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Musings: A Christmas Story

I could begin this posting with an explanation of why I have not written in a while.  I could easily say that it’s because I have been so busy with all the Christmas activities that we tend to get ourselves involved in at this time of the year.  But I have specifically worked at not getting too tangled up in the “Christmas crazies”. 

I have learned not to leave gift shopping to the last minute.  I actually “Christmas shop” throughout the year.  As I visit different places I try to find interesting items for special friends or family members.  Sometimes I’ll see something really unusual and I’ll grab it knowing that it will make a wonderful gift for someone, whether it be Christmas or Birthday.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas around the shopping areas.  I love Christmas – the lights, the songs, and those special smells that seem to surround this particular season. But I’m not frantically running around looking for that perfect gift for everyone on a long list.  I do still have one or two items that I want to get but, in one case, I know exactly what to get and where to get it, and in the other case, I know the right thing will pop up when it’s ready to reveal itself.

I haven’t been to a slew of parties nor do I have a bunch to go to between now and Christmas Day.  I’m not stressing out about the Christmas dinner.  I know we will do a “traditional” meal, turkey with all the trimmings, although it will be a little bit different because we love to deep fry the turkey.  (For those of you who have never tried it, believe me it is delicious and not in the least bit greasy!!)

One Christmas project that does take up a lot of my time and energy is “my Christmas card list”.   In my previous posting The Muse Has Been Gone – Again!, I mentioned that I have many people in my address book, family and friends that I have made over twenty five years of being attached to the military life. 

I am also a creative person and I try to make many of my own cards.  So from the beginning of November my craft room turns into a Santa Workshop with colored card stock, embellishments, ink pads galore, and stamps strewn haphazardly all over the place. (I know where everything is!)  Many of the cards are simply signed “With Love and Blessings” and our names – a token sign of friendship and memories shared.  But many require a longer note and a few are filled to the brim with news.  So I have been writing – quite a lot – just in a different way.

However, I think I need to admit here that I have been avoiding the computer and the writing of postings.  I didn’t set out purposely to do this.  I am simply acknowledging right now that I think at some deep level that’s what I’ve been doing. I have also been putting a lot of energy into staying positive, and when that kind of energy is being used it’s difficult to have much left for creatively writing.

Why have I been avoiding the computer?  Because when I write, my feelings come out (you may have noticed that if you read my postings regularly), and I guess I just wasn’t ready to do that because it might have been a great big “BLEAH” of stuff and I don’t like visiting that on an unsuspecting audience.  So in the last few days I have had the opportunity to talk some of the feelings out and to pray about them A LOT!  And here’s what I have discovered.

I am tremendously sad deep in my heart because Christmas is a time for celebrating “family style”.  I’m talking about extended family.  All my childhood Christmas memories are of the family coming together: aunties, uncles, and cousins.  People were all over the place, and the kids ran around.  Bits of wrapping paper were stuffed under chairs, music played, and there was a never-ending supply of food and drink.  It was warm, and comforting and such fun.

Well, the extended family is thousands of miles away.  Even my husband’s family is pretty long distance here in the States.  At Christmas I always invite people to the house who are alone or who also have far-flung family and we do have good times.  But it just isn’t quite the same.  Perhaps it would be truer to say that it’s great and the fellowship and socializing is really good, but I still miss my family.

They always say to “leave the best for last”.  In this case it is the “most difficult for last”.  The biggest sadness that fills my heart right now is the estrangement from my beloved daughter.  (And here come the tears; there have been many bucketfuls of late.)  Because of the lifestyle she chooses to live I do not even know if we shall see her over Christmas, and this breaks my heart.  She lives close by and yet it seems that an ocean divides us.

My Christmas prayer (which is my everyday prayer) is that God will bless and protect her and guide her to right choices.  And this is a prayer that I offer for everyone who may need it at this time of the year. 

Musing: The Muse Has Been Gone – Again!

So I have been in a Muse-less slump again.  Inspiration has not been my companion, days have passed and my fingers have not felt the urge to run eagerly across the keyboard of my computer.  There has been no “de-pression” and I have not sighed deeply, mournfully,  every time I walked past lap-top.

I no longer struggle with feeling inadequate or as if I “should” be writing, no matter what.  I am totally comfortable with the fact that there are periods when inspiration pours down on me and through me like the waters in a continuously gushing fountain.  And there are other times when I seem to be walking through an arid desert.  But at least I know that the oasis is just a little way across the dunes and I have learned to be patient until it comes into sight.  I refuse to accept mirages as excuses just to get on the computer.

At the moment I am on vacation with my husband in Orlando, Florida.  It’s become a yearly tradition for us now during the Thanksgiving week.  We have a small time-share and we come away from our “normal” routine and just relax together.  But that in and of itself always brings some small rearranging within myself.  It’s that “change” thing again.

I have to adjust to not having “my stuff” around me, although, not hindered by luggage restriction (we drive here), we do our best to bring whatever we want to have with us.  This includes lap-tops, games (in my husband’s case), books (that’s me), and I lug everything I need to do my yearly Christmas mail drop. 

I have hundreds of cards, stamps, address labels, silver and gold gel pens, purple pens, etc and while Rich plays games or does his geekie stuff on his Net-book, I attack my list of approximately two hundred friends around the world. Being in the military you either choose not to make friends because you’re constantly moving, or you make lots of friends and stay in touch.  I fall into this second category.

So for part of each day I have been writing inside cards, addressing envelopes, attaching stamps and applying Christmas stickers.  The weather has not been wonderful so I have only been to the pool twice in four days.  But because I have to be outside, my Christmas card project takes place on the balcony overlooking the pool. 

When I’m not card writing, I bring my current book out and read with the noise of the pool’s waterfall in the background.  The resort is full at the moment and is hosting quite a few families so I am grateful that the overall peacefulness is not broken by shouts and screams and general noise created by many people gathered within a restricted area.  I am mostly just grateful to God that we are able to do something like this given today’s economic climate.

Today must have been “breakthrough” day, although I think it started yesterday evening but we had plans to go out.  When I got up this morning, I knew I was going to write: wasn’t sure quite what about, but that is often the case.  The subject matter was not fully formed in my mind but there was a bubbling sensation in my heart and soul and I knew I needed to sit at my lap-top.

I think that God must have arranged the weather to accommodate this plan too.  We had actually thought of going to the Holy Land exhibit today but, upon seeing the steady rain and the general all-over grayness of the day,  we changed our minds and chose to “stay home”.  I have to admit there was an internal, silent sigh of gratitude and my eyes went straight to my lap-top.

So here I am, words running from my brain, through my fingers, over the keyboard, and onto the screen.  It just never ceases to amaze me watching and reading the end result of this process.  I hope you, the reader, can share and appreciate the joy that my writing brings to me.  Already there are thoughts running around in my head about the great murder mystery dinner theater we enjoyed on Monday evening.  Then last night we got to experience the incredible Blue Man Group and I have so much to say about that. 

We have been to see the awesome actress Sandra Bullock putting in the performance of a lifetime in Blind Side, and we also visited the quaintly interesting and somewhat Europeanized town of Winter Park. Even our weekly attendance at Mass on Sunday was in the very beautiful and unique “shrine church” of Mary, Queen of the Universe.  But these will all be inspiration  for other postings.  The Muse has been most generous in her gifts again!