Coastline Pilot/LA TIMES
16 December 2005
Chasing the Muse
Okay. It’s winter already! 44° in the morning? What part of the state is this? Big Bear? The low temperatures mean mittens on my morning walk, the threat of sweat pants, and the possible addition of ear muffs. I actually shouldn’t complain. My sister, Claudia, who lives in Idaho, suffers a low this evening of -6°. But of course, I don’t live in Idaho. I live in Laguna.
With winter comes – yes - the holiday season! Several family members and friends groused loudly this year, as banners were raised, gift racks filled and the press of Christmas merchandizing amped up before Halloween. I found the display repulsive, and rather than encourage a warm glowy feeling, I found myself farther removed from a holiday spirit.
Not that this has been caused solely by the commercialization of the season. Except for the kids, we opted out of present mania several years ago. Christmas seemed to have lost its origins and its true meaning. Merchandizing had taken over and even Santa was exhausted from the task.
When I was younger, setting out from my family’s home, all exchanged gifts had to be made by hand. Breads, cookies, cakes … a toy box or soap dish. A hand-made book. A story written down and read out-loud. A song created especially for the moment. What was valuable was the intimacy connected with the gift. These presents could not be measured by their cost.
Something happened in the midst of that magic. I married. My children were born. My fortunes changed, and suddenly I was frenzied to find the right gift - if not the right three, four, or five gifts for each person on my list. And what a list! Friends, family, co-workers. There were folks on that list I didn’t know, but dutifully, I found a present for each one.
Gee whiz. I know I sound something like a tightwad, but it’s not like that. I smother folks on their birthdays with cake for breakfast, presents, and cards all day long. I just can’t seem to figure out what Christmas, I mean the real actual meaning of Christmas, has to do with Nordstroms day-after-Thanksgiving sale. I am not one of the wise men and my co-harts are not new born kings.
This is not to say we don’t celebrate in my household. We do. We celebrate by sharing meals, time, and conversation. We celebrate by coming together with love and consideration - without the burden of gift giving. We exchange stories and pies. We create new memories and wander through old ones. We celebrate one another in all the glory that we can muster.
We share wishes and dreams, things we’d like to see manifest for ourselves, our extended families, and our world. Something akin to an expanded Santa’s list.
Here are some of the things I gift-wish for us all.
I wish for understanding of one man to another. It is easy to hold my own position as righteous and dismiss another’s point of view. Without walking his path, how can I know his reality?
I wish for compassion - the ability to open the heart beyond the borders of the intellect. To pry open the box of prejudice, spill its constricting contents, and see the beat of humanity squarely within each individual.
I wish for education for each and every child on the planet. History has shown that as our minds are challenged to grow and expand, mankind has benefited exponentially.
I wish for no child to go to sleep hungry. That seems such a tiny request in a world of overwhelming wealth and bounty.
I wish for no other species to become extinct at the hand of man. We arose together on this planet, interlinked for our common good, and while we may not see the threads that bind us, we do have a relationship, one to the other.
I wish for an expanded consciousness of each human’s role upon this round blue orb called Earth. Beyond the walls and framework of our houses and the structures in which we work and live, this tiny spinning chunk of mass truly is our home, and she needs our constant care.
I’d say I wish for peace, but I don’t really know what that means. Roadblocks to understanding one another and accepting differing ways of life leave me disillusioned. Instead, I’ll wish for the end to violence as an acceptable and justifiable means to an end.
Happiest Holidays to you and yours.
Catharine Cooper can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
HOME : BIO : CONTACT : 2008 : 2007 : 2006 : 2005 : 2004 : 2003 : 2002 : 2001