Gratitude * Sunday
Sunday’s heartfelt tradition.
A time to slow down, to reflect, to be grateful.
A list of gratitudes, our gratefulness feeds one another.
Quoted from Taryn Wilson
Joining the Gratitude Sunday Tradition at Wooly Moss Roots.
Cold sucks the moisture
out of my skin leaving cracks
and crevassed knuckles.
I admit it. I have a serious case of the humbugs. Granted, I’ve never been the most Christmassy person but some years it goes pretty good and the funk does not descend upon me so extremely. This year however I have perfectly valid excuses and I’m going to use them even while trying to keep my spirits up.
Most of the humbug is foisted upon us.
** Definition alert: HUMBUG: fraud or deception. See a more complete definition courtesy of Wikipedia here **
Christmas is made too much of. It is no longer about the humble birth of a man who was the beginning of dozens of systems of belief (religions). It hardly even seems to be about celebrating the annual death and rebirth of the earth that supports us.
Now it is the time of year where lip service is given to helping others while you ram your shopping cart into the back of my legs or let your child scream while you’re looking through that pile of pants for the perfect pair instead of attending to your dear baby’s needs. Now is the time of year when people park their shopping carts in the middle of the aisle so you can’t pass by, because they are the only people shopping. Now is the time of year when nobody graciously lets you change lanes even though you just let three cars in ahead of you. Now is the time of year when a store advertises a special and when you get there to buy it you find the buyer for that particular store did not get any in, but you can drive to the next store 20 miles away because they have it. Now is the time of year to not have an idea in mind for a gift because you are certainly not going to find what you want. You have to buy what’s out there.
AND THEN. Media. And the all pervasive Christmas music. Would you please just gag me? I cannot watch TV commercials or TV specials this time of year. It’s all about want, want, want, and buy, buy, buy, and best of all, buy what you don’t even want. What you see on TV makes you think you are not good enough if you don’t own all that stuff. Then you have to go to stores to get all that stuff. The quality of life the people in the TV specials live have no meaning in my life. Am I meant to aspire to that or be jealous because I don’t live like that? I can’t do either I’m afraid. And all of that, every bit of it, feels like humbuggery.
I’ve read most of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series this fall and enjoyed it immensely. I think this entire series should be required reading for elementary students beginning in first grade, and the first thing they read together as a class at the first of the year. For perspective. Times have changed since the 1880s she wrote about , but the joy in the spirit of her family is what I love about this series. The Ingalls’s had so little in the way of material goods and worked so hard to scrape out an existence and in some cases just to survive. They had physical skills and knowledge (what used to be known as “common sense”) lost to most of us now, like how to husband and butcher animals you’ve raised for meat, and how to read the seasons and the earth for planting and harvest. They encouraged each other’s intelligence; eighth graders back then knew more than the average college grad now. And they had love for each other, and each other to depend on. And when Christmas came around, the little hand-made gifts they gave each other thrilled them and it meant so much because you were thinking about that person while you were making the gift for them. They never had a Christmas tree in their house, and candy was a once a year treat.
How often have you spent hundreds of dollars on your kid/s for Christmas, a beautifully decorated tree, a lovely meal or two, vast piles of gifts and stockings crammed with goodies, only to have them say they are bored by 4 o’clock that same day? Stuff doesn’t mean anything anymore, I don’t care how exciting the technology or how sweet the candy is, and so much of it is just so much garbage. Sit down and read the Christmas scenes from any of the Little House books with your family, maybe a different scene each year, then give them a pencil, or a nickel, or a book of poems, and a piece of candy. Don’t forget an orange to share.
I have a book my mom gave me for Christmas a few years back with a hand written note in it from her about the book being one of the few gifts she received at Christmas when she was a child. Each child of her six siblings usually got a piece of candy and an orange for Christmas Day but other than that it was business as usual running the farm, tending the animals, preparing meals for the family of eight from food they’d grown and preserved, keeping the house warm with wood heat. The note says the gift came from a family friend and how precious it was to her.
I remember being so happy when I received the book and note, it made my whole holiday. I am even more happy to have it now she is gone, to be able to hold it and see her handwriting, and know the story of it and how much it meant to her in her own hand.
