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full_corn_moon

Lughnasadh always brings an interesting energy with it.  While Lugh won a lot of trials in his life through sheer skill, some of that skill was humour and wit, and there is never a shortage of humour or wit in the messages that come through this time of year.  But what else?  In honouring Lugh we remember the funerary games he organized for his foster mother, Tailtiu. We play games of skill and celebrate our respective talents.  We dance, sing, enjoy the life energy of summer thriving around us.  Now let’s incorporate the celebration of Lamas, the first harvest.  Traditionally the first grains would be used to make bread to bless the occasion as the community came together to enjoy the bounty of harvest.  Sometimes bread was baked in the shape of the Green Man in honour of the sacrifice he gives so that we may thrive.  In all of this there is a theme of both celebration of the light and recognition of the dark as we begin to notice the days shortening, reminding us to be thankful for the harvest that will sustain us in the coming winter.

In my practice I’ve used it as a time to cleanse and bless my hearth and home, fortifying our household for the year to come with the rich energies of summer.  This year I took a deeper look at that practice.  Yes, I will probably still cleanse our home and reinforce our crystal grids, but the more meditation I’ve done the more thought I’ve given to the “hearth” in my life.  While my tangible household is a brick and mortar place, my home is transient, my family scattered between the coasts, farther once I incorporate metamours.  So what of this tribe?  What of our hearth?  How can we be cleansed and fortified for the year to come?

The beautiful thing about our Ohana is that everyone, no matter how far away or how little involved, brings something to the tribe.  We each have our strengths, skills and talents that enrich the energy of the whole.  There is not a single one of us who doesn’t work hard and strive to really experience life in their own way, and this energy finds its way to the core of what makes us strong as a unit.  Those skills and strengths become our grains, and with some nurturing and encouraging, those talents flourish.  Through their harvest we begin to manifest our best selves, and we become the bread men of Lamas, ingested to feel the blessings of the very earth that grounds and holds us.  So, the hearth?  The hearth is community, fired with our dedication to each other.  It’s love, support, and solidarity, but it’s also sacrifice.  We each give at one point or another so that the others may thrive.  When each of my partners’ family becomes my family, and we weave a web of compassion and love, we become a strong tribe.  Through that web we feel each other’s joy and pain.  Through that web none of us can starve no matter how cold the winter might get, and because we’ve got Lugh on our side we do it with the flare of laughter and maybe some smartassery.  Ok, a lot of smartassery.

Aloha, and Blessed Lughnasadh

Go now, celebrate your talents!

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My husband has a new girlfriend.  She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold.  She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin.  I’m happy he’s happy, but as I’ve mentioned before, poly will draw every insecurity, every self-doubt, every self conceived blight you have ever had, and I am not known for my high self-esteem.  This is not the reason we have issues, honest.  Really that’s because she lied to me, and I hold grudges, which is something else I’m working on.  It’s something I’m constantly working on, but occasionally old habits rear their bitter heads.

Feelings of physical inadequacy can tear down any relationship if you let them, but this has the potential to be detrimental to a poly relationship.  It would be easy for me to think this girl is Hubby’s trophy girl, but it’d be all my own internal baggage.  He has not stopped looking at me or telling me he thinks I’m beautiful.  Our intimacy has not waned or changed in any way. 

 I have no reason to let these fears creep back up inside me, but I admit I sometimes when new partners enter the equation.  When Hubby met his first girlfriend, Emmy, I had just started to be sick with what would later be diagnosed as fibromyalgia.  I was sick, I was weak, and it hurt just to be touched.  For a very long time sex was out of the question.  Emmy, on the other hand, was just starting to explore herself and was loving the new experiences Hubby was able to offer.  Hubby never told me he was disappointed, but it was palpable every time he tried to touch me and my body just couldn’t take the pain.  I felt like a failure as a wife and lover, and while I was happy he was taking this new step in our poly life I also felt a tinge of inadequacy.  It was a very trying time in our marriage, and there were times I listened to the voice that told me he could only stand to stay with his invalid of a wife because he could still get his rocks off somewhere else.  It was an extremely negative thought process that only lead to more negativity.  I grew bitter, resentful, and depressed, and eventually I took it out on him.

