Long Live Harold the Angel!


I love Christmas. I love the trees, the lights, the ornaments, the decorations, the reading of the Real Christmas Story, the Charlie Brown special, the NORAD Santa tracking site, and Rudolf.

This year, however, my chronic illness has gotten in the way of me performing my usual multi-day ritual of unpacking all my decorations and strewing them methodically about the house. We have a tree, and it has lights on it. No ornaments, no star. We have a wreath on the door. I have a stuffed Santa on my desk.

That’s pretty much it.

I’ve been feeling kind of sad about this lack of decorations at my house, so I’ve been trying to get out and enjoy everyone else’s decorations a bit. While driving in Toronto, I found a Rudolf Car in a parking lot:

I went to the Distillery District with my most excellent friend Glenna, and we strolled around the yearly Christmas Market, admiring the goodies for sale, and stopping occasionally to speculate on the sculptures.

Glenna prevents Chaos from eating the Christmas trees

We played in the Maze-That-Wasn’t. (Dead ends, people, really? Last I checked, a proper maze has an IN and an OUT, unless Stephen King designed the darn thing.)

We managed to cajol some nice people to take our photo in front of the Gingerbread House.

And, of course, we got intoxicated just by walking into the chocolate shop. (Open door. Go inside. Close door. INHALE. Chocolate intoxication achieved.)

It is clearly undeniable that Christmas is coming. I have managed to avoid going to a mall so far (yay!). I have ordered presents online, but none have arrived yet (booo!). Nicholas and I are going south to his parents’ home in Mobile, Alabama, for the holiday, and right now, I ought to be packing or doing laundry or, of course, finishing my holiday knitting.

Can’t. Don’t Wanna.

My sister Liz stitched this for me years ago

I want to sit and read posts and emails from friends. I want to sift through the interwebz until I find a gift for my best friend Mike and for my family and for his family. I want to curl up with cats and read a book, or maybe knit on something-anything-I-want-to-not-what-I-have-to-knit.

Festive Buddy

Having to limit my Christmas decorating frenzy and my gift-shopping frenzy has forced me to slow down, and to think about this whole Christmas thing. As usual, Christmas is a war between its humble original message (the light is coming back, and that’s a promise; whether that light be the Sun or the Son is up to your personal beliefs) and current commercial greed that demands that half of all yearly corporate profits be brought in during the month of December. But it’s also a more personal struggle for many folks, perhaps for most folks.

We’re always searching for The Perfect Christmas. Usually, what we find is something that misses the mark somehow.

Last year's "Perfect Christmas Tree"

Maybe we’re trying to re-create some magical holiday from our childhood. I know that for several years, twenty or thirty members of my family would gather at my grandparent’s home in Carmel, and there would be games and prizes (“For the little girl with the prettiest green eyes and the brown shoes”) given away by my grinning grandpa. The large garage would be cleared and cleaned so that Grandma could put up a long, long table (or two) and serve all of us together in the same “room”. (My mom and I were stunned one year when we discovered the secret of Grandma’s traditional Christmas Eve beef stew: We found a score of Dinty Moore cans in the trash bin.)

It was around that time that I also found out that the name of my favourite Christmas carol was “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” and NOT “Hark, Hear Harold the Angel Singing.” I truly thought there was an angel named Harold who had something important to say to us. Crushed, I tell you, when I found out that wasn’t true. Crushed.

Last year's cookie baking

Those were perfect Christmases, or at least, they have been polished by time to perfection. My uncle Bill would disappear Christmas morning on some silly errand, and of course, Santa would show up to give out presents while he was gone. A while after Santa left, Bill would return and be sooooo disappointed that once again, he had missed the visit of Saint Nick. Aunt Diane and Uncle Gordon would plunk out a rather relaxed (now I know it was a rather tipsy) version of Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer. Every second vibrated with peppermint striped glee and the sounds of bells jingling.

Last year: A gingerbread house!

Now, our holidays are quiet ones. No large family anymore; sometimes it is just Nicholas and myself. One year we were so lame that we didn’t even wrap some of our gifts to each other.

Linus, I do not get what Christmas is all about anymore.

So I’m going back to basics. Too bad if I don’t have all my gifts ordered on time and showing up in perfect glittering paper. Too bad if I don’t have my light-up earrings tucked into my earlobes. Too bad if I haven’t baked Christmas cookies, have no cards to send out, and a box of ornaments still unpacked in the basement.

Too gosh golly darned bad.

I believe. I believe that Santa, in whatever guise he appears, can bring change to hearts and minds. I believe that Kindness Rules. I believe it is good to stop in the middle of the Distillery District market and start singing Hark the Herald Angels Sing with a couple of complete strangers, me on melody and them on harmony. I believe it is important to get in touch with loved ones, and somehow, show that you care and that you want good things for them in the year ahead. I believe light is important, both in the dark of winter and in the shadowy lands of our own hearts.