I’m not a great shopper; I don’t like it, it’s not my element, and I don’t have lots of disposable income. So when the pressure of the holidays roll around I get cranky. I don’t want to shop, I don’t want to spend my money, I don’t want to be out there with all the crazy-I’m-the-only-person-in-the-world-who-is-shopping-right-now people, because there are way too many of them. I get tired of being courteous when nobody else is. I’m not sure I can even talk myself into a tree this year; it’s so much work (and I’m the only one who does it and cleans it up after) for a couple weeks enjoyment and the son will only be here for a couple hours to see what wealth he can accumulate while visiting. I think it is harder when Thanksgiving falls so late in November. I’m thinking about getting out the little artificial tree I have. Am I showing my age here? Maybe I need lots of prep time, like I can’t remember it comes around every year or it comes around too fast. Maybe we should have Christmas only every five or ten years, that would make it more special and kick all the marketing out of business.
Commercialism is a humbug. Media is a humbug. The pressure of the “perfect” holiday is a humbug. Overgifting and overspending is a humbug. We don’t have to support the money machine. We can find ways to make hand-made gifts or make fewer gifts more special.
I shall avoid TV and the stores. I shall save what little money I have. I shall bravely re-gift where no one has re-gifted before. For years I have had the infamy in my family of being the auntie who gives books. When I ask them what they want, what do they say? Books! So be it. I do try to match the book to the person and it is always fun when I have a hit. I am at the point in my life where I have so many books and so much stuff I should be able to find a gift right here in my own home. If you know me, you shall be grateful because I don’t like letting go of stuff, but I’m not a humbug.
Color Watch – blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – the Pacific Northwest is experiencing a good deep freeze; yes, it’s hard, but three days will be enough to kill the fleas I think. In the meantime I am amazed at the sedums that survive and lovely soft green little mosses growing on rocks in the ice.
Currently Reading – The Good Death: The New American Search to Reshape the End of Life (sociology) by Marilyn Webb; The American Way of Poverty: How the Other Half Still Lives (sociology and politics) by Sasha Abramsky; These Happy Golden Years (“fictionalized” autobiography) by Laura Ingalls Wilder (I never read this series as a kid and I want to finish it); Killing Jesus (history) by Bill O’Reilly; The Abominable (a novel) by Dan Simmons. Yes, concurrently.
Winter Classic Reading rules:
1. You must never have read the book before.
2. The book must be recognized as a classic, and can be contemporary.
* Extra points if you’ve never read the author before, if the author is female, or if the title or author have won a Pulitzer or Nobel Prize.
Winter Classic Reading choices as of today:
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte; I’ve never read this author.
The Stranger by Albert Camus; I’ve never read this author.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne; I’ve read House of the Seven Gables.
So Big by Edna Ferber; I’ve never read this author.
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray; I’ve never read this author.
Something by Anthony Trollope, suggested by the co-worker; neither of us have read this author.
I read a Winter Classic between the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox. The point of reading a Winter Classic during those dark cold days of winter before spring breaks the spell is to choose something you might not ever otherwise choose; something to slow you down because the language use or the setting is unfamiliar, the plot or non-plot is unusual, or to read yourself into a different time, world, and culture. We’ll decide by the winter solstice. Or maybe I’ll decide, I haven’t decided yet if I want to be the decider since it’s my tradition or if I want to share. And if I decide on a title and you want to join in with your own choice, have fun with that, too. I’d like to hear what you are reading.
This week I have been grateful for:
- A solid roof, walls, a real floor, heavy curtains, and lamps.
- Heaters. Electricity.
- Getting through the frozen pipe scare with no damage.
- Coconut oil and Vaseline for my skin.
- What amazing adults my nieces and nephews have become.
- How creative and supportive my small community is. First Saturday night every December we have a Holiday Light Parade down Main Street, in the dark, and all the floats and entries have to be lighted. It’s so hokey it’s cool and all over in a spit and a whistle, but half the town is in the parade and the other half is watching it. That’s what towns should be about.
- The truck starting in this cold weather.
- The hubster cleaning the heater in the “big” room.
- Finally finding a replacement kitchen sink faucet, broken by the son on his last visit, that is enough like the one I have now.
- The lovely strange wavy gray light of late autumn.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.