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Now and Then

By Sue-Ryn Burns


The Ghost of Christmas Past lives in a closet in the house next door. My older brother lives there and he is the old fellow’s guardian. If it weren’t for Jan’s dedication to the custom of having a Christmas tree, I might have lost touch with the old ghost. I gave up trees about 20 years ago when a young cat refused to quit climbing and knocking over the small tree we had gotten. I switched to garlands with ornaments hanging from them where she could only appreciate them from afar.

Once a year we haul out the Christmas ornaments and out he drifts. There’s a scent of old trees and peppermint about him. Sorting through the items in the boxes, memories drift through our minds. There are glass ornaments faded from time, some are from a previous generation and every year I consider getting them to an antique dealer I know before they perish. There is an assortment of handmade ornaments, gifts from friends, some bought at craft shows, and some we made ourselves. Some have ancient strands of tinsel entangled in their hooks, though we haven’t had any of that for decades.

In another old box, there’s a collection of old “Christmas Garden" items. My mother always made a “garden” under the tree, as her mother had before her. She crafted with old wooden boxes and milk-paint to create barns, then added rubber farm animals, small mirrors for icy ponds, and a few old lead and wire skiing and skating figurines. It’s a practice I indulged in for a few years. I remember a marble tree stand meant to look like a rock pile with tiny steps chiseled into it on the sides. The family joke was that it looked more like a pile of “road apples”, but it would have held up a tree in a gale force wind. I know it came from the marble yard my maternal great grandfather owned in Baltimore, but where it ended up as a result of our many moves is a mystery and there were family jokes about that, too.

Holiday season is laden with ghosts. The flavors, scents and sounds of the season are part of our being. Old carols and modern tunes are all infused with past-life places and people. No matter what challenging situations we grew up in, most of us have a few cherished holiday memories. If not, it’s never too late to create some. As a child I recall the season being very busy and creative; my mother cut intricate snowflakes out of foil wrapping paper to decorate and share, while my brother’s and I crafted with colored paper, pipe cleaners, glitter, and glue or occasionally stenciling windows with a product called “glass wax”. My mother was heavily involved with an extravagant church Christmas pageant, and so my father also did some time escorting us around to different holiday experiences. There was a lot of outdoor activity, skating on a local pond, building snow forts, or sledding on snow piles in parking lots or down the sides of overpasses near our suburban long island home town....returning at sunset soaked, cold, and smelling of wet wool and flannel that had to be peeled off our pink skins.

Many of the mail order catalogs that seem to come in by the bale this time of year lean heavily on nostalgia. Some of the old fashioned toys, probably quadrupled in price, reappear annually and still offer some quiet creative time. There seems to be no end to the nostalgic holiday fare available, though in my experience it is frequently not the same as the original versions, and buying local probably offers a better chance of satisfaction. A few years back I succumbed to it and bought a big bucket of plain vanilla meringues. My fraternal grandmother’s third husband had been a royal baker and made mountains of those for us every Christmas, and they still hold a magical place in my heart. Store bought was surprisingly delicious, probably owing to the simplicity of the recipe. They are now on my “to do” list since we have an ample supply of fresh eggs.

Ghosts show up annually offering a feast of memories to observe and reflect upon. I know there is a tendency to feel that “things were simpler back then”, but as an adult I realize how much struggle was involved keeping it all together and moving in a positive direction. Our family faced some serious economic and social challenges, and I am grateful to my parents for their creativity in rising to meet them. We took advantage of a lot of free things like driving around looking at lawn lights and Christmas window displays, attending Christmas concerts, watching TV specials together, listening to Christmas music or going on wintery walks. The economics of the past may seem simpler in hindsight, there was a lot less “marketeering” going on so the pressure to consume may have been less obvious, but it was there. I recall reaching an age when all I really wanted was to get through the “ceremony” of it all and go be with my friends – back before phones connected us to non-stop companionship. When I examine some of the ghosts who magically drift into my heart and mind this time of year, I recognize a longing for the spirit of those gifts of the past and the people who created them, some gone, some distant, and some that have definitely been woven into the life I live now. I am grateful for the legacy of creativity and generosity that have graced my life and hope I manage to pass them along somehow.

More Articles from
the Winter 2015/2016
Metaphysical Times

(complete listing click here)


The King Ferry –
Nowella and Uncle

by Oren Pierce


Teddy Bears and other manufactured,
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small Lamb who will play a large part in the
following chapter), everyone of them
abandoned by children, all lived together
in an old trunk. The Trunk Animals were
mostly not talkers because, for the
most part, their mouths were not
true mouths but were just painted or
sewn on, and so they didn’t talk so
much as they mumbled, grumbled,
or sometimes hummed … and some
hummed most all the time until
someone, usually Uncle Threadbear,
asked them to please stop.
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Reiki Part XIII
Soul Energy

by Don Brennan

If we are referring to energy healing,
the most appropriate interpretation
for the word “Reiki,” is Soul Energy.
The word now has other associations
in contemporary Japan, having to do
with the ghost world and the occult,
but originally it represented the unity
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(Got to Article)


How Should I
Work With
My Spirit Guides

by Corbie Mitleid

When I talk about Spirit Guides, I talk
about those discarnate beings that help
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But there is a big difference, for me,
between spirit guides and angels, and
people can often mix them up.
Here is the formula:


(Got to Article)

It is a Wonderful
Life Indeed

By Kris Faso

....... as all thought subsides, I sink
deeper into my being and expand
outward. Eventually I transcend the
space, as my weight merges within the
environment. It is at that moment of
expanding all my senses, that I notice
my Spirit, and I see I am not alone.
There, on either side of me, sit two
(familiar) Spirit guides.A third Spirit,
as I was told, was a Teller -
a Teacher Spirit.
(Go to Article)