garland close

Hi, friends. I know some of you were starting to worry, what with the lack of posts and all. Hugs to everyone who thought of me, and who sent notes of caring and kindness.

After a few weeks of Sucky Stuff, I’m starting to feel human again. The torn rotator cuff that caused my shoulder to freeze up (and Ye Olde Fibromylagia to flare up) has been tamed a bit, so I can knit and type and spin again. (A Sandi who can neither write nor knit nor spin is a Very Cranky Sandi indeed.)

tim drumcarder

Tim took the opportunity to nap on the drumcarder…he figured since I wasn’t using it…

I was getting pretty pouty this time last week, though. As of then, my shoulder was still biting back, and the only sign of the festivities usually infesting our home this time of year was this:

garland 1

That’s our Advent garland. We light candles every night, and then we each hang one ornament (either a glass heart ornament or an icicle), speaking aloud something we are grateful for. Some nights we miss due to events or exhaustion, then we catch up the next time we are able.

The LED lights are weirdly blue; the horrid colour of our rental home’s family room gives everything an odd sickly cast. We can’t seem to do it Every Single Night.

But it’s there, our Advent garland. And we speak our Gratitudes, and light our candles, and hang our hearts upon the branches.

It’s enough.

Or at least, I thought it would be enough.

But in my heart lives a Christmas Child, a girl who longs for all the Christmas magic that she thinks lives in other people’s houses, a youngster who is afraid of Missing Christmas somehow, a child who longs for the love and joy and family closeness that the myths of Christmas promise to us.

tree dec 2011

Last year’s Christmas tree…decorated with small toys. Because.

That child has grown into a woman who always feels somehow that she is on the outside, looking into other windows, other windows where there are Better More Christmas-y Christmases. This woman remembers Christmases past when she was not ill, when she sent out cards, decorated her entire front yard with lights, put up a six-foot Real Tree on Dec. 6 (St. Nick’s Day!), and hung stockings for all the cats.


Dusty approves of stockings for cats.

This woman grieves for the lack of energy this year to Do All The Holiday Things, the lack of children and family to spoil with presents, the circumstances that are Real Life and not a Hallmark card.

And in the midst of this truly lovely ongoing holiday pity-party, my friend Rebecca posted this:

Do not let the dream of the perfect destroy the possibility of the good.


Listen to me whinge about this and that and not being able to decorate for Christmas and do presents and all that shite.

Those whinges come out of the dreams of Perfection, out of believing the myths of a Perfect Happy Christmas.

Dude…is there such a thing? For anyone? Not bloody likely.

And yet…we can blind ourselves with this Perfect Christmas Myth to the Christmas Good that is already here, now, this moment.

heavenly sleep

Only cats know how to REALLY sleep in heavenly peace.

I also want to acknowlege that whining about the lack of a Perfect Christmas is definitely a First World Problem. How selfish of me, when all you have to do is scan the homepage of any news site to see that I’m in the class of those privileged enough to even worry about a happy Christmas.

And yet…this is my life, and though I am indeed privileged, I am human, and my human heart grieves and feels loss, and to treat that grief with anything other than respect and compassion would be to stand on false ground.

One cannot try to live a compassionate life and leave one’s own inner Christmas Child out of the picture. The children who live in our hearts are the source of much that is good about us; they remember love, they hold onto joy, they still know how to play and delight in small things when the grownups they inhabit are running around grinching about the trucks on the road. (Truckers have families to feed. They bring us food and furniture and clothing and nice things. Blessed be the truckers, and may all their travels bring them safely home.)


I try to smile and wave at truckers. Sometimes I smile and wave even though what I really want to do is give them a choice set of handsignals.

Compassion starts at home. I needed to find a way to deal lovingly with the mixed-up feelings this odd holiday produces, to remind myself of the Good that is, and to share the Good with those around me.

zoe drumcarder

What is it with cats and drumcarders? This time, it’s Zoe.

