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Christmas Calling

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josephine-wall-fantasy-paintings.co.uk

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ”
― Norman Vincent Peale

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“I know what I really want for Christmas.
I want my childhood back.
Nobody is going to give me that. I might give at least the memory of it to myself if I try. I know it doesn’t make sense, but since when is Christmas about sense, anyway? It is about a child, of long ago and far away, and it is about the child of now. In you and me. Waiting behind the door of or hearts for something wonderful to happen. A child who is impractical, unrealistic, simpleminded and terribly vulnerable to joy.”
― Robert Fulghum, All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten

~

The Christmas of times past seems to have vanished like the snow from my door. Snow is never likely to fall in front of my door again, but it really has only a small part to play in the changes in Christmas. I would that I could offer everyone the intense joy and happiness I knew with each and every Christmas. The fact that it has changed for me is a matter of great dismay. The fact that it has changed for so many others is daunting.

As a child I knew so much happiness and excitement as Christmas drew close. It wasn’t for the fact that the stores were filled with toys and lollies and Christmas decorations. It was for the joy and wonder my parents and grandparents created each day leading up to Christmas day. I was fortunate that the shops didn’t put out the decorations, cards and toys until much closer to Christmas. The unique ‘specialness’ of Christmas had not been inundated with the bombardment of the commercialism of Christmas. It yet held that special air of magic. The pleasure of a nativity calendar!

I remember one year, being so convinced that my parents had to be helping Santa by hiding our gifts somewhere at home. After all he couldn’t really get them all round the world to every boy and girl on Christmas Eve, could he? I searched the house from top to bottom (I was very excited). I found nothing of course. My parents knew me well – they had hidden everything at my Nanny’s since she lived next door. It was a thrilling time none the less.

I remember when I was old enough to start sending Christmas cards to my friends. It was a sign, an indication that I was getting older and able to understand the real meaning behind Christmas. It meant, to me at least, that Christmas was a time for family, and for friends, and more than that for everyone I met. It was a time to share happiness, even if it was only a smile or a card.

Christmas Calling

image from theearthconstitution.org

I remember when my children were born and the excitement I felt when I gave them cards and gifts. I remember the fun we had as we made up Christmas hampers for the Salvos and for the RSPCA.  I remember with a sigh, when they too became old enough to want to give their friends Christmas cards.  Yet, in what feels like a few short years later the world itself has changed. Somehow, Christmas has lost some of its magic and sparkle and we are the poorer for it.

People  no longer want to send cards, if you are very fortunate you might get an e card. I haven’t yet found a way to hang it up though. What does that card mean? To me it meant that I cared about the person I was sending it to; I was thinking about them even if I couldn’t see or speak with them on Christmas day – or perhaps over the few days of Christmas. So a card, especially when money was tight, was a true gift of the heart to say…I miss you and I wish you all the best and that you were here. We made cards which held a stronger magic of love.

The other day I heard someone refer to themselves as an orphan and having an ‘Orphan Christmas’ because their parents had divorced. I felt so saddened by that. I thought of all the children who have never had parents, are living on the streets, or whose parents have passed away and therefore cannot have any part of the physical Christmas with them. I understand, I think, what they meant, but I couldn’t stop the tears forming, as I thought of the fact that my parents were no longer here, my brothers not speaking with me and my children unable to visit this year. I was selfish, I know, but the words hit like a barb bringing all the other barbs to play.

What hit the hardest was knowing that this move from giving Christmas cards means that I don’t even have the joy of a card to say – Yes, they are thinking of me. There is a part of them here too. Of course, they are in my heart, but I have to wonder why people are so reluctant to spend a few dollars sending a card.  What has happened to the feeling and magic of Christmas?

Oh, I know, its expensive sending cards today, and if you are giving someone a gift why spend a few extra dollars on a card? Better yet, why send a card when the postage costs more than the card? Perhaps it’s the thought, why send a card at all, we don’t see or hear from them most of the year? Somehow this just sounds like excuses or miserly thinking. (To me). The Christmas Spirit seems to be vanishing, or has the Christmas Grinch caught up with most people?

