Christmas is Temporary

From 2014:

Christmas is fleeting. All year long, we wait in anticipation of the holidays and then we complain the whole time. It’s too crowded, cold, busy, expensive, gluttonous, hurried. I didn’t get what I wanted. I gave everyone a present and now I’m broke and alone.

The spirit. The spirit of the holidays. The joy of Christmas. What is it? Is it lights? Is it cocoa? Is it candy, presents, cookies? Is it the promise and hope of magic? But it never comes. We wait all year and it never comes. And then the lights fade and the tinsel is taken down.

Christmas is temporary.

But it’s not. What is it we are waiting for? What is it that we miss every year and chase after time and again? It’s Christ. That’s what we are really looking for and we’re looking in the wrong places. Is it in this tin of cookies? Is it in this neatly-wrapped box? Is it at the bottom of my second cup of cocoa? Is it at my 2nd, 3rd, 7th Christmas karaoke party?

An entire season is dedicated to what started out as a celebration of giving and hope. Hundreds of years have come and gone, each renewing the tradition of Christmas. But each year some family grows further apart. Each year some person grows more jaded, cynical, greedy and Scrooge-like. Each year our eyes grow more narrow and short-sighted. Each year we try to chase our pleasure, fulfillment and that indescribable magic that only caught us as children because we were bright-eyed and open.

Years ago, at the Blue Ridge Mall, they had a display. I don’t remember now if it was all the time or just at Christmas, but I remember it at Christmas. We were in line for Santa and the line snaked by a huge oil fall. It’s a waterfall except they used oil on strings. It’s like a waterfall in slow motion. It was magical, beautiful and a wondrous summation of the holiday experience for me. I lost myself in the endless strings dripping with glowing, hypnotic oil. I felt warm, silly and excited. I drank in the luxury of it all as I waited for Santa. I don’t remember Santa exactly, but I remember the strings. I wanted to reach out and grab them. But instead I swallowed my fingers and excitement over and over again at simply being near them. At that point, it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I remember Mom and Dad close by. I remember my siblings there too. I remember the sounds of cheerful shoppers as they shuffled by and their muffled packages swaying back and forth in their clasped hands. I remember the soft mall lighting and the quiet aromas of furniture, leather shoes, popcorn, clothing, carpet and mall food. I remember feeling safe, happy, joyful. The mood was love. And everyone felt it.

Now, I’ve begun a tradition with my family. We try to see Longview Lake Lights. We’ve been coming off and on for a few years now. And the best part. They have a field full of trees made from lights. Those are my favorite. They remind me of the oil fall. Delicate pearls of light suspended in the darkness, soft purple and blue, hanging on invisible strings melting into the night. For the last couple of years, it’s the most peaceful and the most child-like capture of innocence and wonder I’ve known. I’m five again. I’m eight again. I’m me before all the bad. I’m in Christmas up to my neck and in love with the world.

I wish I could take that with me. I wish I could visit the lights every night. But I can’t. The lights are even closer now that we live here, but even so, I can’t see them every night. But I can look for Christ. I can look for him every day and celebrate his birth. I don’t have to wait for “the day”. And I can try to capture his joy, his love, his intention, his gift every single moment, all year long. I can look for it as I drive, shop, eat and talk. I don’t have to wait all year and miss it. I can look and find it. I just have to be bright-eyed and open. His love is hanging right in front of our faces on an invisible string of light, dripping down and mesmerizing us with the delicate, graceful fall and we just have to reach out and grab it.

Merry Xmas! Happy Holidays! May you find many joys and love.

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Find the Fun

The week of Christmas.

Every year, on the Sunday before Christmas, we gather at my grandmother’s house and celebrate. Celebrate=eating and lazing about.

The house is cold and has funny smells. It’s an old, large house so the smells could be many things: the renters upstairs—smoking cigarettes and cooking on hot plates; the occupants downstairs—natural gas, human gas, perfume, stale cookies in the cookie jar, turkey, deviled eggs, homemade stuffing, unbathed elderly people, dirty children, unwashed crocheted afghans, well-worn rugs, mothballs, fake logs, fake trees, fake food. Even fake has a smell. “Guess the Smell” could have been a fun, family tradition. But it seems that fun was not the focus of these feasts. Kids, though, steal fun whenever they can.

