I could make it magical for them.  I’d learned not to worry over it; Mother had taught me the danger of too high expectations.  My husband would wear the Santa suit and I could watch their eyes light up like the Christmas tree with the fun of it all.

 

 

 

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art, beauty, hope, inspiration, philosophy, psychology, spirituality, writing

Love in the Time of Terrorism

It’s about staying light; about believing in hope, goodness, love, connection, and finally, finding humor.

What does it mean to stay light?

In the Mahabharata, Krishna advised Arjuna on the day of battle and after a terrible betrayal, to not let his heart get hard.  A soft heart does not mean we’ll get run over. (Krishna did win in battle that day.)  It means to keep believing in the good that you’re fighting for.  No matter how dire the outlook.

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Maintaining hope in the face of adversity,

means that you find what goodness there is in the situation; that you avoid the trap of going over and over the terrible things that happened, but rather that you mourn the tragic and look for the small and beautiful within the landscape of tragedy; the heroes and heroines, the saved lives, the things learned, the actions taken to recover and protect against the next bad thing that is inevitably on the horizon.

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There is so much goodness to be had in a time of tragedy.

Whether it’s war, or famine, or acts of nature, or terrorism.  ( the 21st Centuries kind of war) difficult situations tend to bring out the best in humanity; we rise to the occasion and deal with it, and in that, we find goodness all around us.

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Our connection to others becomes obvious in crises.

In our everyday lives most of us move robotically, passing others on the street and barely acknowledging them, being too busy to phone a friend or family member.  Contained within our self center, we’re disconnected from life swirling around us.

 

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Not so in crises.  By its very definition, crises means that the norm has been broken, and when it breaks, the bubble we’ve been walking around inside, breaks open and suddenly we see one another; reach out to help if help is needed, offer a hand, feel empathy, feel all kinds of emotions depending on the situation.

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Humor is the life saver; the heart saver, the hope, love and connection saver.

 

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Without humor we harden, and Krishna did warn against such a course.  It doesn’t mean we don’t feel sad, or mad, or frightened, but what it does mean is we can and must lighten the situation to maintain our humanity. With humor we can return to light, hope, goodness, love, and connection. Like the flip of a switch, what was intolerable, unconscionable, unacceptable, inhuman, etc., etc., etc., shifts from a dark perspective to one with, at least a little, light.

 

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