25 December 2009

Christmas Past and Present

One of our family traditions started back in 1991. Like 2009, it was a lean holiday. Our son was born in April and just starting to wobble and our daughter just turned seven. All she wanted that year was a bike, a new two wheeler. But since my husband was on unemployment and I was not working outside the home at the time that was not going to be possible. And to add insult to injury everyday on our local news with the late great weatherman Mike Ambrose in San Diego, was an ongoing collection of bikes for the needy. And everyday they were tallying the new bike donations totals. There were shiny red tricycles and brand new ten-speeds filling up the news studio.

As Christmas approached and the money for presents was not presenting itself and as I continued to watch these bikes pile up and wanting one desperately for my daughter to find on her Christmas morning, I swallowed my pride and called the news station. I explained to the receptionist that I saw the bike collection going on and I wondered how one might go about getting one for their child. While I never considered (or would have admitted) that we were needy I explained our situation and she gave me a number to call. It was for the Salvation Army. They asked me a few questions, like how many were in our family, what our ages were, stuff like that. Then she gave me an appointment to go and pick up our bike.

The next day my husband and I drove to a warehouse where we were directed to a line to wait and as our turn came up we were given a brand new stingray bike with pink and white streamers on the handle bars. I had told the person on the phone we had enough food and our rent was paid we didn't need much but the bike for my daughter would be all we would think to ask for. Still, in addition to the bike we were given some toys for the baby and a box of food stuffs. Some basics, like some rice and some canned goods. We humbly accepted the generosity. We used up the canned goods except for one. It was a can of vegetarian mock duck. It must have been donated from someone who shopped at an oriental market. It was quite an unusual thing. We marveled at what it could possibly be. We searched for an ingredients list. Gluten flour and water. We shared many good laughs over that little can of mock duck. I knew we would never eat such a thing but I felt it held too precious a meaning to toss it out. Someone had shared their fare for our welfare and benefit and I had no right on earth to snub my nose at such an act of kindness. I wrapped the can in some leftover tissue paper and placed it in a box with the rest of the holiday decorations. Every year since then it has made the rounds as the annual gag gift between us. When it is opened by the unsuspecting recipient, we all laugh the same laugh again and retell the story of the great generosity that was given to us.

My wish is that everyone makes the time to pause and appreciate those precious gifts we share with each other.
(¯`•.¸¸,¸,ø¤*º°`°º*¤ø¸,»+ Merry Christmas to all my dear ones +«¸,ø¤*º°`°º*¤ø,¸,¸,.•´¯) ¸..· ´¨¨)) -:¦:- ¸.·´ .·´¨¨)) ((¸¸.·´ ..·´ -:¦:- * ♥ * -:¦:- ((¸¸.·´

24 December 2009

Happy Christmas Eve

21 December 2009

A very rare experience happened to me today. Since my unemployment, I feel as if I've entered a timelessness and with the onset of winter that feeling is even more increased, just as the light has decreased.

But back to the experience, I was standing in the grocery line, and the bottle of lavender scented bubble bath that I bought as a little treat for myself, did not scan. You know how annoying that is. So the clerk sent the bagger to run and perform a visual price check. After several moments time, and as the clerk tried to make small talk and finish up the bagging task, the runner still had not returned. So we waited. And as we waited the line began to increase behind me. I had all but transacted my business so I was starting to get a little impatient myself for his return as I had other errands to run before I could start making a lasagna for a family friend whose mother just passed away. As my mind wandered a bit, the lady in line behind me began to ask the clerk if she had a fifty dollar bill and discussing the merits of giving a gift of cash to someone she hardly knew versus giving a gift card because the gift card entailed fees and restrictions including a $4 initiation fee. We were all in agreement that the gift cards were basically a rip-off. Meanwhile, with our runner still MIA, I decline to purchase the bubble bath (I'll continue to use the dish-soap as I have for the past few weeks) and collected my change. And as I turned to leave the lady behind me said, "Thank you for making me wait, it allowed me the time to rethink my purchase and saved me $8." Well, slap me thrice and hand me to me mammy! What a nice thing to say.

And it made me realise that all to often at this sacred time of year we're all too busy rushing around and seemingly carrying the burdens of the world on our shoulders when we should just take a step back, take a breath and pause...

This year has been radically different for me than any year before. First of all, my children are grown, my youngest having reached majority earlier this year. Besides that, they are both traveling out of state to spend the holiday with their father's family. And I have been unemployed now for some 12 weeks. So the cash flow has been adversely affected. As a result I have lowered my expectations for the holiday all together. And the pay off is that I can't remember ever having a more stress-free Christmas holiday. I've taken the time to enjoy the sweetness that has been offered and I have not really missed those things that I could not manage. This awareness has offered me a gift that cannot be purchased or bartered.

Happy Solstice blessings.

~** Happy Solstice **~

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Whose woods are these 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.

Robert Frost
New Hampshire

Gabriel's Message ~ Sting

One of my favourite Christmas songs, and my offering to you dear readers with a humble and grateful bow to Sting. *~*Happy Solstice*~*

Christmas Swing ~ Django style

14 December 2009

Santana and Clapton - Jingo

One of my favourite stories about Clapton and Santana is one I read in an Clapton interview for Guitar Player magazine. Clapton was recounting his days of heavy drinking and addiction and Carlos, in an effort to intervene on his behalf, offered to drink whisky with Clapton all night long if Clapton would pray with Carlos all night the next night. Then Eric added, "I think he got the better of the deal." But I also believe that his comment was half sarcastic and that he really appreciated his friend's efforts.

I thank God they both are around and this is a smokin' hot rendition of Jingo.

11 December 2009

Remembering the meaning of Hanukkah

So I bought a lovely menorah last year on an after-holiday sale, although I am not Jewish. However, it did not come with candles. And with the present state of negative cash-flow I was unable to purchase any in time for tonight's candle-lighting. Apparently menorah candles are of a very specific size. And after searching through junk drawers and discovering that birthday candles are indeed too small and the little white candles that fit into my Swedish angel chime candle are just a little too big, I decided that the cinnamon-scented, red pillar candle that I also bought last year would serve the purpose. Because, as I explained to my loved ones, the very meaning of Hanukkah is that there will be enough. In fact, we have more than we even realise we have. For just as it seemed that there was only enough lamp oil for one day, it in fact lasted for eight days. And that is what I am trying to remember this season. We have enough. I am enough. And whether it is red pillar candle or a Swedish angel chime or a menorah, the light is all the same.

10 December 2009

Johnny Mathis and the holidays

Tonight we are seeing Johnny Mathis. We bought the tickets months ago before the unemployment hit us. Tomorrow is our fifth wedding anniversary and Johnny Mathis Christmas music played a big part in our honeymoon. We kept hearing it everywhere we went. This will be our combination Christmas and anniversary present.