Saturday, December 29, 2007

Crest of a Wave

Have you ever felt like you were standing at the beginning of something great and momentous? You could just feel it coming, feel it in your bones? This is how I feel lately.
Maybe it is the spirit of the holidays and the anticipation of a New Year and the promises and hope that come along with that, maybe I'm just drunk, but I feel something coming. I've felt it for a while now.
Years ago, when I lived in Charleston, SC, there was a larger hurricane headed straight for us. It was supposed to hit Charleston head-on. We didn't evacuate (as was advised), we stayed and braced ourselves. I hate to admit this, but part of me was quite sad when the hurricane turned at the last minute and didn't hit us head-on.
I am impatient. I can feel a change coming and I am tired of waiting for it. I am tired of the continuously dire warnings of doom. I wish for doom to just come so that we may begin again.
Of course, I don't really wish for doom. I don't want anyone to be hurt, or worse, lives lost. But I am tired of the constant dire predictions, and then life goes on pretty much the same as always.
There is a change coming though. One most people aren't talking about, but a lot of people are. I feel it in my bones, I know that, without a doubt, it will come. I pray for the patience to allow it to come when it may.
I will end this by sending that out into the cosmos: a prayer for patience. A hope that I am ready when the wave breaks. That I am strong yet flexible. I feel it coming and I pray for the patience to allow it to manifest as it should.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

A Wonderful Life

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all who read this. I hope your holidays have been as bright and blessed as our here.
I have to say that I think that this has been the best Christmas ever so far. At least as the complete family that we now are. It has been really wonderful. The beauty and the joy this year comes not from the amount of presents, but just the joy of being able to give the boys a couple things that they really like and really enjoy, as well as the happiness of being able to give my husband a couple things that really made him happy.
We took some photos the other day and as I was reviewing them online something struck me. I really liked seeing the few presents underneath. That sounds weird, and I can't think of the correct phrasing I really want to put it in to accurately convey the feeling, so I'll just have to leave it there. Before though, it was always the sight of a tree surrounded completely with presents, presents flowing out into the room that made me feel happy. It was a sight that always feeled me with the warmth of the holiday spirit. Now, it is the opposite. I've realized that excess doesn't bring happiness. When people ask me my favorite present from growing up I always answer that I don't know, because I remember so little. I was blessed enough to have so much, but nothing really stands out.
Now that we're living in a house, now that we're the four of us, I've found myself really consumed by the traditions we celebrate the holidays with. In my family there really wasn't anything special so much in the form of traditions, and now I find myself wanting to try and create some meaningful ones.
Friends of ours, whom we've been so utterly blessed and lucky enough to get to know this past year, have some neat things that they do. We've adopted some of them. One that we've had fun doing so far today is making a garland to hang in the tree outside for the birds. We didn't use a needle and we only thread it with some leftover generic fruit loops (from when we were trying to potty train Shannon) as well as some of their organic "cheerio" cereal. Shannon had fun making this, Tristan had a hard time getting it through his head that it wasn't for him to eat, and I promptly spilled half of it onto the floor as we were getting ready to finish it - but it was really a lot of fun. We've hung it up on our tree out front, and though it looks more like an Easter garland than a Christmas one, I'm sure the birds (and squirrells) will be happy!!
The same friends who gave us that idea gave the boys a gingerbread house kit that we are planning on putting together once Justin's brother comes over.
Finally, we have a Christmas that is spent having fun, playing with new gifts, and making presents for our woodland friends outside - a day of ease and enjoyment rather than a day spent running back and forth from house to house merely getting gifts and gobbling grub.
I could ramble on and on about how happy I am right now. How wonderful my life feels right now. I won't keep on though. I just wish you all the joy that I am feeling right now. I hope you all have that happiness in your heart and in your lives. Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Green Holidays

