8 December 2015
Rejoicing opens us tremendously, dissolving our barriers, thereby enabling intimacy to extend to all of life. ~ Sharon Salzberg, Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
In contrast to so many Christmases in the past, this year, I don’t want to miss the season! I want to fully immerse, to sink into the caring, kindness, giving. To be a part. To celebrate fully. To add to.
I know I’ll get caught up in the bustle and lose touch with the heart of this holiday. I’ll try to do too much some days. I’ll do things without realizing they aren’t important to me until after I’ve done them. I’ll second guess myself on the gifts I give.
I’m accepting this.
And, meanwhile, I’ve set the intention to dip deep into the joy. I’m opening up to discover how my heart can sing out, clear and honest. I’m reaching into grateful places to explore how I can add to this season that honors the resilient human desire to care and give.
This sounds complicated and time-consuming, but it hasn’t been. It’s more about asking the questions, in bed before I rise or in the car as I drive to town, and then trusting answers to rise up of their own accord, in their own prescribed time.
This tiny action of seeking and cultivating joy nourishes my spirit. It centers me in small, deceptively simple ways. And, it’s gifting me with tender moments.
Like moments of recalling snips of my Christmases as a kid.
I grew up in a house built by my father in the midst of thousands of acres of verdant orange trees marching in orderly rows. Most of them were valencia orange trees, but in our small tract of orchard my father had planted a handful of navel orange trees for his family’s use. Although we kids had free rein of the orchard, and regularly picked and ate on the spot whatever was in season, still, in each of our stockings each year, there would be one plump, heavy orb – a shiny and pungently aromatic navel.
We didn’t really appreciate them. We would toss our orange off casually and eagerly rummage through the pecans and walnuts to get to the bite-size Hershey candy bars wrapped in glittery gold and silver foil. To us, the orange was like coal in Newcastle.
That tradition of the navel never faltered through our years of growing up. It varied only slightly, one winter when we were traveling at Christmastime, but even then there were oranges, purchased by my father the orange grower and set on the small mantle in our hotel room.
A delight of recalling this is getting to appreciate what I couldn’t as a kid. Growing up as my parents had, in poor conditions with bare necessities an uncertainty, the contents of those stockings represented inconceivable wealth. Nuts. Candy. A gleaming piece of beautiful, perfect, ripe fruit.
Now I understand that fruit as a token of great abundance. As a symbol of the hard work my father willingly and tirelessly engaged in to support his family. As an appreciation of the bounty of the earth that he tilled.
I remember other gifts from my childhood. There was the year I got roller skates and another when I got a new bike of my very own. Good gifts. But it is that simple navel orange that I recall so poignantly, that brings my father’s smile to my face, and shows me so much about a man I loved so dearly.
That navel orange just keeps on giving.
Memories can do that. They hang out in traditions and ornaments and recipes. They are deep-rooted keepsakes that will reach forward to nourish joy. Like love, they can remind me of the goodness of a heart I’ve known. And in so doing, refresh the goodness of my own.
When I remember this goodness, mine and others, barriers do dissolve, and joy is just begging to be shared.