Knitting for Dummies, by Pam Allen, Tracy Barr, and Shannon Okey, is my lifeline! It breaks down knitting to its simplest - keeping me out of trouble when that project has presented a new challenge. It is also the perfect accompaniment and teacher in learning new skills and tricks of the trade. What would I do without it? While not every problem in life or in parenting is as easily solved as the challenges we face in knitting, through this craft, I have managed to learn a lot about myself as a human being and as a parent. I hope I can share these experiences with you, and in turn, we can spend some time together learning from each other...

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays!!!

I love the Holiday Season regardless of what we are celebrating.

On my way home from a business trip recently, I was sitting by the airplane window, and as we were landing, I chose to stop my usual traveling activity, knitting, to look outside at the lights of Northern Kentucky where the Greater Cincinnati International Airport (CVG) is located.  As I looked down, I noticed that the lights were twinkling.  "Were they really twinkling or was I suffering from a headache/migraine?!"  Upon further inspection, I noticed they were really twinkling!  "Awww, it's like a Christmas tree!" I thought.  And right away, my mind moved quickly to my "to do" list before the Holidays... The cards!  OMG, I have had the cards for over a month, and they are not ready!  Decorations!  We are in a new house and I have to come up with a new schematic and design if I am to have the 12 Christmas trees I want before we leave!  Food!  Are we going to have a Holiday dinner before going home?  Presents!  OMG, we need to come up with our "Dear Santa" lists and we have to start shopping and shipping! What are we going to do to "give back" to our community this Holiday?  The parties, the RSVPs, the luminaria walks...  OMG.  OMG.  OMG.


Why was I in a panic?  "It is only NOVEMBER!"  I quickly realized that I had time!  More importantly, however, was the realization - if I have learned anything this year - that I have to enjoy all of my available moments with my son, my partner, my family, and friends without getting overwhelmed by the "to do" lists with which most of us tend to end up.  Those moments with my loved ones are so fleating and so precious!  I already spent too much time in my 20's and my 30's focusing on the wrong things to spend my 40's doing more of the same.  Ok, I needed to refocus, breathe, and relax. 

Breathe in. 
Breathe out. 
Breathe in... and... look at the lights...

Once I relaxed, I saw the twinkling lights through a completely different lens, and I started thinking about the Holidays and their beauty.  Breathe out...  The first "clean" thought that came to mind after my moment of panic was how interesting it was that all the Holiday celebrations that kept coming up for me involved and/or celebrate the beauty of light. 

At the end of October, I had the pleasure of visiting with work colleagues in Bangalore, India, where they were getting ready to celebrate Diwali - the Hindu festival of lights - which started this year on November 5th.  I was treated to the explanation of the festival, the excitement of getting ready and receiving family, and yes, even the commercials of all of the special deals this Diwali.  Through this new experience, I was beautifully prepped and pumped for the many Holiday celebrations in which we partake here in the States:  Christmas, Hannukah, Winter Solstice, Kwanza, Epiphany, among others.  In just a few minutes, I was amazed to think of the role that light plays in all of them.  From stars to manoras, from tree and house lights to luminarias. 

Every Holiday season, our local zoo puts on the Festival of Lights.  I love the zoo, and during the Holidays, it takes an even more magical quality.  It dresses up, it inspires, and it rejoices the spirit.  It, too, celebrates with light.  It is so much fun to visit and see the kids and the adults behaving like kids all in awe at the beauty of the lights.  What does light represent for us?  So, I pondered...

In light, we seem to see hope, life, newness, expectation, ourselves, each other.

While sharing lessons learned about parenting, someone special shared once that our kids are balls of light or energy that we - adults - through rules and regulations (musts and must-nots) start shaping until they become the adults we envision.  In that child-rearing effort, we seem to slowly-but-surely diminish the light we are given at birth.  Hmmmmm... It is no surprise, then, that we as adults always strive to behave more "child-like".  It is as if we want that light back.  Logically, it makes sense.  Emotionally, if you are like me, it breaks your heart.  But if "awareness" is Step #1 of any 12-step program, "believe" is Step #2, and I do believe that we can respark our imaginations, our spirit, our emotions, and our lives by learning from our kids whether they are biological, adopted, by relation (nephews, and grandchildren, for example), or by friendship.

In light, we seem to see hope, life, newness, expectation, ourselves, each other.

On looking...
As I talk to friends and family, I have been wondering how many of us are going to try - as we often wish - to make this Holiday Season special.  Can we step away from the chaos of decorating, cooking, shopping, and stressing over the Christmas tree lights to find our own light?  Could we look hard enough this Season to see if the spark is still within us, or better yet, if we can see it within our child, our partner/spouse, or our friend's eyes.  How could we spend this time renewing our spirit to find our inner light?

So, I'm not one to start quoting songs, but something funny happened with Katy Perry's song, Fireworks.  When I first heard it, I didn't like the song.  I felt like she screamed the whole chorus.  Then, I saw the video and gave the song a "second look".  (I often find that video images force me to listen better.)  And in the song, Katy Perry says,

"...Cause there’s a spark in you
You just gotta ignite the light
And let it shine
Just own the night
Like the Fourth of July
Cause baby you’re a firework..."

I want to feel the firework inside of me this Holiday Season.  I want to find my light this Holiday Season.  I want to do that with my family and friends.  And in that light, I want to renew my commitment to being a better father, a better son, a better brother, a better nephew, a better uncle, a better cousin, a better partner, and a better person.

In the beginning...

As I was finished with this month's knitting projects - Two Turtle Doves - it occurred to me that it would be lovely to see these two modeled together.  I first made this bomber hat for my son after picking out some yarn at a LYS (Local Yarn Shop) during my 40th birthday celebration weekend in NYC. The yarn I got reminded me of a BIG HUG - similar to those my son gives me when he is in need of affection... otherwise, it's like the hugs I try to give him all the time... even when he doesn't want them.  LOL!  I was excited to get this hat done for him, and after a couple of false starts - like most of my projects, I got it done in one afternoon.  The original pattern - displayed here in red - has a whale bone cable.  After finishing it, I decided to try it with a simple twist... my brother has a version in brown, and there is also the green version here.  (Can you tell how much I love this pattern?)

I love the boyish demeanor this hat gives all the men who wear it.  The hat does have a very childlike nature to it.  And that nature is like the light we seem to seek or go after every Holiday Season.  Whether you are 11, like my son, or a little older, like my Adams, there is something fun about wearing bomber hats.  I love the detail of the stitches, the chained cords, and the crowns.  Every time I have knitted this hat, I have gone back to the feeling of the yarn and the hugs exchanged between my son and me.  They are the perfect light in my life.

I hope this holiday season as you spend time searching for your light, you, too, spend some time receiving big warm hugs from those you love.  Hugs are the best present ever...

I wish you love, health, happiness... and light this Holiday Season.  Happy Holidays!!!

A special thanks to three wonderful men and friends who have helped me realize a good portion of this journey this year:  Eric S., Rob D., and Steve B.  Their love and support have fueled my creativity.  Thank you, guys!  :)e-