Christmas Reflections


Bright red berries in a tangled cluster of bare vines.  A little color, fully natural.  Most of the holiday decorations are artificial now _ lights, plastic wreaths, baubles of all materials and types.  Nothing really wrong with it, stripping forests and bushes just so we can throw them out in a few weeks is pretty awful too.

A time such as this provides a moment to step out of our daily routine _ even if our daily routine is wandering about thinking of trees and birds and skies.  There are other aspects to our lives that must be selected out when we do something a specific as writing a journal.  This week it is all family and memories of people and times past.  That is just as beautiful and strange as the vistas we inhabit now.


Nice mixed message here.  Holiday wreath, open water, fenced in beach with lock on gate.  Our culture continues to have trouble with the idea of what is private, what is public, who gets what.  But in the meantime, Happy Holidays anyway!

This far north in our hemisphere, regardless of the literary and metaphysical claptrap that encrusts itself on our celebrations, it is nice to have a simple cheery break, with lights and festivals and family.  Unfortunately, our self-determined “great thinkers” try their best to ruin it for everyone by attaching grand meaning, when the real meaning is just _ enjoy those you love, and share your life with them fully!


Not exactly a white Christmas, but a sprinkle of snow which has been somewhat unusual.  One lonely bird echoes repeatedly over the frigid hush out here a 9am.  Overhead a woodpecker is busy high in the bare branches.  Almost everyone has some symbol of the season on mailbox or house or tree.

Curmudgeons of all types try to derail any festivity.  They decry the commercialization of a holy time, they rant against the colonization of the West, they long for imagined olden paradises, they earnestly beg for future utopias.  That all misses the point.  We here today, fully human and lucky for it _ we should appreciate that fact every moment.  If we happen to try to make a special effort when the natural world seems more cold and bleak than usual _ well that is to the credit of humans and their cultures.  In that spirit, happy holidays to all!


The clams don’t take holidays, so far as we know, but the clam market is often better when people do.  So it is not only retail work that takes no pause.  Fortunately, for me, this is simply an opportunity to observe something picturesque.

Traditionally maritime pursuits are either romanticized as lovely pursuits which place you close to nature, or horrible nasty necessary encounters with ice and storm.  As with all labor, there is truth in both views.  As with all our experiences, we can choose which we wish to emphasize.


The Halesite Volunteer Fire Department is slipping _ usually the presents are in their sleigh (equipped in the back with a special rocket nozzle) are removed on Christmas night, since they should have been delivered.  I guess the younger generation is again at fault.

This is the nicest part of the holidays, the short interregnum from Christmas Day through New Year’s.  Most of the family obligations have been met, the tensions and hassles discharged for better or worse, and people can just relax with each other for a short while, each getting prepared for the year to come.  The cares of the world will surely crowd back in quickly enough, but for now we just celebrate another year of existence.


Lest you get the idea it is some kind of bucolic paradise around here _ this is a sample of what you would see if you look the other direction from some of my photos.  Selecting what we want to see is nothing new _ Thoreau wrote Walden in what was basically a vacant lot with pond near a railroad surrounded by homes and farms. 

That’s the point, really.  The world is so rich and infinite that we can construct what we will make of it.  You can choose to see the beauty or the ugliness, and even more than that, you have complete control of the lessons you draw from your selected experience.  Sure, the little wreaths are tacky, but, on the other hand, it’s kind of neat that the town is at least trying.


It’s always nice to have a bit of history hanging around, reminding us that there were people just like you and me doing just what we did in the immediate and far past.  The easiest to recall that, of course, is by looking at the artifacts they have left behind.

In a way, decorating a house pleasantly for holidays is showing respect for the original builders and connecting their lives and deeds to the present.  Keeping an old house well maintained and with respect to its original features promotes a valuable heritage, whether it is tens, hundreds, or thousands of years old.


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