I also believe it is OK to still count on some angel somewhere named Harold who will come tell me something nifty one day, but perhaps that’s just me.

And I believe that if enough of us believe in what is REALLY important, kindness and compassion and laughter and singing and family and love and light, then the light will come, and the darkness will flee.

That’s nothing new. But sometimes it takes failing Christmas 101 for me to remember what the real answer to the final exam ought to be.

If you don’t have time to bake cookies, give extra hugs instead.

If you don’t have energy to decorate with garlands, decorate your house with friends instead.

If you don’t have friends or family to share celebrations with, be gentle, oh so very gentle, with yourself; maybe fix a special meal for yourself, or curl up with a favourite pastime. Treat yourself kindly, remember that you are important and the world needs one more voice of reason in this crazy Christmas season.

Merry Christmas. May the light come into whatever dark and shadowy corners lurk about you, bringing with it warmth and promise and hope and laughter. May that light come into ALL the darknesses in our silly, topsy-turvy, confused, jinglebell-crazed world.

Chispas

Finger monkeys, to make you smile. Plus, baby goats. And, as a holiday bonus, an orphaned baby bat. Don’t say I never gave you links to cute animals, OK?

Christmas tree made out of yarn swatches. Guess that solves the needles-in-carpet problem.

George Takei’s Christmas cookies, with, as he said, the “inevitable outcome.”

HTML Status Cats. Puts a furry face on all those annoying computer alerts.

A seal pup gives new meaning to “home for the holidays.” Go seal pup!

Last-minute gift (for yourself, maybe!!): Knitted Baby Gargoyle.

Yo-Yo Ma, a bathroom, and a wombat. For Serious Reals. Word is that the bathroom was the wombat’s dressing room, and Yo-Yo wanted to meet Sir Wombat. (I just report the news, folks, I don’t make this stuff up.)

And last but never least, a Twitter denizen sums up the entire season so beautifully I wish I had thought of it myself. GO HERE.

Let there be peace in our world; let us reach out with compassion to those around us. That’s what “Peace on earth, good will towards man” really means, isn’t it?

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. UFO wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. 3 cats, 1 dog, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life.
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30 Responses to Long Live Harold the Angel!

  1. Donna says:

    Thank you for this beautiful post, Sandi. Merry Christmas to you and Nicholas and all of your Fur Kids. <3

  2. limijas says:

    Love you Sandi, I too miss the old Carmel Christmas. Thank you so much, today I was feeling overwhelmed by all the Christmassy things I haven’t done yet and now I feel better. And I’m not going to do any I don’t want to!!!

    Sherry Cake is a must though.

    P.s. This means, of course, that you might not be getting a Christmas Card this year. But . . . I do have your birthday present from last year done now!!!!

    wow, totally forgot I made that ornament.

    Lil’ Drac ROCKS!! But what rocks more is the people with hearts big enough to take the time and energy he needs to feed him and clean him and love him. That is, well, really – priceless.

  3. Darlene says:

    Very good post Sandi. It is good for us to remember the important things. BTW, I saw the cattail under the red wrapping paper. LOL

  4. Arla says:

    That’s what “Peace on earth, good will towards man” really means, isn’t it?

    Amen sister, Amen!!!
    God’s richest blessings to you and Nicholas!!! not just at Christmas time, but always!!!

  5. Darlene says:

    Please Sandi, what is your chronic illness?

  6. Hugs Sandi! My health is slowing me down a bit too and I’m trying to get over the guilt of not sending cards, etc. I keep having to tell myself it’s okay to do less and no one will miss all of the excess. I’m going now to curl up with some knitting….guilt free.

  7. Ann Williams says:

    Love this post!! My feeling exactly. Enjoy Alabama. It will be warmer there!!! And remember: We LOVE you!!!

  8. Rachel says:

    Happy Holidays! thank you once again for a thoughtful and thought-provoking post — we tend to forget that this is a time for family and friends and not a time to count up how much we have received and how “perfect” we made the day.

  9. nobleknits says:

    Sandy: thanks so much – I talked to my students today (Grades 5-8), as I always do at this time of year, about the light in the darkness thing, and that it’s what everybody celebrates (be you pagan, Hindu, Christian, Jew or otherwise affiliated or not). It’s the light that we share that matters – nothing else.

    Another friend gave me a gift on Sunday by passing on a small wisdom “have the holiday you’re having” – be in the moment now – not comparing, not expecting, not being disappointed – just celebrate this one, as it is, for what it is.

  10. GeniaKnitz says:

    Thank you, dear Sandi, for another beautiful blog. May you an Nicholas be the light for each other.

  11. btownknitter says:

    I loved your post. It’s a good reminder that not all our Christmases will be Martha Stewart moments. And my grandma always said that if Christmas didn’t quite turn out the way you wanted, you get another opportunity in 12 months. Merry Christmas Sandi!

