Christmas holds a sacred magic.  It is the celebration of our Savior and a celebration of the best within ourselves and our families.  It is a dream come to life, a holy moment to treasure full of promise and heart.

Nostalgia is part of it…that feeling a child holds when dreaming.  It is hope and wonder, excitement and light.  It is seeing the sparkle of tree and star, that light blinking in the sky that could be a reindeer’s nose.  It is hugs and hot chocolate, whispers and giggles,  the reverent silence of mass followed by boisterous caroling.  I am no child. The magic I remember so vividly lives on inside a secret part of myself, given reign this day.

I remember way back, my dad carefully placing tinsel, my mom collecting greenery. Fancy clothes and fancier hors-d’oeuvres,  noisy parties and quiet times, logs crackling in our hearth. Songs, old and new drifting through the air while cinnamon, clove and pine teased my senses. Catching the first flakes of winter on my tongue, the sled propped in the corner by the tree reflecting the colored lights, merrily blinking welcome.

Opening my eyes and holding my breath while creeping out to the living area…had he come?  The pipe on the table, a crinkled napkin and mysterious bootprints on the rug . Waking my parents, sharing my joy with my brother and sister, endless laughs in footed pajamas.

There was no thought of responsibilities or work, sad times or hardship.  We simply reveled in the moment, the joy of Christmas morning.  We loved each other. It was freedom of spirit, purity of family celebration. It was all.

I loved every minute of creating holiday moments for my children. I love choosing gifts, decking the halls, adding elements of surprise… Seeing their joy deepens my own.  Time is merciless.  It keeps on moving. Life has so many moments fraught with tension.  During this season, I refuse to allow it. The boys are grown men now.  Still, the magic stays.

I bake and decorate, shop and plan and get excited for our sacred morning.  The world waits outside our picture window, and we turn away from it. We turn to our manger, praying to our Lord in gratitude.  We leave the cell phones behind.  We take our time and tease one another, sharing presents thoughtfully chosen. We have no thoughts but for each other. Time stops. We simply love.

It is magic.  The child, the woman, the maiden, mother and crone…all aspects of myself are humbled by my family’s love.  Christmas is as special to me as it was when I was four, deeper now as my understanding of the world and my love for my family has grown. I still revel in the lights, the colors, the hugs and the laughter. I know that each member of my family is my gift and that this shared time is beyond price.  It illuminates my soul.

It  is a celebration of all that is holy.  It is Christmas.  It is sacred.



Chivalry at Risk

2016 is full of shouting and protest.  Everyone is angry, busy being righteous.  Social progress is arguably being made, but at what cost?  We are forgetting our greatest strengths, kindness chief amongst them.  In our rush to be forward thinking we are sacrificing elegant concepts of the past.

I have feminist friends who aggressively promote the ideology of sameness. Rubbish! I don’t want to be the same as a man.  I enjoy being treated like a lady.  Please, go ahead and open a door for me.  Allow me to enter a space before you.  Carry something that is heavy to ease my way. Defend me and shelter me from harm.  In return I will respect your strength and feel cherished.

Could I have opened the door myself?  Of course I could!  But where is the fun in that? Every time my mate chooses to honor me with a traditional gesture I choose to feel honored.  He is not stomping on my independence or individuality.  He is telling me that he loves me.

No one wants to be mated with an insensitive clod. We all want to see the softer side and get to the inner hearts of our men.  But any woman who tells you she is immune to masculine strength is lying to you. Watch television or pick up a book. What do our most revered male icons share?  Our protagonists throughout history have been primarily Alpha males.  Manly men should be appreciated, not mocked or beaten down for masculine impulse or expression.

I am not suggesting that we worship muscle, although a good physique can surely be appreciated.  Mental strength, solid decision making, strong moral character are all desirable traits.  Leadership abilities, construction and mechanical abilities, philosophy and poetic bents can all be part of the ideal male.  Outdoorsman or city slicker, a sense of humor and a surprising ability to dance-whatever floats your boat, underneath it all I want a man who remains essentially and unapologetically male.

Women are not the weaker sex. But we are a different sex, with different strengths.  Yes, same wages for same job is logical.  Berating someone for being a man is not.  I taught my sons to respect women, and also to respect themselves.  Their spouses are appreciative, for their men are kind individuals unafraid to give their hearts. They are truthful to their mates, unafraid to say what they feel or follow the instincts they understand to be right. They have manners. They have strength of character. They treat their ladies as they someday wish their own daughters be treated. They share traditional values, for which they face rebuke.

Shame seems to be the newest mantra.  You are not keeping up with new ways and instead embrace the old.  Shame on you.  Hang your head. I for one will not. Nor will I expect the manly men I love to apologize or will I fight them off when they offer me traditional gestures. I am not outraged by their thoughtfulness. I am honored. I want my husband to be a man, not some watered down neutral-gendered pet.  Is that offensive?  Yes, to many . That is okay. I have listened to my friends politically correct sensitive ramblings, many of which seem to put men a step below women. I find that offensive as well as breathtakingly arrogant.

