Monthly Archives: December 2017

Blue Christmas

The Holiday season is wrapping up. New Years Day is just moments away. The excitement, and the hustle and bustle is about to come to an end. And everyone will be gearing up for the oncoming summer.

Peace and Joy still fill the air. And everyone is happy. Or are they?

Funny thing about this time of year. It’s known as the holiday season, and as the dying season. Its dark, as the sun shines briefly during the day. It’s cold. And for many, it’s sad and lonely. Elvis isn’t the only one who thinks about a blue Christmas

People want this season to be happy. And they want their lives to be filled with scenes from so many Christmas movies. Pretty snow. Lots of packages and good food. Festive gatherings of friends and relatives. But when life turns out to be more like the film left on the cutting room floor, and reality sets in, gloom raises its head.

For many, the expectation is that the ideal will not be met. And anticipating this failure causes dismay. For some, it’s more like lets get this season over with already! And they are miserable while they wait.

Me, I always hope for the best and am prepared for less. I love the lights, and the packages, and the spirit of hope and joy. Peace on Earth good will toward man. All that jazz.

But I know that parking lots and highways are still full of angry people. That not everyone gets everything they asked for. And that for some, staying warm and fed for another day is the greatest gift.

When I’m having a blue Christmas, I stay home. On a good day I’ll go out to spread some joy to others. I read something somewhere that that I could be the lighthouse in someone else’s storm. I like that idea. We all need a lighthouse to guide us sometimes.

This has been a good Christmas. My kids are here, and the packages were piled high. I made festive lights glow and was happy. The only blue was the blow mold Santa on my office door. I had put a blue light bulb inside and he looked cold. But he was smiling, and lighting the night.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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New Traditions

Traditions formed around our celebration of the holidays take on a significance that defines the way we celebrate. And come to represent the holidays in and of themselves. Turkey at Thanksgiving. Lights at Christmas. Without them, there is no holiday. And any change to this routine can be devastating. In our minds.

Lights are how I define Christmas. Religious aspects aside, the lights mean more to me than anything at Christmas. Candles in the church. Lights on the tree. And lights on the house.

This year was different for me. I had moved into a new house, and had to redefine how I would use lights to decorate for Christmas. The new house has a different shape than the old. And different landscaping. All of which impacts the places I can put lights, and how they look.

It’s a work in progress, and next year I will add more. But for this year I settled for one hundred feet of colored lights, the big ones from the old days, strung out along the gutter of my ranch house. And three giant light up snowflakes in the picture window of the living room. Framing that window is a candy cane rope light. And a giant blow up Santa Clause waving from the garage. Lit inside with a single bulb. Without a light, the wreath hangs from the door knocker on the front door.

Around the back of the house there are three lit up blow mold toy soldiers, a blow mold Santa, and a Moravian star. Complete with a flaming tail made of icicle lights.

Inside there are two trees. One lit in white with formal decorations, and a second, larger one, brightly colored with hundreds of little lights. That tree is covered with decorations I’ve collected over the past thirty years, all with a rich meaning and significance. And, there is a lit up blow mold Santa. Not bad for the first year here.

Out of curiosity I drove by the old house to see what the new owners had done. Would it be as spectacular as I had done it in the past? More formal? Bigger and better? I had no idea. And when I drove by the house in the darkness of the late evening, I was amazed. Not a single light to be seen. No wreath. Nothing.

Inside I could see a Christmas tree. Located in the living area where I had always placed mine. But gone were the green and red rope lights wrapped around the columns of the front porch. Gone the wreath on the front  door. No Moravian star hanging on the porch, waiting to greet visitors. No strings of colored lights adorning the shrubbery lining the front of the house. And no lights strung out along the roof line. Not white. Not colored.

It was very disappointing. And as I thought about how I had decorated that house for the past nineteen years, since its very first Christmas as a newly built home, I thought for a moment that the house was calling to me. I miss you! Come back and decorated me!

Does the house take on the personality of its residents? Does it remember? Or mourn? I don’t know. It looked happier lit up. I do know that.

New traditions for me at my new house. And new traditions for my old house with new owners. Change. I go with the flow.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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The Procession

The patrol car was sitting on the side of the road at a very busy intersection. Odd place for a speed trap I thought. As I rolled further down the road, carefully watching my speed, I saw a second police vehicle approaching. Blue lights flashing. Further back there was a third car, also with lights flashing.

In between the second and third police vehicles was a long line of other cars. All burning their headlights. A funeral procession I realized. The first car had been there to stop traffic at the intersection to allow this solemn group unobstructed passage to their destination.

I pulled off the road and stopped. Waiting for the line to pass by. Other cars did the same. But not everyone. It’s an old tradition, common in the South, to pull off the road and wait while the dearly departed and their grieving family passes by. It’s a show of respect.

I’m a Yankee transplant. Although I have lived in the south for thirty years, I’ll never be a southerner because I wasn’t born here. But there are some Southern traditions I understand. This is one.