The further decline and eventual improvement of my health forced a huge change in attitude and perspective.  I decided that if my marriage was going to survive I needed to stop looking at it as a need for him to find something more desirable.  Instead I learned to celebrate my strengths and experience and know that I am just as desirable to him as I always have been.  He may have someone young and sexy to have fun with, but he still comes home to me with the same heated fervor.   While there is the new shiny factor that comes with all NRE we have a passionate bond that only time and knowing each other’s ins and outs can bring.  I still see the want and need in his eyes, and he lets me know all the time that he thinks I’m beautiful.

In my head I accepted his love and admiration long ago, but I try to keep this perspective in mind whenever the voices of doubt and insecurity, and sometimes a little envy, creep into my heart.  All that comes from negativity is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If I act on the venomous emotions and thoughts I become ugly and undesirable, somebody no one wants to be around.  This is when I lose him.  This is when he seeks others not because of his own love and freedom but to be away from me.  It’s not my physical baggage that pushes him away, it’s the mental and emotional.  Luckily that’s something I can fix.

I feel thankful every day that I have someone who joins me in ogling men and women when we’re out, who is overjoyed when he feels he’s snagged a looker and never minds sharing, and who is proud of me when I manage a fine catch myself.  Hubby lets me know constantly that I am his dream woman.  Even on my worst days he reminds me that I’m beautiful, capable, sexy, and smart.  I still catch his eyes watching me, and he is just as playful and romantic as the day we met.  Through ups and downs, problems with other partners, and bad experiences, he has never let me feel ugly or worthless.

So, yes, my husband has a new girlfriend.  She’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain threshold.  She has the long hair he always tells me he wishes I could grow, and they click like kin.  I am happy he’s happy, and I am learning to forgive and let go of past indiscretions.  I also hear she’s quite fond of me and my body, and I am determined not to let my tainted self-esteem close that door to me.   After all, she’s young, she’s cute, she’s skinny, she’s bendy, and she has a pretty high pain tolerance.

compersion

So, in 2012 I wrote this, and wasn’t I cute.  Go ahead.  Read it.  It’s still valuable information, but it merely skimmed the juvenile surface of a much more mature problem.  Also, note my almost defiant optimism that what we now know as The Vanishing Act would not, in fact, be a disaster.  Ok, so Hubby may have been right on that one, but now this is the evidence he needs every time he thinks a new relationship is a bad idea.  I’m surprised there’s not a commemorative plaque on the wall to mark the day in history.

This started out as a post about the balance between having compassion for the growing pains my existing partners experience when a new partner is added without letting it completely destroy my NRE.  Then it morphed, as I began to have more and more conversations about compersion, not only with my partners but with friends.  Here’s the Quick Guide to Compersion.  Or at least what I understand of it.

 

Compersion is unconditional.  It can’t only exist when you’re being doted on just as much as the new partner.  It can’t only exist if my NRE is exactly like it was with you.  It can’t only exist if you’re in some other way occupied.  It compersion isn’t there even when you’re having a hard time processing the new relationship you’re lying to everyone, including yourself.

 

Compersion doesn’t mean not questioning.  If you have concerns you still have to voice them rationally.  If you have disagreements you still have to work through them.  You’re allowed to ask for compromise or whatever you need to process, but compersion requires you to handle it like two adults who love each other.  Isn’t this what it’s all about?  Aren’t you together because you love each other?

 

Compersion doesn’t invalidate growing pains.  You can still have your process, you just can’t use it to be a shyte to everyone else.  You’re more likely, in fact, to get the extra attention and compassion you need if you’re not.  Compersion means understanding and putting the happiness of your partner in the forefront, but it does not mean sacrificing  your own well-being.  It’s your responsibility to address it before it becomes a big scary issue, a fight, or resentment, not your partner’s.

 

What this all boils down to is love, respect, compassion, and balance.  In a relationship, shouldn’t those things exist already?

 

 

Aloha.

Go now.  Demand your balance.

This year I got a rainbow tattoo.  It has other things on it, but I decided on a rainbow to represent my pansexuality in a tattoo about freedom.  I know, I know, there are debates about whether or not those of us who are bi, pansexual, and all other kinds of ridiculous queer nomenclature are allowed to use the rainbow, but I do.  Why?  I like rainbows, and I hate pink.

