2021. High On Expectations

Bookmarks — alcohol inks on yupo paper

I originally titled this post – 2020! Need I say more?

But then I wondered… what if it’s not about 2020 anymore? (Which btw it isn’t when I look at the calendar)

What if it’s all about 2021? We (as in the entire planet) sure are expecting a lot from it.

How will it ever live up to our expectations? Especially, if as the saying goes, “Expectations are premeditated disappointments.”

Which got me thinking that perhaps the best thing I can do is to stay out of the field of expectations and instead, water the seeds of Love growing in the garden of my heart.

That garden is the one I must tend to, no matter the season, the times, the weather, the state of the world around me. No matter if Covid beats a hasty retreat and we are free to embrace one another again without fearing the worst, the state of the garden of Love in my heart keeps me rooted in grace and gratitude. It opens me up and brings me into the beauty of this moment in which I find myself breathing freely.

May the garden of your heart be full of beauty growing wild and free in all the colours of the rainbow. May you awaken to Love blossoming with every breath you take.

Christmas. Unplugged.

I am standing in the middle of the pedestrian bridge that spans the river connecting the east and west end of the city, just before the rolling plains leading to the foothills and the Rockies begin.

I can see where I was standing as I sit at my desk now.

It is early. The sky a grey covered cloudy blanket full of misty, snow-filled moisture.

The world is quiet. Calm. Serene.

There is no traffic on the separate vehicle bridge on the far side of the one on which I stand. No sign of pedestrians on this one either other than one bicycle track that had ploughed through the snow earlier than even my morning saunter.

I shake my head at the thought of someone riding their bike through the snow and am reminded of my friend J.H. who no matter the temperature or conditions, rides his bike everywhere. All year-round. We worked together for several years and some mornings when the wind was howling and the snow blowing, he would arrive at work looking like the Abominable Snowman. It never deterred him. It was one of the things he had to do to help save the planet, he said.

I helped save my sanity yesterday.

I unplugged. Mostly.

Other than FaceTime with my daughter and family, and a check in with La GrandeFamille in France and India via WhatsApp, I kept my online time to the bare minimum.

It was self-preservation. The Christmas blues lurked. Real close. And, without the excitement of preparing to receive family and friends for dinner, the slope into self-pity yawned before me with its alluring view into oblivion.

To keep myself from heeding its siren’s call, I kept myself out of the Christmas chatter that fills my Social Media feeds.

The messages are all so beautiful but yesterday, it kept reminding me of how different (and strange) this Christmas was.

I had awoken early. 4:30 am. At 5, when a girlfriend text to wish us Merry Christmas, I was still awake. I text back a few times and then lay in bed debating about getting up. At 6, my Auntie Maggy called from India. We laugh and chattered and when we hung up, I was wide-awake. I decided to get up.

I wandered through the house. Turned on Christmas lights and music. Bundled up and took Beamont the Sheepadoodle for an early morning wander.

The world was quiet. The sky midnight blue. The river flowed with its normal winter chatter. A Canada Goose honked somewhere in the dark.

The world was as it usually is early on a Christmas morning, though this was a very different kind of Christmas.

C.C. still made his Finnish pancakes but we packaged them up to deliver to his son and girlfriend who, because they live on her parents property would be having dinner in her family bubble.

We still cooked a turkey but instead of sharing it crowded around a table of family and friends, we packaged it up in the late afternoon and delivered it to my daughter’s for The Great Exchange between my daughter, sister and us.

Like soldiers in the trenches on Christmas Day of 1914 who carried out an unofficial truce and crossed the no-man’s land between them to exchange Christmas wishes and even gifts, we approached one another, holding out our packages like peace offerings in a time of war. Except our enemy is an invisible microbe that does not announce itself with guns blazing but slips in undetected until it’s too late to take up arms again.

