poetry, prose, and image by Brittney S Holland

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Peace on Earth and a Bit of Verse

- Simon exploring our white Christmas

"In the Bleak Mid-Winter" by Christina Rossetti

In the bleak mid-winter

Frosty wind made moan,

Earth stood hard as iron,

Water like a stone;

Snow had fallen, snow on snow,

Snow on snow,

In the bleak mid-winter

Long ago.

Our God, Heaven cannot hold Him

Nor earth sustain;

Heaven and earth shall flee away

When He comes to reign:

In the bleak mid-winter

A stable-place sufficed

The Lord God Almighty,

Jesus Christ.

Enough for Him, whom cherubim

Worship night and day,

A breastful of milk

And a mangerful of hay;

Enough for Him, whom angels

Fall down before,

The ox and ass and camel

Which adore.

Angels and archangels

May have gathered there,

Cherubim and seraphim

Thronged the air,

But only His mother

In her maiden bliss,

Worshipped the Beloved

With a kiss.

What can I give Him,

Poor as I am?

If I were a shepherd

I would bring a lamb,

If I were a wise man

I would do my part,

Yet what I can I give Him,

Give my heart.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas to All!

"'For today in the city of David a savior has been born for you who is Messiah and Lord.
And this will be a sign for you: you will find an infant
wrapped in swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.'
And suddenly there was a multitude of the heavenly host with the angel,
praising God and saying: 'Glory to God in the highest
and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.'"
-Luke 2:11-14

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Dog Lovers Gotta Love Snoopy!!!

This is a Hallmark Christmas card that Simon and I sent this year to my brother-in-law and his pup Zeus. I loved it so much (H-U-G-E Peanuts fan here), that I scanned it before dropping it in the mail. I wanted to share it with you...

When I found this card, I laughed...because Simon proudly drags tree-sized sticks around our yard all the time. I laughed 'til the tears streamed down my cheeks. I laughed out loud, there in the middle of the isle...so loudly that nearby people stared...which was just fine with me. At 40+, I don't take myself so seriously anymore. Stare, Baby, stare!

Thanks, Hallmark. Thanks, Charles.

Laughter is a wonderful thing. Laughter is therapeutic. Laughter relieves stress, especially during a season that can easily overwhelm us if we aren't vigilant. Somewhere between the social engagements and the obligatory shopping and gift giving and card sending and baking and decorating and list checking and rechecking and thrice checking, it's entirely possible to lose sight of WHY Christmas is a CELEBRATION.

It's December 22nd...when was the last time you had a really good laugh? My most sincere hope is that you have a ready answer, that it was just this morning or last night. If not...

This is your challenge. Take a little break, a few minutes just for you, and watch the wedding dance scene at the end of Hitch...or the "Ruthie Pigface Draper" family sing-along scene in Dan in Real Life. Don't have those dvd's readily available? Watch "The Evolution of Dance" on YouTube (especially if you are an 80's adolescent) or some Jeff Dunham uploads also on YouTube (especially those featuring the terrorist puppet or the old man puppet).

My Christmas Wish for you today? Laugh. Laugh out loud. Laugh 'til the tears stream. Laugh 'til your sides hurt. And maybe, if you're really lucky, people will stare...stare and walk away wondering, "when was the last time I had a really good laugh?"

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


"I've seen a look in dogs' eyes, a quickly vanishing look of amazed contempt,
and I'm convinced that basically dogs think humans are nuts."
-John Steinbeck

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Navigating the Possibilities

Today I went on a walkabout, looking for inspiration downtown. I think I told you about my e-photo class. Well, today's assignment was to look for shapes that look like something else. Because it's a holiday-themed class, I wanted to get out and explore some different Christmas decorations. My downtown district did not disappoint. I found a perfect ornament on our town tree that's wrapped in a metallic netting. When I photographed myself in its reflection, it looked kind of like I was standing behind chain-link fencing.

But that's really not the point of this post. Today's point is inspired by the above image. I stumbled across a nice diagram of all the train tracks feeding into our town, and because I am slightly obsessed with photographing my beloved winter boots (I have two pairs in different colors), I decided to snap this shot just for fun.

Editing this photograph, however, got me to thinking about it's greater implication. I now find myself approaching a junction in life....a transition from primary caregiver to one who governs from the sidelines...which allows me more time to pursue my own hobbies and passions, especially those beyond my own four walls. This morning is a perfect example.

My walkabout was a spontaneous act. I simply caught the inspiration, jumped in the shower, charged my son with watching Simon (I also needed to get groceries), and off I went. I spent four whole hours by myself this morning. Two of these hours were spent tramping around with my camera in hand, making like a tourist in my own hometown. Then I ran my errands and got home in plenty of time to put away groceries and get my son to his basketball game.

