Archive for the ‘Dying Traditions’ Category

English: hymnsandcarolsofchristmas.com Good_ki...

Some of my happiest Christmas memories are of times spent Christmas caroling with the Quakers.  I remember one chilly December night when a group of Friends gathered at the meetinghouse in San Jose, California before getting bundled up  in coats and scarves and mittens, then we all stepped out  to sing carols to people in several neighborhoods.

We walked merrily down the sidewalk house-to-house and stopped in front of each doorstep to sing, and many people opened their doors gratefully to listen and smile. I remember the blinking Christmas lights in the windows and the cold breeze on my cheeks and the glowing lamp posts along our path. It was invigorating and peaceful as we went a-wassailing.  In our group of carolers, we took turns letting people pick out their favorite songs.  I always loved “Good King Wenceslas” and “Here We Come A-Wassailing” and “I Saw Three Ships.”

After we had caroled outside for some time, we drove to a nearby care home for the elderly and walked through the hallways. We joined up in a social hall full of residents and continued to sing happily.

One elderly gentleman wearing his pajamas and sitting in a wheelchair seemed especially moved by the music and soon wheeled over to a kind Quaker man named Larry Wolfe, who without hesitation invited the man to join us for a Christmas party at the home of another Quaker fellow.  The resident asked Larry to approach a nurse, who helped sign him out for the evening, and Larry brought him to our post-caroling celebration.  The old man was teary-eyed with joy for the entire evening eating holiday food and sipping spiced cider while someone played the piano and friends laughed and talked.  Because I was familiar with the compassion of Larry, I’m sure it was not the last time he and the old man spent together.

I wonder if caroling is illegal by now, like so many of our former religious freedoms. I have tried for several years now to find a church that still practices the tradition of Christmas caroling in public, and have even tried unsuccessfully to coordinate a group of carolers. People make all kinds of excuses such as they can’t sing in tune or they’re too busy with their family or whatever. But the truth is that we are so self-absorbed these days, trapped in our computers and technology and our own individual versions of the American dream, that we have no time for such things anymore.

Whenever I cut on the TV and see carolers on a Christmas special, I long for those days when real people did things together face-to-face and not through digital devices such as the one I am communicating through right now.

I wish we could all coordinate non-digital days to encourage more real human socialization, so that everything meaningful in our culture is not sacrificed upon the altar of technology.

Peace and Grace,

Sister Olive

~♥~

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English: Logo for Esso

I know it seems a bit trivial, but there are so many things that contribute to the quality of our lives, and make things more personal and human. Gradually it seems that we are slipping into total anonymity. We are becoming faceless and heartless.

I was thinking of the days when even the gas station attendant made you feel like you were somebody.  You would drive to the Esso station with the sign that said “Put a tiger in your tank” and pull  up to the pump and roll down your window.  A man in an orange uniform with a tiger badge on his chest would walk up to your window with a smile on his face, and ask “May I help you?”  You’d tell him how much gas you needed and while your gas was pumping, he would ask you to pop open your hood.  He would check your oil with the dipstick and if it was low he would ask if you wanted him to add some for you.  After that, he’d squirt washer fluid all over your windows and clean them with a rag and squeegee.  It was really swell.

It was helpful for women with their cars full of children and elderly people who didn’t feel like climbing out to pump their gas.  It was even fun for the young girls who just wanted to flirt with the attendant.

I wish we could go back to some of these old concepts so that people wouldn’t feel so lonely and unimportant in life.

Manila petrol station, Philippines

Peace and Grace,

Sister Olive

~♥~

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I was thinking of the days when families used to go for a drive in the country on Sunday’s.  It was something I looked forward to in the foster home because during the week, no one went anywhere other than school and work.  So after church and the Sunday feast, we all piled into the old beaten up station wagon and drove out into the countryside. We kids laughed and talked in the back seat, and the parents sat up front snuggling one another and whispering.

We rolled down the windows and inhaled the smells of wood and leaves and honeysuckle. Once I reached my hand out to grab a few stalks of tall grass, and like knives they cut my palm and fingers.  I drew my hand in and sucked on the stripes to relieve the stinging.  But it didn’t cancel out the pleasure of the Sunday drive.

We recently took a little drive to the mountains to revisit that feeling, and here are three photos of the scenery floating past my window…

IMG_20130920_143843 IMG_20130920_143848 IMG_20130920_143903

People often criticize the drudgery of the old-fashioned ways, but sometimes I think we could benefit from slowing down and stepping back a few paces.

Peace and Grace,

Sister Olive

~♥~

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Rabbit Letter I have an old box of handwritten letters, and occasionally I take it down from my closet. I enjoy looking through them, seeing the peculiar handwriting styles of my friends and relatives, and the stationary they selected to deliver the message or the mood. The colors of ink and crayoned images, the light scents of people’s hands, the stains of coffee or tears or dirt, the scribbled art and poems make each one a unique piece of art filled with memories.

I find it sad that letters written by hand are becoming obsolete in our modern world.  It is difficult to find beautiful quality stationary these days.  Many stores sell cards for certain occasions, but there are few tools for real letter writers who enjoy mailing sentiments to people.

I have thought a great deal about dying traditions like letter-writing, and ways that I might help to restore some of the beauty and meaning that is being lost in our technological society.

Francis

Instead of just pecking out quick emails, I want to slow down and put forth the effort to buy or create pretty stationary, take out a fancy pen and write a letter by hand in my best cursive writing, seal it into an envelope with a charming sticker or two on the outside, and lick an artistic commemorative stamp to place upon it.  Then I’ll drive to the post office and slip it into the big blue mailbox. It’s the least I can do for people I love who have enriched my life.

It’s time to look for ways to slow down and enjoy moments and people more, to dig a little deeper for meaning.  Writing letters will be one of my contributions to this cause.  And maybe I can help save the post office too.

~♥~

(I am working on a series of editorials called “Dying Traditions” to be posted here as time permits.) 

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