Christmas is Every Day

How are you handling the holidays?

I myself am not yet “into” them. I feel like Ebeneezer Scrouge bah-humbuging everything. Not that I don’t make the birth of Christ a big deal — it’s just that his birthday has become so commercialized. You wind up feeling like a loser if you don’t buy kids the hottest and most expensive things TV can offer. Ok, I’m really not that bad — but I do think the pressure to perform over the holidays is too much.

You see, I would give my grandson that Nerf gun next week. I’d give my cousin that movie tomorrow. I don’t need a reason or time frame to give gifts.

I guess that’s built up on my ramjam belief that Christmas is every day to me. I see my youngest grandson smile up at me and feel that is a gift. I watch my deskmate conquer a tough project and that’s tinsel on my tree. I go to the doctor and get a good checkup and that is every gift anyone could put under my tree.

I don’t like that there is a special day set aside for eating together as a family or singing songs together or wrapping and opening presents. Christmas is a celebration of new life. Of new hope. It’s about a baby and a mother who had a hard time finding a place to stay and an ethereal figure who made her with child.

The problem with celebrating this or that religious holiday is that none of them match. Was He Jewish? Muslim? Anglo-Saxon?

Celebrate Christmas every day. Thank God, the Goddess, Allah, anyone you want that you have been given another day to make someone smile.  Give the gift of yourself. Help those who need your help. If you have the means, buy gifts for your loved ones on December 25 and August 14 and February 2 and July 23.  Don’t save your love and family dinners and presents for one day a year.

Because that “day” is every day.

#AppreciateYourCreativeFriendsWeek! Finale

I wish I could keep this celebration going on forever! I follow a lot of fun, interesting bloggers, each deserving a direct link for you to dance along.

There are thousands and thousands of bloggers out there. You may follow three or three hundred. The purpose of this made-up week is to encourage you to interact with those who write/paint/travel/share with you. If you like what you read, click that little LIKE button. REALLY like what you read? Drop a comment! We/you/they love to hear back from you!

I love reading your blogs Leah, Ann, Ray, Jackie, Jan, Crissouli, Blue Settia, Walt, d Marie, Suzanne, Patrcia, Mary J, Nick, Marion, Patty, Dawn, Annette, Denise, Jeremiah, CJ, Joel, Jan R, Marie, Norm, Alan, Waterdove, Glorialana, Tess, Gwen, Craig, Pirate Patty, Doug, Craig, Austin, Peter, Anne, and all those names I’ve left out. You all rock! Keep it going! I look forward to following more bloggers, and you should too.

BE a part of the creative world. Appreciate your creative friends this week — and every week!

Happy Holidays…Merry Christmas…Blessed Be

 Christmas  is  Magic

f9f8241a61d9ba6e4a56a8a51942e4a5

Christmas is what you make it

It is delight, it is memories, it is sadness

It is shooting stars and deep sea glow worms

It is sacred, it is jovial, it is silly

Say Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays to a stranger

Kiss your sweetheart and hug your kids

Call your sister or visit a friend

Christmas is what you make it

Today and Every Day

th

See you Sunday with another amazing artist Sunday at  the Sunday Evening Art Gallery

Sunday Morning Art Gallery — Mother

For my Sunday  Evening Morning Art Gallery today, I’m going to do something  a little different. I am going to honor the most  famous — and probably underrated — mother in the world.

mary-baby-jesus



Mary, the mother of Jesus, is the best known female character in the Bible, yet very little is known about her. I mean, she doesn’t even have a last name!

mary india

Imagine her life. She was a peasant woman, simple, honest. She becomes engaged to a carpenter named Joseph. And while she’s planning her wedding — BAM! An angel appears and tells her she is going to keep her virginity yet be the mother of the son of God.

ballenger-black-madonna-and-child
She is a religious person, so she believes the angel. I can just imagine what her betrothed thought. It takes a lot of commitment to explain the unexplainable. There are varying theories as to if the two were or were not married when she delivered her son. Either way, there was a lot of shame and explaining to do before they reached Bethlehem.

Chinese Jesus

Yet this wonderful woman perseveres. Her and Joseph’s marriage date is lost in the dust of the past. But she delivers little baby Jesus in a barn somewhere, in a stable or a cave or a quiet building in the dark. And so Mary takes her first step into motherhood.

