Family, Love, Loss and Magic at Christmas

Tis the season.

The season of love, joy and family.

It is the season of shared traditions.

For many, it is the season of melancholy.

Many (far too many this year) are spending their first holiday without a parent, loved one, beloved pet or child who has passed from this earth (losing a child to an early, unfair death or suicide… I can’t even imagine)

I was reading a Facebook post of a friend of mine today who asked if she was the only one who felt melancholy at this time of year.

She mentioned that she wished she had known as a child how precious those holidays with family were despite the fact that even though they were Jewish, they gathered at Christmas when they were free from work and school obligations and spent quality time together.

As many of us are wont to say, “Hug your loved ones; tell them that you love them, for you never know when it will be the very last time.”

Truer words were never spoken.

I do my best to distract myself from the fact that I have no immediate family (I do have some cousins in other states) and that due to my own abusive, dysfunctional, upbringing in an alcoholic household, I have been unable, as an adult to form a lasting functional romantic relationship/partnership (Wow, do I ever “pick wrong”)

I host holiday gatherings with chosen family (which in cases of severe dysfunction, neglect or abuse can be preferable to and healthier/safer than blood family)

I try to make sure that anyone who finds themselves alone at this often emotionally challenging time of year for whatever reason, knows that they have somewhere to go.

I cook, bake, decorate, send out cards and letters and try to give back to my community.

But in the end, there is still, always, that sense of aloneness, of being different-not in that cool, quirky, creative way, but in that “there is something wrong with me kind of way”.

Tonight, I will be cooking a holiday feast for friends/chosen from all walks of life, relationship statuses and faiths (or lack thereof)

I am going to hug them and let them know that I love and appreciate them, because we never know what someone else may be going through inside and because we never know when it will be the last time we have the chance.

I encourage everyone to do the same.

Family eating Christmas dinner

And just to end this rather serious reflection on a positive note, I offer up one of my favorite, past Christmas experiences.

“One Perfect Christmas Moment in Tacoma”

~
Sometimes when we least expect it, something amazing and profound hits us out of the blue, more often than not, it comes from a source that we least expect.

I am one of “those people” who prefers to use the words “Happy Holidays” to greet people during the winter holiday season in order to respect and acknowledge the fact that the season is shared by many faiths and traditions. It’s not a “war on Christmas”, it’s merely being inclusive and respectful.
I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas as a holiday of shared seasonal traditions. I celebrate it as a season of light, hope and ideally, peace on earth. To me, rebirth and renewal is a universal concept.

One Christmas morning, many years ago whilst living in Tacoma’s Stadium District, I walked to my neighborhood corner market to pick up something for a celebration that I was going to attend later in the day.  The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and clean, and I was still enjoying fond memories of a celebration with good friends the night before.

As I looked out on to the deep blue waters of Commencement Bay, I also contemplated all the stress and depression that many people feel at this time of year, and how truly sad that is. I thought of all the pressure that our society puts on people to be happy and have the “perfect” holiday, and how many end up disappointed and frustrated. I thought of those who have lost loved ones, and for whom this time of year brings only painful memories of loss.; and as I watched a homeless man digging in the trash, I thought sadly of those who don’t even have a home and a hot meal. It seemed so wrong to me that a season that is supposed to be about happiness and joy brings stress, depression and sadness to so many. I was feeling pretty darn jaded.

I was distracted from my train of thought when I stopped to chat with a friend from work at the little coffee shop on the corner, and was then greeted by familiar faces and smiles at our little neighborhood market. I made my purchases and began my walk back home, my mind drifting back to the sadness I was thinking about earlier..

And then, I heard it on the air.

At first it was faint and distant; then it began go gain strength and seemed to be coming from all around me.
Music, bells, magic.

Stadium is an historic neighborhood where most of the buildings are at least 100 years old. It contains several beautiful old churches.

Resounding across the waters of Commencement Bay, the castle that is now Stadium High School and the old brick buildings filled with history, was “Gloria, In Excelious Deo…” coming from real bells in an old church (I don’t know which one) that has an organ controlling the bells. Next I heard, “Joy to the World” and was reminded that this indeed is a season of hope for many traditions.

