Wednesday, December 1, 2010

It's beginning to look even more like...

Feliz Navidad!
Christmas spruce up is going on around here, in a big way. Regardless of your spiritual persuasion, it would be difficult not to have a smile to see the painting (like the house that has painted the trees in their yard half way up in red and green, Christmas ornaments hanging from the boughs of a very un-fir like tree that shades the sidewalk) to the suddenly full of plants and creche side yard at Genesis.

Yesterday afternoon's walkabout took another direction, with no real destination in mind but higher ground. The sun was almost below the multi-leveled horizons of hill and sea, spilling crazy and beautiful light across miles and miles of land and water.

I saw more homes, freshly painted or in the middle of renovations. When I first came here, the neighborhood I walked through had mainly modest homes. Some very modest. Even those have been enlarged, some a little, some on a pretty grand scale. Others, newly built, are three story bakery cake-like structures, fluted columns, arches, gigantic windows.. I guess I've watched them being built, crews of family and friends among the hired workers, during weekends or all through the week, depending on one's budget. But suddenly it seems most have reached or almost reached completion and the changes are large. Houses perched in the edges of cliffs or down near the bottom of slopes, stairways up or down no small feat to conquer for every in and out. There will be some stronger legs on Culebra...

But photos of homes, usually, don't draw me much. I'd rather look to farther views, which are, of course, the very views these homes provide as well. The land and homes have a price. The views, however, can be had for a walk, a look, at no charge. Priceless indeed.

I was reading one of the few blogs I follow about pared down lifestyles and came across a letter from a woman who was practically sobbing on the page, about her family name drawing tradition at Christmas. She, unlike her siblings, earns much less than they, and usually has given homemade, lovely homemade, gifts in the past. She was informed that this year, these gifts were unwanted and presented with a list of offerings that would qualify as acceptable. What to do, what to do?

I was horrified, unable to imagine such crassness, especially from family members well able to afford their own unnecessary baubles. By the time I finished the comments section, however, I was beyond horrified - apparently this custom is rampant, as dozens of people responded to the same treatment they have received from their own families. Most of those, however, have opted out of the process, a painful way to go, but one they felt better for in the short and long run. Sad...really sad. And yet, I became even more thankful for my own family, my children and brother, who share and enjoy whatever tokens we give to each other (though we've gotten more into the habit of giving randomly, at any time all year, rather than on 'occasions' as the years go by).

Whatever your belief and decor bring you this season, candles lit for Chanukah, for Kwanza, or on a Christmas tree, or simply on your dinner table, celebrating nothing at all beside the gathering of family on a regular night, enjoy the heightened smiles, called out greetings, fairy lights and symbols of this season, far away from the madness and stress of malls and debt. Joy is free, joy spread and and given grows exponentially. Be a giver. Be a receiver. Dance to the music.


  1. The story of the gift exchange, while horrifying, isn't a surprise to me. Competitive potlatches are mandated in every Christmas ad one sees. A good friend of mine has mortgaged his life to award his kids with more and more stupendous treasures, cars, trips to Asia, on and on. His 20 year old daughter, tiring of her Pathfinder SUV, is getting a Lexus Crossover under the tree this year (this from Grandpa). I pity the man who marries her, unless he has a very large inheritance or income. After all, she recently declined a family trip to New Orleans, because the hotel they booked wasn't up to her 'standards'.

    As kids, we were always a paycheck away from bankruptcy. Odd jobs were how we bought our clothes and made Christmas happen. Now I know just how lucky we were.

  2. Uh...not that I'm into the whole material world thing, but do you think he'd adopt me for a week? I KNOW I could handle it with grace and humility. Really.

  3. That is despicable. My family gave up the "spirit of Christmas" several years ago, and now we only buy gifts for the young-uns. And there is a lot of spirit on Christmas in spite of the "lack" of gifts - family spirit, the joy of spending a few hours with all of us together, a wonderful meal, board games, etc. without all the keep-up-with-the-Jones' pressure of a commercial Christmas.

  4. As it should be, Debbie! May the tribe be added to! And I'll local!