Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

December 20, 2009

Merry Christmas

I’ve been listening more closely to the myriad Christmas carols on the radio the last couple of weeks (I refused to listen to the ones already playing by Halloween).  I thought something might ignite a theme for a Christmas blog, as music so often inspires me to write.

John Lennon’s lyrics, “And so this is Christmas and what have you done?” keep poking at me.  I know recently of several people who didn’t make it to this Christmas and I wonder for how many of us this upcoming Christmas will prove to be our last?  What then?  What have we done?  Maybe more importantly, what haven’t we done yet?

Are we making the same old resolutions this New Year?  Holding the same grudges?  Complaining the same complaints?

Tangled in the same issues.  Fighting with the same people over the same stupid things…Stuck, stuck, stuck on yesterday, in neutral, under rote…What have we done?  Or, better yet, what have we changed?  What have we dared to change?

Although not Christmas-related, I’m also reminded of that saying, “In order to get something you’ve never had, you may have to do something you’ve never done.”  I love that.  I know that, for so many, me included, there remain reruns of even years of drudgery.  So many brain injury survivors struggle with what is lost and what is gone and what is ruined that every day too many tend an altar for “the life before” while the life today and the life tomorrow waits and waits, disappearing in shrinking windows.

And brain injury survivors certainly don’t own the patent on redundancy.  Even as our limbs may not move, we aren’t the only ones paralyzed.  Seems most of us quickly return to familiar, cling to unchanged, immerse ourselves in tired routine-even when we already know and don’t like the outcome.  Whether it’s because of a sense of obligation, a feeling of disregard, fear, laziness, lack of awareness…we just keep on trudging and slogging through each day and each year as if there is an endless supply of them.

There isn’t.

I discarded most of the Christmas carols for one reason or another.  I couldn’t think of a blog to write that might have something to do with Grandma getting run over by a reindeer (they never reported head trauma).  I decided upon, “For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”


Picture your child, your niece, nephew, or grandkids on Christmas morning.  Remember, even yourself, that wonderful feeling…

Anticipation.  Glee.  Excitement.  Bring on the morning; there’s gifts waiting!!!!

Too often we forget that that hasn’t changed one bit, Chia Pets notwithstanding.

Sure, most of us aren’t in footie pajamas anymore.  And, for many, there aren’t parents to shake and wake at 4:30 in the morning because presents need to be unwrapped NOW.

But, make no mistake about it, the presents are waiting.  And not just on Christmas morning.

Another day.  Another chance.  Another possibility.  A new and glorious morn!

To change.  To forgive.  To seek forgiveness.  To finally start or to finally stop.  To genuinely be glad for people.  To do the right thing.  To summon the courage.  To leave or to decide to stay.  To pick up the phone.  To pick up a pen.  To stand up.  To voice a long-quiet opinion.  To sing.  To dance.  To stop being cruel.  To stop being angry.  To stop being jealous.  To actually participate in our lives, in our families, with our friends.  To find love, seek it out, acknowledge it, respect it, express it, make it, appreciate it, celebrate it….

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!  What better gift?

Too often we waste our mornings.  The birds in quiet hollows wake singing outside the window but we’re hammering our alarm clocks for five more minutes of sleep.  The precious sun, full of promise and warmth, slowly climbs the wall once again while we’re running around screaming at the kids and frantically searching for car keys.  The new snow glistens like perfect diamonds but we’re too busy cursing the shoveling and the window scraping…

A new and glorious morn.

Let’s not rush.  There’s only so many of them left.  For any of us. Heck, we take a gazillion pictures now on our digital cameras and we barely even look at them.  We text and we email so quickly and without thought that sometimes we’re sending things to the wrong people and other times we can’t remember what we’ve sent at all.  Our kids run out the door and we can’t remember what they were wearing because we didn’t even stop to tell them good morning, I love you.  Our parents call and we rush them off the phone because we’re already ten minutes late for six different obligations…

A new and glorious morn.  The gift of choice.  Of opportunity.  Of more time.  More precious time.

I wish you all a Christmas morning of simple peace.  A hot cup of perfect coffee, perfect tea.  A moment’s reflection.  A quiet new dream.  A feeling of child’s wonderment.  An appreciation for all that you’ve accomplished.  A slight nod to what silently waits.

I wish you all tomorrow.  And the one after that.  Moment after single, blessed moment.  Like drops of water that create the oceans of our lives.  Each a piece of the puzzle.  An ingredient.  And yes, a gift.

For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.






  1. Merry Christmas Kara…and may you too enjoy many a new and glorious morn. xx

    Comment by christajoyce — December 20, 2009 @ 4:40 pm | Reply

  2. I love you sunshine and wish you many many new and glorious mornings…so that your life your love and your “rays” can light up the way for others
    with out the “sunshine” there would be no “moonbeams” what a sad dull world that would be…aye………..

    Comment by moonbeam — December 20, 2009 @ 6:17 pm | Reply

    • Smiling here, Moonbeam. Thank you so much for the kind words.

      Comment by karaswanson — December 21, 2009 @ 2:17 am | Reply

  3. I’ve been waiting for your Christmas message…I’ve been blessed with it again. My goodness kara..what a gift you are ..I’m so glad I’ve been able to once again unwrap your words of wisdom and love. Thank you.

    Comment by Sherry Saarinen — December 21, 2009 @ 11:35 am | Reply

  4. Good Morning Kara, and a Blessed Winter Solstice and Happy Christmas Season!

    What a JOY you bring to me. I am so grateful for your friendship and your blessings. You have taught me so much! I saw your email early this morning, but I knew I needed a hot cup of coffee on my desk and time to enjoy the thoughts you so willingly share.

    Thank you my friend,

    Comment by Barb G — December 21, 2009 @ 2:42 pm | Reply

  5. Merry Christmas, Kara. Great words as usual.

    Comment by John Hetzler — December 22, 2009 @ 11:16 am | Reply

    • Hope you and the family have a great holiday, John. Give a hug to G for me. 🙂

      Comment by karaswanson — December 22, 2009 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  6. You truly are an inspiration!
    Thank you for your words of wisdom.
    Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year!

    Comment by Sheila — December 22, 2009 @ 11:27 am | Reply

    • Thank you, Sheila. Best to you and yours!

      Comment by karaswanson — December 22, 2009 @ 11:33 am | Reply

  7. Once again, an absolutely beautifully written piece with such depth and insight. I have to agree with the Christmas carol line on which you settled. We do forget to look and pay real attention. This is so apropos. Thank you for the poignant reminder, my treasured friend.
    May YOU and YOURS have a rich and succulent holiday!

    Comment by Lynn — December 24, 2009 @ 12:46 am | Reply

  8. Hi Kara,

    Thank you for your inspiring messages! I am thinking of you and your talk at Colorado State University (2008) every once in a while. I have been working in Tokyo as a childhood injury prevention researcher… and brain injury prevention (as results of unintentional incidents or violence) is one of big topics here, of course!

    I added your blog to my Favorites 🙂

    Happy Holidays and Wish you a Happy New Year!

    Comment by Itsumi — December 24, 2009 @ 3:12 am | Reply

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