I stepped from Plank to Plank
A slow and cautious way
The Stars about my Head I felt
About my feet the Sea.

I knew not but the next
Would be my final inch -
This gave me that precarious Gait
Some call Experience.

Emily Dickinson, c. 1864

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Christmas 2018 is upon us

It's Christmas Eve Eve, right? Everyone who celebrates the holiday must be involved in the madness of last-minute shopping and cooking and baking. People are traveling hither and yon, and there is not one store I'm willing to visit right now. It's pretty crazy out there. Even if you don't celebrate the holidays, the new year and all the celebration of that event is right around the corner. Nowhere is it possible for me to escape the disruption of my regular routine. But I don't mind, since it only comes around like this once a year.

It seems almost impossible for me to believe that yet another year, another longest winter's day, another Christmas, is upon us already. The good part is that soon we will be back to normal, more or less, and our lives can continue with many memories of another holiday season behind us.

How do you celebrate? Are you one of those who goes all in, or are you more like me, hoping it will hurry up and be over with? I suppose if I lived closer to my family members, I might feel more like celebrating in the usual sense. But since I don't have any grandchildren to buy for, or even living children to think about, now my partner and I just enjoy being together and sharing our normal life and appreciating our good fortune. We don't need to buy each other presents, because we're at the stage of life where we are looking to lessen our attachment to possessions, not get more of them.

We did spend Thursday night in a hotel room, which we decided to call our Christmas celebration. The power went out in parts of town, and our area was one of the hardest hit. We lost power because of a windstorm before noon (I was out hiking in the forest) and when I got home, it was all dark, traffic lights out, entire blocks dark. Fortunately I was able to call SG and when we found that it might be as long as two days before power was restored, we came home and packed up for a night out. Usually when I get back from a hike, I write a blog post about our adventure, but that was impossible. So, uncharacteristically, I let it go and we booked a room at the Fairhaven Village Inn. It's a lovely old historic hotel, and we enjoyed having such a nice place to spend the night.

Once we were settled in, we walked to a restaurant for dinner. It was a nice break from our usual routine, but I realized how much I love my favorite chair, sitting with my laptop reading the news, watching TV if I want, or picking up my latest book. None of that is possible without electricity. Instead, it was so dark and cold in our apartment that it wasn't cozy and comfy at all! We were out of our element, and listening to the conversations around us at the restaurant made me realize we were not the only ones eating out because of no power.

While we were enjoying our meal, I began to feel the festive aspects of being in a warm and joyous place, right at the peak of the holiday season. After we went back to our lovely hotel room, got connected to their internet, I finally wrote that blog post from our hike. We knew that it was supposed to be windy, but we had no idea it would be as bad as it was. There were branches snapping and howling winds overhead, and there were a few times when it sounded like a freight train was coming our way. We had no choice except to return to our cars, because the worst of the wind was on our way back. The trees swayed mightily in the wind and, frankly, we were all more than a little scared. We shouldn't have been out there in that storm.

Fortunately, we all made it safe and sound back to the cars, and then we learned that portions of the highway were closed because of falling trees and downed power lines. I heard that one wind gust at the Mt. Baker Ski area reached 117mph (188kh)! Bellingham itself had a couple over 70mph. No wonder there was so much damage. Last night we had some wind, but it was what we usually get: gusts maybe reaching 40. It seemed very tame in comparison.

Sometimes you need a little jolt like that to remind yourself of your good fortune. There are plenty of people in the world who have no home to return to, no usual electricity and amenities that I take for granted. It makes me appreciate how lucky I am to have such a life. I am sitting, once again, in my bed with the laptop propped up, writing a blog post to my dear friends, reminding myself once again that for whatever reason, I've been blessed with riches beyond what kings and queens of old could have imagined.

That's one reason why, I guess, the commercial side of the Christmas season has little appeal for me. I need nothing more than a nice, warm apartment with my beloved, a little internet, good food to eat, and warm clothes to protect me from the elements when I venture out. Yes, life is good in my little corner of the world on Christmas Eve Eve, and I'm filled with gratitude.

I do hope that you will also have a joyous and safe holiday season, and that next week when we meet, we'll be looking forward to the start of another year, another trip around the sun. I wish you all good things with those you love.
Time is a brisk wind, for each hour it brings something new... but who can understand and measure its sharp breath, its mystery and its design?  --Paracelsus 


Far Side of Fifty said...

I am so glad your power is restored! We have outages sometimes, I have a battery operated book light:) We are like you...we got each other a small gift and that is it. Today I will assist with caramel rolls:)

gigi-hawaii said...

Well, you made the best of it. Our power was knocked out during an earthquake, but it was restored after 9 hours. No real problem, as it happened during the day and not at night.

Rian said...

Sometimes a quiet Christmas celebration has it's appeal too. Since we had almost everyone here for Thanksgiving, Christmas will be fairly quiet. I've finished with what little shopping we do, did the last of my baking this morning, and only plan to do a simple dinner on Christmas day: pot roast with onions, carrots, and potatoes, with a salad, rolls, and a chocolate pie - easy peasy.
I think you were all very lucky that nothing bad happened while hiking in the woods during a wind storm. And I also think you made the best of a bad situation with your staycation in the hotel. Smart thinking!

Elephant's Child said...

I love your attitude - and your musings.
All the very best for the season, and best wishes for a healthy happy New Year.

William Kendall said...

