Category Archives: Christmas and other celebrations

In Love, fear doesn’t stand a chance.

Easter Sunday.

No brunch at the golf club today. A family tradition gone by the wayside under Covid’s watch.

No family gathering – at least not in person.

The world is silent. Streets remain empty. Few cars. Few pedestrians.

Shuttered behind closed doors, we wait.

Behind the front door of their home in Vancouver, my eldest daughter and her family wait. Not just the Easter Bunny to arrive but for the arrival of a precious, beautiful baby girl.

My eldest daughter is pregnant. Her baby’s due date, July 9. But, they’re pretty sure she’ll have to deliver 3 – 4 weeks early via C-section due to a liver condition that can appear during pregnancy.

The other day, I was telling her how I am consciously choosing to not think about the arrival of my granddaughter. “It hurts too much to think I won’t be able to be there,” I tell her. “Yet, not thinking about her means I’m missing out on the excitement, the anticipation, the joy her birth brings into my world.”

I must let myself feel. All of it.

I want to compartmentalize my feelings.

Good ones in this wide-open space of my heart beating wildly free. Hard to cope with ones over here, in this lockbox of steel and titanium.

This infant will be coming into a very different world than her brother entered just over two years ago. He too arrived early, but his world was filled with touch. Laughter. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews gathering to meet him, to hold him, kiss him, ooh and ahhh over him, cuddle him.

My granddaughter’s arrival will not be filled with extended family gathering to meet her. There will be no baby shower. No gathering of family to welcome her home. My daughter must cope with the losses amidst the beauty of giving birth.

There is so much missing. So much that will be missed.

But there is one thing that is not missing. There is one thing that will sustain and support my daughter, her family and their precious newborn as they adjust to bringing this new life into the family circle.

Love.

It is always there. Flowing. Embracing. Filling each moment, every heart.

I must remember the Love. Feel it. Be it. Carry it. Hold it with outstretched hands across the Rockies, the interior valleys up and over the Coastal Range to their home by the sea.

I must hold out Love. Hold onto Love. Be Love.

When I think of my granddaughter’s arrival, I want to wish away Covid, wish away self-isolation, wearing masks, constant washing of hands, avoiding physical contact with others, avoiding groups and Zoom calls in lieu of person-to-person gatherings.

I want to wish it all away.

When I think of my granddaughter’s imminent arrival, I want the world to be different. To be less scary. Less one enormous danger zone.

I want what used to be.

I can’t. I can’t wish away Covid and I can’t have what used to be.

I must breathe into what is and remember the Love. The Love that is always present. Always here.

In Love, my heart beats freely. In Love, fear doesn’t stand a chance.

I may not be there to hold her in the first few days of her life on earth. I may not be able to be physically there to help my daughter and her family during their first days as a family of 4.

And my heart aches. I feel the sense of loss. Of sadness. Of wishing that times were different.

And I remember to breathe.

In. Out.

Deeply. Slowly.

In. Out.

The ache eases. It is less pressing, less frightening.

And that’s when it comes to me. The realization that not thinking about my granddaughter gives the virus more power than it deserves.

Yes. This tiny, invisible to the naked eye microbe has changed the entire world.

Yes. It has caused massive suffering, death, economic hardship, mental anguish and a host of other dire things.

But I will not let it steal my joy. I will not let it take away from me the gift of family. Of being present to the anticipation of new life. Of rejoicing in an infant’s arrival on this earth.

I will not give this virus that power.

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I awoke this morning thinking about the arrival of my granddaughter and feeling somewhat sad about these circumstances that will inevitably still be in place when she is born.

And now, as always happens when I write it out. I feel more hopeful. More centered. More ready to start creating different pathways to experiencing the excitement and beauty of this time of waiting and her imminent birth.

If you have any ideas on how to adjust ‘what used to be’ to create a loving way in the here and now of being present within her imminent arrival, I would be so grateful for all ideas.