To acknowledge the Good That Is, I’ve started taking my Gratitudes to the street: I am thanking people. In person, in email, on Twitter, wherever. I tell them “Thank you for being xxx, and for what you’ve been to me, here’s an example of how you have touched my life, thank you so much.”

I think this might be embarrassing the heck out of some folks, because we are not used to compliments, praise, or expressions of gratitude.

I do it anyway. It’s important, methinks. How often do we REALLY let someone else know how they have touched us, or let them know how grateful we are for their presence in our life?

And to take care of the Christmas Child within, I made a list of seven things, seven festive things that I could reasonably do that would help feed my little holiday-hungry soul:

  1. Put a wreath on the door.
  2. Hang our big snowflake-of-lights on our porch.
  3. Put up a small tree.
  4. Make gingerbread cookies with my sweetie.
  5. Have hot spicy cider in the house.
  6. Hang stockings and have wee things to put in them.
  7. Snuggle up with cats and beloved and dog and watch movies on Christmas Day. (I used to watch the Die Hard movies every Christmas. I got those at the discount store, and a few others. Plus, there’s always Doctor Who and Buffy!)

I’ve done some light shopping for gifts for my love, and have some other Evil Plots up my sleeves for what will go under the tree.

::arches eyebrows: NOT THAT SORT OF EVIL PLOT you silly humans::

We’re going to the Christmas pageant: Such adorable children in shepherd costumes; last year, one of the young three kings was annoyed by whispers in the audience, so he turned around to face us, put his fingers to his lips and SHUSHED us very loudly. Almost died of laughter…

small nativity

We’re singing in the Christmas Eve choir. We’re having Christmas breakfast with dear friends who have become family.

So now, it’s your turn…my Gratitudes for you.

Dear Blog Readers,

I don’t know who you are, not all of you. I do know that you leave comments that touch my heart and make me laugh. I know that you continually ask for more, and I am so grateful that you allow me to be part of your lives. Some writers can write without anyone reading their words; I thrive when my words are part of an ongoing, living conversation, one that sparks thoughts and builds community and that speaks to other hearts. You invite me to write for you, you give me the opportunity to share my gifts, you give me the gift of thoughtful “ears” and an ineffable warm presence that is very real when I sit down to the keyboard.

For this, and for all the other blessings all around me, I am grateful.

family room

The Chispas will be back next time…

About sandi

Knitter. Spinner. Quilter. UFO Wrangler. Sometime bead artist and weaver. Two toddler-age kittens, 1 permakitten, 2 grownup cats, 1 beloved dog angel, 1 spouse, 1 crazy life. I suppose that the 5 cats make me 1 crazy cat lady; OTOH, apparently, yes, I do need that much feline supervision.
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29 Responses to Gratitudes

  1. Tina M. says:

    I feel you, Sandi. I remember more, and better, and I also have to breathe. There’s going to be a little extra oomph in my Yule observation tomorrow night.

    I hope you continue to improve, health-wise, and that you are granted some peace and joy this holiday season.

  2. Sarah says:

    Here’s hoping for health, sanity, and calm this holiday season.

  3. Anna Johnson says:

    I really enjoyed your post!! I think for the first time, there was a little more in depth for Christmas because of your post. I love it when people share what is under the surface a little bit more than the everyday mundane everything!!
    I understand illness and disease as i also deal with a chronic issue and now heart tests to add on top of it for January. I am trying to get disability but I got the first denial and into the fight for it process now. My husband makes minimum wage and it really bites when I have two grandchildren to buy Christmas presents for. I love them soooo much!! It’s ALL for the grandchildren this year…no one else. I wish i could do more. (I am knitting a baby blanket for my little nephew).

    I think of how the Christmas couple was in that place where the manger was and having a baby…what a struggle to be riding on a donkey at 9 months pregnant!! My problems are not that bad!! Especially when one of my relatives are looking for a home and will be homeless if they can’t find a place to live. Another person going through an ugly divorce during the holidays. Christmas holidays does not spare people from the problems in life! So…..I am thankful today…even though i have a disease and we are scraping by…I can knit, sing, walk, EAT (haha) make crafts, surf on my laptop, and i have many friends on many levels….I AM BLESSED!!

