Monday, December 28, 2009


So, now that the ups and downs, the egg nog and shortbread, the bustle and bluster, the family and the friends of the holidays are mostly done, it's time to focus on my next Cowboy adventure: two weeks in Puerto Vallarta at the all-inclusive Royal Decameron Puerto Vallarta (say it with me now ... ADULT ONLY POOL!) in Bucerias.


We leave in 26 days, and I'm beginning to realise that I have some wardrobe gaps that I'll be looking to fill before we take off. Of course, I could just take a half-full suitcase down and fill it in Vallarta, but that seems a little high risk, and I intend to spend more time there adventuring than shopping.

Whatever wardrobe ends up wrinkling it's way south will have to do me for 2 weeks and prepare me for such possible activities as snorkeling, zip-lining, 4x4ing, shopping, lunching, kayaking, sailing, dancing, dinner theatre, hiking, and humpback whale watching. Oh, and I'd like very much to see some blue-footed boobies, just so I can come back and say that I've seen blue-footed boobies. Blue-footed boobies! BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES! (I honestly didn't know they live outside the Gallapagos!). And maybe, if Cowboy is feeling especially long-suffering, I'll get to visit the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens. The point is, I'm going to need a variety of clothes for land and sea, rural and city-centre, day and night, adventuring and exploring.

So here's what's on the current wish list. We'll see if I can find any of it in Victoria in January. :)

  • pretty beaded leather flip flops
  • a boho chic cotton (or maybe silk) maxi dress
  • the awesomest mom-positive swimsuit ever
  • a wide-brimmed, packable sun hat
  • a second pair of sunglasses
  • a cover-up that works from the beach to the cafĂ©
  • linen pants (or I could just fix the ones that have been in my mending basket for 2 years - ha!)

The truth is, I'd probably be fine without any of that stuff, but shopping for a big trip seems to me like a fun part of the build-up, so why the heck not at least speculate, right?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

On the other hand

I love Christmas. I get very excited; I make big plans; I enjoy the build up and the anticipation. I often think that when my time comes I want people to say of me, as they did of Scrooge, that " he knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge." (except maybe they could adjust the pronouns).

And then sometimes there's this let-down of being unable to attain my ideal Christmas and having instead to accept the Christmas I have. Of course, that only happens when I focus on the "tinsel & trappings" instead of on what I really love about this season - being with family, surprise and delight, joy and love. But the let-down happens none-the-less (as do all the blessings).

Today I woke up like it's just any other day when I have more I've promised to do than I have time to do it, and when what I want to do is very far away from what I need to do. I want to go gift shopping, and bake treats, and find the missing ingredient that will make my first tree with Cowboy perfect (it's missing something, but I can't tell what), but what I need to do is get to yoga, and complete some client work, and take care of the banking, and keep my appointments.

I'm letting life get in the way of my experience of peace on earth and goodwill to all. So it seemed like perfect timing that I got a reminder this morning of two Christmas funk songs. They are actually two of my favourite Christmas songs, I suppose because you have to have a little dark to really see the light.


Fairytale of New York: The Pogues with Kirsty McColl

The River: Robert Downey Jr. (unfortunately there's no real music video for this)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Peace Love ... no, this is not a Gap commercial

It started with a funny look - Cowboy quizically gazing at me as though trying to comprehend what I'd just said: "the chocolates aren't for me, I need to fill the boys' advent calendar." I returned the confused look, unsure what the problem was. And then I smiled - "Oh, you think it's crazy that I am buying candy for an advent calendar when my sons are 17 & 20, don't you!" Rapid agreement. Rapid reply - "you don't stop a tradition."

In fact though, my personal history of advent, and advent calendars, is relatively short. It is one I adopted sometime in the 90's, buying a pocketed felt snowman to track (and treat) the countdown to Christmas - to acknowledge and encourage the anticipation of the day, as though that was necessary in a house filled with greenery, readings of How the Grinch Stole Christmas, and frequently smells of fresh cookies baking.

But like most commercialised traditions, chocolates and calendars are cheap simulacra for the deeper meaning of advent. I suppose that in the evangelical churches of my youth, advent was considered too ritualistic and even (horror of horrors) too Catholic to be observed. So I was 20 when I first remembering celebrating the lighting of the purple and rose candles. And learned to pause in the Christmas month to think about what the season meant. And while I'd always believed Jesus was 'the reason for the season,' as many a Christian bookstore stocking stuffer proclaimed, it was the liturgy of advent that taught me what that trite sentiment really meant. In the Baptist church I married into, the 4 weeks of advent were focused on Hope (or Expectation), Peace, Love and Joy - and to spend an hour each week reading, singing and reflecting on those changed everything else about Christmas for me.

I now know that the theme of advent services varies from practice to practice, although they are always the 4 Sundays before Christmas, and always centre on the advent, or coming, of Christ into the world. But that initial experience has stuck with me, whether I'm attending church during advent season or not. And cheap and commercialised though they may be, the chocolates remind me. And the calendars remind me. To pause, and to reflect, and to remember that the hope, peace, love and joy of the season are not accidental. And that stopping to think about them is as worthwhile as all the hustle and bustle I normally engage in for the month of December.
So my sons are inevitably growing older. And they may not see why that silly felt Snowmen still matters to me. And Cowboy may smile patiently, believing that I'm clinging to my sons' childhood. But when I walk out in the door in the morning and see the Snowman with another empty pocket. I know. And I smile, and I think about hope, love, peace & joy.
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