It’s time I let go of ‘not thinking’ and became engaged in actively thinking about ways to celebrate her arrival and her life.

Namaste.

__________________

And for our Zoom-in family dinner tonight, I decided to create family bunnies to be at the table with us.

Doing this gave/gives me great joy.

And I breathe.

My daughter and her family in Vancouver

The last photo is the alcohol ink on yupo paper that became the bunny for Alexis.

Come. Gather ’round the table Zoom-in Style!

Easter Dinner Nametag

I wrote yesterday of my love for all things culinary. Gadgets and gizmos. Recipe testing, creating and sharing. Making food. Sharing food. Eating food.

The kitchen is my perfect playground.

As is my studio.

The main level of our home is entered at street level. As you walk through from the frontdoor to the dining room and then the deck, the hillside drops away leaving the back end one story up. In the walkout downstairs, the guest room and my studio  open out onto the backyard leading down to the river.

It is beautiful. Idyllic. A perfect creative space.

One of my favourite things to do for holiday dinners (okay pretty well any dinner where we have guests)  is to make place-cards, and to set the table all pretty-like. 🙂

The challenge this year is… well, it’s the one everyone is facing in these times of social distancing – we can’t gather around the same table to share in the family and friendly ties that bind us together.

So… we decided to get creative!

In order to give us a feeling of connection, we are having a Zoom dinner tomorrow with my sister and daughter on the west coast, my sister and daughter who live here and very dear friends who are always part of our special dinners.

And, to make it more ‘connected’, my sister and daughter here in Calgary will be contributing to the meal, as if they were coming to the house for dinner.

C.C. and I are doing the ham with sauce and dessert, my youngest daughter the vegetables and my sister the mashed potatoes. We will each deliver our portion of the meal to my daughter’s house by 2pm tomorrow in packets appropriate for 2 people. We’ll drop off our packages and at the same time, pick up the rest of our meal. At 6:30 MST, we’ll connect via Zoom  ‘at the Easter table’ and share our meal.

Earlier in the day, C.C. is organizing a Zoom with his extended family (he is one of 13 siblings). He’s sent out email invitations to siblings, his son and daughter, nieces and nephews — it will be fascinating to see how many turn up!  A family wedding on his side starts with 60 family members and builds from there!

In these times where we stand together in ‘flattening the curve’ by staying apart, technology is our ally. It is letting us ‘be’ together while in our individual homes.

And of course, given my penchant for making nametags for special dinners, I’ve been busy in the studio painting spring-palette-inspired name cards for each guest at our Zoom-in Easter Dinner. (The especially bright colours are necessary as it is snowing again!)

For those who are here in Calgary, I’ll be delivering them with the food tomorrow so that they can pick them up. For my daughter and her family in Vancouver, and my sister and her husband on Gabriola Island, I’ll be setting a place at the table for them complete with fine china, crystal, nametag and all!

It will be a different dinner than in the past, but it will still be imbued with the special ingredient that makes all our dinners so very heart and soul enriching and tummy-pleasing… Love.

A couple of more of the placecards — more to finish before dinner tomorrow!

 

 

 

Belonging around the table.

Heading west as the sun rises.

We were 21 adults gathered around the dining room table(s) this year for Christmas. At one moment, while standing on the kitchen side of the island, I looked out at the guests gathered in our home and my heart whispered with a contented sigh, “Yes. This is Christmas”.

Gathered around the table, we shared a meal, toasts, tales of Christmases past, of Christmases hoped for, remembered, cherished. We laughed at stories, new and old. It didn’t matter if we’d heard them before for it wasn’t the story that made our hearts warm with remembering, it was the storyteller.

And as in Christmases past, we went around the table and each person answered the question that was written in their name cards. “What is your favourite Christmas memory?”  “What are you most grateful for in 2019?”  “If you could create a charitable organization, what would it be?”  “What historical figure would you want to include at the table?” …

We gathered around the table on Christmas Day to share a feast and to feast on that special brew of friendship, family, community and the ties that bind us.

