Me In The Middle Of Feeling Christmas Spirit

Christmas Roses #2 (2)

(c) mlq

************

~ The Christmas Rose ~

She stood beside the doorway softly weeping,
without the slightest gift for the newly born
who lay within a manger, peaceful, sleeping.

Three travelers, all richly dressed, but worn,
brought royal treasures for him in their keeping ~

the shepherd maiden wept unseen, forlorn.
In the chill of winter, she had found no rose
nor blossom; ‘midst the rocky hills none grows.

An angel saw her sorrow; understanding
at once the reason, swept away the snow,
revealing there some Christmas Roses. Handing
these white and waxen flowers to her, “Go –
an offering so pure is right,” commanding
with gentleness that only angels know.
The gift was made – beneath the angel’s wink,
the petals blushed from white to palest pink.

© Margaret I. Gibson

************

Some of the best memories I have of past Christmas holidays were when I let go of expectations and just let it happen.

 Ever since I was a little girl I’ve felt that Christmas was meant for all people of good will.  It never dawned on me that Christmas would belong to just one religion.  I knew it was the birth of Jesus ~ the tiny infant who was born in a humble stable ~ who came to love the world and the message he brought to us was to love one another.

My early memories of Christmas were more of the feeling of togetherness, belonging and acceptance.  There was a feeling of magic in the air.  There weren’t many gifts under the tree ~ yet it was my favorite time of the year.  There was something infectious about the outpouring of Good Will as you went about the day meeting people along the way.

When my children were growing up it was fun taking on the passing along of this tradition.  Seeing their eyes brighten with anticipation as the day grew nearer, and gathering them around the Nativity Scene to impress upon them that it was this humble birth we were celebrating.

Then there were the times when I was weary and burdened with worries and stresses.  When I didn’t have enough money to get them gifts or a tree.  When I watched the hustle and bustle of every one caught up in the season and felt isolated from it.  I thought it was all going to pass us by.  Surprisingly, these were the times I remember the most because it’s at times like these that even the smallest gift and the smallest gestures of kindness and love mean the most.  It was at times like these that I experienced what the real meaning of Grace is.  It was at times like these that I learned that Christmas happens every day when we’re open to it.  

That humble birth of that one small child speaks to all of us about the simplicity of Love ~ A Gift that shouts out at a World that desperately needs it.  It’s not a gift that belongs to any specific religion.  It’s a gift that belongs to all of us!  

************

“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10).

Me in the Middle of Christmas Once More

Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” —Dr. Seuss

advent-514849_960_720

Image from Pixabay

********************

With each passing year I find myself withdrawing from all the ratcheting up to the holiday season.  I think it’s partly due to my surrendering to the December years of my life.  It’s also because I find some of the noise and chatter to be superficial.  The true meaning of Thanksgiving through Christmas seems to settle into my life no matter how many carols I listen to, no matter how many ‘Merry Christmases’ I say and no matter how many parties I attend.  Each year I see more and more people realizing this and choosing not to frantically hustle to get things accomplished within that one month.  So, when I read this wonderful essay on the Becoming Minimalist blog I decided to re-post it here.

This  was My First Reflection on how my views have changed.  I think the politicizing of Christmas intruded into my yearning for what I’ve experienced down through the years.  There is no ‘War on Christmas’.  It happens in our hearts no matter what’s going on in governments.  When we get caught up in the political aspects of the Season we lose sight of the spiritual gifts we all receive no matter how we believe or worship.  The Gifts of Faith, Hope, Love, Peace and Joy are given to each of us no matter where we are in life.  It’s a time of good will toward all men and women.  It’s at times like these that I’ve experienced what the real meaning of Grace is.  It’s at times like these that I’ve learned that Christmas  can happen every day when we’re open to it.  ~ Me in the Middle of Feeling Christmas Spirit.

