Tag Archives: Christmas

Three Wise Women: Gifts From My Personal Magi

102320091313-WDW-DAK-Expedition-Everest-Single-Rider[pullquote]My friends have entered into an unwitting conspiracy on my behalf – a conspiracy designed to help me see that this is not a time of bell, book and candle…[/pullquote]

“Clock, keys and Light…. clock, keys and Light….”

These words represent ordinary objects routinely encountered in everyday life. But last night, as the ritual annual viewing of “Love Actually” provided a flickering yet sufficient glow for the addressing of Christmas cards, “clock, keys and light” morphed into something akin to one of those pesky “ear worm” songs (Like this one. You’re welcome). Virulently pestilent, “clock, keys and light” repeated itself over and over in my mind with a cadence similar to that of “bell, book and candle”, a phrase used long ago to describe a once-popular method for the excommunication of sinners from the Catholic Church. When used in an excommunication ritual, the “bell” represents a death knell for the sinner’s soul, the “book” is shut to represent cutting the sinner off from the teachings of the Church and the candle is extinguished, leaving the sinner in the darkness of damnation.

(“Bell, Book and Candle” is also the title of a film, a romantic comedy starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novack. I recommend it, if only for the delight of hearing the actors utter one of the great cat names of all time – “Pyewacket”. Go on and say it now. “Pyewacket. Pyewacket. PYEWACKET!” See how delightful that is?)

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You might say that I’ve suffered something of an excommunication recently. Early in September, the bell tolled for the death of my 19 year career at Too Big To Fail. After having handed in my badge, the door slammed behind me and I no longer had access; I was shut out of that institution forever. Darkness descended, sort of a radio silence. I no longer know anything about the day-to-day doings there, or of the people with whom I’d enjoyed daily contact for so very many years.

Whereas “bell, book and candle” are punishments, “clock, keys and light” are gifts. They came to me from some of the intended recipients of the cards I was addressing last night, which is what prompted the chanting inside my head. Oddly – or perhaps not – all three items arrived in the mail within the last month, and all three were sent to me by people I met online. One woman hails from Colorado, another from the Midwest and the third right here in Florida. Ironically, the Floridian is the only one of the three I haven’t actually met – this, despite the fact that until last year, we were at most 30 minutes apart by car.

111220102241-Tinkerbell-tiny-clock“Spotty” is from Colorado. I met her on an internet forum in connection with our mutual love of all things Disney. We’ve attended a few meets together at Walt Disney World, most recently during the inaugural Princess Half Marathon, which she finished despite a very painful knee. Spotty is the one amongst these three online friends with whom I’ve spent the most face-time. The fact that a good chunk of this face-time occurred in a tequila bar should not, in any way, be construed as a commentary on the quality of our interactions. It was fabulously fun face-TIME and therefore, Spotty is naturally the giver of the clock. The clock arrived on November 12th. It’s a tiny, shiny, perfect little gifty-treat, a memento from some anniversary celebrated by Disneyland in California. The face of the clock bears a portrait of my favorite Disney character, Tinkerbell. I did not save the SMS text exchange that preceded its arrival in my mailbox, but I have a vague recollection that Spotty was performing a purge of possessions when she found the clock, and since I am known elsewhere on the internet as “Tink *~*~*”, it made her think of me. I was touched at her thoughtfulness in asking to send it to me.

121120102945-Tinker-Keys“GPC” is a blogger who hails from the Midwest; you can find her at Shedding The Wolf. I originally met her online as “Sandpail Gail” on a forum dedicated to discussion about Sanibel and Captiva, the magical sub-tropical islands which lured me to relocate to Southwest Florida from Da Loverly Isle Of Long. It’s an unfortunate hallmark of the times in which we live; GPC has also been recently “excommunicated” from her career, so we can definitely relate to one another’s current respective plights. In the surprise package from GPC were two key blanks that can be cut to fit the lock of my choice. They are pretty much the same size as my current house keys. These gifts arrived on December 11th and like the clock, they also bear the visage of Tinkerbell.

