Saturday, December 26, 2009

Exactly When is the Fat Lady Going to Start Singing??

I know that I am not alone in feeling completely crushed by stress of the holiday season, and this year my personal Stress-O-Meter was reading off the chart.  But the really funny thing is, I wasn't exactly sure why. 

Christmas has always been my favorite holiday.  I love the decorations, the cookies, and wrapping gifts.  It's fun to take my boys shopping for their Dad and Grandmother, complete with a visit to Santa for a picture.  I love all of that.  I usually look forward to it all year.  I spend hours sewing and knitting and crafting gifts for my family and friends.  But not this year.  I couldn't manage to muster my typical level of Christmas cheer, let alone maintain it on a consistent basis.

 Not all of the gifts I had intended to make got done.  The house is only about half decorated.  I discovered that my mild allergy to pine trees is now something I have to pay attention to, so I didn't help decorate the tree this year.  I had to beg a good friend of mine to use her house for the New Year's Eve party I wanted to host because there's a chance I may need another knee surgery, which would be scheduled to happen on Dec. 30.  I just can't deal with the stress of having people come to my house and being hostess the day after surgery.

This is not to say that I no longer enjoy the holiday or that I spent the entire season unhappy or miserable, because there were some really, really great times.  I did manage to find or make what turned out to be the perfect thing for my children and a few of my friends, and seeing their faces when they opened the gifts was absolute bliss for me.  The party for adult students where I take TaeKwonDo class was a blast and a half. We went to hear my friend sing in her church choir, and were amazed to hear just how beautiful her voice is.  We had snow, and we all enjoyed it to it's fullest.  Even though my husband didn't understand the emotional emptiness I was experiencing, he came to the rescue and did a lot of the things that I couldn't seem to get done, and I am extraordinarily grateful for this. 

And then it hit me when I was putting my oldest son to bed last night.  He said that while this year's Christmas was pretty good, it wasn't as fun or exciting as it has been over the past few years, and that he was a little disappointed because of it.  He compared this year's quiet, family-only celebration to the past few years when we had large gatherings for Christmas dinner and a party afterwards that seemed to last most of the day and evening.  I told him that Christmas, even though it's a very special day, is still a lot like other days.  Some days are better than others, and it's the same with holidays.  Maybe this year wasn't all that Charlie and I were hoping it would be and at times it was a bit of a struggle to get through.  Maybe our expectations were too high.  But that's okay, because it was still good and we have a lot to be thankful for.  Next year, things will be better, but for now, I'm glad it's over.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Fire and Rain

It's a dreary rainy day here in southern Connecticut.  My boys have been begging to have a fire in the fireplace for some time now, and today is the perfect day to indulge that, even though it isn't particularly cold outside.  I have been working on some Christmas knitting, tending the fire, and being generally impatient about when it might start snowing.  There is a chance it may snow here, but it's just not happening fast enough for me.  Aside from all the usual reasons a person might like snow, for me, it makes the knitting more enjoyable.  Watching the snow silently fall as the birds come and go from our feeders, enjoying the warmth of my home and the wool in my lap is as close as it gets to a perfect day for me.

But for now, I will have to be content with watching the rain fall as I sit by the fire and knit.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Out of the Zone

Normally, I walk around in what I like to call a "Politics Free Zone" (the PFZ, for short).  It roughly makes up the three square feet that surround me and while in it, I try not to talk about politics.  The whole point of it is that, while I have my strong views on various subjects, and have registered with a certain political party in the US so that I can vote in primary elections, I do believe that we can all learn something from those we disagree with.  Not all of my friends share my position or my party affiliation, and that's fine.  My little zone allows me to see the person for who they really are.  Sometimes I learn from them, and they from me. 

Case in point that doesn't involve politics in any way:
In order to pass my black belt test, I was required to do a seated meditation for one hour.  To meet this goal, I found some people who were also interested in meditation for whatever reason, and we contracted with my yoga instructor to help us get through a one-hour sit.  All went well.  We met regularly for several weeks, were introduced to various forms of meditation, and worked our way up to one hour.

The day of the scheduled meditation, a classmate and I were doing our sit in the hour that preceded our normal class in the classroom.  In the last ten minutes or so, another black belt came into the class with a friend who was trying out TaeKwonDo.  They saw us sitting, and instead of either 1) leaving the room out of respect for what we were doing (let's face it, the guy was a black belt and knew we were doing this for our test); or 2) preparing silently in a far corner of the room, the pair decided to giggle and carry on like school girls.  To say we were furious was an understatement.

However, when I told my meditation teacher about the incident, I did not receive the sympathy I was looking for.  She looked me right in the eye and said, "Now they are your teachers."  Wow.  Spot on, perfect, no-frills wisdom.

Now, I'm not saying that this will happen in all political debates.  I am merely saying that we all have something to learn from unlikely sources, and that some of those sources are harder to listen to than others.  We might get something back that we weren't prepared for, but that doesn't mean we should shut it out.

But right now, I'm stepping out of my PFZ, and this is what I have to say:

In terms of human rights: we are all people.  All People deserve All Rights.  Everywhere.  Some are NOT more equal than others.  If some were more equal than others, it would just make us pigs.

I am now back in the PFZ.  I feel much better now.