I Believe

Reposting because I STILL believe and needed to feel the magic of the season….

I pulled up to the Post Office yesterday and saw a man with a long white beard, thinning hair, wide and round around the middle and wearing a red shirt, suspenders and a broad smile on his face. I said to myself “It’s Santa”. He went into the Post Office ahead of me and took care of his business on one side of the building while I walked over to take my place in a very long line, where many of us were waiting with last minute packages to be mailed. I forgot about him while I was in line putting together the box I purchased and addressing my package. Then my attention was drawn back to him when he appeared in the area where I stood in line. In a very deep jovial voice he said “Merry Christmas Everyone” and waved with cheerfulness.

NO ONE, except me, said Merry Christmas back. Many folks didn’t make eye contact, glance at him or acknowledge him in any way. He was kind and cheerful and looked much like the man that played Kris Kringle in the old version of Miracle on 34th Street.  I thought to myself , “we still don’t believe”, and then how sad that people would not return a greeting. He seemed unaffected by the lack of attention and stepped into the other room wishing everyone in there a Merry Christmas also. I don’t know the response he got. Even if you’re a person of a different religion that doesn’t celebrate Christmas or you believe that Santa takes the “Christ” out of Christmas, why not still acknowledge a friendly greeting? He never said he was Santa, that was only how I envisioned him, and I assume many others as well. He asked for nothing, and he only gave a cheerful greeting and a wish for a happy day.

I recently watched Miracle on 34th Street because it was one of my dad’s favorite movies and it makes me think of and remember him fondly during a season when I miss him greatly. My dad was a man who dreamed big and was much like Kris Kringle and this man in the Post Office yesterday, right down to the full beard. He was full of great stories and joyfulness and loved people. He had a deep inviting voice and people frequently asked if he was a radio personality. Maybe he should have been. He would have been good at it. He also loved to greet people, was quick to make friends, and didn’t miss an opportunity to give someone a smile and wish them a good day. I easily could have pictured him doing just as this man had done, without fear of rejection or embarrassment. He was bold and friendly and stood up for what he believed, and he believed in the miracle of Christmas and carrying joy in your heart and waking each day as if it were a new beginning. He was the most cheerful person I’ve ever known in the morning (I really used to hate that when I was still trying to steal sleep and he greeted me with a friendly “rise and shine” every morning). I smile about it now and wish I had appreciated it then.

As I watched Miracle on 34th Street this year I saw it differently, perhaps as my dad had always seen it. I saw the miracle in more than the ending, but throughout the movie. I saw the lives Kris Kringle touched every day, the way he made people believe in themselves and in miracles. I saw my dad in Kris Kringle and I saw him in “Santa” yesterday. I was reminded of a phrase from the movie “Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to. Don’t you see? It’s not just Kris that’s on trial, it’s everything he stands for. It’s kindness and joy and love and all the other intangibles.” This story was going somewhere else before I started writing. I wanted to tell everyone to believe in miracles, and the greatest of all things, those intangibles (love, peace, joy and kindness and more). I still want that for you (and me). Now, as I sit here writing though, and crying, I’ve realized that perhaps no one else was supposed to notice “Santa” except me. Perhaps I wasn’t getting the message of the season and my dad sent me a little angel (with a big round belly, full beard and deep inviting voice) to tell me to believe…just believe and everything else will fall in place.

Yesterday I wondered how my mom made every Christmas seem magical, how she pulled it all together without complaining or appearing stressed by all the work that it took to make it happen. I remember the look on her face every Christmas morning as she sat in her robe in her rocking chair, coffee on her lap, sipping it slowly, smiling and gently rocking in her chair. She must have felt great joy in seeing our faces light up with each gift we opened. I was feeling bad yesterday that our Christmas traditions didn’t mirror the ones I grew up with, my house lacks a festive look I remember fondly, and my Christmas tree doesn’t have that same perfect look I recall from my youth. Mom always let us kids decorate the tree and I did the same thing with my kids, but somehow all the ornaments always ended up clumped in one section at a child’s eye level. I called her one year to ask how our tree always looked so perfect even though she let us decorate. She let me in on a little secret, “It’s simple. After the kids go to bed at night you just redo it.” I had to laugh. I never knew! So simple, just as she made everything else appear. I was feeling like a failure yesterday as I rushed from store to store and didn’t feel as though I was doing this holiday thing with the grace and ease that my mother had managed all those years. Then Dad sent me an angel I BELIEVE! Thanks Kris Kringle aka Santa. Thanks Mom and Dad; you‘re with me in spirit. The memories you’ve left me are those of love and joy and kindness. Thanks for the intangibles.

Wishing everyone love, joy, peace and kindness,

Pam

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Ramblings Thoughts

This is just a random thought, ramblings of a mind on the edge and perhaps meaningless to anyone but me blog. I’ve had a difficult month, but I’m not whining because that sort of thing happens to all of us and we all have to figure out how to get through it, pick ourselves up and move on. I’ve been working on this and I think I’m finally pulling myself out of this funk I’ve been in. Sometimes it requires letting go of things we are involved in, people we associate with or just lightening our load a little until life settles down somewhat (even if we love those people, activities, and involvements we still may need to release them permanently or temporarily).

So, I was standing in line at one of my favorite natural food stores last week and saw this magazine “Skeptic” for the first time. I was curious so picked it up to thumb through it (that’s what we’re supposed to do while in line, right?). I didn’t get past the cover when it was my turn to check out. I set it back down thinking I didn’t really need any more negativity in my life and went on my way. But my attention was drawn back to the cover article about Happiness and our society’s addiction with happiness, and my mind immediately went into a hand on the hip, foot stomping, heavy sigh, thought-provoking dark space where I seldom permit it to go. It got me thinking, or maybe even skeptical about whether or not our obsession with happiness is actually leading to dissatisfaction, even less happiness and downright depression.

Statistics (if you’re into that sort of thing) show that the holidays are an exceptionally difficult time for many if not most people. Psychiatric hospitals fill to capacity, stress induced illnesses flare up, theft and vandalism rise, physical violence, assault and domestic abuse increase. People “celebrate” with alcohol and other substances, families argue and disagree, obligations become overwhelming for many and what is “supposed” to be a joyous time of year becomes downright unbearable for many. Folks who have experienced the loss of a loved one recently or even in the distant past are often reminded of this loss even more profoundly during this force-fed joyous season and they may become immobilized with grief. Families change, traditions change and looking back at our youth and how our parents raised us to celebrate the holidays become only a distance memory. Still we are told to smile, be happy, make new traditions, and celebrate as often as possible with as many people as we can possibly fit into our schedule.

If you’re still with me this far you may be waiting for me to say, yes, carry on, be happy, change your thoughts and change your reality, put on your happy face and move forward into holiday bliss. That’s not going to happen (well, it could later on—remember this is just the ramblings of a mind on the edge so no telling where I’m headed).  I’m really an optimist most of the time and I really do believe that our thoughts control how we get through the tough stuff. But, we also have to be real for if we aren’t we may end up in this obsessive seeking of happiness our society is forcing down our throats. We are human. We are here for lessons and some random fun and struggles here and there. We cannot seek happiness and expect to find it; we have to allow it to happen. We also have to survive the dark stuff, the unhappiness, because simply put it exists for all of us whether you force it inward and put on your happy face, or wear it proudly on your sleeve.

I don’t want to become one of the folks that ends up being one of the statistics listed above and I don’t want that for you either. I want to live in a place of bliss and joy, but I’ve had many experiences lately and people who have helped me sort through my “stuff” and have helped me realize that getting angry is ok, being honest with our emotions is a good thing, and allowing a full range of emotions AND joy are all good and healthy. We need to allow and go with the flow of all our emotions. Are you wondering when I’m going to get to the point? Me too!! Quite honestly the only point was that perhaps being a skeptic is alright. Joy, happiness and holiday bliss may be unrealistic right now for you, someone you know and love, or a stranger you pass on the street. Allowing yourself to be right where you are right now is ok. Offer a stranger a smile, a hand up if possible and a hug to anyone who needs it (that would be everyone!). Be there, allow the loss, the sadness, the grief, the financial burden, whatever emotion you are feeling at this time. To say “don’t seek happiness” seems crazy especially during the holiday, right?  I don’t think so. Happiness will come when you stop seeking it and allow all the other stuff to flow naturally and fully participate in working your way through it and out of it.

My disclaimer here is that if you are deeply hurting and not moving through emotional stuff, but rather stuck in a dark place please ask for help from someone, whether family, friend or professional. I’m not saying to be depressed and unhappy and dwell in that space. I’m simply saying that our society is obsessed with happiness and sometimes we just need to BE, right where we are, right now, and experience our reality. Joy and happiness will return, if we allow it. I also feel as though we should all be allowed to opt out of holidays at least once. Just hang a sign in the front yard (lighted, blinking and flashing for the holidays would be fun) that simply says “PASS”.  I don’t want my “pass” this year; I just want to be allowed to be real. My wish for all of you is to BE wherever you are right now, with the hope and dream of joy in the future (or now if that is where you are!). Help others, seek help for yourself if you need to, and take the time to care for you just as you would for others, for “You yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” (Buddha).

I have to close now because Hannah just cranked Frosty the Snowman to 40 billion decibels and I have to go BE somewhere else…

 ♥ Pam