A journal of healing

Archive for the ‘Holidays’ Category

Merry Christmas, Blessed Yule

creche

I am wishing everyone a bright a cheerful holiday season. So far, this has been one of the bleakest I remember. And I am not speaking just about me. The weather has been horrible. Usually we slide into the heavy snows and treacherous roads in January and February. We have already had school snow days. But I think it is more a residual feeling people have after the election. People are just miserable.

I know I am not feeling the holiday spirit. By now, the house would be decorated and the tree would be jam packed with ornaments. This year, the tree is up but I have not put the ornaments on and I am not sure I am.

This pre-holiday week has offered dinners and parties for us to attend. The feeling is more that it is an imposition than something people are looking forward to. My dinner for my team and human resources got downsized to a luncheon during work this Monday. It changes the feeling completely as we will not be able to have a leisurely meal or for those who do, cocktails.  No one seems to care.

The other day, my office became a refuge for people to come and speak of their worries and troubles. One friend  came into my office and sat down with a heavy sigh. She is one of the most positive people I know. Even she said she felt like she was wearing a heavy shroud of worry and negativity. I explained to her that we all need to go to the dark side once in a while. It is part of the energy swing we all do. We talked for a while and I could feel her energy.  I realized that I too had been wearing the same coat and so have others.

Its all going to be ok. But I think we are going to be experiencing a period of darkness for a while. Without being political, I believe it is residual energy from the election. I think it is similar to the period just before World War II. I hope we do not have the same outcome of a war. I know this is not just in my little corner of the world.

I truly believe that the earth has a population of light workers who are here to get us through this. I also think we will come out of it a better world. For now, I wish everyone a blessed holiday, however you celebrate it. Take time to recharge and refill your oil so you can shine brightly again in the New Year.

 

Advertisements

On the horizon

moon-super-1

Thanksgiving has passed and now we are on to the “Holiday Season.” Ever since I was a kid I was bedazzled by the light displays. I think the spirit of Christmas is different from when I was growing up. There was religion still involved. I do not remember being bombarded with all the shopping stuff. Santa was important, but it still revolved around the celebration of Christ and traditional values. We learned about charity and giving in other ways than just presents.

The holidays now are  not about traditional values and the religious components. It makes me sad, even though I have severed my relationship with a formal church. I did that many years ago when I decided that the lies and propaganda that was being said at services was counter to my foundational principals of faith. There was too much political bias and discrimination being offered up as acceptable practice.

Let me be clear that I am not without faith. I have a strong spiritual belief which does not require me going to a church to practice.

No one can truly predict the future but from my view, I see Christmas becoming a completely different holiday and morphing to something that is not pleasant. I see it eventually disappearing. It will become so obnoxious that people will not celebrate it. The pressure to shop and get everything correct will become such a burden that it will be eliminated. I see it happening now where people do not want to bother because it is such a bother. My generation is getting too old to fuss and the next generations have not had the same exposure we did because parents are too tired and are working all the time. It’s now about the loot under the tree.

My youngest nephew sent me a text asking that I keep a look out for a specific gift for his daughter that she HAS to have. I was thrilled until I found it and saw the price tag. She is going to be seven. The toy is a stuffed fur ball that has a computer in it that makes it giggle and other things. It was $150.00. No way was I going to spend that much on one toy for a seven year old. I have seen pictures from their Christmas fall out of unwrapping gifts. That would be one of many toys for her. What was he thinking? What does this teach her? And in all honesty, they cannot afford spending money like that on toys that will be broken or not wanted in two months. But I know it all has to do with pressure and acceptance and nothing to do with Christmas.

Even my oldest brother does not want to exchange gifts anymore. There was a tradition that was attached which included spending the day and a luncheon together. But the last two years, the town they live in turns into a Dickens Christmas and is wall-to –wall people in every restaurant and store. They are in their 70’s and as my brother said, they do not need anything. It has always been a challenge to find something for them, but I spend the year doing it. It keeps them in my thoughts. I have not acquiesced to his desire to give up the practice yet, as I already had somethings purchased. I hope we will still get together but this has created some hard feelings.

What I see on the horizon about losing the tradition of Christmas is very sad but I am powerless to change it. Things will be different and a new set of traditions will be formed for the younger set. As my family gets older and we are separated by long distances, things will change. I can keep my traditions alive in my home and that’s about it. But as my strength and energy fails, I find even my normal over the top decorating of my house, my baking and candy making will not be over the top. But I know in my heart the spirit will be there.

