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Posts from the ‘depression’ Category

Life

Life isn’t what we think about it

Life is all the things what it does to us.

We are never in the same place. Ever.

As we stroll through the sky which is actually alive

With the speed that is not approachable even in sleep, even in dream

We do not know what is going to happen the next minute.

How would we know about the next year?

This is an endless flight which might end abruptly at the destiny’s door.

Between grasps of air some face reminds you that there actually was something.

Long ago. Far away.

Was that you setting up the alarm which never went off?

And so, we are flying without the warning system.

Without suggestions. Without instructions.

This flight has no stops.

We literally circle the sky until somebody gets moody or tired.

That’s when the next flood or ice age starts.

It would be unfair to just circle in the sky without ever learning anything.

So, what’s the lesson my dear?

Life isn’t what we think about it

Life is all the things what it does to us.

life

After extremely tough weeks of all kinds of health concerns and issues, after some sleepless nights and a very disturbing feeling of hopelessness, I am returning with a summary of thoughts about things which did not want to leave me alone.

I would love you to also stop at the art website: https://inesepogagallery.com/2017/12/10/shop-heartwarming-unique-nature-art/

I started an initiative to raise some money, but it got interrupted by different matters, including the lack of internet when construction workers cut off our cable. I’m not thrilled knowing that the next year might start off on the wrong foot with some delayed treatment. I haven’t had any chance to really try or sell anything this year, so, hopefully, you can help spread the word. I do appreciate any purchase of any creation on the art website.

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How to feel good and survive the dullness of depressing winter days

Do you have your favorite recipe for surviving dark, cold, nasty winter days?

I’ve seen and heard from a lot of people recently who are in cold and bad winter weather areas that they don’t feel well. Sneezing, coughing and aching is nothing new in winters when we change rapidly from minus 20 and move up to plus 7 degrees within a few days. What do you do not to stress out your body and yourself even more?

Most people assume stress comes from outside: too much work, too many interruptions, inability to do any task properly because of so many obstacles and disturbances, emptying and exhausting relationships, impact from energetically draining people with bad attitude around us, failure to implement our plans and goals and so on. In fact, most stresses come from inside the body, hence, we have so many adaptive mechanisms and so many systems that try to regulate the processes inside the body and mind in order to bring us back in balance.

This is certainly a period when we should nurture ourselves. Be easy and loving towards ourselves. Be patient and take one step at a time. My personal favorite tools for surviving winter come from my grandmother, my mom uses the same things, I continue using these simple remedies, and my daughter doesn’t mind them either.

Cold or heat: our body systems have to take on any stresses. That can cause mood fluctuations and add to discomfort, especially if we are already having some condition. Brain chemicals sound complicated and so they are, however, there are nice extremely uncomplicated things which can help them return to balance. Once the digestive and immune system are properly taken care of, headaches and heart aches disappear, anxiety and nervousness evaporates, blood pressure and blood glucose levels normalize, and having no inflammation is the best thing that can happen to us. Inflammation within the body causes most of our troubles.

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Tea will not only warm up, but also provide with numerous health benefits.

Rose hip tea for toning ourselves in the morning: it is a strong antioxidant, rich in vitamin C, helps digestive and immune system and decreases inflammations in the body, it helps fighting all diseases caused by inflammation, and almost anything can be related to inflammation. I know an older man who would never miss his morning dose of rose hip tea. He said it was really boosting his energy and activating his defense mechanism to take on any difficult tasks he has to face that day.

Chamomile tea for calming, warming and healing: relieve your stress, anxiety. Enjoy a cup and it will also reduce pain and any kind of stomach disorder, as well as take care of good sleep and your immune system.

Mint is always handy for keeping us in good shape because it improves digestion, reduces pain, eliminates inflammation, relaxes the body and mind and boosts the immune system.

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Did you know that you can test any tea putting it in cold water to see if it is really natural? If putting tea in cold water results in color which could be only achieved with very hot water, it is clear: coloring agents are added.

Do people with strong immune system also get colds or only those ones who have some underlying conditions?  If you are mainly healthy and still young, such cold periods should be shorter and affect you less. Cold is not flu, but it is caused by multiple viruses, especially rhinovirus. We all know how to treat colds, but when cold is persistent and doesn’t go away with over-the-counter remedies; we have to see the doctor in order to avoid all kinds of complications.

