December 7, 2021
Realizations of life happen, I guess, all the time. But I never imagined that at the ripening age of fifty-six, I would still be learning.
Or that I needed to.
But oh have I been wrong. I wonder if others are the same? I still have the notion that others my age are somehow ‘finished’.
On that note, I am unsure which is more frightening. Is it scary to be finished? Or is it scary to feel there is more work to be done on oneself? I think I would much rather be less than finished than ‘completed’.
Sigh. “Geez. Enough is enough, Steph”.
Thanksgiving came and went, with family time and lots of work. I transformed from pumpkins and fall into that cozy early winter decor. Just as quickly the pace of the Christmas season arrived! I am surprised, then surprised at my surprise.
“Here I go again.”
I am amazed I did not prepare myself mentally for Advent and Hanukkah. Both celebrations within days of Thanksgiving. Boom! While I am always one to wait with decorations until into December, this year I began early only to find myself feeling late on December 1! (Actually, by November 30, I started getting – how should I state – ‘twitchy’.
After calming myself, I started with simple holiday beginnings. The wreath was placed upon the front door. And I hung another upon the Jeep’s spare. I inhaled deeply that smell of fresh evergreen.
I lit the first candle of Hanukkah at the Matthias Building. I had stayed with my mother until the early dark morning, then lit the candle. My panic set in on day two. How will I possibly get everything done that I want to? How will I satisfy myself with what I get done? And how will I do it so I am immersed within the Holy Spirit of the season?
All this panic by December 1 for no reason at all.
On the second day, I lit the second candle. The evening was late but I had time. (Technically, the night was really morning!) I started to work a tree display. I realized I could both light a candle and work a tree display each evening.
Throughout Hanukkah I did both, late in those early mornings. The process reminded me of years ago when I worked each day, then constructed barriers to block the window openings. I had been scared of ladders and doubtful of my ability to even pound a nail or drive a wood screw into two by fours.
On one such early, early morning, I drove home knowing my mother was okay and I had lit a piece of my world, when my eye and nose both caught something in the air. Orange flickering light outlined the top half of a building. My nose grabbed and my throat gagged at the heaviest smoke I had ever smelled.
My brain still had not comprehended the flames. I turned the corner to see the front of the building. It was an old frame-constructed storefront with upstairs apartments. A pickup truck driver had stopped. I called 911, figuring that I was the second one to do so.
When the fire trucks arrived, I was caught by the firefighters steady calm. When a person appeared at the second story window, the fighters leaned a large ladder just under the sill. Again with all the steady calm in the world, they guided the inhabitants out to the ladder.
I thought about climbing ladders. With my three in the morning mindfulness, I pondered how difficult it is to climb ladders much less climb them in winter with the thickest, heaviest boots. Plus, A person would be providing guidance to another person in front of a burning building.
The police ran door to door to evacuate the attached apartment building. All in all, four families were displaced. All were saved except one family dog.
I stood half a block away, transfixed by the sight. At first I wanted to scream at the firefighters that the building was burning. “Don’t go in!” That heavy ashy smoke hid the flames which shot out the back. I would be certain that firefighters knew about flames and smoke and buildings. I had heard that there is a science to how buildings burn.
But right at that moment, all I could think of was warning them not to go in. Such a peculiar and childish thought, I thought to myself. Simultaneously, the smoke caught in my throat. It smelled of no chemicals or nothing out of the ordinary. But it was the heaviest smoke I had ever breathed.
So Many Photos!
So many photos! But the days since Thanksgiving have been like that. Filled. Stuffed. “Filled to the gills,” one might say.
My advice to you and to myself? Slow it down! The seasons came fast. Hanukkah has already come and gone. But I like to think that the memories of this season of light remain.
First, get your rest. Please do not do as I have done! At fifty-six, I am embracing my need for sleep and trying to change my ways. But as a person rushes in the season, grab time for cat naps!
Next, of course is eating and drinking appropriately!(more on that topic next time!) But my big advice for early holiday season, is the enjoyment of winter.
The cold never bothered me but as I age, I feel the cold like I never have. Each winter, I reintroduce myself to winter outdoor activity. A short ten minute walk with my fog, Wally, or five minute spurts of shoveling are perfect ways to get outside.
The theme of ‘play’ is one I am realizing that I need more of, generally!
I hope your season of light is just that – Light!! If not, maybe we can discover ways together to make it so!
Early December reminders – don’t let the world push you into panic mode! Enjoy evergreens with a pretty wreath or a sprig for a table decoration. Get your rest! And, play outside for five minutes!
Lots of love,