And throughout the festivities, our home was full of voices laughing, chatting, calling out each other in the familiar way that only those who have known one another a long, long time can do, and get away with. Because, no matter the calling out, it is the threads of familiarity and love that weave our hearts together in a magical tapestry of lives enjoined across time and space, moving always closer to the heart of what matters most – belonging, community,  family, love.

Three Valley Gap – looking east.

And now, we are in Vancouver to share another Christmas with our eldest daughter, son-in-love and grandson. It is a special celebration.

Rogers Pass

As we followed the highway west, driving through plains and rolling hills into foothills and the Rockies, through towns and mountainsides festooned with snow-covered trees, I said a prayer of gratitude for my life today and those who fill it with such joy and beauty and love.

After a few days here, we will spend New Year’s Eve on Gabriola Island with my middle sister and her husband and then, we’ll take the long and winding road across Vancouver Island to my favourite place on earth, Tofino where my beloved and I will spend a few quiet days listening to the waves crash against the shore, wander the beaches and sit by the fire.

Yes. This is Christmas.

This is the table where we belong. Where family and friends gather.  This is a joyful celebration of life, of friendship, family, love and new birth to come.

Yes. This is my blessed life.

I am so grateful.

Namaste.

 

And so… this is Christmas

The table is set, the turkey awaits stuffing. The vegetables are prepared, the cranberry sauce ready. Beneath the tree the presents are wrapped and waiting for the household to stir.

And I sit in the quiet of this Christmas morning and breathe deeply in the peace, hope, love and joy that fills my heart, spilling over into the air around me.

Hark the herald, angels sing
Glory to a new born king

The sun has begun its ascent, the days are lengthening and the earth continues on its orbit, its path decreed billions of years ago in a cosmic blast that shook the universe to its very core and set our planet a-spinning.

And over 2000 years ago, a mother and father huddled together in a tiny stable and witnessed the birth of their child surrounded by the lowing of the animals who kept watch.

The story of the Christ child’s birth has lived throughout the years. It touches all our hearts, Christian and non-Christian, believer and non-believer. No matter if we believe He came to earth to ‘save our souls from Satan’s power’, or if he was simply a powerful prophet, or just a great man whose story has survived the ages, His birth represents the power of love to create peace in the world and to restore our spirits as we celebrate the miracle of life.

Christmas is a time to celebrate. A time to rejoice, to dance in the light of day’s lengthening shadows, to sit in awe of a child in a manger and a child whose eyes are wide in wonder at the twinkling lights and gifts beneath the tree.

It is a time when we are connected in love to the miracle of one child’s birth long ago that reminds us, every year, that we too are miracles inspired by the act of love that ignites our journey of life – in all its limitless possibilities.

What a miracle Christmas is! 2000 years ago a child was born and from His birth has grown this night where the world stops, and takes a collective breath as we join in a song of love, faith, hope and joy.

This Christmas, as I reflect upon my life, I am reminded, once again, of the power of love to heal, to make peace and to create miracles. And that is the true meaning of Christmas for me. A celebration of birth, of life, of love. A healing. An awakening. A miracle that wraps us all in a never-ending circle of love.

Whatever your celebration — Christmas, Hanukkah, Bodi day, the Fast of Ramadan, the ancient sabbat – or a family-centered gathering, a Blessed Holiday to each and everyone of you. May your spirits be light, your hearts full of love and may your world be filled with the limitless possibilities of the miracle of your life as you live each moment, filled with love, gratitude and joy.

 

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My daughter sent me the most lovely gift… the link to this beautiful song that speaks of what Christmas means to me.  may you know the joys of being with those you love, gathered around a table, sharing a meal, time together and LOVE.

The Creativity Angels: What does it mean to create?

As I move into final stages of our Christmas dinner planning, I have been working on a series I’m calling The Creativity Angels.

Their substance is being formed out of a string of salt dough ornaments I made for above our fireplace.

They began as a happy accident.

