December 1 – Tradition

It occurred to me today that I can barely keep up with myself.

This morning, after chores, I collected items for the Post Office while I was out, then searched high and low for Jill, the kitty, then found her and won the battle of getting into the cat carrier, then coaxed/pulled/carried Jackie, the elder Springer Spaniel, to the car while fending off the two other younger dogs that kept trying to get into the car ahead of us, then ran around and played tricks to encourage the two younger dogs into the house while I took Jackie & Jill to the vet’s for checkups and vaccinations.

Turns out I was an hour late for their appointments.  Of course, I had to reschedule but, gosh, I was sure they were supposed to be there at 10 a.m.. I checked my calendar over and over, and then I learned something new.  I had made the appointments for the dog & cat when I was in the midwest a couple of weeks ago, so I was on Central time when I entered them into my smart-phone’s calendar.  And now that I’m on Eastern time again, the smart-phone is so smart it doesn’t want me to miss my midwestern/Central-timed appointment: 9 a.m. Central time is 10 a.m. Eastern time…get it?  I would’ve been right on time if I had been taking them to the vet’s in the midwest!  Only a 17-hour drive away…

I regrouped for the other events that were scheduled, including another cup of coffee.  It was a two-cup morning.  I found my groove again by about 1:30 this afternoon.

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting with a friend about parenting, how we go about offering guidance, punting along the way. I mentioned the challenges of being a Type A parent with Type B kids and how, as she put it, I then try to re-adjust for mortal expectations.  Parenting young adults calls on you to exam your convictions and beliefs in new ways.  Not bad ways.  Because they’re, (my three), not robots, conversations are colorful swings between educated and informed discussions or respectfully, (sometimes not), shared opinions. Sibling rivalry and silliness, singing and exclaiming are all still part of our family’s time together, lest you think we’re all serious around here.  Actually, far from it.

Raised on the musical “Fiddler on the Roof”, I sing every word of it to the goats and sheep and horses and pony and piggy while I am mucking and sweeping the barn. I’m fond of it partly because of my father’s Russian/Jewish heritage which helped me feel a connection, but also because of Tevye the Dairyman’s story:  his love for his family and passion for tradition, questioning his family’s growing pains and how they conflict with all he has had firmly in his heart and head for so many years.  These events speak to me as a parent and as a middle-aged mom.  I’m treating my own faith singularly nowadays, admiring beliefs and belief-systems, born of love, all the more.  I especially respect spirituality in the many forms a loving human being finds it and it is so refreshing to clear the fog out of some of the corners in my mind.

Today I bagged and boxed up about 100 lbs. of books from my Sunday school & Altar decorating days.  I’m preaching to the goats now, I’m decorating the tack room.  Others are taking my place in the old youth room and on the chancel steps. I’ve got a special-needs Border Collie pup that requires ‘saving’ and instead of organizing a Poinsettia sale to parishioners, I’m up to my eyeballs in fresh bales of straw and shavings, considering my annual greening up of the aisleway with stockings on the door of each stall.  I haven’t gone to a board meeting in a year or more and I don’t know how I had the time to before.  It seems the barn is my church these days, the hayloft makes a great sanctuary and clearly, I have a lot of sheep to tend.

In years past I would have at least one kid at home to help me break out the Advent calendar, the Christmas decorations during this week.  It’s just me to do that now.  I couldn’t find the time to pull up the boxes from the basement, or get out the calendar, though I had great intentions. It was on my mind all day that I hadn’t even sent my kids off from Thanksgiving with calendars -something I tried to do every year since they were little.

How is it that I am busier than I was when I had babies and toddlers, homeschooled kids, teenagers all under one roof?  How is it I couldn’t find time to pull out that colorful, slightly tacky, poly-blend pocketed “Christmas Around the World” Advent Calendar that has a snazzy harbinger of Fa-la-la-la-la from every corner of the earth to velcro to the poly-blend tree on the banner?

I’m not always in such a tizzy.  And I do know how to relax.  I do know how to slow down.  I do meditate (don’t tell me there’s a wrong way to meditate – my preferred down-time is with my sheep or goats, just sitting.)

The lesson I got from my silly-head was to maybe consider that it was o.k. to find a new way to ‘prepare’, as the time of Advent has taught me in the past.  That, like Tevye, traditions are indeed important, but let’s not close the door on new ones, or to overlook the reason for tradition at all.

