Monday, December 20, 2010

The Christmas Stone

Sleigh bells ring, are you listening? In the lane, Snow is glistening...

The song called Winter Wonderland drifts through my mind on an almost constant basis these days. It truly is a wonderland outside...everything has a lovely skim of fresh, powdery Snow. The Christmas lights decorating the front entrance, along with all the Snow, should put me in a Christmassy state of mind.

So far, though, the Spirit of Christmas has passed me by.

It may be because a viral bug has found me. My nose is running and my bones ache, my mind is cloudy and my eyes are red and sore. But today....ahh, today I will put the bug in his place!...I have presents to wrap and send.

No matter how I feel, when I get down to actually wrapping all those bags and bags of gifts Santa just plunked down on the guest room bed, there is an insidious feeling that takes over. 

The Christmas Spirit is stealthy and cunning like this. I find myself wrapping a gift, in a rather resentful manner, because I'd far rather be lying on the couch...and suddenly, sneakily, the Spirit tickles my mind. I begin to think about the recipient of the gift, how surprised they might be, and how happiness will bubble over when they receive it.

Love makes itself known along with the Spirit, of course. I will miss my family over Christmas...they have travelled to Mexico...but Love still overflows when their gifts are wrapped, with a special bow here and there. And yet, still, it feels bittersweet, this wrapping of gifts...

My grandson asked me yesterday if I was going to be there at his special place in Mexico. I almost lost it then, when I told him I wouldn't be,  that I would see him very soon after his return. I will miss my granddaughter's sixteenth birthday celebration as well. And so, you see...the Christmas Spirit, as sneaky as he is, still can have a difficult time with me.

It is always thus, every year, really, whether I see my family or not. Thirteen years ago, my daughter died on December 30. Even yet, it feels as if a Stone has been placed on my chest, more so at this time of year. And many of us feel so, if an anniversary of a death should happen around the time of Christmas and the New Year.

I wish I knew how to remove the Stone.

The Spirit of Christmas, however, does not let all these sad events hold him back. He insists on arriving, whether or not I am remembering a tragic time. And with his arrival, even if the Stone is hampering my breathing, things become easier.

Why not, after all?...I ask myself. There is nothing I can do about the past...why should the past now have the power to tell me how to feel today?

A beautiful sight...we're happy tonight...
Last week, a dear friend said to me...Can you even begin to imagine what Katrina's first Christmas in Heaven was like? Can you imagine what Earth would look like from Heaven, with all the lights and good cheer? The young children's voices in all the school choirs would float upwards...she said... and for Katrina,  for whom Christmas was her favourite season,  wouldn't she love it so?

Yes, she would...I said...She would, indeed!

And with that, the Stone becomes a little bit lighter.

Because my daughter loved Christmas, most years I remember that. With the rest of the family gone this year, I  have allowed myself to sink into Grinchiness.

But with Christmas music playing, with all the gifts only half wrapped, I think it is time to join in on the joy of the Season. Sadness has no place amongst all those gaily wrapped gifts.

I recall, when my granddaughter Brianna was about a year old, how Katrina and I and Bree went to a very beautifully decorated home. As we wandered through the garden Katrina said...Isn't this just the most beautiful  and happy place on Earth?... I looked at her own enormous beauty, with her eyes shining with love for her baby...and I thought, yes, right now, this moment, there is nothing lovelier.

And at Christmas, this is the memory which takes over. And I still think there can be nothing lovelier than that extraordinarily clear remembrance of my daughter.

Gone away is the bluebird, here to stay is a new bird....

Years ago, I told my daughters, when we went for a walk, that they could each hold one of my arms. Heidi always took my right and Katrina always took the left arm.

And today, even though a cold bug found me, even though the Stone still finds its spot over my heart, I will go for a walk.

During that walk, I will feel my daughters' hands clinging to their preferred arm. They may not be here with me, but their energy is. Just as my grandchildrens' loving thoughts will surround me, as well.

The Stone will become almost non-existent.

And then, later on, I'll conspire...

To face unafraid, the plans that we made, walking in a Winter wonderland!

Friday, December 03, 2010


The Christmas season has certainly arrived in my grocery store. It has been decorated to the nth degree, it is stocked to the ceiling and songs calling out for joy and wonderment play over and over.

