holiday dreams (troiku) RonavanWrites Haiku – slow-burn

(c) Clr ’18

 
Hot mug of cocoa 
Sitting before a crackling fire 
Eyelids slowly close 
 
Hot mug of cocoa 
Memories of long ago 
Scents of childhood 
 
Sitting before a crackling fire 
Birch logs burning ever slowly 
Embers glow 
 
Eyelids slowly close 
Dreaming of ol’ saint Nic 
Sleigh bells tin-a-ling  
 
© Tournesol ‘18/12/19 
 
A Troku is a new form of haiku created by Chévrefeuille at Carpe Dieme Haiku Kai  
This is written for RonovanWrites Weekly Haiku: Slow & Burn

an angel in the night

every inn is full 
  an angel in the night 
leads them to shelter 
 
every inn is full 
  stars bejewel a stable 
such humble beginnings 
 
an angel in the night 
 carries a sacred message 
a king is born 
 
leads them to shelter 
   babe swaddled in a manager 
wise men bearing gifts 
 
© Tournesol `18-12-15

Interpretations differ of Dec.24th

st nicholas

Photo credits: Wikipedia Images

(Tanka)

Christmas Eve joy 

Hosting my loved ones

We eat, drink, giggle a lot

mostly we just love.

Snow falling, blessing the earth

Kids awaiting ol’  Saint Nic.

Baby Jesus Christmas Nativity

Photo credits: Baby Jesus Christmas Nativity

(Haiku)

Christmas Eve – hallowed

Midnight mass we pray.

Celebrate the birth of Christ

Rejoice in our prayers.

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, January 3, 2013

Better late than never, having been away for the holidays. This is in response to Prompt, 006 Wedrinkinspiration

Comfort ‘n Joy?

advent image dec 

As the holidays are approaching quickly, some people think changed behaviour of some friends and relatives…sometimes it is less to be desired.   i.e. more fighting, arguing, behaving inappropriately including sexually.

Here are a few snippets of stories I have heard over the years talking with youths:

It may be the first Christmas without mom and dad together;  When  parents separate a child may have mixed feelings. He may remember the fighting when they were all together.  He may feel torn with sad or angry feelings towards one parent or both.  Change is never easy but it is more difficult for youths especially teens.  Keep that in mind when making plans for the holidays.

A youth may feel guilty being more with one parent and not know how to reach out to the other parent. How can a parent help a child sort this out?  It is totally okay to feel these emotions..confusion, guilt, anger…and hope. It’s just nice to have a shoulder to lean on when it gets messy in the mind and confusing.

Some youths are worried their family have enough money to get through the year. Many people are laid off end of December and contracts are sometimes renewed only in the spring.  Some older youths (teens) feel they should quit school to help the family by getting a job.

Some families are transferred in other parts of the country or the world due to employment…parents have to move their families…sometimes children have to say goodbye to long-term friends.  Getting through  the holidays in a new place can be exciting and yet it can be overwhelming as well. 

For some families and youths, this is a marked season without a special friend or family member…grieving this loss, and their absence is felt more so during certain holidays.

For many youths who have lost a loved one, regardless when that was…the holidays are often difficult because it is a time to share with loved ones and that person is not among them.  And so, the holidays can be an “opportunity” rather to take time and think about this person and include her or him in your well wishes during the holidays. 

Let’s be honest.  It is a bittersweet time for adults too. Some of us have lost a parent or both. So keep in mind that it’s okay to talk about it. Normalizing grief and loss on important holidays is acknowledging that big elephant in the living room.  Once that’s out in the open, it will actually give a sense of relief for everyone.

This is a time of year that many teens are invited to parties, exposed to alcohol and drugs; they need to know they can call for a ride without getting scolded…is this a possibility for many? 

Some youths share they feel a bit left out because they know their friends are celebrating Christmas but it is not part of their culture or religion.  They share that it is not only at school or with friends but it is everywhere they go…the television, the radio, the stores, the newspapers…all bombarded with this Christmas cheer that is a bit foreign to them.

It may be a good time to emphasize that the meaning of this word ‘Christmas’ and that for many it is an opportunity  to connect with people and tell them how much they care about them; it can mean having people over for the holidays to share a good meal and that that sense of giving and sharing is perhaps more universal this time of year.     

