The day after Christmas. Boxing Day in the UK. In some ways a day of accounting — billions upon billions of dollars spent. Maybe the bucks are a measure of Christmas spirit. Maybe not.
No, I’m not here to Scrooge up the holidays. I love them. I only bring it up because I think that, in general, we invest so deeply in this season because of that which it represents. It’s a time we are reminded of miracles of hope, joy, help, kindness, and love. And I think many of us look to some superpower or benevolent benefactor to bestow some great gifts of hope, peace, and love.
Having said that, I believe most of the expressions during this season are expressions of love. I do not judge that at all. I’m thinking of the many hurting people today, those who feel let down, deflated, and maybe even defeated. The bright, beautiful trees and lights and gifts are one day old memories for the most part. And we wish the Christmas or holiday spirit would last all year long.
But the rest of the year, it seems we lack the miracles, the uncommon, super-kind expressions we witness and hope for. We assign our fate to outside agencies, people. And here is my point this evening: We create the miracles. It is our energy, our desires to know, experience, and share love and peace that make this season what it is.
However, not many recognize the individual power and authority we have for ourselves. We can create personal miracles from making a conscious decision to accept our own piece of Spirit in us, our Heart. And by accept I mean to acknowledge that we have it, to engage it as our primary operating system for our mind, soul, and body, and to fellowship with our own heart daily.
Miracles, then, are possible. And we can get very specific with them if we discover our Heart and discover ways to use that eternal, divine Spirit within to create our dreams. I’m going to suggest one way here, although many variations exist.
The holidays impart a feeling, a sense, a zeitgeist of general blessing and goodness, but do you know you get to be specific with how you want to feel? You get to choose the emotions, and do so specifically. It’s great that you can add to or change them anytime you want. So, how would it feel if you want to know peace, focus, and self-confidence? You can create that for yourself!
Yes, if you have chosen Heart, you create your own Purpose. Visualize it, but do so without adding in all the design elements, because Spirit does that and our Heart mediates for Spirit for those things. What I’m saying is don’t insist on the exact job or business you want; just use your ideal vision to gain the emotion. The form will come through the orchestration of Spirit, but you will be the emotion and well-being creator for yourself.
Visualize the emotions you want to feel by stating them in the context you see. Allow the effects of those feelings to wash over you. Actually feel the emotions; by doing so, you make space for the emotions to come.
Then, lay out your day in whatever formal or informal way you do. When you choose the goals of the day or just start doing things, be sure and plan on and do the emotions, i.e., do things in a way that you can feel the way you want to feel. Stay self-aware of your emotions and you will stay focused on your goals and Spirit will work the physical forms to conform to your emotions.
Because of this, the visualization of your actual physical ideal may change. For instance, you may end up with a Tesla instead of a Mercedes Benz. Oops! But that’s okay. If you say it doesn’t work or you are so focused on something like that specific brand or location or lover or anything else, you are allowing Ego to be functioning as the operating system. Ego insists on form, which is why so many people get what they want but still aren’t satisfied, still are left feeling empty. Even after opening all the presents and giving all the presents.
If we create our vision and live that vision based on how we wish to feel — based on Heart direction — we will create our own miracles all year through.
I love spending time with family on Christmas, and that happened this early evening.
Just a quick thought that echoes some of my articles this week. We get to choose what emotions we want to feel. We cannot control events, nor can we control the behaviors, words, or attitudes of others. However, if we want to feel a certain way, we get to choose that. We can set the emotion goals for each day, for each holiday, or for any especially challenging situation we may be facing.
We can set the picture, the sense of those emotions in our minds and souls, allow them and make a space for them, and receive the help and love of eternal Spirit in faith.
Allowing the emotions we wish to feel in part means not only creating the visualized mindset but also not doing things, negative things, that will preclude the emotions we wish. This is so crucial.
And I only mention it because during holiday times, I think many people do what they don’t really want to. We may say we want to enjoy the day and our loved ones, but the second we start criticizing, offering unsolicited advice, or being disgusted, we eliminate a big chunk of enjoyment. We create the conditions that negate our joy.
We can just refrain from that criticism and exercise love instead. That’s not naïveté, because I don’t think there is anything naive about knowing how we want to feel and choosing our personal behaviors that will allow that.
I hope you have chosen enjoyment and love on a day such as this. This season for many people of many faiths means joy, love, and peace. I hope you have had great big, heaping helpings of those today.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!
I hope whatever holiday you choose to celebrate this season, that you choose to frame your experiences into stories that will overflow with meaning and last a lifetime and beyond.
Tonight, I wish to share an earlier Christmas Eve story than my harness boot story. I was thirteen years old, and my sister, Shelly, was eleven. I have mentioned that my parents were alcoholics, and that definitely affected my sister and I in addition to my parents themselves. Sometimes, even from a relatively early age, I would take matters into my own hands to try and make things as normal as they could be.
