Posts Tagged ‘the Holiday blues’

Get your Blue on, a beautiful blue building in Hoi An, Vietnam, December 2008, photos © 2008 by ybonesy. All rights reserved.

Blue is one of my favorite colors. Calm, reflective. Blue is the color I painted my writing room. Blue (like green) reminds me of nature—the heavens and the seas.

(Some languages don’t differentiate between blue and green. In Vietnamese, for example, the word for both tree and sky is the same—xanh.)

In the ancient city of Hoi An, Vietnam, I saw shades of blue everywhere. There was the periwinkle blue of a wall that when I stopped in front of it to wait for traffic, held me in its depth. There was the bright blue-green interior of the restaurant where we ate that soothed, like turquoise water against white sand, in an almost illogical way (being as how the waves in the nearby South China Sea churned gray and the blue-green walls jolted my senses).

Blue doors, blue walls, blue windows. Blue against cheerful yellows and oranges. Blue against blue.

Blue on blue, heartache on heartache.

Something about Hoi An reminded me of towns I’ve been before. I think of Havana, Cuba, or Tonalá, México. People who use such bright color—color that fades over time and becomes all the more profound (as if it has seeped into the skin)—are vibrant people, I think. They are creators, artists, philosophers.

If you see a tree as blue, then make it blue.

~Paul Gauguin

Blue is the color of the sky and sea. It is often associated with depth and stability. It symbolizes trust, loyalty, wisdom, confidence, intelligence, faith, truth, and heaven.

Blue is considered beneficial to the mind and body. It slows human metabolism and produces a calming effect. Blue is strongly associated with tranquility and calmness. In heraldry, blue is used to symbolize piety and sincerity.

Light blue is associated with health, healing, tranquility, understanding, and softness. Dark blue represents knowledge, power, integrity, and seriousness.

~from Color Wheel Pro

During the holidays I often feel blue. I have a friend who says it’s normal to be sad during Christmas; the Christmases of one’s adulthood will never measure up to those of one’s youth. Never the same sense of anticipation. Never the same thrill.

Many a holiday season I feel lethargic, overwhelmed by the thought of all things I could and should be doing. Cards, decorations, baking. I would love to make my own wreath this year, the kind that Martha Stewart and all those so-called Women’s magazines make seem so simple and so fulfilling.

I once saw a wreath in shades of cornflower blue in Taos. That would be pretty. Little berries. Not blueberries, but blue berries. For once, a wreath that shows my inside out.

Years ago I would have pushed myself to do it all. I even used to stamp my own Christmas wrapping paper with homemade potato cut stamps. BK. Before Kids.

The past several years I’ve taken the weight of those particular accomplishments off my shoulders. I doubt I’ll get out my cards this season, and while I feel a pang of guilt over the whole thing (and the concern that those who send me cards will eventually cross me off their lists), I also tell myself that it is OK. After all, I just came back from a trip abroad. Although, I don’t need an excuse, do I?

In New Mexico, as in other places, a blue window frame, door frame, or portal keeps evil spirits from entering a dwelling. The color is associated with Jesus Christ, the Virgin Mary (her mantle is blue) and the moradas of the Penitentes.

The turquoise stone, important in many native cultures and Buddhism, is believed to assure safe journey. When worn in the ear, turquoise is said prevent reincarnation as a donkey, and when found, it brings good luck. (I’ll have to tell my girls, as they regularly pan for and discover turquoise in the Rio Grande.)

In some cultures, the blue bead wards off the evil eye. The blue bead can be seen hanging from a rear view mirror, around one’s neck, or like mistletoe in the doorway.

I’ll have a blue Christmas without you.

Blue signifieth divine contemplation. In moral virtues, it signifieth godliness of conversation, and is the colour of air, attributed to celestial persons, whose contemplations have been about divine things…

~Sylvanus Morgan, 1661

I beseech you, Blessed Medicine Guru,
Whose sky-colored, holy body of lapis lazuli
Signifies omniscient wisdom and compassion
As vast as limitless space,
Please grant me your blessings.

~from the Medicine Tantra

Today it snowed almost all day. A white out—low clouds and flurries that finally started to stick by dark. Not a speck of blue to be found, save for the small dot growing (ever so slowly, like ancient moss) inside my heart.

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   Winter Leaf In Pink Ice, February 2007, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.       Winter Leaf In Pink Ice II, February 2007, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

  Winter Leaf In Pink Ice I & II, February 2007, Mabel Dodge Luhan
  House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey.
  All rights reserved.


I don’t do New Year’s resolutions anymore. Wasted time. Wasted space. I never seem to follow through. Why project promises into the future, I’m not likely to keep? I’d rather head over to a friend’s house tomorrow night, sit in community with others, reflect on the year, and make a Gratitude List.

What’s a Gratitude List? Some call it counting your blessings. If you’re in recovery, gratitude and service work are a big part of the way to freedom from the chains of regret (past), self-pity (present), and longing (future). The idea is not to dwell on scarcity and the people, places, and things you don’t have – but to focus on what you do.

Winter Leaf In Pink Ice, February 2007, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

I’ve been making a Gratitude List for the last 2 or 3 years. At the end of December, I sit down and list all the good, positive things that have happened to me over the last year.

I’m not talking about monumental occurrences, although they can surely be included. I mean the small stuff:

  • the way I feel when I see Mr. StripeyPants at the end of my work day and want to eat him alive
  • the sound of “Love you, Honey!” or “Hi, it’s Mom” from the electronic bowels of the answering machine
  • the smell of Rocks baking in our kitchen
  • the trickling flakes before the scarlet Moon on Christmas Eve
  • big round Bear hugs from you know who


I was right in there with ybonesy about how the space between Christmas and New Year’s can be challenging. And to tell you the truth, I was doing great yesterday. This morning I woke up to go to work feeling disoriented and lost. Thick-headed. I wanted to run ahead, far away from the present, and long jump into the New Year, both feet stretching forward.

But what’s the rush? Why not stop for a moment and write down the Good Stuff. Have you really slowed down long enough to look closely at the snowy down of a thistle? Or a leaf captured in the icy claws of Winter? This year I feel lucky to be able to make my list in community with others who will bear witness to the process.


Winter Leaf In Pink Ice II, February 2007, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.

I received this lovely email from my friend reminding us of tomorrow’s gathering. I don’t think she will mind if I post part of it:

I am looking forward to having you come on Saturday to write, reflect, and commune. Remember to come with notebook, pen, and any beverage you need outside of water and peppermint & chamomile tea.

Please plan to arrive between 6:45 & 7 p.m. I’d like to begin at 7, so if you get here 5 or 10 minutes early, we’ll have time to socialize and get settled.

We’ll begin with a bit of silence & poetry (Hey, I didn’t study with Natalie Goldberg for nothing!), so if you’re running late call me because we’ll be waiting to start until everyone is here.

Two, February 2007, Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, New Mexico, photo © 2007 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.  

What are *you* grateful for? If you are so moved, you can add your Gratitude List to the Comments.

If you want to get creative, use an ABC meme. Or do a Writing Practice that begins, “I am grateful for…”

It doesn’t matter how you do it. But write everything down. It’s amazing the power that words have. And a community to bear witness.

I guarantee you’ll feel better when you’re done. Your Holiday blues will turn a corner, and warm to a crimson shade of frosty pale.

-posted on red Ravine, Friday, December 28th, 2007

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