Christmas can be difficult for a lot of folks especially if you're on your own. I'm surrounded by family here in NL. But they don't have the same views and/or needs about this season as I do; so my ideal 'Norman Rockwell' Xmas is not going to happen. It took me two years here, but I'm finally realizing that I'm the only one responsible for my own happiness -- even at Christmas. So this year, I made a plan in the hopes of having a happier, healthier Christmas.
I let go of my expectations: expectations I'd placed on others and expectations I'd placed on myself. Without realizing I was doing it, I expected my family and friends to visit; I expected them to help with meal prep; I expected them to sit and chat and bond; I expected to receive from them as much as I'd given. But one of the biggest gifts that I've been learning to give myself for the last few years is to accept people as they are and give without expecting anything in return. Harder to do with family, I think, but so rewarding for all those involved.
The next thing I did was to make a list of what was most important to me about the Christmas season.
Spending time with family: It's up to me to make the trip, the phone call or the Skype conversation. Even if it doesn't happen, I want to let them know that they're important to me.
Christmas decor: What do I really want? And how much can I really do - both decorating and the dismantling of the decorations? I had to really think about my energy levels and remember my limitations.
Delicious food: I made a list of what foods I love to eat at Xmas -- both the store bought and the homemade. That list got culled a lot to reflect my finances and my energy level for cooking/baking. AND I had to remember that the food that I don't give as gifts may be mine alone to eat! So I choose my foods with that in mind as well.
Health: In spite of my 22 lb weight loss since last April, I KNOW I'm going to be eating and drinking things I wouldn't usually eat and drink. So, I'm expecting to gain a couple of pounds. And eating like that will affect how I feel physically. So, to counteract that dilemma, I'm going to make sure I get outside and walk or snowshoe. My stodge-filled body will NOT want to go outdoors; but if I want to eat, I have to get out there.
Something under the Tree: The first Xmas after the breakup of my marriage, there was nothing under the tree for me as my kids were still very young. I realized I was sad about that. So I became my own Santa! (I'll share more on how to economically do this.)
Peace: If I can follow what's on my list, then I shall have a peaceful Xmas season. But I'm also planning to make time just for myself with no phone or TV and trying to create zen moments and time with my God. This is probably the most important thing for me.
I'll expound further on these over the next week.
These ideas will not solve all the problems and sadness that can occur at Christmas. Nor will they help everyone have a joyous time. But perhaps they can spark some hope and enthusiasm in someone out there.
This meme came across my Facebook feed this weekend, and I thought "Yeah! This is exactly what I came to realize this Fall!"
I moved home 2 years ago and have experienced 2 miserable, sad Xmas seasons for me. I told myself that last year would be my last here in NL; but not having the finances to go elsewhere caused me to rethink things this Fall. And that's when the shoe dropped.
I now realize that my enjoyment of Xmas is up to me. Of course Xmas here in NL is not going to be like NS -- different location with different people, different traditions, etc etc. My failure to recreate Xmas MY way does not mean that I can't enjoy Xmas in NL. It just means being open to what the season has for me here in my new life AND my creating new traditions for myself.
So, I've been busy letting go of what was while I search for what's important to me and what I can create here. My stress level is way down, my spirits have been lifted and I'm actually really looking forward to Christmas again.
I know that for a lot of people, Christmas is extremely hard and no amount of trying to create a happy Xmas will make it happen. My heart goes out to those folks.
But for those of us who are alone and seeking for ways to participate in this season and find even a modicum of joy, I hope my ideas help. I'll share them over the next couple of weeks. And please feel free to share your thoughts on the same.
All last week it rained; then on Friday, gentle snow flakes fell -- just enough to cover everything -- and the temperatures were low enough to sustain the snow that had fallen. But Saturday morning when I drove home from the local market, the sun came out from behind a cloud and THIS is the scene that met me.
The vibrant orange of the deciduous trees against the snow-covered fir trees was brilliant and beautiful!
So, even before I ate lunch, I dressed and took myself out for a walk on the old rail line walking trail behind my house.
It was so lovely! Crisp and cold enough for a head covering and gloves but oh, so toasty warm while walking. The walk up that hill to get to the trail is a difficult one as the incline is so steep. But just a few steps onto the trail, and this is what greets you. As I stood there panting, inside my head I heard the beckoning cry of "Come wander down yon golden bower". So off I went.
As I walked, I listened to my IPod. I've been using my walking time to listen softly to whole albums rather than just favorite songs, and I've been finding some lovely tunes that I've overlooked in the past.
The whole walk takes me about 45 minutes most of which time I'm surrounded by trees and nature. The white snow and white/grey sky were the perfect backdrops for the remaining leaves and bushes. I passed no one on the trail but heard a dog bark, someone chopping wood and then smelled wood smoke from an outdoor fire ... someone burning brush. It was a magnificent day for a walk!
