Friday, December 23, 2011
. . . . . and it must have been difficult. Worrying.
Money worries? Certainly: the taxes were due, after all. Not easy.
Riding a donkey to Bethlehem at 8.9 months pregnant? Not easy.
No room in the inn, having to labour and deliver in a stable? Not easy.
And then accepting that she was the mother of the Messiah? Couldn't have been easy at all.
But: (and meaning no disrespect, absolutely none) Mary only had to do it once. Once only.
Moreover, she had lots of help.
The greetings department was expertly managed by a heavenly host of angels. Better than Christmas cards or emails: no trips to the post office, no stamps, no inbox overloads from photo blogs.
The shepherds visiting handled all the travel arrangements themselves. No pickups at the airport or the bus station.
Gift shopping? Thank to the magi, all wrapped up and delivered. No Visa bills after the event.
House cleaning? Not a big concern, under the circumstances. Maybe a little extra hay spread around.
Baking? The baby Jesus wasn't yet interested in gingerbread houses. No shortbread required for refreshments after the church pageant.
Decorating? One big star seems to have done the trick.
Music? A little lowing from the cattle . . . that apparently sufficed.
But since that first Christmas, all over the world women make Christmas happen over and over again, year after year, for their families. Maybe you're helping your mother and your sisters. Or it's your first time alone, Your fifth. Perhaps you've done it thirty times. Will do it fifty times, or more. In your lifetime. With help from your daughter as you get older.
Because in most families, it still is women who do most of the work. Who make Christmas happen. For everyone. Their own families, their relatives, and anyone who needs a place to go that special day so as not to be alone.
Okay, we're not pregnant every year. But most of us have been pregnant (or with young children) quite a few Christmases And young, middle aged, or getting on in years we still handle the visitors, the cleaning, the gift shopping, the wrapping, the grocery shopping, the baking, the meal planning, the decorations, the entertainment, the . . . yeah. All of that.
And did I mention, we also get ourselves all dooded up a bit too? Hair. Makeup. A pretty seasonal outfit. That's also suitable for leaning into a hot oven and lifting out a fully stuffed turkey??
Mary did it once. Once only, And by all accounts she kept it simple.
As I sit down in my house (decorated) with a fridge full of groceries and a small mound of gifts (wrapped) I think of Mary.
And what she did, once. Simply. Magnificently. Joyously.
What all of us have done over the past month. And what all of us will do, over the next 48 hours.
Mary Christmas? We are!! And Merry Christmas. Merry Christmas!!
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Winter solstice is, of course, the darkest evening of the year: and it's no coincidence that so many religions have a celebration of light, the gradually lengthening days to come.
Many of us will remember school days studying or even memorizing Robert Frost's deceptively simple poem on the topic:
Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening
Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound's the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
We stop and ponder the dark moments. Contemplate surrender to darkness. And then move on. To keep our commitments. Because there are more tasks to be completed.
And always the potential to be relieved by light, surprised by joy.
My first pot of narcissus was somewhat disappointing. The bulbs produced vigorous green leaves but only one blossom. I've got another pot which looks more promising. And my pink amaryllis is budding.
DS and DD, both home for the holidays, have been busily decorating the house while DH and I are at work. It was lovely to come home last night to see the Christmas tree, lit up, in the dining room bay window. And the Christmas village alight on the mantle.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Last Monday was my annual Christmas shopping day . . . and I got most of it done.
But: today I was out looking for the "stocking stuff". Silly little items, mostly . . . A tiny toy airplane for my son, who's training to be a pilot. A princess tiara with glittery purple rhinestones and marabou for my darling daughter! Some dark chocolate . . . .
And I spotted some 100% cotton flannel ladies shirts. A red/black/white check. A grey/black/white check.
I've been wanting a couple cozy flannel shirts for awhile. To wear over a long-sleeved T or under a sweater, with my jeans on the weekends.
The Lands End or Woolrich or Eddie Bauer versions are nice . . . but pricey. Fifty bucks and up . . . plus shipping and customs into Canada.
These were marked down to $15 each. Well made, roll tabs on the sleeves, small breast pockets with the plaid on the diagonal and nicely matched horizontally across the front placket. Soft. Feminine fitted cut.
The check out gal asked me, "Are these for you?"
