A Quiet Christmas

Santa On Skis, by LKW

 

At this moment, I am feeling somewhat melancholy, because tomorrow (Christmas Day), this house will be eerily quiet. Growing up in New Orleans, our house was the gathering place on holidays. Ordinarily, I did not (and still don’t) enjoy big gatherings and loud noise, but on Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas, I welcomed the sound of family and friends who came together, both to celebrate the holiday, and to gather with those that we loved, to eat, laugh, eat, play, eat, and to re-establish and acknowledge the bond between each of us and those gathered with us. So, l love loud and boisterous Christmas’.

Until 3-4 weeks ago, I envisioned the house taken over by my 9 g’children and their respective parents, Jared & Franziska Patricia Cola, Brea Cola Angelo & Koury Angelo, Brandi Michelle & David Wasdin. In a house with 8 children, under the age of 6, loud is an understatement.

But tonight, I know that neither Jared and his family, nor Brea and her family can join us tomorrow. Jared lives hours away and unfortunately, he is working almost every day, including Christmas. Brea and family are still in California because she became ill, a couple days before they were scheduled to leave for Texas and since, has been diagnosed with a severe case of the flu.

I have a vivid recollection of the first and only time that I got sick on a holiday, in my case it was an Easter Sunday. I clearly remember my older cousin carrying me home after I became sick–all over the church pew. In spite of being sick, I was mortified that I’d actually thrown up in Church. I wondered whether vomiting in Church was sacrilegious or something. Anyway, such thoughts quickly took a back seat, when I got home and my Mom told me how I would spend my day. First, I had to take off my church dress and get into pajamas. Next, I had to crawl into bed where I was to spend the rest of the day. It was a dreadful Easter, turkey, ham or fixings, and no candy or Easter egg hunts, but had to lie where I was able to watch my siblings and cousins running and playing while I could not join in the fun.

The flu. I don’t know, but it seems like the universe playing a cruel joke on you when you get sick on a major holiday, especially one which involves kids. It breaks my heart that Brea is so weak that I can’t even speak to her on the phone. (I am heartened that my AH-MAZING SIL, Koury, is skillfully caring for Brea, their two boys, Brooks and Jude Austin and the beautiful little “Belle.” He is an incredible husband and father!)

Even in their absence, I know that I am blessed because their absence is simply a matter of the unpredictable nature of life, and not because they have passed on, as I know is the case with many family and friends my age.

Moreover, I am grateful that my youngest, Brandi, and her family will be here for a while. Brandi and Dave have one daughter, eleven year old Daisy, who will represent all of cousins as we celebrate the day of Jesus’ birth. Ironically, at her age she is not one of the noise-makers. In fact, she is at the age where she does everything that she can to separate herself from them. It is amusing to watch.

If you’ve read the book, “The Five Love Languages,” you get it when I say that my love language is gifts, both gift giving and receiving, so Christmas has always been my favorite holiday. (If you haven’t read the book, you can check it out here. By reading it, you are guaranteed to learn something about yourself, as well as to better understand how others show their love. It will aid you in determining and understanding how we show our love to another. The book will undoubtedly provide a number of aha moments, while ultimately helping you to improve your relationships. Understanding one another is the first and most important step to improve any relationship.  So, I am wistful everytime I pass the huge pile of gifts under the tree. I feel a hole created by my absent loves, but in my mind’s eye, I see the parents (my children and their significant others) as they strain to catch the children’s faces as they obliterate the wrapping paper to reach the prize within. I also can see my own children’s faces, as I remember the joy that I felt as I watched their young faces. They were excitement personified as they tore into their Christmas gifts, and realized that they’d gotten everything that they wanted. I can’t help but smile, as I thank God for the greatest gifts that I’ve both given and received: Jared, Brea and Brandi. They are my gifts to the world.

I believe that everything happens for a reason, and though she has the flu, I pray that Brea makes a speedy recovery. I also pray for Jared and welcome the day when he does not have to work so hard, and can utilize all of his  considerable knowledge and skills.  The thing is that as saddened as I may feel, I know that I am blessed because, God willing, next year, we will all gather together at this time of year, with a deeper sense of gratitude for the time that we spend together as a family.

Meanwhile, Christmas day will bring me more than 5 minutes to meditate on the birth that changed my life and makes me who I am. I suppose that answers the question of why all of this happened and that is quite a reason. And then, there are all those Christmas cards that I have yet to write…

I must confess to one thing. Given the small number of us who will gather together on this Christmas Day, I decided to forego the turkey and all, in favor of red beans and rice (After all, it is a Monday.), and crawfish etoufee. There are no complaints.