I am often heard wishing for snow at Christmas, the feel of the crisp air and the crunch of snow underfoot. The robins and tinsel, mistletoe and fairy lights. My mother’s fantastic Christmas tree decorated, which eclipse mine to this day, I can never see again, except in my memory. The paper decorations we all made as children – do you remember the strips of coloured paper, we glued one end to make a circle, then added more? Paper chains, we had a houseful one year. 🙂  I have beautiful cross stitch ornaments and sequin balls made at school by my children. Yet there is a hollow feeling in my heart. The Christmas magic is being stolen.

If I was allowed only one Christmas wish I would give it to –  all of you. I would wish you; a Christmas filled with joy and magic, the excitement of family or friends, or someone who cared, to make your Christmas special. If I could I would make sure that everyone received at least one Christmas card, with wishes for a safe and happy Christmas, filled with love and that you would all return safe and sound in the New Year.  

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Wherever you are, my wish is that you receive the joy and magic from my heart to yours. That you feel the love and happiness of Christmas, of time shared however briefly together.

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This, is my Christmas Calling to You.

~

Blessings, Susan x

© Susan Jamieson 2013

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“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”    Deitrich Bonhoeffer

It seems appropriate that whilst I wrote about “12 Days of Christmas – Gratitude Style”, that it should be remembered after all the Christmas festivities have finished, that gratitude is not something which is only to be thought of then but throughout the year and for many different reasons.

image from theclassywoman.blogspot.com

Christmas day dawned bright and early at our home – perhaps too early for someone who isn’t sleeping very well, but it was a special day and what’s the loss of a little more sleep?  The anticipation of having my son and daughter visit was, as always, tempered by the knowledge that my parents would not be there, nor could I see them. My parents have passed over and despite the passage of time it feels like yesterday and the wounds are still raw.

It was brought home even more by the shooting in the US – so many wasted lives.  The private tears I shed and the prayers I said were for all those souls and their families as well as for myself. Yet for all that, I felt incredibly selfish. Here I was with my beautiful family and I was mourning the loss of my parents with whom I had shared so many beautiful memories of this time and others.  But, I am only human, and this is what humans do. I feel blessed to have my children with me on Christmas day, or any other, and grateful that I shared so many glorious ones with my parents, and they with their grandchildren. Yes, I have been blessed.

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I know that grief has its seasons, from the raw and open wounds of its beginnings to the calm and soothed eve of acceptance. I also know that we can revisit these many times over.  Strangely I am grateful that I feel so intensely for those I have and those I have lost, and those of whom I know nothing at all beyond what I have seen and read,  since it means, to me at least, that my heart is full of love for everyone and full of gratitude for their presence in my life.

image from 100smilechallenge.wordpress.com

Especially in my prayers and thoughts are all those who serve our countries and lose their lives.  The many soldiers, sailors, firefighters, ambulance officers, policemen and women, nurses, doctors, and even the bus drivers, train drivers, teachers, people who give their time so that others may enjoy themselves – even the call centre operators who work on the telephones that we may talk with loved ones far away over the festive season. I am humbly thankful for their efforts and grateful for what they do for us.  I cannot thank them all, I only wish I could.

image from naturallyearthfriendly.com

Christmas Day is only one day though and gratitude continues every day. The development of the “Attitude of Gratitude” is something we can all practice each and every day and make our world a more beautiful place, and in this place and space I thank and am grateful for each person who reads this who may perhaps be moved to think of others and be grateful also.  In such a way can we “Pay it Forward“.

image from stopeatingyourheartout.com

For those with no home, living on the streets despite the weather, I pray for them also, sending them love and light and praying that the glow of warmth I feel in my heart may somehow keep them a little warmer, more loved than before.  I am truly grateful for my home, my family and that we can gather together at any time. Love and family are my treasures.

image from theprovince.com

Love and gratitude can be found everywhere – even amongst our beautiful creatures. The bonds of love and family are as close for them as it can be for us. I am grateful for the beauty of nature, the glorious sights I can see and the love I can feel between two incredible creatures. We have all been blessed to be able to see such wonderful images captured if not in fact.

image from mindfulnessmuse.com

This is a simple message, that we may all be grateful for the treasures we have.  My hope that, despite the challenges we face, the hopelessness we may feel, that we may turn the corner from the darkness into the light and remember how much we have to be grateful for.

