Tiny Herod

Grand River Unitarian Universalist Congregation Sanctuary, Christmas Eve

    This is where I work but tonight I was not working. I got to sing carols, light candles, and listen to stories. Look how whimsical and warm this space was. I needed some of that.
    The thought we left with was how each character in the story of the birth of Jesus lives in the world today, and a small version of each lives within us. Tiny, jealous Herods writhing within us, desperate to control everything to retain power. Angels, singing joy and praising the good. Magi, our inner wisdom skating the line between science and magic to discover truth. How does your Tax Collector show up? What is your Innkeeper like? Can you sense the simple gifts your inner Shepherd offers?
    The sermon didn’t get psychodynamic but that doesn’t mean I can’t. Maybe Christmas is as good a time as any to remember the Child within you and somehow feel again the miracle of their birth. Know that inside you is a Mother and a Father that is yours to be in relationship with. You can tell the story of that relationship the way you want, in your own words, and by whatever new rules you choose. 
    I think I better stop there before I start looking for my inner Donkey and Cow.
Merry Christmas to everyone who believes that, rejoice the return of the light if you’re on the hemisphere experiencing that, and Happy New Year to all who mark time in this way.         Conjure your blessings as you best fathom, and welcome to them. 

 

Piri Piri Tourtiere Debate

I’m sitting in my car watching the snow fall in Victoria Park. When I was in Portugal I regarded Christmas displays depicting pine trees and snow-covered hills. It’s strange to be in a foreign country and realise that their images of Christmas are your home country’s reality. We live in a Christmas card; why is this the dominant Christmas picture?

I’m drinking coffee and eating a nata tart. I don’t think I liked nata before I went to Portugal and now I find myself daydreaming about them. At  Farm Boy there were four tarts in the bakery. The smiling staff member put them in a box for me – it seemed a lucky omen; four tarts, four kids coming for Christmas! But as I took a couple of steps away and sampled a chocolate croissant, it occurred to me that I hadn’t purchased myself a tart.  There were no more in the display but luckily two steps further there packages of six. One extra tart is a much more easily solved problem.

I had been to Fairview Mall, Kitchener to set up WiFi for my apartment now that I’m moving back there. The staff member who sold me my cell phone plan at Virgin Mobile had offered to let me know when WiFi deals came up, which she did a few days ago. I ran it by my son just to make sure, and then told her I’d be there Christmas Eve in the morning to set it up. It went smoothly and it’s a great deal – if you’re looking for a cell phone package or wireless plan I totally recommend Lisa at the Fairview Mall Virgin Mobile kiosk. Now I’ve got to think of a witty name for my WiFi network. Previously it was called folkiekitten, but things have changed. Things have shifted. I just don’t identify with that network name anymore. If you have any suggestions let me know.

So I found myself down by Fairview Mall which is kitty-corner to Farm Boy. Last night I had looked unsuccessfully for two different food items in three different stores: brussel sprouts and a cottage roll. There’s a good chance that cottage roll just doesn’t exist in Southern Ontario. I picked up a piri-piri chicken last night though, thinking it might be a nice Christmas Eve dinner tie in to my time in Portugal. So anyway after signing for the WiFi, I drove my sleigh over to the Farm Boy to see if they had either cottage roll or brussel sprouts. This was overall a Christmas spending tactical error. I really like Farm Boy and want everything they sell (apart from the seafood, gross, sea-bugs). I didn’t need that hot chocolate. I definitely don’t need eggnog fudge for dessert. I’m just not very good at resisting things that please me. The brussel sprouts were terribly expensive. I stood there in the bright light of Farm Boy googling “brussel sprouts shortage 2018”, and sure enough it’s the reality. I quickly posted about this telling the kids that they’ll be having kale. It’s okay. They like kale. Wandering along to the deli area I was transfixed by their homemade tourtiere. Tourtieres are Christmas food. I picked one up to ascertain the heft of it, and then stood there amongst all the happy Farm Boy customers just pondering tourtiere. It would be delicious; you could tell because they also had half-pies sealed in plastic where you could see the meaty insides. Maybe we should have tourtiere for Christmas Eve dinner. But I already have piri-piri chicken. On the other hand, sweet potato casserole would go much better with tourtiere, though kale could go with either. And if we’re going to have tourtiere and go with a Canadian Christmas, why do I have nata tarts for dessert? Will we just have eggnog fudge for dessert without the tarts? Why do I even have tarts, fudge, a tourtiere AND a chicken? That’s a lot of food, I already spent over $100 last night and now I’m going to spend another $50? It’s a luxury to even consider the possibility of having two Christmas dinners available. It’s a luxury to be indecisive as to what to eat this evening. Trying to decide between two expensive proteins for a whimsical dinner on the holidays it’s definitely a sign of privilege. I’m really lucky that I can afford this. On second thought, CAN I afford this? I have no income at the moment – I can’t really afford anything. My sense of abundance, my sense of being able to afford tourtiere or piri-piri chicken or tarts or fudge – it’s all an illusion. Mind you, when I felt I could afford nothing and so I tried to do without anything – that was also an illusion. Scarcity is an illusion. Abundance is an illusion. All things are allusion but arguably  also very, very real. Is our reality an illusion? These are heavy thoughts, heavier even than the tourtiere I was still holding standing motionless in the deli section.