The year I refer to stands out in my memory as one of those times. I may not have always shown it, but I always cared for my little sister and tried to protect her from the deleterious effects of the alcoholism. That Christmas Eve morning was one of those times.
When we got up, the snow had been falling hard overnight and continued to do so. It was magical, beautiful, and definitely Christmas-y. However, in classic fashion, we did not yet have a Christmas tree. It always seemed like life was out of sync for us — great Christmas snow and feel but no tree.
The news and weathermen kept referring to blizzard conditions. It was enough for my dad to make the definitive declaration that no tree would be possible. My mom knew we were upset and tried to explain why it would be like that. I was old enough to understand, and I was old enough to know the procrastination caused by drinking was the real reason, although there was no way in hell I could have explained it.
At the time I had a deep feeling of injustice, more for my sister than myself. However, I deserved a tree, too. I was angry, angry enough at the injustice to go outside, look around, feel how cold it was, and check the depth of the snow. I marched with hard, angry steps to the basement, dug out the sled, and tromped upstairs, banging the sled outside our door in the apartment stairwell.
“Shelly, if I pull you on the sled, will you go with me to get a tree?”
She was delighted, excited.
My mom was not. “Mikey, you can’t go out in this. That’s a long way to Ted Drewes tree lot. No, I won’t let you go.”
It may have been one of the first times where I was cognizant of being deliberately defiant. “I got the sled out, I’ll take care of Shelly, and I’m using my money to pay for the tree.” (I had worked for the apartment complex pulling weeds for a couple years by then, and I saved all of my money.)
I wouldn’t even acknowledge my mom. I guess in some ways at a subconscious level guilt was at play. I didn’t think about using it, but deep down my mom must have felt guilty. My dad was already back in bed.
I made sure Shelly and I were bundled up correctly. Out we went into the blizzard, and it was bad. I wasn’t big for my age, but I was an average thirteen year old size. The snow was past my knees as we passed through our huge schoolyard on the way to Ted Drewes. In three months of the year, they sold frozen custard treats, and at Christmastime they sold trees, great trees if you were willing to pay for them. We usually had one of those where a side has to be hidden in a corner. I wasn’t going to cheap out.
I still remember it very clearly, decades later. I had started out angry, but very quickly my sister and I were caught up in the magical beauty of the snowfall. We laughed as I pulled. I definitely had the sensation and mindset of being a pioneer, which added a real element of excitement.
Looking back, I don’t know if I had evaluated the situation as a normal, sane adult I would have ever done it — a three mile round trip pulling my sister on a sled.
Once at Ted Drewes, I don’t think the attendants really believed how far we had come in such weather. Beyond that, I don’t think that I had the money to actually pay for a tree, especially when I told them I wanted a seven foot tree with zero bare spots. No one else was buying trees. In fact, hardly any cars were on normally busy Grand Avenue in south St. Louis city.
When they saw me whip out my money, they were falling over themselves, exclaiming how brave I was. Another declared how sweet I was to pull my sister a mile and a half on a sled in that weather.
“Where is she going to ride on the way home?”
Oh, shit, I hadn’t even thought of that. An older gentlemen must have seen my perplexity, and he took over. He bound that tree as tight as could be done, and secured it crosswise to the front of the sled. It wasn’t budging.
Shelly and I were definitely in that pioneer mode, kind of like the Griswolds going for their tree in Christmas Vacation. On the way back, we stopped several times, and I helped people push a couple of cars away from the curb where they were stuck.
Basically, from the end of Scruggs schoolyard along the maybe six or so blocks to our apartment was a general downhill grade. I knew we would get home. Before then, even though I was excited, I wasn’t sure, and my sister had to pee. It was dicey. Should I dump the tree and just make a mad dash for home with Shelly on the sled?
In the end, it all worked out, and my sister and I were proud of our accomplishment. We had saved Christmas. I think my dad gave me like five bucks for the tree. He did not know how much I had actually spent, which was the better part of my twenty dollar bill. It didn’t matter, though.
In my mind, somewhere deep within, I had overcome an injustice. I had accomplished something significant in the real world. I cared for my sister, and we were closer because of our adventure.
And that was the first year I put the lights on the tree. It was magical for me. I thought it was perfect.
Now, although my parents’ addiction played into this and initiated my response, I chose then — why I don’t know except that my Heart was working through all that to help me — and I choose now to view, filter, and experience that time in love. Love and a sense of achievement, accomplishment, and satisfaction. Yes, love was primary, especially for my sister, and in a pity way for my parents.
We get to choose, you know, whether we use ego or Heart to run our minds and souls. We can use Heart to process not only the present but also the memories. We can use Heart to reflect and assign significance and value to life. And when we do that, we grow in positivity and love and gratitude.