I give this disclaimer because I have been repeatedly told that I am not allowed to be in the queer club because of my lifestyle, which makes me cringe every time I have to defend myself in a community that preaches acceptance and diversity.  I have had women walk out of dates when they find out I not only continue to sleep with men, but am married to one and not opposed to others.  As a pansexual male who by appearance is very masculine and seemingly heterosexual until you get to know him, my husband  gets it worse.  Most people simply don’t believe bi men exist, and he has been lectured by gay men, lesbians, and even bi women.  This has made both our dating lives a little more complicated than I feel they need to be despite it being the reason we chose polyamory in the first place.

When we first opened our marriage it was just for same-sex partners as a way of being able to express our sexuality honestly and completely.  Let me start by saying that this was never a requirement.  I am perfectly capable and happy having monogamous relationships no matter how my partner identifies.  This was simply a way I had never considered or tried before.  My husband’s first girlfriend, as I’ve mentioned before, was supposed to be part of a triad situation.  However, after our first sexual experience she decided she was not actually bisexual, so I was no longer a part of the equation.  This made a lot of our decisions hard, fast, and undefined.  Had we opened as two heterosexual adults things may not have gotten such a rocky start…then again, it could have been much worse.

My entire life I’ve had to field the assumption that as a bi woman I should just be ok with the man I’m seeing watching every encounter with a female partner, like my sex life exists purely for his fantasies.  Let me tell you right off the bat that I’m not a huge fan of threesomes or being a spectacle.  I may be game for the occasional diversion in that direction, but not as standard protocol.  I cannot count how many times ex-boyfriends told me “of course you can see girls!  As long as I can watch!”  This has been a common thread even now that we’re poly.  Many times people seem shocked that I don’t sleep with Hubby’s girlfriend or that once I have a girlfriend of my own I don’t just lend her out to the rest of my household.  Apparently, nobody’s personal taste or chemistry matters in this scenario as long as the plumbing fits.  Hubby and I have shared partners, but that was because we loved the same person not because we wanted to share women.

I really enjoy the fact that I have the freedom to have my marriage and the freedom to put together the family I want to have, regardless of gender or sexuality.  Not all of our partners are queer, and I have never viewed any of my same-sex relationships in a different light than any others.  What really matters is how we interact and love one another and that there is respect and acceptance for everyone.

It really IS that simple.

I have stressed many times the idea of the group identity of a poly household.  Today I’m going to flip that at focus on exactly the opposite.  With so much focus on the family unit as a whole sometimes we can forget to focus on what should be our top priority: Ourselves.  Recently I planned to go to a poetry reading that I attend monthly, and I mentioned it to my sister-in-law, who I thought would enjoy the event as a fellow writer.  I have invited other people in the past, but I intended to go either alone as I usually do or on a date with a woman I’ve been pursuing for some time now.  After the event, which I never even went to, it was brought to my attention that A felt left out.  Hubby suggested I invite her next time.  I had not intended to exclude her from the reading, it’s just something I generally attend on my own time as a personal interest.

This may sound selfish, but it’s a lesson that many have learned the hard way, especially care takers and parents.  I must take care of myself before I worry about the others in my family, with my children coming a very close second.  If I am sick, stressed, exhausted, or emotionally burnt out I cannot begin to give anyone proper attention or care.  If I refuse to take any time for myself and my development it can breed resentment and negativity directed at those I love.  Not every minute of my life needs to be spent on my children.  Not every minute without my children needs to be spent with one of my partners.  Not every waking moment of my life needs company.  I need the time and space to continue my personal growth and development.  I cannot allow the Google calendar to consume me.  Otherwise I would become a useless partner, an absentee wife, and a jaded parent, as well as a stunted human being.

I really enjoy my alone time sometimes.  In the case of the aforementioned poetry reading it’s something I really like to go to with no distractions or expectations.  I can show up, read if I want, and feel no pressure to leave at a certain time nor stay until the end.  Especially on weekdays when I am on my own for work, I have my routines and my regular activities that do not include anyone outside that particular “circle”.  It’s not that I’m ashamed of them or my family, and I’d never intentionally separate the two, but I do enjoy having time just for me and my whimsy.

