Christmas at “The Outpost”

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This year, I am celebrating Christmas at what feels like “the outpost”. Miles away from our closest friends and family, I sit up here in these colder regions wondering what the holiday will look like. I mentioned to my daughter the other day, bemoaning this circumstance, “I’m missing the sparkle!”. “The sparkle” representing those gatherings where the tinkle of laughter, the way the candles glow on wine or punch glasses, or the wintry magic of holly flutes a descending staircase.

Not this year. Travel costs and body reparations post surgery forbid it.

But, “the outpost”, I discovered the other day, is a great place to re-play (and I mean emphasis on “play”) old memories that still have some juice and giggle to them. I turned on a copy of an old Christmas “album” and sang along, full voice. My husband, a willing audience, got to hear the tales of sisterly shenanigans of long ago, interpreting and misinterpreting the holiday song offerings as they played on the living room stereo: stomping around the room to “The Little Drummer Boy” a la Harry Simeone Chorale with my faithful oatmeal canister as drum-drum-drum, my sister imitating the rich male voice that rings out “Rise up shepherds and follow!” with its own weird and unusual consequences of doing so (family loyalty forbids me from sharing what happened next, although, I must say, we heard the familiar words from my mother at that point, “why is your sister’s hair wet?”) And hearing “All I Want for Christmas is You”- a song that can drive some people crazy in high-voiced pop familiarity brought me merrily back to my experience over a decade ago of Christmastime in New Zealand . . . warm weather, an outdoor park concert, and holding my “adopted” nephew in my lap, eventually falling over in a heap of people due to overly excited children in the vicinity amongst a crowded field of picnic blankets.

Some years, it seems, are just meant for cherishing what’s already come. New experiences may arrive next year, but this year, it’s about re-viewing, re-living, and re-playing with the old. The toy box of the past has baubles worth revisiting and giggling about.

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“Ordinary” Wrapped up in Extraordinary

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We continue to edge deeper into the holiday season, leaving the green grass and gentle breezes of ordinary time behind. This is not to say there has not been the extraordinary, both beautiful and excruciatingly challenging within the reeds and gentle winds, but the temperature is now dramatically changing. The challenge now is to find the “ordinary” within the extraordinary. The small spaces in the largely decorated places. The remembrance of warm cups of coffee and a glint of sunlight amongst a big season, loud, wonderfully in-your-face season.

I hope to be able to hold hands with both “the biggies”- the extraordinary, and the ordinary things that come my way. These are a few ways I might try:

– biggie: buy and write out cards   -ordinary: brew a hot cup of tea and let the card                                                            writing last for 1 1/2 hours instead of 1- moving a                                                        little bit slowly and nourishing the process

-biggie: shop for presents online    -ordinary: stop and read a great passage from a                                                           inspiring book, chew on it for a few moments,                                                             even have a conversation about it with someone

-biggie: try to use up all the Thanksgiving leftovers in the refrigerator

-ordinary: re-member how each dish was shared, people’s reactions to it, mine as well, and incorporate it into a new dish, now re-imagined with memory and gratitude.

May you make the ordinary feel extraordinary in the gratitude of the moment.