Paris in December

Yes, it is sitting on a wooden wine box.

Yes, it is sitting on a wooden wine box.

A year ago it was so difficult to allow myself to find joy around this time of year, but I look around and see it so much more clearly now.  As another song goes, love is all around.

I removed from storage a framed collage of photos of my Paris trip long ago and set it prominently on my shelf as a reminder of happy days–they are here again.  The pop songs never seem to end.

But I suppose what I’m trying to convey, at least to myself, is to keep things simple and light.  I know it’s easier said than done.  But when I push through a hardship, it’s important to focus on what is so good about being alive.

And then an interesting thing happened to me at the end of this year:  I landed a new job.  It was the Christmas gift I was waiting and hoping for.  In another moment of reflection, I remember a friend telling me to be sure I am running toward something as opposed to running away from a situation.  I’m happy to report it is the former.  Right now it does feel like Paris In December.

In Memoriam

Chicago1My 92-year-old paternal grandmother and my dad’s closest friend passed away last month before Thanksgiving, and I’m reminded of one of my favorite Robert Frost poems, “My November Guest,” which starts:

“MY Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
Thinks these dark days of autumn rain
Are beautiful as days can be;
She loves the bare, the withered tree;
She walks the sodden pasture lane.”

It was a disorienting feeling–sad but not entirely surprising since they were both in failing health.  Nonetheless, their passing compelled me to take stock in my own life and to reflect how best I am making the most of my time in the here and now.  This is the mindset I am bringing to the holidays, particularly with my family, and I’ve noticed our relationship has deepened, and my attention is focused on the things that are really important.   As the year winds down, I feel more relaxed, celebratory even.

These realizations are pretty standard following the death of a loved one, but I supposed what really surprised me was the outpouring of sympathies from those outside my family, whom I would imagined wouldn’t even care, let alone showed the kind of compassion reserved for a close friend or relative.  I guess I have to recalibrate my expectations of people.  Death is universal–it catches up with everyone one way or another; and the element of surprise is a gift.

“Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow,
But it were vain to tell her so,
And they are better for her praise.”