Wiley's Wisdom

Joy: From the Ground Up

The Special Times December 25, 2014

Christmas breakfast with quiche and a tray of chocolate treats. Time with family that includes at least one silly dancing moment to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.” Cozy movie time by candlelight with hot chocolate and lots of comfy blankets watching “The Polar Express” on Christmas night. There are certain things about the holiday that is Christmas that it wouldn’t seem the same without.

Tradition. From the ground up, I’ve observed it is something pretty important to my dear forever mom. When it came to embracing old traditions, today was no different. Each of the aforementioned things were a very important part of our admittedly busy holiday. It was a truly action-packed day from start to end, and these familiar things tied everything together in a way only tradition can do.

But something was different this year. Very different. This year there was a little person in our midst. A little person who has never before been party to these traditions. A little one who has never before experienced Christmas. And, perhaps most notably, a little person who probably didn’t care too much whether or not quiche and chocolate treats were in the picture this morning.

That is precisely whey I was a bit surprised to find some new traditions in the mix. In reality, I know dear baby Carter probably won’t remember anything about today. So to him it certainly didn’t matter that he was wearing what mom fondly referred to as his special Christmas pajamas. Or that he got his very own piece of Christmas morning quiche. Or that Santa made his first-ever visit to our house to deliver special goodies from the North Pole.

Today was painted with all kinds of new traditions that embraced the addition of Carter to the family fold this year. It was all a joy to witness, and I can’t wait to see it all again next year.Let Your Heart Be Light

But amid all the new, it was surprisingly refreshing to me when something familiar filled my doggie heart with Christmas joy. It happened on the way from one family Christmas party to another as I assumed my position as co-pilot in the front passenger seat of the car. Mom has taken to riding with Carter in the back seat lately, leaving me to her usual spot in the front. And though I miss pushing my way onto her lap in that same spot, it is pretty nice having that prominent and important spot to myself.

I was reveling in that feeling when it happened. Dad put his arm over and pet me as he drove, just as I remember him doing for each of the four Christmases I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of this family. In that moment and the moments that followed, the holiday was complete for me.

There are certain things this time of year that Christmas wouldn’t be the same without. For some, it’s in the memories of years past dancing around like ninnies to “All I Want for Christmas is You.” For others, it’s a certain dish or dishes that simply have to be a part of the day. For me, it’s what all of these things really are. Joy. From the ground up, that’s what Christmas means to me.

To see the special moment: https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=593626052727&l=8269833515318459806

 

Merry Little Christmas December 25, 2013

Tradition. It’s pretty important to especially my mom at this time of year. I’ve mentioned the traditions she’s put in place around wrapping Christmas presents and dancing like a ninny to Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas.” There’s also certain movies we all cuddle up to watch together at given times throughout the season. (Tonight’s feature is “The Polar Express”). But amongst all of these, I think Christmas morning is my favorite.Let Your Heart Be Light

The best part is how simple it is. Mom and dad exchange their gifts to each other, I get a new toy, and we sit together listening to Christmas music. They snack on a special kind of chocolate they buy only for Christmas, and I feast on whatever treat shared a bag with the new toy. It’s a joyful moment in our home that I sincerely look forward to each year.

So you can imagine my surprise when tears made an appearance during the tradition this morning. I’ve become fairly attuned to these as my nine-month pregnant forever mom’s emotions have been a little unsteady lately. But these were truly challenging to decipher whether they were tears of joy or sadness. Bittersweet is the word I guess people use to describe what she was feeling.

This was confirmed as, about halfway through Frank Sinatra’s rendition of “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas,” she explained to dad that she was reveling in this last special Christmas morning with just the two of them while at the same time looking forward to the changes next year will bring with the little person around.

This has always been a favorite Christmas song of mine. I have my reasons, not the least of which is found in the soul of the lyrics of this beloved song. It celebrates everything I hold dear about the holidays, like time with loved ones and how we will always be together in spirit if not in person. But there is one line in particular that stood out to me within the context of this bittersweet moment with my mom this morning. “Let your hearts be light.”

Her heart seemed to be anything but light. And yet it was. Just as mine is and will continue to be regardless of the season. The light of joy burns in my heart and that glow is one that nothing can burn out. I’m not sure Mr. Sinatra meant it this way, but that’s my take.

Who knows what will happen with all of these beloved traditions next year when we are no longer two people and a dog. But that’s okay. Because things change. Families grow. And, if anything, that light burns even brighter than before.

 

All I Want for Christmas December 11, 2013

It’s pretty ridiculous. I might even get in trouble with mom for sharing the details. But it brings me joy and, as I am in the business of sharing joy, I can no longer keep this particular holiday ritual a secret.

Every time Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You” comes on the radio is go time. It’s like a trigger for silliness. There is dancing (the kind that doesn’t particularly follow the beat) and galloping around the house. And joy. Lots of joy. It doesn’t matter where they are or who they are with, because it’s a family tradition. It’s as simple as that.All I Want

Apparently it started in my mom’s family a few years back when her dad was still alive. He had about as much rhythm as a broom but that didn’t stop him from joining in the fun. It’s my understanding he even took the lead every now and then.

It’s a memory that seems to bring about bittersweet emotions for my mom at least once during the holiday season. I know she misses him. He passed away suddenly in June 2009 and she never got to say goodbye. And now she grieves the loss in knowing our future little person will never know his grandpa.

The circle of life is funny that way – it finds ways to help us remember things we would sometimes rather push aside. And in this case grief is brought to life in joy, which is especially perplexing. But I suppose that makes sense because loss itself is a confusing thing. It isn’t easy regardless of how it happens. And everyone deals with it differently. But regardless of the circumstances, it evolves.

“Grief is in two parts,” suggested American writer Anne Roiphe. “The first is loss. The second is the remaking of life.”

The second is the remaking of life. I think that’s what happens every time that song comes on the radio. A little part of what was broken is mended. And we all are reminded to cherish the most important gift we have – each other. I’m with Mariah on this one. All I want for Christmas is my people. So I say bring on the silliness. Bring on the dancing and stomping and galloping around the house. Bring on the joy. Because sometimes there is no better way to grieve than to live.