Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Musings

a very different Christmas tree

I am not really a Christmas sort of person. Not Ebenezer Scrooge but an easily overwhelmed introvert. I enjoy friendships and spending quiet time alone. I don't enjoy large dinner tables of noisy people and generally prefer to visit with individual friends or family members.  I do not enjoy a superfluity of activity or of  social obligations.

This is the first year in the last five that I have not visited Paris! A touch of austerity was called for but, as I did visit Oaxaca and New York City, I really must not complain. However, Monsieur, who does not frequently buy me gifts, came home with an unexpected treat. At Canadian Tire (a giant hardware and automotive retailer), he discovered an illuminated Eiffel Tour. As we live on the third floor of an apartment, I usually limit myself to an arrangement of fir boughs, pussywillows and holly.
This year our gifts are arranged around La Tour Eiffel. It is the unexpected touch of thoughtfulness (merci Monsieur) that brings me pleasure.
the monks
Every year, my parents used to visit the monasteries in California. They purchased these monks at different places and I chose to take them when Maman downsized. They remind me of an early family driving trip along El Camino Real in California. My Dad stopped at every historical marker on every road between Vancouver and San Diego. We followed in the footsteps of Lewis and Clarke, Captain James Cooke and  Father Junipero Serra. It is three years this January that my Dad died and when I look at the monks or at his Captain Cooke book, I am grateful for a wonderful gift that he gave me:the love of history. (Thanks, Dad).
my vintage Christmas stocking
My great-great aunt bought this stocking for my very first Christmas. She was a very important influence in my first 20 years. My great-great aunt was raised in a convent after her mother died giving birth to her 9th and 10th children (twins!) She became a governess to a diplomatic family and lived throughout Europe before coming to Canada. Unmarried, she taught school and lead a quiet life
accumulating a few thin leather volumes of Dickens, Eliot and Trollope (which now sit on a shelf in my den) and some small watercolours. I love the small framed picture of Lisieux that sits on my bookshelf. She brought me clippings from French books and was always ready to share a quiet moment's discussion with a nerdy, introverted teen-ager.  My love of Europe, especially France, and the experience of a wise elder are greater gifts than the chocolates, oranges or knickknacks than I have received in my stocking over the years. Thank you, Auntie Francie and may I learn to be a wise elder in my family.
nativity scene from my childhood
I did not grow up in a religious household. I attended  Sunday School for a few years but it made little impact on my daily life. Christmas was about gifts, decorations, food and family. About 5 years ago, I began to attend my local church. I like the proximity of it (a block away), I like the music and I have met so many interesting and inspiring people. Sunday, I listened to a beautiful Christmas cantata and I felt a peace and a balance that help me to deal with the more overwhelming aspects of the season. I feel more generous and connected with others through the Church. I like the minister and the freedom that we are given "to treat the Scriptures seriously but not literally." Christmas is an excellent time to consider the gifts that we have been given and to contemplate how we can share them with others in the New Year.

I wish you all a peaceful and happy time whatever you do!