Christmas, 2013.

Another Christmas has come and gone and I think I’m doing okay.photo  It’s been seven years since D asked for a divorce.  This is the sixth Christmas I’ve spent as a woman alone.  Someone commented recently on my blogger friend’s post that there’s a great deal of difference between being alone and being lonely.  I’m a bit of an expert on the topic because I’ve been both.

I’m happy to report that this year, except for a couple of brief hours on Christmas Eve afternoon, I was merely alone, not lonely.  The lonely times are becoming shorter and shorter as I learn that being alone can be a blessing if I choose to make it so.

I think it’s all about acceptance of what is.  My mantra has become “It is what it is.”  I can often shrug off troubles by photo-4repeating this simple truism a time or two.  I admit it doesn’t work all the time but it helps.  I’ve learned to do when I start to feel lonely.

Paul Newman once said that he was able to deal with his son’s death only by doing for others.  His words gave me fresh perspective about how I was living my life.  I’ve become more conscious of others, especially around Christmas. I’ve finally figured out that it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be as simple as making toffee for friends and family.  (See photo above.)  Or taking a few seconds to text or email a friend who’s having a hard time.  Or a phone call. For me it’s taking a moment to think beyond myself and my concerns.

That’s easier said than done when you’re in the middle of the pain of rejection.photo-2 You can’t figure out who you are, let alone what you should or want to do.  I cried for months. I’m glad that’s over. I’m ever so slowly learning to trust other people again.  But I step cautiously.

As usual this post has taken a different direction than I expected.  Sometimes I think my fingers divorce my brain.  Or maybe my fingers tell my brain what to think.  I’m not sure what happens.

I started out expecting to tell you Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy Chanukah, Happy Kwanza and Happy New Year.  The photo below shows Santa riding past my house on the Pineville fire engine.  You can see his arm.  The rest of him is blocked by a weird-looking little green elf.  Only in the American South.  Made my day.photo-3

The Christmas marathon.

I really just want to be warm yellow light that pours over everyone I love.  ~ Conor Oberst

The marathon is completed for another year and I’m both happy and sad to be home in the quiet again.  I always start Christmas morning with Dtr. #3, then go a couple of miles up the street to #1 and after lunch there, I head up to Chapel Hill to the home of #2.  It is so much fun to see the children’s excitement and feel their energy and love.  I am extraordinarily well-fed on Christmas Day, a lovely meal at each daughter’s home.  It’s now 4:00 pm a day later and I’m still not hungry.  But I’m just tired enough to appreciate the opportunity to read and rest and even to take a nap.

This was a holiday of giving and receiving scarves and sweaters as if we all want to swathe each other in all the good things that will sustain us until next year.  I know that’s how I feel about my loved ones and I sense the same from them.  It’s not just physical warmth but love and kindness and support and a shoulder to lean on when needed.  It’s happiness and joy and freedom from strife.  It’s health and enough wealth to pay the bills.  It’s peace and sharing with the less fortunate.  It’s forgiving and accepting forgiveness.  It’s whatever we need to be happy.

I’m happy to be here, now, the person that I am, with all manner of possibilities stretching out on the road ahead of me.  And I’m happy to have you to help me along.

Star of wonder.

One may understand the cosmos, but never the ego; the self is more distant than any star.  ~  Gilbert K. Chesterton

I would like to write a post soon on the role of ego in my life, so this quote appeals to me.   I can’t get my mind around it right now because I’m very tired–it’s a good sort of tired.

I have a number of these stars on my Christmas tree.  In fact, I have them in a rainbow of colors.  I don’t know why I chose the purple for display on my blog except that I’m rather partial to that hue.  Always have been.  It’s the color of my birthstone, the amethyst.  It’s also, historically, considered a color for royalty, so maybe I’m feeling regal.  More likely I’m trying to feel like a patrician.  That’s also my name you know–Patricia.  I kinda like how all those things fell together for me.  Knowing what my parents were like, I can assure you it was not planned.  Just happenstance.  Or is it?

Wherever you are, I hope you’re having a star-studded, sensational soiree in your patrician purple party pants.  Okay.  That was a stretch.  Hope you’re having fun. 🙂

Christmas weather.

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night.   ~ Steve Martin

Monday, December 19–A beautiful sunny day with a beautiful sunny ten-year-old boy.  F and I went shopping for his Christmas present.  He’s at an age where I need his help choosing what he will enjoy.  We spent quite a long time in the toy store while he made his decision.  Granted, it won’t be a surprise but he will be a happy boy all the same.

After all that hard work we needed a snack.  So we walked down to Brueggers Bagels to get F a late lunch.  This is an unusual Brueggers in that it’s housed in the same space as a Caribou Coffee.  While I was waiting in line for bagels, F informed me that Caribou has the best hot chocolate in the world.  I simply couldn’t resist a line like that so I gave him money and he bought hot chocolate while I took care of the food.

As we sat and ate and sipped, he informed me, “I like spending time with you, Grammy.”  (As if those bright blue eyes hadn’t already melted my heart.)  We try to have these outings ever so often but it’s probably not often enough for either of us.  We talked about why we like being together.  We always have lots to talk about and we feel comfortable in each other’s presence.

Tuesday, December 20–Cloudy all day.  Very dark.  A lights-on-in-the-house day.  I absolutely need company on a day like today so I’m glad that I have a standing date with Daughter #1.  (You may already know that I have three daughters and they are numbered by birth order just for convenience.)  Number One and I meet every Tuesday morning from 10:00 to 12:00 and visit with each other.  We’ve done this for about two or three months now and I have come to look forward to it immensely.  In fact, I guess I’ve learned to depend on it.

We don’t have an agenda, thus there are no expectations other than spending this bit of time together.  I drive to her house one week and the next she drives to mine.  We talk.  It’s amazing to me how helpful it is to say what’s on my mind and then have her say it back to me as she understands it.  It’s good to have another human being tell me what she thinks I just said, especially when that human is as astute and intuitive as she is.  And I guess I’m not surprised that I generally express myself better in writing.  It helps, doesn’t it, to have time to think it through.

I hope we will continue to have these tete a tete for a very long time.  It’s just good to have my daughter all to myself.  We didn’t get to do this when her children were younger.  I wish I had equal time with Numbers Two and Three.  Maybe one day.

Back to the weather report.  Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and yes, Christmas Day–rain, rain and more rain.  I try not to project about things such as the weather but sometimes it helps to realize what I will need to do to scare away doom and gloom.  I will be smiling and spreading sunshine as I finish my shopping, make toffee, and complete my crochet/knit Christmas gifts.  And I will seek smiles and sunshine at the same time.  One grandchild and one daughter at a time will carry me through to the other side and to a Merry Christmas.

For boys only.

This is as close to R-Rated as I’ll ever get, I’m sure.  I was/am the proud mother of three daughters.  I don’t know a lot about little boys.  I have questions:  How old is this kid?  At what age do boys start thinking this way?  Has he been reading Dad’s Playboy?

This is another Recycled Paper Greetings card; Jim Benton is the artist.  Thanks, Jim, for making us chuckle, and ponder.