After The Great Exchange, we drove to dear friends, stood at their front door and from a distance, wished them Merry Christmas and left behind a container full of turkey dinner and fixin’s to enjoy. When we returned home, I made up a heaping plate of turkey dinner and took it to a neighbour. Her husband has been ill. She wasn’t up to cooking a turkey dinner, she’d told me earlier in the day when I’d dropped off a Christmas card and ornament at their door.

And that’s where the Christmas Spirit prevailed. In the small acts of kindness we could share wholeheartedly with one another.

There are still gifts under the tree that haven’t been unwrapped. The roasting pan sits on the kitchen counter waiting to be put away. The dining room table is still set for two, a lonely reminder of the different circumstances of this Christmas. Like year’s past though, there are left-overs in the fridge. The pot of soup we started making last night sits on the deck chilling.

And through it all, woven like threads of gold in a tapestry lovingly crafted by the hands of the many lives that touch ours day in and day out, is the Love that binds us, sustains us, fills us up.

I unplugged from the virtual world yesterday to spend time savouring the magic all around me.

Just as the virus finds little room to create its havoc when we take loving measures to keep our distance, there was no room for the blues to take up residence in my heart. It was too full of the love and joy of the spirit of this season.

May the sacred nature and giving grace of the spirit of Christmas embrace you and your families. May the New Year bring all of us great joy, good health and the closeness that comes without Covid in our midst.

Namaste

I Took A Bite of Memory

I took a bite of memory yesterday. It slid across my lips and landed on my tongue full of tantalizing reminders of Christmases past.

It took me back. Back to my early teens. We are living in a white house with a big Chestnut tree in the middle of the front driveway. The deck overlooked the garden and then the city below. The drive backed onto a hillside that took you up into the vineyards that dotted the edges of the Black Forest town in which we lived.  

Inside, the house is full of the smells and sounds of Christmas. My father is baking in the kitchen. Christmas music playing. Loud.

My sister, Anne, and I are squabbling over whose turn it is to vacuum and whose turn to clean the bathroom.

My mother is fluttering around, trying to keep dad’s dishes to a minimum and desperately trying to admonish Anne and I to ‘quit fighting’ and get to work.

My brother is wafting in and out from his room. Like a prince holding court, he stands (forever) in front of the full-length mirror in the front hallway trying to determine between blue shirt, white shirt or maybe a sweater? In the middle of turning this way and that, he asks Anne and me what we think of what ever he is wearing.

We roll our eyes and say, in unison, “Whichever”, and pretend to go back to doing our jobs.

It was our way, we’d placate our brother and then whine together, like co-conspirators in a bad spy movie, about how he always got to go out and do whatever he wanted while we had to do all the work around the house. Sometimes, if we got the tone and attitude just right, he’d think we were talking about him and pester us with questions. “What’d you say?” “What? You think I should go with the sweater?” “There’s nothing wrong with my hair today, right?”  We’d tell him we weren’t even talking about him and scurry off to get our jobs done so we could go meet our friends.

If high-fives had been a ‘thing’ in those days we’d have worn our palms out.

And through it all, my father would be bustling around the kitchen, elbow deep in flour and sugar and everything nice to make one of his many baked Christmas delicacies.

Yesterday, I took a bite of a piece of Stollen. I’d picked it up that morning fresh from the bakers and was transported back to those days long ago..

My father’s Stollen were home baked. It was his way. The kitchen was his domain during the holidays. And while deliciousness was his ethic, excess was his trademark.

In later years, when I was living in Canada and my parents had not yet moved back from Europe, my dad would parcel up a huge box of Christmas goodies and have them delivered by airmail to my front door.

That box came full of his loving hands spicing up every bite and, my mother’s hands too. Because, while the production of so many culinary delights was my dad’s purview, making it all look pretty was my mother’s gift. She shared it well.

Butter tarts. Tins of many different cookies. Pound cakes. Christmas cake.  All wrapped up in crinkly bows. Pretty, sparkly papers around each cake. Cheery tins of laughing Santas and elves and trees all dressed up in Christmas finery. It was a gastronomic and pictorial odyssey.

