Gratitude Sunday: The Cranky Before Christmas: or, Be Of Good Cheer

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.

Quote of the Week – “Who drinks your tears, who has your wings, who hears your story?” Rebecca Solnit in The Faraway Nearby

Sunday Haiku
Toe-biting coldness
lingers on the ground waiting
to creep up your legs.

Sunday Musings
Holiday season. A time for cheer, for festivities, for good spirits, for love, and peace on earth. Sooo, what if this time of year you are experiencing despair? Grief? A lack of joy? A death of excitement and wonder? What if you cannot find one speck of your self to share the good feelings many other people appear to have? What if other people are all just hiding their own grief and despair and their facade of good cheer is like yours, merely a thin veneer? What if we have no way of talking about these issues?

The holiday season seems to amplify all these feelings. So many of us are experiencing distressful life situations this year. It’s in every story I hear, every time I ask “how are you doing?” The stories pour out. Health and medical issues; cars malfunctioning or dying; houses rotting away; no job; no income; no tree; no gifts; begging for food, the most basic of life’s needs; tired of being reduced to constantly asking for help, yet little help is available because others have their own needs; spirits devastated beyond redemption.

Faith is tested and questioned in the depths of despair, regardless of religion or your personal system of belief. Little comfort is found in faith when housing or food or income insecurity is the only constant one knows and no relief forthcoming. Dare we talk about questioning faith when (especially in the Christian religion) that’s suppose to be the reason for this holiday season? Where do we find the words for a dialogue when so many words and phrases that should be neutral have been twisted into negative things? You know those words: welfare, entitlement, public assistance, takers, and so many more.

I’m struggling with these issues, real physical housing, food, and transportation issues. I’m having a few health challenges. I’m able to have the words to say how I feel this is an injustice in a world that could provide for many people in need. That’s the thing: so many are in need, and are facing much more terrible circumstances than I. Most of them don’t have the words, only the despair and panic.

We don’t need trees, though personally I love the smell of a fresh tree in the house for reminding me of the spirit. We don’t need extravagant gifts, but replacing worn out items is sometimes needed, and small gestures, those little acts of love or gifts from the heart, mean so much; Christmas is a great excuse for both. Half of us are striving just to meet basic needs. The other half seems to be saying “I got mine, too bad about you.” I wonder how we got here. I don’t have time to read all the history written by the affluent. History doesn’t help in the moment of need. I have spent many years, however, reading about different religions and belief systems, and they seem to have a few things in common, one tenet being we take care of the least of us, and thus the wealthy among us (who are no different, having merely experienced different combinations of advantages, opportunities, and levels of success) have a duty to give their share to help those who have less. Some believe this sharing and helping should be done with a glad and grateful heart, because they have enough to give help with. Both wealthy and non-wealthy have the responsibility to work as hard as they can as long as they can, and give the best they can to what they do, and the best stewardship they know to care for what they have.

I know. We can put all kinds of labels on the above description, like communism and socialism, but let’s not. Encompassing personal responsibility along with social responsibility seems to me to cover the basic aspects of living in a society.

If we were able to both take care of ourselves and feel good about helping take care of others, wouldn’t we have a healthier society? If people in need and in grief didn’t have to sit grieving (but too embarrassed to ask for help), because the help is available before the crisis, wouldn’t that make a stronger society? Many crises averted sounds like a win to me, as does a healthier, stronger society.

So this dismal post is the cranky before Christmas. We have tough times, there may always be tough times, just new days of tough times. We are told we will have tribulations; the world will never be easy, and we must not pray for ease. We must pray for strength to endure the tribulations presented in our lives.

We are also told to be of good cheer. That’s what I’m trying to hold on to right now. Where is my good cheer? In the very core of me. In the hard scrabble always on the edge of me. In the everyday learning of how to continually make ends meet or how to make something out of practically nothing. In the synchronicity of timing and reading and viewing. In my search for beauty in the small sad spaces of the world. In the recognition of abundance in other parts of my life. In the tiny corner of my heart where a faint echo whispers, “It will be OK.”

One of my tasks this week included moving some Buddhist quotes from file to file. I had saved these as aspirations and affirmations to read when my spirit is low or fading. Many of the quotes were about embracing fear, traveling through it, looking suffering square in the face as a warrior in life. Another batch was about maintaining a cheerful outlook, so hard to do when you feel trapped in uncertainty (see fear in previous sentence). Sometimes life is like some wild kaleidoscopic helical amusement ride, though in these days of my aging we are not amused.

A writer I read regularly recently shared a post one of her favorite writers wrote about grace. The writer and the sharer both have more challenging lives than mine, caring for children with extremely debilitating medical issues. They move forward every day, embracing their lives, giving all they have, caring for their children and families, sharing their experiences, making their own personal statements on our current political climate. They persist. How could they not?

I have to remember what I have and not how scared I feel about what has not happened yet. I have to remember in the past we have managed to provide for ourselves and we’ve had help from many, and unusual, places, even if it meant being temporarily “between houses”. Sometimes we’ve had to ask for help. Sometimes it has come unbidden in unique forms. Sometimes it has come reluctantly or grudgingly. Sometimes the help has been denied. Yet we persist. We have helped other people in the past when we could, we have been good citizens (that’s not to say without a certain folly, we all have a little folly in us, speeding tickets and what not), we have worked as hard as we could, and we have been fair stewards with the little money we’ve earned.

