Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Little Feathers: Little Gifts

Little Feathers: Little Gifts: Yesterday I did something I've never done before by myself. Bob would have come with me, but his new knee is not quite up to tromping th...

Little Gifts

Yesterday I did something I've never done before by myself. Bob would have come with me, but his new knee is not quite up to tromping through the woods in search of a Christmas tree. So, I took a saw and started off up the hill behind our cabin. The snow was just a little over the tops of my boots, but not a problem for a short jaunt. I was looking for a certain tree. Not too tall, full enough to hang our ornaments on but flatish on one side so it would fit in the corner. I told myself I wouldn't cut one at all if it wasn't just right. Not perfect, mind you, but just right.

Last summer the land up behind us was thinned, which is super important for fire control. That meant that were lots of logs lying sneakily under the snow. That made me go really slowly to avoid a fall or twisted ankle. Which was a little gift. I saw a lot of things I might have missed if I was tromping at full speed. So many little bunnies were out in the sunshine, leaving their little tracks curling everywhere. Bunnies don't go in a straight line, it seems. Tiny, tiny little new trees barely poking through the snow. Birds whose names I don't know darting from limb to limb.

There was another little gift. The wind was blowing toward me, which is the only reason I was able to come over a rise and see a herd of elk just a few yards from me. I could even hear them chewing, they were so close. They all looked at me and turned to go, jogging off over the next rise. The sun took that moment to come out from behind a cloud, and the forest scene was dazzling. The recent snow still clung to the trees, making every single one of them look like a perfect Christmas tree. The sky was so blue and the clouds so white, it was incredibly beautiful.The snow sparkled like someone had thrown diamonds everywhere. I was wishing for my camera, but determined to burn the scene into my memory.

I did find my humble little tree. And it does fit perfectly in the corner. It was growing right up next to a few others, so I felt that thinning that clump was not a bad thing to do, and I got a flat sided Christmas tree out of the effort. We brought some ornaments from home this year. This is our first Christmas in the cabin, and for someone who loves tradition and family gatherings and Silent Night in the pew with candles and hundreds of singers, this all seems strange and new. But good. I know that Christmas isn't dependent on things happening the same way every year. And the ornaments from home were perfect for this little tree.

One thing I love about our cabin is that I can look up with my head still on the pillow and see the sky. This morning before the sun came up there was a really big star right over the top of a giant snow covered fir tree. It was my Christmas star. Pointing the way. Reminding me how fortunate I am to be snug in our cabin surrounded by beauty, how lucky I am to wake up next to a man I have loved for forty years.

Christmas Eve is filled with promise. With expectation. Not the bad kind that rules with an iron fist and demands its own way. Not the selfish kind of expectation that breeds resentment. But expectation that is hope. Christmas Eve is the waiting day. The world is waiting for peace. For the end to suffering and war, poverty and illness. While we wait, there are little gifts all around us. There is the beauty of creation, the love for family and friends. Maybe they aren't such little gifts. Maybe they are all we need. On Christmas Eve or any other day.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Pa Rum pa Pum Pum

The women's choir I'm a member of, Women of Heartsong, had a Christmas party Monday night. There was fabulous food, a hysterical White Elephant Exchange, lots of laughter and fun conversation. Then the really great part happened. We stood in a circle (I think there were 20 of us) and sang for a long time. Singing Christmas Carols is one of my favorite things, and it was pretty wonderful singing with these women I've known for years. But my favorite moment, one that will be with me always, was when we joined arms and sang The Parting Glass. It was the last song of the night. It us a beautiful old Celtic song, first written down in 1615 but older than that, about the last toast of the night, or of the gathering, or of a life. The harmonies are simple but very beautiful, and the sentiment is beautiful, as well.  Listening to it is great. Singing it with people you love is magical.

I notice a theme running through lots of my blogs is that nothing is perfect, but it is usually good enough. The party wasn't perfect. Wine was spilled, some notes were off on some of the songs. But that didn't matter. The circle of imperfect women made a close-to-perfect sound, and it was good enough. Looking around at the women I love, each singing their heart out and pouring out their friendship.

Yesterday we made Christmas cookies at Sally's house. It wasn't perfect. I forgot several things I was supposed to bring and Josh had to spend most of his cookie baking time at the store. We were late getting started. But those things didn't matter to me. What mattered was being with people I love who want to be together. It wasn't perfect, but it was good enough.

On Saturday the whole family (extended) will come out to Halldortown (Bob's name for our ranchette, recalling our beloved Norwegian Fjord Horse, Halldor) for a Christmas pageant. We have 9 angels, Mary and Joseph, 3 shepherds, and 3 wise guys, I mean wise men. Lots of singing, an angel's dance and a pas de deux with Katie and Daniel. No one will have their lines memorized. Without a practice, it will be a work in progress. There is a spot on one angel costume that won't come out, and the trim is coming off one of the wise man hats. The mole sauce Bob and I made yesterday could be too spicy for some. I have no doubt other unforeseen shortcomings will arise. It won't be perfect. But it will be good enough.

There was no room in the inn. Mary delivered her babe surrounded by animals. His bed was a manger. A manger sounds romantic until we remember that animals ate out of it. It was so far from perfect. But it was good enough for angels and Love incarnate.
This Christmas people will get stuck in airports. Someone will be rude to overworked retail clerks. Some lights will short out, and some trees will dry out too soon. Some cookies will crumble or be doughy inside. Some relatives will embarrass others. Some people will not be able to be with the people they love, and some people will sleep under bridges in the cold. Some people will relapse into addiction and feel the shame all over again. Some people will turn a blind eye to all the need in the world and see only their own desires.

All of us, every one us will fall short of perfect, and our Christmas will fall short, too. Except for one thing. Perfect isn't a thing that happens at Christmas or any other holy day. Not in this life. But perfect does happen in one place. In the hearts of those who choose love. In the one moment we look out, look up and away from our own self and see the wonder of the cosmos, the wonder of creation. When we consider the intricate, complicated thing that is life, and see the possibilities for our own contribution to the good. We'll have the perfect chance to do that this Christmas. And every other day, for that matter. I want to stand in the stable and play my drum. I want to sing with the angels and dance. I hope you all have that moment in your holy day. Pa rum pa pum pum.