Tag Archives: peace

A Christmas Without . . . Again by Jan D Linton (J J Dare)

It’s that time of year again. The radio stations will not let me forget that bells will be ringing and this is not the time of year to be without the ones you love. Of all the depressing seasons, Christmas ranks at the top for a number of people. The entity of this holiday mocks those who are “barely getting through tomorrow” (Hard Candy Christmas © 1978 by Carol Hall). Most of the songs are downright depressing when you listen to the lyrics.

Last holiday season I wrote about a Christmas Without two members of my family who had passed on: my brother and my partner. My brother died in March, 2010, and my partner died unexpectedly the following July.

It was a hard holiday season to find joy. Last year, I found little bits of holiday cheer, here and there, but mostly, I found peace. Tranquility saw me through the time of year when togetherness with loved ones is seen as the ultimate holiday happiness.

This year, as December 25th relentlessly marches toward me, I add another who will no longer celebrate Christmas in my same realm: my mother. In August of this year, she joined other members of my family in the great beyond.

You can be swallowed up in sadness during the holiday season. If there was ever a time I wished for seclusion away from the world, this would be the time. Over Thanksgiving I told one of my daughters that I did not want to do this again. She thought I meant the cooking; what I meant was the holiday. I did not want to sadly celebrate another holiday with the heaviness of empty places at the table.

In the spirit of directing my mind away from hard reality, I’m going overboard with holiday decorations this month. Overboard for me means putting out more than just a few Christmas candles and trinkets. There is a 3-foot tree in my house. It’s fake, but at least it’s a tree instead of a picture of one on the mantle.

This year, I did something I rarely do: I sent out Christmas cards. Typically, I forget to send them until after Christmas and by that time, I’d feel funny sending them with a “Happy Belated Christmas” note attached. I have several addressed and stamped cards from various years; one is even from the early 90’s to someone I don’t remember knowing.

On Christmas Day, we plan to celebrate just like in “A Christmas Story.” Instead of Chinese, we’re doing sushi. We’ll have some traditional fare, too, for those of us who are expecting some of the Christmas trimmings.

Despite my overwhelming desire to halt the season of good cheer, the lights on the tree blink, the candles flicker and carolers on television continue to sing. This year in my year with my withouts, I don’t feel like celebrating a season of joy.

Yet, the season won’t leave me alone. I’m a reluctant wallflower at this dance of December and Christmas has walked over to where I’m silently sitting and is gently coaxing me onto the dance floor.

As I succumb to the wonderful smells of freshly baked cookies and snappy peppermint, I can picture those who are no longer here surrounding me with approval. “Celebrate,” they seem to say. “Celebrate the season with the ones you love. Celebrate our memories.”

I miss Chuck, Dan and Mom deeply. The holiday season reinforces their absence. If I could turn back the clock, I would take it back to when they were still with me and then, break the hands of time.

My holidays will forever have ribbons of sadness wrapped around gifts of joy. “Live in the moment, count your blessings, be thankful for those who love you.” Yes, I do these things and more, but it does not diminish a yearning for times past.

If, like me, you are celebrating a Christmas Without, I wish tranquility and peace for you. I will be honoring the past, acknowledging the present and hoping for the future this holiday season.

Sometimes the journey toward a goal is more rewarding than the goal itself. With that thought, I’ll continue to walk the Christmas Road to joy. Mayhap I will find it at along the way, mayhap I will find contentment from simply walking toward it.

May your own Christmas journey be filled with the gifts most precious to your heart. May comfort accompany you along the Christmas Road. May your Christmas Withouts be wrapped in tranquility and may the stillness of peace reign now and throughout your coming year.

J J Dare (pen name ) is the author of two published books, several short stories and thirty-plus works-in-progress.

Current enthusiasm is sharpening intangible knives and co-authoring at Rubicon Ranch

Facebook addiction

9 Comments

Filed under writing

Christmas Without

The calendar hanging on my wall will not stop its relentless march toward December 25th. Steadily, the days move toward the holiday like an ant toward a grain of sugar.

Even before tragedy struck my immediate family twice this year, I have occasionally looked at Christmas as a time of year when the emphasis on what I do not have dominates the holiday. Some years I did not have enough money to indulge in gift-giving the way I wanted. Other years I was without time to enjoy the season.

This year I am without two members of my family. Christmas Day will be heavy with their permanent absence.

As a writer, I indulge in the emotional side of situations. Because I cannot touch a reader’s heart with a visual display of sorrow, joy or any other emotion, I have to depict them on paper in such a way the reader will emphatically connect to the story and character.

Christmas Without is relatable in the same emphatic way. Each of us has had one or more holidays without something important to us, whether it’s family, money, or even the spirit of the season. We can all relate to a Christmas we simply wish to get past.

Strangely, I’m beginning to feel the tingling of a little Christmas spirit. This year, in the midst of the biggest “without” of my life, I’m starting to experience the wonder of the season. The decorations lining Main Street are brighter and the carols sound more beautiful. The smell of evergreen is stronger and the taste of eggnog is more delicious.

