Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gifts

I am a notorious Christmas Grinch. I have been, for many years. The story of why is long and not really fully explainable in one, or many blog posts. Now that I'm grown, I do my best to go along with the spirit and not bring down friends or family. I look on the bright side- I hate shopping but I do love to make gifts. I love cold weather, snow, and the wood stove. I love winter. I don't mind the dark, it means earlier nights and lots of cooking. I love to cook and serving large meals to people I care about.

We haven't written much about the move, because frankly- it was an unholy nightmare that ended in us spending all of Thanksgiving Day moving our entire house, alone, in the snow. It's a long story of poor truck rental companies, bad timing, and a heck of winter storm and I promise to revisit it- when it's more funny and less raw. We had the most glorious relief when friends helped us unload Thanksgiving night, in the dark- if it hadn't been for that bright spot I think we would both block the entirety out from our memories...it was that bad. Thanksgiving is my holiday- it's my absolute favorite. I can think of nothing more fitting for a farm then to celebrate the end of the growing season with a beautiful meal, prepared with care, much or all of it grown right there. I love the fall weather, the end of the poultry season, the last of the pumpkins... so it was a blow when we finally ate a (though delicious and so generously provided) plate of left overs from friends sitting among our boxes upstairs in the new house. We were so tired and sore enough we didn't even bother heating those left overs. Though we were relieved to have made it through- we were also threadbare in ways we couldn't have imagined.

So I'm trying out this Christmas thing, it's kind of like our holiday rebound. But I'd like to bring a little of Thanksgiving into Christmas. I want the gratitude that comes simply with being present (no pun intended) with one another. We'll be cooking food grown on farm (of course), but it's more than that. I feel like at Thanksgiving, there is more room to pause and show kindness- not in giving- but in acknowledging each other. Even handmade, meticulously created gifts are often still things. I'm not trying to replay the well worn message of Christmas not being about material items- but striving to get the the kernel about intent. I'm trying to get at the sense that a day, spent with family and friends, over a meal alone- is enough to celebrate. We have become this fast-food culture, and meal times rarely exist unless there is media playing, if at all. But on thanksgiving we can mutually agree that we will "ooo and ahh" over food, we will place all of our attention on each other's words. And we will eat, together. There is no background noise of reindeer, gifts, stockings, or flashing lights. Those sparkling things are all well and good, but what I want is the appreciation that someone took the time to cook a meal, that someone planned a place that was welcoming, and warm- and that we have all chosen to be in each other's presence. That's the Christmas spirit I can get down with.

I don't really care at all about the religious 'reason for the season', the reason for my season is to bring warmth. To break up the cold, and the snow, and the drudgery of routine. To think, thoroughly, about how we can show great kindness and consideration without spending a dime. Hold doors, make phone calls, send a card. Because I think what we all want in this holiday season is just to know we're important to someone in a tangible way. If I never got another wrapped gift that'd be fine, and I mean that. But I would hate to live in a world where I didn't feel as though I mattered to those who matter to me.

I think that's one thing that this move has really brought forth for me, the ways in which our choices have changed the intentions of our life. Our home is a space of two households, run independently. But, it's also a place where I can open a door to a room where either household can enter, and with reasonable assurance, be joined by a joyful two year old and a favorite friend. If I need a cup of milk and they have it- we have it. And if the two-year old needs watching, I'm there. Not because we all can't do it alone- but because we're choosing not to. I can't express the comfort that goes with knowing that more friends are minutes away, and will show up to move pigs, and feel confident enough in my abilities and trustworthiness to have me come take a look at their sow on the same day. It's not a trivial thing to be needed, and to need others. It's a gift. And really, if it's the only one we get this year, I'd say we got more than our fair share.

What I hope for anyone reading this is that someone shows that they need you--that you are a gift this year. It's doesn't need to be romantic, or from someone you have known for years. It's just an expression from someone that you matter- that the time you share is valuable. That the time isn't compulsory, it's freely enjoyed and given. So often the holidays become this string of events we must attend. And it's fine to do things to make others happy, if you can. But let's also make space for creating time where you couldn't imagine a better place to be, with better people. Because I'm pretty certain that's how you cure even a many year Grinch. Not with always with 'tradition', or the best sale-price sweater, or a favorite movie, or the best cookie-- but with time and a sense of belonging somewhere.

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