Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Gift of Getting A Grip... While Loosening Up! - Part II

Our "Charlie Brown Tree" - Christmas of 2006 held at Lazee Dayz B&B - Horseshoe Valley, Oro-Medonte

My brother Don and his wife Claudia , her brother Blake and his wife Sherry... all from British Columbia and Deb and I rented the B&B for Christmas Week to share Christmas. Being so far apart, having separate family responsibilities and working hard to keep our heads above water, greatly diminished the possibility for us to be to be together and enjoy Christmas.

This tree was the focal point of our Christmas Eve activity together. I had brought in this tiny fir and we all made decorations from simple materials at hand... all the time listening to Christmas music and sharing laughs and food. Just as in Charlie Brown's case... the resulting tree became special... and under it were the "gift"stockings we each filled for another!

We have not been together since... and this Christmas Don and Claudia are spending Christmas in their retirement home in Yuma, Arizona. Despite this fact... I can retrieve... and replay "the moment"... passed... but not forgotten... each and every Christmas. It is a gift that we gave to each other... that simply... keeps on giving!

My title for this post may seem a bit confusing and obtuse... but it is far from either of those states. Each of us is bombarded by so many outside influences to conform to what is dictated by the society at large that we are forced to live in. Christmas is perhaps the most obvious example of this imposed servitude... as we hustle out to the frenzied malls in search of the "perfect" gifts for our loved ones... at the best dollar value!

Most of us spend more money than we can, or should afford to spend... just to keep in step with the crowd... of family members... friends... neighbours, or worse, the endless suggestive television ads offering (back end cost loaded)... "deals that can't be passed up"... like no interest for one year... no down payment necessary! Electronics... cars... trips... all large ticket items that press the plastic currency to their fullest limits.

My simple laundry dampener gift to my Mom and the joy that I vividly remember from when I was only four years of age... made with the help of my Dad lingers still in my own memory. My Mom treasured and used it throughout much of her laundry-laden years. What surfaces clearly is a definition of what "gifting" really entails. Firstly, there is the giving... and with it, coming the receiving. There should be a measure of pleasure received from both acts.

Sadly... our present society has drifted away from those warm and memorable days when one could expect a hand knit pair of mittens... socks... a sweater...a toque... scarf... an afghan... homemade candy... preserves.. hand carved toys... drawings and paintings. Even the usual Christmas request for skates... hockey pads... bikes and wagons... dolls and teddies might have been filled by "gently" used and lovingly repainted or repaired substitutes. As a child, I can't recall ever questioning the appearance of those gifts... or wondering where they came from.... beyond the Christmas magic of Santa and loving thoughtfulness of my family. They were quite simply... Heart Gifts... sent especially to "Me"!

We will be sharing this next weekend with my eldest son Andrew and his partner Melissa in their new Rockwood home along with his sister Allison. The whole emphasis will focus upon sharing each other's company... good food and drink... an ongoing ritual and love of all board games and ensuing laughter... with only a small emphasis on token gifts. The real gift to each member will be Time... spent ungrudgingly... together as a family for a few days. That's enough!

Lisa and my Grand Kids will be spending their Christmas together at Lisa's new home at Bethsheba in the Barbados. We will share Christmas with them in her Rockport area home upon their return in early January. Christmas can be celebrated on a day other than December 25th! Again... we will be spending time doing many of the same family things... and gifts will be shared by matched pairs of us. In November, we each drew names for one personal stocking to be filled... with a value less than $100 and some one thing at least... that will be handmade. I drew the stocking for my 17 year old Grand daughter Mica... and have made her a personalized Blurb Daily Planner... featuring her alone and with family members as she has emerged into the beautiful butterfly that "She" has become!

Liam and Bryn will be "At Home" with Deb and I here in Hillsdale commencing on the Dec 23rd through to Dec 30th. Christmas will take the form of good food and a trimmed tree... but again, less cluttered underneath than in the past. The lads both sent Santa and Mrs Santa a "short list"... from which we chose gift ideas to go along with a couple of surprises. We too, enjoy game evenings... movie nights and of course, food and special eat treats... including the turkey thingy!

We limited our spending a lot this year... but what we haven't limited... is the sharing of the season as a family and that is something that many folks lose a grip on during most of the year. It is indeed a busier world, dominated by work and commuting schedules... activities that keep us far flung from each other.

Blackberries... lap tops and iPhones that accompany parents to choir practices... game sites and the cottage... occupy interests even at meals... sports events... car trips and vacations. The message we send is that we...."Don't have time!" That is not exactly true. It might rather read... "That I choose to use my time for myself... and that I don't have time... for YOU!"

What if I was simply to say: "This Christmas, all that I have to give you... is my time." Is that a gift? Time at any age... is the highest coin in the human realm. It is short... and its spending should be precious to us all.

Why not... get a grip around your loved ones... and loosen up on schedules and electronic subservience... just for a few days? Time moves along... things change and people do as well. A favourite line in a favourite song of mine, "Puff the Magic Dragon" by Peter, Paul and Mary... includes these poignant lines midway through it:

"A dragon lives on forever, but not so little boys,
Painted wings and giants rings, give way to other toys."

What is Christmas... without the presence of Children... be they aged two... or thirty-two? Children grow up and with them...Life with them passes quickly beyond us. Why not get a grip on them... spend quality time with them. Offer your time... and place something you own that is special... something that is handmade by you, or some thing that is treasured by you... into their hands. In the giving... "You" will be receiving... within that same moment!


