Archives for posts with tag: the true meaning of Giftmas

I don’t generally get so many opportunities to simply relax in the good company of my Traveling Partner. The opportunities we do get don’t always work out ideally well (both of us being quite human, and dealing both with our own “baggage” and our own issues with being in physical pain). It’s been an extraordinary holiday season, filled with connected hang out time, together, enjoying favored content from here and there, relaxing, playing games, making conversation about topics of mutual (or separate) interest, and because it isn’t reliably an everyday experience, I’ve embraced it without any guilt or reservations about how I am spending my time – even when doing so may subtly undermine long-standing practices that support emotional wellness (like meditating), or “press pause” on routines and practices that create the foundation of this life that has become commonly characterized by contentment. 🙂 So… without apology or excuse, I’m not writing as often, and I’m fully living in this moment much more, at least for the duration of the holiday season. It’s quite nice, and I am making a point to savor the opportunity, the experiences, and the moment-to-moment joy of being so well-loved, and having the chance to love so deeply, myself.

Today is a pleasant Saturday, in the middle of a long weekend (for me), planned well in advance as part of my holiday. My Traveling Partner and I are both in pain, today. It happens. No drama or bullshit associated with that; we’re both very much aware of each other’s physical limits and concerns, and we cherish each other’s efforts, and the shared will to explore joy in spite of pain. It is characteristic of this partnership that we do so, generally. Worth the effort (and yes, there is reliably effort involved).

Note to self: it’s worthwhile to make an effort at the things that you’ve determined matter most. Your results may vary, but the outcomes will prove to be reliably better than not making the effort. Sooner or later, effort goes into something – what better choice than to make that effort in support of the life you most want to live, the experiences you most want to have, or becoming the person you most want to be? Choices. (And verbs.)

I smile and think of cruise brochures, plans for our shared future, life right now, and all the things that have lead to this moment, here, which leads on to those moments as yet unexperienced. I think about potential life-style changes, wellness, and longevity. I pause a moment to celebrate this experience of being partnered with a human being I truly want to spend my life with.

The smallest tokens of lasting affection can feel huge.

Giftmas has come and gone. It was lovely. Warm. Joyful. Loving. A delightful holiday. Precious mementos will remind me for some time to come just how exceptional this holiday was. I hope never to forget any detail, but… “always” and “never” aren’t concepts I feel comfortable investing emotional energy in. lol I’m content to smile when I do remember, and let the warmth of being well-loved wash over me, in that moment of recollection. Good memories. 😀

I sit quietly for a moment. I breathe. Exhale. Relax. I feel the pain… here. Over here. That one, there, too. This newer one. This one that has lingered far too long. This one that is so well-understood. That one, that I just don’t understand. I let each one go; recognized, accepted, and where possible, attended to as skillfully as I am able to do. Another breath. Another exhalation. A sip of water. A correction in seated posture. Moments tick by.

“This, too, shall pass.” Even pain is mostly fairly temporary, inasmuch as it is not truly unfailingly continuous. It matters to savor those moments in which pain is lessened, or isn’t there at all; doing so reduces the likelihood of becoming mired in an implicit experience of “always” hurting. “Always” isn’t very common. Neither is “never”. I smile and let them both go. They’re often  just words for a more nuanced experience that takes ever so many more words to describe accurately. “Often” is useful, but less than satisfying when describing the experience of pain; I want the emphasis that is associated with “always”. So human.

…Being in pain is human, too. Way more people spend a lot of time in pain than people around them seem to recognize. Don’t be a dick to people; maybe they’re in pain. Maybe it would be more helpful to be kind, to listen deeply, and to refrain from taking people’s crossness or irritability at all personally? We are each having our own experience. 🙂

The new year (2020, in this case) is approaching quickly. Just days away, now. I’m eager to embrace a quiet holiday, filled with meditation, and forward-looking thoughts. A refresh of the budget seems in order. A new “map” of the future, too, perhaps? An update to my “life in weeks” chart, also; it’s been an eventful year. Perspective on it is worthwhile. It’s time to contemplate what to keep – and what to cast aside. Time to consider what matters most, and commit to the effort to bring more of that into my life, and to the effort to stay focused and purposeful, over time.

What about you? What matters most? Where are you headed in life? What will you choose to do about any of that? (So many choices!!)

…It’s already time to begin again. 😉

 

I love this holiday season. I love giving gifts. Before I understood the challenges my TBI can sometimes present me, I regularly spent myself into negative numbers every year; I didn’t really care about that as much as I wanted to give, just a little more. Small gifts. Big gifts. Unexpected gifts. Handcrafted gifts. Funny thing… I didn’t at all recognize the importance (to me) of giving, at that time. I didn’t recognize the annual yearning to shop – in order to give. It’s fairly specific to gifts. I don’t consider myself charitable in a noteworthy way. I really really like giving a moment of delight to someone dear to me, most of all.