SAD? Seasonal affective disorder, I mean? We can become sad, sluggish and start feeling drained, definitely. It often seems that alcohol could be just the right cure from this sadness, upset and depressed mood, but, in fact, alcohol is a bad company for winter time, especially when one is heading outdoors. Feeling hot is very misleading because we get such sensation due to widening blood vessels. We do not feel how cold the air in reality is, and that can have serious sequences. Secondly, alcohol makes depression, anxiety and stress worse. For a moment one can be uplifted and flying in clouds, not that much later and the next morning when all bad experiences return with double force. We are already fragile in frequently changing weather conditions due to lack of fresh air and outdoor activities. Why to add more stress to our sensitive self?

You will have heard most likely about vitamin D supplements. The sunshine vitamin. Much less daylight can affect us, no doubt about that, however, if you are a person who always believes more is better, remember that we still need to be tested for vitamin D levels in order to know how much and if to take it. Overdoing a lot with vitamin D will cause kidney failure. We have nowadays all kinds of things added to regular foods, so take into account in how many combinations you’re already getting it supplemented.

We cannot go wrong with vitamin C since it is very difficult to actually consume it in levels that we could talk about overdose. The only important thing is that artificial vitamins and other substances will not be absorbed in the same way as the ones from natural sources. That means, naturally occurring amino acids and vitamins are much more effective because your body cells recognize them and know how to use. The absorption level usually varies and depends on plenty of other nutritional components; however, absorption level of an artificial supplement is never 100%.

We are drinking less water when it is cold, and when temperatures are so low it is very easy to overlook dehydration. Also, if your home or work place isn’t that cozy and warm it is extremely tough to make one consume some half a liter of water in the morning. People who are not diabetics can try hot water with honey and lemon. Diabetics should still stick to water. One bottle of water before anything else on empty stomach makes huge difference.

The other very useful, healthy and nutritious way of helping ourselves is replacing heavy dinners or big lunches with soup. Like all Latvians, I love soups, as well. Normal Latvian family can have a soup dinner a few times a week. We make soups from everything what is available, but very often beet soup, fresh cabbage borscht (definitely our family’s favorite!). We make beet soup with any type of meat. We love all kinds of vegetable soups, melted cheese soup with paprika, Latvian style meatball soup, obviously chicken soup, pea soup, smoked salmon soup, sauerkraut soup, bean soup with smoked ribs, many kinds of sweet fruit and dumpling soups … The list is endless since it is possible to cook a very warming and delicious soup using just basic vegetables, bones and meat. Soup is an extract of vitamins, nutrients and minerals. Everybody can adjust it to their taste and preferences. Soup heals, warms up and recharges. Plus, it’s not going to give your stomach digestive issues.

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Winter is a time when we should be really taking good care of ourselves. I do not deny the importance of being physically active and engaging in physical exercises, but for lots of people the main part of surviving winter will be as basic as: how to keep ourselves healthy. Making a cup of herbal tea is so hilariously easy! Just do it; a few times a day and one more time before you go to sleep. Even these who do not feel well can manage that.

It is also important to have plenty of light whatever light one prefers: soft light, warm light, bright light for hobbies, candle light for soul and good thoughts; it doesn’t matter. We need a lot of light until the sun moves higher up in the sky.

Scars from the past and fears of the future

Some people are definitely more intact than others, and I am referring to people who have experienced severe mental or physical injuries and traumas. Some have inherited or developed stronger defense mechanisms; therefore, they can withstand bad relapsing conditions and depression triggering events easier. I think our mental strength gets also affected with any physical trauma. I am not one of those people who write blogs about their struggles and suffering. I know that sharing a bad condition brings sort of relief and can possibly show the way out to others. It’s just possibly, because there are no two 100% identical cases, there are just similarities, maybes and huge inter-and intra-individual variations. However, as bad as my conditions and pain might be, I do not want to allow these disorders and pain to identify me.  I just refuse to be somebody who always suffers since that’s not what I am here for. I am here to protest, to oppose, to help, to teach and share some facts and my discoveries.