I feel the same way sometimes with activities as a couple.  If there’s something Hubby and I enjoy doing together on a regular basis I don’t see any reason to always invite the whole family.  It’s our routine, and I feel our relationship needs things once in a while to remind us of a very important thing.  While it’s fine that our lives revolve around our family unit we cannot allow our entire lives to become the family unit.  Just as the household needs maintenance and bonding time, so does each couple, and so do we as individuals.  It doesn’t make us bad parents or spouses to not include everyone in everything we do.

Not taking this personal development time will lead to stagnation.  Hubby fell in love with me, and I with him, because of our respective personalities.  We took this journey together, and decided to add to it others whose character and interests complimented ours.  We did not set out in search of clones.  Nor do we expect anyone in our family to give up any hobbies or interests that we don’t all share.  What brought us together is who we are as individuals and what we bring to the table to share and teach.  We are a unique blend, but if all the components look the same we will never reach our full potential as a family let alone as people.  If we do not take the time and opportunity to nurture ourselves we become fallow and colourless.

It is not the point of life to be absorbed by a family, to have our free spirits grounded, or to have our hungry minds starved.  A household should support each other’s personal endeavors and encourage growth, whether or not why share the interest or understand the motives behind it.  I do not exist solely in the hearts and minds of my partners.  I also live within my own heart and soul, and I cannot be true to myself nor my family if all those components are not happy and healthy.  I cannot give my whole self and my whole heart to something that doesn’t see who I am and love me for it, and I cannot put energy into something that puts none into me.  The whole should enrich the one as the one enriches the whole, otherwise both will shrivel up and die.

I’ve written a few times now about coming out as poly, but then what?  Once we’ve made this disclosure and asserted who we are, whether as a single person exploring or as a couple, how do we proceed in dealing with non-poly family and friends?  Do we let it simply fade into obscurity as an abstract fact or do we keep trying to educate and exemplify the life we’ve chosen to live?

The way we’ve dealt with each of our families has been pretty much the same despite the different situations we face.  My family lives 3,000 miles away, so it’s easier for them to be newly surprised every time I mention A or someone new I’m seeing.  It’s not a conversation I wish to get involved in every time I visit, so I really have just started mentioning our partners as I would anyone else in our lives.  Sometimes they ask who I’m talking about, and that’s when we usually have a discussion about my poly life.

We have done very similar things with Hubby’s family with the additional feature of familiarization.  Mouse is an employee for Hubby’s mom.  She lives with us.  Even so, we’ve experienced more resistance from Mom than from my family.  In most cases she has accepted this part of who we are and done what she can with it.  She’s always been polite, but there is a part of her that still can’t fully grasp that we are happy this way, mostly that  could be happy this way.

A while back we had a family anniversary dinner.  When I asked Mom if she was inviting Mouse she told me no, stating it was just for family and she didn’t want to have to explain it to Hubby’s grandfather, who we’ve since come out to.  It wasn’t my place to push, so I let it go and let Hubby take it from there, but it felt to me like an excuse.  Pop pop had definitely seen Hubby and Mouse interact.  She came to our house often at the time and had spent many special occasions with our family.

When confronted about it she reiterated what I’ve heard her say before, that she is only concerned about her daughter-in-law.  It’s not like I don’t talk to Mom about the men in my life, she’s even met a couple of them, but as a woman who has been hurt by men in the past she finds it hard to understand why I would consent willingly to live this way.  She wonders if I just accept it as a condition of my marriage to Hubby, and if I left him over it she would not blame me one bit. It’s a sentiment I’ve heard from many people when they find out I’m poly, but it’s very quickly detrimental in a family.

We’ve all talked about it, but we don’t ever make a big deal about it.  We simply keep doing what we’re doing.  We don’t need her approval.  We only require her respect when it comes to out chosen family, and she has gone above and beyond in that regard.  For a while she tried to hide it from the men she dated, but eventually it came out as he and Hubby became close and began to spend time together outside of her presence.  Again, he may not completely understand it, but he has accepted it as fact, and we don’t dwell on it.

My family has been able to accept this as a very abstract idea.  My dad was, until recently, the only one who had experienced it first-hand.  He is also the only one who asks questions when they arise.  I don’t know where his opinions or concerns lie, but I know if they get strong enough he will tell me.  So far he has listened,  but I have a feeling his concerns are the same as Mom’s.  It may be easier for him to believe that I’m happy merely because he has only talked about it with me, whereas she heard it from Hubby first and foremost.  He’s also known me all my life and knows I wouldn’t live a certain way just to please a man.  I’d do it for me, for both of us, or not at all.