It quite put me in a daze. I wandered the aisles, listening to all the old Christmas carols. The decorations were over the top, but done with class and care. I realized the whole idea was to make things look so good, sound so good...the consumer would buy items or gifts, without thinking twice. I proved them right.

I was in the baking section. I'd baked all the previous week and needed reinforcements. I was completely engrossed in picking out dark chocolate when I heard a musical sound that wasn't part of the song about Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer presently playing over the loudspeaker.

The sound came at intervals, over and over. I raised my head, wondering, looking around. It took a bit before I realized it was a cell phone.

It was coming from the hands of a woman, who was looking at the black object helplessly...a little fearfully, even...

She looked over at me...I don't know how to answer this phone...said she.

I am no expert on cell phones. I don't know how to use them, either, as a matter of fact. I have a black one that I forget to charge, probably on purpose since the day when I found myself in this lady's position.

She continued...This is a new thing for me...I got this as a present from my son. But I don't know how to answer it or shut it off. And it keeps ringing!!!...

She was becoming undone. I smiled with sympathy and said...I think you flip the lid...

She looked at me and then at her phone, still in her hand. She shoved the phone at me and with great anxiety said...Can you do it?

The phone stopped ringing. I smiled and was beginning to tell her my own stories about cell phones when the phone rang again. This time, she almost threw the thing at me.

I hoped this phone I was now holding was like mine...and it was. I flipped the lid up and handed it to her...You can talk now...I said.

But she backed away, waving her hands in front of her.

...No, no...she answer it!

I looked at her in disbelief. She wanted me to answer her phone?

I looked around. We had drawn a crowd; they were lined up and down the aisle looking at items like flour and the different kinds of maraschino Cherries with intense concentration.

I knew they were all listening.

By this time, I hoped the person who was trying to contact this fine lady had disconnected. I said a tentative Hello into the phone...

...Where is my mother?! What's happened to her?...a frenzied male voice asked frantically...I've left messages, a lot of them. What's wrong?

I have trouble talking on phones. It's a thing of throat closes up, I stumble over words, say things that aren't meant...

I tried to hand the phone over to the lady who had backed herself right up against the chocolate display, looking at me as if the 'divil' himself was crouching in my hand. She shook her head.

I was becoming exasperated, just a bit. I heard her son's shouts coming from the phone...Hello? Hello? Hello?...

I put the phone to my ear...Your mother's alright. She's right, she just doesn't want to talk on this phone...

I tried to reassure the caller, but he was a chip off the old block and had let his anxiety get the best of him.The lady had been standing there with her ringing phone for awhile before I arrived, apparently. He insisted on speaking with her.

In turn, I insisted she take the phone. With my eyes steady on hers, I placed the phone in her hand and said...Talk.

She did.

I let go of the breath I hadn't realized I was holding. I glanced around at the sympathetic faces around us, some wreathed with hilarity.

I felt a huge giggle waiting to burst out of me, as well. I looked at the lady, who was now talking in Italian to her son, with great gesticulations punctuating her speech.

It was time to move on. I smiled at the shoppers lined against the displays and received quite a few wide grins, in return, as I trundled off with my cart.

I smiled at myself as I found I had walked straight to the florist's department. I find Plants when I am anxious...even cut Flowers still have enough energy left in them to calm me.

As I stood there, I wondered what had caused this lady to be so frightened of her cell phone.

But the music, the bonhomie, the general energy there in the store, that day, made me shrug my shoulders and continue shopping. I bought Spiderman gifts for my grandson, lovely girly things for my granddaughter, and enough baking supplies to last me well into the middle of next year.

I didn't see the lady again; it was the cashier, who had seen the whole hullabaloo from her vantage point, who reminded me once more. We discussed the fear of talking on phones. Neither of us knew the name of a condition like this.

It wasn't until I googled the fear of speaking on cell phones that I found it was called telephobia.

Especially since many of the signs of telephobia apply to me, I felt especially sad that I had let exasperation get the better of me in the store with the lady.

One never knows another's story until one has walked many miles in another's shoes.

I know that.

And it is the Christmas season...goodwill to all.

I can only hope I will have more patience with my next encounter which might disturb me when I am intent on something...

And that I have learned a lesson about myself and my own fear of cell phones.

Christmas shopping. 

I guess it's true.

It does bring out the best and the worst in us...