I wish you, your family, and friends a safe and Merry Christmas and a New Year filled with good health, joy  Continue reading

Happy Friendship Day

Disney's adaptation of Stephen Slesinger, Inc....Image via Wikipedia
A U.N. Ambassador of Friendship
To my friends, both near and far and old and new, I wish you a very Happy Friendship day. For those of you with little knowledge of the history surrounding the day (including me), Wikipedia provides the following:
 “Friendship Day was originally promoted by Joyce Hall, the founder of Hallmark cards in 1919, and intended on first sunday of august to be a day where people celebrated their friendships by sending cards. The first Sunday in August was chosen as the centre of the largest lull in holiday celebrations. Friendship Day was promoted by the greetings card National Association during the 1920s but met with consumer resistance – given that it was rather too obviously a commercial gimmick to promote greetings cards. By the 1940s the number of Friendship Day cards available in the US had dwindled and the holiday largely died out there…. Today, Friendship Day is enthusiastically celebrated in a number of countries across the world.  In honor of Friendship Day in 1998, Nane Annan, wife of Secretary-General Kofi Annan, named Winnie the Pooh as the world’s Ambassador of Friendship at the United Nations. The event was co-sponsored by the U.N. Department of Public Information and Disney Enterprises, and was co-hosted by Kathy Lee Gifford.” http://j.mp/ogR6ra
The question becomes, what is a “friend?” I believe that the meaning of the word “friend” is a subjective one and subject to interpretation. Some people are “friends” with everyone that they meet, and as Aristotle notes “a friend to all is a friend to none.”  On the other hand, for others, a friendship is a close, personal relationship that is based on, among other things, trust, acceptance and love.  For these people, the word “friend” is not used loosely, as it is, with the exception of family, their most essential relationship. I fall into the latter group, and as a surprise, even to me, I’ve discovered that a genuine friendship can also be fostered between those with whom I’ve never even met face to face.  

No one will argue that the internet provides us an opportunity to maintain and foster our relationship with family and friends.  Yet, it also serves as a forum to meet other like-minded individuals, and to form relationships. Through both e-courses, as well as social communities, I have been fortunate to meet people with whom I otherwise would never have met, and in some cases, I enjoy genuine budding friendships.  


Ideally, our friends should be celebrated every day and not on a designated day of the year.  
Celebrated in what way, you may ask? A gift, a card, or flowers? Of course, those are all well and good, but I suspect that a heartfelt “thank you for being my friend,” would be more memorable and appreciated. 

To my friends: You are a blessing to me and I love you and thank you for being, and oh yes, thank you for being my friend.

Blessings and love, lydia
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Friendship & Unfinished Business

Friends are stronger than darknessImage by Gilderic (OFF) via Flickr

















Today “Wisdom a la Carte,” whom I heartily recommend for his presence on FaceBook, Twitter and his blog, http://wisdomalacarte.net/blog/, posed one of his usual great questions on his Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/wisdomalacarte. It was “have you been the kind of friend that you want as a friend?” I commented as follows:

Not since I have been sick. For many reasons, I withdrew from my friends, because I thought that I was protecting them. In hindsight, I regret it. I would not have been able to (still can’t) provide a balanced relationship, but especially when you are really ill, you need their friendship–if only for connection with the real world. Blessings.



Afterwards, I couldn’t get the question out of my mind. It was like a itch that I just couldn’t reach. and it suddenly dawned on me that I had some unfinished business. 


Before I was really sick, I think that, for the most part, I was all that I’d want in a friend.  When I became really ill, I changed, and I guess that changed as well.  For a multitude of reasons, I totally withdrew from my friends, because I thought that I was protecting them and was doing the right thing. I was in so much mental, emotional and physical pain that I did not want to subject anyone to that part of me. So, I choose to go into isolation–for years. In hindsight, I regret the decision, not only because I needed my friends, but at a much deeper level I think because I didn’t trust my friends enough to choose for themselves. They never had an opportunity to see the bad and the ugly because I made the choice for them.  Perhaps my decision was less about them than about my own fears that if they saw me at my worse that they would run like hell and no longer love me. Whatever their reaction, I should have allowed them to choose for themselves. I should have remembered that as the photo reminds me, true friends are stronger than darkness. I trust that they will forgive my lapse in judgment. I think that they will. Blessings.
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