In my opinion, the only way we are going to help them grasp this is to keep living it and to keep representing ourselves as a solid couple and a solid family. The happier and healthier we look the more they will see that this is not something we rushed into and not something we do to fill voids in our lives.  We do this because it’s who we are, and in order to gain that acceptance from our families we need to be open with them about all of who we are.  I can’t tell my father I’m poly and not that I’m pansexual, because that means hiding my girlfriends.  The same goes for Hubby.  So far none of that has come up in the questions, but I know it’s only a matter of time, and when it does we will address it as we have everything else to this point.  Openly.  Honestly.  With love.

blighted ovum miscarriage ultrasound images

The first baby I lost, I was very young.

The second, I wasn’t ready.

By the third, I was frantic.  I was ready.  I was prepared.  I was ecstatic that he or she and my newborn godson would grow up together.  I am constantly told Baby #3 doesn’t count.  I had a blighted ovum, and to this day I still get funny looks when I mention it, because there’s technically no baby in the sac.  Technically.  In reality, that baby existed to me, and the loss was just as hard.  Just as real as any fertilized egg.

That was 10 years and 2 more known miscarriages ago, and it seemed like another life.  I still had time.  I still had options.  I still had hope.  I still believed in my rainbow baby, the child that comes after the storm of loss.

My godson turned 10 today, just days before the anniversary of the D&C that would remove the blighted ovum.  He’s such an amazing little man, and I am proud to have him in my life.  To think of myself with a 13 year old, a 12 year old, a 10 year old, a 9 year old, or an 8 year old is unreal to me as I begin to accept that the choices I’ve made to keep my family afloat mean I’m not even home enough to take care of a child, and my household support system is not equipped or willing to do so.  My rainbow baby is fading.

October is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month, with the 15th being a day of remembrance, but there is not a day I am not aware, not a day I don’t remember those babies and the one I’ve given up.  My rainbow baby is in the eyes of every new baby that graces our family, every tiny hand I hold, every small laugh that catches my attention in public.

This month, as I honour all of the babies I’ve lost, I dream of the little men or women who would be in my life now, and they are with me.

Aloha

Go now, hug your children

The last several months have brought a lot of change to Carnival Clifford.  Most have been good.  All have been necessary.  It means I’ve had very little energy and even less cohesion to actually write a blog. I would like to say I’ll be back on a schedule, but honestly I am no less frazzled and stretched thin than I was in April.  I can only promise you I haven’t forgotten about Pearls and Pentagrams.

 

If last year was the year of career, and this year the year of creativity, I feel very much like next year has already begun to have its seeds planted in spirit.  Year of coven?  Maybe. Year of community?  Definitely.

 

I’ve felt drawn for a while now to find a new group with whom to practice.  While my personal work has gotten exponentially powerful and my spirituality has become more rooted and vibrant than it has been in a long time, I feel a need for community, and that’s not something I’ll get anywhere else.

 

Last week I attended the first group ritual I’ve been to in way too long, and it was fitting that the deity invoked were both Carnival Clifford patrons.  We’ve all been so exhausted by even the good changes that family practice has fallen by the wayside, and while I have not forgotten the work I put in with Brighid to get me where I am at this moment, I’d lost a lot of steam when it came to working with her properly to keep up the momentum.

 

Being in sacred space with my family and feeling the buzz of community did in less than an hour what I thought would be a long term goal.  My spirit returned to me.  I know there’s a lot of muck yet to trudge through, but I know this is where I’m meant to be, and i am certain there’s a brighter place for me and my family on the other side.

 

Blessed Be.

 

Go now, feel the spirit of community.

In a recent post I mentioned briefly the adjustments I’ve been making in my relationships to conquer the distance inherently put between me and my partners by my job.  I’ve always held a strong position against long distance relationships.  I rely heavily upon touch and face to face interaction to ground me in a relationship and give me a sense of stability and connection, and I havent never seen that possible in a situation where I don’t see a partner more than once a month, but with the commute I make for my job I’m finding more and more that even my marriage has similarities to a long distance relationship.