 

Thanksgiving

writing spot 2014

It is Thanksgiving week. Many people travel at this time back to their family homes to gather to give thanks. I am sitting at my spot at the kitchen table thinking how wonderful and blessed I am and grateful. Many times I will sit here or in my chair and look around my home and think how lucky I am and how much I love this place. I did from the moment I moved in.

I saw the house in a whirlwind of viewings of places when I needed to move and get out of the house I was in. I was in the process of a crappy divorce and did not want to remain in that house. I had sold it and already successfully secure a mortgage loan. I actually do not remember much of the visit other than I liked it, it was in the village  where I wanted to live and it had a garden and a pool.

Heron Hill 2012  house after renovations and painting

The interior was very dark. They had covered all the windows with heavy drapes. It was early spring and the garden had not quite come to life but I saw potential. I bought it, had it inspected and moved in. Little did I know that the  inspection was a fraud and I discovered many things that needed to be redone, including a very leaky roof.

At that time, my one basset had seizures every so often. She would circle and her face wound cave and her tongue would hand out. She would be like that for hours and sometimes, she would whimper or cry. They were awful. I had her tested and they feel that she had been so abused that there was traumatic brain injury. My friend took her and Bishop for the day. They came over with them after the move was done. She walked into the house like she owned it. She pranced around the back yard. At night, she walked down to our bedroom, pulled the blanket on her bed over her as she always did and slept. She did not have another seizure until four years later, which was actually a stroke and she lost her life to it.

side after

There is an old style enclosed back porch with large screened windows that was my spot in the summer. I would sit out there for hours. In the winter, the downstairs room became the TV room and I filled it with overstuffed comfortable furniture. That was the only new thing I bought for years as I have too much furniture and need to get rid of some. There are many hand-me-downs and antiques and furniture I got in my first marriage. There is one room I call the museum which has a lot of crystal and fine things that were given to me by relatives. I wish I had a relative to pass it on, but sadly, there is no one who wants or even gets what they mean.

I have made improvement through the years. The interior has been redone with bright paint and papers. I had the bathroom and kitchen refurbished and the lower level area redone to include a man cave for my husband.  The exterior was painted the colors of the blue heron. We call the house now Heron Hill as there are over a dozen heron garden features all over. I had the old pool removed and the garden completely re-landscaped. I had the driveway widened and redone along with some new retaining walls.

The house was built in the same year I was born. We have aged and have creaks and groans but are still functioning. People comment on how comfortable the house is and often say it has a warm special feel to it. No one will ever say it is glamourous or worry about spilling something. It is a place to relax and recoup. I have one person who stays here to watch the dogs while we are away who absolutely loves the place and calls it her vacation spot.

Waiting for Santa Paws

I am sitting here this morning gazing at the snow falling. The house has an abundance of windows including a bank of almost  floor to ceiling ones in the front. They are old and drafty and I will soon cover them to keep the warmth in. But that’s ok because I have many plants inside and they have white lights in them to keep a festive feel even after I take down the Christmas stuff sometime in MARCH!!!! ( wish I was kidding)

Christmas 2014 1

On Thursday, my husband and his daughter will sit down to a meal which we all helped to prepare. I insist we say at least one thing we are grateful for. I practice every night thinking of things I am grateful for before I sleep. Even when the pain of my Psoriatic arthritis is pulsing through me, I find peace and solitude in my humble abode.

 

 

End of the Year in photos

neighbor view 2015

This year came to a screeching halt. We had a beautiful fall with crisp days and cool nights. The trees seemed to hold on to their splendor longer than normal. I did not have much free time this fall. Work was overwhelming and consuming. I did not even realize that I did have a chance to photograph the trees.

garden in Dec I hate having to close the garden. We pull all the statues and “stuff” into the shed and remove the big pots of plants. This year, one geranium kept going even after the frost. I pull it under the overhang on the back deck where we have set up our chairs. It continued to bloom even after the frost. It was protected and warmed from the dryer vent. It did not stop blooming until the temperature finally remained in the teens.

geran 1geran 2

We had an incredibly warm December. My dearest friend and I like to sit out and chat out in the garden at night. We solve the world problems out there. We actually were able to sit out  in mid December, wrapped in blankets and the stars.

It seems like Christmas comes upon us so fast and then it is over. I like the holidays very much and took a needed break from work. Again, not enough. But the down time was not really down as there was so much to do to get ready. We have a fake tree we have used for the last ten years. My husband wanted to get rid of it but I will not let him. Granted, it looks a little sad at first.

tree before  But with a little love and work it sparkles and is beautiful ever year. Humans are the same. Love ’em up a bit and watch them sparkle.

Christmas 2015

So here it is January of a new year. We had a lovely holiday. It was exhausting and I was not the only one who was worn out. But the memory of the fun and joy we had will be something to hold onto as we begin the season of snow and dark days.

tried pup  Browny with his toy collection.