“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.”     ― Thornton Wilder

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image from comments.funmunch.com Where would we be without friendship?

“Somehow, not only for Christmas, But all the long year through, The joy that you give to others, Is the joy that comes back to you. And the more you spend in blessing, The poor and lonely and sad, The more of your heart’s possessing, Returns to you glad.” — John Greenleaf Whittier

There are so many ideas on what Christmas “should” mean to everyone. I really don’t like the idea that “should” can enter into the reason why we think, feel believe or do something.  There has to be a more visceral reason behind our thoughts and actions, especially at such a time of year.

I know some people  are of the belief that the ‘true spirit’ of Christmas can only belong to those who are in real need. To some extent that may be true. I feel deeply for the many who will spend their Christmas season in hospitals or care due to ill-health. I won’t categorise the level of need or ill-health since that feels shallow, to me at least.

Is the person terminally ill with cancer any less in need than someone needing a transplant or a heart valve replacement or a small child with an acute allergic reaction needing a respirator to breath? I don’t think so.  Yet there are those who are suffering from any kind of mental disability for whom the very joy around Christmas adds to their depression or malaise.

image from facebook.com Happiness is….

Yet I can understand these people all too well and I am totally grateful that they have a chance to start the New Year better than they finish this one. I pray that is the case, although there is also a measure of sadness in that wish, since for them to be better someone else has to have found a worse ending.  Life is like that; what is given on one hand is also taken away on the other, and who am I to judge?

The other people I think of at this time are those who don’t really fall into this group.  Their ailments seem trivial in comparison and yet they can be as devastating in their own way.

The person with a chronic skin ailment who has to spend all summer hiding from the sunshine whilst the newscasters joyously tell us will be hotter and brighter than the day before. It must be demoralising for them. What about the person in chronic pain, stumbling around their home, trying desperately to get all in order for the ‘big day’ yet knowing that within a relatively few short hours they will be left alone in their pain with none the wiser. These people I also think of and wish an easier time for. These people know that there is no cure for them and cannot, even tenuously, hold onto a hope that help may be around the corner.

image from lessonsinashell.blogspot.com

Yet I have found that I can ‘gift’ to the world. In the same way I can spread gratitude around the world – by intention, then I can also spread love , happiness and friendship around the world – by intention.

I visualise a beautiful rainbow coloured sphere encircling the world, coming from my heart and covering the world. I chose rainbow colours to represent all the chakras, but also to help ‘fill up’ any chakra which was a little flat or empty. After I firmly have this vision of rainbow light covering the world I imagine it showering down on everyone in the world, bringing love, friendship and happiness.  It can also cover love, friendship and understanding for the self as well as for others, and also all the animals, plants, spirits, in fact anyone or thing inhabiting out little planet.

image from facebook.com

This is my small way of giving a gift to everyone on the planet. Of course the gratitude is also there, that I have so many wonderful people to be grateful for; that I have so many creatures on this planet to spread all this to also.  In my own small way I am also blessed because I can help to bring some peace and joy to everyone.

image from fineartamerica.com              Puppy love at it’s best

“It is the personal thoughtfulness, the warm human awareness, the reaching out of the self to one’s fellow man that makes giving worthy of the Christmas spirit.”    – Isabel Currier

May your Christmas be filled with love and laughter, peace and understanding and happiness to fill your heart the whole year through.  Bless ❤

(c) owls and orchids: Susan Jamieson

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