I stopped walking and just stood there to listen, appreciate the world around me and experience something that was very powerful. It was then that I noticed other people stopped on the streets, also mesmerized by the magical sounds. They came out of their businesses and homes to sit on the stoops and listen, some even pulled their cars to the side of the road and turned off their engines.  Everyone, regardless of their religious upbringing, traditions or even current life circumstances was smiling in shared joy for the beauty in the air surrounding us. Most of us did not know nor had even seen each other before that moment; yet we felt an undeniable connection of the spirit.

For one brief moment, the world stood still, filled with peace, love and joy.

It doesn’t matter which church, religion, tradition or building that joyful sound came from. There are certain messages in this world that are universal.

If only we could all share more moments like the one I experienced Christmas morning in a tiny Tacoma neighborhood.

The world would be a better place.

church-bells-e1279649509747



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Black Friday, A Sad Day Indeed

~
An elderly woman is knocked to the ground and trampled as a crowd races past; one person turns to help her and is swept away in the mob, only to be injured himself. Two other men begin to beat and kick each other; soon the violence escalates into what has been described as a “small riot” as the pain and suffering of the injured seems fade away into a surreal sea of bodies.

Are people fleeing an attack? Is this a natural disaster? Are people starving and fighting for survival for themselves and their families? What crisis could possibly make human beings behave this way towards each other?

Sadly, the answer is greed.

This disgusting display did not happen in a third world country or a disaster zone. It happened in the affluent community of South Hill Washington where all people could think of was their own need for material things at the expense of the health and safety of others and even their own dignity.

Sadly, this scenario played out over and over again all across this “great’ country of ours, as people left their homes and families in the cold, dark wee hours of the morning in order to beat others to holiday sales and deals, resorting to violence when they deemed it necessary.

The Tacoma News Tribune decided to print an editorial about how stores should do a better job of stocking their shelves in order to prevent this from occurring.

Are the stores taking advantage of people’s most base instincts? Yes. Do they contribute to the problem because all they care about is sucking people in to spend money on other things? Yes.

But the fault lies with society and the never ending need that many feel to drive a bigger SUV, have a bigger TV screen and to show the neighbors how successful they are all the while driving themselves deeper into credit card debt. Yeah, it’s great for the ten minutes while the presents are ripped open, and people get “everything that they wanted”, only to be let down later, when the weeks (Oh wait, MONTHS, this started before Halloween this year) of anticipation and build up fade away with nothing of substance or resembling the intended holiday (s) left.

What ever happened to gathering with family and friends to share the joy of whatever holiday or tradition one celebrates and actually thinking about what the holiday means? Does greed and a mob mentality celebrate any of the miracles of the season? Does it celebrate the lamps that burned for eight days which is celebrated at Hanukkah or the return of the light at Solstice? Can anyone say that this has anything to do with the birth of one tradition’s Messiah at Christmas or the reclaiming of another groups heritage at Kwanzaa? No. This new “tradition” is as far from the sacredness of any of these celebrations as anything could possibly be.

No amount of product availability, rain checks or security is going to change the underlying problem of greed and complete disregard for anything other than instant gratification.

Even worse, the greed of the big box retailers is getting even worse, as they are not forcing employees to work on Thanksgiving day (the most popular holiday in our country to spend with friends/family/loved ones) by not only moving their sales up to midnight buy by now, opening their stores on Thanksgiving day and threatening any employee that refuses to work with termination.

In addition to obvious greed and mob mentality, some single mothers have to tell their children that they can’t be home to celebrate thanksgiving with them because if they want to keep a roof over their heads, they have to go to work. People may miss out on the last Thanksgiving in which their parents or grandparents will be alive.

I find this disregard for the families of underpaid, over stressed employees even more disgusting than the mob mentality its self.