There was something for everyone in that box. Chocolates for my daughters. A treat for the dog. And always, wrapped in a piece of cheese cloth covered with wax paper, tin foil and red wrapping paper, there was a Stollen. Waiting to be devoured.

I took a bite of memory yesterday.

It tasted good in my heart.

Last night, as I sat in the glow of the lights on the Christmas tree, I felt the overwhelming sadness of missing those we cannot be near this Christmas.

“Buck up, Louise,” my inner critic said in a jolly voice. “It’s not that bad. At least it looks like it will be a white Christmas.”

“Small consolation,” I hiss back. “We’ll be all alone. Nobody in our home when Christmas dinner calls us to the table.”

I’m never sure why I feel the need to speak in rhymes to my inner critic (badly I might add) Perhaps it is to disarm him.

“Nope,” the critic says. “It’s to distract yourself. You don’t know how to handle feeling sad, so you avoid it.”

Seriously? You sound like my mother.

Oh, not the one I spent my life trying to understand. That mother took her last breath in February. A sweet, tiny, sparrow-like woman whose arthritic fingers floated up to touch the faces of her daughters and granddaughters who had gathered around her bed to say good-bye.

We could do that still, in late February. Gather with those we love to say farewell. Sit in a circle around her bed, close together, heads bowed, holding each other’s hands, as we said a prayer for this, the final leg of her journey.  

That mother, who bid her farewells in February was often a mystery to me. Full of contradictions and insecurities. I sometimes, unkindly, called her needy.

 This one, the one who comes to visit me now from someplace on the other side, is full of understanding and wisdom. She laughs and drinks martinis and wears too much perfume and too much jewellery. She doesn’t seem to care. She’s having the time of her life in the afterlife she says.

In her aura, I no longer yearn for the mother of my dreams. I simply yearn for her to keep visiting.

And then I realize he is. Her. My inner critic is my mother’s voice. But this time, she’s not visiting me while I’m in the bath, as is her custom. She’s here, beside the Christmas tree where I sit feeling the melancholy of the hour before midnight and the sadness of this season of joy that will be spent alone.  

My mother loved Christmas. She would spend hours decorating, baking, gift-buying and wrapping. From the man at the counter of the store where she normally shopped, to the woman who cut her hair, to the son of the son of the woman who cut her hair. My mother gave to everyone.

It was her way.

The gifts under our tree this year are sparse. Most were ordered online and sent directly to their recipients to avoid physical contact.

And my mother’s voice breaks into my reverie.

“It’s still Christmas Louise. A time to join the triumph of the skies and proclaim, Christ is born in Bethlehem.”

“Since when do you quote Christmas carols?” I ask this unseen presence who sounds like my mother’s voice but doesn’t speak like her at all.

“Since you keep slipping into melancholy instead of Christmas cheer,” my mother’s voice says. “You love Christmas carols. Remember when your girls were little and you’d organize a carolling party and all your friends would come and you would wander the neighbourhood singing at the top of your lungs?”

And I smile and remember. Yes. That was such a good time. Full of laughter and friendship and children’s voices giggling while we parents struggled to carry a tune that nobody cared about anyway. It was the feeling of being together, of being connected that made it all so special.

And I sigh.

“We don’t have those connections this year, mum,” I say to this woman whom I cannot see but whose presence feels so real to me.

“True,” she says. “But it doesn’t mean those days are gone forever. And it definitely doesn’t mean those feelings of connection and belonging aren’t still alive. You just have to work harder to feel them. Use your creativity Louise. You’re good at that.”

And I smile in the silent night. My mother’s voice drifts away and I sit and watch the Christmas lights glow with the promise of a most Holy Night.

Christmas this year can’t be like Christmases past.

But it can still be full of those feelings and sensations I love so much. Of being connected. Immersed in love and joy. Of being part of something magical and mysterious and miraculous.