This Christmas or any holiday you celebrate, please try it. You will only strengthen all of us who will benefit from the positive life energy of love.
Much peace and love this Christmas Eve!
As I related the Harness Boot Christmas Eve last night, I stopped with my little lake of molten, waxy shoe polish spreading across our kitchen table and the aftermath. I was laughing when I wrote it and still laughing today a few times. However, that Christmas Eve didn’t end there.
Oh, no, it did not. I mentioned two neighbor ladies who were coming over, sisters, both as old as my parents and neither had ever married — Joyce and Edna. We had known them very soon after we moved in — about ten years at this point — and they came over for a bit every Christmas Eve. Their visit actually had spurred the spreading of the decorative plastic tablecloth.
By the time the sisters arrived, my mom and dad had made a full recovery from the debacle I had created by melting the first plastic tablecloth. (As I said, I’m pretty sure those cloths came like three for a dollar, but they were the only types I ever saw on our table the three or four times a year we actually ate there.)
My parents’ had their own way of recovering from the numerous curve balls and knuckle balls life seemed to throw at them: they drank copiously. I didn’t like it, but I accepted it. Knowing they loved me and they were never mean to me made it easier to accept. This meant, though, that friends, people like the neighbor sisters that night, drank a fair amount, too.
With my mom and dad in good spirits, literally, I had cleaned up and made my appearance with my highly polished boots in all their splendor. I wasn’t flaunting them, though, because I didn’t relish any ridicule even if only to the sisters. Dad could be really witty, sarcastic, and droll, so I actually was relatively humble. After my parents greeted our guests, Dad was off and running with his wit and stories, keeping Mom and the ladies amused. There were some jokes about the bowl of mixed nuts — a special Christmas treat we always had — and guffaws about cracking nuts and picking the meat out.
The ladies were already too toasted to even crack the nuts, so I was asked to do the shelling and putting the picked meats on a clean paper plate. (We got thicker plates when guests came over.) My sister thought it was funny, but we were both biding our time till we could leave. I would be leaving for my girlfriend’s house and going to midnight mass with her family.
In the meantime, I sat cracking nuts with the little scissor-handled nut cracker. At least I had something to do. I don’t know what in the hell my sister was doing. But the adults kept drinking. Mom put out some cheese spread and crackers, and then, the big culinary offering of the night — the boiled shrimp my mom had made.
Oh, what a delightfully deadly odor that produces in two rooms. The total length of the living room and kitchen with a tiny dinette was a little less than thirty feet. At least no one could smell the shoe polish anymore!
Mom set the shrimp out on paper plates and put some extra ones out for each of them to have their own depository for the shells and tails. Now, the party was rolling, and my sister and I knew we wouldn’t be missed before long. Hell, if we didn’t leave, the sisters were getting so soused they may not even have remembered us.
In addition to the nose pollution, a noise pollution always attended such times in the tiny apartment. That night, as always, the television was on. Jimmy Stewart was well-whadda-know-about-that-ing all over It’s a Wonderful Life. In addition to those two super-sensory stimulators, breathing became questionable as the five adults smoked, filling the living room and kitchen into what may have been an EPA-classified toxic cloud when it mixed with the boiled shrimp steam bath.
At this point, I was surviving, but I noticed a small pile of nut and shrimp detritus building on the floor in front of one of the ladies; I’m not even sure which one it was anymore. I noticed my sister looking at it, and she saw me. We burst out laughing, for a moment. We knew better than to call attention to ourselves when we were both angling to leave.
At that moment, though, we noticed the most-inebriated sister gesticualting with almost comical chewing, smacking, and shifting of her jaws and mouth. Actually, it grossed out both my sister and I, but my mom asked her what was wrong.
Through slurred words, she kept chewing. However, since she was trying to speak at the same time, the crunching became very audible. “Oh, Ginny, theesh shimps are de…[crunch, crunch]..lish…[crunch, pick at teeth]…ush…” At this point she picked up the plate and spit stuff onto it. (So glad we were using the thicker paper plates so it didn’t fall on the floor.) “But they are really crunchy.”
Being subtle and trying to remain unnoticed no longer mattered. My sister and I laughed until we were crying, and I think she wet her pants a little, which she often did when she laughed hard. My mom said, “What? What’s so funny?”
My sister, through her tears of laughter, choked out, “She’s eating the shells and tails.” OMG. We took a breath and laughed even harder, then, slowly throttled it back, feeling a little guilty because the lady didn’t even know what she was doing. I don’t think she even knew we were laughing. We did stop, eventually, and tried to help clean up a little before we left. The ladies were friends and we really didn’t intend to make fun of her, but sometimes, situations just present themselves, especially to teenage minds.
Of course, Mom intervened and told her she had to peel the shrimp and not eat the tails.