  12. Susan S. says:

    Thank you for your usual gentle eloquence Sandi! It is such a hard time of year for so many of us, for so many reasons–you go pretty well to the heart of matters. The light will come back and we just have to remember that and let our own bits of light out into the world, however small they may seem against the dark right now.

  13. ciuccia says:

    Ah Sandi, what a wonderful post.

  14. molly says:

    a beautiful post – thank you! and a merry christmas to you and nicholas and all your family! you always make me think, and consider, and smile!
    cheers
    molly

  15. enallagma9 says:

    Love. Love, love, love!

  16. Kassia says:

    Lovely post!! Merry Christmas to you and your family! :)

  17. Mary says:

    Simply a beautiful post! Brought tears to my eyes. Thank you.

  18. Sandy says:

    Darling Sandi:

    I hope you and Nicholas feel the warmth and love coming at you from the east (city of Stone Mountain, GA) while you are in AL with family. Be safe and the New Year shines with all kinds of promises to be unveiled.

  19. Heather says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Nicholas. Thank you for being the a light to me.

  20. georg says:

    This year, the gift I am giving my mother is uninterrupted time with me. Something I think neither of us have truly done for years. So… I hope she likes me. I will try to like her.

  21. Holly says:

    Thank you for this wonderful post, “Merry Christmas” — >j<

  22. Gloria19 says:

    Merry Christmas. Have a truly wonderful trip with Nicholas.
    Thanks for taking the time to write your blog. It’s message
    is filled with wisdom. Hugs.
    Gloria

  23. Nancy says:

    Thank you for your insightful and uplifting look at life, even holidays, with chronic illness, and the reminders about what’s really important. Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and safe travels to you and Nicholas!
    Hugs,
    Nancy

  24. Merry Christmas to you too, Sandi.

  25. Pat says:

    Hi Sandi,
    AHHHHHHHH, the “joys” of chronic illness. Sucks, Doesn’t it! Am familiar with the feeling but sometimes “It” does us a favor. Makes us stop and consider what is important, find the roses to smell, and take care of ourselves. Your post is most timely because I share the same struggle. I had such grand plans but really needed to reevaluate. Got the knitted/quilted gifts done for the little grands that still believe in Santa, an email to everyone else that they will get their gifts before next Christmas and focused on something near and dear to my heart. Brought Christmas to the military recruiters in Greenville, N.C. Hate the war but care about our military members. Husband and several friends joined me in thanking the 15 recruiters for their service. They said that no one had ever just walked in, said thank you and brought them Christmas. Our holiday is now complete. Your post – I can’t find the words to tell you how right it struck me. Thank you for being you and sharing that beauty. Feel better! Take care! Happy and Blessed Christmas to you and Sir Nicholas!
    Pat aka westies

  26. LynneW says:

    Sandi,
    Merry Christmas to you and yours, with many thanks for making your blog readers’ lives so much brighter throughout the year, by word and deed.

  27. Tamara says:

    THE SNOWFLAKES ARE SO COOL!!!!! HOW DOES THAT WORK???? And yes, I meant to yell.

    Wow. Also, such cute cute pics.

    I’m so sorry life has made things go more slowly, but I think you’re right, things are what they are, and help to remind us that if we look around, usually things are okay.

    Safe travels and happy family holidays to you and Nicholas, your furry (and non-furry) families and thanks so much for the blogging. “So shines a good deed in a weary world” (Will [shakespear] and Willy [wonka].

  28. Meg says:

    Thank you for a wonderful post. I particularly liked Buddy’s picture. In fact, “my” Buddy – also a rescue doggie – is trying to decide who has the better paint-job.

    And thanks for the Gargoyle link. What a brilliant little pattern. I’ve bought it and downloaded it, of course, and have written to the designer to ask if “gaggle of gargoyles” would be appropriate. She has a great assortment of just plain ol’ fun, doesn’t she?

    I know this will find you later in the week, but I hope your trip to Mobile went well. It’s a delightful city.

    Please continue to keep your faith in the future. I, too, remember my childhood in Carmel, but it pales when compared to what the future holds. And Half Moon Bay is always better the second time around.

    Warmest regards,

    Meg Olhasque

  29. donna lee says:

    Christmas is about the returning of the light. It’s always perfect just the way it happens. Some years it’s filled with family and laughter and other years it’s more quiet and gentle. This year was a quiet/gentle one for me. I got done what I could and it was more than good enough. I am a lucky person and I’m aware of that and don’t ever take it for granted.

    I hope you and Nicholas have a good trip south (Canada to Alabama is quite a winter culture shock I would imagine) and a warm and satisfying New Year.

  30. Marea says:

    Happiness, health and best wishes for the new year.

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