*********************

madonna-with-child-1051897__340

Image from Pixabay

A Lighter, Simpler, More Beautiful Holiday 

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Allison Vesterfelt of AllisonVesterfelt.com

simple-holiday

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” —Bob Hope

I believe it is possible to do less, buy less, cook less, work less and even decorate less and still have a full, happy, satisfying, beautiful holiday season. But in order to get there, and stay there, we’re going to have to focus on a few changes of mindset.

Or, at least I am.

The other day my husband and I were driving to an event together and, out of nowhere, he asked, “Hey, do you realize we’ve never bought each other Christmas presents?”

Honestly, when he asked that question, my heart leapt a little. I knew it was true, but it sounded so harsh to say it outright like that. In fact, I found myself feeling a little embarrassed, thinking of a million excuses for why this was the case…

“We’ve only been married for two Christmases…”

“We’ve been trying to get out of debt…”

“The first Christmas we were together, we were busy planning a wedding…”

But just as I started to let my thoughts get away from me, my husband spoke up again. “Honestly, it doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother you.”

The truth is it doesn’t really bother me. But I find myself thinking it does. I find myself worrying what people will think, or what they’ll say if they find out. I find myself thinking about what others are doing for the holidays that I’m not doing; and feeling pressure to make my holiday season look and feel a certain way.

But our decision to forgo Christmas presents (which was mostly out of necessity at the time we made it) has actually opened space for us to have a lighter, simpler, more beautiful Christmas. I’m not against celebrating, or against buying presents. In fact, my husband and I may buy each other presents one day.

But I do believe the common maxim “less is more” applies to the holidays more than it does to just about anything else. And I think each of us will discover a more satisfying holiday if we’ll focus on the following changes in mindset.

1. Don’t get too stuck on “the way you’ve done it before.”

If you grew up in a family or neighborhood (like I did) that went all out for Christmas, maybe scaling back for your own holiday celebration makes you feel a little bit like I felt when my husband reminded me we have never bought each other presents—like a failure. Or, like you’re doing it wrong.

I have good news. There is no wrong way to do it!

Try not to get too stuck on the way you’ve always done it before. Instead, focus on the values you want to cultivate in your family or community or home this year, and experiment with creative ways to promote those values. Also, if you’re entering a new season of life (newly independent, newly married, have young children, or have a newly empty nest), what better time to start fresh with a brand new “way?”

If you’ve always been extravagant in the past, you don’t have to “live up” to that version of yourself, or to anyone else. Take a deep breath. You’re not a failure.

2. Focus on experiences over possessions.

One of the reasons my husband and I have never bought Christmas presents for each other is that we are always traveling for the holidays. We live far from all of our extended family, and in order to spend time with family (without breaking the bank) we have had to choose between plane tickets and Christmas presents.

We’ve agreed together that, when it comes buying habits, we will always (not just at Christmas) value experiences over possessions. Possessions are nice, but they rust, rot, get stolen and burn in fires. Experiences can’t be taken from us. They have eternal value.

Consider how you cultivate experiences this year, rather than just buying gifts which will likely end up in the Goodwill pile in a few months or years.

3. Do the best you can with what you have.

This is advice a mentor of mine once gave me about a totally different subject, but I think it applies here, as well. When I was getting ready to go on a date, she would advise me not to go buy brand new clothes, or to feel like I needed to lose 10 pounds before the date, but simply to, “Do the best you can with what you have.”

In other words: be the best version of yourself.

I would give really similar advice when it comes to Christmas. Do the best you can with what you have. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy presents, or that having a Christmas tree is a waste. It simply means don’t go into debt over presents or trees. It means decide what you’re going to spend on Christmas—and it doesn’t have to be extravagant—and then do the best you can with what you have.

4. Turn off the TV (or find other ways to avoid being swayed by advertisements).

You’d be surprised how influenced you are by advertisements. Suddenly you begin thinking that everyone has a better Christmas planned than you do. Everyone’s Christmas tree belongs in a department store, and everyone’s husband is buying them diamond earrings, and everyone else is buying their kids new computers.

That’s simply not true, no matter how convincing the ads make it look.