  4. Heather says:

    Thank you for the posts! You are so very eloquent and I’m glad that you do what you do. Happy Christmas to you and Nicolas and your fur-kids.

  5. teabird says:

    All of the good you wish for others – sevenfold for you, dear Sandi.

  6. Rachel says:

    Thank you. Thank you for reminding me to maintain a “attitude of gratitude”. it’s been a rough year for me as well, health issues, scary ones, fortunately resolved successfully but a reminder that life is precious and it is the people and animals in my life who are important and necessary.

    I wish you and your sweetie a wonderful Christmas, may your inner little girl have joy and happiness this season

  7. Arla says:

    You are a breathe of fresh air, speaking straight from your heart!!! Bless you!!! I so look forward to your posts and thought at one point, Gee it’s been a long since I’ve heard from Sandi, I hope all is okay with her…I should have written to you, but I didn’t, I’m sorry…
    I will be thinking of you during this festive season, the one I call Christmas, and trusting that you find peace as of a snowing day when the noise of the outside world is hushed, that you find warmth as when your kitty-kids are sunning themselves on your drum-carder, and happiness as when remembering your childhood, and the innocence there-in…
    Blessings, Sandi, you are loved…

  8. Jeanie says:

    The only thing I can add to the wonderful comments is another ‘Thank You’ for all your words and sharing!

  9. Jerry says:

    Hi Sandi. Reading your post I thought of one of my favorite rounds: “May the long time sun shine upon you, all love surround you. May the pure light within you guide your way on.”

  10. Barbara says:

    Thanks Sandi, you are right and you are great!! Happy Solstice, and Merry Christmas!

  11. Ann Williams says:

    Hope you will be good as new soon, Sandy. Merry Christmas to you and yours.

  12. Kimberly says:

    Merry Christmas, Sandi! May you be all healed up and doing all things fibre artsy by the new year 🙂

  13. dclulu says:

    So well written and touching, as usual. Happy holidays, Sandi!

  14. Donna says:

    Sandi you mentioning the inner Christmas child made me smile. When I think back on the Christmases of my childhood I know there was love and happiness and small things that gave me more pleasure than some of the big things. That also makes me think of May baskets we made and filled with violets and hung on the neighbor’s door handles because it made them happy. I am going to try to remember those simple things when things get so stressed and remember that Sandi said those little things I can do and have are so very important! Thank you so much Sandi for bringing those memories back to me!

  15. A wonderful post, Sandi. I think I needed to hear this myself- and I wish you all the best for the holidays. May your health, or at least your pain levels, be more manageable over the break and for the new year.

  16. Pat aka westies says:

    OH Sandi,
    Your post brings tears to my eyes. I also deal with Fibro and multiple chronic illness. The grief that these bring to our lives and families is something that people find hard to understand. We look healthy what can possibily be wrong with us.. I think that Christmas heightens our sense of grief and loss. We used to be able to do all the things that we loved and signify Christmas. We used to have those perfect Christmas’s. I think that time erases the less then perfect parts. But you are absolutely correct. We need to treasure what we have and accept that life is still good. We have the LOVE of our lives, our animals that love us unconditionally and our talents. Your life impacts so many more individuals then you can possibily imagine. We are truly blessed. AND we are human. It is important to give ourselves permission to grieve for the losses in our life, be less then perfect and accept the new “US”.
    I wish you a Christmas that fills the empty places, a day wrapped with love, joy and a sense of peace.
    Pat aka westies

  17. Mary says:

    I am grateful for you, Sandi. I always enjoy your posts and was glad to receive this one. Living with chronic illness and pain is tough. I appreciate your ability to be honest about that and about the whole range of emotions you and we feel. Take care of yourself. Have a joyful Christmas. Wishing you happy times in the coming year.

