Monthly Archives: December 2012

For Auld Lang Syne

I haven’t officially ‘rung in’ the New Year for a while now. Like Christmas Eve, December 31st is one of those days I enjoy best in my quiet mode. Granted there may be a football game or two on the agenda depending on which teams are bowl-bound after the regular season, but I’d rather have wine and cheese and a good movie, perhaps even a good book, to see me to my bedtime…which seems to come as soon as the Ball drops in Times Square.
While I was working, the last business day of the year, most likely 12/31, was the day to make sure all problems were solved, all accounts were credited, and all papers in order before the close of business. We stayed late to make sure this was the case. Then it was home to dinner or out for drinks and still home before midnight, because after New Year’s Day (a day of football games and visiting) we started all over again, feeling a bit like Bob Cratchit under the watchful eye of Scrooge.
These days I have more leisure, even with my part-time job, and get to spend this day doing a few things that need to be done but mainly reading and thinking about the past year. Then I’ll pour a glass of wine to toast the coming New Year, settle down in my jammies, and watch one of the movies I gifted myself for Christmas. Boring? Yes. Peaceful? Definitely.
Tomorrow is soon enough to worry about 2013 and what may or may not happen. Tomorrow is for making resolutions, some of which I actually hope to keep this time around, and for putting up new calendars with birthday and anniversary dates penned in along with the possibilities of travel West, East, and possibly South. Tomorrow I will make a final batch of shortbread to share with a good friend. Tomorrow I will watch some football. Or see a movie. Or sleep in. Or all of the above. 2013 is a blank slate for better or for worse.
With this in mind, I wish us all a wonderful New Year, with promises kept, progress made, and problems reduced and swept away leaving nothing but health and happiness Auld Lang Syne, my dear. Drink a cup of kindness.
.

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T’was the Day Before The Day Before…

This year, I’m having a problem with Christmas. By December 23rd of any other year I am fairly certain everything I need to do for the Holiday is done. I select one or two of my guilty pleasures movie-wise; Love Actually and (yes) It’s a Wonderful Life rest on top of the blu-ray player ready to pop in after my Bears battle whoever (whomever?) is left on their schedule. Presents are wrapped, shipped, received and placed under the mini cat-proof tree on the coffee table, and my baking is done. Shortbread and good tea are my boon companions and the sun shines brightly.
What went wrong in 2012? I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s the fact that I turned a “certain age” this year, although I doubt it. I’ve been doing the “certain age” dance for a decade or so and it’s never been a factor before. The end of the world? No. I figured that was something I couldn’t control. The big stuff never is. So, on this day before the day before Christmas, I’m considering possible scenarios for my still-to-be-wrapped and shipped presents (to my sister, who agreed to wait until after Christmas to exchange gifts and then shipped them anyway), my unbaked bread, holiday cookies and that last batch of shortbread (also for said sister), and the fact that my tree and Nativity are still in the container with the garland and bows. Even Katherine Jenkins singing Silent Night doesn’t give a ready answer.
This past year has been rough on people I know and on me as well. I have good friends dealing with medical problems that can’t or won’t be cured and other friends who’ve lost more than one family member within a short period of time. My own age creeps higher…which is a blessing and an issue, mainly because I can still do what I do, just not as fast. Working an eight hour retail shift on the Saturday before Christmas wipes me out and tries my patience even while I smile at my customers. Who knew shopping could be so complicated? Most years I shrug it off. This year? Still shrugging. Small stuff when I compare what’s happening to other people I care about, but there nonetheless. I never used to have a formal prayer list, mainly sticking to the basics. Now I have one. And I try not to forget anyone, including me. And I hope the coming year is a better one.
So, here I sit, one last batch of shortbread finally in the oven, wrapping paper strewn around the living room, without any concrete answer to my dilemma. Maybe there isn’t one. Maybe we all have years like this and just muddle through, getting the important things done and squeezing in the incidentals. My sister’s presents will get to her by New Year’s Eve, the UPS and USPS men (both of whom know my address by heart this time of year) will get their cookies, and I’ll have my tree and manger up before the day is over. And then? Well, tomorrow is the Eve of Christmas and I’ll be lunching with a good friend, meeting at someone’s house for cookies, and making a good hearty soup in the slow cooker. I’ll watch my movies, go to Christmas Eve services, and indulge in a toast to the Most Wonderful Time of the Year. And then, just before I go to sleep, I’ll listen for the pitter patter of tiny reindeer hooves on the roof. Merry Christmas to all and God bless us every one!

