One thing I like to do at the holidays is give a small (very small) token gift to people at random. One year I hung handmade angel ornaments anonymously on neighbor’s door knobs. Other years I have given candy canes or tea bags from a display on our door (we spent a lot of years in apartments). One year I grabbed a handful of holiday stick pins from our Christmas box (when Bob worked for a toy, novelty and gift company) as we were leaving for church and pinned them on people who were very special to me. And of course I have given away too many plates of holiday goodies to count.
What I remember most about all the things I have given at the holidays is the reaction of the people receiving them. Most have reacted like instead of a mere token I gave them gold. People like to be remembered and appreciated, especially in a way that does not make them feel obligated in any way.
So what is my Random Act of Christmas this year?
Reindeer antlers of course! The ladies at my holiday party all received antlers at the door and I’ve been handing out the leftovers on my daily walk. Remember I live in a senior community. I’ve never seem so many people over fifty smile and giggle in my life.
So I hope you will think about Random Acts of Christmas. This isn’t about spending a lot of money. Remember the thought really does count.
When the weather is warm Bob and I enjoy our lunch on the deck. During nice weather we will take any reason for being outside. We enjoy the cool breeze and being serenaded by bird song. After lunch we like to stay outside and spend some time looking up — like in straight up, overhead. So, what’s up? Well where we live, lots of things. We both love to watch clouds and see who can spot something interesting first. We watch the jet streams stretching across the sky. Every once in awhile we actually see a plane. Sometimes eagles are circling overhead or over the pasture behind the house. We listen to birds singing and try to spot the singers in the trees. We welcome the birds to the feeder. Sometimes neighbors will drive by on golf carts and wave.
It can be very difficult to go back inside and get back to work, but we do — eventually. Our outdoor lunch hour is a special time. It is a break in the busyness of the day that reminds us of who we are and why we choose to live here. It revives and refreshes us, not just physically, but spiritually as well.
Todays blog title is what Bob said after we shared our stories of provision with each other. I started by saying I love when the Universe provides and does it with a sense of humor. My grocery trip this month was delayed and I was running out of gluten-free flour. Then yesterday in my email was notification that I had won a drawing for a Better Batter sampler pack. Better Batter products are of course gluten-free baking mixes and flours. Need not only met, but met in a way that made me laugh.
As he listened to mine, Bob could hardly wait to share his story. When he got up in the middle of the night he saw in his Kindle stats that he had given away exactly 12 copies of Revealed Vol. 2. We had both been discouraged by the lack of interest in the Revealed series. The number of books being given away the first day being exactly 12 — the number of the Apostles — gave Bob encouragement that even though he does not know the plan, things are going as they should.
After I shared my story Bob asked circumstance or miracle? When I said it seemed almost sacrilegious to call something so small and rather trivial a miracle of course his response was…. Why? God/the Universe does provide. That’s not just a nice saying — its reality. Provision happens in the small things as well as the big ones. Sometimes it even makes us laugh.
Yesterday was just one of those days that was just too beautiful to stay inside. We ate lunch on the porch, then reluctantly went back inside to get back to work. On my walk up the hill to get the mail I took a little detour by the lake stopping at the children’s playground to sit on one of the swings. Then I gave a little push off and before I knew it I was “pumping” my legs, going higher and higher. I imagined I was a bird, flying through the air.
Finally, reluctantly, I came back to earth and began the trek up the hill. After I got the mail I kept going around the loop at the top of the hill and passed the mailboxes again. It was just too nice to be inside so I kept walking. Then I saw one of my neighbors sitting on a bench and joined her for conversation beginning with it was just too nice to be inside. People drove by and talked to us, asking her if she was going to Bingo. No, it was just too nice to be inside. Finally a workman came to talk to her about a project she wanted done, so I headed back down the hill.
Bob was out on the porch with an empty popcorn bowl. I went in a popped myself some corn and joined him. After all it was just too nice to be inside. We did eventually go back in and get back to work, but were outside again for supper. It started to turn off cold so I went inside and eventually Bob joined me when it was getting ready to rain. I sat in my studio watching it rain, remembering what a nice day it had been.
Now I know you’re thinking, but you’re retired, it must be nice to be able to do that. We do still work, but we don’t punch a time clock anymore so we do have the flexibility in our schedules to just enjoy the weather from time to time. But no matter what your work or financial situation is, I hope you are able to take a moment to take a good deep breath of fresh air. Notice the flowers blooming. Listen to the birds singing and children playing. Maybe get outside and play a little yourself. Don’t let yourself get so busy planning and working for the future that you miss the wonderful, simple, here and now moments that bring such joy to our lives.
Here we are in the middle of the holiday season, that magic, miraculous time of year. This is the season of miracles like the virgin birth of the Christ Child (Christmas) and lamps that burned well beyond the supply of oil (Hanukkah). Even the legends of Santa are full or magic, including flying reindeer and a rather rotund gentleman in a red fur trimmed suit actually making it down chimney after chimney to deliver gifts.
This is a season full of belief and hope. Even if we are not sure we believe we want to. We want to hope for better tomorrows.
As the very foundations of our country and our world are being shaken by the forces of darkness it is especially important for us to take time out to celebrate, look for the miracles that still surround us and maybe even make a little magic ourselves. This is the season where we normally see people being a little nicer than usual, giving to those in need and even speaking to strangers. Let’s not stop that because we are still angry over an election.
If we “call off Christmas” (or whatever holiday you celebrate) because of the uncertainty of the world we live in then the darkness wins. Worrying and fretting about what might happen doesn’t accomplish anything right now. I’m not talking about the Great Greed Festival some call Christmas, I’m talking about recognizing and celebrating the presence of something bigger than all of us still at work in our lives and in our world.
So go ahead and celebrate. Draw your loved ones close. And finally, keep your eyes open — you don’t want to miss those miracles and the magic of the season.
Every year since I have been writing online I have struggled over what to do with October, particularly the last day of the month. Halloween is not something I celebrate or believe in. It seems that there is enough darkness, death and evil in the world without celebrating it. Let’s face it, in spite of it’s religious roots, modern day Halloween seems to have become just that — a celebration of darkness, death and evil and trying to make evil friendly.
So every year I struggle with what to do. One year I wrote about the Trick or Treat for UNICEF initiative to support a worthy cause. Another year I talked about alternatives to Trick or Treating. And yet another year I wrote an article about All Saints Day.
This year I decided there has to be something more uplifting we can turn our thoughts to during the month of October. I finally decided that we will celebrate apples here. Any why not? What’s not to love about apples? And there are so many things we can say about apples.
So put away your scary mask, cancel the séance and let’s have fun with apples.
This morning as I was out on my first walk of the day I saw large white wings disappear into the leaves of the upper branches of a tree. Knowing it was most likely a Great Egret I continued on the path slowly and quietly, stopping every few steps. It didn’t take long to see the majestic white bird in the tree. I stopped and admired for awhile then continued carefully, trying to see if I could get closer. I did not have my camera. If I’d had the camera I would have a photo or two, but because I didn’t I had an experience that will become part of who I am.
Before I left I thanked the bird for the gift of it’s presence as I always do with wildlife encounters and walked away, still slowly and quietly. Thank you God!
I just couldn’t resist an “extra” post today to celebrate the signs of spring. Yesterday I dropped Bob off at the YMCA and took my camera to the local botanical garden. Shocked at the explosion of color since my last visit I ended up taking over 100 photos. You will be seeing a number of these in the future, but today I thought I’d give you a little teaser.