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Nevertheless, it’s been 3 very tough years. Again. I already had once 3 very tough years after I left the hospital which had become my home for almost a year. It’s very interesting how before the accident I didn’t even know what a simple headache was. After the accident, I learned everything about hospitals, pre-and post-treatments, medicines, their side effects and I discovered billions of new small bits about the human body and the ways it functions or dysfunctions. So far, I have spent 30 years studying everything from depressive and cognitive disorders to anything related to type I diabetes, heart and vascular, kidney, liver, lung and digestive diseases, and I am paying special attention to the brain activity and anything which affects it. While I can fairly well assess my own disorders, I cannot cure them on my own. Apart from being hard to tolerate, pain is also exhausting and drains me out of energy. It is capable of doing this to the point when I am almost always asleep. Pain is a bad and obtrusive companion: I wake up with it, I go to sleep with it, I have my lunch with it and it seems to be always around.

Those of you, who live with chronic pain for lengthy periods of time, probably are aware that pain makes us more vulnerable, more sensitive, more open to depression and desperation. Whatever somebody would say, whenever the pain attacks, we have to experience it on our own. If you are extremely sensitive to any chemicals and medicines as I am, you are aware how they make one sick even at doses which would be considered tiny and mild. So, that’s the issue, I am trying to be stronger than pain without much of medications. I would take them only when it is absolutely, completely intolerable. Even in these cases, I’m using only 200 mg or 400 mg Ibuprofen or Advil. Nothing stronger, nothing which affects the brain function and interaction of brain chemicals. I take pills rarely, as rarely as only possible. Instead, I am crying, tossing around on a couch and feeling how my willpower leaves me. Why? I don’t want to damage more than inevitable my kidneys, my liver and get ulcers, bleeding or holes in the stomach which can happen with prolonged use of potent pain relief medications. Unfortunately, when we have to rely on OHIP (Ontario Health Insurance Plan) covered care and treatments, the waiting times are insane. It can take about 6 months to see the specialist. In my case, it took 3 years to try getting something done. I am going to have a surgery very soon. I am absolutely scared because the results are not very predictable. In fact, they are much unknown, but since there aren’t plenty of choices, surgery seems to be the best option.

I do anything which I can, which I can at the moment. I certainly hope to return to normal life. I would love to have normal nice summers and winters again; I would love to go out here and there, to have some vacation, to see and meet people outside this place, to do anything which most people can do without any problem. Well, I hope to be there someday soon.

I also disagree with those who are convinced: once you let the past go you are like brand new and ready for a fresh start. How about the past not letting you go? This accident happened 24 years ago and that’s when I got quite a few new acquaintances: lots of pain, depressive episodes because I wasn’t able to cope with life as before, so on and so on. Whenever we are just fixed up after bad mental or physical traumas which happened in the past, we will never be the same. We will have anxieties and fear of so many things which were unknown before the trauma. We will be patched up and sewn together, but never again without cracks and scars. These scars might be invisible to others, but they are always there. Fears and worries are sneaking up on us whether in a dream or in reality.

Before your hand starts writing you are sorry (in case you decided to read this update since I was so bad, I couldn’t post anything for quite a while and most likely I’ve lost all followers), I would love to say I don’t want somebody to be sorry. It’s ok not to be sorry. I am a fighter, I always have been. I would appreciate much more you went to the gallery and art blog and checked out my Fine Art America link on the right side and the art for sale on the art blog. Ironically, when we are in the least favorable state and condition to make some money, we need the financial support the most.

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Yams

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More of my yams experiment

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Zucchini

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Cucumber blooms

The other thing which I am doing to get my mind off is my backyard and plants as you can see above. I have put something in the soil, just like always, and yams are absolutely experimental for me this year. Not much happening with painting, but the bits will be published on the gallery blog assuming I get to this before the surgery.

The soothing Sunday thoughts: rose whispers

The day was getting tired.

As I was about to walk towards my porch, I suddenly heard how the rose whispered: “You cannot go away and leave me alone. As the stream of time takes everything with it, it does not distinct between the trash and the treasure.

Everything flows away with it, so does the beauty, so does the ugliness of our despair.”