It rained Saturday evening. Then I woke to freezing rain early Sunday, and it rained for the remainder of all day. So, not only is any snow gone, but most of the leaves have fallen. (Winter comes early to Newfoundland.)
The world was harsher than usual this weekend. Or perhaps I feel it was harsher because I already feel raw and this latest cut is so close to home. But my heart aches for those of you in the U.S. and with the Jewish community. My heart aches.
I'll leave you with the Ahn Trio and this beautiful, plaintive music.
Ahn trio / Lullaby for My Favorite Insomniac / - Oblivion - YouTube
Well, unless you're living on another planet, you know that as of this past Wednesday, October 17th, cannabis is legal in Canada. I personally think that this is welcome news. I know it's wonderful for pain management, and I have many friends who have been using it for a number of years for everything from arthritis and fibromyalgia to skin cancer with fantastic results. I have no problem with people using it recreationally as well, but I'm super, super excited to see what medical research will uncover in the coming years.
I've been quite busy with my 88 yr old father for the past month. He's in really good health, but like all of us going through the aging process, he has great ideas but little stamina to follow through all the way. So, we've made pickled beets together, racked his wine, flipped his mattress and re-arranged the bedroom, and hung out and laughed. He's such a character with a wild past and lots of great stories to tell.
I had another 2 week long bout of 'hiraeth' for Nova Scotia; I viserally ache for my other home, for the familiarity of daily life there, and for the people and the things we'd do together. July past marked 2 years back here, and I'm pretty sure that I'll stay put here in Newfoundland: I'm getting better at seeing and acknowledging the blessings of being home as well as acceptance for 'la différence'. But the nostalgia and longing still hit me ..... and so I mourn.
The leaves are almost all yellow now; the temperatures are colder, and I saw a sprinkling of snow on cars this morning that drove into town from the mountain. Brrr! The flannels are on the bed, throws on the couch and I'm wearing socks and enclosed shoes. (Drat!!)
But ahhhhh! There's such freshness and crispness in the air that I don't mind the change at all. Ciao bellas! Happy Weekend!
Last Sunday morning, I took part in a "Wild Edible Plants" hike with our local environmental group. They did a hike in the spring, but of course, there's a different 'crop' in the woods now. And with Fall fast approaching here in Newfoundland, we only have another month before things will begin to die off quickly.
It was a beautiful morning and about a dozen people showed up. We began with a little show-and-tell lesson on the various wild plants that we can find anywhere in NL such as:
Plantain: The young leaves can be eaten raw, and the seeds can be dried and ground into meal or flour -- good to know for when the apocalypse comes [AND the only time I'd ever try this]. As well, you can chew the leaves and apply the spittle as a poultice that is good for burns or stings.
Also, apparently wherever you live and whatever pests, bugs and/or irritants you have around you, you will also find the remedy nearby in nature! There's a fine, hairy leaved thistle here in NL that burns and stings if you touch it; the pain can last all day and over the counter creams, etc do little to quell the pain. But growing next to this thistle is usually Plaintain; and this will immediately take away the burning and pain. Mother Nature provides all that we need!
Pearly Everlasting: This pretty little plant always reminded me of wild chamomile but when compared, I can easily see the difference. The young leaves and plant of Pearly Everlasting can be cooked and eaten.
Clover: This is a pretty versatile plant. The flowers themselves are very tasty; you can pull out the 'fronds' of the flower and add them to your salads. Any part of the above ground plant can be eaten raw. And the creeping roots and stems can be cooked. However, one site I check out says not to eat in the Fall as it contains more alkaloids and can cause bloating. (At my age, I'm well familiar with that problem!)
And this is Newfoundland's "Crackerberry" plant, otherwise known as a Bunchberry. It's rather tasteless and kind of spongy but harmless; we used to eat them all the time as children. I was pleased to find out that the berries contain a lot of pectin and can be dried, ground and added to jams and jellies to help them gel. The berries can also be lightly chewed and pressed over a burn as a poultice.
We discussed a few other plants and bushes. But for most of us, the real jewels of the day were the wild mushrooms.
This is a Coral Mushroom. White to soft yellow in color, these are pretty, frilly little things and are extremely fragile. So, it was suggested that they be added to a dish once the dish was cooked and just before serving.
And these are Chanterelles. (My Ex loved them but they didn't grow where we lived in NS so I never got to try them.) These are quite small and dainty looking, but Chanterelles can be much bigger. There are lots of recipes online for this much sought-after wild mushroom.
After the workshop, a few of us walked along the river trail until we met up with the Yogi Trail, about a 2 km hike. It was a warm, sunny day and a good opportunity for us to search for more edible plants.
I really enjoyed myself. But although I don't think I know enough to ever eat wild mushrooms, I loved the information about the healing properties of these plants.
You can bet that from now on, I'll be chewing and spitting as needed in my own back yard!