I feel the losses of my loved ones deeply and without pause. Although my thoughts are full of longing for the impossible return of what was once my reality, I feel a sense of calm serenity.

I will try to carry this calm serenity into my writing. For a time recently, I included a major character’s untimely death in all of my stories. During those periods of dark prose, it seemed the only way to write. It was the only thing that made sense since I was (and still am) living the reality of my fiction.

At the start of December, I began to feel different. Whether it’s the seasonal holiday goodwill or the calm remembrances of better times, whatever has happened is good for me and good for my writing. I have started to fill my characters with a little more joy and hope, and a little less sorrow and despair. Where death was once running like an unseen cloud throughout my stories, the hope of life is slowly taking its place.

The holiday season is bustling with good intentions and warm feelings. I am saving my “withouts” for New Year’s Eve when I will reflect on loved ones I miss with all of my heart. I will reflect and then I will begin to look forward.

I wish you all a Christmas Without “withouts.” I wish you a season of peace and comfort. If you cannot muster cheer for the holidays, embrace its tranquility instead.

I will.

J J Dare, author of Joe Daniel’s “False Positive” and “False World,” and numerous short stories

7 Comments

Filed under life, musings, writing

An Attitude of Gratitude by Sherrie Hansen

It always amazes me when a friend or family member shows an attitude of gratitude when they are going through the kind of hellish nightmare that would make most of us hide under the covers, griping, groaning and whimpering.  These people face cancer and other dire medical prognoses… lose everything they own in a fire the day before Christmas… suffer through stock market crashes that take their entire life savings… lose a child, a best friend, or a spouse. They suffer unimaginable loss, and yet, in the midst of their grief, they’re able to be thankful for what they do  have, be glad that things aren’t worse, and be grateful for the support of their friends and family, even strangers…

It’s inspirational, mysterious, almost unimaginable at times, to hear thoughts and words of gratitude spoken in the midst of tragedy.

Others of us, when facing circumstances not half as dire or heartbreaking, spew bitter recriminations at God, curse our fowl luck, and complain about our misfortune to everyone within earshot.

What makes the difference? What unfathomable source enables people to give thanks even when awful things are happening?

I’ve learned that at least some of the time, the answer lies in a person’s faith. Believing that all things work together for good, in God’s time, seems to allow people to believe that better things are ahead for those who wait, or at the very least, that God will give them the grace to endure whatever in happening in their lives . I’ve always found it irritating when people spew platitudes, but I can’t deny that I have seen this kind of true, life-altering faith in action on several recent occasions. Instead of asking, “why me?”, these people seem to have a wellspring of inner peace and true joy that supersedes whatever tragic circumstances befalls them. These people are constantly looking up, expecting to see a rainbow.

I’m not talking about Eeyore-ish people who moan, “Such is life”, and begrudgingly accept their fates, pessimists who figured their luck would run out from day one, folks who have always, subconsciously been waiting for the other shoe to fall.  I’m talking about people who have found a lasting joy that is irrespective of their circumstances. These people aren’t stupid, naive or oblivious, so I have to assume that whatever or whomever is empowering them to feel peace in the midst of sorrow is real, tangible, and life-changing.

Although I’ve always been a bit of an Eeyore, I am blessed to have family and friends who love me, and more importantly, a God and Savior who will always be at my side.  I hope on this special day of Thanksgiving, and in the days to come – whatever they hold – that I can be a person who feels an attitude of gratitude for all that I have, has a faith that sustains me through both good and bad times, and is able to draw on an inner peace that inspires others as I have been inspired.

Happy Thanksgiving!

God is in Every Tomorrow (Author unknown)

God is in every tomorrow,
Therefore I live for today;
Certain of finding at sunrise
Guidance and strength for the day,
Power for each moment of weakness,
Hope for each moment of pain
Comfort for every sorrow,
Sunshine and joy after rain.

God is in every tomorrow,
Planning for you and for me,
Even in the dark I will follow,
Trust where my eyes cannot see,
Stilled by His promise of blessing,
Soothed by the touch of His hand,
Confident in His protection,
Knowing my life-path is planned.

 

2 Comments

Filed under life, musings, Sherrie Hansen

To the women…by Claire Collins

Happy Mother's Day

To the women who have come before us, and to the ones who will come after.

To the women who shared their laughter, their love, and their tears with their children, even when those same children were ungrateful for the sacrifices.

To the women who influenced someone else’s life by being the kind of woman who takes care of others.

To the women who gave up sleep to rock a colicky baby, who gave up time to drive everyone home after the party, who gave up an early retirement to fund a wedding.

JanmotPoemSoulAngelMother

To the women who love us.

To the women who take care of us.

To the women we adore who have always been there when we needed them.

To the women who are the Mothers in our lives, whether by birth, choice, or circumstance.

Thank you.

4yyurgl

From all of the children,

From all over the world,

From the infants through the elderly.

From those you’ve influenced and from those who have yet to arrive but will feel your love for generations to come.

Angel_Mother 2

Happy Mother’s Day.

angel_mother

5 Comments

Filed under life