Sunday, December 19, 2010

Christmas Quotes

A gift of quotes

This is my last post until January 10, 2011. I wish you a wonderful Holiday Season filled with happy memories like:
  • Watching the twinkling eyes of a child on Christmas morning;
  • Getting a big bear hug from a loved one;
  • Smacking you lips with delight after savouring your favourite dish - your sister's tourtière, you friend's latkes or your colleague's homemade chocolate truffles;
  • Receiving a homemade gift
  • Enjoying the sensation of big fat snowflakes landing on your face;
  • Feeling a deep sense of gratitude as you acknowledge the abundance around you.
Peace and love be with you always.

I love to collect quotes. All kinds of quotes. Quotes can convey powerful wisdom in just a few little sentences. Words that pull at heart strings. Words that are springboards to new understanding. Words that feed the soul.

Here are some of my favourite quotes about Christmas:

Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful. ~Norman Vincent Peale

Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen. ~Author unknown, attributed to a 7-year-old named Bobby

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things - not the great occasions - give off the greatest glow of happiness. ~Bob Hope

It is good to be children sometimes, and never better than at Christmas when its mighty Founder was a child Himself. ~Charles Dickens

Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect. ~Oren Arnold

And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled 'till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more. ~Dr Seuss

>Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus!It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no child-like faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies!
~Francis P. Church
From the New York Sun, September 21, 1897.

Here is the integral letter to Virginia written by Francis P. Church for your reading pleasure.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A ring - a symbol of young love and a symbol of enduring love

My daughter was the first and only grand child in my in-laws family for the first four years of her life, until her little sister Maya was born. Needless to say, Nadia was the apple of everyone's eyes during those years. For her grandmother Luella, Nadia was even more special because Mom had four boys and she was thrilled to have a little girl in her life. A special bond developed instantly. That bond is even stronger now, eighteen years later.

Every Christmas, since Nadia has been seven years old, she and gramma spend an afternoon Christmas shopping together. Over the years, many traditions have evolved around this yearly event. For example, there is always a stop at the Cinnabon shop for a decadent cinnamon roll (that tradition is so ingrained that where they do their shopping is determined by whether or not that shopping centre has a Cinnabon store)! Nadia and gramma cap off their day of shopping by going out for supper at a restaurant. After the meal, they come back home and hide in Nadia's room to wrap all the gifts before maman sneaks a peek... (I have a bad reputation as someone who can't wait until Christmas to find out what she got, which I have overplayed over the years because the girls get such a kick out of it. One year, the girls rigged some of their "spy gear" around the Christmas gifts stash and an alarm would ring every time I would go near it. They laughed so hard thinking that they had outsmarted their mom. I would go near the stash on purpose so that they could "catch me in the act")

Last year was a sad year for all of us. Mom was battling cancer and having chemo treatments which left her weak and ill. For the first time in ten years, gramma could not go Christmas shopping with Nadia. So I took Nadia shopping for an afternoon and drove her over to gramma's house with her stash of newly bought presents, wrapping paper and of course, cinnamon buns from Cinnabon. I left Nadia with her gramma for a couple of hours of quality time for a modified annual Christmas tradition.

This year, mom is much healthier so the Christmas shopping extravaganza was back on. Nadia and gramma went shopping yesterday afternoon and came back home tired but happy with their purchases. Gramma remarks at how every year she notices how their conversations change. When Nadia was a little girl she talked about her friends at school and her favourite toys. This year, much of their conversation centered on Nadia's boyfriend and her love life. Nadia and her boyfriend will celebrate one year together this January. Nadia is in love and wanted to buy something extra special for her boyfriend this Christmas, a gold ring. Nadia and her gramma went from one jewellery shop to another until they found the best deal. Gramma will always be part of Nadia's story of "the day I got my boyfriend a ring". Nadia and her grandmother have a privileged relationship. How many young adults to do you know that would spend hours with their grandparent sharing their feelings, happy and sad, and bring them into their most intimate world?

A ring was also at the centre of a celebration last night. Instead of going out for supper at a restaurant like they usually do, I invited Nadia and gramma back to our house for a festive meal. Just to set the context, last October 8th, Mom and Dad celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. Mom did not want a big celebration and so the important milestone passed very quietly. Around that same time, I had noticed that Mom was not wearing her wedding ring and asked her about it. She said that the ring was broken and she had to put it away so that it would not get damaged any further. I asked her if I could have the ring repaired for her as a gift for their 50th wedding anniversary.

During supper last night we toasted Mom and Dad on their fifty years of married life and I gave her back the ring that a talented jeweller had brought back to its original beauty. She was touched. We were all touched when she slipped the ring back on her finger and told us the story of how she proposed to Dad. Dad's Alzheimer is slowly erasing his memories. He did not remember that story but his eyes still shone with love for his wife as she took us all down for a walk down memory lane.

Mom and Dad have collected over fifty years of memories together. Those stories will endure and still be told at family gatherings for many years to come. New stories are being created with the new generation. The Christmas shopping tradition has generated many happy memories for Nadia and gramma. And those stories will also be told. Time spent with loved ones and the memories they create is timeless...

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Island of Misfit Toys

As a child, one of my favourite Christmas animated movie was the 1964 version of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer

I have always had a soft spot for Rudolph. I guess I could relate to him. I too was "different" from the other kids. I had two strikes against me. I was overweight and I was a nerd. I tried to fit in. I really did. But tried as I might, I always was an outcast.

Like me, Rudolph was teased and even ridiculed. After a while Rudolph started to believe that he was not as good as the other reindeers. He stopped trying to fit in and decided to leave his birthplace in search of a place where he would really belong.

Along the way, Rudolph meets a Christmas elf named Hermey who, like Rudolph, is a misfit. Hermey is not well liked by other elves because he would rather be a dentist than a toymaker. They decide to travel together accompanied by a prospector named Yukon Cornelius. On their journey, they come upon the Island of the Misfit Toys, a dumping ground for all the toys that are unloved because they are not up to standards. Some of the Misfit Toys are a "Charlie-in-the-box" (rather than a Jack-in-the-box) a spotted elephant, a train with square wheels, a bird that doesn't fly (but swims), a cowboy who rides an ostrich and a boat that sinks.

On the Island of Misfit Toys, Rudolph's difference is the one thing that allows him to belong. Everyone on that island stands out from the crowd. They are unified by their differences.

It took a wise old soul; Santa Claus himself, to recognize that Rudolph's difference was actually a blessing. On a stormy Christmas Eve night, Rudolph's red nose led the way. In that instant Rudolph's difference became his best asset.

As a child, I longed for someone to appreciate my differences. I longed for a place where I could belong, like the Island of Misfit Toys. Eventually, I found that place but first, I had to accept my differences.

I think that we have all experienced a Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer moment in our lives. For some, the "moment" lasted longer than for others. Be proud of your differences, your own personal "Santa" is waiting to recognize you and celebrate your uniqueness.