Sunday, December 23, 2012

147th Post - Christmas Games

Part of being in the middle of grown children, young grandchildren, and aging parents is the challenge of accommodating new and old Christmas traditions. Add to that the complexities of blended families and you have a good case for a month long vacation to Maui, Cuba, Mexico...just about anywhere but here.

The simplicity of family living in one city, meeting at church Christmas Eve, followed with the gathering at Omie's has long since passed. The years of hosting Christmas dinners with young children, cousins, uncles, aunts, neighbours, and friends has also faded into yesterdays.

This year has left me particularly unprepared for the grand festivities. We started shopping/gathering gifts as far back as September with the best intentions of sorting, wrapping, mailing, delivering all presents well before the 24th. So much for good intentions. Here we are on December 23rd with not one present wrapped, nothing delivered, no chance of gifts arriving up in Fort Mac for the Family Gray in time for the big day.

Rather than succumbing to guilt or worse yet, giving into the potential of bah humbugs, we've set a new pace. It's called one day at a time. There is no old way of doing things. Releasing the have-tos, embracing the unexpected, forging different pathways of celebrations has not been easy; however it is born out of need. Need for joy, peace, love, and good mental health.

These 2012 festivities began with our first Christmas dinner at Irmgard's, my dearest mother. She can still cook up a tasty turkey; no one can match her stuffing. My sister in law, whom I love dearly, cooked up all the fixings -D E L I C I O U S! We were a simple group of seven gathered around mom's table. To blend the new with old, mom insisted we end the evening with a game of Elfer Rause (Eleven Out). To mom's credit she had kept the old well worn cards for our game. The same cards that we used when I was young. So many memories in those cards; yet still room for more. In between some soft/some loud renditions of 'Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty' we laughed and played. In typical Irmgard fashion there were prizes for the winners. I was a winner! I went home with my prize. Not simply the prize in my hand, but the bigger prize in in my heart; memories of love and joy covered with a lovely coating of peace. What a wonderful beginning to this season of Celebration. 

Merry Christmas,

Saturday, December 1, 2012

146th Post - The Main Thing

I woke up early (again) on a Saturday. After banishing my reverend to the bedroom so I could have some alone time in the living room, I seized the early morning to catch up on Facebook. Who'd have thought life would get so busy I could actually get behind on Facebook?
There seems to be an existential theme this morning. The first post I checked on was a heart breaking story of young Camille Gregory who died four days after receiving her grad diploma from UBC. View a bit of her story at Living Out a Dream. What a courageous young woman. So committed to finishing well.
Through tear-filled eyes I clicked over to a newer fb page started to encourage a well-loved, now retired teacher from Vernon, BC. Mr. Bob Advent taught for many years and is respected by all who know him. Mr. Advent is fighting brain cancer. His former students have set up this page Keep Fighting Bob Advent to encourage him in his battle.
Cancer is no respecter of age; the stories continued. A boy, 15-year-old Jordan Unrau from Kelowna passed away this week after an 11 month intense battle with cancer. I don't know Jordan, but learned about him from a friend on Facebook. What struck me this morning was Jordan's desire to return to school this last September. Here is his mom's entry and her thoughts...Wondering in the Wee Hours. This blog is hard to read. It's extremely personal. It outlines the battle, the fight, the raw emotion and strong belief/faith that binds this family.
One commonality in these three lives is education. Camille was determined to graduate; Mr. Advent, the teacher, touched many lives. Those lives are fighting hard to encourage pay it back in any way they can; and Jordan - he's now gone from this earth, but his desire, in the midst of deep pain, was to get back to school. To be normal, to walk the halls, to learn, to play, to be with friends.

Hitting me square in my heart is that this job I have... educator, counsellor, now administrator does have impact. We touch people. We impact lives. It comes back to human interactions. Whether it's via technology or face to face, it's about relationship. So then, how am I am feeding my soul in order to remain grounded - at least most of the time? Make no mistake, we must be grounded, we must work towards personal congruence or we will crash and burn when faced with the myriad of  souls that cross our paths.
I'm left with a sorrow mixed with hope. We do make a difference. We may not be in the business of saving lives, but we can pour hope and purpose into lives that are struggling.
As we enter into the season of Christmas; of appropriate it would be to lean into new move bring freshness and joy to our schools.
Once again, I find myself with more questions than answers. Kind of like the rest of the students.
Until next time take care,