|Pretty glass tree decorations|
I have reached the age where I don't exchange gifts with anyone on a regular basis. Smart Guy and I have a rather loose system of giving each other presents: if we see something that we just have to get for the other, we do it, no matter what time of year it is or whether it's anybody's birthday or a holiday. And not having any children either here or anywhere to expect a gift from me, the joy of giving ends up being spontaneous and much more interesting. The only problem is that there are some people who feel obligated to give me a gift in return, one of equal value. I usually tell the recipient that I really do enjoy finding some little thing that makes me think of them and that I've already received plenty of satisfaction just in finding it and giving it.
But I sort of know what they mean, when I receive an unexpected gift from a friend. However, I've learned to accept gifts shamelessly with joy and happiness. My fisherman friend Gene always gives me salmon he caught while fishing in Alaska. I love it and don't complain that I've nothing to give him back. My friend Judy will sometimes spontaneously pay for my movie ticket and I smile and say thank you. And the things I find for others are maybe one of those pretty ornaments or a small handmade bowl. I'm not talking about expensive stuff here. Although I have to say if I were wealthy, it might be a different story. But I'm not, and in actuality, I think it's nice to have just enough and no more.
I saw another really good movie last week with Judy, Brooklyn, with Saoirse Ronan, a young woman (born in 1994!) who has already won the New York Film Critics Circle Best Actress award for her performance. She plays a young immigrant in the 1950s who comes to Brooklyn from Ireland. The movie is based on a book written by Colm Toíbín which of course I will now have to read. I've got a hold on it at the library, but I'm #30 in line and there are only five books. It will be awhile, but I'm looking forward to it. By the way, if you wonder how to pronounce her name, Saoirse, I looked it up: it's a bit like the name Sasha, but a little different: SEER-sha. When I see a name like hers, I realize I always say it "out loud" in my mind, but when I haven't a clue what the correct pronunciation is, it makes me uncomfortable until I figure it out.
Last Tuesday was my birthday, and I have to say I was really overwhelmed with all the birthday wishes on Facebook. Well over a hundred of my friends from every part of my life, past and present, took the time to wish me a happy birthday. And people I know here in Bellingham also made a point of it, including the staff at the coffee shop. It makes me realize how important it is to acknowledge my friends' birthdays as well, because it just feels good to be remembered on our special day. Just this morning I received an e-card from an old friend I haven't seen in years. That reminds me, does anybody use Blue Mountain e-cards? It looks like a good organization and has really got me wondering whether it would be worth $20/year to send unlimited e-cards to family and friends. I just recently bought a beautiful card for a friend and it cost $9, which shocked me. The recipient doesn't have email so I was forced to send her one by snail mail, and considering the two stamps it took to mail it, the $20/year cost begins to look a lot more reasonable.
I am halfway through the online course I'm taking to become an ADF (Advance Directive Facilitator) with the Whatcom Alliance for Health Advancement. It's been a long time since I've taken a course of any kind, but I have to say I am really impressed with how sophisticated the course is. There are four modules and each takes a couple of hours to complete, after having read the corresponding chapter in the manual. I was sent the manual online and was going to print it out, but when I realized it is almost 200 pages long, I went to an office store and had it printed and bound by a professional. It's much easier to read that way. Then there will be a full day's training in person at some point in the future. It's not exactly riveting reading, but it's very comprehensive and will give me an idea of how to deal with different scenarios that might arise. I look forward to helping other people to write a valuable end-of-life advance directive.
Well, that was my week since we last met here in the blogosphere. I'm still not sure whether the magic worked and I've created an interesting post. You will notice that I didn't mention the news of the week, the current mass shooting that occurred in California. I't's not because I haven't been watching the news, because there is nothing else on when I turn on the TV. This was the 355th mass shooting in this country so far this year, meaning four or more people dead. I cannot fathom the horror and so right now I have decided to read uplifting books and try to see the good in today's world.
The world around me, right here at least, is warm and safe. I hear the wind blowing outside and rain pounding the roof, but my partner is snoring gently beside me as I type away on my laptop. The winter solstice is right around the corner, and once we reach the nadir, the light will slowly begin to return. That's the way it is on Planet Earth: the light diminishes but always comes back to days of sunshine and flowers and abundance. I'll concentrate on the good and that always means you, my dear readers, as well as those who share my days in person. I'm hoping that this coming week will bring you plenty of smiles and love and that all your Christmas gifts will magically appear to your wondering eyes. Be well until we meet again next week.