I had made salt dough hearts for my creativity workshop in November and decided to make some Christmas specific ornaments as well.

One of the things I made were angels I painted and then strung on ribbon and beads. Each of 9 angels has a word painted on the back. Each word relates to my perspective of the creative process and the birthing of an idea into substance.  The words are:  Faith. Belief. Commitment. Courage, Compassion,  Strength. Joy. Hope. Love.

The angels look delightful hanging on the fireplace mantel and inspired me to create more for gift tags.

And then the magic and mystery of the creative process began to spin itself into something more…

In working on them I’ve continued to breathe into the birthing process as I’ve delved into the question:  “What does it mean to create?”

What resonates deeply within me is that like birthing of a child, the creative process can be ascribed 3 sections:  Curiosity. Commitment. Creation.

Within each trimester there are 3 stages:

Curiosity

  • Inquisitiveness – don’t settle for status quo
  • Questioning – keep questioning your biases and beliefs
  • Exploration – explore ideas, thoughts, feelings without judgement

Commitment

  • Be steadfast – don’t give up just because it feels hard.
  • Be strong – failure is an invitation to keep going, keep digging, keep exploring, keep being in the process.
  • Stay the course – if something doesn’t look like you expected it to turn out, it’s not because it isn’t working, it’s because you’re creating the path as you go — and new paths are vital to creative expression – and you’re not done yet.

Creation

  • Accept all – Creation is a process. Stay open within the process. There’s no such thing as ‘bad’ art, writing, dance, music. There’s just what is appearing as you give way to what is asking to be brought into form.
  • Be kind – Do not judge yourself harshly. Do not condemn your work. Accept everything you do as an important and vital piece of your creative journey. If it doesn’t ‘please’ you, keep going (and be kind in how you talk to yourself about what you’re doing – your brain does not discern between thoughts that are unhealthy for you or ones that are healthy — it believes it all).
  • Give grace – Your creative expressions are a reflection of where you are at in that moment. Encourage yourself to keep going with words of loving-kindness. Celebrate each step and allow the process to guide the birthing of your expression into the world.

Yesterday, I completed painting the 27 new angels I’ve been working on – most of these will be for gift/name tags but 9 have been designated for another string of Creativity Angels. In the process of painting the angels, the framework for The Creativity Angels began to take form as an idea gestating into form.

I am staying with the process. Allowing the evolution of the framework of The Creativity Angels to be born without my forcing it into substance.

Like birthing of a child, I cannot push it out into the world until the time is right. What I can do is allow its framework to slowly become visible, like a pregnant belly growing towards the denouement of the child coming into this world.

I am excited.

I am filled with anticipation. With joy. With possibility.

And just as we cannot know the future of the children we bring into this world and can only do our best to create the space and environment for them to thrive, I am holding space for The Creativity Angels’ life to become rich and meaningful. In the journey, I am letting go of expectation and falling with grace into the creative process and all that comes with birthing an idea into substance.

Namaste.

 

 

In the tenderness of the dawn.

It is my most favourite morning of the year.

That first morning when I enter the living room and turn on the Christmas tree lights for the first time of the season.

Normally, this morning doesn’t arrive until after December 9th (my birthday). But, originally my sister was to have been here this week, and as C.C. and I are leaving to visit our grandson and family right after Christmas, we decided to deviate from tradition and put the tree up early.

Which is lovely.  As I write and reflect and look out the window at the world slowly awakening, the beautiful reflection of the lights shimmering on the tree has been added to my view.

How blessed I am.

My youngest daughter and her partner came over last night and joined us for dinner and in decorating. We laughed and shared stories and my daughter threw in the occasional comment about my tendency to want to ‘over decorate’. “Less is more” just doesn’t seem to align with my vision of Christmas.

When the last ornament was placed, and the angel carefully set upon the treetop, we all agreed, Vincent is a beautiful tree (And yes, he has been named after the artist in celebration of creativity, passion and all the vibrant colours of the world.)

