Wednesday, 7 December 2011

So this is Christmas?

A glowing tree.

Stuffed stockings.

The Christmas Eve menu boasting on the fridge.

Family. (Of all descriptions)

Roaring fire.


Frigid winds outside.

Leafless trees.

Layers of clothing.

The smell of cinnamon.



Christmas movies.

Hopefully reading this list fills you heart with warmth. Even writing it has brightened my disposition. But there is a stirring of unease that mingles with the joys of the anticipated Christmas eve. Even in our greatest pleasures, there is still suffering. To our left or our right. A family member, a friend. Hardships, bad luck and consequences of poor choices do not pay tribute to "the festive season".

Perhaps the importance of ultimately enjoying Christmas in its entirety is to recognise, solemnly, the gifts we truly have. I am not enducing guilt by referring to the starving peoples of Africa, nor to the countless Americans who have lost their homes and belongings in this ravaging Tornado season. I would hope that most people do already give thought to these unfortunates and their difficult circumstances, that it instills instant gratitude and gives cause for prayer.

I am referring to the lonely friends, the divorced parents, the depressed family members, or workers who have been retrenched and are still unable to find work. I am referring to the homeless in our cities (despite the enormous wealth of our Western world), the grieving and the lonely and hopeless people we surely know.

For  me, this Christmas is a time to be open and unyielding in thanks for a home, a job, excellent health, a husband (who really really loves me), and a chance to bring together a family bitterly split for 3 years past. It is a time to give thanks to God for His unending love, everlasting faithfulness and utter wisdom in mapping out our lives. To seek wisdom in the hardships we're enduring, being thankful that we do not endure them alone. To find joy in giving. Real joy. Without complaints and without resentment. To be blessed by blessing others. And all these things are a cause for prayer. For the cliche of our lives representing a tiny speck is true, our lives and our hardships as insignificant to others as theirs have become to us. So give thanks. And do so sincerely.

This year, my Christmas will not be easy and it will not be smooth. But how blessed I am to have it be as near to perfect as my life allows.

May God bless you today and all your days with gratitude. For in our gratitude to Him, we find joy and peace.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

The thing about friendship....

is this: you can't always get what you want. Or is that the thing about life? I can't deliberate on life at 10 o'clock in the morning so we'll stick to friendship.

I've always been fiercely sanctimonious about being a friend. A friend is a friend for life. Friendship is not a matter of convenience. And all that jazz. I'm sure you can assume that my friends are few. I do count them as quality friendships though. I have entertained the idea of being socially free and light hearted, but it just does not suit my personality. Of course I would like to have more casual acquaintances, but I'm mostly too unlikeable to be tolerated by casual friends. Therefore I focus on my foundation friendships. The sanctimony served me well. Until I found myself on the wrong end of the soap box - the bottom that is. I can vividly recall occasions when I have let good friends down. Some recently, some many many years ago. It still grieves me. Mostly because these women are still my friends, despite my selfishness at the time.

For this I am grateful. Muchly.

Back to the thing.

As people mature and their lives take different directions, it is expected that friendships will stretch taut and then ease up again as interests or location or life experiences change. Elastic in nature, the constant stretching and relaxing of a friendship can sting if stretched so far it snaps. With so many variables involved, it really is a marvel that some friendships do last a lifetime. So how do we get what we want out of friendship?

My newest revelation is to relax the expectations so as to allow the variables to stretch the friendship without additional strain.  Difficult to action. But I am determined to attempt it.

This blog's purpose is to honour my friends who have allowed me to stand on my soap box to my hearts content and love me despite it. And this softness I'm feeling today has left me longing for the company of some of my very good lady friends.
Lorraine, the ultimate running buddy - who's stubbornness matches my own but kindness abounds, and also 1 in 3 people who actually put up with my incessant complaining during a workout. (yes, I have had people run ahead just to avoid it)

Vanessa, my dearest friend who's life advanced while mine stood still. Who loved me though I failed to celebrate her wedding properly due to my egocentricity. Yet, she travelled across the Atlantic, leaving her children at home, to be my maid of honour. I was the one who was honoured V. This woman and I passed like ships in the night as I travelled back to Canada while she moved to Africa.

Sarah, one of  the most selfless women I know. The best shopping partner that never complains as we trawl through store to store. Easy going to a fault. And infinitely kind.

And Monisha, stubborn, outspoken, uncompromising, loud and unflinchingly generous and still, just a wonderful friend of mine.

Kate, my childhood friend who I miss dearly. Continents and oceans separate us, but we connect as if we've always only lived cities apart.

If I had a birthday party, the attendee list would be small. But it would be filled in the richness of friendship. I do count myself blessed.

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