Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

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Christmas Lights and the Gap

December 1, 2016

I’m not sure why my dad always chose the coldest day in December to put up the outside Christmas tree lights, but invariably, he did. First, he’d ramble up to the attic and hand me boxes of green and blue lights, and then we’d spread them in the living room to check if they worked. Instead of going to Wal-Mart and buying a new string, we’d carefully replace each defective bulb until all 8000 lit the room.

The tree outside was enormous. Dad would climb on his tallest ladder and use a rake to get them as high as he could. He swore a few times, and our feet froze, but when he’d flip the switch, and the tree blazed with blue and green lights, magic happened. For me, nothing was more beautiful. I never noticed the gaps, void of light that my dad pointed out, grumbling about his work, wanting perfection.

We don’t do outside tree lights at our house now, but I am in charge of stringing tiny, white bulbs on our inside tree. Really, it’s a thankless job. They tangle; they get stuck on branches; they burst; and they crack. But at the end of the day, the room is lit with magnificent light: until. Until I see what my dad saw—the gaping hole, a spot in the middle of the tree too tall to reach. By the time I’ve noticed, the kids have covered the branches with ornaments and tinsel, and it’s too late to fix. The gap remains.

I’m trying hard to reverse my thoughts about the holes in life.

Too often, an artist desires perfection, unable to see the beauty in the entire piece and instead, focuses on the gap. Writers and painters adjust, repair, and fine-tune their work until it’s done, but often, they continue to see a tiny hole; something that’s not quite right in their eyes. Most writers I know look at their published work and still see holes to fix. Not big ones, not ones that anyone else sees, but the tiny slices that need repairing only to the artist.

As a writer, I’m always editing (just ask my kids). But I’m working on letting go of the perfection. There may always be a gap. That’s the way life works. And if the rest of the world sees beautiful light, so should we.

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Word for the Year

January 4, 2012

A few years ago my best friends and I tapped into a new way of making New Year’s resolutions. Instead of the usual hope to lose a few pounds, be more productive, or find meaningful relationships, we decided to choose a word of the year.

As a writer, this idea made me mucho manic. How could I possibly choose just one word to follow or resonate with the entire year? I’m a woman of words. Choose one? For 365 days? No way. But my friends urged me forward. The first year, our initial list looked like something construed by Hallmark’s creative team. The brainstorm included, but was not limited to, the following:

Inspiration                   Peace               Forgiveness

Imagination                 Joy                   Clarity

Motivation                  Trust                Purpose

Intention                     Faith                Humor

Kindness                     Love                Light

Gentle                         Be                    Gratitude

Believe                        Energy             Creativity

The first year I chose clarity, and throughout the year, I found it again and again. It hung above my head and pushed me through indecision and inner turmoil. Sometimes, when life seemed brutality murky, I didn’t understand why I’d chosen the word. But in the end, it made sense.

Last year, I picked light. Wouldn’t you know? It became one of the darkest years on record. Three kids started three new schools, a few health issues surfaced, rejection piled up, memory of my Dad haunted me relentlessly, our dog of 15 years died, as did my cousin and more than one local friend. Where the heck was the light? By early December I felt drowned and defeated. And then, like Christmas magic, the light appeared, dimly at first. I stopped fighting the yuck, my brain began to move beyond, the grief settled, and divine spirit grabbed a hold. Just like that the light brightened.

It’s amazing what just ONE word can do. If you’re a writer it won’t be easy, but give it a try. Choose a word to tap into throughout the year and see what it brings. My word for 2012 is SPIRIT. Good luck and have fun!

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Rule of Threes and the Winter Solstice

December 20, 2011

A rule of thumb in writing: don’t make your lists longer than three. Rules are made to be broken, right?

This time of year bombards us with much stimulation. Chanukah lights, red ribbon, mistletoe, Santa, nativity scenes, dreidals, Kwanza promises, New Year’s resolutions, Christmas cookies, holiday pounds, and . . . are you tired yet? I am. And yes, I am a rule breaker.

Besides the many wonderful religious holidays, this time of year marks the return of the sun. The winter solstice falls between December 21st and 22nd. My dad used to tell me the blend was his favorite day of the year. Never mind that the 21st is my birthday and the 22nd is my mom’s, but I knew the day held triple meaning for him. He was a spring kind of guy. But, for me, the winter solstice brings about a bit of sadness. Call me crazy but I love cozy nights by candlelight. I love celebrating all of the traditions this time of year has to offer. It is a lot. But aren’t celebrations all about abundance? Rule of three beware. I’m breaking bad. Here’s the list of what I love this time of year:  Yule logs, Christmas cards, snowflakes, gingerbread houses, latkes, chestnuts by the fire (actually, I hate chestnuts but they always sound so good), the smell of sweet balsam, magic, Christmas cards, Rudolph, secrets and surprises, school parties, family phone calls, and the longest night of the year.

Happy winter solstice to all and to all a good night.

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Who’s knockin’ at my Door?

March 1, 2010

Surprise is the greatest gift which life can grant us.

-Boris Pasternak

A good friend from long ago happened on my doorstep not long ago. In our early twenties we worked together, travelled together, and shared many good times.

Before Steph arrived with her twin boys and her parents, I told my kids a few things about her. She had the ability to make even the dullest job fun. When we travelled, there wasn’t anything she wouldn’t try, and together we explored most of Europe and North Africa. Over dinner, Steph recounted those stories to my kids, and slipped into accents that had them in hysterics.

Once Steph told me that she was the kind of kid who opened all her presents before Christmas, then rewrapped them so her parents would still think she was surprised. As a writer, I used that story in a character sketch. But when I recounted this piece of trivia to my kids, they were baffled…who would want to ruin a surprise? Why did it matter, then, if she rewrapped the gifts? It wouldn’t be a true surprise at all.

When I think of surprise, I think of Steph. She might have opened her gifts before she was supposed to, but her entire personality epitomizes surprise. Spending time with a friend like Steph, opens the door to unexpected adventure. Seeing her reminded me to add more to my own life. And while I don’t get to see her much anymore, a surprise knock on the door was the greatest surprise of my week.

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Ho Ho Ho…

December 10, 2009

The trick is in what one emphasizes. We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves happy. The amount of work is the same. –Carlos Castaneda

Well if the amount of work is the same, I’ll take happy. Any day. Truth be told, life’s been a little rough lately. Like most moms, extra work and not much time have dominated my life. Holiday energy can be great, until it’s not. I love this time of year and yet the gifts to buy, decorations to adorn, and the meals to make can overwhelm even the superist of super moms. So why do we do it?

Like Carlos, I’ve reaped a new perspective and do what I love. I sing Falalala very loud. Write. And I spend time with my family and friends. What I don’t like? Overly tired kids.  Bah Humbug people. Traffic. Plus, one cookie party is enough, isn’t it?  Who cares if we skip bows and ribbons? Isn’t it more important to cut paper snowflakes with our kids than prepare the Martha Meal? Let’s cut down on the holiday hubbub that makes us miserable and spend the extra time making happy.

Maybe we should all order pizza to celebrate. After all Canadian Bacon’s a distant cousin of the holiday ham, right? Either way, emphasizing the happy may be the key to survival during the season of light. Think Joy. And above all the reason for the season.