The holidays  represent many diverse things for youths and families.  There is the joy of getting together and yet the stress of having enough time off to enjoy this time with the children.  There are cultural and religious differences that some face and are forced to be off work and exposed to the commercial aspect of this time of year. Let’s face it, even those who celebrate Christmas get fed up being bombarded by the commercialization too.

Ultimately, it is supposed to be a time of year to bring friends and families together; sometimes we need to be more creative in the gatherings and have more “pot lucks”.  Children also feel the stress and depending on their age, are often confused as to who they are supposed to act.

Planning, decorating and cooking and baking…all of these traditions can be part of the fun too…how are you planning your holidays?  Children feel special when they are given certain roles and tasks too.  What have you planned for your children?  Remember, if you are anxious and stressed about the holidays, chances are some of your children may be feeling some of this angst too.  They are like sponges, soaking up emotions we had no idea they could relate to. Usually the younger youths do not understand what that emotion is, they just feel something…

Some families want to also teach values to their children and it is a time of year where families volunteer at a food bank for a day or a soup kitchen too! 

Wishing you warmth, love and health … Happy Holidays!

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, December 17, 2013

The O’Donnell spirit

A Short story about a family struggling with poverty during the Holidays.

me sidewaysMae O’Donnell had been daydreaming, sitting in her rocker as her boys were playing a board game. She smiled fondly at her sons. She felt so fortunate that they enjoyed playing nicely. They never complained about not having computers or television. They were content just being together. Tomorrow she would bring them to the public library to get new books and stay for a few hours. There, they were allowed to get on the computer. The two youngest liked to play on-line games but Liam enjoyed doing research. He was surely to become something great someday, she thought proudly.

She went to the kitchen pantry to start dinner for her children who’d been whining to eat soon. “Come on, Mommy, we’re hungry!” the three shouted in union. The youngest of 5 years old yelled louder than the oldest of 12. Hmmm, she thought, that one takes after his grand-daddy for sure!!

She knew it was time to start scrounging for something to eat…She looked with dismay in her pantry…there was not much to rummage here, she thought. She had to go back to the welfare office to get more food vouchers. She had a can of beans, a large bag of sticky rice and half a carton of molasses (she always had enough molasses, so rich in iron and good for her growing family). This was not good indeed, she thought. What would she make for their lunches for school tomorrow? What will she do for the entire week? She did not have enough money to pay for the bus to the welfare office PLUS the food bank. She had to make a decision quick.

She cooked a big batch of rice and wondered what she would do. Then suddenly, she had an idea! She would make bean balls. She would roll up some beans in the rice and make balls. It would harden and be a great snack! She’d add molasses to the beans to make it sweet and sticky. Why that’s a grand idea! She thought hopefully.

She spread the cooked sticky rice that was on two large cookie sheets and spread the warm beans that she’d heated in a pot with molasses, sparingly to cover BOTH cookie sheets. Then she decided to have the boys participate and tell them her plan. They knew all too well that they had little money and did their best to make the best of things.

“Patrick, Liam and Sean! Come on over here and help Mommy. I need your gifted artistic hands to help me make Rice-Bean balls for school tomorrow.” They ran over to the kitchen table excited and shoulders held back pompously. They were young men helping their mom!!

They managed to roll out 60 balls. They still had not had their supper but they seemed to have forgotten how hungry they actually were. Mae boiled an onion in chicken broth and added the leftover rice…this would do for tonight, she thought.

Tomorrow the boys would sell each ball for .25 cents at school. The students often had Loonies and Toonies and the teachers liked her little special treats. That would give her at least $12.00…(she would give 4 balls to each son for their lunch and sell the remaining 48) enough to get a few things to get through the week. She could go to the corner store and get a few things to eat. Thank goodness they were part of the EMO programme with free Eggs, Milk and Oranges each week delivered on Friday mornings. At least the government did one thing right by offering healthy items for eligible families.

The boys did not complain; they were excited about their new project. Liam, the 12-year-old used to like calling his family the O’Donnell Entrepreneurs…If you need it, we’ll find a way to get it or make it.

“Mom,” Liam looked at his tired mother, “You know if we just mark “donations are appreciated”, we usually average more than .25 per item. Do you want me to do that?
His mother looked proudly at his son who was already 5 inches taller than her. “Maybe another time, Liam, honey. I don’t want to take a gamble on the generosity of folks this week. We need at least $12 to get through the week. Is that okay by you, son?” He nodded and went off to bed.

