So fellow travelers, this is that time of year when people either embrace or lament the season. The CGBF page has been scrolling posts from both points of view. One of my favorite has been a series by writer Kathy Dewez about her determination to “Un Grinch” herself and feel the true spirit of the season. Another heart felt story came from Jackie Campbell’s memories of her dog Greta, a spunky senior dog our group has come to love through her many stories. It was Grandma Greta’s farewell post written so sweetly it transcends the sorrow of her passing.
Losses suffered are a theme for those struggling to find enough joy to celebrate the season. I admit I was actually blindsided by my own sense of emptiness as Thanksgiving approached and I realized for the first time in a quarter century, neither of my daughters would be joining us at any of the family tables. Somehow in the anticipation of having Favorite Youngest Daughter return home for Christmas I lost track of the reality that we’d be on our own for Thanksgiving.
Well, not entirely on our own since we host Thanksgiving dinner for my husband’s side of the family. In fact if we don’t (as happened last year when we traveled to New York City to see our daughter march in the Macy’s Day parade) his family goes out to dinner. It’s all good; after all someone has to patronize the restaurants that are open right? So with a full traditional meal to prepare, I soon found my aching heart wrapped in a blanket of comforting aromas and familiar routines.
One of those routines is watching the Macy’s Day parade, which as I mentioned has taken on new significance since our high school Marching Band participated last year. The arrival of Santa cruising into Herald Square on a spectacular sleigh at the end of the parade sets in motion another tradition. Yes, yes I know the moment has obvious commercial undertones, but my secret to living the spirit of Christmas is I ignore all the garish commercialism and loud banter about political correctness. I choose to focus on things that instill peace and joy. It’s a secret I discovered years ago when facing a holiday season with a grief laden soul. Yes something as simple as a tree filled with only red ornaments and white lights created feelings of hope to begin healing a grieving mother’s heart.
So the arrival of Santa at the end of the Macy’s Parade is my reminder to turn on the timer for the outdoor lights. Every year, when our Thanksgiving guests leave, they are blessed by the magical glow of many twinkling Christmas lights. There is something magical in the lights of Christmas. Not so much the big flashing displays but the little chance encounters I have with simple strands that stand out. They evoke a childhood memory of the moment when we would finish decorating the tree, turn out all the lights and just gaze in wonder at the glistening ornaments illuminated as if the memories of all Christmas past present and future glowed within each one.
To me Christmas spirit is about finding hope and peace and looking for ways to create them for others. It is for this kind of magic, for this way of finding Christmas Spirit in the little things that I wrote this poem. I wrote it in my usual form of a haiku, but it ended up with two final five syllable lines, both of which I knew belonged in the piece, so the haiku became a tiny poem.
Haiku plus one for Finding Christmas Spirit
Whispers of hope grow
Christmas spirit is calling
Speaking words of Love
Singing songs of joy.
Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.