Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Past

The sun is shining in the windows lighting up the whole house. I stood at the kitchen window marvelling at the green, if somewhat beaten down, grass and the 52 degrees on the outdoor thermometer. For cripes sake it's December 29th in Iowa! It's supposed to be about 0 to 32 degrees with at least partly gray skies, or at least sunshine sparkling on snow. Oh well, it's a good day to go to the bank and do some other errands. But then the post Christmas doldrums settle over me like a blanket and I slump back into my chair in front of the computer in spite of the sunshine.

With nothing urgent to do, my mind wanders as it has been doing more often lately. I like to think of it as relaxing and meditating, but suspect it has more to do with aging. With 68 years piled up behind me there are many thousands of memories to pass the time with. Many of them are much more pleasant than current events, so it seems to be a natural place to go, Christmas' past for example.

With only a few family members remaining within visiting distance, our belated Christmas celebration yesterday was pleasant and simple. This was in stark contrast to years ago with 17 first cousins on one side of the family and 14 on the other, Christmas at the grandparents' homes was noisy, exciting and fun, at least for the children. There was not a dull moment with up to 17 children impatiently waiting for the tables to be cleared and dishes done so the gifts could be opened. Just before opening them though, grandpa would bring in a bucket of water and grandma would light the candles on the tree (no electricity). Then we had to sing carols. With our patience at an end, we finally got to pass out and open the gifts. Names were drawn among the children and the adults separately. In those days the men's gifts were mostly ties or cartons of cigarettes. Wrapping paper and bows were at least knee deep everywhere when the gift opening frenzy was over. Adults were busy helping the little ones, everyone was pleasantly tired and ready to go home to wait for Santa. It was a magical time. Then the next day we'd do it all over with the other side of the family with 14 children.

Coming back to the present, I've thought maybe I should find some greater purpose or excitement in my life, or not? Some folks talk about making a bucket list. I've given that some thought from time to time, and come up with things I'd like to do like take up gymnastics, back pack all over Europe, start a successful career in the art field (after obtaining a master's degree in fine arts of course), all total nonsense even though I feel thirtyish. How did I ever come to live in this 68 year old body? OK, revised bucket list: Stay alive until at least tomorrow, clean out the craft room, clean the basement, clean the garage, save money for a new front door... ho hum... Well, to pep it up a little bit I decided to blog all this. Now that's done, so I'm off to do the banking and errands. Retired life is really simple and good even if I am too young for my body! I have lovely memories. (And choosing to unremember the not so lovely ones is a gift!).

Have a very Happy and Safe New Year everyone! And be sure to make some lovely memories along the way!

Friday, December 2, 2011


Adverse circumstances and conflict in my life have taught me some very valuable lessons. Some are practical and make sense, and some are difficult to understand or explain because they are spiritual in nature. Probably the most important thing I've learned has been the power and value of forgiveness. Without it I was headed down a path of bitterness and self-destruction in early adulthood. I've written a brief explanation here. I could write much more, and probably will. I believe it's good to meditate and explore the positives of life, even if they started as negatives.

Forgiveness brings the greatest reward to the soul when:
1. It isn't requested.
2. It makes no sense at all.
3. It's humanly and emotionally impossible.
4. It's given just because.
5. It's a decision, not a feeling.

It brings:
1. Release.
2. New room in the soul for wonderful feelings.
3. Peace that really is like a river.
4. New order and control of emotions.
5. Joy and healing.

And it might even bring about reconciliation in time, but if not the rewards
are still immeasurable against the cost of holding on to the unforgiveness.

Forgetting the offense takes a little longer and will likely never be total. But the memories can only begin to fade into the background and lose importance with that first conscious decision to forgive.

I've been told and believe that forgiving also releases the offender to other
consequences of their behavior. We are not to be our own avengers or carry that load.

Bottom line, forgiveness opens the door for us to move on and grow as opposed to being stuck in a negative place. I've been forgiven for so much, so how can I fail to do the same. Then there is the item of self-forgiveness, but that's a topic for another day.