I choose to cook for my family, which many say currently qualifies me as hopeless.  Could the men feed themselves?  Of course!  It is my choice to prepare food as a gesture of my affection for them.  Every relationship is a give and take situation.  The appreciation I receive for the food I prepare is ample reward. I choose the traditional for myself because it works in my relationship. Why is that wrong?

True feminism should be about choice.  Don’t want to cook?  Don’t.  Please stop ranting at my choices.  Respect my rights. Stop shaming men for traditional values. There are multitudes of women who prefer the Alpha male.  You can go ahead and scorn the muscle, or publicly pretend to. It is the weird dichotomy of our time. Fitness magazines and gyms promote physical strength while our outward speech and social expectations ask men to be apologetic for displaying might.

Ironically some of the most diehard feminists I know giggle in the dark at six foot tall built guys, laughingly wishing they could be so lucky. How un-politically correct of them.  These are the same girls who are just so offended by the objectification of women, yet stop in the mirror to see if their hemlines are high enough for a wild night at the club.   Whose notice exactly are they trying to attract? It couldn’t be a manly male, could it?

Biological urges are rooted in biology.  Men throughout history have been hunters, providers, defenders.  Now we ask them to step down, hold back, shelter the weak, embrace the soft, and in essence deny basic tenets of maleness.  You know who this hurts? All of us.

I love a knight in shining armor.  Not because I need to be rescued but because my heart thrills at the idea of being the knight’s conquest. Silly perhaps but ultimately truthful. I have the heart of a warrior and in no way see this perspective as weakness.  Instead it is completion. Queens have oft ruled kingdoms, but the idea of a manly king to match her resonates in my soul. It is not right or wrong.  Call it an appreciation of history, a nod to biology or feminine whim.  I want a man to treat me as a woman.  We are not the same and therein is where our greatness lies.

Yet we are systematically killing off chivalry. Why? It is in essence a form of kindness, a gesture of respect. To what end?   Please, stop your screeching and consider what it is that you are tossing away.

Women decry that it is difficult to find a truly nice man with whom to share their life. Women need to take part responsibility for that circumstance. Perhaps we need to show men more respect. Perhaps if men were encouraged and appreciated, taught to behave as gentlemen, and were free to be themselves without constant fear of reprimand things would be different.  Perhaps if men were expected to act as men, and women as ladies, the results would surprise us all.


Sorting Through a Life

My kids say that once I die they are going to want to kill me.  I have a lot of stuff. They are NOT looking forward to sorting through it.  Hey I get it.  I had to clear my grandma’s, each of my parents and an uncle’s home.  It can be perplexing and tedious. It can feel like a strange unlooked for responsibility.  It can also be joyful.

Nothing is as personal as your private things.  If you are left in the position of sorting out someones belongings, you are privileged.  It is your honor to handle their memories and to decide how to preserve the meaningful while disposing of the unnecessary.  Being the sorter means you were loved and trusted , privy to the innermost circle of someone’s life.

Yes, you will be frustrated at the amount of paperwork perhaps, and face the quandary of where everything will go.  But you will also stop and cry, laugh and remember.  You will rejoice at having had this person touch your life, and sorrow at things left unsaid and the finality of the moment.  In your sentimentality you will probably hold on to more than you should.  It is always hard to let go.

I look around my bedroom and see a strange assortment of objects.  Antique clocks that were my ancestors, a collection of medieval figures, a garden gnome that made me laugh, the books that brought me joy, an angel that my mom chose for me…am I sounding like a packrat?  Perhaps a little, but I keep these things because they make me smile.  They are the happiness of being loved and sharing moments with family and friends.  Because I run a theater business I will leave behind interesting props and more scripts than anyone could need. I will leave cards and notes and photographs. I will leave flashes of my passions.

I surround myself with the things I love. I hope my sorters do the same.  They will not love or appreciate the same memories I did. That is perfectly okay.  I do not want them holding on to unnecessary junk they will never look at again but keep because they feel guilty. I shudder at the thought of a shrine.  Objects are not important, except perhaps as a representation of the time you shared together.  My sorters should feel free to throw away whatever they wish. I truly have no expectations.   I am no longer part of this world.

They are.  I wish them to keep anything that brings them joy or a laughing memory of the time we shared.  Maybe they will each only keep one thing and dispose of the rest.  As long as it is a thing that is meaningful I have managed to leave them with one last gift. Though I can no longer be physically present I have shared a moment of intimacy with them, a final “I love you.”

Unfortunately for my kids they WILL someday have to sort through my stuff.  I will try to be kind and keep organized. There will still be piles they aren’t going to know what to do with, mutters of “why on earth did she keep this” and “oh, mom”s floating around.  I also hope there will be smiles and moments of the life we shared together, and that they stop their busy lives just for a moment to feel my echo in their heart.  This is one last thing they can do for me and I ask it of them with all the love in my heart.