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!!!