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A Different Kind of Magic

Somehow it’s Christmas Eve already.

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This has been kind of a weird Christmas season for me and my family. It’d be easy to feel sad or let down because the season hasn’t been quite as “magical” as I’d hoped in a lot of ways. I never got around to making a lot of the crafts and treats I’d planned on or watched all my Christmas movies or listen to all my favorite Christmas songs. No snow yet, so it doesn’t look like Christmas. I’m also living in a new city that holds no Christmas memories for me.

But I’m not sad. It’s Christmas, and I’m with my family. It’s ok that it’s not perfect. I’m still grateful for it and I welcome this holiday season and all and all it has to offer. Fun, weird, goofy, hodge-podge, whatever.

Peace, joy, love, and fun are unconditional. 

But Christmas has a way of being magical somehow, even if we never got around to putting up Christmas lights or if there aren’t many presents under the tree.

One of my most magical Christmas memories was when I was 9 or 10. Every winter, a giant ice patch used to appear in our field. I don’t know whether Dad flooded it or if the well did it on it’s own, but that Christmas eve at sunset, I took my little brother out to slide on the ice.

The neighbors across the streets had just turned on their traditional configuration of lights, and as the sun went down, I witnessed that moment when the sky finally darkens and the lights become brighter than the last colors of the sunset. I can’t explain what happened that moment, but the air just crackled with magic.

The snow, the lights, my pink-cheeked toddler brother, and the faint echoes of Christmas music from my house filled my soul with some of the purest joy I’d ever felt. Not  the kind of joy that makes you want to dance around your room laughing and giggling, but the joy that nearly brings you to your knees in sheer gratitude of being alive.

That’s the kind of joy I try to express in my art, and that’s the feeling I strive to allow into my heart each day. 

I wish you a holiday full  of peace and that special joy.

Respecting the need to slow down

I had some really nasty dreams last night, we won’t get into that but when I have bad dreams, getting up doesn’t count. I feel like I wasted all my sleep time. It’s kind of like my cousin Dane rationalizing that “free time didn’t count because I didn’t have that much fun.” Great. I’m turning into a seven-year-old.

I finally looked at the clock at 7:40, which is a reasonable time to get up, but I just couldn’t. I don’t like sleeping past 7 or 7:30, but I don’t work today. I have nothing I have to do today (except pack and maybe decorat a Christmas jar. And put gift coupons into envelopes.)

Why did I dread getting up?

Because I felt like getting up meant I had to put in an exercise video and go for it. And I didn’t want to.

Dilemma: Allow myself to be lazy even though I know it won’t serve me, or to force myself to exercise when I don’t want to?

IE isn’t permission to pig out on churros or to be a couch potato, but quite the opposite. My body was telling me it wasn’t ready for action yet even thought it didn’t want to sleep more. Ok, I respect that.

So I got up and sat on the couch with my computer until I feel like doing something. I have that luxury courtesy of Christmas break, and I know my body well enough to know that after a little while, it will want to move, just not the second I pop out of bed.

I have the urge, and guess what I feel like doing? Walking in the snow and taking pictures of this winter wonderland. I can hardly believe it myself. I don’t like snow, I dislike cold even more and I really hate wet feet, and I’m sure to encounter all on my walk. Frozen fingers while trying to get a shot of frosted tree branches? Check. Numb face? Check. But it sounds like fun. It won’t burn calories like a 45 minute Tae-bo video, but it will make me feel good (once the numbness goes away.)

So I leave you know to put on a couple pairs of pants, a sweatshirt, wool socks and my whole hat/scarf/glove collection, and I hope you have a wonderful holiday, and if I don’t write before then, Merry Christmas!

Christmas shouldn’t be stressful

Does anyone else think it’s ironic that this season of peace and celebration is statistically the most stressful time of the year for most people? Did you know that the suicide rate goes up around Christmas? Does anyone else find this weird? To do lists suddenly get even longer, stores are even more crowded and money gets tighter.

Too many people to shop for, gotta get those Christmas decorations up, and I haven’t even thought about the Christmas lights…crap. Gotta find a knock-out recipe to bring to this party, need to get the Christmas cards out…

But why does it have to be this way? Is this what Christmas is about?

Take a step back for a second and look at all the stuff you “have” to do. What will happen if you don’t do it all? What if you don’t make it to every party, or don’t get the Christmas village up, or don’t buy a present for all 27  cousins?

Christmas will still come. This glorious day that brought the world it’s savior, a time to be with our families and take a break from our hectic lives, it’ll still happen.

So slow down. Spend time with family and friends. Take a walk in the snow. Sing Christmas carols. Turn off all the lights and enjoy a mug of hot cocoa by the Christmas tree. Watch a favorite Christmas movie (my personal favorite is A Muppet Family Christmas, but if you’re more A Wonderful Life person, that’s fine too.) Take time to enjoy the season, even if it means not doing everything.

Happy Holidays!