  18. Genia Potter says:

    Sandi, you are not the only one. I think ALL of us are on the Outside Looking In at a Christmas festival that is only real in our heads. Hold your dear ones – two- and four-legged – and love them. And I will hope for you that next year All the Christmas Things will work out.

  19. Tamara says:

    Oh Sandi! You always hit so many of the right notes. Your honesty, clarity, humour, and gratitude make me feel like a better person just for appreciating your blog! I wish you peace, joy, love, serenity, and the continued ability to type. 🙂

    Love to you and Nick this Yule, Christmas, New Year, and always.

    P.S. I ADORE the snowflakes falling down your page–one of the most beautiful web effects ever.

  20. Kassia says:

    Merry Christmas Sandi!! And Nick and your kitties too!! 🙂

  21. Bonnie says:

    Thanks for posting this. I think many of us (certainly me) need to be reminded that there is no perfect Christmas like the ones we have in our heads. We make it special by the little things we do.

  22. Diane prager says:

    I’m so grateful whenever I see a new post by you. I often send your chispas to my boys. This has been a hard year for me but it could always have been worse. I’m thankful for you, because you make me laugh. Best wishes in 2013! P. S. I think Die Hard is the best Christmas movie ever! We always watch it together over the holidays.

  23. EagleKnits says:

    So happy that you are blogging again, and so sorry for the circumstances that kept you from it. You are so right in saying that we should be thankful and enjoy the Christmas that we have instead of grieving too much (although it’s okay to grieve a little) for the Perfect Christmas in our heads. God bless, and may 2013 bring you health and happiness!

  24. Seanna Lea says:

    Real Life is a harsh mistress. She isn’t averse to fun, but her perspective on how much fun we need is sorely lacking. I hope you and yours have a wonderful holiday and a brighter, happier, and healthier 2013. This has been a year where many a person I know has said F! 2012.
    I know I am hoping for happy healthy things for 2013. I’m willing to share.

  25. mmm says:

    Thank you for your blogs – whenever they come. You have a wonderful way with words – and with yarn. Merry Christmas and wishes for a wonderful, healthy, safe New Year.

  26. Deb says:

    Happy New Year and many thanks for all your posts during the year.

  27. elaine in colorado says:

    Dear Sandi….. Thank you for all of your posts, and shared knowledge and smiles… but especially this one. Made my day & my Christmas. Hate to admit it, but I had been a tad grumpy because of stuff, and escalators, and such. But your post appeared just when I needed it… amazing! So I stopped and put up a tiny tree, with bears, and angels, made a cat nip toy for my cubs, worked on some knitting gifts – did what I could to satisfy my inner Christmas child. No, it wasn’t the “usual” craziness. But I felt so much better. So, thank you. And here, to you & yours, are wishes for a wonderful 2013 – full of our fiber and beads, and our four legged friends, and the loves of our lives, that keep enabling us to do what we do! Take care… till later 🙂 e

  28. Marilyn G says:

    ((((Sandi))) Happy New Year! Thanks for being you, being real, and keeping on keeping on. It’s appreciated!

  29. Mary Lou says:

    Pinterest led me back to you! Pinterest, that tempting, time-sucking, crafters candy store, had me start the new year once again pinning, drooling, dreaming, when I should be crafting. However, one repin had sandi wiseheart attached to it! I LOVE her! I so enjoyed your wonderful humorous, instructional, and personal notes to us on Knitting Daily. Your galleries showing knitting projects on real people gave us a realistic glimpse of how they might look on each one of us. YOU made me want to swatch and want to pick up that frogged project. Pinterest wound me through its spider web, first to a warm, typical Sandi article with the typewriter churning out a scarf, that spoke about paring down and thoughtful, handmade and heartmade gifts, and then to your tiara creations, fun! and finally here to your blog. What a wonderful way to start the new year, finding a treasure like you!

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