In the midst of that sensory chaos and underlying sorrow at the alcoholism, my sister and I still could laugh, still could take what was there and know some fun and peace. We had to in order to know some calmness in the wake of our childhood, which as I said last night, did not include physical abuse, but it did have long-term effects on both of us.
This is one memory, though, we can still laugh about from that unsavory time.
And I would encourage anyone, whatever challenging situations they may face, to find that feeling, that emotion of a settled calmness. Sometimes, people just need to find a way to laugh, friends who are healthy for them, and an inner peace borne of love for self and others.
Our Heart bears us the goodness and help of the Spirit of all, and that is really the source of settled calmness, a faith that help awaits.
And laugh, oh, laugh and enjoy and giggle and share that with others.
On Tuesday, I stopped my story at the point I arrived home on Christmas Eve with my harness boots in the oversized boot box. At the age of 17, I felt as if I had spent a lot of money on myself at Christmas, but I hadn’t cheaped out on my family so I was okay.
My mom was excited for me, even though she did eventually ask how much they cost. My sister thought they were cool, too. She had bounced in when she heard Mom and me and a box lid dropping. Dad, though, didn’t budge from the living room — not yet, at least.
I put the boots on and stood two inches taller. Wow! I felt powerful with such beauty on my feet and my new stature. We laughed at how much taller I was now than Mom and my sister. Dad was still in the living room.
Much to my mom’s surprise, I pulled the boots off and set them on the chair next to me. “Why did you do that?” Mom asked.
“I want to show you how I make shoes look really good at the store. Mom, let me use your matches.”
“Mike, what are you going to do?” Her reticence to hand over the matches spoke the rest of her mind.
“Don’t worry. I do this all the time.” I took the matches from her, smiling with my superior knowledge.
Now, I moved one of my boots to the plastic holiday tablecloth, printed with resplendent poinsettia leaves, holly swags, and golden candles. Since two neighbor ladies were coming by, it was one of probably two times in the year when the table was not piled with just paper and junk. Except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and maybe my birthday, we never ate at the table. Fortunately, Mom hadn’t done any more than spread the cloth before I came in with the harness boots.
I twisted the little key on the can of the brown Kiwi tin of shoe wax. I picked up the matches. Mom’s voice was more insistent now. “Mikey, what are you doing?”
“I do this at least once a week. My manager does it, too.”
I took a short, forceful stroke with the match on the roughened bottom of the matchbook. We smelled the strong little scent of sulphur as I let the match burn a second before lowering it to the shoe polish.
The polish, just as in the store, gently ignited, and a small crater of molten wax slowly formed as I explained. “When the wax melts, we buff it into the leather and it really protects the boots and makes them shine way more.”
I was looking at Mom. Horror punctuated her whole affect as she screamed, “Mike!”
I quickly snapped my attention to her focus and saw a lake of fiery wax quickly disintegrating the flimsy, festive plastic tablecloth, revealing the formica table top underneath. Actually, it wasn’t too fiery but definitely spreading.
I sprung to action, ran to the sink about five feet away, cupped my hands under the running water and started throwing meaningless splashes onto the “conflagration.”
Dad appeared. He plunked the lid on the tin of wax, and my mom ripped the melting tablecloth off and stomped out the smoldering flame.
My mom looked at me. “Why in the hell would you do that?”
“It never did that at the store, Mom. I’m so sorry.”
Dad didn’t even look at me. In his almost monotone voice of disgust, he stated, “Dumbass. You don’t use new tins of polish at the store.”
Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. Even though the boots were unscathed, they wouldn’t be helping my stature any more that day.
My mom yelled a fair amount, but she and dad both were really laid back. Dad rarely yelled. My mom looked at me and started laughing. I have no idea what my expression must have been.
Dad touched the top of the tin can to make sure it wasn’t too hot. With the same tone as before — he had a wry sense of humor — he said, “You should have enough melted polish for your shoes.”
There was. They looked pretty damn good when I finished — scant redemption for destroying my mom’s special plastic Christmas tablecloth for entertaining. Fortunately, I think they came three to a pack, so Christmas Eve was back on.
One of my favorite Christmas memories. Enjoy the next few days, whatever religion or celebration you may choose to experience.
Far beyond that, celebrate relationships. Celebrate yourself, your truth, by being you and letting that wonderful Heart core out into the world. No shows, no desire to impress, no harness boots — just have fun.
Questions to consider:
How many times have you asked yourself or simply thought about the following questions?
Who am I, really?
What is my truth?
How do my actions reveal what I really feel and believe?
What would I do with my life if I could do anything?
What is my passion?
Why am I here?
How can I discover answers to any of these questions?
If you have considered any of these questions, I hope that my experiences and writing will give you some guidance. Please read my blog and comment and share your thoughts. I would love to hear from you!