Tonight, I had a couple such moments, myself. I’m still smiling.

First, I arrived home to a rather large package on the stoop. Like… can’t get the door open large. Push it off the stoop to get the door open, because it’s both large and also too heavy to properly lift with ease, large. Large. It’s not for me. It’s for someone else. I laughed and laughed as I struggled with it in the blustery cold autumn evening. I don’t know why it tickled me so much that the physical size of the packaging was so much larger than I expected it to be. Expectations. Man. Damn. Avoid those if you can. lol They can be so misleading.

Then, I remembered to grab the mail on the way in. So much to do this evening… I almost forgot to check the mail. There was just one large-ish plain white envelope in the mailbox. I opened absent-mindedly as I returned to the house, thinking it to be something from the VA, or something of that sort. It turns out instead to be a sweet and wholly unexpected gift – even a tad exotic. I’m still smiling.

So, laundry, dishes, chores generally – and a smile in every direction. I’ll see my Traveling Partner this weekend, and celebrate holidays, birthdays, and friendships under a starring winter sky. The thought reminds me to add a couple things to the morning to do list. There are gifts for birthdays going with me, and I am too excited to give them (although they are wee and of no great consequence) to let myself forget them. 😀 I smile again, thinking of giving a friend a ride to the party. That verb. Give. 🙂 There’s a feeling to it.

The evening begins to wind down. Evenings seem more about finishing things, don’t they, and less about beginnings. I’m okay with that. Things end. It’s not an idea worth fighting. lol

I’m sitting here just smiling. I’ve been smiling since before I went to bed last night. Life doesn’t feel like this every day, and I’m enjoying the moment. I feel “lit up from within”.

Moments that feel rich and warm and well-crafted of the stuff of daydreams aren’t an everyday thing. That used to be a problem for me; I was chasing the Happily Ever After of childhood fairy tales. No map. Happy not being the thing I think I thought it was. Slow going – and I wasn’t getting there. Sitting here this morning, smiling, sipping my coffee – I am happy. This is nice.

what

What makes you glow?

I got home after work, my Traveling Partner and a friend had arrived ahead of me, and they were next door enjoying the company of our friends there. Some visiting, then it was just the two of us, at my place, relaxing and talking and connecting – intimacy, contentment, that contented longing of lovers who want each other even after years together, and… Giftmas. 😀 I do love the holidays. “Your place is festive”, he had observed. It is. The conversation got around to holiday baking, at some point, and he made a funny face at me, when he notices the store-bought cookie dough in the fridge waiting its turn. He knows I bake. What the hell, right? 😀 No mixer. I am so not up to creaming endless pounds of butter and sugar together by hand! The conversation moves on. At some point I notice he is distracted on his phone, and he notices me noticing; the secret is revealed. He is holiday shopping. It’s Giftmas time!! He teases me with revealing the surprise, then admits he plans to have it to me right away; he is replacing my Kitchenaid mixer. It’s an unexpected delight, and an emotional moment for me; hundreds of times I have not chosen to replace it – and I can’t rationally explain why. The money? They’re not cheap… but it wasn’t that.  I make a puzzled face and let the wondering go for some other day. He saw my happy tears, he understands that as silly as it is, sometimes things also have meaning beyond what they are.

Saturday I’ll have a mixer… I can make my grandmothers’ cookie recipes, or my Traveling Partner’s mother’s, or my Dad’s, or my own. I can make fruitcake. I can make macarons – or at least learn how. It’s a mixer, just a kitchen appliance in most practical regards – a very useful tool. This morning, and last night, it also amounts to a moment of genuine happiness, not about a mixer (or I’d have replaced it myself), but more about a moment of healing, of love, and of being understood and cared for. This morning I feel wrapped in love. I think it is moments like this one that leave us so often feeling like materials things matter… because I could easily confuse these feelings for being to do with the mixer itself, rather than the circumstances of life, and loss, that were tangled up with the old one it replaces. It’s the moment that is the source of great joy, and the moment is less tangible, and less easily discussed, than the mixer itself… which isn’t even here yet. 🙂

…He chose one that matches my other appliances. I smile.

…He thought to make sure it reached me in time for some holiday baking. I smile.

…He recognized the lingering sense of conflict and loss over giving up the old one. I smile.

…I am well-loved, and am fortunate to be able to love in return, and this moment, here, is quite precious. I smile.

