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.
Water. Nature’s tears.
Skies cry, cry against the drought,
warm flood the valley.
Like clockwork the calendar has proceeded day by day until we have come once again to the Christmas holiday season. I’ve often said I dislike this holiday. So much work, so little help. So many sad memories, so many ghosts of Christmas past. So many fraught family gatherings. So many desires, so many disappointments.
To alleviate my anxiety about this time of year, I’ve found the less I do, and the less fuss I make about it, the better I feel. I am not missing out on the spirit of the season. I am dealing with it the best way for me. Putting pressure on myself to accomplish more than I know I can handle is just plain silly. Not proactive. Counter productive, even.
I understand so much more now about abundance and gratitude. Now I do the things I love and am still able to do for Christmas and that is that. I used to over-spend and make myself crazy running around to stores looking for perfect which of course does not exist. I used to make the frantic run to the post office with Christmas cards that never arrived before Christmas. I used to bake cookies and make candy all the month of December to enjoy and give away, and though I loved the baking and making, to do a batch every night after work is too much for me now. I used to decorate the living, dining, and kitchen areas of the house, now we are lucky to have the tree and a Christmas tablecloth. That’s that. And that’s ok.
When I was a little girl I lived in the era when it was still de rigueur for most of the families I knew to go to Grandma’s house for Sunday dinner. It was sort of a big deal because us kids got to choose a toy to take to play with and we knew we would be allowed to watch TV by ourselves for a short time while the grown-ups played cards. We had to watch The Lawrence Welk Show first, then if they were still playing cards we got to choose the next program. We usually chose The Wide World of Disney to avoid a parental comment on our choice.
Inevitably we would grow bored with the TV and whatever toy we brought along. Grandma didn’t keep a stash of toys for us to play with; her house was simply to small to spare the extra space. When we started whining she offered us a jar of rocks and a jar of buttons to play with.
That seems like nothing in today’s culture. A jar of rocks. A jar of buttons. The jars were half gallon sizes. The rocks were a mixture as were the buttons.
Grandma had collected the rocks from the family’s much loved summer trips to Oregon beaches. In the rock jar some of the rocks were rough, so many varieties and colors and textures. Some were smooth, flat, and gray. Some were agates in their original forms and some of the agates were highly polished, smooth and sleek as watery glass. Some were quartz crystal, shiny, reflective, brilliant. We would take them out of the jar, with the caveat that none were to be lost or left lying around especially on the floor. We ordered them in rows by size and color, by roughness and smoothness, by prettiness and brilliance. We chose the ones we liked best, tempted to take them for ourselves but knowing Grandma knew every rock and would miss them and they had to be left for other cousins to play with.
The buttons were also a wide variety. Before the wide use of plastic in buttons Grandma had plain white buttons, neutral or brightly colored wooden buttons, mother-of-pearl or celluloid buttons, shiny buttons with rhinestones. Some had two holes or four; some had the little shank in the back to be sewn onto the blouse invisibly. We piled them according to our preferences and knew we were being trusted when Grandma handed us a needle and thread and told us we could string all the similar buttons together. Sometimes we would string a variety as if we were designing fancy beaded necklaces for ourselves. It didn’t matter much as the knotted thread could always be cut and started all over again.
How many children do you know these days who would be content playing with a jar of rocks or buttons? Would they be thrilled to receive them for Christmas with maybe a book about rocks and where they come from, or a book about how buttons were made and which are collectible antiques? Very few children these days would be impressed with this kind of gift. Today children want toys that do all the playing for them, toys involving technology and make imagination obsolete.
When my Grandmother passed away I managed to secure a jar of her rocks and a jar of those buttons. I don’t have grandchildren yet but my plan is to keep the treasures in perpetuity, whether I have grandchildren or not. Nobody but me will know they came from my grandma: the rocks from the Oregon coast, agates polished by my grandpa, and the buttons cut from old clothes whose material was no longer usable as clothing but the buttons could be re-used. They are simple things from a simpler time.
If you bring your pre-teen, post-toddler children to visit me at my home, I’m likely to pull out a jar of rocks or buttons when they become bored and invoke a ghost of Christmas past because like my grandma I don’t keep a stash of toys. The jars will be here every Christmas and every other day. Full of abundance.
My prayer for all this season is to grow beyond our desires and enjoy the giving spirit of Christmas with simple joys.
Color Watch – colorful blooming attractions in my neighborhoods this week – much of the color this week are the plants that stay forever green: the emerald softness of moss; green hyacinth heads pre-saging the next spring to come; vining, twining waxy green ivy; my favorite red rock hosting green spots of moss and crystal clear drops of water.
Current View – binged through the one season of Happy Valley, an intense British mystery series tidy and complete in one season like a mini-series. Sarah Lancashire leads the series with Siobhan Finneran (Miss O’Brien on Downton Abbey) as her sister. Violence, implied and visual, integral to the story, but resolved with the bad guy properly locked up forever to cause no more harm. Watching a series of old black and white and/or color movies from the 40s and 50s, trying to find a movie I saw a couple minutes of 40 years ago; I never caught the name of it and never forgot the scene. Love these old films. I’ve been through about 200 of these films over the last 16 years and haven’t found the movie with the scene yet. Needing to lighten up a little and watching Last Man Standing on Netflix, so nice to avoid all the commercials and having something to laugh at with Tim Allen in the lead role.
Currently Reading – The Outcast Dead (2013, fiction) by Elly Griffiths; Brian Jones: The Making of The Rolling Stones (2014, biography) by Paul Trynka; Conversational Intelligence: How Great Leaders Build Trust and Get Extraordinary Results (2014, inter-relational psychology) by Judith E. Glaser. Yes, concurrently.
Tomorrow, Monday, December 21, 2015 is the solstice. For my Winter Classic I have chosen to read The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890, philosophical fiction) by Oscar Wilde. Chosen because: I’ve never read it before; considered a classic by those who consider themselves experts in English Literature; controversial author. I’m looking forward to it.
This week I have been grateful for:
- Watching the gray cloud descend out of a blue sky.
- Rainbows, which are no less charming knowing it is a scientific phenomena of light passing at a 42 degree angle through a drop of water.
- Mist kissed skin.
- Indoor winter farmer’s market and being able to buy garden fresh eggs.
- Finding an old-fashioned British style ginger cake at the winter market, which filled my car and home with the spicy smell of Christmases past.
- Small towns. You know it’s a small town when a city councilwoman brings you her own garden fresh eggs.
- Running into an ex-co-worker at the winter farmer’s market and having a luxurious five minutes to get updates on her children and her farm.
- Lights on my Christmas tree and the old beloved ornaments.
- Being called “Awesome” by a sales clerk when he was impressed with my purchase as a stocking stuffer, as he said he only ever gets candy.
- Knowing who Santa is.
- A solid roof, a warm house full of light, a full pantry, people to be with.
- So much abundance I can hardly keep track of it all.
Hoping you have a lovely week.
Namaste. Peace. Blessings.
Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch