The horse's pasture to the East...

Tuesday, December 5, 2017


I love Christmas and the Winter holidays. They're like a catalog of memories for me ; all the years of little boys and working so hard I lost weight while everyone else gained. I knew they would be small for an eye blink. I wanted them to have big meals, stockings full of silly things, excitement and waking up too early. And, I admit, I wanted it for me too. Being a Mom was a life goal for me. 

I was psyched and frightened at the same time. Things changed very quickly for us when my sons were babies. The support system of relatives were gone in an eye blink and John and I were on our own except for short visits from his Mom a couple of times a year. 

I did my Mr. Greenjeans thing and put my thinking cap on and got it done. I never complained about having my children. Once they were here they were my focus and we all made our leap together.

And here I am, all these years later, the slightly odd 'Cat Lady' plus two dogs, three horses and one donkey. I've threatened John with filling my Old MacDonald's song up with more too. I have 1 donkey, 2 dogs, 3 horses, 4 cats (plus one feral cat who shows up ever so often, hungry). I need to fill up the rest of the numbers to 10 but not this year. Goats, chickens, ducks ... the list has endless possibilities. But for now I'll be happy with the ten I do have. But I digress. Christmas...I was talking about holidays.

Years ago, on our first Christmas together, we decided to use ornaments that were either gifts, antiques or handmade. That makes our tree a bit eclectic. Over the years we've found ornaments at auctions that have someone else's history attached to them (see the green one in the background?). I've found them at garage sales, and art fairs. More than half of them are hand made. And I know where they all came from too, who made them and when they gave them to us. 

I love the slightly tattered edges, the dust from other Christmas trees and the old paper I save from year to year to wrap them in. It's like unwrapping last year and the year before and the year before that every single item. Sometimes John helps me. Most of the time it's just me, telling the stories to whatever four legged is sitting there, watching.

Sometimes I regret not buying more from an artist when I find them. They rarely come back to the same art fair. And I wish I'd brought more from the years we lived in Germany too. Those were our pre baby days when we had only the suitcases and backpacks to carry what we took home with us. 

This year I brought home a star for the top of the tree made by a local artist. I have one other piece of hers and hope to add more next year. See those tiny angels on the branches, surrounding the star? Those are from Germany. They're 45 years old and carefully wrapped in tissue every year, put in a container and labeled so I won't loose them. They always go at the top of the tree. And I knew my sons were close to leaving home when they were the ones who put them up there for me too. 

The felt Ornies came from a friend in Tennessee who makes and sells ornaments to help support her rescue. The leather and beads star is from a sidewalk sale, years ago. It was blistering hot and I had decided to go home. I walked around a corner and there they were, six of them. I bought them for $2 each when they had been $20 at Christmas. I felt like a million bucks, getting on my bicycle and riding home with those ornaments in my backpack. It was worth the sweaty ride too. The little dog was given to me by a friend who had gone to India the year before. 

The glass angel was from a friend who is gone from this world now and so is the hand painted glass sky ornament. The bead and wire mermaid I made while I told a story to my boys on Christmas eve, way back when they still believed in magic. I wove her together along with a story that became the beginning of a Round Robin story that we've kept going for forty years now. I can't wait to include my grandchildren in the story! And Apple? Made by my friend with the rescue. She had been following my posts about living with a goofy puppy who ate everything except the sofa and she even chewed a corner on that too! She is immortalized in felt on a Christmas tree. This is her third year on the tree and she had to carry it around for a while before I could put it up. She's very proud of her 'portrait'.

I suppose this is just blither to most of you who are still reading this, but it's an important part of what I think Christmas is about. (The felt tree I made when I was pregnant with my oldest son, the bulb hanging above it is one he made for me. The bird is from a friend who traveled to Mexico and brought it back and the funny Picasso-esk horse is from another artist I've known for years. She worked with me while she took a sabbatical when her husband was dying. It's a portrait of Lucky. ) 

I don't belong to any one religion. I was raised in four extremely diverse religions and discovered early on that people are all the same. It doesn't matter what group they belong to. They all just want to take care of their families and homes, help when people need it and live peacefully. It's that last word that is important. PEACE-fully. 95% of us aren't interested in destroying or killing. I honestly think that if people only had the chance to travel and meet others from the countries and religions around the world, wars would come to an end.

My favorite daydream/wish/prayer is a huge meal where every continent and country is represented at the table. Each family brings a dish they fix for holidays and shares it. It would be a giant pot luck where we all sat under the stars at long tables, passing dishes and trying to understand each other, teaching each other to say simple things like, 'I love you.' in the other's language. We would share pictures of our children and grandchildren, parents and grandparents. Afterwards there would be a bon fire where all of us took turns adding to a Round Robin story that never ended so they could take it home to their friends and towns, villages and neighborhoods.

I see the world as a huge tapestry of endless circles, knit together through our willingness to be there, holding space for each other. We all have stories and, if you pay attention, they all meet each other at the edges, over lapping. Life is a never ending Round Robin that started with stardust and brought us here, right now.

I know this is rhapsodizing, mushy and over the top. But so is Christmas and all of the other holidays that come with the Winter Solstice. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa and winter holidays filled with the people you love, too much good food and Round Robin stories that are told every year with new embellishments.

I am, ever yours, Nancy, smiling and remembering, hoping and wishing, sending you love from OZ!


Unknown said...

So enjoyed this, Nancy. For some reason I haven't been able to catch the spirit so far this year. But your reminders of all the memories and treasures we share during this season reached my heart. Tis a season to be jolly and thankful and caring and joyous. Can't wait to pull out my boxes of rejuvenating memories. Thank you and best wishes for a magical season.

Nancy, smiling! said...

I think the political situation probably isn't helping any of us. Seems it gets more difficult to write anything anywhere without it being considered a statement to the right or the left. Makes me sad too. But I'm glad you have boxes of memories too. I hope you all have fun putting them up and, if you're like me and have dogs or especially cats, there's reasons to laugh when you find that missing decoration left on your bed as a hunter's gift. Merry Christmas!