Finding That Christmas Spirit


Even the little critters have decorated for the holidays. My spider friends have glammed up their homes with crystals and turned their webs to delicate lace.

I’m not much of a Christmas person; for most of my professional life Christmas and other holidays have simply been another day on the job. I have lots of nostalgia related to Christmases past but the religious aspects are not part of that past or my personal spirituality. And for the last few years, well, I’ve been something of Scrooge; the Day Itself has passed me by with barely a nod of recognition.

It was almost the same this year.

You might have noticed a lack of posting on my part lately, here and on Facebook. It’s been a crazy couple months:

My mom has been sick since November and a couple weeks ago she had a stroke. As strokes go, she was very lucky and has only very slight residuals. But I did go to southern California to see her and help out. As much as I wanted and needed to be with her, well, SoCal is not my happy zone and it was an uncomfortable time for a whole bunch of reasons. Including a whole host of paranormal ones.

At the same time my sister ended up in ICU with a raging case of pneumonia.

And just yesterday, my reliable vehicle threw a rod. I guess I really should’ve given Fate a safe word. She apparently thought I meant “screw with everything all at once” when I said I needed some changes in my life.

Fate:  “Hey, cool! Here’s a metric buttload of crap for you to deal with!”

Me:  “No, Fate, no I meant I want that whole bestselling author thing I’ve been working on, not fuck up my family.”

But, as these things often go, what seemed like a total chaotic shitstorm at first turned out to be a challenge and an opportunity personally. I’ve found peace with parts of me and mine that needed some serious attention. I’ve found some new, unsuspected strength and resilience.

Most important, I’ve regained the Spirit of this season that I’ve been lacking for quite some time. I decorated, for the first time in years and it felt great. Now as I sit here on Christmas Eve looking at my beautiful tree I have so many things to be grateful for:

I have my health, a wonderful husband and sweet home filled with pets.

My mom and my sister are healing and getting stronger.

Cars are fixable.

I might not have a whole bunch of money right now, but I am wealthy with the love I am surrounded with.

A friend recently pointed out something that I really took to heart. My Scrooginess in the past has been based on my disgust with an overly-commercialized and hyped Christmas. I just wanted to ignore it as much as possible and get through it to the other side. I Bah-Humbugged my way through it and even took a twisted in glee in my bad feelings.

“Not this year.” My friend said. She told me that it was important to celebrate the Season so that we can fill our hearts with Peace and Love. It’s not about buying the latest doodad, or seeing who spends the most. This isn’t a competition. It’s a way to practice opening our hearts and having compassion for all. Even if it’s only for one day, you need to really feel it, and carry that feeling with you throughout the coming year.

Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?

How do you celebrate the Season? What traditions do you hold to, or what ones have you developed? I would love to hear how you share the joy of this time of year.


Holidays, Traditions and Family

I don’t have a lot of traditions that I follow around this time of year.  Well, baking, but I bake all year long, so I guess that doesn’t really count.  I do put up a tree, because I think the lights are pretty, but it’s a pre-lit tree and I don’t pull out my vast collection of beautiful glass ornaments because I have unpredictable cats and big dogs with big tails.

I’m not a Christian, and don’t practice any of those rituals.  I was Wiccan for a time, and find a great deal of comfort and joy in observing solstices and equinoxes, but in my own quiet way.  Up until three years ago, I worked at jobs where working on holidays, any holiday, was an expected thing; zoos and hospitals are up and running 365 days a year, so celebrating on the day before, or after, or the following week has been the norm for me.

I grew up nominally Christian, we observed the forms, trees, Santa Claus, Christmas services at church with the grandparents.  In fact, the only time we went to church, as a family, was when my grandparents were visiting (although I was born again for a while, too).  The one tradition we had when I was a child was being together; grandparents came into town and stayed for a few weeks, school was out and it was playtime.  Yippee!  But kids grow up, move out and grandparents pass away.  Somewhere in my early twenties, my siblings moved to distant states, while I was the one close to my parents.  My siblings were unable to come for holidays for the most part, for multiple reasons, so our family gatherings dwindled.

Years pass, people move about, careers change, or come and go, and sometimes, family members fight and become estranged.  I haven’t spent a lot of time with my siblings lately, largely because of their prejudices against my husband.  Parts of it have become better over time, and I’m trying very hard to let go my anger, and come to some level of forgiveness.  I’ve managed to find that in my heart, but what I find I can’t do is be around them at the holidays.  I’d rather be with my husband’s family, and feel love and acceptance.

The biggest rift is between my sister and I, and boy, it’s a doozy.  Along the lines of, ‘you’re not my sister anymore’ and ‘you can’t be part of my life’.  This year, for my birthday, she sent me ‘Happy Birthday’ by text, where there had been no communication for some time.  Hmmm, knowing her, she could just be acting snarky, neither one of us has been above it in the past.  But, in the hope that it’s a gesture, some sort of reaching out, I did one of my own.  I baked for my family, something I’ve never done before.

I baked them holiday treats, but extra long hours at my work and hubs meant that they never made it into the mail, before Christmas.  So tomorrow, the 26th, I’ll head my post office and mail off their orange-cranberry loaves that I made while thinking loving thoughts, and blessed with Reiki to heal our family.  I’ll send them off with more Reiki prayers and wait to see if anything comes of it.

Have you managed to overcome rifts in your own family?  Do you have time honored traditions you follow every year?  My husband and I are minimalists, we neither like to decorate or go crazy with the spending spree, and I’m not a fan of the malls right now.  Do you love to shop, and take in all the sights and smells of the season?  How do you make this season of peace and love special for you and yours?


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