My family is in a rough patch right now, made more difficult by the consumer expectations of the holiday season. What do we do when the going is tough? We are flexible, we are resilient, we are creative, we are resourceful. If possible we build on our past successes no matter how few and far between; we ask for help if we have to. We are gracious if help is denied. We continue to give whatever help we are able to give to others. We lower our expectations. We count our blessings. We pray for strength. And we are of good cheer knowing we will prevail. Somehow. Maybe by grace.

Color Watchcolorful attractions in my neighborhoods this week – First frost this week, here on the green leaves of my hardy coral bells. Likely the last scarlet red rose of the season after the frost. My favorite red rock growing emerald green moss sparkled by water droplets. Spiking green holly arms pointing the red-berried way to the sky. A copper brown dragon-leaf riding a burgundy branch into red-berry fairyland.

Current View – {These are only my opinions about movies and books, but don’t let me stop you from trying these reviewed items yourself; your opinion may differ.} The Astronaut’s Wife (1999, rated R) with Charlize Theron and Johnny Depp. While on a space mission two astronauts are out of touch with headquarters for two minutes. They come back alive from space, but are they the same men who left? A little predictable, but edge of your seat suspense nonetheless. * Silence (2016, rated R), a Martin Scorsese production. 1640 Japan and two Portuguese Jesuit priests are on a mission to find the missionaries sent 7 years ago. This almost three hour movie is a question of faith and the right to impose one’s belief upon another. * Dad’s Army (2016, not rated), a delightful British production about a rural village’s Home Guard during WW2 and the mistaken identity of a German spy. Droll British humor resulting in bubbles of giggles. On my “to watch again” list. * Allied (2016, rated R), starts in French Morocco in 1942. Brad Pitt is a Canadian spying for Great Britain, and falls in love with his fellow spy. After they come back to Britain and establish a married life with a child, his wife is accused of being a German spy. This is more of a love story that happens to take place during the war, and thus a few seemingly requisite violent war scenes are thrown in. No spoilers but the ending is a little disturbing if you are a sensitive soul.

Currently ReadingThe Castle Cross the Magnet Carter (2017, fiction) by Kia Corthron. The story is in the 1970s now. I’ve had to re-read many chapters to track the details of the plot. The novel is more than 700 pages, and I love the interweaving of the plot, though I am slightly distressed my brain is not retaining the details for more than a few pages at a time. The fun part is when I re-read and see yes I did read that and, oh, that’s how it connects. Usually when this happens for me I find the book is worthy of many re-reads, because the details are so rich and the story is so rewarding. Looking forward to seeing how the author wraps it up. * Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power (2017, sociology) by Noam Chomsky. I read a little Chomsky when I got to go back to college, and several years ago I was privileged to hear him speak at my alma mater. He is a man of age, but I don’t think I’ve ever read or heard anyone who was more clear and coherent in his words and logic. I’m interested to read what he has to say.

Winter Classic
It’s that time of year again, girls and boys. Time to choose the Winter Classic. I want a novel that takes me to a different time and place, a slower language, a world far away from mine, to read myself into a different place during the long dark winter nights. Remember the rules? They go like this:
1. The title chosen must universally be considered a classic and is likely to be on a list somewhere, like a Pulitzer prize winner, or a Mann Booker winner, or Newberry, or, well, there are so many to chose from.
2. I prefer diverse authors.
3. I haven’t read it before.
I like to start reading my Winter Classic around the Solstice, and as usual the deadline has snuck up on me and I don’t have much time left to decide. I somehow managed to graduate with an English Literature degree and there are so many people I haven’t read yet, like Willa Cather. I’ve read some interesting comments about The Song of the Lark (1915, fiction) recently and I might start there. I also have not read Daphne du Maurier, and have ordered The Scapegoat (1959, fiction) from my local lending library. I was drawn to this title after having experienced 16 plus years as the resident scapegoat at my place of employment. (No further comments on that now, as it would only increase my despair). Any Winter Classic suggestions, readers?

This week I have been grateful for:

  • Hearing a squirrel yelling outside the bathroom window and opening the window to see him looking right at me. I don’t know what he thought I did, but he was sure telling me what for. He made me laugh.
  • Lots of clothing to layer up with.
  • Having a TV to turn on earlier in the day as a heat source. I generally don’t turn on TV until 7 pm.
  • Old TV westerns movies on in the background while I work reminding me of Saturdays when I was a kid.
  • Huddling over a hot computer as a hand warmer.
  • Having my own dishes to wash (which always warms me up – hot water!) and my own kitchen to wash up in.
  • Being able to walk flat footed instead of limping as the break/sprain in my toe heals.
  • Laughing at cooking shows when there is not much to be creative with in the house to cook.
  • Vicarious traveling via documentaries.
  • Having a great variety of videos to choose from courtesy of my local lending library.
  • The son appearing to be somewhat comforted when I counseled him about work ethics and letting go of resentments toward co-workers. Work life is never easy.
  • Letting go of the desire for a tree or gifts this year knowing my money needs to be spent on repairing my transportation and keeping bills current so I don’t sink lower into the abyss of poverty.
  • Being creative on bringing cheer out of my heart and into the house.
  • The joy of empathy when an author’s words brings me to tears.
  • Water.

Hoping you have a lovely week.

Namaste. Peace. Blessings.

Floral ribbon border by Laurel Burch

This entry was posted in abundance, Aging, GRATITUDE, Grief, Health, Nature, Photography, Poetry, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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