I am happy to say that rather than engaging in this disgusting display, I will again, share a day with many friends, (who will be receiving home made gifts), decorating a tree with hand cut snowflakes each visitor made with love and wrote wonderful messages on, sharing food, hospitality and spending another day being thankful for what we do have. Many of us also spend this day gathering clothing, blankets and food for those who have less. Yes, it is possible to be thankful more than one day a year and to give back to our community.

Don’t get me wrong, although I do make almost all of the gifts I give, I will purchase a small gift or two for those closest to me, something that will make them smile and that will decorate their home, help them enjoy one of their favorite hobbies, or keep them warm in the winter. They will be modest, purchased from retailers who care for their employees and contribute to their communities, and I will most certainly not behave like an animal in order to get them. I will also not give my business to a retailer who is forcing their employees to miss time with their families.

I pity those who are part of the Black Friday mob. They don’t realize it, but they are the ones missing out.

~L

BadKitty’s Holiday Letter – Finally (OK, so it’s for the Lunar (Chinese) New Year)

~OK Humans,

Every year I ask for help with my out of control human, and every year my pleas are ignored. What am I going to have to do to get some help here? Come barf up hairballs in your shoes? Don’t tempt me, I’m that pissed off and desperate.

Let me tell you just how bad it’s been…

It's a day 005

She is more out of control than ever (yeah, I know I say that every year, but her insanity far outreaches imagination) So much so, that I couldn’t get her to sit still long enough to let me dictate the holiday letter until the Lunar (Chinese) New Year… Seriously? It’s the year of the snake. I don’t like snakes (or rats, or monkeys, or dogs or any of those other weird animals they use to celebrate)

The beginning of the year was fine, she was recovering from the 2nd surgery she had which included getting fixed “while they were already in there”. It’s about time, everyone should spay or neuter their human, there are far too many of them running around and they breed like rabbits, especially the stupid ones.There was some celebration about not having cancer; that’s a good thing. Someone’s got to feed me.

After that, we had a wicked ice storm which made it impossible to safely drive anywhere, so she was home a lot to pet the kitty which was perfect. She was super stressed when the huge tree in the back yard bent over and touched the ground (and laid on the house, the grape arbor, the greenhouse and the neighbor’s yard) but it sprung back to life after the big thaw. (she now calls it “the magic tree” what a weirdo)

Then she went back to work which really pissed me off. She’s working for an environmental non profit running the internship program and managing a farmers market. Do you think her farmer friends ever send anything home for the kitty? NO! Jerks! She’s still writing and photographing for that magazine too which is an acceptable activity since the writing part keeps her home where I can yowl for attention and lay on her keyboard.

She’s still bellydancing which just looks silly, although I do enjoy napping on her fluffy skits and batting around her jingly things. She’s still fire dancing too (which she actually gets paid to do. Seriously?) I secretly laugh when she burns herself. She’s also found a new way to burn herself, blowing glass… For some reason, dipping a long pipe into 2100 degree (f) molten glass and blowing into it is a big deal in this city… something about a madman with an eye patch named Chihuly who grew up here. Some people are actually silly enough to buy the stuff she makes. She’s also still playing with clay which she then glazes and fires. Seriously, what is it with this woman and fire?

She did another triathlon which really ticks me off because that means she’s spending way too much time out of the house running, cycling and swimming when she should be home petting the kitty.

She’s still playing that stupid violin too. I hate that thing. Even worse… she has friends that play instruments and they come over to the house. There was even a [gasp] accordion here the other night. She met these weirdos contra dancing. I don’t know what that is, but when accordions start showing up (the next thing you know, it will be a banjo), you know your human is hanging out in the wrong circles…

She’s still hiking, backpacking and finding any excuse she can to wear a tutu… (they are nice to lay on)

Oh, my human turned 50 in October, isn’t that super old for a human?

Shouldn’t she be slowing down? I mean really, 50 is practically dead right?

Oh, you can buy some of her glass or ceramic work by visiting her website at http://wildcelticrose.net/ (you can also read her dumb blog there) she has a facebook page too, but it’s pretty lame

You would do better to check out my facebook page

Since she was too lazy (and broke) to send out cards this year, she made a video slide show recapping 2012 with obnoxious music.