If it is to be, it is up to me.

Quietly, I turn off the Christmas tree lights. Let Beaumont out for one last romp in the now snow covered earth and then climb into bed beside my beloved who is already fast asleep.

I close my eyes and say a prayer of gratitude. For my beloved sleeping beside me. For my mother who visits me now so I can know peace. For this life I live that is so full of joy and for all those who make it a beautiful tapestry of family and friendship woven together with Love.

We may not be gathered around a crowded Christmas table laden with the food we all prepared, but we will be gathered together in our hearts. And in our hearts, there is only room for one thing. Love.

Always and forever.

Time to stop not missing the missing pieces

I have been suffering (and I pause and look at that word and wonder, am I really suffering or is it just a mere annoyance?) …

I have been annoyed by what I am calling my ‘Covid-brain’. A sort of spongy, mushy, sieve-y brain that forgets the simplest of things and has difficulty focusing.

Can you relate?

Why, just yesterday, I dropped off a bag of goodies at a friends and left before she could come to the door. (I kind of like the randomness of it all) A while later, when I realized I had missed her call because I’d forgotten my phone was on silent (again), I called back and she thanked me for the parcel.

“I’m curious though,” she said. “I’m not sure what you want me to do with these two envelopes addressed to…” and she named the recipients.

“Oh no!” I exclaimed into the phone. “I had put them in the bag while I took everything to the car. I was going to drop them into a mailbox on my way over.”

I, of course, had totally forgotten. Not just the ‘drop in mailbox’ part but the fact the envelopes were even in the bag.

Fortunately, my girlfriend offered to drop them into the mailbox. Crisis averted.

It is happening a lot. This forgetting things. The being half way through a task and getting distracted by another.

Even my Netflix viewing is under the thrall of my ‘Covid-brain’. Last night, deciding it was a good time to douse myself in Christmas romance, I was 20 minutes into a movie before I remembered I’d watched it just a few nights ago. And don’t get me started about the movies waiting for me in my ‘Continue Watching’ folder. That one’s even longer than Santa’s naughty list!

Some of it, I think, is because I am constantly dancing between the pull of diving deep into my favourite time of the year and having to push myself into doing anything remotely connected to ‘the most wonderful time of the year’.

Take my shopping list.

I don’t have one.

Yup. You read that right. I haven’t even made a list of names and gift ideas this year. Heck, I’ve barely bought a gift! Though I did manage to get some parcels shipped off early enough they might even make it before the big day!

Though even there, Covid-brain slithered in with its nasty habit of stealing my memory away. In this case, a girlfriend had offered to ship some gifts with hers as she had someone at work who was doing all the post-office, standing-in-line related activities.

“Awesome!” I told her and promised to get them to her by end of week.

In the interim, I packaged up the parcel, got it all ready to go days before I had to drop it off. And then…

Well, let’s just say I saw the box sitting on the counter and asked my beloved if he’d take it to FedEx.

Totally, I mean totally, forgot about my girlfriend’s offer.

Sigh.

It has been an unusual holiday season. Okay. Unusual year.

The quietness of the house. The lack of comings and goings. Of friends dropping in and family gatherings, planned and impromptu. The busyness of going to the mall or favourite shops to browse aisles filled with tempting ideas on what to give that special someone who has everything, but not that. The rushing about. The wrapping and carefully placing each gift under the tree. The anticipation of watching faces light up. The hugs. The sharing of Champagne toasts and special dinners with friends in their homes, or ours or even a restaurant.

My mind is so full of not missing ‘the missing pieces’ it is struggling with staying focused on what is most important.

And as I go to write what is most important, I realize that is where I need to change the story in my heart. Covid-brain or not.