I used to fear this time of my life, hovering frantically over my nest. This really isn't hyperbolic. Just ask my now-grown daughter. Ask my husband. Ask my preteen son who r-e-a-l-l-y doesn't need a helicopter mom (boys, more so than girls). Now that I'm here, it's not that bad. It was traumatic at first. Dreadful. But I have Simon and my kitties and my poetry and my camera and my cooking and this blog. I seem to be keeping myself pretty busy.

There are so many possibilities before me.

So many passions to pursue.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A Puppy-Proof Christmas

Now that Thanksgiving is behind us, it’s time again to think about my favorite liturgical season…Christmas. Lately, Christmas at the Holland house means puppy proofing. Last year, I crafted a makeshift fence for our tree to protect our ornaments, our lights, and our packages from tiny teeth. This year requires more thought and effort because Simon is now about the size of a small horse. Fencing is moot, so we’ve foregone the family ornaments for a simple, pre-lit tree with shatterproof balls. As for table-top decorations???? Forget it. Everything has been pared down to the essentials: tradition and sentiment.

Somewhere before modern commercialism wooed my wallet, I seemed to have had a better grasp of those concepts. My earliest Christmas memory is a perfect example; it’s become one of my lessons on living and loving stories. I love to tell this story to my students because it's about the power of simplicity. It’s magical. It’s timeless.

My mother and I were living in a new apartment, having recently moved back to Georgia with whatever she could pack in our car. We had very little that year, but that didn’t curb Mom’s Christmas spirit. She lucked up on a second-hand tree from a neighbor. She saved egg cartons and cardboard packaging; she bought tin foil and ornament hangers. Her egg cartons became silver bells, and her cardboard became silver ornament shapes and a star for the top of our tree. We strung popcorn that year with needles and thread. Honestly..I have no memory of lights on our tree that year. But in my mind’s eye, that tree doesn’t need lights. It always sparkles…in my mind and in my heart.

Now that the Holland house is puppy-proofed for Christmas, I find it’s all we really need. It too is simple. Our tree is up and festive. We have exterior lights and my spiffy, new-to-me, vintage Santa is on the porch. There’s a wreath on our door. One nativity sits on our mantle; two hail from tall furniture pieces; a fourth sits in our hall. You may have seen it on my Gratitude 365 page, purchased specifically with Simon in mind. It’s resin and heavy enough that I don’t think he’ll bother. (FYI -- I’m knocking on my wooden head as I type this. Feel free to knock yours.)

When all said and done…when the parties have ended and the packages are open…when my son is grown and reflects…will he remember this Christmas as “the year my mom didn’t put out the GA Tech ornaments?” It’s hard to be sure, but probably not. Probably.

And who know? Maybe…just maybe…my son will have acquired his own lesson on living and loving story, a story to pass along as well.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Soul Cure

Do you know how much I love this mutt? Really? Can you truly fathom the depths of my love? Honestly, I'm not even sure I can begin to adequately express this love with words...and I'm a writer, a poet, a wordsmith.

Now that I've wrapped up my self-portrait project, I've started an e-class on photography called Picture the Holidays. This class assigns me a daily photo task inspired by the holiday season. Today's task was: "use today to remind yourself of your own soul cure so you can have it at the ready for whenever you might need it. What helps you to slow down, take a deep breath and enjoy the moment? Capture it!"

So here it is, the image I submitted today. A "no brainer" huh? That's what I thought...at first. Then I thought of so many other things:

---my son's infectious laughter

---playing card games and board games with either of my children

---reading a really good book, the kind that whisks you into timelessness

---the beach, the beach, the beach

---doing anything with my sister

---listening to Yo Yo Ma play The Swan from Carnival of the Animals (Chamber version)

---a really good glass of wine, a quiet, peaceful rain, and a cozy blanket

What's your soul cure?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Bit More Verse

"Ah, Are You Digging On My Grave?" by Thomas Hardy
"Ah, are you digging on my grave,
My loved one? -- planting rue?"
-- "No: yesterday he went to wed
One of the brightest wealth has bred.
'It cannot hurt her now,' he said,
'That I should not be true.'"

"Then who is digging on my grave,
My nearest dearest kin?"
-- "Ah, no: they sit and think, 'What use!
What good will planting flowers produce?
No tendance of her mound can loose
Her spirit from Death's gin.'"

"But someone digs upon my grave?
My enemy? -- prodding sly?"
-- "Nay: when she heard you had passed the Gate
That shuts on all flesh soon or late,
She thought you no more worth her hate,
And cares not where you lie.

"Then, who is digging on my grave?
Say -- since I have not guessed!"
-- "O it is I, my mistress dear,
Your little dog , who still lives near,
And much I hope my movements here
Have not disturbed your rest?"

"Ah yes! You dig upon my grave...
Why flashed it not to me
That one true heart was left behind!
What feeling do we ever find
To equal among human kind
A dog's fidelity!"

"Mistress, I dug upon your grave
To bury a bone, in case
I should be hungry near this spot
When passing on my daily trot.
I am sorry, but I quite forgot
It was your resting place."