00964dfa5a24007519ccae0d8c3c5550

Raising the Messiah couldn’t have been a cake walk. I’m sure he had his terrible twos/threes/fours too. She was poor, Joseph was poor. I imagine Mary made the best of things, though,  and loved her little boy with her whole heart. She changed his diapers, played stones-in-the-bucket and washed his cuts. She fed him and hugged him and sang him lullabies. And as baby Jesus grew, so did his mother’s fears.

icon_mother

To have been given the blessing of having a child, and also knowing that he would be crucified for the sins of the world, must have been a burden almost too much to bear. Jesus knew of his calling from an early age; I imagine that brought about a bit of arrogance (in a holy sort of way) too, so his teenage years were probably a little testy between mom and son.

15th-of-august-indian-madonna

Eventually Jesus left the nest and went out to the world, leaving his mother behind. Some say she had other children. But she was, after all, the mother of the son of God, and sensed the tragedy yet to come. It’s not known when Mary realized her oldest was destined for a horrible death. Nonetheless, I can’t imagine living through those last few months of her son’s life. No mother can.

Mary

It is assumed Joseph died before their son started his fateful journey, so she was alone when her baby, her child, died on the cross. Like other women, she worked through her pain and loss and used her strength and faith to spread the message Jesus left behind. It is not clear when she died, and many religions profess she ascended into heaven full and whole.

madonna-of-the-rosary(1)

So on this day when we celebrate Mothers everywhere, let’s celebrate the Mother of them all. Mary. And let her normal, unusual, spiritual, female spirit guide us all. Let’s celebrate mothers who suffer and mothers who laugh. Mothers who cry and mothers who love. And mothers who love their children with every beat of their heart.

holy-theotokos-icon

Happy Mother’s Day to Moms Everywhere.

Have A Holly Jolly Whatever!

charlie fly trapThe Holidays are finally upon us!

I think I will take a cue from some of my fellow bloggers and take some time off. Time for myself, time for my family. I’m more of a guest this Christmas than a Hostess, which is just fine with me. I want a few days to spoil my kids, my grandkid, my family and my friends. And in my generosity I will be spoiling myself.

So one thought, one piece of advice this Holiday Season. Christmas is only another day. A number on the calendar. A bulls-eye on  the dartboard. It is what’s in your heart that makes it special. It is the (arbitrary) birth date of Our Lord. It’s the imagination of Santa Claus. It’s the Elf on the Shelf and Hanukkah.

But it’s just another day. Don’t let the sadness of not being “with” someone or “celebrating” the right way get in the way of living your life. Celebrate Christmas every day. Find the light of God, the Goddess, Buddha, in your heart. Not someplace “out there.” Be thankful every day. Let the magic of the season stick with you long after the tree is down and the garland is packed away.

Your life will be fuller because of it. And we all love to be full, don’t we?

 

Thanks is a Clean Word

ThanksI am writing my Thanksgiving Day Thanks Post a bit early this year. Between family gatherings and Black Friday shopping and all-weekend football games, I never know when a moment of mental clarity will hit, nor when I might be able to share said clarity with you. I have a lot to be thankful for this year. You do, too. I don’t need to state the obvious — my past blogs reveal the miracles of survival I’ve been privy to the last year (couple of years, really). And I’m thankful for the usual — health, family, sanity (although there are those who wonder about that last one). But there is one thing in particular that I’m extra thankful for. Especially this time around.

I’m thankful that with company coming Thanksgiving Day, I have to power clean my house.

Now, before you chuckle and say people come for the food and friendship and not the eye candy, you are right. But I’ve always said you need to throw one big party a year so that you can really clean house. How many of you pull out the sofa and pick up dust bunnies and lost pencils and ancient Cherrios? How many  of you move the super-fragile things you have precariously perched on shelves and speakers to dust?  When was the last time you vacuumed the crumbs out of your sliverware drawer? Or organized your mail pile?

This is not Hoarders over here. I do have an over-accumulation of furniture and boxes downstairs, some remnants of departed family members, others in a holding pattern until my son sells his house. We won’t talk about the Mud Room: that is my husband’s jungle, and I get lost just looking in there. Somewhere down there is a nice, cozy TV area, kinda a sports-theme corner with a small TV, sofas, chairs — you know. But I wouldn’t know what it’s like sitting down there because it’s temporarily storing a gym’s worth of exercise machines just waiting for bodies to arrive.

