Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Scram, Old Man 2014

It's been a tough year, full of uncertainties, sadness, illness, and stress. We all carry stuff around that most folks don't know about, living our lives juggling whatever comes along. Sharing what we can, bearing what we must. So be it. But 2014 has been particularly filled with crazy negativity, and I'm looking forward to leaving it behind.

Of course it wasn't all bad. Some wonderful memories were made. I loved when my family visited New York and we took in everything from the Statue of Liberty to Coney Island and Broadway. I've loved settling back into the rhythms of Atlanta and being with family and friends again. I loved the day out in London with friend Joanne, catching up on two years' worth of our lives, tracking down the Twinings Tea Shop in the dark. And watching Liam and Charlotte grow over the past 12 months has brought me infinite joy. For all of those things, and more, I give great thanks. 

But would I want to relive it? No. I'll look ahead with prayers and good thoughts to the new year. I will bring the lessons I learned in the past 365 days with me in hopes that they will inform my thoughts and actions in the future. But beyond that, I'm happily shoving Old Man 2014 out the door.
So buh-bye, Mr. 2014. Don't let the door hit you in the ass as you leave.

Wishing you good health, laughter, and love in the coming year. A very happy 2015 to one and all!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

The Bones of Winter

I love winter. I love it for many of the reasons that most people hate it. I'm partial to cold weather. I love that it's Mother Nature's way of saying "slow down!" I love lying around on the weekends, feet in cozy socks, with a good book and cup of tea while the winter winds blow outside my window.

One of my favorite things about this time of year is the beauty of naked trees. The winter sky sets off the shapes of branches hidden under the leaves and flowers of other seasons, creating shapes and patterns we rarely get to see. I suspect most folks think the foliage is the glory of a tree, but to me, the true glory is the branches. Tree bones come in infinite designs - from stalwart and straight to complex filigree, and it's only when they are bare that a tree can show us what it really is.

These bones of winter remind me to look deeper than whatever spring green, summer shade, or autumn color hides the real tree. Or person. Look up, my friends, and appreciate the glimpse of reality that God and nature give as a blessed gift in winter. Yes, look up and rejoice!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

God Bless Us, Every One

One of the big advantages to being in my own home for Christmas is that after all the wonderful, dear family time, I can come back at the end of the day and spend Christmas night doing whatever I please. That always involves cozy clothes, re-heated leftovers, and a night of Christmas movies. Even though I've watched each of them several times during the season, I cram as many into Christmas night as possible.

This year, I'm watching every version of A Christmas Carol/Scrooge that I have access to. Thanks to Turner Classic Movies, I've added the 1935 Seymour Hicks version to the mix, followed by 1938's Reginald Owen version, 1951's with Alistair Sim, and moving into Albert Finney's musical version from the 1970s, George C. Scott's from the 80's, Bill Murray's Scrooged, and The Muppet Christmas Carol (Michael Caine is phenomenal, really). Amongst the full-length films are sprinkled Mr. Magoo's version, as well as versions from the Flintstones and Mickey Mouse. That should keep me busy this evening (I'm with Alistair Sim at present).

I love the message of Dickens' work and feel the need to remember its lessons of redemption and living into one's own history, being aware of the present, and casting an eye to the future. I'm hoping that if I spend Christmas night with Scrooge, Fezziwig, the Cratchits, and several ghosts, I'll be more apt to retain these things.

Christmas is not over after midnight tonight. Technically (church-wise), it lasts through January 6. I'm happy to keep it up until then, and pray I can keep it up beyond.

“I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I will not shut out the lessons that they teach!”

A very Merry Christmas to everyone! 

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Home for Christmas

For the first time in nine years, I have a Christmas tree. A real one, not one concocted out of stacked books and a few well-placed ornaments. I'm in my own cozy place, not camping out as a visitor, and watching my own Christmas DVDs, surrounded by my own books and all the Christmas cards that have come my way. Because for the first time in nine years, my home is where my family is. My stuff doesn't reside a 800 miles away. I am home for Christmas.

Do I miss the crazy splendor of New York at Christmas? Yes, of course. I haven't seen the trees at Rockefeller Plaza and The Met. I find myself wondering about the theme for the windows at Bergdorf's and Sak's. The holiday markets at Union Square and Grand Central had to do without me this year.

But I got to attend pageant rehearsals, Christmas programs, and holiday family outings spread out over the month of December, rather than being packed into 3-4 hurried days. I've baked Christmas cookies with Liam in my own little kitchen and watch Charlotte yank on the ornaments at the bottom of my tree. I've gotten to catch up with dear friends at a party or two. And none of it involved the purchase of an airline ticket.

In short, I'm back in the fold of family and community. It feels good. It feels right. I love New York and always will, but my place and my heart are here. At home. For the holidays and beyond.

Merry, Merry Christmas!