Tag Archives: without

I Hear Christmas by J J Dare

Christmas is only a few days away. A barrage of holidays sights, smells and sounds remind us that we are in the last leg of the Christmas Preakness. Turn the television on, walk into a store, pass a whistling stranger on the street and the Christmas tunes you hear take on a frantic tempo. If you haven’t finished your gift list and you plan on waiting until the last minute to shop, you are nuttier than Aunt Mable’s fruitcake.

Hi. My name is Jan and I’m nuttier than Aunt Mable’s fruitcake. Yes, I haven’t finished shopping. Over the past five or so years, I’ve become lazier and lazier when it comes to gift shopping. At times my family has received gift cards or cash in lieu of presents because their mother had not reached the level of craziness needed to fight through the last-minute shopping crowds at the mall.

This year was supposed to be different. I bought gifts around the first of December. However, as the holiday creeps closer and closer, I keep thinking of things I’d like others to have. Christmas craziness is invading my mind. Maybe the malls won’t be that crowded. Maybe the lines won’t be that long. Maybe Santa won’t smell like roasted pork and Old Forester. Maybe I’ll find a parking space right up front. Maybe it will snow candy flakes. Maybe I’ll score an elf to do my shopping.

Typically by this time so close to the holiday, I’d just hand out gift cards with a “buy it yourself” note attached. But, I’m trying to overcome my usual Grinchy attitude. I’m trying to hold tight to the joys the season brings. I’m trying to keep the sadness of the second Christmas without my partner at bay. I’m trying not to cry when I think this will be the first Christmas in my life without my mother.

My withouts are heavy, but I’m able to share the burden of their weight. For some people, the holidays are not bearable. They are alone and the depth of their loneliness is too much to bear. I am fortunate because I don’t carry my sadness by myself.

My house is filling with the elements of joy. Presents are piling up. Christmas cards I’ve received are full of hope and rejoicing. Friends and family will start to fill my house as the weekend approaches. There will no time for silent sadness. For just a few days, there will be no room for withouts. There will only be room for withs.

My wish for you on Christmas is to embrace this time for fellowship with family and friends. Hear the joy and let it wrap you tight in its melodic arms. The link below is a video Christmas card I received from a friend. Let its message of peace embrace you.

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

J J Dare 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

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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

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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

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