“I will return another day, just keep blossoming. My patience is short today and my pain takes me to a deep valley of suffering,” I said more to myself, but I had to experience this sad monologue:

“One day long, or one life long: the flow of time knows no difference. It is a glimpse; it is a short while for it whether you value that moment or not.

Stay with me, you cannot leave me alone.

The beauty has the shortest of lifespans. I have only this small moment from all the eternity. It will never come back.

Stay with me, you cannot go away and leave me alone.

The other day has other worries; there is never enough time for the beauty to blossom. There is always enough time to suffer, to cry and to despair.

So, won’t you leave me alone?” she asked fearfully.

“No, I won’t. I will make some time, I will stay with you.

Nothing ever returns, and it only leaves us. I have to make time for you. There is only this one moment from all the eternity. I will not go and leave you alone. I will make the time stop, although, it will last only a few hours.”

Rose whispers Mindful living

Mindfulness is a state of active, open attention on the present. When you’re mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad. Instead of letting your life pass you by, mindfulness means living in the moment and awakening to experience. Author: https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/mindfulness

Keeping memories alive and our brain fit

We know what happens to body parts not in use, for instance, during longer periods of immobilization: they degenerate and we have to work very hard to re-establish their flexibility and activity, and that involves all tissues and cells. That takes work, exercise and treatment. While wrinkles on somebody’s face or body shape clearly indicate person’s age and are visible at a first glance, the memory glitches and mild brain dysfunction are not. That’s why most people are obsessed with looking younger at any means, with diets, must have outfits and tools. That is an inevitable part of the visible and directly noticeable personality. Nobody is afraid to spend money on gym, sports equipment, hairdo, makeup, plastic surgeon and costly skin treatments. There’s so much money spent on useless food supplements which quite often harm the user without giving any of the benefits commercials promise. How come the most important part, the commandment and interaction managing center, the brain is so frequently left out of the scene of self-improvement?

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Keeping memories alive and watching the brain health is the most neglected aspect of our general health. Why?

Most likely, the main reason is nobody can see the aging of our brain or notice it right away. As it progresses, the person experiencing this badly affecting disorder is not even aware of it. This trouble becomes a serious issue when the memory loss is already large enough to affect the daily routine and any normal activities.

We simply should not allow that happen. Do we? Along with genetically inherited factors, mobile and digital devices do not demand us to use the memory and our brain. Everything is on the phone or laptop: directions, reminders, alarms, alerts and lists. We can send notes to ourselves and make endless to-do and other lists. How is that bad? It’s very simple: while we are watching screens or scrolling through them, our brain is half asleep. It’s crying for attention, but most people do not take this seriously until the brain turns itself off. The usage of our brain with well-known activities even with demanding, but familiar mental activities is very little. The brain requires daily exercise, daily workload and high level usage. That’s the only way to keep neurons alive and not to lose any connections which are called synapses. That’s the only way to develop new neurons at any age. The research in twins shows that genetic factors are by far not everything since one of twins develops dementia or Alzheimer’s while the other does not. That is a very strong indication in favor of epigenetic factors, like our daily activities, the work we do, the level of our involvement in challenging mental tasks.

Good food, absence of harmful chemicals, physical activity and proper care are essential elements of our well-being, but they make no sense when the brain stops functioning. They make zero sense without cognitive function and memory. The sad reality looks like this, however: once we are done with school and degrees, the active learning period ends, too. How many people who engage in intentional brain exercises on a daily basis when their job does not require that do you know? Let’s compare this number with people who care about their diet and physical activity. I can bet that there are very few who will say they know a lot of people who learn playing a new instrument, who do a research or learn a new language and who do visual arts for their brain exercises every day at an older age.

I would call the lack of brain exercising phenomenal in times when statistics reveal that the number of people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s is expected to double in countries like Canada and the USA by 2038. Besides, there is nothing complicated about it: book your drawing and painting class, language learning course, music class or do your research with visual illustrations right away. Do not delay because any hesitation is causing trouble.

Brain health

It’s proven by now through many controlled trials that the best brain life boosting activity is drawing and painting because:

it is something new every time;

it is challenging and requires obtaining new skills every single minute;

it is a skill one can build on while starting at an easy level;

it is rewarding and pleasurable activity;

it involves socializing when taking a class in a group;

it reduces stress, anxiety and nervousness;

it involves positive thinking and positive attitude towards reality.