"Yes," I said. I bit shame faced. Wondering how she knew; maybe something proprietary about my pat as I folded them up. "Guess I shouldn't be shopping for myself/"
( I'm thinking that the red one will be great with my black jeans . . . and I've got a nice black jeans belt, leather, with appliquéd red leather stars. The grey will be great with my grey jeans . . . and yeah, I have the same belt with white stars as well!! Those belts were $2 each . . . love them).
By this point, check out gal has all my purchases parcelled up. And she is grinning at me. "We all do it, " she said. "We all buy something for ourselves while we're out Christmas shopping for gifts for everybody else."
So: what did you buy yourself for Christmas?
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Every year the boss (that's me) grants me one day off to get Christmas stuff done.
That day was yesterday.
And: it was sunny, not snowy, not too cold -- perfect "driving around in a mad frenzy" weather. (After, of course, a leisurely couple hours at the gym, to get me in the proper mood!)
We did put our outdoor lights up Sunday (so that our DS and DD will get the full benefit, pulling in the driveway). Now that was very cold work. But they do look great -- well, maybe a little droopy, not precision-installed or anything -- but in the "traditional" pattern that we have used all the years we've lived in this house. Creating a bit of a "triumphal arch" effect which we know they like especially on returning home after a long time away: our son since his flying visit for Canadian Thanksgiving in October, our daughter for almost two years in Australia.
And: we bought our tree. A tall balsam fir, still bundled up (so it would fit into my car, using the back seat pass-through for the trunk) and got it stored in the garage. Because the kids will want to help put that up. Christmas snarling over snarled strings of indoor lights being traditional too.
Yesterday was all about buying a few gifts (we don't do much around this actually). Basically pjs, slippers, books, a couple DVDs. A new toy for Charlie. All carefully and lovingly selected, however, without rushing. With a focus on creating that "Christmas at home cozy warmth and kick back" feeling. This year my sister and I are scheduling a post-Christmas "sisters' day" for a makeup/photo session -- business pics for our respective websites. So I did not gift shop for her. Not that shopping for her is ever the least bit difficult: we really know what each other likes!
So my Christmas organization day meant I must have been on my feet for well over five hours. But: on a Monday the stores weren't very crowded. There wasn't much shoving or clerk-surliness. And, yeah: it's mostly done. Other than buying groceries (using my patented "pre-fab less flab" approach: frozen appetizers, pre-stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes in sous vide bag -- all of course with my own "cheater" special touches such as a bit of orange rind grated into the canned cranberry sauce, a little thyme in the canned turkey gravy), and putting up the decorations sometime between the 20th and the 24th!! The light-up Christmas village on the mantel; the felt stockings I made when DH and I were first married 32 years ago, adding a stocking for each of the children now 27 and 24 years ago.
I've been three days out of the office, checking in only by email -- and I know there is lots of urgent stuff waiting for me.
So: ready to go in and stamp out as many little fires as possible.
Because: Christmas is under control!! Yes it is!! I am (thank you Bruno Bettleheim) a "good enough" mother. And we will have a "good enough" Christmas. Sometimes (with apologies to Voltaire) the "good enough" is better than the best!
Saturday, December 10, 2011
Busy at work for three days. Then two days of training on how to screen for domestic violence -- with excellent trainers, with a marvellous small group of participants.
But: the subject matter is . . . yeah, heavy. Sombre, really.
And: although training was very hands on, with role plays, still lots of sitting. More sitting than I usually permit myself.
Ate carefully, took my healthy salads and fruit with me. But still slightly over range one day (it was a blueberry bran muffin that did it!!)
Today back to the gym with huge zest and energy. Cardio 33 minutes 400 calories plus upper body weights workout. Zooming around making soup (Italian chicken with fava beans and brown rice) and getting laundry done and buying groceries. And replacing my desk lamp and going out for dinner with DH and good friends . . . (two appetizers -- roasted beet and goat cheese salad, mussels with tomato and white wine and garlic, then espresso, one tiny bite of DH's chocolate cake!!). Feeling sleek in my ol' fave black leather pencil skirt, black leather over knee boots, black silky relaxed cowl neck top -- and turquoise cashmere scarf for a little colour. Plus my turquoise and red bracelet, made for me by DH for Valentine's Day (yes, really!! it's so lovely).
Feeling great. Great day. Great to be back in balance.
Tomorrow we'll get some outdoor Christmas lights up, to welcome our kids back home!! They'll both be here by the 20th. Charlie will be totally euphoric.
And: do you think I should get started on a little Christmas shopping maybe??
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