My sister, my nephew (only a few months younger than me) and I ran from room to room, trying to find the fun. If any was to be had. Sometimes, our same-age cousins were there to horse around and magnify any fun-having. We normally played outside, played games, told jokes, made jokes or snooped around the tree room, looking for the presents with our names. I think it’s socks again. Tube socks.

I am sitting across from Cousin Julie. I was asked to sit. Otherwise, I would be swiping food or fun. I don’t know what to say. People think I’m shy, but I just really don’t know what to say. I feel uncomfortable to look at Julie. Not because she is repulsive to me, but because I am scared that I will stare and ask questions.

Julie has spina bifida. That means her spine is open. She was born that way. She has a wheelchair, which is cool. I would like to ride around in it. That seems like it would be fun, but you can’t do that when someone needs it. I want to ask, but I’m not supposed to ask those questions.

“How are you doing?” Julie asks. Julie is beautiful. No one else thinks so, but I do. She has soft, light brown hair, large eyes, large red lips and a sweet, smiling face. I’m not sure if Julie combs her own hair. I don’t know if she is capable of combing her own hair. Her shoulder-length bob is curled and shiny, but looks slightly bygone. Her mother must comb it.

She is so kind. She has on a cozy holiday sweater and plain, stiff skirt. She is slightly overweight, but so am I. She’s so different from my own family. My sister would never ask how I was. But in my mind, I can’t accept Julie. She’s different.

My family does not engage weakness, illness or difference. Julie was rolled into the family room and locked into place. The people who happened by are the only contact she has. There are older people sitting with her, talking to her, but she is not capable of finding the fun. The moments she steals are connection and kindness.
Why is Julie so happy? I am sad for her. Sad that she can’t run, play, hide, snoop. Sad that she only has old people talking at her. I am sad for Julie because I see that people treat her with sympathy. They approach her wheelchair as a casket. I do too because that is what I see. That is what I learn.

I want to play with her. These are my goals. But she doesn’t play. She can’t play. I want to know Julie, but I can’t ask any questions. But Julie is happy. I see it in her smile. She makes me feel cute. I silently squirm, answering questions when asked, until I am released to find the fun again. I want to understand how to discover Julie, but the desire fades as soon as I am freed.

I never know Julie. I never seek her out. She is gone before I graduate high school and her memories and ideas are lost. We lose her to ovarian cancer and her experiences are not shared with me. I love Julie. I am thankful for her tenderness and brief kindness. I understand now why Julie is happy. She is happy to be alive. She was taught to be nice.

This is my happy face (Bitch)!

If this were a shirt for me, I would add “Bitch” to the end! lol

I was walking introspectively the other day, into the hospital where I deliver labs, and one of the doctors (lady in a lab coat) told me, “That’s not your happy face, is it?”

Look, I have piercing gray eyes and am often lost in thought about the universe and God. Leave me alone! lol I’m a writer.

I wanted to punch her.

I’m happy. I’m downright Zen, Bitch! But then that’s not a very Zen-like response, is it?

So, I instantly forgave her stupidity and assumed she was completely insane or insecure. Doctor or no. Then I pitied her. Had empathy and compassion for the idle-chat crazy. And then, I smiled.

See? Total Zen! LOL

Even if she wanted to cheer me unnecessarily, that was a rude thing to say. What if I am happy and you’re saying I look ugly? Sour?

You’ve just hurt me, Stupid. The opposite of your goal. I’m so sorry you have a degree to wear a lab coat and still can’t function in polite society. Get a grip, Doc.

I can write funny, but often have BRF. It’s in my genes. (My mom has to deal with crazies, too.) Deal with it! 😀

I don’t think people have to go around with a Buddha-like smile all the time to reassure those who are insecure or nervous. But I often smile at strangers. It’s just not my priority to make you feel secure. Sorry. I am very friendly to my co-workers and route clients. I don’t make mean faces at people. I don’t go out of my way to scowl. I just have an internal dialogue that often involves God. Isn’t that better than waving around my negativity??

Thanks for understanding.

S’morgies

We pimped our triple chocolate brownies last night with chocolate chips and melted marshmallows on top. Crazy good!

smorgies 2.jpg
An orgy of chocolate and mallow.

