This is the season of congestion and that applies to both the sniffles and the calendar. So very much is going on ----- with friends and family --- with church events --- with entertainment possibilities---- that choices are difficult. We returned today from an extended family gathering, and I suddenly remembered that this essay should have gone out today. So --- you’ll have to accept that there has been a short delay due to indulging in holiday enjoyment.
TA-DA --- the pair of cardinals is back more often! I’m still using way less of bird seed than ever before because of fewer birds. Of course, the squirrels are still absent ---- so far, and they go through lots of bird seed when they are here. Unfortunately, our feral cats have made a dent in both the blue jay and junco population. I believe the elders are teaching the young ones how to hunt --- all too successfully. We’ve been taking our cats two by two to the SPCA for neutering. Perhaps this will stem their enthusiasm for ferocity --- though I doubt it.
This season of lights has brought illumination in many areas. Our church sponsored a Remembrance service a week prior to Christmas. It is a community event and we cooperate with the local undertaker. Candles are lit for loved ones who have passed on, lovely harp and organ music is played, and it is a quiet and memory-filled occasion. Afterward, people stay around to chat and enjoy snacks. I think it helps to sit and remember all the good times and to share some of those with friends who are also missing people they love.
Our personal “four days of Christmas” have been light-filled and fun too. They began Sunday, the day of Christmas Eve. There were two church services with a tasty dinner in between, shared with good friends. Then one of our sons, with family, came in late Christmas Eve. And of course, Christmas morning, with two excited little girls (and four quietly excited adults) was a beautiful time. Christmas Day was blustery and cold outside, but occasional blue sky showed through following the also occasional snow squalls. Late afternoon brought a PicWits game that engendered some hilarity, and the day wound down quietly with music and books or crafts. On Tuesday, our other son and his wife joined us and we had a second Christmas with a bountiful dinner and much laughter. And today we visited with a portion more of family. So while there are several days left of the Twelve Days, I’ve had mine squished into four days. And lest I forget to mention the two dogs (ours, and Matt’s and Kristin’s), they certainly added to the activity.
On the down-side, our cards are taking even longer this year. By some miscalculation, they were run off so that the back was the front and the verse upside down. So they all had to be re-done. However, they will be along soon, extending your Christmas greetings by several days. And we’ll be using the mistakes for fire-starters.
The cold weather, coming on the heels of such mild weather, takes some disciplining of the mind. I’ve been so accustomed to dashing out to feed the birds and cats with sneakers and a light jacket that putting on boots and a heavy parka is a pesky annoyance. I must keep telling myself that coats, boots and even gloves are appropriate for January. The feral cats are even more annoyed than I; they keep shaking their paws and looking at me as if to demand that I get rid of that cold, white stuff or get them some booties!! This is the sort of weather that freezes the water in the cow barns and even in the house if the wall isn’t sufficiently insulated. And it reminds me of the years when, as a child, I slept in an upstairs bedroom that had no baseboard heat or hot air registers. It stayed fairly moderate as long as I left my door open to get the heat coming up the open staircase. But not moderate enough!! My first dash in the morning was downstairs to the large hot-air register that filled a corner of the dining room. There I would soak up the heat until summoned to breakfast and “Get off that register!!”
Cold or warm, coming up is a whole new year; a blank calendar page, pristine and unencumbered. In reality, there are already a few appointments jotted down in my 2017 calendar, to be transferred to 2018. However, it always lifts my spirits to at least think that I can begin a new year with fresh intentions and more choices. Several of us were talking some days ago and the question came up: “What if you allowed your spiritual guidance to determine your calendar and activities? How would that change your days?” We looked at each other a bit blankly for a second and most of us admitted that our lives and what we do might change quite a bit, and probably for the good.
I think that most of us glance at the calendar, and if we have an empty slot --- and can’t think of any good reason why not --- we agree to do whatever it is we’ve been asked to do. And regardless of what many of us have taken to heart from our 4-H days --- the “I’ll be glad to” response ---- perhaps we need to consider longer before we say “YES”. Should we be taking more time to rest? Should we be spending it in ways that stretch our minds and spirits? Are we cheating anyone by giving our time away? Is this task a direction in which we really feel called? And perhaps most crucial --- why are we doing it? What is our reason; our agenda? Time, especially as one grows older, is a precious gift. Taking a bit more thought before we scatter our hours abroad seems like a good New Year’s resolution to me.
As we come to the end of 2017, I hope each of you can look back on the year and smile over wonderful times, laugh over exceedingly fun times, find consolation for the sad times and then look ahead with enthusiasm and wonder for the days ahead. And with this essay, I’m sending out wishes that this year brings you joy in small things and courage in all things!!
Carol may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.