Many Blessings!... Glad tidings!...and Good Painting to ALL!!!






Good Painting!... and Happy (Family) Holidays to ALL!!!

17 comments:

  1. Hi Bruce, you seem to have this Christmas madness well under control. You're certainly blessed with a great bunch of family and friends who enjoy each other's company so much.

    I hope you have a wonderful time,

    Keith

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  2. Loving thoughts and words and I wholeheartedly agree with you, Bruce. Your Christmases sound like they are a blast and definitely my kind of Christmas!

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  3. Hi Bruce,

    Sorry I missed this post, it's wonderfu. I do want to wish you, Deb and your family a very
    Merry Christmas and a Happy Healthy New Year.

    Looking forward to next year and posting,for now it is time for family and celebration.

    All the best to you,
    Joan

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  4. Hi there Keith!... And what a wonderful launch this past weekend was at Andrew and Melissa's home in Rockwood! Lots of wonderful food... games... movies and fellowship.

    The highlight for me was making my Mom's Christmas Candy with Allison and Deb... something that all of us always looked forward to eacxh year... and missed terribly since her passing.

    The regained taste of her cinnamon and wintergreen hard tack "pillows" this year ushered in fond memories for all of us of many Christmases passed... as well as healthier understanding and respect for a simple gift... only one of many that "She" created out of love for all of us!

    It is those simple gifts which stir the heart and survive the passage of the years ... which we all remember and cling to!

    "I"... no "We" are indeed blessed as a family!

    Thanks for visiting and for commenting Keith!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  5. Hi there Sherry!... And what a BLAST the entire weekend was... from start to finish!

    The true spirit and Gift of Christmas is Love! Each of us has the ability to both give and receive Love! Money... or the lack of it should not be the measure of the season's success! Time is the greatest gift of love that we can share with our family at large!

    Good Painting!... And a Peaceful and Blessed Christmas to "You" and your family from ours Sherry!

    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  6. Hi there Joan!... Thanks for visiting and for your good wishes!

    I have truly enjoyed our sharing throughout 2011... and like yourself look forward to more posting and sharing with friends in the New Year!

    A very Merry Christmas to "You" and your Family from ours Joan! Have a great Family Christmas!

    Good painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce and Deb

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  7. Hi Bruce,

    Wonderful post about Christmas memories with family. That is the best gift of all to spend the holiday with those you love and the gifts become so secondary. I love your Christmas tree at the B&B, a very special time. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

    Best wishes,

    Sue

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  8. Dear Sue!.... It is always wonderful to hear from another "Kindred Spirit"... and to share thoughts and ideas!

    I'm sure... because of the wonderful connection that I "read" in your conversations with Cousin Joan... that we share much more than our obviously common passion for making art.

    How wonderful the world can "be"... with less. The void of that seeming less... is MORE than amply filled by the presence of Love and Family under one's Charlie Brown Tree!

    May there be MUCH Love...Joy... Health and Happiness in your Christmas Sue with your Family loved ones!

    I look forward very much to our continued connections and sharing in 2012!

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce, Deb and Family

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  9. Merry Christmas to you and yours Bruce. Sounds like you will be having an enjoyable family christmas in a few locations. Happy painting.

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  10. Hi there Caroline!... Thank "You" for those Christmas Wishes and ours back to you and your Family as well!

    What a wonderful kickoff to the start of the Season we enjoyed in Rockwood with Allison, Andrew and Melissa! It is the greatest gift to not have to rush... to be able to sip every quiet moment and round of laughter together... to inhale it and to savour each to its ultimate!

    We are each of indeed deeply fortunate and blessed - all of us!And we know it!

    Good Painting!
    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  11. Beautiful little tree Bruce!! Have a wonderful happy safe holiday and, of course, Happy Painting!
    Nora

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  12. Hi there Nora!... Thank you for visiting... anf or you Christmas wishes! PLease accept our wishes for a Happy ... Healthy and Sketch-filled 2012!

    Yes... the wee tree was beautiful.Though small in height... it was large in Spirit and decorated with the combined love and creativity of all family members!

    Joy to the World!... And a Merry...Merry Christmas to You!

    Warmest regards,
    Bruce

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  13. Very merry Christmas wishes to you and all your family Bruce. ....a toast 'for a wonderfully happy, healthy and creative 2012'

    Best wishes,
    Lisa

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  14. Hi there Lisa!... Thank "You" for these Christmas Greetings... but mostly for continuing to visit and share your wonderful skill set... your creative ideas... and your upbeat and positive wit and humour!

    Blessings of Much Peace... Good Health... Prosperity and Creative Vision to "You" and yours!

    Merry Christmas from The Paint Box Gallery Gang!

    Warmest regards,
    Bruce and Deb

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  15. Bien! My husband. Peace on Earth to one and all. Hug each other tightly this holiday season and count your blessings each and every day.

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  16. Seems here that I am talking to my Self... but that is not so... is it Mrs. Santa?? But then again sweet Deb... there is very little difference between my Self... and "You"... for they are "One"!

    Merry Christmas Sweetheart! "You" are my great blessing and I intend to hug and hold you tightly... all throughout out the Holiday Season... and into the New Year!

    Merry Christmas!

    Much love ALWAYS!
    Bruce

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