Friday, December 22, 2023

A rainy reflection

For me, the word reflection conjures up perception of a quiet time. A peaceful mindset and intentional desire to understand meanings and feelings resulting from a personal experience. Sometimes I reflect on a book I've just read, or a poem. Sometimes it's what I see or hear from my window, and sometimes I reflect on why I'm feeling am angry, sad, or lonely. 

Today as I walked the city sidewalk near my home, I came across a puddle leftover from rain that had fallen steadily all morning. 

The sky was blue-ing up and the outdoor light felt bright and hopeful. As I approached the low spot in the sidewalk, I was struct by the physical reflection of the tree directly overhead. It was stunning. I'm not sure I had ever even noticed the trees on this particular block. As trees go, they express the stress of urban living as it dares anything natural to thrive. In looking down (to avoid stumbling on the uneven sidewalk), I saw something above me, and that realization made me consider a new dimension of personal reflection. This pooling on the ground of liquid that fell from the sky and the glasslike mirroring it provided on this temporary basis was an invitation to look up. And that is exactly what I try for with intentional interior reflection. Thank you, rain, for this wonderfully direct reminder.

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

An old woman writes to Santa

Dear Santa,

I can't recall the last time I wrote you a serious letter. Maybe third grade? I feel compelled to write this year because of my own experience of aging. Even though I’m quite a bit younger than you, I’m equally white-haired with a roly-poly circle of fat that’s quickly catching up to yours. For the purposes of this letter, I’m considering myself your peer.

As our bodies age, the filters wear out—you know, the ones that keep our negative feelings to ourselves or the rude comments shuttered. So . . . I’m just going to blurt it out—Santa, it might be time to step aside and let another have your esteemed job. You’ve been in the spotlight for several centuries of delighted anticipation and excitement. How about letting someone else have a chance at it now? Not only would the younger generation be ecstatic to have a say in North Pole Management, but as we age, self-care is increasingly seen a big factor in health.

Most likely you’re noticing that your memory isn’t as good as it used to be, not to mention your balance. What if you overlooked one of the children in a family? Stumbled or fell as you climbed into the sleigh? What if you missed a town during your deliveries, or couldn’t find your way to a specific house? What if you faltered over your famous words? “Merry Christmas and to all and uh . ..  uh . . . a good day . . . to all!  What if you called out “On Commet, On Cupid, On Dandruff and Vixen!” An anecdote like that would stun the world.

I can only imagine the challenges your eyesight must encounter on all those Christmas Eves with snowstorms, darkness, wind, and rain. Thank goodness you have Rudolph, or you would have undoubtedly given up driving years ago. I can’t imagine the stamina that it takes from you, year after year, to do your kind of global trotting. You have millions of devotees who would love to see you retired and getting well-earned ‘me-time.’

Believe it or not, I’m much more tolerant of old people, now that I’m in a retirement community. Old, frail bodies house more wisdom and insight than the young ones you regularly connect with, Santa. Plus we have delightful senses of humor and endless stories. You’d have activities to enjoy, and I’m guessing Mrs. Claus would be so-o-o-o happy not to have to cook and clean-up every night. You’d have time for legacy writing, too—and oh, how we would love the stories you could write. We’d devour them, then share with our children, our grandchildren, and generations to come.

Of course, you’re free to continue doing your job, but stepping aside would mean you could nurture the next-generation Santa to carry on with your heritage, as well as making millions of families happily overjoyed that you’re safe. I’d love it if you moved into my community, and I’ll bet I’d get a bonus if you did.  

Merry Christmas to you and Mrs. Claus, and thanks for such wonderful memories.