I'll just be glad when it's done and over with.

Your power outage reminds me of here back in September when the tornado came through the area. My place was out of power for over twenty four hours.

Arkansas Patti said...

Good how you turned the outage into a bit of a lark instead of being miserable. We really are dependent on electricity.
I'm like you and will be a bit glad when it is over. None of my family--especially those with small children are near by. The youngsters are the ones that bring the most joy to the day.

Gigi said...

What a lovely treat that storm caused you to have! I love Christmas and usually go all in - but not so much in the decorating department this year. But that may be because we still have younger children in our lives - I have a feeling that after they are grown our Christmas will look different.

You couldn't pay me to get out to the stores this close to the holiday though. It's total chaos out there. So I stayed in and baked.

Have a very Merry Christmas, my dear friend!

Bonnie said...

Merry Christmas! Have a peaceful and happy Christmas! Thank you for both of your blogs.

Bonnie in Missouri

Linda Myers said...

I love weather. I wish I'd been able to experience one of the Washington windstorms, but I'm gratefully in Arizona where it isn't dark.

Merry Christmas, Friend!

Linda Reeder said...

The day is done, gone the sun, as I finally get to reading blogs today. The lights are lit, the cooking is done for today, everything is in readiness. I have just enjoyed some brandy spiked eggnog and I've got the Seahawks on the tele. It's Sunday night Football, Jill and the kids are actually at the game, and we are warm and comfy at home. All is good.
We are fortunate, and I count my blessings.
Merry Christmas to you and your beloved partner.

Red said...

The night out in the hotel moves you out of your routine. You've had some nasty weather. We do little for Christmas. We don't need anything so there go the gifts. We do make a traditional dinner. The only decorations we have is one string of lights on some shrubs.

Mona McGinnis said...

Severe weather can dampen holiday spirit, for sure. This holiday, for me, is more about celebrating the coming of the light with the winter solstice. I attended a house party on the 21st where solstice songs were sung. There was no fire outside because of the winds in NE Alberta. There was a full moon on Sat. I'm enjoying the sunrises and sunsets. This holiday is getting more low key all the time. I've given up the hustle & bustle & have quit over-preparing. I enjoy time with family & friends. Merry Christmas to all.

Rita said...

Glad all you hikers were okay and your homes and that you had an unexpected night away with your sweetie. We do live better than kings of old, that's for sure. Better and safer than most of the people on earth right this moment. We are truly blessed. Merry Christmas, my friend. :)

John's Island said...

Hi DJan, I am sorry to hear about your episode without power, but I love the way you and SG turned lemons into lemonade! I admire that. Of course, I hear you about getting back home to the comfort and routine too. The more I read on Eye the more I realize we share so many values. Merry Christmas to you and SG! John

Dee said...

Dear DJan, in college, I minored in philosophy and read the works of ancient Greek philosophers and those of other centuries--French, English, German. No one beyond Europe unfortunately, and at the time I really didn't understand that human beings beyond Europe thought deep, deep thoughts! So insular was I.

I mention this because weekly, I come to your two blogs--one about your hiking the trails in and around Bellingham and the other your Sunday morning musings. And each week, I am enriched by your philosophical offerings to us. Often about gratitude. Often about how fortunate many of us are, not because we somehow more deserving but simply because we were born where and when and to whom we were.

Your Sunday meditations--which I always read on Monday--help me put my life and work in perspective. And so for me, you are another Plato, another Confucius, another Marcus Aurelius, another Descartes, another Kierkegaard, another Julian of Norwich, another Hildegard. Your gentle meanderings among the virtues of humanity have become a weekly spiritual reading for me. Thank you.

And may 2019 bring you a deepening of your own awareness of life's possibilities. Peace.

Dee said...

Dear DJan, I forgot to mention that one of my favorite themes of your meditative postings is that of remaining a lifelong learner, of being endlessly curious about life and learning from it. So often you introduce us to new ideas that have captured your attention and books that absorb your thoughts. I hope you know how much all your readers appreciate this. Peace.

C-ingspots said...

Oh, your unexpected night out sounds just wonderful! What a lovely surprise for you two, and a special Christmas gift out of the ordinary. I LOVE wind storms! I do realize that they can and do cause havoc with electricity, trees, branches and sometimes worse, but I can't help it. There's just something very exciting about witnessing mother nature in her splendor and that feeling of not being in control of anything that appeals to me. I do, however agree with you about electricity! My oh my, how dependent we've become on the niceties that we all take for granted. :) Aren't we blessed to have such pleasurable things in life that we do take for granted? I am embracing the "checking out" of the holiday chaos as well. I give some small, but meaningful gifts to those I choose to give to, not because I feel the necessity of the occasion. I love to have fresh greens and a beautiful tree in the house for the smell and something lovely to gaze upon. I also enjoy the beautiful music befitting the season and baking of goodies to share. But the rest of it? Not one bit! I'm all so ready to move into the quiet and peaceful side of Christmas these days. Merry Christmas DJan! May you be blessed with wonder, grand adventures and good health in this coming new year...thank you so much for the inspiration and reflection that you choose to share with us, here on your blog. Like so many others, I enjoy reading your thoughts and appreciate you more than you could possibly know! Be well and go find your joy dear lady.

Ernie said...

Glad everyone is safe. It is true that there are so many who have less and that we take simple things like having power for granted. Merry Christmas!