121420102967-Let-There-Be-LightLast but certainly not least is “Maidenshade”, my fellow Floridian and kindred spirit – so kindred, I’ve actually friended her on Facebook, which is something usually reserved for people I’ve met and spent time with. “Maidenshade” is the name of her business, where she hand-crafts beautiful lampshades and night lights. One day last summer, I was accosted in the aisle of a local home goods warehouse by a massive framed piece of art. It’s a bold and stunningly modern departure for the woman whose home is filled with ornately carved antiques. However, I was inexplicably drawn to it. I knew the moment I clapped eyes on it that the large expanse of bare, white wall over the garden tub in The Palace (my master bath) would henceforth be barren no more. I posted a photo of it to Facebook and now Jen has cleverly gone and made me a beautiful night light to match. I took delivery of it on December 14th and immediately installed it in The Palace, marveling at how impeccably made it is.

121920102989.jpgWhy am I writing about these gifts? Well, it’s like this. I saved the return addresses on all three packages so that I could record them in my contacts list on my phone and send “thank you” notes in the form of Christmas cards. Last night, I assembled all the essential implements of Christmas carding and laid them out on the blue suede damnsofa – the requisite smelly candle (it’s called Yankee Candle “Sparkling Snow”), the seasonal entertainment (the aforementioned DVD of Love Actually – although, Christmas music can also be used), the cards with scenes like Santa posed inappropriately beneath a palm tree, the pens, stamps, return address labels, phone with the contacts list and a cup of Tazo decaf chai.

The first three cards I wrote were for the recipients listed on the return addresses I’d ripped from the packages containing the clock, the keys and the light. And as I was writing, the phrase began to sing in my head – “clock, keys, light…” – which eventually transformed itself into “Time! Answers! Illumination!”

Implements of Christmas cardingMy friends have entered into an unwitting conspiracy on my behalf – a conspiracy designed to help me see that this is not a time of bell, book and candle, not a time of death, imprisonment and darkness. It is, rather, a period in my life rich with gifts. Time, unfettered by work-a-day obligations, is a gift. Time permits me to explore, to discover answers that have lain locked behind obligation and practicality, to open the doors to my secret (so secret, it’s hidden even from me!) calling and illuminate what lies inside.

How did you all know just what I needed, and in just such a combination that would capture and keep my attention and fire my imagination? I think you are all remarkable, but I bet you didn’t – know, that is. There’s another explanation, however – episodic Memos From The Universe. That’s what this is. And I thank you all for answering whatever call from the Universe it was that you heard, which has led me to relax, if just a little, and believe, if only for a day, that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be at this time, doing pretty much what I’m supposed to be doing.

Love and joy to you all, my personal magi 🙂

Yule happens

122120091916.jpg I was supposed to be in New York celebrating the Winter Solstice with my “coven” (fancy word for my back home tribe “sistas”) and a stewpot full of root vegetables but, alas! The weather had other ideas. Multiple flights have been canceled since my original departure date of Saturday 12/19, due to blizzard conditions and/or airport closure. So here I sit, doing Yule as a solitary. The moon looked fabulous on the rise tonight, like a crescent cradle in the sky, ready to rock 🙂 I had a moment of panic when it looked like my wishes would not burn but I kept reminding myself that MY wish is the Universe’s command, and simply re-lit the contents of the prayer bowl before the flames went out.

Yes, the Universe will deliver; however, I was reminded today that this does not mean that we sit back and do nothing. The reminder came in the form of Disney’s latest hand-drawn (yay!) animated film, The Princess and the Frog. Tiana wishes upon the evening star, but she also works HARD to achieve her goals, none of which have anything to do, initially, with being a princess, snagging a prince, or kissing frogs. The Universe WILL join in at some point to ensure a sealed deal, but in the meantime, we must continue to strive toward the goal.

My favorite quote: “oooooh, no – there is NO WAY I am kissin’ a frog AND eatin’ a bug on the same day!” 😉

Favorite song: a gospel number called “Dig A Little Deeper”

When you find out who you are
you’ll find out what you need
Blue skies and sunshine – guaranteed!
Open up the window – let in the light, dearie!
Blue skies and sunshine!
Blue skies and sunshine!
Blue skies and sunshine – guaranteed!