I watched a happy couple experience a Christmas miracle. The Farm Boy employee (all the Farm Boy employees are always smiling what is with this place) was presenting to them their Christmas dinner in a box. I cannot begin to describe the pure joy and delight on the faces of this man and this woman as the box containing turkey dinner complete with every trimming including directions for assembly was revealed. I decided right then and there that regardless of what this year’s Christmas dinner was going to be, next year I was giving myself the gift of a Christmas dinner box from Farm Boy – providing I’ve worked out the conundrum of abundance and scarcity, or maybe just found a job.

Comforts

That’s the food court at this local mall. There’s free wifi. There’s a McDonald’s but also a Sabadores do Porto. I’m eating Indian because I’ve been craving it since not having it in England. With beer, because it’s a food court that has beer.

I was freezing earlier because it’s raining and cold and the apartment has no heat and my big cardigan got stolen. I was hungry and beyond frustrated over passwords and banking. I was concerned for what’s next. I was grumpy from so many causes that it seemed insurmountable. It was time to seek some comfort.

Walking to the mall while the rain took a break got me some exercise and got me to some heat – both needed comforts. Additionally I saw interesting things, like a Nutella cafe, and engaging curiosity always feels good. Bought a lovely and warm scarf, check, that was on my to do list. Love checking those items off! Next was food which was probably more of a need than a comfort. As a sidenote, I’ve mostly stopped feeling “hungry” anymore. It’s like my body clock has just given up. I discovered today that for some reason my phone didn’t switch over to Portugal time. I was an hour ahead for two days and it didn’t matter at all.

Lists and plans comfort me. I was fine for the last two months of floating around without a plan. It’s exhausting though, and expensive and inefficient. I want to travel for the rest of my life but not aimlessly nor non-stop. And preferably not always alone. The delights in life are heightened by sharing them. I’ll be looking for travel buddies. Don’t worry, I won’t be a stickler for the plan. Changing plans is just as good as having them.

It’s amazing how some warmth and some food can turn everything around. As the Desiderata cautions:

But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.”

I’m coughing and sniffling with a cold so I don’t want to go make friends today. I don’t have the energy to dance or make jokes or even ask very interesting questions. I’m grateful every day for social media and for my friends sending me love and encouragement. It helps get me through until my perspective returns.

Soon I need to find a warm hoodie to snuggle into at the apartment, take some cold meds when I get there and if the internet is back, watch some Netflix. Netflix and… warmth.

I’m home for December to have Christmas with my family and friends and to seek comfort during the first Christmas without visiting my mother.

Then I might hop in my car and brave the United States, if it’s still there. If the vote today doesn’t make things worse. That’d be the bravest adventure yet! If my son can do it then so can I! Although, last we heard he was snowed in at a mountain village. But having a great time! Though entirely without a plan. But with his good friend! I wonder maybe instead of trying to decide if a situation is overall good or not, it’s best to just decide it’s good and then strive to make it even better. Yes. That decides it. I’ll look for a hot chocolate place on the walk home.