It’s badly done, there isn’t even a picture of her gorgeous feline in it.

Someone please talk some sense into my human… Please?

Don’t make me come barf in your shoe.

Happy Holidays/Lunar New Year (whatever…)

~BK (THE BadKitty)



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One Perfect Christmas Moment

~
Sometimes when we least expect it, something amazing and profound hits us out of the blue, more often than not, it comes from a source that we least expect.

I am one of “those people” who prefers to use the words “Happy Holidays” to greet people during the winter holiday season in order to respect and acknowledge the fact that the season is shared by many faiths and traditions. It’s not a “war on Christmas”, it’s merely being inclusive and respectful.

I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas as a holiday of shared seasonal traditions. I celebrate it as a season of light, hope and ideally, peace on earth. To me, rebirth and renewal is a universal concept.

On Christmas morning, I walked to my neighborhood corner market to pick up something for a celebration that I was going to attend later in the day.  The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and clean, and I was still enjoying fond memories of a celebration with good friends the night before.

As I looked out on to the deep blue waters of Commencement Bay, I also contemplated all the stress and depression that many people feel at this time of year, and how truly sad that is. I thought of all the pressure that our society puts on people to be happy and have the “perfect” holiday, and how many end up disappointed and frustrated. I thought of those who have lost loved ones, and for whom this time of year brings only painful memories of loss.; and as I watched a homeless man digging in the trash, I thought sadly of those who don’t even have a home and a hot meal. It seemed so wrong to me that a season that is supposed to be about happiness and joy brings stress, depression and sadness to so many. I was feeling pretty darn jaded.

I was distracted from my train of thought when I stopped to chat with a friend from work at the little coffee shop on the corner, and was then greeted by familiar faces and smiles at our little neighborhood market. I made my purchases and began my walk back home, my mind drifting back to the sadness I was thinking about earlier..

And then, I heard it on the air.

At first it was faint and distant; then it began go gain strength and seemed to be coming from all around me.

Music, bells, magic.

I live in an old, historic neighborhood where most of the buildings are at least 100 years old. It contains several beautiful old churches.

Resounding across the waters of Commencement Bay, the castle that is now Stadium High School and the old brick buildings filled with history, was “Gloria, In Excelious Deo…” coming from real bells in an old church (I don’t know which one) that has an organ controlling the bells. Next I heard, “Joy to the World” and was reminded that this indeed is a season of hope for many traditions.

I stopped walking and just stood there to listen, appreciate the world around me and experience something that was very powerful. It was then that I noticed other people stopped on the streets, also mesmerized by the magical sounds. They came out of their businesses and homes to sit on the stoops and listen, some even pulled their cars to the side of the road and turned off their engines.  Everyone, regardless of their religious upbringing, traditions or even current life circumstances was smiling in shared joy for the beauty in the air surrounding us. Most of us did not know nor had even seen each other before that moment; yet we felt an undeniable connection of the spirit.

For one brief moment, the world stood still, filled with peace, love and joy.

It doesn’t matter which church, religion, tradition or building that joyful sound came from. There are certain messages in this world that are universal.

If only we could all share more moments like the one I experienced Christmas morning in a tiny Tacoma neighborhood.

The world would be a better place.

~L



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The Twelve Days of Yuletide (on my Hilltop Funny Farm)

The Twelve Days of Yuletide (on my Hilltop Funny Farm)

12 cat boxes to clean

11 holiday parties

10 cockatiel feathers (on the floor)

9 porch icicles

8 kitty hairballs

7 extra pounds

6 crazy chickens

5 broken appliances

4 dirty nest boxes

only 3 eggs a week

2 quarts of eggnog

And a corgi drinking water from the tree


Tacoma Christmas Carols

~
I’m sure this has been done (ad nauesum), but I couldn’t resist a little holiday fun.

Here are some Tacoma Christmas Carol titles.

