Kara Swanson's Brain Injury Blog

December 20, 2011

I Wish You Christmas

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 3:34 am


It’s been a long time now but I can recall participating in a Christmas show at church where I delivered the miraculous story of the birth of baby Jesus.  I wore patent leather shoes and lacy socks and a red velvet dress that itched at the collar.  I stood up in front of that tiny church with all the candles glowing and the twenty-foot-high Christmas tree up near the altar all decorated with ornaments made by our Sunday School classes.


The windows were frosted and we wrote our names in the condensation.  It smelled like candle wax and too much perfume.  We were late and had to sit in the folding chairs in the back.  My mom took a picture of the inside of her purse.  The man in front of me who smelled like liquor nodded off three verses into Oh Come, All Ye Faithful. And I had no idea what frankincense and mur were.  Does anyone know what mur is?


Now, my memory may be forty years older and brain injured and racing towards menopausal memory melt, but I sure don’t recall the story of Jesus’ birth having anything to do with people stomping over a dead body in Target to get a Black Friday deal on a flat screen TV.   I may have forgotten most of my lines but I know they didn’t mention pepper spraying fellow shoppers in order to gain a competitive edge.


Maybe we’ve lost Christmas.


I can go through my list of addresses to send Christmas greetings to and most have a change, a loss, a diagnosis, a twist of fate, a broken heart…


We keep losing what we grew up with and have always known.  They predict soon newspapers and writing checks will be a thing of the past.


We’re all so busy and so much has changed in our lives.  People die and traditions die, too.  Homesteads where our first Christmases were born are lost and left.  There are so many obligations that we have to reschedule Christmas, split it, fit it in somewhere.


Seems maybe we’ve strayed from Christmas.  So far that we’ve forgotten that miracles do happen.  So far that we no longer hope and dream.  So far from when we couldn’t wait for morning.  The sheer promise of good.  The anticipation of pure happiness.


So this year I wish you Christmas for Christmas.  I wish you that special something that has long meant Christmas to you.  That brings you back to a time when we didn’t know any better than believing in magic, in the miracle of one most glorious day.


Maybe it’s an ornament your mother’s mother made.  Maybe it’s a special cookie recipe you haven’t enjoyed in years.  A quiet evening by the fire in front of the Christmas tree lights.  The sounds and songs of carolers by moonlight.  The candlelit midnight service singing Silent Night.


However Christmas comes back, that’s what I wish for you.  When all the craziness we’ve created has run out of time, I wish you moments of peace.  Perfect strolls down Memory Lane.  Hope for a wonderful new year.


Maybe we can all simply wish well for each other.  That never goes out of style.  That never runs out of stock or is back-ordered.  To shake hands, to hug and to hold.  To really wish each other well.  Perhaps that is the greatest gift.  One not found on any store shelves.  No sales.  No deals.  It costs us only a sincere heart.  A moment’s grace. A warmth that is more powerful than grudge and greed, hatred and pettiness.


I wish you Christmas.  I wish you good health and true happiness on the path that you are on.  I wish you healing for every part of you.  To forgive and be forgiven.  I wish you moments of the season that fill your heart with joy, with music, with quiet tears of thanksgiving for all that we are blessed with.


Today and every day, I wish you Christmas.




December 2, 2011

Rudolph Rocks That Kick-Ass Blinking Nose

Filed under: Uncategorized — karaswanson @ 2:36 am

I don’t watch many Christmas specials.   I love the Grinch and Rudolph.   Am I the only one who cries when those little God-love-’em Whos in Whoville come out and sing even after all their presents have been stolen?   Or when Rudolph is at the head of the reindeer team blinking his sweet little nose off and says, “Ready, Santa!” and takes off into the night…

Shamelessly sentimental. 

I was thinking about Rudolph and how far that simple, sweet message reaches.   As brain injury survivors, a lot of us feel like Rudolph at one time or another.  Set aside.  Left out.  Without a place.   Like the forgotten souls on the Island of Misfit Toys. 

There’s no way around it.  Some of our trains have square wheels now.   We are spotted elephants and Charlies in the Box and fish that swim and cowboys that ride ostriches.

And a lot of us feel like Rudolph did when he and his buddy were horsing around and having fun and then his black fake nose popped off.    You catch their reactions.  Those first facial expressions.   That shocked look in the eyes.  That moment before they hide their reactions to us speaking or stumbling or any number of things that make us the ones who don’t get picked for reindeer games….

But the message that rings out louder than any ridicule, any laughing, any mocking…is the one that says:   Make it your strength.

Take that bad luck, that horrific moment, that twist of fate, that flippin’ blinking nose of yours and MAKE IT YOUR STRENGTH!!!

Recognize what it took to survive it.   Summon the courage and the determination that it took to mount a recovery.   Gather about you all that is good and right about you and the people you consider loved ones. 

And soar.

Santa went back to the Island of Misfit Toys and he gathered up ALL the toys because he knew they are all loveable.  WE are all loveable.  There is a place, a waiting and welcoming place, for every square-wheeled one of us.

And I will never believe any different for you.  For me.    For all of us.

The Whos in Whoville knew that it didn’t take fancy boxes and bows, blinking lights and ribboned wreaths to make Christmas.   What is worth and worthy and worthwhile….will never be found in what you lost.   But instead, in what you found.  In what you realize.  In what you recognize and determine important.  In what cannot come and go.  Cannot be stolen.  Cannot be taken.

It is an unshakeable strength.  An unwavering understanding that we deserve love and happiness and success.

Surely every one of us will have those moments when people shy from us and, worse, pity us.  When they are ashamed of us, embarrassed for us, maybe mock us.

But when that happens, you remember where Rudolph ended up.  Rudolph’s nose saved Christmas!!!   In that last scene Rudolph is leading the team, soaring.   Off into the night, leading the way.   Needed, necessary.   Not in spite of his nose.  BECAUSE of it. 

Don’t you ever forget that Rudolph rocks that kick-ass blinking nose of his.   Know it and own it.  Know it and embrace it.  Know it and positively soar.

Merry Christmas, my fellow misfit toys.   I love you guys.

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