It is in the decorating of the Christmas tree I feel the movement of our family tree the most. My eldest daughter and C.C.’s daughter both live in Vancouver now. C.C.’s son is on a U.S. tour with his band, leaving just the four of us to do the honours.

It was lovely and sweet and filled with moments to cherish and while holding the slight bittersweet tang of missing those we love who have over the years always been here to decorate.

And that’s the thing about this special time of year. It isn’t about gifts wrapped under the tree, or rushing from store to store to buy that perfect something someone may or may not want. It’s about family and friends gathering together around a tree, a table, on a skating rink, a toboggan hill, a walk through the woods.

It’s about time spent laughing and teasing, telling old stories we’ve heard countless times before but that still ring true with the sounds of love and familiarity that imbue their spirit.

It’s about one of the ‘kids’ finding the tackiest ornament (the one I swear I’m going to relegate to the garbage bin every year but just can’t seem to do it) and placing it in a very visible spot on the tree because you know, I’m going to hate it there! (And yes, this happens every year and I always feel the warm glow of love in its happening.)

It’s about Love.

Sharing.

Connecting.

Belonging.

Missing and longing too.

Because it is at this time of year, along with the loving of time together, I feel the absence of the ones I love, who aren’t here, the most. Whether they have moved away or have left this physical world for places beyond my ken, there is always that mushy place in my heart that has the sweet, tender aura of absence.

We decorated the tree last night. I sit at my desk this morning, it’s lights a shimmering glow in the window before me.

The river flows. Traffic moves along the bridge. The sky is dark.

Nat King Cole sings Christmas music in the background.  Dawn light will soon creep into the dark, gently tucking night back into the envelope of day that lies in waiting just beyond the horizon.

We decorated the tree last night. My birthday has not yet come and gone, neither has my beloved’s who celebrates his the day before mine.

Possibly, in decorating the tree before our birthdays this year, we’ve created a new tradition of when Christmas appears in our home. Perhaps, this will be a new way of stepping into this season of Peace, Hope, Love and Joy that will lovingly embrace the ever-changing landscape of our family tree.

The tree is lit. My heart is light and just a teeny bit achy. All is well with my soul because deep within me is the tender knowing that, no matter where the ones I love are, they are always at home in my heart. I carry them with me always.

 

CandyCane Lane and other magical sights

The park where Beaumont and I walk is a magical playground at Christmas.

Every December 1st, volunteers from the community of dog walkers who use the park bring in bins of Christmas balls and decorations and leave them at the base of trees throughout the park. The invitation is for all park-goers to hang a ball or two upon a tree and dress up the park for Christmas.

It is glorious!

Especially, Candycane Lane which a group of volunteers decorate every year.

Yesterday, as snow fell and silence descended within the light touch of flakes drifting through the air, Beau and I walked amidst the trees. Granted, he was not as entranced by the beauty as I was, but I didn’t care. I’d remembered to take my phone and grabbed photo after photo (much to Beau’s dismay as he wanted me to focus on throwing the ball). And a few of Beau — but those are reserved for his own blog, Sundays with Beaumont. 🙂

It truly is wonderful what a group of committed people can do to create beauty in the world.

Many blessings and wonder on this day.

 

May Peace Be You.

May peace be you (1)Christmas. Eve

And the world continues to turn, the sun continues to rise and set, the moon to wax and wane.

Slowly. Slowly. The days grow longer.

And still, we wait.

We wait for the sun’s return, for a Son to be born, for peace, hope, love and joy to descend upon all mankind.

We wait and as we wait, our patience grows thin. We rush about, fighting crowds and traffic. We wait in endless check-out lines to buy one more gift, to put one more check-mark or scratch off one more item on the list that seemed to grow longer as the days grew shorter.

And as we wait, our minds wander to thoughts of those who are no longer here. We remember their laughter. Their sweet voices. Their glowing eyes. Their dancing steps. And our heart yearns to hold them near, to feel their gentle touch, to see their beautiful smile.