The other thing that’s not true is that families who have these things are automatically happier (like they are in the commercials) than your family, or other families who go without. Presents are nice. But they can’t make you happy.

If you want a truly happy holiday season, you’ll have to find ways to cultivate happiness from the inside.

What tips do you have for creating a lighter, more beautiful life?

***

Allison Vesterfelt blogs at AllisonVesterfelt.com where she inspires and encourages others to live with less. Her book, Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage is helpful and compelling. I highly recommend it to you. She is also worth following on Twitterbecoming minimalist@gmail.com

********************

My Grown-Up Christmas List

 

Me In The Middle Of Feeling Christmas Spirit

Christmas Roses #2 (2)

(c) mlq

************

~ The Christmas Rose ~

She stood beside the doorway softly weeping,
without the slightest gift for the newly born
who lay within a manger, peaceful, sleeping.

Three travelers, all richly dressed, but worn,
brought royal treasures for him in their keeping ~
the shepherd maiden wept unseen, forlorn.
In the chill of winter, she had found no rose
nor blossom; ‘midst the rocky hills none grows.

An angel saw her sorrow; understanding
at once the reason, swept away the snow,
revealing there some Christmas Roses. Handing
these white and waxen flowers to her, “Go –
an offering so pure is right,” commanding
with gentleness that only angels know.
The gift was made – beneath the angel’s wink,
the petals blushed from white to palest pink.

© Margaret I. Gibson

************

Some of the best memories I have of past Christmas holidays were when I let go of expectations and just let it happen.

 Ever since I was a little girl I’ve felt that Christmas was meant for all people of good will.  It never dawned on me that Christmas would belong to just one religion.  I knew it was the birth of Jesus ~ the tiny infant who was born in a humble stable ~ who came to love the world and the message he brought to us was to love one another.

My early memories of Christmas were more of the feeling of togetherness, belonging and acceptance.  There was a feeling of magic in the air.  There weren’t many gifts under the tree ~ yet it was my favorite time of the year.  There was something infectious about the outpouring of Good Will as you went about the day meeting people along the way.

When my children were growing up it was fun taking on the passing along of this tradition.  Seeing their eyes brighten with anticipation as the day grew nearer, and gathering them around the Nativity Scene to impress upon them that it was this humble birth we were celebrating.

Then there were the times when I was weary and burdened with worries and stresses.  When I didn’t have enough money to get them gifts or a tree.  When I watched the hustle and bustle of every one caught up in the season and felt isolated from it.  I thought it was all going to pass us by.  Surprisingly, these were the times I remember the most because it’s at times like these that even the smallest gift and the smallest gestures of kindness and love mean the most.  It was at times like these that I experienced what the real meaning of Grace is.  It was at times like these that I learned that Christmas happens every day when we’re open to it.  

That humble birth of that one small child speaks to all of us about the simplicity of Love ~ A Gift that shouts out at a World that desperately needs it.  It’s not a gift that belongs to any specific religion.  It’s a gift that belongs to all of us!  

************

“Fear not, for behold I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people” (Luke 2:10).

Me in the Middle of Christmas Once More (ReBlog)

Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, maybe Christmas perhaps means a little bit more.” —Dr. Seuss

advent-514849_960_720

Image from Pixabay

********************

With each passing year I find myself withdrawing from all the ratcheting up to the holiday season.  I think it’s partly due to my surrendering to the December years of my life.  It’s also because I find some of the noise and chatter to be superficial.  The true meaning of Thanksgiving through Christmas seems to settle into my life no matter how many carols I listen to, no matter how many ‘Merry Christmases’ I say and no matter how many parties I attend.  Each year I see more and more people realizing this and choosing not to frantically hustle to get things accomplished within that one month.  So, when I read this wonderful essay on the Becoming Minimalist blog I decided to re-post it here.