 

 

Joy to the World

Our Village

It is that time of the year where people can make a choice about how they are going to handle the season. It does not matter what religious practice you have, we are all affected by the trappings and pressure of the holidays. But there is so much more to this time of year if you look.

The sky turns dark very early at this time of year. As much as I hate driving now in the dark, I love holiday lights and decorations. Our little village goes all out and puts lights in all the trees. It makes it like driving through a faery town. They decorate our Village Hall and the park across the street. The canal goes right through town and the lights bounce off the water adding to the sparkle. We got married at the hall on a short flight of steps with a huge window overlooking the town.

Christmas vacation house

Lots of people got out this year to decorate while it was sixty. It is still warm here and no snow, which is just fine. But because it has been so nice, lots of people put stuff up early, including me. I put my angel out and decorated the front of the house.

Waiting for Santa Paws

Our front window always has lights in the plants. I add my pink deer and my Christmas tree, which is also decorated in pink and white lights. You can see them from the street. I am still working on the tree as I have a lot of lights that need to be replaced.

There are always lights in the garden as well. This year we replaced all the multicolored lights in the one shrub so it is brilliant again. This shot is from last year when we had snow.    Backyard

But think that makes the holidays the most special are the children. I do not have my own children and this time of year makes me feel the most regret of that fact. It was not my choice at all, but the combination of a selfish ex-husband and nature. And why are children so important at this time of year? Because they remind us of magick and wonder. Look at a very young child looking at Christmas decorations.

When I was very little, one of my early memories is of the town where  we lived in on Long Island was holiday decorations. Back in the fifties, there was no “you can’t put up Christmas decorations because of religion.” Matter of fact, the Jewish population sometimes had the best displays. But in town, the Catholic Church was across the street from the Episcopal Church we attended. Both churches had fabulous light displays. The Catholics had these huge golden angels that were lit from the inside of them and they literally glowed with ethereal beauty. I was mesmerized by them. When I found my angel three years ago, I was transported back to those memories of wonder and great childhood joy. (My angel is tiny compared to the ones from my childhood.) But in both cases, they remind me of the true meaning of the holidays which is love and renewal of spirit.

A green Christmas

Every year for the past three, I get the privilege of being Mrs. Claus to the best Santa that ever donned a red suit. My co-worker makes the act of playing Santa part of his ministry. He grows out his own beard which is mostly white and when he puts on the suit and bells, you swear you are in the presence of St. Nicholas himself. And you are. Jim’s love for this role goes beyond just “playing Santa”. He loves, truly loves people and children. The suit is just an extension of him and allows him to do what he loves the most. In the past, I have worked the room, gotten children’s names and passed out cookies. This year because I cannot stand for two hours, I got to sit next to him and pass out our little goodie bags. We went into a husband and wife shtick, which everyone seemed to love. And because I have been doing this for a few years, the repeat kids are used to me. So I get hugs now too. Matter of fact, one little girl who was afraid of the Big man, was very comfortable with me holding her as she talked to him. What an honor.

mrs Claus 2

And yes there were some kids who were greedy. But our Santa does not focus on the toys. He asks the kids about school and their lives. And because he knows the parents who are co-workers, he has prior knowledge and that really amazes them. And yes, there were disbelievers in the older kids who came with their siblings. But you could see in their eyes, even at twelve and thirteen, a little doubt in their minds.

Enjoy the beauty of the season. Spend some time with children if you can. It will help you to remember what this is about. Turn off the news; matter of fact, turn off the TV. I do not find that watching Michelle Obama dancing makes me feel at all joyful. Light some candles and listen to some holiday music. Read to your kids. We drive around at night and look at lights or we watch our DVD collection of old holiday movies like White Christmas and The Christmas Story and my extensive Hallmark collection. And yes, I have a Christmas Manger on my mantle. And it is there because it reminds me of the good memories of my Mother who would do fantastic Christmas presentations on our mantles. I honor her every year this way. This collection has been in the family since 1941.

creche

This to me is what the season is about: family, children, tradition, and wonder. The magick of the season is in the hearts of us all if we take the time to look. Step back from the shopping and the stress of making everything perfect. Take the pressure off yourself, because that is not what it is about at all.

 

 

The Sunset years

sunset

Although the alternative is not what I want, getting older is a bitch. I don’t feel myself aging, but I know I am. I am not sure anyone feels it like they do with a growth spurt at 11. I see the physical changes reflecting in the mirror. However, I think back to my grandmothers when they were my age, and I certainly do not think I look as old as they did. I know I was looking at them with a child’s eyes, but even in photos they looked and dressed so much older. I love the fact that my age is now considered the new forty.