See, the story in my heart is all about the love and joy of celebrating this special time of year with family and friends. It’s all about the excitement of finding that perfect gift for the ones I love. Of making those perfect somethings to nibble on over a glass of bubbly with a girlfriend I haven’t seen in a long while. Of lunch and shopping with a friend. Of watching my favourite Christmas movie with my daughters. Of driving around looking at Christmas lights and singing Christmas songs in the car. Of setting the table and dressing it up all pretty and bright for dinner and the multitude of things that make time with family and friends so special.

That story is not a possibility this year. Health matters must come first. Which means, it is time to re-write the story I hold dear to my heart. If only for this one season.

And so, I let it go.

The working on not missing the missing pieces.

They’re not missing pieces. They’re just not in the story of Christmas this year.

Without having to spend so much energy working on not missing the missing pieces, I free up my mind-space to make room for the things I can do that still speak to the love and joy I feel at this most wonderful time of the year — like make those cookies I’ve been putting off to give to neighbours. Like sending out those cards I haven’t yet sent!

See, in working on not missing the missing pieces, I have put my attention on what is wrong with this holiday season and not all that is right.

All that is right is we are well and healthy. Our families are well and healthy. Our friends are well and healthy.

The gift we give each other this year is the gift of good health. By staying apart, by celebrating separately, we are gifting each other, life without Covid.

What an amazing gift!

And if I focus on that, if I stop thinking about all the things that are missing and having to then remind myself to not think about all the things that are missing, I am free to celebrate and enjoy and savour this gift of well-being that is a true expression of the greatest gift of all…

Love.

Namaste

_________________

And yes, I have immersed myself in creating more bookmarks. Their creation fills my heart with joy and pulls me out of focusing on thoughts of how to not miss the missing so that I can breathe once again into the beauty of all that is present, right here, right now.

It Is. Enough.

This morning, when I visited David Kanigan’s blog before coming here to write, the sight of his photos married to the quote he shared brought tears to my eyes. (to experience the quote with the photos click HERE – you won’t be disappointed)

The quote that stirred my emotions (though to be honest, it was his photos of clouds drifting in a rose-drenched morning sky that got me first) was Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change, by Maggi Smith.

David offers up this quote from the book,

Remember when you would have been over-the-moon thrilled to have just a fraction of your life as it is now?

Look around you: it is enough.

KEEP MOVING

And the tears wash over me as I write a response…

I want to rail against the notion, that if I look around me, I will see it is enough.

I want to cry out in strident opposition, No. It Is Not Enough.

And then I smile (wistfully and a bit sheepishly perhaps) as I remember, whether I think it is enough or not, what is around me right now is all there is. It is what is.

I do as Maggie Smith suggests. I look around me.

The house sleeps in the quiet of the darkness before dawn. The white Christmas lights that I spent an afternoon festooning along the glass railings of the deck, in an effort to bring me into the Christmas spirit, glow softly like candles in the dark. Inside, on my desk, the light of a candle flickers on the photo taken at my mother’s 95th birthday two years ago. I am with my 2 sisters, my 2 daughters, my then 6-month-old grandson and my mother.

4 generations that now live on in 3.

It wasn’t a Covid loss. My mother’s passing in February was just time having had its fill of her life.

And perhaps that is where the tears come from. Not only will my mother not be amongst us this Christmas, we will all be in our separate houses. Alone.

And my heart aches in the reality of what is.

I want to say, it’s not enough.

And must breathe into the reality — It is what it is.

______________________

We are all facing that reality – a global experience of loss, change, aloneness, separateness.

Perhaps, out of all of this, what will truly be known is how we are all connected. How we need one another. How it is our relationships that make our life rich and beautiful and oh so vibrant.

Perhaps, when Covid has had its way and we are on our way to healing these months of sequestered solitude, we will find ourselves together again and in that togetherness, will let go of the squabbles and differences that keep us apart.

Perhaps, when we are together again, we will celebrate our human condition in all its billions of unique expressions and let the gazillion things that we tell ourselves about why we must maintain our separateness, go.

Perhaps, we will relate through our magnificence and not our mediocrity.

