This was the first year since I have been with my husband that we spent Christmas with his family. We had always spent Thanksgiving with them and Christmas with mine. Since our place is a wee small, we decided to rent a beach house steps away from the ocean. My husband’s brother is an artist that creates beauty with gems from the earth, so I was inspired by both him and a friend of mine Amanda (Soule Mama) to start a new tradition for the holidays: a Gratitude Garland.
Each of us gathered beachy gems and bark and leaves from around the beach house. We then sat around the table with wine and music and conversation and painted on them with the intention and mindfulness of what we were grateful for. It was a practice in slowing down and breathing in and being present during a season that can feel overwhelming at times.
When it was all strung together and hung the next morning on the porch, I felt chills. It was beautiful, so beautiful in such an organic and free way. I wondered why I had never thought to do this before. To string together treasures and hang across a room or outside on a porch or from tree to tree in a backyard. It doesn’t need to just be beachy gems. It can be pages of your favorite quotes or pieces of fabric from clothes that meant something to you or dried flowers from a romantic evening. It could be anything we would want it to be. It could be our life’s work, our dreams, our hopes, our manifestations, our prayers. It could be treasures we are holding onto but want to set free in the wind so the energy of those memories will live on forever.
We are moving to a a new home in June of 2011. I now see myself putting in a beautiful box items that are precious to me and that I could see hung across a long piece of twine. Boho Gratitude Garland’s strung throughout my home.
Inside my little French cottage I can hear the raging river outside and when it’s not scaring me to death it reminds me of the sea. Except for the 4 years I lived in Ontario I have seen the Atlantic every day of my life.
Like every Newfoundlander my body is 98% seawater. Right salty we are. Water has forged our strength and shaped our sorrows. The sea has given and the sea has taken away as it will continue to do for the rest of time. We would not be who we are if not for the waves upon our shores. It’s funny how I forgot that moving to Burgundy would take me away from the ocean. I have gotten so used to the ebb and flow of tides that I didn’t stop to think what life would be like without it.
Years ago I was visiting my sister in Ottawa and I was desperately trying to decide whether to move to Ottawa or Halifax as returning to the homeland was not an option (the Newfoundland government tends to treat doctors like moose droppings). We were chatting it over in a pub and we got to talking with a group of seafaring men from England. At one point the issue came up and one of the guys who hadn’t said a word all evening looked me over and said “you can’t come here, you’re of the sea and you need to be near it”.
I’ve never forgotten his words and I hope there was no superstition in what he said. Today as I listen to the constant drone of the river outside knowing that it will do what it wants without consulting or considering me, I got to thinking. Who am I without the sea around me? Will I somehow be lost and forget where I come from? Maybe it’s true what they say, that you can take the girl out of Newfoundland but you can’t take Newfoundland out of the girl.
And for those of you who don’t know of where I speak, those who don’t know why it’s not a place but a condition, if you ever go, you’ll know…