All this thinking is being brought about because of my poor mother-in-law. (MIL)  She is in a nursing home with a broken pelvis and severe dementia. My sister-in-law has finally had her admitted as a hospice patient. She is 91. She has not eaten now in almost 2 weeks but they are giving her a supplemental nutritional beverage. I am not sure if she is consuming that either. She lies in bed and mumbles most of the time. Some days she is a bit more coherent. Other days, like last Wednesday, are terrible. They found her on the floor and no one is confessing as to what happened. She is alone as her three children harbor ill feelings about her, especially her sons. She was not always a nice woman and I will let it go at that.  But still, it is a horrible ending of her life.

In my in-laws situation, they retired at 55. My FIL worked for the post office and they were very frugal. They traveled and lived in Florida until eight years ago when my MIL had breast cancer. They moved up here to be closer to the family, especially their daughter. My FIL was not sick for very long before he passed. My MIL’s dementia progressed rapidly in the last  years and she should have been placed in a memory care facility years ago. My FIL probably would have lived longer, if not happier.

Now, because she is private pay and has money, her options of care are extremely expensive and limited. Believe it or not, she would have better care if she was living with one of her children. But no one would do that. My brother-in-law did take my father -in-law in for his last healthy months this summer. She cannot go to certain hospice facilities because her needs are covered at the nursing home and because of her private money, she does not qualify for a comfort care facility.

My husband is partially retired. I work my ass of at my job and I am not ready to retire but I am also coming to the realization that time runs short. It is true that as you get older, time seems to speed up. We have spent our entire lives saving and creating nest eggs for our old age. WE have pensions and SSI and savings and annuities and stocks. Why? So that when we get old, it will be there for us. That is what THEY told us to do. And if we die tomorrow, all of that will be for naught. It will go to some folks but we will not have enjoyed the fruits of our labor. The thought of it going to pay for ridiculous nursing home costs so I can lay in bed and rot is incomprehensible.

This morning as I was thinking about creating this post I realized that I have been very depressed. The change in the season coupled with having a tough time with my Psoriatic Arthritis symptoms has exacerbated this condition. Seeing my poor MIL deteriorating helplessly and the splintering of my in-laws has not been conducive to making this a pleasant time.

But, the holiday season is upon us and I am the original “Christmas cheese”.  I am not as obnoxious as some, but I do love the season for it lights and decorations and the whole deal. The past years have been marred with forced in-law functions that ceased to be fun many years ago. When I first met my husband, his large Italian family would get together for these big fancy dinners and party. Once my MIL became so ill and nasty, we would all pile into their tiny apartment at the senior living facility. It was miserable. One year, my husband and I spent Christmas Eve with my MIL in the rehab center she was in after she fell for the first time. No one else came.

It is time for me to snap out of it. I want to enjoy this season for a change. This year, we do not have to attend any family functions. We are having a quiet Thanksgiving with just my hubby and my step-daughter. We seemed to have moved to a place on quite contentment now when we are together. We are talking about our holidays together this year with pleasant anticipation.

I am really thinking about my remaining years. It is actually a very stressful stage of life. When do you decide to stop working for retirement and old age? When do you live it? I know I do not want my retirement to be in a hospital in hospice. I think the answer will come but for now, I want to live in celebration of life. I want to hold on to some good times and create pleasant memories because those will be the things that will sustain me in my old age.

 

Holiday images 2014

I woke up this morning having a panic attack. This happens to me quite often. Someone once said to me to just stop doing it. Like I have a choice. I just wake up, feel like there is a mountain of doom sitting on my chest and feel this pervasive malaise. I think the trigger is from a movie we watched last night where the main female character is a famous artist who goes to teach at a very high end private school. Her issue is she has rheumatoid arthritis, is on crutches and in pain. They did a nice job portraying what it feels like to have a flare. But she has this line where the hero is about to kiss her and she says she is going for it because she never knows what life is going to take from her next. It hit home.

So instead of fueling it, I decided to post pictures from the past week. We drove around one night. This is our Main street and some homes in the neighborhood.

Our Village     Christmas vacation house

Holiday Flamingos   Nothing says Christmas like flamingos.

This is my house and my little doggies in the windows.A green Christmas

Waiting for Santa Paws         Christmas 2014 1

I like pink.   This is the family crèche.       creche

But now that the celebrations are over, I am looking forward to getting on to Spring. So are my animals. Spring is somewhere in there         Magoo in the sun

And these fellows were warm in their outfits.  Winter walkies

And the final word on winter comes from my boy. yellow snow