At first I fought it.  Adjusting to the commute and unusual schedule was hard enough without taking into account what might be happening at home.  In turn, Hubby sought solace in his tangible life and partners he could reach out to and began to suppress fears that I was on the slow road to leaving him, and our life together far behind.  The next step in the downward spiral was a deep depression caused by feelings that I was gradually being erased from my own family.  I considered leaving.  Unable to voice this feeling properly, I only validated Hubby’s suspicions, and the unraveling began, leaving us both feeling alienated and alone.

The solutions seemed bleak.  We either had to accept that this was our life now or end it, and neither of us was willing to accept either option.  Hubby’s approach was to demand things.  My time.  Phone calls.  All my plans and commitments at home would have to be cancelled to spend time with him.  I felt exhausted, smothered, and stretched too thin, and I lashed out, suddenly understanding why trained tigers might eventually eat their owners.  I felt helpless.

Then something happened.  I started texting him every day.  I didn’t have the hour or five a day he would have liked to have phone calls, and there was nothing I could do about the frequency with which I had to end such conversations abruptly because of my schedule, but he started to realize just now much I think of him when I’m not around.

A transformation began.  He became easier to talk to.  We exhumed inside jokes that had lost their sheen in the midst of our fighting and developed new ones.  Suddenly I felt like there wouldn’t be an exhausting battle every time we spoke, so I started putting him on speaker phone while I readied myself for work.  In short, I got my best friend back.

Other relationships were not so lucky.  After months of not knowing how to fix it, Ralph and I decided we could only survive in each other’s lives as friends.  Other tentative relationships came to similar fates, while the ones that were able to find a way to reconnect in new way thrived.  This.  This is where I began to see where the strength was in myself and in my partners.

Since this experience, each new relationship has been a valuable learning experience in communication and bonding.  Things that are important to me have had to be compromised while new needs have emerged in order to gain the stability I need to be a happy, sane, openly loving wife, partner, and even friend in some cases.  It hasn’t been easy, and at times I feel like these new endeavours are an emotional game of chutes and ladders, but it’s forced me to take  second look and only spend that energy on someone I feel deserves that kind of time and energy.

I’m still not sure what my stance is on long distance relationships.  The impulse is to have more partners to cover the lonely times, but even people I don’t see regularly take the same amount of resources, and I know all too well the effects of polysaturation.  Instead, I’m learning to find what works with each partner, and to give myself some of that energy as well.  We’ll explore that concept a little bit more later.

Aloha

Go now, reconnect.

This year has been rough, for many of us.  I don’t mean ” I stubbed my toe and had to get a pretty serious ingrown toenail removed” rough; I mean “my soul got ripped from my very core and turned into mashed potatoes and taken to some sinister potluck in Hell, and  had to go find it and figure out how to make it a soul again” rough.  You may have noticed a lot of radio silence this year, as I’ve spent a lot of time inside myself trying to sort out what I wanted it to look like.  What better time to remodel than after a pack of demons has rampaged through your inner temple and torn it to shreds from the inside out.  Ok, maybe that’s a bit histrionic, but that’s what it felt like most of the time.

At Yule we are prompted to give up what no longer serves us, what harms us, and what stands in our way.  We keen, we burn, we eschew what we can no longer afford to hold in our lives.  People, things, sentiments, everything must go!  As we say goodbye to this darkness within we invite the new light that grows with the seasons.  We accept the sunlight into us to shine bright with hope and renewal, and we celebrate that we have survived the longest nights.

This year I have enough friends who have opted out of the holidays to feel it in my heart.  Some have lost loved ones.  Others are having health or financial hardships.  Still others have just become jaded for their own personal reasons.  This is not a new phenomenon, but it has been a bit more pervasive this year, but it always reminds me of my own holiday spirit and the lessons that come to be from the holidays.  I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating, so excuse me while I wax a little Hallmark Special on you all.

My mom loved Christmas.  Every year, without fail, we had the tree that almost grazed our high ceilings covered in lights and ornaments.  We had garland, worn from years of use, strung around the beams and banisters and enough light up animatronic scenes and characters to confuse the cats enough not to touch any of them.  Some years the nativity scene would be almost buried in presents, but some years it would not, but I hardly noticed.

