Freeze Frame or heart hijack

Georgia O’Keefe -Red Hills and White Flower


Usually Christmas is one of the most profound and beautiful times of the whole year for me. I always look forward to extra time for writing, reflecting, journaling, reading, and a little baking, shopping, and spending time with family. I usually study the star charts for the holy nights and write about the astrology as a way to relax and be creative.

This year I studied the star charts early, during my Thanksgiving break. I thought by doing so that I would free up more time for relaxing and just being present. I was so glad I did that, but no amount of extra time could have prepared me.

To be completely blunt, it was one of the worst Christmases I’ve had in the past five years, henceforth to be called “the year my holidays were hijacked.” My son broke a bone in his wrist skateboarding that required emergency surgery on Christmas Day. We stood in the ER for hours while they dealt with patient after patient who arrived by ambulance. Probably twenty-five patients lined the halls of the ER at the time we arrived. Most of the cases were far more traumatic than ours: one severe motorcycle accident, another a pregnant mother who had been injured by car accident, a gun shot wound. On and on it went. From 8am on Christmas Eve until 1am Christmas Day we witnessed one trauma after another. A father of a young child was arrested and separated from his family. Real life dramas unfolded all around us. It was quieting, sobering, stunning, and shocking.

It may have been an everyday scene to the nursing staff, but to me it provided a rare and unexpected opportunity to witness Christmas in a whole new way I never experienced before. The staff worked diligently and patiently surrounded by the pain, struggle and drama. It was a scene of selfless service and crisis. The nurses were focused, and disciplined. I felt appreciative of their training, sacrifices and selflessness when I am sure they would have much rather been with their own families. By the time I got home, my appreciation for my blessings had increased tremendously. I felt I had been through a significant and humbling lesson. We still got to open our gifts by the tree that day. Thankfully, the gifts were not the main focus, but the love and togetherness we could share. The opening I felt in my heart was the real gift. Had I been willingly hijacked? Maybe.

The week following Christmas we traveled out of of state to visit family. My daughter and I shared a most memorable road trip on the way home. We began at an antique store in a small strip mall in Oklahoma City where we explored and shopped for nearly two hours. We each bought our little things. Then we stopped at Turner Falls near the Texas-Oklahoma border to take in a sunset as our bare toes walked through some waterfalls. I read to her all the way home and we talked and shared stories for hours to pass the time. She successfully navigated as a new driver through “the mixmaster” in Dallas for the first time. At sixteen years old, I know my time left with her at home is coming to a close. I also know the journey ahead may not be easiest part of the path, so I was grateful that we could fill up our emotional tanks as we emptied the fuel tank, mile after mile. The ugly part was that we brought home COVID. For the next four or five days the symptoms made their rounds through everyone in our house and took us out. And so it has been, that for much of January I have struggled to recover a sense of routine and normalcy as 2022 has rolled out. Now I can be a nurse to myself as I care for a stress fracture in my foot by wearing a stupid boot for the next eight weeks. Well, at least there was our road trip.

With all of the challenges of the holidays, I continue to reflect on one idea: the power of reframing things. Like Georgia O’Keefe’s keen photography and her ability to try different frames, or the Wayne Dyer saying, “When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

When we returned home, I went on a morning walk and found a penny someone left at the fountain near the Tomball Train Depot. It was New Year’s Day and I made a very important wish and tossed it into the fountain. I recommitted to a higher purpose or calling. In the end its about applying your faith and being present and aware to what you are focusing on, and continually adjusting your lens.

Making the most of the holy nights