Jane Austen wrote “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” That’s not my line, Jane, but I hear you.  In honor of Advent, of preparing, of traditions old and new, my reflections on December 2014 won’t be that I fussed about how I did or didn’t pull out the old traditions, but instead will be that I savored memories instead of bemoaning them, nourished hearts, waited patiently for the light, acted responsibly about my health, and treated each day like a beautiful poem.

Alpaca Zen

Alpaca Zen

6 responses to “December 1 – Tradition

  1. You are absolutely channeling me T. Joanna and I are a few years ahead of you and are almost ‘coming out the other side’ of all of these changes and issues. Tradition is certainly a tough one. Joanna is so tied to traditions very old, old, and not-so-old. To celebrate one or another Holiday without doing this-or-that is difficult for her. Perhaps to jettison one tradition to adopt another somehow signals the passage of time and maybe that’s unsettling. There are so many thoughts going through my head, I’m having difficulty sorting them all out for myself. Our biggest change has, of course, been the significant downsizing of the farm operation. Just this past weekend we passed a few more of our sheep along to new owners. Joanna and I both find the actually transfer difficult, but (like being at the dentist) once it’s over, it feels good to have it done. The flock is down below 25 animals now – it feels weird. This transition won’t be done however until we’re physically off the farm, and that will take a bit more time. I am looking forward to a new chapter however, having (in my own view at least) completed this one with many successes. So, hang in there. Life must be an ever-changing kaleidoscope of experience … many happy and some sad (or, at least, bitter-sweet). If not, then where’s the interest in it? Before signing off, I should say that I appreciated the Austin line, “Life seems but a quick succession of busy nothings.” How true. We get so sidetracked with the seeming and false importance of all that we are doing. Oh my … this sounds awfully philosophical. For, what’s really important? What’s the nature of that single drop when the fullness of our individual lives is distilled to its essence? Let’s answer the question seriously. What of real significance is there? I can only imagine that the significance is in the many ways that we have influenced the lives of others (human and nonhuman alike). And … let’s go one step further by asking … and where’s the significance in that? Hmm … on a cosmic scale? Perhaps none at all. None at all. But, on the individual scales of our individual, human, lives? Perhaps that significance is immeasurable. D

    • Right, D – I understand what you are saying. I just watched a neighbor go through downsizing, selling the farm, relocating. They ran a dairy goat operation – very successful, but had been hoping to sell before they got too old to enjoy their life sans daily farm chores. They found a buyer who is using the farm for beef cows, and so it was hard/sad to sell their goats(200) and all of their equipment as well as the contents of their family farm house. They’re resettled now in a small house on a farm about an hour away where they tend to a few pigs, a few goats, and the owners of the farm run the agritourism/dairy business. They love it.

      And as far as changing gears for trying to keep ‘family tradition’ up, if we’ve learned anything from history we know we need to embrace/accept change. I fight it, though 😀 Tell Joanna she’s in good company!

      Funny, I never want to do the same puzzle over and over again, but I’m always happy to hang decorations or cook certain recipes, etc., every year. Really no comparison, obviously, but it does indicate that our outlook tends to dictate our sentiment.

      Probably better than to question what matters, instead just appreciate the human story. At least that’s what I’m going to go with.

      Have a great holiday and thank you so much for a kind, thoughtful reply. I always enjoy your comments to the fullest. Best to you both during the coming weeks. Enjoy your downsized flock while you tend to them in the brutal part of the year. May all of your ruminants be healthy!

  2. Oh Tammy, I so enjoy how I can totally relate to your writing! Your words seem to capture my thoughts perfectly. As we are upon this season of Advent and being a middle-aged mom myself, I find myself struggling with tradition vs change vs ritual vs routine. My alone time is quite reflective, trying to focus on tomorrows and being positive….as you say, each day a beautiful poem! Cheers to you my friend! Meleen

    • Meleen! What a gift we have in each other’s companionship! So happy you were so bold as to drive your family down my driveway and introduce yourself that summer day. Imagine if you hadn’t? You’re a treasure. And hearing you say your “alone time is quite reflective” – that is inspiring. It’s good to share company amongst such a beautiful person as yourself. Thank you.

Comments are closed.