Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Few Thoughts about Christmas

The meaning of Christmas... Now this is a topic, eh? Although I'll limit myself to just a few thoughts today, I could probably write volumes and still not get to the heart of the matter.

Speaking of hearts, this picture is what inspired me to write today...

Christmas crazy quilt by Pat Eaton
Isn't this a beautiful Christmas quilt made by Pat Eaton? I just discovered Pat's blog and had a wonderful time browsing through her recent posts which show some of the Christmas quilts she's made over the years.

My first impression seeing her crazy quilt was, "Yes! Hearts!" Christmas is a gentle reminder to strengthen and acknowledge connections of the heart, to show love and to receive love.

I have to learn (or re-learn) a few things and make some changes because Christmas has become a dark thing for me. Maybe it always was, or at least it was since I reached adulthood. Last year, my December BJP piece showed the darkness (dark thoughts pointing at an upside down Christmas tree), yet also held promise of change (birds right side up with songs leaving through openings in the black borders). Here's how I portrayed Christmas a year ago.

Bead Journal Project, Dec 07, Robin Atkins, Dark Thoughts Pointing at Christmas
This year my December BJP isn't quite finished yet. Here is a picture I took a couple of weeks ago at the very start of this piece. Initially I was thinking of home... the blessing of my own home and especially the gifts of nature that surround me, even now in the darkest and coldest month of the year... the lichen, our madrona trees, birds, Mt. Baker in the distance...

Bead Journal Project, Dec 08, Robin Atkins, getting started
Then I got to thinking about home or house as a symbol of spirit and spirituality. So I made a door that can open to reveal the light inside and hopefully to let light out...

Bead Journal Project, Dec 08, Robin Atkins, getting started
Since I took these pictures, some things have changed a bit and I've beaded on it for hours. You'll have to check back in a few days to see the final version of it.

In the meantime, back to Christmas. While I was blog-browsing earlier today, I checked ZQuilts and found that Marie too is thinking about the meaning of Christmas. Her post made me think about what I would like to give to all of you and also what I would like to receive from you....

Respect!

I believe respect is the key... Love? Yes, that too. But first is respect. From a position of respect, comes love, understanding, kindness, hope and ultimately peace and joy. So this Christmas, as I try to move beyond the darkness of Christmases past, I send into the world as much light and respect as I can.

I'll close this post with a couple of snow pictures... our back deck, feeding the birds (and deer, who can scarf down this much birdseed in a jiffy) and a few feathered friends waiting their turn at the feeding table. Merry Christmas!

snow on our deck
feeding the birds and deer
birds in the bushes
In case you're curious, I believe the birds are ~ Hermit Thrush (top), Spotted Towhee (largest bird, center), and Oregon Junco (bottom two birds).

16 comments:

  1. I like the golden light shining from inside the home...enjoyed the thought, and looking forward to seeing the beadiful finished piece :)

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  2. Robin I am glad that you met Pat and found her blog today. She is a dear friend and has enjoyed emailing you today. She ask if your BJP08 was the one I am participating in for08. Pat's work is thoughtful!. Your snow pictures are lovely. May this Christmas be a brighter one of hope for you this year.

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  3. I was just thinking about you and wondering how you were doing with the snow! And then I come here and find your beautiful photos.

    As for your gift of respect, I like that. You most definitely have my respect. I have enjoyed visiting your blog and looking at all your beautiful beadwork. You can count on seeing me next year, too!

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  4. Christmas has often held much darkness for me as well. So much of it relates back to my family and all of their misguided and masked expectations. The past two years have felt lighter although I still do not accept invitations to my loving, well-meaning friends' celebrations. I need alot of space around the holidays to bead and create...Then I can remain connected to myself and to spirit as I recognize the beauty and gifts of the season and within my life. I am grateful for you in my life, Robin, and for all of the amazing, wonderful friends and connections I am making through this magical blogging journey!

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  5. Can there be love without respect? This year's piece is turning out nicely. I think the snow has actually lightened things up for us, made us slow down and enjoy nature. You certainly have my respect, therefore love.

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  6. Robin, I am absolutely thrilled that you included my crazy quilt in one of your posts. You have made my day!!!! And, turn about is fair play, so you, too, have made me think about Christmas in a "lighter" way as the season is usually dark for me also....isn't it wonderful that blogging exists and is helping us all help each other...I love it! You have a wonderful Christmas and I will look forward to seeing your next Christmas project!!! Thanks for all you do. pat

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  7. Robin,
    Respect is something you will never lack. You have opened up possibilities for beaders all over the world and we love you for it.
    It is wonderful to see your new December page. I think the light pouring from the door of your house is indicative of the light you shine on all of us.
    May your holiday be joyful and the New Year bring you all you desire.

