I love the season. I love the smell of pine. I love flower arranging with pine. I love using pine accents in gift wrapping. I love the warmth and the glow of indoor fires. I love decorating the Christmas tree. I love the nostalgia the season brings.
The things I don’t like, are the expectations that come with Christmas. I had none when I was little. Mom and Dad always saw to it that our home was festive, and bountiful. As I have grown, I realized that the positivity from youth was pretty much always guaranteed. Now? It is up to us as parents to provide. This also leaves a little too much room for expectations. No matter how I see it, think about or deal with it, the season has an instilled this stress in my mind at least. Not sure about yours .But I find it therapeutic to actually admit it.
I think this state of expectations comes from my youth…. I try very hard now, not to think in those terms. It brings me back to Christmas in the 50s. Santa Claus, leaving sandwiches, milk and cookies for him and his reindeer. I never questioned how they all fit down the chimney. It just was. and then one night back when I was, maybe 7, I heard sleigh bells on the roof. I knew it was Santa. I just knew it !
Santa had arrived and he was accompanied by Rudolph. I just was so ecstatic having heard the bells, and knew that St. Nick had just arrived… ! I woke the following Christmas morning with a little guilt, and lots of glee. I heard him! I heard all of them ! I was afraid to tell my parents of my discovery from the evening before, for fear that there might not be anything under the tree.. I felt I had done something wrong.. like spying…
But later that morning I did share it, I could not keep it in. I was so excited. I was absolutely positive that I heard what I heard and convinced them that St. Nick was there. I knew it. The cookies were gone, the presents under the tree. With a brother and a sister, the piles of presents, toys etc was beyond what I could have ever anticipated. It was massive. From this point on, expectations grew. Little did we know then that Christmas was all about the celebration of Baby Jesus. No, not to a kid, it was all about “How much loot we got”. See ? The beginning of the problem. Expectations. Naturally, in this era, everything was Made In Japan. Cheap Cheap Cheap. Now? Made in China. Little did I know that in my years to come as an adult, Japan would be the country that plays into my life. My husband, being Japanese, the beauty and the Zen in life as we created businesses based on this gorgeous, contrary country. Creating a child also, half Japanese and half Italian/American. This is what the country signifies to me now. Meanwhile, Christmas is all about acknowledgment, celebration of life, your religion and warm times with family and friends.
Quite the trip there, speaking of the holiday, the holiday now and in my youth, Japan, what it meant to us then and what it means to me now. Tradition. Gotta love it. This is the time when we must realize how much we take for granted. I am here to tell you to try NOT to do this. We have to remember to remind ourselves of this. It is a task. An important one. Being grateful at this time of year, and always is the mission in my this after Christmas post. I will tell you why.
On December 23 rd, at 6:00 am; pitch black outdoors. Except ?What I thought was the sun coming up, until realizing the direction that had my attention was the North. Not exactly where the sun creeps into day. I looked again, next thing I knew, what I thought was the sun was in fact a fire blazing in the very close distance. I was awe struck. I honestly thought I was hallucinating. I could feel the heat penetrating towards me as I ran out of my kitchen door. Certainly not enough clothing on to protect my body from the ice cold weather. I moved briskly toward the edge of my property. Bird’s eye view. Camera in hand, as I began to shoot and shoot and shoot. The fireman where on the other side of the building,they arrived within 4 minutes of the call, with sirens everywhere. Police, fire trucks; complete pandemonium. All next to my back yard.
The Gifford School was going up in flames right before my eyes. I felt helpless, and numb.
The flames were growing with a rapid pace and what seemed like 30 minutes gone by until I finally saw a sign of a hose, water, what have you. The fire had escaped anything trying to counter act the intensity. I watched the building deteriorate with fire right in front of me. Right before my eyes. All I could do in this state of astonishment was to photo journal this horrendous event.
I was outdoors in the freezing cold for about an hour and a half. The snow was melting off the trees near by, needless to say. I later learned that it took the firemen and countless emergency staff over 5 hours to control the fire.
It was time for me to move along and get ready for work. I was in an odd state all day. So much so that I wound up taking a bath at 5:PM to decompress. The impact it had on my Psyche was beyond my wildest dreams. I was worn out. I was drained, not to mention a bit melancholy. Had the wind shifted direction, my house and the neighboring homes could have been included in this god awful disaster. They were not.
I can not imagine how the families of all of the kids must feel as a result of them loosing what appears to be at least one third of this amazing school, which is dedicated to children of acute special needs.
In speaking with the director, in person yesterday, tears were in our eyes. I stopped by to acknowledge him for this tremendous loss. I offered him some photos which I will share with him. He has been with the Gifford School for about 25 years. He was devastated. The sequence of events leading up to this blog, has instilled in me how fortunate we are. It also reminds me to acknowledge everyone in my life daily. Life is precious. We operate most of the time in a manner of taking things .. too many things for granted. For me this event made me realize how fragile life, our homes and even our love can be.
Just take the time , now as the holidays hopefully slow us down just a bit to breathe, and receive all of what life has to offer. Do it now, before it is too late. Just be aware. Walk with purpose, and appreciate everyone you come in contact with. Say hello, or smile at a stranger.. It can only churn great karma. I promise.
This is my story. I thank those of you who took the time to read it. I welcome any response, and hope you all have a happy, healthy and life enriching New Year !