Last year was My First Reflection on how my views have changed.  I think the politicizing of Christmas intruded into my yearning for what I’ve experienced down through the years.  There is no ‘War on Christmas’.  It happens in our hearts no matter what’s going on in governments.  When we get caught up in the political aspects of the Season we lose sight of the spiritual gifts we all receive no matter how we believe or worship.  The Gifts of Faith, Hope, Love, Peace and Joy are given to each of us no matter where we are in life.  It’s a time of good will toward all men and women.  It’s at times like these that I’ve experienced what the real meaning of Grace is.  It’s at times like these that I’ve learned that Christmas  can happen every day when we’re open to it.  ~ Me in the Middle of Feeling Christmas Spirit.

*********************

madonna-with-child-1051897__340

Image from Pixabay

A Lighter, Simpler, More Beautiful Holiday 

Editor’s note: This is a guest post from Allison Vesterfelt of AllisonVesterfelt.com

simple-holiday

“When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things – not the great occasions – give off the greatest glow of happiness.” —Bob Hope

I believe it is possible to do less, buy less, cook less, work less and even decorate less and still have a full, happy, satisfying, beautiful holiday season. But in order to get there, and stay there, we’re going to have to focus on a few changes of mindset.

Or, at least I am.

The other day my husband and I were driving to an event together and, out of nowhere, he asked, “Hey, do you realize we’ve never bought each other Christmas presents?”

Honestly, when he asked that question, my heart leapt a little. I knew it was true, but it sounded so harsh to say it outright like that. In fact, I found myself feeling a little embarrassed, thinking of a million excuses for why this was the case…

“We’ve only been married for two Christmases…”

“We’ve been trying to get out of debt…”

“The first Christmas we were together, we were busy planning a wedding…”

But just as I started to let my thoughts get away from me, my husband spoke up again. “Honestly, it doesn’t bother me if it doesn’t bother you.”

The truth is it doesn’t really bother me. But I find myself thinking it does. I find myself worrying what people will think, or what they’ll say if they find out. I find myself thinking about what others are doing for the holidays that I’m not doing; and feeling pressure to make my holiday season look and feel a certain way.

But our decision to forgo Christmas presents (which was mostly out of necessity at the time we made it) has actually opened space for us to have a lighter, simpler, more beautiful Christmas. I’m not against celebrating, or against buying presents. In fact, my husband and I may buy each other presents one day.

But I do believe the common maxim “less is more” applies to the holidays more than it does to just about anything else. And I think each of us will discover a more satisfying holiday if we’ll focus on the following changes in mindset.

1. Don’t get too stuck on “the way you’ve done it before.”

If you grew up in a family or neighborhood (like I did) that went all out for Christmas, maybe scaling back for your own holiday celebration makes you feel a little bit like I felt when my husband reminded me we have never bought each other presents—like a failure. Or, like you’re doing it wrong.

I have good news. There is no wrong way to do it!

Try not to get too stuck on the way you’ve always done it before. Instead, focus on the values you want to cultivate in your family or community or home this year, and experiment with creative ways to promote those values. Also, if you’re entering a new season of life (newly independent, newly married, have young children, or have a newly empty nest), what better time to start fresh with a brand new “way?”

If you’ve always been extravagant in the past, you don’t have to “live up” to that version of yourself, or to anyone else. Take a deep breath. You’re not a failure.

2. Focus on experiences over possessions.

One of the reasons my husband and I have never bought Christmas presents for each other is that we are always traveling for the holidays. We live far from all of our extended family, and in order to spend time with family (without breaking the bank) we have had to choose between plane tickets and Christmas presents.

We’ve agreed together that, when it comes buying habits, we will always (not just at Christmas) value experiences over possessions. Possessions are nice, but they rust, rot, get stolen and burn in fires. Experiences can’t be taken from us. They have eternal value.

Consider how you cultivate experiences this year, rather than just buying gifts which will likely end up in the Goodwill pile in a few months or years.

3. Do the best you can with what you have.

This is advice a mentor of mine once gave me about a totally different subject, but I think it applies here, as well. When I was getting ready to go on a date, she would advise me not to go buy brand new clothes, or to feel like I needed to lose 10 pounds before the date, but simply to, “Do the best you can with what you have.”

