peace

25 December 2009

Last night I was sitting at home, ready for Christmas, waiting for Carly to collect me and my bags of food and parcels.  I was to spend Christmas Eve, my favourite Christmas “moment,” with my girls and Ryan eating artichoke risotto and sipping wine and watching a favourite movie. 

It’s my favourite night because there is, every year, unfailingly, a sense of peace that comes over me.  I think it’s partly to do with the winter solstice, and partly to do with a collective dreaming and hope. 

So I’m sitting there listening to songs on my computer on random playback and Bruce Springsteen comes on singing We Shall Overcome in The Seeger Sessions.  I think it fits the moment.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.  May you experience peace and hope today.

Overheard on the complimentary shuttle from my office building to a mall at lunch today – two people discussing their desire to sustain the joy of the Christmas spirit and keep things simple:

Him:  “Yeah, like that Boxing Day shopping craziness – I don’t do that.”

Her:  “Really.  What people don’t realise is you get the sales all week – it’s Boxing Week!  You can avoid the crowds and shop a few days later.  You might not get the sweater you want, but you’ll get a good deal.”

Er… is that called good Capitalist Christmas spirit?

in which christmas begins

12 December 2009

I’ve always been something of a late comer to Christmas.  Part of that is hanging on to history and family tradition.  Growing up, Christmas really started around my sister Jane’s birthday on December 19th.  I’m kind of stubborn about not wanting to milk the hell out of something good, and I’m sure that’s to do with my parents and growing up too. Those of you who put up your trees in November probably have a more relaxed time of it and enjoy a good long holiday season.  But it’s my feeling and experience, that if I keep the time frame small, and the gift giving modest, then I really experience the spirit of the whole thing.  I’m probably sounding pious and judgemental, but it’s how I feel, and it’s how I enjoy the season. 

I’ve mentioned here more than once that in my family we’ve vastly reduced our gift buying in lieu of charity giving over the past few years.  And that takes much of the scramble out of the whole thing .  Still, there is some shopping to be done and that began for me this week.  There is a free shuttle to a mall close to my office, which I take advantage of during the week.  Shopping at lunchtime is substantially easier than shopping in evenings or on weekends, and it’s usually running over for one item or another.  However, I’ve already been elbowed by more than one intent shopper and snapped at by no less than three middle-aged Sears sales clerks seemingly five minutes late for their lunches.  “Christmas spirit, Christmas spirit…” I think to myself as one nasty clerk gives me the most amazing “you are a fucking idiot” attitude when I ask her if one particular item is on sale.  I’ll kill ‘em with kindness even if it kills me first.    

Today, Saturday, I Christmas shop in my Toronto “Beaches” neighbourhood and it is a really good day.  The shopping section is busy during all seasons, but today it isn’t any more of a bother, in fact it is rather wonderful.  Everything I could possibly need to buy is here.  Back in the 70s they built shopping malls to bring all this inside, but one thing they didn’t bring in is the neighbourliness. 

Sales clerks are chatty and pleasant everywhere.  In the linens shop everyone drops everything to gush over a new baby in a sling worn by his mommy, who had visited the store over the months of her pregnancy.  The hardware store has better buys in lights, batteries, paper, tape and random “man” gifts than anywhere else.  And an owner who will forgive the nickel you’re digging for at the bottom of your purse. 

The newsagent, with the best selection of magazines anywhere amongst my travels, who I had seen being so patient and kind to a mentally ill local only last week gives me a free Saturday paper.  And he knows exactly the magazine I’ve been looking for and tells me to come back Monday after work because it should arrive then.  The clerks in the beautiful little gift store completely understand that I need to poke around and look at every single thing only to buy one small stocking stuffer an hour later because everything in the store is something *I* think is beautiful even if it doesn’t fit the profile of any gift I am looking for. 

UK expats and others chat in the specialty handmade candy/British food goods store.  As people do in the independent book store while the clerk is taking down someone’s phone number to call after she gets a hold of a nicer looking copy of a particular book.  Dogs snub their noses at me as they wait patiently outside stores for their humans.  People and their computers loll about coffee shops.  Friends have beers and watch the curling match in the pubs. 

At the temporary Christmas tree lot at the park by the library, folks hold up trees for inspection and put wreaths and cedar garland in wagons alongside their kids. 

As I walk home, with the whirr and “ding ding” of the streetcar alongside, I’m thinking it’s been a really good day in my neighbourhood.  Today Christmas started.

another good party missed

2 December 2009

Well I’ve gone and done it again and missed another great blogland party.  I’ve got to work on my bloggy time management skills. 

Mr. Toast hosted his Annual Christmas Tea over at his Hot Toast and Jam blog and I tell you, if you’re not yet in the mood for winter and Christmas, get yourself on over to Aspen now and pay him a visit and you’ll be full of holiday spirit in no time.  His site is a feast for the eyes.  Sip on warm mulled wine and listen to the tales of the party, which, it seems, went on into the morning hours.

Well done Toasty – I could linger all day.

christmas

25 December 2008

It’s Christmas morning, and all is quiet at Carly and Kelsey’s place.  I am sipping coffee and writing.  Carly’s cat is looking out the window.  It’s a beautiful quietness before the hubbub.  This moment is an extension of the best part of Christmas: the most perfect ‘moment’ that is Christmas Eve. 

Recently a friend asked what the “essence” of Christmas is to me.  It didn’t take much thought to answer.  A good part of that is of course the wonderful hubbub around a warm and loving family sharing a day and a meal.  But the most precious moments of Christmas for me are the quiet ones.  Christmas Eve – when all of the madness pulls up and stops.  You feel it – peace – as you sit warm and look at the lights aglow within homes down the street.  It’s not about buying and parties and traffic jams and stores anymore.  It’s the gift of peace.  And this moment in time is more precious than all of the stuff that swirls around it.  This moment is Christmas.