Saturday, December 24, 2016

Merry Christmas!

Our Minnesota Christmas was delayed this year - Libby's last chemo was just last week, and we hope that by waiting for just a bit, she will be able to join us.  (The chemo seems to have knocked back the cancer - it's no longer visible on the scans.  HOORAY! - this does NOT mean she gets to forego the mastectomies, not with our family history. I don't think they've yet scheduled the surgery; I think it depends on how quickly she bounces back from the chemo.)

I didn't make other plans, so here I am, home alone after church on Christmas Eve. Joe and Rita went out for tacos. They invited me to join them, but I just couldn't convince my stomach it was up for greasy bar food and a margarita tonight.  Other nights, sure - but on Christmas???.

Once upon a time, I'd have been sad and lonely to be alone tonight. I keep poking just to make sure, but nope, I'm neither sad nor lonely. I have candles to warm the darkness, colored lights on the tree, music on the stereo. My people are not here with me tonight - but I know they are out there somewhere. There are presents; we won't open them tonight, but some of them have my name on them. I like presents.

I hate to admit anything even a little bit good came out of my bout with cancer, but there is this. I know I am loved. It's not out of sight, out of mind, as I feared it was for so many years. Rather, they hold me in their hearts as I hold them in mine. I am not alone in the darkness; I need to but reach out, and those who love me will be there.

And, it turns out Frankl was right. I might be alone right now, but I have with me memories of Christmas past; the memories are mine to treasure. Riding home from church, in the back seat with my siblings, shivering with the cold, singing carols, anticipating the joy of presents soon to come. Family gatherings, children galore, gifts for all. Tucking my children in, tired and worn, but smiling still.

And Joe and Rita just walked back in - would you believe they closed the bar kitchen early on Christmas Eve??? Who'd'a thunk it?

Merry Christmas!
For unto us a child is born...

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy Winter Solstice!

It came, it came!

The year has turned, the shortest day is past.
I know what you're thinking - "Of course it did - it always has and will until the sun goes away."
Ah, but that's logical.
The anxieties that drive my tumbling world are not based in logic.
They're based in loss and darkness, uncertainty and fear.

Despite what my head tells me, there is a part of my soul that is afraid the days will continue to get shorter and shorter until the day when the light never comes at all (probably a good thing I don't live anywhere near the poles, where this is true!), and is convinced that when the light leaves, it won't come back.

Knowing that yesterday was the shortest day of the year, that today the sun will hang around for a whole minute longer, made a difference.

Light in the darkness, hope in the night.  The cycle begins anew, and my soul is comforted.  So what if the greater part of winter still lies ahead? As unlikely as it seems in these dark days, Spring will surely come.

Which brings me to wonder, what were those guys who made up the calendar thinking?  The world just turned - why do we wait another ten days or so to declare it a new year?  What's the significance of having the year turn the week after Christmas?  I know their astronomy skills were up to par, so that's not it.  (Not that this is the first time I've decided the 'theys' who decided something important are wrong.)

Happy Winter's Solstice Day!

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Winter Skies

Is there another gray so flat as a winter sky?

I know the sun is out there somewhere (there's definitely daylight out there), but there's no trace of it behind the clouds.

I used to think I didn't like winter because of the cold. My time in the camper taught me it wasn't the cold that bothers me as much as the darkness. The day doesn't even pretend to brighten before seven; by five, it's already taken its leave.

'I don't WANNA get up', my inner child whines every morning, snuggling into the warmth of the blankets for just five more minutes. 'It's NEVER gonna be light again, and I HATE the COLD!'. (It's a good thing I have to get up to go pee - I don't know if I'd ever get me out of bed...)

I envy the trees on my daily walk.  'Sleep', I tell them. 'Sleep until the sunlight returns, until your blood stirs and it's safe to let your buds begin to unfurl.'

I dress in layers to ward off the chill - more inner than outer; there's no problem with my furnace and the house is the same temperature it was a month ago.

I pull the blinds to close out the dark.

I light candles to remind myself that dark cannot extinguish the light, but light can chase the darkness away.

I drink lots of caffeinated hot tea, drawing energy and warmth from the leaves.

I put on the Christmas CDs to play quietly in the background.  (I have enough that no, I don't tire of them in the three weeks I listen to them each year.)

I snuggle in after dinner with a book and a warm throw, easily convincing myself it's too dark and cold to do anything productive around the house.

It's just for a few weeks. If I focus on keeping an even keel, just for today, I can make it through.

one step at a time.