“Wet Christmas”

“Oh 253 Trees”

“All I Want For Christmas Is Free Parking”

“Do You Smell What I Smell”

“Have Yourself a Gritty Little Christmas”

“I Saw Three (Container) Ships”

“Grandma Got Run Over By The Light Rail”

“Here We Come a HarmonBrewing”

“Go Tell It On The Hilltop”

“Hark The Tacoma Revels Sing”

“Oh Little Zoo at Pt Defiance”

“God Rest Ye Merry Taco Men(s)”

“It Came Upon the Sounder Train”

Tacoma Elf Storage

~L

Mood: Sleep Deprived and Easily Amused



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One Perfect Christmas Moment

“One Perfect Christmas Moment”

by L. Lisa Lawrence

(author holds copyright on all material.  Permission granted to link to original pages, please use contact link on webpage for any requests for reprinting or publishing)

Sometimes when we least expect it, something amazing and, profound hits us out of the blue, more often than not, it comes from a source that we least expect.
I am one of “those people” who prefers to use the words “Happy Holidays” to greet people during the winter holiday season in order to respect and acknowledge the fact that the season is shared by many faiths and traditions. It’s not a “war on Christmas”, it’s merely being inclusive and respectful.

I am not a Christian, but I do celebrate Christmas as a holiday of shared seasonal traditions. I celebrate it as a season of light, hope and ideally, peace on earth. To me, rebirth and renewal is a universal concept.

On Christmas morning, I walked to my neighborhood corner market to pick up something for a celebration that I was going to attend later in the day.  The weather was beautiful, the air was crisp and clean, and I was still enjoying fond memories of a celebration with good friends the night before.

As I looked out on to the deep blue waters of Commencement Bay, I also contemplated all the stress and depression that many people feel at this time of year, and how truly sad that is. I thought of all the pressure that our society puts on people to be happy and have the “perfect” holiday, and how many end up disappointed and frustrated. I thought of those who have lost loved ones, and for whom this time of year brings only painful memories of loss.; and as I watched a homeless man digging in the trash, I thought sadly of those who don’t even have a home and a hot meal. It seemed so wrong to me that a season that is supposed to be about happiness and joy brings stress, depression and sadness to so many. I was feeling pretty darn jaded.

I was distracted from my train of thought when I stopped to chat with a friend from work at the little coffee shop on the corner, and was then greeted by familiar faces and smiles at our little neighborhood market. I made my purchases and began my walk back home, my mind drifting back to the sadness I was thinking about earlier..

And then, I heard it on the air.

At first it was faint and distant; then it began go gain strength and seemed to be coming from all around me.

Music, bells, magic.

I live in an old, historic neighborhood where most of the buildings are at least 100 years old. It contains several beautiful old churches.

Resounding across the waters of Commencement Bay, the castle that is now Stadium High School and the old brick buildings filled with history, was “Gloria, In Excelious Deo…” coming from real bells in an old church (I don’t know which one) that has an organ controlling the bells. Next I heard, “Joy to the World” and was reminded that this indeed is a season of hope for many traditions.

I stopped walking and just stood there to listen, appreciate the world around me and experience something that was very powerful. It was then that I noticed other people stopped on the streets, also mesmerized by the magical sounds. They came out of their businesses and homes to sit on the stoops and listen, some even pulled their cards to the side of the road and turned off their engines.  Everyone, regardless of their religious upbringing, traditions or even current life circumstances was smiling in shared joy for the beauty in the air surrounding us. Most of us did not know nor had even seen each other before that moment; yet we felt an undeniable connection of the spirit.

For one brief moment, the world stood still, filled with peace, love and joy.

It doesn’t matter which church, religion, tradition or building that joyful sound came from. There are certain messages in this world that are universal.

If only we could all share more moments like the one I experienced Christmas morning in a tiny Tacoma neighborhood.

The world would be a better place.

(author holds copyright on all material.  Permission granted to link to original pages, please use contact link on webpage for any requests for reprinting or publishing)
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