🙂

Tomorrow, I get to repack my bags for 4 days instead of 8 and jet my way north to the frozen tundra that is Da Loverly Isle of Long. I am wondering why the Universe wanted me on THIS particular flight, instead of the other two that were canceled…???

Posted by Wordmobi

The blank slate of Yule beckons

IMG_5154-Christmas-Radio-City-Music-HallOne of the great things about going home to New York, to The Loverly Isle of Long for Christmas is that I get to see the “back home” tribes and hang with them just like old times. This year is special – I’ll be home in plenty of time to make a Winter Solstice celebration with my friends. The Winter Solstice aka Yule is typically observed on December 21st, the shortest day/longest dark of the year. Solstice is all about the rebirth of the sun; in terms of the Wheel, we are at the lowest point of the year, but you know what that means – the only way left to go is up 🙂 The purpose of the feast is to celebrate the beginning of the end of the dormancy period of the year, and prepare for a fresh start. The clean slate of a new year stretches into the future before us, upon which we get to write… ANYTHING WE WANT! How cool is that?

And so, we’ll go to the woods to gather greenery. Back at home, we’ll prepare the meal, deck the halls and set the table. We’ll light the candles and we’ll write on those clean slates, earnest notes filled with our desires, our requests of the Universe. And then we shall set them aflame and watch as the fire transforms them into sparks of prayer, rising through the crisp air into the night sky to become one with the stars, to be heard and fulfilled.

And then, we shall feast.

I did a little googling this weekend, to find appropriate foods upon which we should be feasting on the Solstice. Feasting and celebrating is something people can look forward to as the earth turns ever colder and darker leading up to Solstice. Anticipation of the celebration, of being able to put the darkest days behind us helps to counteract the depressive psychological effects of winter. When it’s so dark like this, we have too much melatonin, which causes malaise. That might be appropriate for bears, who are supposed to sleep away the winter, but most adult humans are expected to be productive. We need to find ways to assist ourselves in pushing past the darkness.

Anything that puts us in the presence of negative ions will lift our mood and make us feel energized. Isn’t that odd, that “negative” produces positive in us? In nature, places that tend to be negatively ionized are mountains, streams, forests and beaches. This may be why people flock to these types of places for relaxation and rejuvenation. There are other negatively-charged things we can use to help erase stress and seasonal fatigue. A wood fire, bees wax, green plants – all of these things can help to make us “of good cheer”. I guess we now know why we burn candles, deck the halls and have a Yule log. These things make us feel better and help us to to feel celebratory, to have hope that winter WILL end and that the life-bringing warmth of spring WILL return to us. The ancients may not have known about a substance called melatonin, but they knew that the air was filled with a magical, uplifting energy after a lightening storm, and that communing with nature by the side of a waterfall brings comfort and peace.

So you can see where I’m going with this. I now wanted to know – what foods carry a negative charge and make us feel good? Survey says – those foods that are alkaline help deposit negative ions into our bodies and are good mood enhancers. Most fruits and vegetables are alkaline, and they assist in combating the acidification of the blood. The more negative ions our blood carries, the better our metabolic, autonomic and immune systems function, and our skin and tissues are more elastic.

Googling once again, I discovered lists of alkaline vegetables, and most of them seemed to mention root vegetables like carrots, garlic, turnips and onions (we already knew about the root veggie-Yule connection). Other interesting things at the top of a few of the lists I found were broccoli, artichokes and leeks.

When I read about the leeks, I remembered a book I’d read called French Women Don’t Get Fat and how leek soup – with or without root vegetables and beans – is a staple food of the French woman’s diet. There’s even a recipe in the book, which uses lentils as the beans and can optionally be turned a little “creamy” by melting together a pat of butter and some flour and throwing that in at the last moment. They sometimes throw in some sort of browned French sausage that’s described in the book as a high-end hot dog. Ewww! I think we’ll be forgiven if we alter the ethnicity a bit and use Italian sweet sausage instead 😉

All the while I’ve been writing this post, my thoughts have been drawn repeatedly back to the prospect of the blank slate. I have that feeling that I used to get (and sometimes still get) when I was a young girl, filling marble-covered composition books with poems, stories and the minutiae of my existence. When one book is all done, you get to start a new one, and THAT, my friends, is a magical and sacred moment. You walk it reverently to the desk and turn back the cover… it’s blank! The pages are pure, empty yet ripe with the promise of endless possibility. What events, what aspirations, what desires and dreams will manifest upon these pages?