She finished washing the last of the dishes and got out her notebook to write in her journal. She wrote for a few hours. She yawned, “Time for bed now.” But she added one more line before turning in, Please, Great Spirit, make it that we get a nice surprise for Christmas, so the food bank will spare at least a small chicken for our dinner. Thank you for blessing me with the finest lads in the county!, Mae O’Donnell, December 17, 2013.

The holidays have their highs and lows for most folks. During this season, think of giving a little extra for your local shelter or food bank. This year our office surprisingly doubled their collection of non-perishable food and toys. Just think about it…if everyone gave a little extra, that would fill a few tummies for sure.

Give just a little, it’s better than naught
look at a homeless person this week in the eye and smile…
even if you don’t have money that particular day,
that’s okay,… just don’t turn away…
they’re also actually human by the way;
if you do have something to spare, then
don’t just throw the money their way…
look at the person and wish him/her a good day.
It does make a difference to be treated with dignity.
And trust me, you’ll feel better too!

Happy Holidays

© Cheryl-Lynn, December 17, 2013

The holidays already?!!

The holidays are quickly approaching…already!! Why do we always say this?  It is the same date every year, should not be a surprise there, right?  Adults don’t seem ready but the kids sure are!!! Youths expect this time of year months ahead of time.  Sometimes it would be nice for adults to feel more like a kid to feel that joy, that mystery, that wonderful blanket of comfort tuck you in the mystical wonder for several weeks.

That said, I am not a kid but thank goodness I have the next best thing…I am privileged to be speaking to kids/teens every day of the year on just about every topic.

The holidays is a topic youths of all ages call about and one that hits home with parents as well is often…”It’s coming so fast…I don’t know if I’m ready!”  Well, we hear enough about the holiday stress and we often lose sight of what the holidays really should be: fun, joyful, and a little bit of enchantment.

How can we get into that holiday spirit? A great way is to have everyone participate in the holiday preparations which allow everyone to be involved and engaged.  For instance, we know that there is often baking, cleaning up to do and decorating.  Why should this just be the adults /parents responsibility?  Okay, so now the perfectionist adult may have to bite their tongue now and then and allow everyone to take part.  So what if a ribbon is not perfectly set, who cares if a pillow is not centered…they are supposed to be “throw pillows” right?

How about seeing the end of December, the birth of a new season “winter” and that includes preparation for weather, outings, hosting parties and enjoying family fun.  Rather than focussing on ONE day, how about centering on this season.  If the word holiday gives you a panic attack, change it to winter fest.  Festivals do not last simply one day…and they are enjoyed by May for weeks…now that sounds a bit less daunting, doesn’t it?  Knowing that you have more than ONE day to make it all right.

 

Here are some ideas to expect a Seasonal mood:

–        Looking forward to something fun helps to get caught up in good feelings

–        When you feel happy and excited, you can actually create a good experience.

–        It makes it easier for positive emotions to build and grow and that’s one reason the holiday spirit can be so contagious.

–        So what mood do you want to create this holiday?  Do you want it to be fun, peace and love or giving and sharing?

Now how are you going to make it happen?

–        Think about activities that make people laugh like picking a name in a hat and each family member (or your group of friends) has to give a holiday token.  Notice I said token…not gift.  It can be something you made, a special scarf of yours that your friend likes and you are ready to give it to her, it could also be promising to do certain chores at home, offering to give a friend a manicure or doing her braids; for the guys out there, it can be offering to coach someone in a sport, skating.  It helps if you are a group to brainstorm different ideas as well and that puts everyone in the seasonal mood.

–        Take part in preparing the home for the season too.  Rather than dwell on how it sucks to clean up your bedroom, why not put on some favourite music to get it done?

–        Happiness is contagious…just think about how you feel when you see the little guys so excited during this time of year…why stop when you get older.

–        Brainstorm with your friends /family going to a shelter to sing some songs or help out to serve meals.  There is no better feeling you feel your heart when you give in these situations…really!

Here are a few ideas I have told youths during this time of year: 

–        A young teen called wondering what she could give her family this year. She felt she was old enough and had this urge to give back.  We talked about whether she wanted to buy gifts or make them.  She said she had $20.00 for the whole family (2 sisters, one baby brother and her parents).