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‘Tis the Season 2

‘Tis the season. The days after Thanksgiving are fraught with all sorts of platitudes…deck the halls, trim the tree, falalalala. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. If you hear a venerable Christmas song, the words are there somewhere. After all, this season is a Good Season. Cash registers buzz as plastic cards are swiped through tiny little slots, lattes and cappuccinos gain Holiday flavor with mint chocolate mocha and hazelnut syrup, chocolate itself promises a “peppermint swirl” inside, and truffles are more desirable as gifts than simple boxes of butter creams. HD TVs are on sale. Books are on sale. Candles, perfume, scented potpourri fill the aisles of stores with their scents. Pity the poor shopper allergic to any or all of the above. It’s everywhere.
I am not a Scrooge. I do not declare “Humbug” whenever someone wishes me a Happy Holiday (political correctness in this day of non-offensive wishes). I love the concept of Christmas. It is a time of family, a day of celebration for the birth of a Messiah (if you’re Christian), seven days of celebration for the oil that never ran out (if you’re Jewish), the rite of the Winter Solstice for those who follow the Pagan Path, and so on. So many cultures have their own traditions for this time of year. It is impossible to name them all. But, it is a time of celebration. Peace on Earth, Good Will to All Men is something we all hope for in our own way. For this one day, we hope it exists and that all of person-kind endures.
Sometimes we forget this in our rush to honor the other traditions….giving gifts, throwing parties and open houses, easy payment plans on expensive items, and shopping willy-nilly in order to impress those who receive our offerings. It isn’t hard to do. We’re surrounded by enticements to buy now, pay later, dazzle our darlings with bling and glitz and generally overdo it. Caught up in our own assumed seasonal “prosperity” we forget that not all share in our good fortune. And we should not forget.
This has been a complicated and difficult year for this planet, not really that different from other years, you might say. There is always “something” happening to good people. I can’t solve their problems. I have my own. You do. I do. But in most cases, we are more blessed, fortunate, and just plain lucky to be where we are. So in this “Season of Giving”, maybe giving to someone in need, someone far from home, or even someone down the block is the one thing we can do.
Send a card to a soldier through the Red Cross. You can mail them a card before December 7th and it will be passed on to a soldier, sailor or marine serving his or her country on the other side of the world. Holiday Mail for Heroes
P.O.Box 5456
Capitol Heights, MD 20791-5456 For one Forever stamp you can bring “home” to someone far from their own.
Give someone the gift of a donation to a charitable organization. My own preferences are animal charities, those places who give shelter to a dog, cat, rabbit, even horses, that have no place warm and safe. They always appreciate donations. Money, food, shelter materials such as blankets, etc. If you want to give the gift of independence, Heifer International offers gifts of geese, chicken, bees, even oxen and sheep to be given to families on their list. You can even give a “portion” of a cow. Their website tells you all you need to know at http://www.heifer.org/catalog Drop your change in the Salvation Army bucket. Take some old but still good winter coats to a local shelter. Take a dinner to the old couple down the street who are on a fixed income. Give of yourself and your time at a local charity. So many things that cost so little but can mean so much.
I’m off my soapbox now. We should be doing things like this all year, every day if we can. If you can’t, consider this. You can create a new holiday tradition. Put it on your list. All you have to write is “Do Something Good for Someone”. And then decide what that something might be.
Peace.

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