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These elements of brain exercising are essential. Besides, doing an art class is easy, affordable and some class always takes place close by. Just a small note: drawing and painting with alcohol does not improve brain function because we get opposite effects: alcohol kills brain cells while visual art extends the life of neurons and number of their connections.

Taking care of the brain is essential. We shouldn’t put it off.

Preveting memory loss

Food for brain: feed your happiness, not depression

Do you sometimes think that everything you eat can make you happy, full of energy and joy, or upset, depressed and exhausted? The truth is, feeding our brain the right way will provide us with more power to overcome bad days, allow to have much fewer bad days and to feel better and less stressed out or anxious.

We are aware by now that we can successfully teach and exercise our emotions and feelings provided the chemical reactions and levels of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters are in balance. However, we rarely think, that food we consume and nutrients we provide our body with have an extremely huge impact on our mental state, emotions, feelings and ability to determine whether we are having more bad or good days. Among the most important brain chemicals are serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine, melatonin, insulin and prostaglandins.

Due to external and internal stresses, many people might complain about very long-lasting mild depression. I have heard recently many saying they experience a seasonal affective disorder. Well, we all do to some extent if any nutrients are lacking in our diet and we don’t give an appropriate boost of those.

I used to have extremely bad intolerance to winter darkness and was upset most of the time when the weather was cold and I couldn’t get enough air and sunlight. I had sort of no energy to deal with any issues. I refused jobs just because I didn’t feel I could handle them. As many of you know, I’ve devoted many years to medical research, writing and analysis of patient data and symptoms; therefore, I have come to conclusions that everything which is within us affects everything from our physical condition to our mental states.

Digestive and metabolism disorders heavily affect the balance of brain chemicals. For instance, most of serotonin is produced in our gut and during the sleep. It’s extremely simple: people who have good metabolism and no noticeable lack of nutrients and who take their time to rest and pay attention to long enough and good sleep, shouldn’t be having too many bad days either.

How about external stressors which do not depend on us? Like the angry voice of your boss or piles of work that needs to be done, but you’re stuck in a traffic jam, or kids insisting you do one thing, husband being grumpy about something else while you’d rather do nothing of that, but something totally different you believe you need at the moment? That’s exactly the same story: we have built in coping mechanisms, and when our brain chemicals are in good balance, when we do have our thyroid and adrenal glands not working in hypo-or hiper- regimen, these coping mechanisms can work properly, too. That is why you will see in the same situation one person laughing, the other person ignoring this situation completely, but the third one will be crying or going crazy. It’s not exactly their personality that causes these reactions; it’s how well they are prepared for dealing with any issues.

Happiness starts in the gut

Everything starts in the gut. When we are treating a mood disorder or mild depression with strong medicines, alcohol, drugs and comfort food, we are aiming for side effects and reactions which we actually want to avoid. The New Year is almost at our door step and holiday season is in full swing, so alcohol consumption is high. Your liver does not care how beautiful the cocktail looks or how expensive the drink is: once the processing starts, a big label “toxins” is assigned to the contents of the decorated drink. Many pre-processed foods, soft drinks and food with high content of artificial ingredients get assigned the same label: “toxins”. When we add to this some damage which over years has happened to parts of our body that take care of removing any toxins and leftovers, the picture becomes quite clear: these toxins are going nowhere, but accumulating straight within us, poisoning our mood, destroying our chemical balance and making levels of brain chemicals significantly off. Therefore, it should be very easy to understand: treating bad mood with a pill, drug, alcohol or sweets is absolutely wrong. This means relieving symptoms for a short-term while, in fact, we need a long-term adjustment and correction to the cause of all these disorders and imbalances. That’s how we get caught in a roller coaster of sweets and sugars that we decorate with a glass of wine or champagne.

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Artificial supplements and drug store vitamins might not always get absorbed as good as the ones which come from the real sources, just because your ancient DNA and your body recognizes them much better.

If you love engaging in writing New Year’s resolutions, the first and the most important item should address the BALANCE: balanced activities, balanced sleep-awake periods, balanced intake of nutrients, balanced body processes, balanced reactions due to balanced metabolism. Everything else is secondary.