    Arline

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  8. Peggy Kemp1:08 PM

    Dear Robin,

    I was thinking of your bead journal for last Christmas this morning, and hoping that this Christmas would be brighter for you. I'm glad to see the light shining out that little front door! For me it symbolizes the light and knowledge and yes, respect, that you share with all of us through your thoughtful blog.

    For myself this year, my Christmas change was to worry less about the way the cottage looks (none too clean, but oh, well) and focus more on relaxing into the holidays - and making time to bead and celebrate the love we share.

    Mele Kalikimaka!

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  9. I really love Christmas every year and it was heart rending for me to work as a volunteer yesterday at the desk at Church and have the number of people who are hurt physically or having a problem with suddenly no job, coming in for Christmas presents for their children and I was also heartened that so many could still give generously. The two crying ladies, I know one was there for 4 hours and still had red eyes when she left with her family, and the other cried for 2 and a half that I know of. The pastors dropped everything to give them solace and succor and hope. That's what this season is about for me. Reaching out to someone in need and being there for them. Blessings to you this Christmas! Merry Christmas!

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  10. To All ~ I love reading your comments and so much appreciate the love and respect I receive from you. You make my day!!!!!

    Christmas is impossible to ignore... it's just toooo big and dominates the month and to some extend the season. So it's good that we look at our relationship with Christmas, trying to understand what it means to us.

    Love and hugs to all,
    Robin A.

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  11. Lovely post and comments ---
    Enjoyed every bit --
    Hugz and warm wishes to all,
    Jackie/IL

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  12. Robin!
    i find it so very interesting that so many of us who were born in the 40' and 50's have such similar feelings about christmas. My thoughts and feelings about the event are very similar to yours. I get very depressed about all of the excess when there is so much basic and dramatic need for so many throughout the world. At times I feel quite guilty and I ahve decided that whenever I can I will do something for as many other's who are really in need, as I can.
    The thoughts about your new December project brought to mind one of my favorite quotes about light and it fits in with your entire post. "Ring the bells that can still ring. Forget your perfect offering. there's a crack in everything. That's how the light get's in." Leonard Cohen- To me this means that we all need to realize that no matter what we do there is no such thing as perfect. We all need to relax a bit and stp trying to do the IMPOSSIBLE making things perfect for others- at least that is where alot of my internal pressure and over the top expectations come from!!
    thank you so much for such awonderful post!!
    Now I am off to visit Pat's blog and see more of her wonderful art!!
    Big Hugs!
    Elizabeth

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  13. Robin, Thanks for the comments today...it's storming now (how weird) so I'm hurrying...but just wanted to let you know your thoughts and opinions mean a lot to me...keep them coming and I'll do the same. Yes, my handwork keeps me sane...but you might need to check with my family and friends to make sure that is true! Do take care...I'll be checking on you! Pat

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  14. Yes! Respect! There definitely is not enough of that around, and it is one gift that, when it is shared, grows and grows.

    I'm another one who has a dark view of Christmas. My standard not-quite joke is that if you don't think we live in a totalitarian country, just look at Christmas. Your last year's December BJP page really spoke to me, especially the little birds singing, enjoying themselves anyway. I try to be like them.

    At our house, we celebrate the Solstice, and the return of the light, so on the 25th we celebrated... Thursday. It was lovely. I always feel that presents, joy, and love, and especially that present of Respect, are best given on any and all days, and not saved up for some arbitrary day or occasion.

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  15. I always liked Christmas, and my sister too, though our parents didn't. I know many people who don't like Christmas. And I never understand why.

    For me Christmas is just one day, chosen by society in the West, as a collective ritual or sacrifice. I think the interesting part of this is to remind us at least once a year about Light, and the miracle and fragility of Life. You don't have to think about this only in December. You can chose to shelter the Light/inner child /miracle of Life everyday of the year... in which case you will find december amusing.

    Did you know this christmas in south America a little Jesus was born to a mother called Virgin Mary ?

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  16. Having just commented about Christmas, it dawned on me that I really can't stand New Year's Eve ! :o) Sorry for the pompous nonsense.

    Happy New Year !

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Thanks you for joining the discussion on this post today!