Thursday, November 20, 2008

Joyeux Noel

April, Dottie, and I decorated the tree on Sunday. 
I've had these same decorations for 12 years--hard to believe! I am big on tradition.

"There is a deep malaise in society. We can send email and faxes anywhere in the world, we have pagers and cellular phones, and yet in our families and neighborhoods we do not speak to each other. We need roots to be able to stand straight and grow strong. When we respect our blood ancestors and our spiritual ancestors, we feel rooted. If we can find ways to cherish and develop our heritage, we will avoid the kind of alienation that is destroying society, we will become whole again."

I have a crazy collection of ragtag ornaments that I have collected from all over the world.
 Here is my Shakespeare from Stratford-Upon-Avon and my Big Ben from London.

"True love needs mindfulness. We have to take the time to acknowledge the presence of the person we love. "Darling, I know you are there, and I am happy." This cannot be done if we can't free ourselves from our preoccupations and our forgetfulness. In order to acknowledge the presence of our beloved one, we have to offer our own true presence. Without the practice of establishing ourselves in the here and the now, this seems impossible. Mindful time spent with the person we love is the fullest expression of true love and real generosity."

"In the Psalms, it says "Be still and know that I am God." "Be still" means to become peaceful and concentrated. The Buddhist term is samatha (stopping, calming, concentrating). "Know" means to acquire wisdom, insight, or understanding. The Buddhist term is vipasyana (insight, or looking deeply). "Looking deeply" means observing something or someone with so much concentration that the distinction between observer and observed disappears. The result is insight into the true nature of the object."

Here are George and Martha Washington. I got them from a Mount Vernon road trip with April.

"Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. To me, this is the most essential practice of peace."

Our finished project.

Happy Christmas Season Everyone! While our world is in tumult, mabye we can find ways to foster peace and calm in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Much Love.

**Quotes from Living Buddha, Living Christ


Stina said...

That is a beautiful tree! I love personalized ornaments too, so each one has a story. I am definitely in the Christmas spirit and constantly listen to Christmas music on the radio!

Kate Lord Brown said...

Wow, it's beautiful D'Arcy. You guys start Christmas decorations really early over there! Be Still. I need to print that out in a big font and plaster it all over the house ...

Rowena said...

non attachment is the hardest thing.

I know I spent many years not even understanding what it was. And this is coming from someone who was raised a buddhist.

I'm still not really sure what it means, but I do know it's not really about giving up stuff and having an opinion and things you love. It's not about being an ascetic or a monk.

I think it's about understanding the value of... well... everything. Accepting that what is true for you, may not be quite as true for someone else, but that other position is still valid.

And it's about being unattached to ideas you have about how things should look, the outcome you should have, the who you should be.

I don't even know if this makes any sense... but I'm not attached to it making sense.


Olivia said...

Oh, D'Arcy! You're the only person I know who can take an ecclectic collection of ornaments and turn it into a tree that looks like it was done by a designer! :) Absolutely beautiful.

D'Arcy said...

Stina! I know. Poor April had to hear me listen to each story--"Look, it's my little leprachan from Ireland!"

"Here is an Angel I got in Quebec, at this little shop in the middle of the old city....

"Look at this stain glass from Amish country...remember when..."

"Here's an instrument from Brazil...and I bought it from this little Rio..."

And April--

"Enough already!!!! Bah, Humbug!!"

D'Arcy said...

KAte--this is the first year I have ever done it THIS early. The past 13 years I have been in school or teaching school and so I havne't gotten into the spriti of Christmas until the 20th of December, and two weeks just isn't enough. That's why this year I decided to embrace it and start extra early!!

D'Arcy said...

Rowena, exactly. I think you've covered exactly what I wanted to convey. It's not that we aren't rooted in our traditions, it's not that we don't love our religions, it's not that we have to be so open to everything that we don't know what is important for us.

It's the fact that if we can validate another person's point of view, then we can gain understanding, and with understanding comes respect, and with respect comes love and with love comes peace. At least, that's what I believe.

D'Arcy said...

Olivia--you are too sweet. When is that baby coming? A baby at Christmas time, this is so exciting! I wish I could see you and hold your new little one (and meet your husband and daughter!)

HappyWifeHappyLife said...

Tres tres belle, mon ami.

Christmas normally makes me VERY melancholy but the 'gray fog' has yet to descend upon my psyche this year. It would be nice if it stayed away for once.... I would like that. :-)

Your tree is lovely.
We always put our Christmas decorations up the weekend after Thansgiving. The kids are starting to get very excited. Hopefully Diva won't eat any ornaments (6 month old Labradors tend to be like billy-goats with what they're willing to eat...)

Alisa said...

I love this tour of your gorgeous tree. My vacation souveniers are always Christmas tree ornaments as well. I love how once a year I get to relive some of my favorite experiences as I decorate my tree.

Torrey Jayne said...

I love the tree! It's gorgeous! Come help me decorate mine... I don't know where to start!

Ruahines said...

Kia ora D'arcy,
Rangimarie, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Yuletide to you as well. I think I miss Thanksgiving the most of any holiday.
I used to work on a Christmas tree farm around this time of year, big beautiful trees, and being outside with smells of the pine and hard wood forest around us. Just magic. I used to say a few words to each tree before I had to cut it down. Strange eh!
Have a lovely day.

Steve and Jenn Fletcher said...

I love gold on a Christmas tree. It's my favorite color scheme--green and gold. (I don't know if you remember my wedding colors, but they were white with gold and green trim and I just wanted simple green plants with gold ribbon tied around them, and my mom thought I was crazy because I wouldn't pick an actual color--like pink or something.) Anyway, your tree is very pretty. I try to do something similar with my tree...but somehow every year the occasional Yoda ornament manages to make an appearance.


Merry (early) Christmas!

jomama said...

such beautiful ornaments, d'arcy! i'm like that, too. i actually collect ornaments from all over the world. that ended up being the only souvenir i bought myself in quite a few of the countries i visited.
i love christmas!

Pseudonymous High School Teacher said...

I am curious who you are quoting. I loved them all, but I think my favorite was the first one.

smiles4u said...

Very beautiful D 'Arcy. I love the "Be still and know that I am God." I needed to be reminded of this message. Thank you. I am sure I will come back and read the message of this post a few more times in the near future!

Dottie said...

Probably the most awesome christmas post I'll see all year! I love the photos with zen quotes between each of them.

So spiffy!

Olivia said...

Newborn babies are the best to hold! My due date is Dec. 6, just one week and six days (who's counting, right?) but the doctor thinks she'll be about a week early, so I'm hoping to have her for my birthday (Dec. 1) :) Hopefully the combo of Thanksgiving eating and Black Friday shopping will get things started....

And yes, you have got to meet Faiyaz and Anjali and "this one" (yep, gotta find a name) and I want to see you too. We shall have to arrange it. Let me know next time you head for New York, and we'll figure it out.

Boquinha said...

Love the tree. LOVE the quotes. Great book. I love it.