Watching the World as It Passes

The day after Christmas has a long history in the western world as a day of strangely battle-weary living for many. All of the wildness and extravagance people can conjure has been devoted to getting to and through the 25th of December, and little thought or energy or resources remain for anything that follows, least of all the day immediately on the heels of the Christmas holiday. That’s okay. Everyone has his or her way of celebrating, or avoiding what they see as the excesses of others’ celebrations, no matter what the holiday and Christmas, with its western prevalence and pervasiveness culturally, has expanded into something astonishingly complicated even for those who have no connection to the origins of Christmas at all.

I have experienced Christmas in a multitude of ways myself. I grew up in the Christmas tradition of church and family, gift-giving and observance intermingling and filling all of the days around the date, but as an adult no longer living in my parents’ home, and especially as the spouse of a professional musician, I have spent many subsequent Christmastides attending concerts and services not in the same place and with the same people, some of the occasions entirely secular and some fastidiously and formally religious, and often have felt myself simultaneously immersed and somewhat removed–an observer of this strange phenomenon that is Christmas in the modern world.

What I feel now also changes and flickers like a candle flame. Part of me is moved and absorbed to the degree that I hardly notice my immersion, and part remains surprised, mortified, mystified and/or delighted at the lengths, depths and heights to which people go in pursuit of their own understanding and expectations of the holidays. As I grow older I am also more aware of the plethora of significant events and holidays meaningful in so many other religions, cultures and personal realms, and these often change my view of the practices related to Christmas in and around my life, too. Even the most hermit-like must be so affected in this day and age, it seems, and that’s not entirely a bad thing. If we live in the context of all of this, we should certainly be conscious of how these differences and nuances and variations inform and even influence our experiences in this life.

All of that aside, one of the least spiritually driven aspects of the winter’s holidays that gives me a certain amount of real pleasure is knowing that on the 26th of December a fairly large percentage of people in the western world are frantically rushing around in the pursuit of shopping exchanges and returns, after-Christmas sale bargains and last-minute, end of the year party preparations, and another portion of the population is collapsed in utter exhaustion from the foregoing revelry–and I am in that most enviable state of being and doing neither of those. Preferring as I do a quieter, less frenetic and far less shopping-oriented way of celebrating important occasions in my life, I find the rebound from them equally reduced in intensity and stress. That, to me, is the gift that does keep on giving.

digital illustration

As you were! You feel free to go about your business and do your celebrating as you like, and I’ll happily wait right here for you in my royal lassitude. Happy holidays to all!

It’s a Gift

December has a lot going for it. There are loads of holidays jammed into this single month all around the world (not the least of which is my birthday), and depending on which of those locales is Home, the month is usually the time when peak summer or winter vacation time comes. Given all of the holidays, I tend to think there’s no excuse not to spend a bunch of December partying in one way or another. Fortunately, I’m surrounded by people, places and things that make every day feel like a party’s very possible, if not already in progress.

I mean, longhorns, people. I can drive in any direction from home, not even going very far, and have a great chance of seeing big, bold, beautiful longhorn cattle. Just seeing them makes my heart do a happy dance. Looking at longhorns brings a big grin to my face and a lightness to the day, and I’m pretty sure that on the day those cattle were invented there was some partying going on in heaven, too.

photo

Cue angel choirs…the cows will sing along…

As If She were Our Blood

 

text + photo montagetext + photo montage

It’s Beginning to Look a Little Like . . .

Now, I don’t know if I’d call it exactly Christmasy, but in the relative scheme of things, it is beginning to look a tad more wintry around here than it’s been up until now. In my nordo-centric upbringing I was never exposed to such stretches of overheated weather that I’d begun to disbelieve in winter altogether by the time the second week of December was commencing. So it’s kind of a relief to hear that we’re about to drop down to freezing temperatures overnight within a couple of days here. To see some turning leaves actually, really, truly drop off and leave a tree or two naked; berries lighting up as rosy as Rudolph’s nose; to hear the branches both leafy and bare whispering cool secrets in anticipation of the frost that may or may not arrive before the clock’s run out on potential wintertime.photoThe embarrassing thing about this is that, having had seemingly all the time in the world myself to prepare for this winter thingy, I’m still not exactly ready. I’ve got a whole big, fluffy list of stuff I can–and maybe should–get underway, if not completed, before this mythic seasonal happening arrives, and no, said list is not small either. I did get a small few things done in the long, sloping stretch leading toward this change of the weather, but it’s never quite so much as I would have liked to have accomplished. Story of life, isn’t it. I guess if I’m honest I should say that it’s beginning to look a lot like every other year I’ve known, every other change–or lack of change–of the seasons. And you know, I’m okay with that. Life’s been mighty good to me, and if it can be this nice even when I’m so far from perfectly keeping up with it, lay it on me.

Oh, and I’d appreciate it if I can have a sweater to go along with the seasonal change too, just in case. Thank you.photo

Be Cool, Man, be Cool

photo

Yep, it’s December. I know this from looking at the calendar, and various people have assured me of it as well. But the weather sure isn’t contributing any confirming info to the mix right now. It’s still been in the neighborhood of 80°F (26°C) nearly every day. This is December? My little old northern-born soul is mighty confused.

The garden is confused, too. It’s finally cool enough overnight that the tenderest greens have wilted back, but there are still roses blooming in the area, and the grass has only slowed its growth, not stopped. Even the migratory birds seem to dawdle in the air rather than hustling off to more southerly climes. Who needs to go to warmer places when it’s still warm here!

I suppose I should enjoy the option I still have to do things like garden without frying myself or paint the front door and know it’ll dry in a couple of hours easily. But what this old broad would really enjoy is getting back to weather that both keeps me from frying whether or not I garden and perhaps even lets me keep my cool indoors and while lounging around. Maybe I should just grab a popsicle, turn up the fan, and remember that life in Texas is a whole different universe of experience than any life I’ve had elsewhere. Not a bad thing in general, after all.photo