It is a bit trite to talk about the holidays, family traditions, remembering all that is important and taking stock. Why do we do that only at certain times of the year? It seems almost maudlin to do that in March, for instance. Yet, we do find times throughout the year, using what almost seem like excuses. You know, it's New Year's now for the resolutions. It's Easter, let's make sure we say our blessings and appreciate those who have made a sacrifice for others. It's Memorial Day and we must honor those who have served. It's the Fourth of July.... Okay, you understand.
All of those dates and memories are important. They should not go away or in way be minimalized. But, I do take another position. I don't like being told when the "day" is special. So, I've started two relatively new habits. First, when I am thinking of someone, I contact that person--be it email, a note card, a quick voice mail. I often say nothing more than "I am thinking of you and wanted you to know." How else would anyone know he or she is on my mind? Okay, you'll be getting your email soon.
Second, and this is just a "private for me and no one else" kind of thing, I try and find something I have never seen before. As I drive to town I look, as much as is safe, into the woods around me, to the left, to the right--I play a game. What have I never seen before? I have driven the same route thousands of times- what now is different? It is surprising how many barns I never noticed. How many silly decorations people put on their houses. How many signals of connection my neighbors use to reach out, if only we take the time to "read" what the messages are.
An elderly neighbor, about a quarter of a mile from me, balances tiny tiny pumpkins on her fence posts- must be thirty of them. Who goes out and finds thirty baby pumpkins (think really tiny) and then lines them up on her fence rails? I'm not sure I have the dexterity to pull that off. Another neighbor (he) makes homemade maple syrup candy and leaves it out for anyone who wants a taste or two- they are even in the shape of a maple leaf. I have one lady who lives somewhere nearby (not really sure where) and she stops every day to give a good belly rub to my Golden Retrievers along with a dog treat. They sit patiently on the stoop and wait for her--every day. Then there is the man who reminds us to change the oil in our cars, the man who saves chicken bones for my soup, the fish store man who lets me know when he has what he knows I really want, and, and, and.
What does all this mean? On one hand it means there is a community of folks who look out for each other- a certain kindness that can't be created, rather just is. On another hand it means I have great characters living within inches of my house who might appear on my pages before they know it. Okay, kidding, sort of. But really, it means that we care for each other. Caring is something that doesn't come easily for many. I am now glancing at an incredible pointsetta plant my wood man brought me. It's taken me 10 years to get him used to giving me a hug. This grumpy guy with a heart of gold brought me some of that maple candy and we talked about his grandson who lost his leg in Iraq (and will be now jumping out of an airplane with his artificial leg in place). Yup, I got a hug. It's one of my gifts this year-- that hug.
I wish all of you many hugs and many insights. I know mine happen each day. I have so much to learn and to appreciate. Why though does it take the holidays to start this train of thought? Join me. Let us make this our daily adventure. May your lives be as rich and be as fun as you wish. And, if you want any of that maple candy- gosh, we have too much.