The warmth and joy that filled our house was tangible, and it instilled in me a Christmas Spirit that goes far beyond commercial messages or expectations we place on ourselves, beyond the stress and the worry, and beyond all the jaded skepticism and religious bickering I see every day on the internet or the news.  No, this Spirit is about love and togetherness.  The memories we made decorating the tree have outlasted any gift I’ve ever been given.  The snuggling on the couch watching Prancer and Miracle on 34th St is something I can still feel when I miss my mom around this time.  The love I felt at Christmas just from the time we spent as a family is something I’ve carried with me and tried to emulate in my own family during the holidays no matter what our situation might be.

Here’s a story I have not yet told:

The second Christmas Hubby and I spent together was a bit bleak.  We were i our first apartment together.  I had just started having fibro issues and hadn’t worked much.  All I wanted was a tree.  The fake one my father in law had given us was in storage, and it was locked up until the 1st of the year because we were behind on our rent.  Hubby’s grandparents had just replaced their tree, so they had an extra, which they offered to us.  It was bigger than the space we had for it, and it shed like a nervous chinchilla.  After an hour of measuring and furniture scooting I gave up.  I was sad, but we had tried.  Hubby, on the other hand, was not going to let me concede to a fake pine tree so easily.

I watched the wheels turn as he surveyed our kitchen and dining area, then we put the resulting plan to work.  What we ended up with was a quarter of a tree.  We had stood the base of the tree against the wall behind our kitchen table and only used the branches for the top three sides we could see.  It was a bit of a stretch, but we decorated the hell out of that little patch of tree, and we laughed and sang the entire time. I knew then that there would never be a dark Christmas at our house even in the worst times.  There have been years that have tested us, but we have managed to find ways to make every one special.

The point?  I’m getting to it.

The point is that Yule isn’t about eradicating the darkness, it’s about finding hope and joy in the light. It’s the stars and moon at night, just as we must also embrace the shows and shade in the daytime.  It’s about approach and soul building.  When I eventually found my soul, it wasn’t really any different than it had been before.  I merely had to scrape off a layer of negativity, pick out some things that made it seem spoiled, and put it back where it belongs.  The darkness didn’t ruin it, and the light didn’t do anything but show me what was already there.

This year has been rough, and we weren’t sure we’d be able to even afford gifts for the kids.   When I left work with a flight bag full of small handmade gifts I never imagined I wouldn’t make it all the way home, but a few days later I returned to California feeling deflated.  I hadn’t even send cards.  We just hadn’t had the money.

I put everything in a box and sent it to Hubby and his girlfriend hoping it would at least make him smile for Christmas.  The rest I carried with me on trips I picked up for the time I was supposed to be home.  The cards, I sent.  I figured that was the end of it.  Then I saw the smiles on the faces of people I saw on my trips and the happy Facebook messages from people who were surprised by my cards.  I heard Hubby and Mouse’s voices when they called me after opening their gifts on Yule, and they were so full of joy that, while I was still homesick, my spirit was renewed.

Yesterday as I placed a blue and while Yule/Christmas bouquet at my mom’s headstone, full of her favorite flowers, I caught the scent of pine that rose from it and was immediately reminded that I get to spend the holidays with family I haven’t seen on Christmas in many years, that I have been able to spend the better part of this year with people who are no longer with us and that I have been able to be a part of the lives of the children in our family again.

This was my first home, and it remains a very special part of me and my Christmas heritage. When I got back to y room I set up an impromptu alter, some festive things my grandma had left as a surprise for me, and the cards Hubby had brought me on a surprise overnight visit, and my heart was immediately lighter.

Light.  There it is.

Light of hope.  This doesn’t mean suddenly everything is better.  This doesn’t mean all the injuries we’ve sustained this year are gone.  This means there is hope.  This means a light has been shed on our strength and our resilience.  This means a light has been shed on those around us who love us, so we know we’re not in this alone.  That light means guidance and a promise that if we are growing we are alive.

Light.  Light reminds us that there is more than darkness.  The fact that we recognize darkness is, in part, due to the very light we hail, as we are reminded when we speak to balance.

Aloha, Light.  Aloha, Darkness. Aloha Christmas.

Go now, be joyous.

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