These aren't my photographs. I wish they were but I rarely ever get to see snow. These are just some beautiful winter photographs I found and saved, so I can't even give proper credit to their photographers, but I did want to share them with you.
Hello My Old Pals,
How are you? Are you overwhelmed, swamped, rushing about? I hope not. I hope you're better prepared and organized than I am, because no matter how hard I try to ward off the holiday madness -- the rush to buy something, anything, for anyone I might see before any of the major holidays -- I'm still doing this. After decades of promising myself it will be different next year, I'm still doing it.
I'm an idealist. I believe in the joy of the season. I'm all about giving, sharing, and making other people happy, doing whatever I can to bring just a touch of happiness and magic to anyone who touches my life, however briefly. And because I set such high standards for myself, I get really stressed and this kind of ruins the whole plan, which is really just to get simple and do for others. Every year I dream of taking Beau around to hospitals and soup kitchens, modeling the behavior I hope to foster in him; generosity of spirit, love for others, an appreciation for how much we have and how blessed we are. I manage to do some of this, but never on the level I aspire to.
I swear to you that I hate rushing around at the last minute, looking for things to buy, so much that I actually have nightmares about this in May. I dream that I'm at Bloomingdales mere minutes before I'm expected to be at my Mother's for Christmas Eve, but I've still got presents to buy and time is running out. I wake up in a panic, covered in sweat and realize I've got months ahead of me to get it all done. So I promise myself that I'll be one of those people, you know them, those people who are so damned organized they get all of their holiday shopping done months in advance, and even though they tend to give crappy presents, (like really ugly sweaters from Mervins), you just know they're relieved and satisfied, able to take it all in, enjoy the lights and go to a few parties without having to worry about how much money they have left on their about-to-be-over-the-limit credit cards, and if it'll be enough to get something for everyone on their list.
Even when I do manage to get at least two, three, and sometimes seven or more presents for my closest family and friends, it never feels like enough because I believe I should have made at least one fabulous present for each of them myself. Some years I actually manage to accomplish this. I'll hand knit scarves, make decoupage boxes, put together beautiful books of neglected photos, or write poetry. I think anything home made is better than pretty much anything store bought, so even though I might have been able to buy my friend's son's girlfriend her dream present, it isn't enough that it wasn't better. I'll beat myself up for not having achieved whatever ludicrous and fanciful idea I may have come up with in August but was unable to accomplish because I have too damned many people to buy for.
I give presents to my son, his friends and teachers, my partner, my Mother, her friend Jani, her secretary Tina, her housekeepers, my housekeepers, their husbands, children, and grandchildren, my friends Susan, Karyn, Betsy, Gina, Atra and her husband, her mother, sister, niece, brother, daughter and her daughter's boyfriend, Aleida our wonderful mail carrier, my gardener and friend Tom, the sisters, (nuns), who live down the street who were my teachers, (still are), and both of my school principals, neighbors, doctors, people who work in my favorite stores who I see all the time and the homeless family who live under the freeway. I'm tired and nervous about having to go to my Mother's house to deal with the weekly money shaming session so I'm pretty certain I've left out a good chunk of this list.
Basically I give gifts to anyone who might be likely to exchange a gift with us, or who has provided some kind and generous service for us during the year. Then, if I manage to get all of that done, I sit around wringing my hands because I only managed to give two small gifts this year to my three neighbors who celebrate Hanukkah because I was able to surprise them with a gift for all seven of the days of Hanukkah a couple of years ago. There are the people I know and love mainly through e-mail and on-line, people who are not sitting at home worrying about sending a present to me, but who I care about and want to send some tangible sign of my affection to. And then there are my many pets, each of whom I would gladly knit and fill a stocking for if there was enough time.
This is pretty much what I do with the Holiday cards I was making, scanning, editing, color Xeroxing, cutting, hole punching, threading with ribbon, and sometimes covering with beads, sequins, and glitter, and sending out to anyone who wanted one each year. It was a tradition for me, like Oscar parties, or Halloween, but I knew I had to simplify it this year. I realized it wasn't going to be enough for me to finish the ones I never managed to send out in time last year when I started telling myself I should add just one new card to the pile. I was starting to make myself nuts again, so I set aside all of the many things I'd cut out to glue onto this year's collage(s) and even though the clock is ticking loudly I'm still hoping to send lovely store bought cards with a Lenticular cat playing included. It kind of gives it that ATC feel I'm always hoping to achieve. But of course I'm late so I'm going to throw up a separate entry with a request for addresses so I can get them out to you before the New Year.
The point I'm making here is that I know I'm nuts, (No worries, I'm in therapy, taking my meds, reading plenty of self help books, and considering hypnosis), but sometimes knowing a thing doesn't make it any easier. So, I'm wishing you an easier and less stressful holiday season than I'm having. I'm wishing you the holiday of my dreams or yours. I'm wishing you frost, icicles, snowflakes and crackling logs in the fire. I'm wishing you a tropical island holiday complete with dolphins. I'm wishing you debt free holidays with a comfortable amount of money in your checking accounts. I'm wishing you holidays full of love, health, and happiness, surrounded by the people you love and who love you. I'm wishing you more time to spend with the people you love. I'm wishing you peace and courage. I'm wishing you generosity of spirit. I'm wishing you self love and self acceptance. I'm wishing you a great big glass of half full instead of half empty and on top of all of that, just because I can't leave well enough alone, I'm wishing you the strength to do just one thing for someone you don't know who might be cold or lonely or wishing they were having the kind of holiday that most of us think isn't quite good enough, I'm wishing you gratitude because no matter how bad things might seem there is definitely someone else out there who has it worse. After all the hours spent in traffic and stores, the lights and the decorations, the meals prepared and served, the presents and the mounds of discarded wrapping paper and ribbon, it really is all about the gift of giving.
I'll be back with pictures sooner than you may want me to be.
PS: Please forgive me if I've missed your birthday. I'm so sorry I fell behind in my birthday wishes. I'll try to catch up soon : )