“Wow!” I said, “You have a lot more than you realize…$4. Per person and you can combine your parents and make it $8 for them or if your siblings gifts end up costing less…well there you go more for your parents!”  After a long talk, she decided she was going to make photo gifts… purchasing frames for her parents and making frames for her siblings. The money would go for enlarging some favourite photos she had of special moments with family members.  How cool is that?! 

–        One child called because he did not know if he was going to see his dad this holiday season because he was in the military and may not be able to make it home on time.  We talked about his family members, extended family and he was very close to his uncle, (dad’s older brother) and how he could arrange ahead of time, some fun things to do with him.  If his dad was coming later, maybe he and the family could arrange to have second holiday feast and gathering when he got home.  “I bet your dad would really appreciate experiencing that and not feel as if he missed that day.” 

Sometimes I get calls from youths whose parents are working throughout the holidays and barely any extra time to spend with the children.  

–        One girl called wondering how she could spruce up her home without it costing anything and doing something so she and her younger siblings whom she was babysitting could have some fun.  I suggested she check out the malls that are selling trees and pick up the fallen branches on the ground…put together, you can create lots of nice decorations. Popcorn and cranberries are beautiful and inexpensive decorations! Have the siblings create decorations as well.  Going to the dollar store and getting a few items if you can afford this.  But, even more fun, if she could take a few days with her siblings and make some holiday gifts to give each other and their parents.  The biggest gift to her parents would surely be her organizing this time and creating a holiday mood that may be contagious. 

Tips for parents:

–        Develop traditions by creating activities that are special to your family.  That can consist of holiday meals created from parents’ childhood recipes.  Traditions can be preparing the home for the holidays as well, making it special and not a chore.

–        Keep your plans within your resources. It can become double duty for parents…delegate and accept nice and not best from your family.  If you do it all, chances are you may be short tempered with the family…

–        Be sensitive to your children’s wishes.  Communicate with your child how the time off school will be spent. Often we get calls from youths who are bored…plan activities ahead of time.

–        Try to communicate with your teenager and discuss how they want to spend the holidays…encourage them to plan things ahead of time and share your plans too. Often when teens get older, parents may feel they don’t want to take part and that could be far from the truth…everyone wants to feel included.

 

Make connections: this time of year is a great time to reconnect with family and friends…Can’t afford big feasts…pot luck is even more fun! The importance is having a place to gather.  Your gift is offering your home so this can happen.    Volunteering at a local charity with your children is a great way to teach your kids about the value of giving.  Inviting a neighbour over for tea if you know they are alone.

–        Help your children understand the value and the meaning of the holidays.  For some it may be religious, share that with your children; it may be a sharing experience, offer your child opportunities to share; if it means more family gatherings, give your children roles in hosting these gatherings

–        If you have teens and there will be parties, talk about drinking and what your expectations are.

–        Be available to do some car duty sometimes but set limits so you can relax too.

–        Have fun yourself, parents!  Don’t expect perfection …just has fun.

Tips for kids and teens:

–        Plan, plan and plan some more.  If you have some image of what the holidays should look like or what you are hoping for…talk about that with your parents.

–        If you want to get together with some friends, this has to be planned before the holidays because chances are; your friends have plans too.

–        Lots of fun can be had just doing fun winter activities for ALL ages, not everyone can get to snowboard or downhill ski but sliding; skating or making a fort can be a blast.

–        No snow this time,  just means dressing warm and skateboarding, roller blading or finding indoor areas to rollerblade, or why not try out bowling!  Call to check with days or times there are reduced rates  at some of these locations.

–        Board games are often only brought out at parties and the holidays…why not choose 2 or 3 board games that will become your holiday games.  You’re allowed to tell your parents that you prefer different ones now if you feel you’ve outgrown one or two.

–        Don’t’ worry so much about giving gifts, instead give of yourself and write in a homemade decorative card what you will do the help with chores, teach a sibling something, etc.

I could go on but I think you get the gist of what I am trying to convey.  This year, I decided to have family over for a late dinner December 24th.  I’m going to make sure beddings are ready so they can sleep over if they’re too tired to drive home.  I even am dusting off my vinyl records to play some 70’s music.

I will be working the following day, Dec. 25th.  I can’t wait to talk to kids and teens on that day and share with them my winter fest mood.  And if theirs is not so upbeat, I’ll be there to listen, comfort and offer some insights to lighten their mood.   Happy winter fest!!

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, 2012/11/28