Holidays That Last for Days

When you have an extended family, celebrating means day after day after day! But one good element of this pattern is being able to spend quality time with each family. I have also come to know that love is the tiny moments. Pat Schneider was a poet who had a profound impact on me. This is her poem, “Lessons”

Have good lessons this holiday season.

Pat Schneider

I have learned
that life goes on,
or doesn’t.
That days are measured out
in tiny increments
as a woman in a kitchen
measures teaspoons
of cinnamon, vanilla,
or half a cup of sugar
into a bowl.

I have learned
that moments are as precious as nutmeg,
and it has occurred to me
that busy interruptions
are like tiny grain moths,
or mice.
They nibble, pee, and poop,
or make their little worms and webs
until you have to throw out the good stuff
with the bad.

It took two deaths
and coming close myself
for me to learn
that there is not an infinite supply
of good things in the pantry.

A Re-thinking

Holidays bring memories, both good and bad, and create added stress to the already expectation-filled days. This year I’ve done a good job of relaxing through it. My goal was to write every day, take time to intentionally breathe/pause, and to release those expectations. It seems to be working.

My list:

  • Lighting candles at supper every night, even if it’s just a salad
  • Writing poetry every day (and not worrying about form, structure, or audience)
  • Taking a walk, even when it’s freezing (I do need to stop whining to David about it)
  • Sticking to my eating plan (no bread, reduced sugar, reduced alcohol, LOTS of fiber, no meat, and lots of water)
  • Thinking about what I’m grateful for (such a cliche, but it does work)
  • Journaling and exercising every morning

My writing has helped me come to terms with my relationship with my parents. In many ways they were loving, kind, and generous. The past few years, I found myself concentrating on how hard my childhood was– growing up as a “need to please” child, which in turn made me an insecure teen and adult. But writing has allowed me to realize the cycle of parenting. I’m sure my own children have their anger and frustration over my lack of consistent care giving, and I do wish I’d done many things differently. Yet, I am so proud of the men they have become and the fathers they are. What more could I ask?

So this was a recent bit of writing…and made me realize how much I miss special moments with my parents. Today I am grateful for my friend Donna, who shares her photos with me for writing inspiration. A window that I might literally look through, and a window that gives me a different emotional perspective. There are cracks and there is light. How beautiful.

What I Know

Mornings in my childhood home
come with a gift: orange and pink
brilliance sprays across the pond,
and fills the sky. The sun lifts, bounces
its rays off boats. Finally, yellow touches
the miracle blue and drifting white clouds.
I race to the dock to photograph
the horizon again, as I’ve done so often.
How many photos of mornings can one have?

There’s a first time for everything,
and a last.
A walk with him.
A hot cup of coffee on the porch with her.
A few words from a hospital bed.

Perhaps knowing of endings
tugs me out of bed when dawn
barely pokes through the window.