Not all of my fellow transplants know this tradition. And I dare say not even all southerners abide by it. So I find myself pulled over on the side of the road while others whiz by unaware of the ritual going on all around them.

Over time there have been modifications made to the observance of this tradition. You don’t pull over if you are on the interstate and the caravan is coming in the opposite direction. Nor do you have to pull over if you are travelling on a divided four lane road.

I don’t have a real job, so I’m never late for work. And I’m not headed to pick up my kids, or the groceries, or going anywhere so important that I can’t take the time to pull over and stop. Only takes a minute.

Maybe someday someone will pull over for my procession. I’d smile on them. If not, well, the times they are a changing.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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I Love A Parade

There were no giant flying inflatable characters. No Broadway dancers. This wasn’t the Macy’s Parade, or even New York City. But it had all the bells and whistles, and a few horns thrown in for fun. It was a small town America Christmas Parade.

Parades have always been a great attraction for me. Back in the day, Labor Day was the only Monday holiday. Thanksgiving and Easter have their own system of date selection, but the other holidays fell on a certain calendar day.

Memorial Day was always May 30. No matter the day of the week. Now that it is celebrated more as the unofficial start of summer, the actual date is less important than getting a three day holiday. And so, it is the last Monday in May.

I was born on Memorial Day. When it was May 30. And in my town there was always a parade that day. My father told me it was for me! And, yes, for many years I believed that. Wow! Marching bands, throngs of people, military displays. Even a tank!

Knowing now that there never has, and most likely never will be a parade for me, I still love parades. The sounds, the flash, the crowds, the spectacle of it all. Big or small, as long as the show goes on.

This years Christmas parade in my small town was much like it is every year. But the weather was a tad warmer. There was a fire truck to lead it off. From the volunteer company. And there was a high school marching band. And baton twirlers. There was a brigade of mountain bicycle riders, performing stunts. And a line of antique cars including the Volkswagen Club, and the private collection of a local citizen who owns an example of every version of 1932 Ford Model A ever built.

There were horseback riders. And a pooper scooper. And to top off the animal participants there was a poodle dressed as an angel. The Mayor and town council were on a float. Several local businesses had made up floats that were pulled behind their pick-up trucks. And there were Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts.

The karate school brought all of their students to march and show off their skills. But a crowd favorite is always the tractor parade. It’s a small town, built on farming. Hence… John Deere, Farmall, International Harvester, and Ford. Tractors of red, blue and green. Large, small, fancy, simple. Each well loved. Each a workhorse.

All along the route the paraders were tossing out candy to the crowd. But the biggest attraction was on the fire truck bringing up the rear. Yes, you guessed it. It was the jolly old elf himself! Santa Claus. Just like the Macy’s Parade.

The crowd watching all of this, whooping and hollering, shouting out to friends and family, was numbered in the thousands. Two or three thousand anyway. Many more than the population of this small town.

They had come from the town, and from the suburbs, and from the rural hinterlands. They gathered without concern for what made them different. It was their similarities that brought them together. And they were all having a good time together.

Small town.   Big city. Parades are a grand spectacle and fine American tradition. I love a parade.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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New Truck

It’s a time of transformation. I wrecked my truck and sent it to the repair shop, after having stripped it of everything that made it MY truck. Nothing personal or personalizing left. When it came back to me, it was barely recognizable.

The dents, the blown airbag and the broken bits and pieces had been removed and repaired and replaced. But the shop had given the whole thing a bath. And shined it all up. It looked almost brand new!

So, with a “brand new” truck, what could I do to personalize it? The front license plate had been destroyed. My initials in nautical flags had resided there since the day I got the truck. And on two other vehicles before. What now?

The dashboard had my special GPS system. When I was lost, or unsure of my direction, I would ask a small figurine of a Chinese Wiseman. He would direct me to look into the kaleidoscope for direction. That done, a turtle figure would carry me on it’s back in the right direction. And all the while a glass bluebird of happiness would tag along to make sure everyone was feeling good. I have never not gotten to where I was going.

And hula girl figures adorned the dash and the rear window ledge. They were just for company.

The tailgate had a green peace sign magnet. Now cracked.

And hanging from the rear view mirror was a clear crystal. Powerful. And a dream catcher hung from the hanging hook in the rear of the cab.

It would have been easy to just put it all back like it was. But for some reason I didn’t. Was it a lack of time to do so? Or was there a deeper significance to the hesitation?

As in my life, change happens. And sometimes we have to sit tight and see what is going to happen, and where the new path takes us. That’s where I am in life. Newly retired. Looking into the future that is shorter than the past. What do I still want to accomplish? How do I want to enjoy myself?

I have slowly put a few things back into the truck. Really important things that define me. And identify the truck as mine. The GPS and dream catcher have returned. A new peace symbol is on the bumper. And I’m working on a new front license plate. New design. The rest may just be fluff that’s enjoyed it’s run, but can move on.

New things are coming. Only time will tell what’s next. In wide eyed wonder I look for the blue skies of the coming days.

That’s part of my story. What’s yours?

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