And amidst the glitter and bows, the twinkling lights and crinkly paper, amidst the holiday cheer and ho, ho, ho’s, we wonder, how can this be? How can they be gone when the magic and wonder and mystery of Christmas is all around? How can they not be here when as predictably as Christmas decorations appearing in the mall the day after Halloween, we counted upon their presence to remind us that love is all around, love is all we need at this special time of year, at any time of year.

How can this be?

And so this is Christmas.

Our heart’s know what our mind does not want to believe. Time has turned, days have passed, weeks, months, years have slipped by. And in their passing, those who were once held fast to this time and place have passed on and nothing we do or say or wish can bring them back. We cannot touch them, hear them, feel them. We cannot bring them back and so must let them go so that we can listen for our hearts calling us to awaken from these long dark nights of winter.

For in their passing, life goes on, our hearts keep beating, our bodies keep doing and our minds keep remembering Christmases past as we slip into this moment to hear life  reminding us to smile, to laugh and sing and call out to passers-by, greetings of the season, wishes of the New Year to come.

We have come through the time of endless nights growing darker. Of day’s light growing weaker in the soft approach of winter solstice, in the coming light of the child’s birth drawing near.

We are entering the time of waiting for the darkness to pass. Of remembering the day will come beyond the night where we will stand once again beneath a glowing sun and feel the welcoming warmth of its soft embrace reminding us to awaken.

This is a time of waiting and remembering. Of practicing patience. Of holding space for light.

This is a time for hope, peace, love and joy.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. No matter your celebration, may your heart be filled with hope, peace love and joy.

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In loving memory of Clive, George and Roz, my dad.

Make Time for the Sacred – An Advent Meditation

Advent is upon us and I find myself ‘too busy’ to contemplate its arrival.

As I got the house ready for the market, I moved all our Christmas decorations into the storage pod in our driveway. Now, with the closing of the sale on this house imminent and the movers arriving next Tuesday to pack up our belongings and move them into storage until we complete the renovations on our new home, I will not be pulling out the decorations this year.

And I breathe.

The Advent season isn’t about the decorations or the sparkle and glitter of tinsel and bows. It’s about preparation. About quieting my restless mind and body. About breathing into the anticipation of new beginnings, new birth, new life.

And I breathe.

The calendar days will turn. Houses will be trimmed in holiday glitter and carols will be sung — whether I put up a tree, or decorate the mantle, the season isn’t about what I put out to recognize its presence. It’s about what I do to welcome this sacred time into my heart and life.

Below is a piece I wrote for a course I created a couple of years ago called, Make Time for the Sacred. It is a four week meditative journey through Advent. If you would like to join in this contemplative thoughtfulness of Advent, please click HERE. Over the next weeks, I will be working through the course material to reawaken Advent in my world.

Advent Journey. Week 1

Whether waiting for the birth of the Sun or the Son of God, advent is a time of waiting. Of
anticipation, of preparation for the coming of the light that will radiate around the world and
awaken the promise of life to come.

Today, I wait in the quiet of dawn suspended behind the darkness of night. Snow blankets the
world outside my window. I wait.

He is coming, they sing. His birth heralded around the world by shepherds watching and three
Kings drawing near. Angels we have heard on high.

He is coming.

And the world waits. It waits for a child to be born of Mary. A child for whom good tidings will
ring across the land. Hail Mary full of grace. Your time draws near.

Draw near. Draw nearer my heart and let its beat call you into this song of hope. Sing loud this
song of peace for all mankind.

Sing loud. Rejoice. Rejoice O Israel. To thee shall come Emmanuel.

Come. Come into my heart and let joy to the world resound with every breath. Let joy become
me.

Joy to the world. He is coming.

Let us rejoice.

Believer or non-believer, Christian, Buddhist, Jew, Muslim. No matter our faith, let us rejoice in
this prayer for hope, peace, love and joy in our world.

Let peace become us. Let there be peace among us. Let there be peace.