Perhaps, we will all remember that we are all on this one earth, this one giant ball spinning its way around the sun year after year, together. That it is not our differences that separate us, but our thoughts and ideas and notions of what is right and wrong, possible and impossible, mine and yours.

And perhaps, in discovering how much we need one another, in realizing how connected we are, we will find the courage, strength and compassion to invite everyone into our hearts so that no matter where in the world we are, no matter how fragile or fabulous our human condition or how tiny or large our square footage, we will remember, We Are One.

And perhaps, in that oneness, we will know, once and for all, that we do not own this earth we call our home. We are its inhabitants, its guests and above all its guardians.

For what I do to the earth, I do to you.

Let me only do Love with all my heart, all my being, all my magnificence shining on yours.

And so it shall be.

And so it is. Enough.

Namaste.

Love Is Always Present

There are moments when I forget these times. Moments when the reality of stay-at-home orders and masks and climbing case counts and even more sobering death tolls do not invade my peace of mind. And though those times feel fleeting, their presence warms me like my 5-month-old granddaughter’s smile or my grandson’s laughing insistence, I “look at this, YiaYa” when we visit on Facetime.

I cherish those moments of forgetfulness. They are precious.

Finding grace in a hurting world can feel hard. Yet, finding grace is essential if we are to lessen the load of worry, fear, sadness and angst that seems to engulf every conversation, in the real and virtual world.

“I’m not sleeping,” is a reality expressed by many.

“Stay safe,” has replaced ‘have a good day.’

“I am so sorry for your loss,” has become a too frequent salutation.

And so, to ease my mind and heart, to bring me back to grace and gratitude, I go into my studio and immerse myself in the creative process. It is there that I find myself breathing deeply into the expansiveness of the moment. It is there that I find myself coming home to my heart.

It isn’t that I no longer care about the state of the world. I care deeply. But, as I do not want my ripple to be felt in waves of worry and angst, I commit myself to doing everything I can to ensure my ripple flows out in calm undulations of loving-kindness.

Peace of mind comes with accepting that, though there is little I can do physically about all that is happening in the big, wide world beyond my studio doors, there is much I can do, must do, to tend to my heart and nourish my circle of influence.

Immersed in creative expression, my heart and I have the courage to bear witness to all that is present in our world today, without expectation it is anything else than what it is. Absorbed by the muse calling me to express my heart through words and images, no matter what is happening in the world out there, inside me, I embrace reality. In Love.

In Love, all things seem less daunting or frightening. All things are possible.

For awhile, it seemed like Christmas would allow for in-house gatherings, albeit small, but at least some. But, the onslaught of the viruses incursions into homes across the province has dictated no in-house visits with anyone other than those who currently live in the home.

Facing a Christmas without family and friends has felt like a daunting prospect to me. I have struggled with finding a way to create a sense of connection, to share my love and joy in the presence of those I love even when we are not gathered around a table.

And so, I asked the angels to help me find a way to still create wonder and magic around a dinner table that will be missing so many hearts and faces.

And that’s where the angel placecards I’ve been creating come in.

Each angel will bear the name of someone who would have gathered around our table if times permitted. Each angel will be a messenger of love.

Immersed in their creation, I forget about ‘loss’ and those I miss and find myself in the beautiful, healing spaciousness of grace and gratitude. As I paint and doll up each angel, without conscious thought my mind and body focus on all that I have and all those who make my life so rich and beautiful.

And ‘the missing’ eases its grip and falls away.

Whatever your celebration, may we all find ways to ease ‘the missing’ this holiday season.

May we all find peace of mind and ease of heart no matter how dark the skies or few the faces around the table or painful the memories of Christmases past.

May we all know Love is always present. Where ever we are. Whomever we’re with. Whomever is missing.

And may the angels always kiss your heart with wings of grace, love, beauty and joy.