In other words: be the best version of yourself.

I would give really similar advice when it comes to Christmas. Do the best you can with what you have. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t buy presents, or that having a Christmas tree is a waste. It simply means don’t go into debt over presents or trees. It means decide what you’re going to spend on Christmas—and it doesn’t have to be extravagant—and then do the best you can with what you have.

4. Turn off the TV (or find other ways to avoid being swayed by advertisements).

You’d be surprised how influenced you are by advertisements. Suddenly you begin thinking that everyone has a better Christmas planned than you do. Everyone’s Christmas tree belongs in a department store, and everyone’s husband is buying them diamond earrings, and everyone else is buying their kids new computers.

That’s simply not true, no matter how convincing the ads make it look.

The other thing that’s not true is that families who have these things are automatically happier (like they are in the commercials) than your family, or other families who go without. Presents are nice. But they can’t make you happy.

If you want a truly happy holiday season, you’ll have to find ways to cultivate happiness from the inside.

What tips do you have for creating a lighter, more beautiful life?

***

Allison Vesterfelt blogs at AllisonVesterfelt.com where she inspires and encourages others to live with less. Her book, Packing Light: Thoughts on Living Life with Less Baggage is helpful and compelling. I highly recommend it to you. She is also worth following on Twitterbecoming minimalist@gmail.com

********************

My Grown-Up Christmas List

 

Me in the Middle of Memories of Opening the Door ~ 3rd Week

This past Wednesday was the third class of the Memories to Memoirs  writing course that I’m taking with OLLI ~ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute @ UVA.   The assignment was to write about ‘Opening the Door’ to a room in our childhood home; describing the room, what was happening and how I felt.  Here’s the link to the second class ….. (Me in the Middle of Memories to Memoirs 2nd Week)
 
********************

Opening the Door

Cellar door #1

The Basement of our home was a special place holding a lot of memories for us kids when we were growing up.  It had three entrances:  the stairway leading down from our kitchen; the slanted cellar door that you pulled up from the outside and descended down a set of cement stairs; and the coal chute that slid the coal deliveries into a pile next to the furnace.  Each corner of the basement housed interesting things: the huge sink that the clothes washer would drain into; the piles of magazines; the old furniture not in use; garment bags hanging on a hook; even an old locked treasure chest that we’d play with imagining what might be inside.  Later we would learn that our grandfather, in the early days, used the basement as a still for making alcohol  

The basement was also the place where my father worked on carpentry projects and  my brother, J, would keep frogs and fish there that he collected in the swamp during the spring and summer.   During the wintertime, on days when it snowed Mom would have us go downstairs in the basement to take off all our outer clothes after sleigh riding and building snowmen.  I could recall the smell of the musty-dusty air and feel the damp darkness as I started down the steep wooden stairs from the kitchen.  I could almost feel again the tingly feeling in my toes as I pulled off my boots at the bottom of the stairs, picking off the clumps of ice that had been captured inside my boot and plastered to my socks.  Peeling off those stiff, frozen socks would reveal bright red toes that I was sure would never feel alive again.   The saving grace was the coal furnace in the corner at the opposite side of the cellar that would be chugging away with the sounds of the roaring fire.  It was kept fueled by my father who, every morning in the winter, would shovel the daily supply of coal into it.

There was a sense of freedom and adventure for me in that basement on the gray winter days that kept us more indoors than outdoors.  There was a pole in the center of the room about half a foot round.   I would hang onto that pole and skate around in the new roller skates I got for Christmas.  There were also the pretend games of me being Dale Evans and I would throw a paper lariat that would hum in a low continuous tone when it circled at top speed over my head.  When we were ready to climb back out of our fantasy worlds, there would be hot chocolate and oatmeal cookies waiting for us in the kitchen, where Mom was ready to listen to our adventures of the day.  In recalling the feelings of safety and security I felt while having the freedom to let my imagination soar in the basement of the only home I knew as a child, I’m grateful for these early beginnings in the 40s and 50s.

 

 

Images from Pixabay