In The Holiday Spirit

I’ll never forget when I was given a gift of the spirit. It wasn’t my birthday or Christmas, both of which fall in this month of magic, but Thanksgiving Day when my aunt decided that it was time this jewelry, so treasured by my grandmother, made its way to me. As I cracked open the hinges and peeked inside, my grandmother’s face flashed before my eyes, and in my vision I saw her with the deep red garnet heart-shaped locket around her neck, the matching earrings dangling against her dark brown curls. She’s been gone for years now, but her spirit stays here with me every day. And in this moment of gratitude, of passing love from one to another, she was smiling.

I’d rather forget the time I received phone calls in the middle of the night – the ones that gently announced the passings of spirits. My grandfather died decades ago one November night; it seems as if I’d just drifted off to sleep in my future husband’s college apartment when I was summoned to go back to his house and comfort my grandmother. Those types of calls, the ones that jolt you out of bed and shatter your world, are at once impossible to dismiss and yet impossibly etched in our minds. She had the pendant on when I arrived that night; his spirit, his photo, fastened to the back of her garnet locket, stays with me. He was smiling, too.

holiday spirit

During the holidays, I usher in the day in the same way from beginning to end: Christmas tree lit, white mantle lights glowing, candle flickering, and I write. I listen for inspiration, for the spirits to remind me that this, here, now, is what the season is about. I know that as soon as the sun rises behind the heavy garnet colored curtains the moment is lost, the magic is put on hold until I return at dusk, and the busyness of everyday life will be upon me.

Today, as the rain pours down the windowpane and the wind whips the trees around my house into a frenzy, I breathe, and pause, and think of them. I remember their love for each other, and for their families. I call in their spirits as my pen scratches gratitudes into my journal, filling the pages with small moments of the extraordinary ordinariness of my life, feeling their love, grateful for 50 years with their spirits by my side.

50 years

The sun will be up soon, my teaching day will begin, but in a dozen hours you can find me, back here in my front room, surrounded by spirits and lights and love.

It’s a gift I’ve learned to give myself; the gift of the holiday spirit, feeling present right here, right now, and remembering all that brings love and comfort and beauty to my life. Today, her pendant will hang softly against my chest. holding their love and spirit, and I will be grateful.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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Pondering Independence Day

The 4th of July, for me, isn’t the kind of holiday I really look forward to. I live in a small town. We have the parades, the pancake breakasts, the picnics, the gathering-together-in-the-park kind of celebrations. We have the swimming pools, the BBQs, the kids riding decorated bikes through town.

It just doesn’t speak to my independent spirit.

squirrel solitude

I’m not a big crowd kind of person. I love the quiet, I love small gatherings, I love solitude. I love home.

I’m not anti-social, really. I like people; well, some people. I don’t like stepping over sweaty bodies laying all over the grass. I always got nervous when my kids were little and it got dark and I couldn’t see where they were. Now that they’re teens, I get nervous because they’re too big to cling to, and too old to stay by my side. Independence turned against me, I suppose.

We’ve celebrated Independence Day lots of different ways. Sometimes we’ve gone to the foothills to hang out with just one other family. We sat on their deck, the kids rode their horses and let off LOTS of fireworks. We’ve spent the 4th at the lake, riding bikes from home to Squaw Valley and back, then battling the crowds for blanket space and then sat in traffic after the last sparkler burned out. We’ve stayed at a bed and breakfast, just the two of us, and rode bikes around the Gold Country. One year , on a trip out of state, we danced around fireworks that seemed more like hand grenades being flung by passers-by. That didn’t speak to my spirit at all.

When I was little, the 4th often meant trips to my grandparent’s house in the Bay Area. Grandpa would have brought home ‘illegal’ fireworks from Chinatown, and the cousins would light up the long, covered porch with sparklers and those snake-like ones that left an enticing trail of ash as proof that we really lit it. Lighting anything was a true sign of independence.

This Independence Day morning, I ponder the day ahead. My girl is long gone, skiing for the summer on top of a glacier in Oregon. No picnics with her today – she’s enjoying her own independent spirit. My boy is planning teenage shenanigans and reliably unreliable for family time, but horribly independent. My husband is working; I guess it’s just me and my dog. Maybe I’ll take a walk and watch the parade from a distance.  I’m sure I could dig up a few glow sticks tonigh – no sparklers, though. Light a BBQ, sit under the trees on my patio, listening to the festivities going on down the block. Independent.

I think I’ll just listen to my own spirit, and ponder the real meaning of Independence Day.

 

Dear reader, how do you celebrate Independence Day? Do you listen to your own spirit, and do what you want to do?

This post was inspired by today’s prompt |ponder| from writealm.com.

 

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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