Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Best Gifts

(Pictures left: People mulling about the frozen lake near Bethesda Fountain, Tina looking for ducks or raccoons, Chance just being one happy dog in the snow! All of it like an old song, by Spanky and Our Gang: "Lazy Day!" -- and all it, the best gift one can give one's self.)

Of all the holidays, Christmas is the one that is most difficult to spend alone.

Memories of family Christmases past tend to flood one's consciousness, as well as the societal messages of family and togetherness, particularly on Christmas Day..

My family is actually quite small now.

I never had any bothers or sisters.

Mother, Grandmother, Aunts and Uncles have all passed on.

I have a couple of cousins who live in the west and we exchange Christmas cards every year. One of them I actually talked with last week over the phone. That was very pleasant.

I have one daughter, Tara who is now married and lives in Utah. Due to the distance and the fact Tara has a demanding job, we are rarely able to see each other any more.

Tara did make it to New York this past week on Monday. But, she had to be on the first plane out of Kennedy Airport the next morning.

The less than 24 hours we were together seemed to go by in a flash. We managed to get in a quick walk in the park and a trip to midtown to see the Rockerfeller tree as well as the finely decorated stores along Fifth Avenue. All of it was wonderful fun and fulfilling -- especially just being with my daughter once again.

But, it seemed no sooner than Tara arrived, she had to rush to leave. -- So much left undone and unsaid.

And so, I was actually quite depressed on Christmas Eve. Once the stores closed and images of families attending Midnight Mass services began to appear, I found myself falling into some kind of downward, emotional, self-pitying spiral: "How did I end up like this?"

I turned on the TV and tried to watch a re-run of "Who Wants to be A Millionaire" or anything that was non-Christmas.

I ended up watching the movie, "Capote." A really interesting film about the famous "In Cold Blood" author. But, thinking about murder, Capital Punishment and heavy human choice on Christmas morning when one is already depressed is probably not the wisest use of time on the most treasured and holiest day of the year.

Thank God for my dogs, Tina and Chance.

Yesterday, Christmas Day, I went with my dogs to Central Park.

Initially feeling a little shaky and unsteady on the icy and slightly slippery bridal path, I figured the walk would be a fairly short one. -- Perhaps a quick trip around the Great Lawn, throw some bread out for the birds, maybe take a picture or two.

But, as we moved on, I began to feel stronger in the brisk, wintry air and took special joy in the delight of my two dogs enjoying the snow.

We ended up spending two hours in the park......walking along the wooded paths of the Rumbles, to the frozen rowboat lake, to Bethesda Fountain and back.

I snapped some pictures along the way, but the best ones were of Chance's happy face in the snow and Tina's back side while she eagerly looked for ducks or raccoons near the frozen Turtle pond.

The day was nice for "people watching" too. Everyone looking happy and serene. A few teenagers pushing their luck walking on the thin ice of the lake; one family even having a picnic in 38 degree temperatures!

It all reminded one of the old Spanky and Our Gang song, "Lazy Day."

Finally arriving home about an hour before sunset, I marvelled at how physically good and strong I felt, as well as how the day had actually turned out to be quite wonderful and fun!

I laughed at how blackened and grungry both dogs looked from romping around in all the wet snow, ice and dirt.

But, it was all so worth it.....

I thought to myself, sometimes the best gifts are those one gives to one's self.

Especially, when being lucky to have two great dogs to share those gifts with. -- PCA


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