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  • Writer's pictureVanessa Paletta

Christmas and Clementines


I can't believe we are already well into December! You can feel the heightened energy of the city, the hustle and bustle of purchasing gifts and making last minute travel plans to see loved ones. It all feels nostalgic. Growing up, our stockings always included the same things: a toothbrush, new socks, one stick of chewing gum and one tiny clementine. I'm not sure where or why the tradition started but it was always the same every year. None of my friends received fruit in their stockings and it was always a little different than how other families celebrated. Recently, a friend asked me what family traditions Steve and I will continue in our own home. I instantly remembered holding my little clementine in my hands, staring at it with awe and my eyes welded up with tears as I told her the story.

Those little oranges are so special to me. They remind me that its not about the big expensive gifts, the grandest gestures, the perfect meal and the perfect family..... it's about oranges!

haha! No no no.... 

What I mean to say is... its about the little things...the sweetness of the ordinary.

It's about hugs that hold on a little bit longer than usual, about learning your grandmother's famous pie crust recipe and letting her weathered hands guide yours along the edges of the dough. It's about walking your dog through the crisp air and stopping to notice and listen to all that is alive and well in the cold world around you. It's about sleepy mornings and cinnamon rolls, humming Christmas songs while you wrap gifts in newspaper (because that's what your brother always did) and moments of deep gratitude that nearly knocks the wind out of your lungs.

There are also moments of stillness and quiet, when everyone has gone to bed except you, the moonlight pours through the window and meets the glow of the Christmas tree, and for a moment you hold your breath. There is a tinge of pain and the heavy blanket of grief covers you as you remember those who are missing from your life. Almost as if you are watching a movie, you see them here, sleeves rolled up scrubbing the dishes at the sink, you can hear their laugh clear as a bell as the bubbles float, suspended in the air. You look to the left and see them sitting at the piano, trying to recall all the chords and words to that Bob Dylan song and your heart skips a beat. To the right you see them sitting quietly, arms wrapped around a child reading them a holiday story, a memory not made, a glimpse into a world where they are still here. For a moment their eyes meet yours, smiling, and it's as if time has completely stopped.

The inhale reluctantly pulls you from your vision and you let the breath and the moment leave you with a long sigh.

"This is not the first time you have disappeared into something beautiful. - Everything feels inexhaustibly holy. This is not what they taught you in the church of your childhood. Your soul has been formed in the forge of life's losses, galvanized in the crucible of community - You have glimpsed the face of the divine where you least expected it. Encounters with the sacred that radiate from the core of the ordinary embolden you to cultivate stillness and simple awareness. In the midst of a world that is begging you to distract yourself, this is no easy practice. Yet you keep showing up- thirsty for wonder."

from Wild Mercy by Mirabai Starr 

It's easy to stay busy, to keep moving so fast that we skip over these moments and let them slip away. But what if we slowed down and stopped to drink in the present moment, let it soak into our bones, if we stayed quiet long enough to bear witness to the world around us? I wonder what we might see this holiday season, what ordinary things will hold glimpses of the divine, what beauty we might disappear into.

Wherever you are this year for the holiday, no matter what traditions you celebrate, with family or your family made of friends, I encourage you to take moments to practice this quick (1 min) present moment meditation. Before you get out of your car at your destination (or at any time over this season) take 5 deep breaths and for each one notice one thing around you, tune into the ordinary. 

Let it be simple:

inhale - the neon green of the dashboard lights - exhale

inhale - the warmth of the cup of coffee in hand - exhale

inhale - the slow dripping water coming off an icicle - exhale

inhale - the neighbor checking his mail - exhale

inhale - heart beating steady and strong - exhale

And just like that, you are awake, you are aware,You are ready for wonder. 

The more you practice this the more natural it becomes to drop into the present experience during any moment of your day. Before you know it, you will be putting your phone down, breathing deep and leaning into the here and now so you can imprint these sweet holiday memories in your mind and carry them with you forever. I know its not easy but I also know the reward is great.

The Yoga Room will be back up and running in January! Till then, don't hesitate to reach out if you need anything at all. Keep your eyes peeled for fresh and exciting offerings coming in the new year!Wishing you each the warmest and most joyful season.

love love love, V

(don't forget the clementines)

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