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I love not only eating vegetables, but I’m extremely happy to take their pictures, as well. This activity alone lifts my mood. I paint these things quite often also: beautiful shapes, colors, it’s pleasure for eyes, as well.

Christmas memories that can make us cry

There is a house on a hill far, far away, across the ocean, across huge fields and deep forests, and my mom is writing a Christmas card to me sitting at her old table, wearing a blue warm shawl around shoulders in her small lovely room. Letters are lining up unevenly, and the card always starts with “My dear daughter”.

Winter night light

Christmas time is very special time not only because we are trying to do something good for others, to give more than take, to support more than we usually do, but also because it brings back memories. If you’re older like me, you are having plenty of memories, as well. Each year has been marked with some event, some person, some special gift, somebody’s birth, wedding or death. I intentionally sometimes do not look through photos. These are the old, real photos on paper that I’m talking about; a few are grey-yellowish already since they’ve been taken more than 50 years ago. I don’t want to hurt myself too much because that is the past and it’s not in our power to return to life those people who have walked away either from us, or from this dimension.

If you are like me, your friends and family live very far away in another continent. My husband’s family is in Canada, but nobody resides close to us. Our Christmas means only two of us, and I am so grateful it is two, not only one. I have had completely lonely Christmas and bad ones, too, when there was no food on the table and when I even couldn’t get a bus ticked to get to my family back then in Latvia. I have been sick during some Christmas and I have been extremely happy also. I have been even freezing terribly during some Christmas, there was very little firewood at home, and we needed it badly to keep the fire in the stove going and ourselves from freezing.

If you are a very sensitive person who easily slides into depression, you should keep yourself away from the most painful memories, too. Some tear or a few running down the cheek is absolutely fine, but we shouldn’t submerge ourselves into a deep, dark, lonely lake of tears and melancholy. It helps to be among other people, at least chatting with online friends or somebody over the phone will make it feel as if together with somebody. There are always events at the church, and nobody feels lonely there. It is wrong to assume that one has to be only smiles if they want to cry in reality. It is fine to let your memories unfold as long as they don’t wrap you up in a too thick layer of regrets, feeling of guilt and sadness. The worst companion for a lonely grieving person is alcohol. It can create the illusion of joy and pleasure, but it fades away very quickly leaving one in deeper depression than ever. Whatever you do, do not use alcohol as a pain reliever. The blurry mind gives us wrong instructions and takes onto wrong route.

Winter night Christmas memories

Whatever our memories and situation at Christmas, there is always something to be grateful for. It is fantastic to be with somebody. It is great to have good food. It is excellent to have lights and candles and to be warm. It is a blessing to have somebody who loves you and who you can love in return. Don’t have a party? So what? Have to stay in bed? Well, next year should be having a better ending then. Things did not happen as you expected? They here and there do, and they very often don’t. Too busy, too many guests, too boring and tiring party? Relax; take your time, one can always find an excuse to sit down at some quiet corner.

My best Christmas memories are associated with family which is far away at the moment. We were very happy together. Celebration was not that much about plenty or expensive gifts those times, but mostly about the great feeling, Christmas warmth, delicious self-made meals, Christmas songs. Our tradition also includes saying a Christmas poem at the tree, and all kids were doing that in order to receive their gifts. It was always a bit different in Latvia: the biggest celebration is on December 24. We are supposed to have 9 dishes on the table; we are supposed to eat something 9 times during this night, we sing a lot of special Christmas songs and we have also other 2000 year old traditions: like dressing up in special costumes and visiting other houses in the neighbourhood.  It used to be so much fun that sometimes we returned home only by 3 or 4 in the morning. We were laughing a lot, even dancing. Giving, receiving and unwrapping of gifts was always done on December 24, as well. Therefore, Canadian Christmas seems quite boring to me. It’s most likely a very nice celebration when somebody gives a Christmas party, but it is a really slowly unwinding night for people who do not have any guests, visitors and who are simply lonely.

Winter sky and tree

We cannot buy love or happiness with a gift, but we can show our love and gratitude. Giving somebody an opportunity to feel safe and preventing somebody from loneliness is a valuable gift, as well. There are people who only need you to be with them, and not much more. To light up a candle, to make a place for joy.

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