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.
Powerful wind rips
branches from trunks of solid
trees; nature’s frisbees.
Christmas is special but, as you’ve read in the past, not my favorite holiday. I love the lights, all the brightly colored wrapping paper, and shiny ribbons. I love giving the silly little gifts I give. I love seeing my family. I love the different foods that are available. I love the sweet thoughts of people who go to the effort to give me a gift, no matter what the gift is.
Christmas is also a sad time for me. Sad that my family is not closer in proximity and relationship, work obligations keeping us apart even over the holiday. Sad about expectations or hopes or dreams or desires or wishes that often end in disappointment or dissatisfaction. Sad about how Christmas has changed for my family after the death of my mother in 2013. Sad about best laid plans and meals that fail. Sad that I dislike shopping so immensely. Sad about the capitalist consumer-focused commercial marketing ploy that seems to be the reason for the season these days.
I become invisible at Christmas. People run their shopping carts into me, children walk on my feet or barrel run their little bodies into my shins because their parents are paying zero attention to them, cars nearly hit me in parking lots, people walk in front of my car, and this is with me paying 100% attention because I am out in public and these events happen to me year after year. I’ve had to become hyper-vigilant to fend off physical damage during the Christmas season. My vehicle is invisible also, though I always travel with my lights on and am fanatic about properly using my turn signal. I learned when I was 16 when driving it’s called defensive driving. Now I call it defensive living, always on the alert.
This does not imply any kind of super-power, though true invisibility might be a fun and interesting ability, if controllable. Random invisibility might be (read: is) distressing. It does imply a disconnection that happens at Christmas time and I blame capitalism. People are so caught up in the spending mentality and the deadline they forget to think beyond themselves. Their worlds reduce to a single minded focus and woe be to anyone in their pathway. “Share the road” mentality all but disappears from Thanksgiving until several days after the Christmas because of the additional consumer cruelty of after Christmas sales.
My least favorite question this time of year is “Do you have your shopping done?” I really should resist and just say yes or nod. Alas, no. Not me. I have to rattle the questioner’s cage with “I don’t participate in the capitalistic consumerism marketing ploy we now call Christmas. I prefer alternatives.” Most people have no clue what I’m talking about. I don’t instruct them. I pray I leave them with something to think about during the holiday season besides how to spend money they probably have little of.
Really what do we need? I drove by a pawn shop recently with a sign out front “Black Friday Cash”. In other words they were inviting you to pawn your old stuff for cash to buy new stuff. What? Maybe you don’t need the old stuff. Maybe you don’t need the new stuff either. And to go into debt over a simple holiday, what kind of insanity is that?
I’ll admit I like stuff. My Kitchen Aid stand mixer is one of the best investments I ever made and I wish I had it earlier in my cooking life. My ice cream maker is just a treat for creating my favorite dessert. I didn’t need either of these kitchen tools but, oh man, do I love the luxurious feel of having them to quicken the tasks they do. I still own two old fashioned hand egg beaters in case the power goes out and I want to whip something up.
So what alternatives, you might ask. In the past gifts were made by hand and from the heart. Scraps of wood or material were crafted into functional or wearable items of great beauty. Christmas treats were whipped up with hand powered egg beaters and cooked in or on wood stoves. Gifts were re-fashioned or re-made for the next year. One year when my siblings were small Mom didn’t have much to spend on Christmas. She took old baby dolls we’d ripped the hair out of and painted on new baby hair and made new dresses for them. Sister and I were just as thrilled with these refurbished dolls as we’d been when we had gotten them brand new a couple years before. It was about the excitement, the anticipation, the colorful package waiting under the tree for us, and the surprise package that showed up overnight while sleep-waiting for Santa.
Gifting is hard. You like to think you know a person and what that person wants, and vice versa. I’ve found too many times the gift I give is not quite right. Because I have a limited budget I am creative with gifts and have invested myself in not caring if it is “perfect”. I don’t like to sound ungrateful; a gift is a gift. I do feel free to re-purpose a gift item that isn’t quite right for me. I have often seen disappointment in the faces of people who have received my gifts. Once I’ve given it away, I expect the recipient to do the same. If it’s not quite right for them or when they are done with it, do as they will. Either way a gracious thank you is sufficient. Family battles should never ensue over disappointing Christmas gifts. How trite that would be.
Also alternatively, it’s interesting how much satisfaction I get from giving some of my very little disposable income to my favorite causes. It’s not much, it’s never much, but it feels good to give that tiny little bit of support to something other than my own family’s livelihood. Sometimes I make the donation in memorial or in honor of one of my relative’s names.
Once again this year, I will wrap the gifts I’m giving in brightly colored paper and ribbons anticipating a few minutes of ripping and tearing and thank yous. I will avoid the malls and do what shopping has to be done on-line if at all possible so I can remain visible, at least to myself. I will share some time with my family and delight in them as people disregarding gift anxiety. And I will give.
Currently Reading – Lila (2014, fiction) by Marilynne Robinson; Bad Feminist (2013, social science) by Roxane Gay; Mr Strangelove: A Biography of Peter Sellers (2002, biography) by Ed Sikov. Yes, concurrently.
This week I have been grateful for:
- The amazing power of the wind and the soft breath of a breeze.
- Bright lights and toys on my Christmas tree.
- Scotch tape and wrapping paper.
- Pre-made ribbons.
- Remote controls for my lights around the house.
- The ease of mail-order for those few gifts I buy retail.
- The ease of making monetary donations on-line.
- Needing little.
- Eyes and ears and nerves and the senses we don’t have names for.
- Rain in all its glorious forms, mist, sprinkle, drizzle, downpour, sheets, and all the in-betweens.
- The son helping me flip and turn my mattress.
- Realizing after all my years of study and all my years of writing I still know very little about writing after reading the excellent works of Miss Roxane Gay and Miss Marilynne Robinson.
- Mandarin oranges.
- Forced paperwhite narcissus.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch