Monday, October 15, 2018

Post-Christmas Blues


As far back as I can remember, Christmas has been my favorite holiday. As soon as I could write, I’d pen my letter to Santa.  I’d start with all my merits – obedient, kind, star pupil – then, I would hit him with all the things I felt I deserved, my purchase order list of Christmas wants.
I’d direct him to the better buys, where he could get my toy at the best price, and if that didn’t work (I knew who the real Santa was), I’d leave catalogs lay about the house, opened to the page and with the item circled in ink pen. Sometimes, I’d sigh loudly and mention that the “Barbie I want is on page 362 of the Sears Catalog.”
In the twenty-two years I lived with my parents, I never once got anything I had asked from Santa.
I got stupid things like a pink teddy bear (pink?), a neon green outfit that enhanced my sallow skin (and I looked like I had jaundice), and a second-hand boy’s bike my parents found at a garage sale when I turned eighteen (I was past the bike stage and ready for a car).
Talk about suffering from the post-Christmas blues!
It didn’t get any better after I went out into the world. I was married to a husband who for the twenty-nine years we were together only saw as far as the end of his nose.
I learned a valuable lesson in the first half of my life, and I thank my parents and my ex-husband for it. 
Christmas isn’t about things.  It’s about acceptance, joy, and family. Christmas isn’t one day out of 365.  It’s with us all year long.
When I look at it from that perspective, I can look back at the pink teddy bear and the neon outfit and the second-hand boy’s bike and smile at the memories. I can look back at all those Christmases I spent alone (even when the ex was sitting in the chair next to me in the living room) while my husband spent it on the phone talking to “business partners” and realize his selfishness was his alone and not mine.
I do not have to depend on others or hype or things to celebrate Christmas. It starts within me.  Okay, before I end with the nanu-nanu song from the cartoon version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, let me clarify that.
Christmas is my favorite holiday because it reminds me to love one another, but especially to love myself. I can do all the trappings – the tree, the decorations, the baking – but unless I love and accept myself with the same fervor as our Creator does, it is all artificial, and it becomes about things instead of what really matters – acceptance, joy, and family.  
If God (this is GOD we are talking about, people) thought me worthy, maybe I should do the same.



Monday, October 8, 2018

Raquel Martina Martinez: Nothing Stops Me from Celebrating Christmas

Raquel Martina Martinez: Nothing Stops Me from Celebrating Christmas: One Christmas, my youngest son packed his torn-down Volkswagen into our two-car garage. Its motor took up one-fourth of one parking space,...

Nothing Stops Me from Celebrating Christmas


One Christmas, my youngest son packed his torn-down Volkswagen into our two-car garage. Its motor took up one-fourth of one parking space, and the body took up the whole other half of the garage. To fit everything into the limited space, he had to push it all up against the storage boxes that lined the front wall.
As Christmas neared, I was able to get to the Christmas tree and the Nativity set I always used but not the boxes and boxes of decorations. I complained to both the husband and the son, but neither had the time nor the inclination to move all that metal so I could get to my things.
We were going to have Christmas that year with presents around a bare tree, so two days before Christmas, I gave up on them and went in search of more decorations.  Everything was half-priced but it was also picked over. I bought lights and odds and ends, just enough to cover the tree and call it a go.
Nothing was going to stop me from celebrating Christmas.
             *     *     *
My husband and I sat in the living room watching the weather station.  It was going to be a very cold Christmas. He had his phone on the arm of his sofa chair because he had made his business partner promise to call him every thirty minutes as she drove home to North Texas.
It was Christmas Eve, and instead of the two of us enjoying our empty nest, his thoughts were with someone else. When I asked him to shut off his phone and talk to me, he yelled at me, called me cruel and unfeeling, and I took it as my cue to be quiet, so I went to bed and left him to his phone calls.  
The next morning the kids came over to open presents and he handed me a professionally wrapped present.  It was the merino shawl I wanted.  I smiled and thanked him but then he said she had helped choose it. She had wrapped it for me.
           *     *     *
The divorce had taken six months and it came through on a Thursday, one week before Christmas.  I hadn’t felt very holiday-ish but now it was time to look forward and count my blessings.  
I dragged out the old Christmas tree and ALL the decorations.  My ex was very picky and always dictated how I dressed the tree, so this was my declaration of freedom.  I opened every box, placed every sphere on the dining table, and decided every single one was going on the tree (with the exception of anything that had belonged to him – bad juju and all that).
Once done, I celebrated by going outside and starting a huge, roaring fire of thanksgiving in the barbeque grill.  I celebrated with a glass of wine and a Pop Tart and I burned a very expensive Merino shawl in offering.
Merry Christmas to me.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Raquel Martina Martinez: My Thoughts and Prayers

Raquel Martina Martinez: My Thoughts and Prayers: This phrase has come under scrutiny lately, called trite, overused, ineffective, insulting.  Yet, when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in A...

Monday, October 1, 2018

My Thoughts and Prayers


This phrase has come under scrutiny lately, called trite, overused, ineffective, insulting. 
Yet, when Hurricane Harvey hit Houston in August 2017, there was little more most of us could do other than contribute money and goods, and offer our thoughts and prayers.
When the lone gunman killed all those innocent people while they attended Sunday services in November 2017, there was little most of us could do other than contribute money and goods, and offer our thoughts and prayers.
Very few of us are trained in rescue efforts or how to take down a shooter.  If we tried, we would slow the efforts of those who can, so we help in the best way we can.  We offer our sympathy and our prayers.
Instead of on our knees or offering sympathy, those who make fun demand instead that we should be on our feet, marching and demanding change. Their displaced anger blinds them to the fact that as human beings we need emotional and physical support as much as we need food, water, and safety/shelter.
My knees are not only on the ground, and my nose is not solely stuck inside my prayer book, I also keep abreast of the news.  I delve for facts.  I study the situation, what caused it, and what needs to be done.  And I work toward it.
When I offer my “thoughts,” they are not a vacant show of sympathy. I feel their sadness and trauma. I believe in empathy, agreement, consensus, human need.
When I offer my “prayers,” they do not come to an end with an “amen.” I believe in the power of prayer, spirituality and meditation, its comfort and direction.
People are not won over by bullying or denigration.  I will not be shamed into stopping from offering my thoughts and prayers. 
It takes all of us to offer the complete spectrum of needs that we require as humans.