Ahh, the holiday season is upon us. Having a green holiday season too typically means spending lots of green, as that (along with the Christmas Tree) is about all the green that is usually associated with this time of year. This year, we've vowed to work harder to put more of the correct type of Green into our holidays.
First, we have a rule that we DO NOT go out on Black Thursday. We did go over to friends' this year to hang out (which normally we just stay home), but since the rule really just applies to shopping, I figured hanging out with friends was ok. It seems an awful slap in the face to the whole idea of what Thanksgiving is supposed to be about (giving thanks for what you have in your life) to go into a shopping frenzy the very next day.
Secondly: we're trying to make more conscious decisions when it comes to Christmas. We've been "blessed" enough to have been given LOTS of wrapping paper, boxes, bags, bows, tags & even decorations from family members who are downsizing. So, I'm giving the OCD Martha in me the ole heave-ho and using all these wonderful hand-me-downs. We've figured that after we use the gift-wrap we can shred it up and re-use it again as gift-bag filler. I also save any cards we recieve from one year to the next and this year I took the old ones and used them to make a garland (I also used left-over red ribbon & gold string when making the garland) that hangs from the curtain rod in our living room. What a wonderful thing to be able to look at: well wishes from loved ones.
Also this year we decided to make an investment in LED Christmas lights for both outside and the tree. It will not only help the environment (as they use up to 90% less energy than conventional ones) but they last longer (approx. 20 years) and will save us bundles in cost! I'll admit that I wanted the soft-white LED lights for the tree, but we weren't able to find those in stock so we got the more common blue-white lights. I figure if I can't get used to it we can always use those lights for outside next year and try and get the soft-white LED lights for indoors a little earlier in the season (well, in the store designated season anyway).
Trying to go green with gifts is a little bit trickier. We are on a very tight budget and can't give as we would love to be able to. Green gifts do tend to cost you more when you actually buy them from a store. So, we've been making our own gifts for most people the past couple of years. Gift baskets of homemade foods and drinks (homemade liquors and this year our own homebrewed beers) and some other homemade items. One year I knit scarves for everyone. This year we're doing a lot of photo gifts. Ok, so those aren't really green, but they're more from the heart. For the kids: we buy gently used things from stores like Once Upon a Child, thereby continuing a circle of recycling. Also, since our kids are young and destroy things, we don't feel too bad when they break a toy we only paid a couple bucks for. This also allows us to, in some ways, buy things we wouldn't normally be able to afford, since most of these stores only carry name brand clothing and have expensive (if bought new) toys.
We've also tried to buy a little more locally. We decided that since stockings are supposedly filled by Santa Claus that the things in them should either be homemade or look as homemade as possible. We contacted a local wooden toy-maker and purchased several toy cars and trucks (for both boys) as well as a name train for Shannon. I was even able to go online and get a stamp that says "Made for you by the Elves in Santa's workshop" that I then stamped on the wooden toys. We also ordered them some sock monkey slippers (wooden floors get cold in the winter!!) and I plan to make a tag that says they are made by Mrs. Claus.
These are just some things one could do to make the holidays a little greener. We're also trying to remember what the holidays are really all about: being with friends and loved ones, and creating family traditions that are based on that. Trying to get along with family members is much harder than it sounds coming from a divorced family with lots of people who don't get along so well with each other. Ok, that last quip applies especially to me. The point is that there is always more we could try and do. If anyone out there reading this has any more Green Holiday suggestions, I would really love to here them!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

The first snow

It is snowing right now. The first snow. Ok, it probably won't be a very deep one, but it is still snowing. The ground is starting to look dusted in beautiful white fluff. It looks like of field of cotton in bloom.
I love the snow. It is what would make me move north and leave the South. It just doesn't snow enough around here. Shannon has been really excited about the snow this year. It is so wonderful to watch him becoming so much more aware of his surroundings. He's been SO excited about seeing the Christmas lights too. It's such a blessing to be able to be part of his world, of their world.
I haven't really been able to get into a Christmas spirit yet this year. I've about finished my shopping, but just haven't been in the mood. Yes, I've had a cold, we all have, but still. But, thinking about how excited Shannon gets and trying to see it through his eyes, well, I think I might actually have found the clue to getting into the spirit. To live in a child's world, to see the world through their eyes ... that is how we reclaim the magic that gets lost amongst the adult world.