I had a small portion and it did not go down well. These are the first brownies I’ve had since surgery. But it tasted so awesome. No more for me, but my family loved it. 😀

My husband suggested graham cracker crumbles or a Teddy Graham on top. Good idea! Then they would truly be S’more-like.

manna

i prayed that God put in my mind those things that he wants me to write about and every morning, like manna, the words are waiting to find me or be found.

it is my job to gather. sometimes, i don’t have enough hours in the day or a basket big enough for his providence. my hands, fingers, pens, keys, screens, pages runneth over.

thoughts float down like sweet sticky buns from heaven. proficiency and abundance are divine.

12 Days of Driving

I drive for a living. I love my job. It’s so easy and the pay is great. The hours are amazing. Plus, I have the best boss. THE best boss I’ve ever had. Such a nice guy. So easy-going.

I pick up labs (body fluids, of course contained) and take them to the main downtown hospital super lab. Easy-peasy, liquid squeezy.

The other day, I arrived at one of the clinics. The staff have a strange penchant for feeding stray cats (and by accident, raccoons and vultures) in the back-of-the-strip-mall parking lot just behind their clinic. It’s sort of like Grey Gardens without the elaborate outfits and dilapidated old house. This is where I park before I enter their facility.

There’s usually at least one cat in the lot. Waiting around for scraps. But the other day it was like Black Friday at Wal-mart or a new version of The Twelve Days of Christmas:
3 trash pandas
2 mangy vultures
AAAAAND 1 gray and white alley caaaaaat!

I’d never seen so many scavengers in one place, even at Dr. Doolittle’s. They all sat waiting just outside a vast clump of bushes. Wonder what was in those bushes? I really don’t wanna find out.

Food? Dead animal? Dead body?? EEEK! I just grabbed my labs and split!

Happy Holidays! Try singing The Twelve Days of Trash Panda. 🙂 LOL

The Shining

You may not know, I love Stanley Kubrick films. 2001: A Space Odyssey. A Clockwork Orange. Dr. Strangelove. Full Metal Jacket. I’m even planning to devote an afternoon to Barry Lyndon. I have it on DVD, haven’t seen the whole thing yet.

One of my favorites is The Shining. I also watched the documentary Room 237 on Netflix. It is detailed fan theories of the meaning behind this complex film.

I’ve seen The Shining several times and I never get tired of it. During the quiet parts, my family and I (yes, even my 14 yo watches it, ’cause she’s cool) crack jokes at the absurd moments of acting. Such as, Jack is asleep at the writing table and starts to have a graphic, violent dream and is moaning in his sleep. After seeing the movie several times, you can’t help but find this funny upon the third viewing.

It’s supposed to be disturbing. And it is. The first few times. But if your husband makes these same noises in his sleep IRL? It’s funny.

Plus, seeing the doc about The Shining gives you awesome little Easter eggs to hunt for.

Anyone a Kubrick fan?

I wasn’t when I was in my teens, but after seeing 2001 as an adult, I really started to dig SK and was often moved by his themes. I feel The Shining was perhaps his most complex and symbolic film. The Native American aspect of the movie was deeply provoking for me. What do you think, SK fans? What’s your favorite of his?

happy halloween, my freaks.

Horseman rides
Without a head
Pumpkin placed
In facial stead

Seeds for brains
Candle for eyes
On this dark night
His ghost will rise

Sword in hand
Out for blood
The streets will run
With crimson flood

Don’t be caught
In the lane tonight
Or you might suffer
More than a fright

Keep your head
And wits about
Stay inside
While the Horseman’s out

halloween

 

Do something stupid. Again.

I just wrote an article about doing something stupid a few weeks ago. And I’m about to do another stupid thing.

Deep breath.

I have scheduled an open mic night at the local comedy club down here. No backing out. Nov. 15th.

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! What have I done? I can’t not do it now. I’m weak in the knees just thinking about it. Freaking out a little.

I will try and tape it.

I’m sweating. Hard to breathe.

What am I doing??? I’m going to drive myself crazy for the next month. I was just practicing what I would say in the car on the way home.

After thinking about my bucket list (from my article this morning), I said to my husband, “I want to do an open mic night.” He found the website, dialed the number, handed me the phone. What???

OHHH! I can’t believe he did that. But thank you, Guy. I just didn’t expect you to be so spontaneous. I like it. But now I’m scared pantless.

He’s been helping me craft material this morning. EEEEK!

Wish me luck!