Anything we want.

Anything we want!

Have I ever told you about The Elf Game?

The Elf Game was invented on Christmas Eve in Temecula, California, sometime back in the 1990s, based upon a random Christmas Eve occurrence from my childhood. I had flown in from Long Island that year to spend Christmas with my friend Penny and her family. She’s got two girls, and I think they were about 6 and 8 years old at the time.

Penny decorates her home like a mad woman. Every surface is covered with Christmas “stuff”, which is hauled out and distributed around the house each year, and then returned to the various Rubbermaid bins from whence they came. This particular year, whilst wandering about the house, I discovered two implements of elf were at my disposal – a set of hearty jingle bells (not the namby-pamby type, but the kind you’d expect to find around the neck of the horse drawing the one-horse open sleigh), and a Santa hat. A wicked plan formed within my brain.

Early in the day, the bells were heard at odd moments, coming from various parts of the house and surrounding yard. The first time they were heard, it reminded Auntie Tink *~*~* of a day long ago, a Christmas Eve just like this one, only there was snow and coldness and no palm trees. Ok, not so much like this one, but it was Christmas Eve nonetheless. And Auntie Tink’s *~*~* baby brother Chez Bro was being very, very naughty. He was playing in the basement and had decapitated his teddy bear. He was generally running berserk. He was yelled at, he was threatened, he was pleaded with – nothing worked.

Suddenly from upstairs we heard a jingling sound…

My older brother yelled down the basement stairs that there were elves in the driveway, peeking in the windows, listening to Chez Bro be naughty. He said the jingling sound was elf bells! And that Chez Bro had better be good or else there would be no presents, because the elves would tell Santa on his ass!

(Years later, at a Thanksgiving dinner, a bunch of adults sat around their parents’ dining room table, making confessions. It was at this time that we all confessed to having HATED three bean salad as children, and told of the artful ways we would dispose of it to show clean plates. One method, which may have been a tall tale spun of too much Thanksgiving dinner wine, was to pass it out the dining room window to the first person that managed to escape. However, we did not employ the “feed it to the dog under the table” method, because even the dog despised three bean salad. No dogs were hurt in the disposal of the three bean salad! So anyway, after the three bean salad epiphany, whereby my mother vowed never to serve us three bean salad ever again, big brother confessed that the jingling was my mother’s car keys.)

So I thought back to this day long ago, and decided that the elves could visit Temecula, California that year. I ran around ringing the bells all day at various places, which caused a stampede of children rushing to the spot to search for and gather evidence. They had a whiteboard amongst their playthings, so we set that up as a map of the house and yard, marking it with a big red “X” everywhere we suspected the elves had appeared. Clues like glitter in the grass and bits of green sea glass were found in the vicinity of where it was believed the elves had rung their bells.

“But HOW will the elves tell on us? Santa is at the North Pole!”, demanded one of the older children of the neighborhood. Ah, that’s easy. The elves whip out their little cell phones and leave Santa a voice mail, telling him the date, time, city, and name of the child who had committed the infraction.

Getting close to dinner time, I took the elf hat and snuck outside. I found a stick, and lurked beneath the livingroom windows. When the children came into the room, I bobbed the hat up and down on the stick, just so they could see the pointy tip and pom pom, as though the elf were marching around out there. With squeals, there was a mad dash for the door. I ditched the stick in the bushes and arranged myself in a sprawl on the front walk, still clutching the hat. The door sprung open just as I began to yell, “I almost had him! I almost had him! Look, I GOT HIS HAT!”

They were all gathered round me in a little knot, this wild woman with an elf hat. Their eyes were large in their heads. There was not a non-believer amongst them.

Thus was born The Elf Game.