Love matters most.

Love matters most.

This too shall pass. Still smiling I allow myself the awareness that such a powerful deep moment of joy not only won’t last, it isn’t meant to; without the ups and downs, and the complicated complexity of all of it, how would I experience this as a moment of joy? Also knowing suffering provides the comparison needed to recognize it. Without the hurting over the loss of the old mixer, and the complicated baggage around its meaning in my experience (a wedding gift from my violent troubled first marriage, that I carted around for decades of baking – a lifetime, really – the value of the tool out-weighing the painful memories that surfaced every time I used it), I would not experience this new one as a moment of joy at all… it would just be a mixer. 🙂

Today is a good day for a moment, awake, aware, and willing to embrace the whole of my experience to be also able to experience this particular moment, here. Now.

First, I’m going to start calling ‘Christmas’ Giftmas instead – not out of any disrespect, and certainly I won’t be correcting people who wish me well for Christmas (that’s just rude), but having long shortened ‘Christmas’ to ‘Xmas’ in a somewhat unsatisfying display of ‘I’m not actually a christian but I enjoy this holiday, which isn’t really christian but much older, and can’t we all just get along??’ – I’m just calling it as I enjoy it most: Giftmas. It is the season of giving, after all. 🙂

So excited! :-D

So excited! 😀

Wanting, needing, yearning, craving, lusting, desiring – all feelings that push and pull at my very human heart, piling up and shouting for my attention as a gifting holiday approaches…only… That’s been changing. It started changing when I re-discovered the ‘true meaning of Giftmas’ some years ago, in the arms and smile of my traveling partner, on a year when it seemed there ‘wouldn’t be any Christmas’ because we just didn’t have the resources to pull that off so soon after break ups, and moving somewhat unexpectedly, and into a place that was every bit of twice as expensive.

The magical Giftmas that almost wasn't.

The magical Giftmas that almost wasn’t.

The holiday magic my love delivered to me that year blew away the slow-building disengagement and cynicism that had begun to erode my holiday joy over the years. I’ve never forgotten. As I have continued to improve my relationship with the woman in the mirror, and to tread a more mindful and compassionate path, my relationship with ‘Giftmas’ has changed, too. Even the language I use to discuss the holiday, the foundation of my joy and enthusiasm, and the things I am most eager to see, experience, and do, have changed rather a lot over the last 4 years of holiday celebration. I mean…seriously. “Giftmas” is just one of many small changes.

The household I recently moved out of didn’t put the same value and appreciation on the winter holiday season that I do myself, one housemate even simply not finding life worthy of celebration, and last year I found myself almost secretively setting up the entire holiday experience up in the loft, out of view of ‘non participants’ in a peculiarly furtive, somewhat self-protective way. This year, there are no such concerns, and no need to hold anything back out of concern for overwhelming the uninvolved. lol It’s not that simple, though; I have also changed, myself.

Holiday lights welcome me home each evening.

Holiday lights welcome me home each evening.

I used to be able to assemble a lengthy Giftmas list with dozens of items in all possible price-points quite quickly – things I really really really (really?) wanted, yearned for, lusted after, or craved, without regard to how realistic or practical. My eagerness to receive gifts was a prominent part of my holiday well-past childhood. It’s not that big a deal now, and I struggle to list things that I want; I don’t want for much, and my place is small. Most of my most eager yearnings are for connection, for contact, for experiences out in the world, for moments, for emotions… that’s a tough list to shop from. I am eager to give, these days. For me, this is generally less about giving on a global scale; charity and compassion for the world can’t wait for one day a year. Giftmas is a lovely occasion to pause the routines of life and really think about those dear to me, and seek some small thing I could give them, and see their delight, their fondness, their joy reflected back to me in their smile, because they feel cared for, appreciated, valued, and visible. I am eager for the gift-giving part of Giftmas this year. It’s a lovely place to be with myself, and far easier to satisfy than the lustful cravings to receive more retail offerings, myself, like some petulant child-god pacified only by trinkets and cash.

Moments of encouragement or unexpected joy are some of life's most beautiful ornaments.

Moments of encouragement or unexpected joy are some of life’s most beautiful ornaments.

I love this holiday, and I’m excited to sit beneath the Giftmas tree awed by the wrappings, bows, and twinkle lights, pulling one package after another loose from the wee stack of them, handing one to my traveling partner, and watching his face, and taking time to enjoy his experience, and to really share these precious moments. Awake. Aware. Mindful. This is going to be a wonder-filled holiday…however many or few the gifts beneath the tree; the best gifts this year are intangible. The best gifts are moments.