Namaste

__________________________

About the angels:

I painted 14 x 11″ sheets of Yupo paper with alcohol inks. Cut each sheet in quarters and with a stencil I drew and cut out of a sheet of computer paper, I traced the angel onto the back of each painted yupo sheet and cut them out. I painted their faces with acrylic pens and glued on glitter and glitz with a glue gun. The halos are thin wire covered in ribbon.

Let It Be And Love Will Have Its Way

For several days now, the Beatles iconic hit, Let It Be, has been playing through my mind.

When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me
Speaking words of wisdom, let it be

When I chatted with both my sisters yesterday we talked about how this is our first Christmas without mom. And, though her arthritis had made it too painful for her to make the journey to join us at our Christmas dinner table, she was always present.

My mother loved Christmas. In her 80s, living alone in a one-bedroom apartment, she would spend days decorating it up with boughs and bows, glitter and glitz. Garlands of fir, poinsettias, stars and angels graced every surface.

And always, her small Christmas tree was placed on a table visible from every corner of the living room. And Mary and Joseph and all the animals were placed in the manger in the middle of her sideboard. Of course, just as when I was a child, the baby Jesus would not be amongst them. At least not until Christmas eve when, as if by magic, we’d return home from midnight mass and there he’d be, lying peacefully on the straw, surrounded by his tiny family of Mary, Joseph, the animals and the three Kings.

He was only a small clay infant swaddled in a white cloth but he held such magic for me.

Of course, Santa would also have paid a visit while we were out so after a cursory check to make sure the baby was safely tucked into his place of honour, I’d run off to join my siblings in “The Great Christmas Present Opening Mayhem”.

What I remember most about my mom in those bygone Christmases is how she never sat down when we got home from midnight mass. While the rest of us raced in to check out what had appeared under the tree, she’d head straight to the kitchen to put the finishing touches on ‘Le Réveillon de Noël’, our post-midnight feast. And to wrap some last-minute gifts because, inevitably, my father would have invited friends from church to join in the festivities. And in my mother’s house, no one ever left empty-handed.

While we kids tore into the gift-laden tree, my father would pour drinks and mum would glide in and out of the room carrying platters of mince tarts and deviled eggs and cheeses. By 1am, I’d be yawning and trying desperately to keep my eyes open as the Tourtière was carried in.

And the eating and drinking would get down to business as I sleepily watched the mayhem unfolding around me.

I think it is the mayhem I miss.

The comings and goings, the toing’s and froing’s of getting ready for Christmas throughout the month. And, of course, the staying out of trouble to stay on the ‘good’ side of Santa’s list.

Staying on the ‘good’ side of Santa’s list was a struggle for me as a child. But in December, without my mother’s eagle eyes watching my every move and with my siblings equally as excited about Santa’s visit, (which gave them less opportunity to tattle on me) it seemed easier to stay out of trouble – though as the youngest of four whose nickname was, “The Brat”, getting into trouble came too easily to me. At least, that’s what my mother told me.

But at Christmastime, she was so busy shopping and cooking and decorating and wrapping gifts and volunteering at the church, she didn’t have as much time to notice when I wasn’t behaving ‘like the others’, which was her most frequent request of me.

Even as a child, that one confused me. “How could I be like the others if I was going to be me?” I’d ask her, innocently enough (at least in the beginning) but, as the years went on and her desire for me to ‘be like the others’ remained just as strong, my question became more of a ‘poke’ than innocent curiosity.

Eventually, with my mother’s repeated requests that I just ‘Let it be’ so she could have some peace, I learned to poke less. And though it never meant my mother and I had an easy relationship, it did mean I quit searching for my answers in her and started looking for them in me.

Sometimes, to find our answers we must let grace open our hearts so that we can find peace with the unknown.

The heart always knows.

And sometimes, all the heart wants is for us to “Let It Be” so that Love can have its way.

________________________

And… just in case it’s been a while since you watched or listened to the version of Let It Be from one of my all-time favourite movies, Across the Universe, I’m sharing it here.