My plans for this pre-Thanksgiving weekend are not so ambitious as to break up the chi that has so carefully been arranged down there. The bedrooms are fresh and clean, and a path will be made in case family members are too full and sleepy to make their way home Thanksgiving night.  No, my thanks on this pre-T day are a lot more humble.

I am going to give thanks by cleaning out my Tupperware cabinet. I then hope to move along to my bedroom closet. Not too much at one time — progress is often made one step (or cabinet) at a time. But my heartfelt thanks for getting one more thing off of my to-do list will be with me long after the turkey is turned into soup.

Remember — giving thanks on Thanksgiving — on ANY day — is not only about thanking the powers-that-be for your family or your health or your connection with Spirit. The powers-that-be hear your thanks for that every day. And the Universe thanks you in return.

What they don’t hear is your thanks for finding the shoe you’ve been looking for for two months. Or the flash drive that fell down into the sofa a long time ago.

Thank you.

And A Good Time Was Had By All

107-A Good Time Was Had By AllThis past Saturday was our “End of the Summer” Barbeque and Madness Day. This year we scheduled it on the last day of Summer, although with the clouds overhead and crispy wind from the west it was closer to a Chill Fest. It’s a great time, as cousins, brothers, kids, kid’s friends, neighbors, parents of kid’s friends, and others gather for an afternoon of too much food, too much beer, and too many rides on the go-cart.

My family and friends have a thing about getting together. We have Polish sausage making parties, birthday parties, game nights, pool parties, camping weekends, and all other sorts of “occasions” that bring us together.  Sometimes we have real reasons to get together; the kids birthdays, Thanksgiving dinner, weddings. Other times it’s important occasions like “we’re opening the pool” party or “we’re canning pickles” party. Sometimes we dress up (Halloween); other times we puff out in ski jackets and ski boots. One group of us try to have “Adults Only” dinners where no kids are invited so that we can talk about them, sex, and the good-old-days. Other times it’s a double-generation free-for-all as adults and their grown kids and their kids kids get together to play games and feast on potluck goodies.  Sometimes we go camping with our kid’s spouses parents (in-laws-once-removed?), and sometimes we have a “build a deck” party or “pour a new patio” party. Work and play and food and drink seem to swirl into a waterfall of laughs, tears, and sweat.

Throughout the years I have come to embrace getting together with those we love. Most times it doesn’t cost a dime (except for gas money), and the commradere is a reward that cannot be found on Facebook. We celebrated my father-in-law’s passing with the same people who pile into the Polish Sausage Making Party, and those who bring homemade salsa to barbeques are the same ones who were there for me after my cancer surgery.  We reach out to others, and they return in kind tenfold.

I’ve always loved my friends and family, but as I get older I not only love them, but cherish them as well. Perhaps that’s because I know the road in front of me is shorter than the one behind me. Maybe its because I realize that what you get out of life is equal to what you put into it. I don’t wait for others to invite me, call me, text me. I invite, I encourage others to invite. I expand our circle all the time, and find others are doing the same. What’s a couple of more people sitting around the fire? What’s one more person grinding pork or skiing down the slopes?

But maybe it’s because I know that life is too short to waste time on people who don’t really care — about others, about themselves. The world is full of mean people, selfish people. There are people around you that put you down, judge you for your size or marital status, people who have no patience for anyone but themselves.  Perhaps they have life-issues; perhaps they have self-issues. But they are part of the human race too, and no man is an island. We all have our problems. We all deal with death and diabetes and unemployment. That is no reason to be mean to everyone else.

My family and friends come from all walks of life. Some of us live three hours from each other. Some of us work two jobs or have a job and go to school. Some deal with arthritis, failing kidneys, and bankrupcy. Some lost a parent when they were young; some have children from previous relationships. But when we get together none of that matters. We share stories, compare aches and pains, reminisce about those who have gone before us, those who are yet to come, and talk about kids and dogs and recipes.

Don’t let life pass you by without sharing it with those who matter. Have a game night. A barbeque. A potluck. Invite friends over to watch a football game. Have birthday parties with no presents. Make an effort to get up and get out. Memories don’t cost a thing. Neither does true friendship.

On the other hand, the price you pay for being alone is more than anyone can afford.