Christmas past

I write two columns for Examiner.com: Chicago Lady Boomer Examiner and Chicago Restaurant Examiner. They changed their policy recently and decided we writers who keep their website pages full of fascinating, informative, newsy or simply interesting information must not write our material in the first person. In other words, no editorial stuff; write the way salaried reporters write.

I thought, oh, well, they changed their policy, and I started writing that way as much as possible. Today I discovered that not only did they change their policy but they actually went through and un-published posts that retroactively did not comply with the new directive. Wow.

Well, I hate to waste hard work. So I’ll be publishing here and writing in the first person. Hope you’ll find things interesting. Starting with a Christmas reflection I wrote several years ago that I just discovered has been un-published:

Life doesn’t look quite the same at 50 as it is does at 60 or 70. I personally didn’t start thinking differently about past and future until I was into my mid- to later 50s. And there just isn’t a better time to reflect on such things than the end of year. Another year of a down economy. Another year of significant physical challenges–had a hip replaced this year and let me tell you, the recovery is a bear. Another year of working at remaining centered while the media keep continually reporting bad news.

Having watched the endings of two different versions of the Charles Dickens story, Christmas Carol, I’m thinking of Scrooge’s lessons with the spirits of Christmas past, present and future. It’s wonderful how often we can experience the same thing (I also find it so with books and movies) at different times in our lives and get something completely different out of it.

I’m sitting here in my living room on Christmas eve morning with candles burning merrily on the coffee table, jazzy Christmas music flowing through my venerable (had them nearly 40 years), irreplaceable McIntosh stereo speakers, and life feels terribly precious in spite of it all.

To make it an even more poignant time for me, I’m moving in a few weeks. In preparation I’ve been sifting through my accumulated stuff. Interesting what I thought was essential when I downsized to move to my Chicago condo. Now I’m turning my heart and mind to starting a new, modified-minimalist approach to living–i.e., working to let go of so many “things.” Here’s what I wrote about living sparely and yet generously over at my single-woman blog SWWAN. [BP 2015: yes, that’s this blog]

No matter how much I love my “stuff,” there’s a freedom to letting it go out and bless others in the universe. In my current neighborhood, west Logan Square, I don’t even have to drive over to the thrift store. Just carry a box or a bag or a small piece of furniture out to the dumpster and it’s gone in minutes. Sometimes it gets into someone else’s car before you can put it on the ground.

Whatever you do to celebrate this time of year–whether you choose to celebrate with friends or family or you decide to have a peaceful time alone–I wish you the very warmest thoughts. Dismiss any haunting from the past. Refuse to let thoughts of the future ravage your peace today. When it comes down to it, this moment is all we are promised. And it’s all we need.

Have a Merry Christmas full of love–if you have grandkids, hold them as tight as you can for as long as they’ll let you. And may your new year begin well–and remain as prosperous and peaceful as you would ever wish.


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