Coal or Catnip?
I am sure you are feeling the same deep sadness over the terrible tragedy that took the lives of twenty-six beautiful people. Having been a teacher and the fact that my own children are the same ages as those lost, it has affected me profoundly. As news reports are surfacing that the shooter had autism, there has been a plethora of misinformation, namely that autism is a “mental illness.” I see this as an opportunity for awareness—to educate people on the facts and create a more compassionate and civilized society in which all people have a place. Below is a link to a wonderful op-ed—I am asking that you take a few minutes to read it (it is not long) and share it with others:
I wish you all the happiest of holidays and, most importantly, a safe and peaceful new year.
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Sometimes too much indulgence in holiday—and post-holiday—celebrating can leave a person feeling a bit bloated and, well, cranky, but there’s always a cure: a long walk and lots and lots of water.
We took in the air yesterday in a variety of ways. First, I admit to going out for the first time in years to do some Black Friday shopping, but avoiding places likely to draw the maddest of the madding crowds. We had fun, until I was talked into stopping at Kohl’s, which did me in…
Down, as well, came inflatable Bob and Tom. In their stead rose up a new company, including Santa, a mini polar bear, and a super-tall gift-bearing penguin—my first Ebay foray into the delightful and addictive world of holiday inflatables. Lest you be shocked by this quick transition to Christmas decorations, the mild, sunny weather encouraged others in our neighborhood and town to do the same. My youngest and I took a quick car ride to see what other early household displays lit up the late-November darkness. I was surprised by how many we saw.
There’s more on the ticket I’m sure, given there are two more days to this long weekend. Today is known as Small Business Saturday, which encourages local holiday shopping. I always have mixed feelings about all of this, because I loathe the hype and commercialization that now accompanies the Christmas holiday season, but am glad to see any signs of economic vigor, particularly among the hardy souls who manage to run businesses despite the overwhelming number of chain stores and restaurants that exist in our area.
The spirit of giving is also in full bloom this time of year, and the hustle and bustle involved in preparing for the holidays can be as heady and invigorating as hot cider if you allow the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future to guide you to behave responsibly.
There have been recent years in which the eggnog soured in my soul (talk about excessiveness!) and every silver bell tarnished. I had lost the Christmas spirit completely. It’s one thing to be a bit crabby, like Oreo the Cat picture above, and it’s another to be a true Ebenezer Scrooge.
There’s this mysterious and mystical notion that sometimes you need to lose everything in order to gain the world—to find what you need now. I’ve said in recent posts that it’s the small moments that have begun to fill me back up, and this feels truer than ever. In the spaces and the silences that were once crowded with too many people and things and all the sounds they make I am finding what I need to keep journeying forward.
As a child I delighted in Christmas lights and music. I loved to see the festive shop windows. And it was always in my heart to find the perfect gift, wrap it as prettily as I could, and give it to someone I love. Those things remain true and I am polishing my faith in and enjoyment of them anew this year. What I am still learning to do, I recognize, is how to handle this with discernment and discretion.
Look, listen, reflect—then proceed. As sure as I love my mother’s homemade cranberry sauce I know that I will fumble and falter, acting the choir boy or Scrooge at times. But I’m hoping that if I keep true Christmas spirit in my heart and am brave enough to behave accordingly, I’ll be able to distinguish between bauble and the blessings that keep us thankful and strong enough to face whatever the new year has in store.
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We have one certified pack rat in the house, someone who squirrels things away until her room is overwhelmed with the vestiges of her busy days…
Here is the story behind this photograph. Squirrel was sorting through the mounds of acorns in her room when she heard a strange noise coming from the cluttered closet. It was something akin to a low growl, and the closet being dark and overcrowded, the noise scared her a little. Rooting cautiously through the clothes (and who knows what else), Squirrel finally located the source of the rumble tucked in a cotton cocoon of spare bedding.
It was Oreo the Cat, snoring.
While we only have one Squirrel, more than one household resident has been known to snore—and not delicately either.
Oreo snores all around the house. Often his snoring is accompanied by a little piping whistle, like a ladylike teapot just about to boil. He likes the bay window and warm sunbeams, but his first preference is to burrow among towels on a high shelf in the linen closet.
The only resident who enjoys sleeping more than Oreo, by the way, is Squirrel, although she doesn’t snore. If she would only make some space among her many piles she might find the sleeping conditions in her crowded nest even more cozy and favorable than a towel-lined linen closet.