What does a Grryo Christmas look like? We asked each member of the Grryo Lead team to share their heartfelt experiences…
For me, so much about the Christmas season is about the sacredness of time. As soon as December arrives, I am hit with an avalanche of farewell dinners, end-of-year concerts and school functions, all while manically trying to buy gifts for family and friends. Time speeds up, it would seem, and I often feel breathless from the sheer momentum of it all.
As I say goodbye to colleagues, watch my children graduate to a new school year and write cards to loved ones, I subconsciously whisper my thanks and farewell to the year that’s passed and to everything that has been.
And then, finally, time slows down again, as the rush draws to a close. I savour the gifts of cooking, chatting and laughing with family and friends before I turn my eyes to the time that lays ahead: a brand new beginning brimming with possibility.
I cherish all the light that Christmas brings to the darkest of the months.
When days are short and nights are long, we fill December with stars and candles. And then darkness no longer feels like an enemy.
Christmas means time spent with the family. We sleep longer, close our laptops and phones, bake gingerbread cookies, play board games and relish traditional Christmas food. My kids, especially the younger one, are looking forward to meeting Father Christmas again on the 24th, Christmas Eve. Father Christmas lives in Northern Finland, in Lapland, in a place called Korvatunturi (Ear Fell in English), where he has his secret toy and gift workshop.
In December my world is dark with city lights and rain. Christmas means too much office coffee and the sound of the city’s traffic on wet streets. It’s the time of the year when I am all caught up in my job while days are short and daylight is sparse. It produces a feeling of abstraction, like being a detached island in a sea of hectic gift buying, baking, cooking, traveling and doing all things Christmassy. I enjoy watching the circus and love to dip a toe in when I join the merry masses at Christmas markets and dinners with friends and colleagues.
When daylight is the city lights, and tires on wet concrete is the soundtrack. @tonivisual
Out there we fight the darkness with lights and sugar. The cities wear their Christmas markets like a scratchy, favorite winter garment. Renditions of jingle bells fill the air and the smell of Glühwein (hot spiced wine), anise, roasted almonds and melted chocolate lingers wherever you go.
It even seeps down into the catacombs of the subway stations where commuters are joined by herds of shoppers and people dragging their live Christmas trees up the escalators.
On Christmas eve, I leave my island and join my family for cooking goose, the big Christmas tree with real wax candles and cozy nights with board games by the fire.
“lone man in the subway station” – the feeling when the season’s circus is all around but you’re not in it yet. @tonivisual
Every Christmas is different. Family changes. People grow older. Children grow up. A wedding takes place as two lives become one. A grandson will experience his first Christmas. My fourth Christmas with Grryo will be my last.
Every Christmas is the same. Family gathers. Friends share the joys of the past year while at the same time we always find something new to celebrate. We all experience some childlike wonder even though our hair starts to gray. And the richness of story, which is the core of Grryo’s purpose, stays with us always.
Around the Christmas table, I try to remember what have I lost and what have I gained during the past year. I tend to get extremely bored in family dinners and given the melancholy of the days I’m usually the one searching for excuses in order not to attend -the excuses always fail and I eventually attend the dinner. I avoid shooting photos with a camera or a smartphone and I only take instant photos with a Fuji Instax. The prints find their way straight into a box and I check them again after weeks or even months. There is a certain weight in religious celebrations that I am always unwilling to carry. The only fun thing is setting some goals for the coming year. There is usually an overload of goals and usually around February they vanish into thin air. I can’t give you any good advice regarding setting goals, but if I had to, I’d just say set a single goal for 2018 and try to achieve half of it; this seems already enough.
Try to spend some quality time with your beloved ones. Even in the most boring dinners, there might be a sentence that will change you a bit. Use it as a chance to remember a day that for some reason everybody seems to appreciate. And remember your last year’s dinner and compare who was around and who might be absent. I am usually more happy about past year’s dinners than the coming ones. I remember the faces, the family table, the food. Last year it was the last Christmas dinner with the grandma; she won’t attend any of the future ones. Drink some wine, appreciate the presence of people and their presents too. And get slightly bored: this seems to me as the last shelter of creativity.
The word ‘Christmas’ fills our minds with snow, winter, Christmas decorations, joyful carols and various savored baked goodies. As it isn’t very Christmassy spirit on my side of the world, I choose to count my blessings as the festive season approaches and the year ends. Every year brings its challenges but we make the choice of whether we want to complain or appreciate our moments. Gratitude allows us to live in the present moment and continue to see the light by moving forward.
It has been a good year for us at Grryo. We have started to grow slowly but surely with beautiful stories that keep us amazed at the huge talent that exists. As we share our Christmas stories at Grryo, where all of us live in various parts of the world, we celebrate it by making use of the digital world. It is remarkable what technology can do when used productively.
The connections and relationships we have weaved together at Grryo, have made us feel like a family even if we have never met one another. I truly appreciate and value each one of them. It has been a great pleasure building friendships with all of them. Let us cheer for the jolly season and be hopeful for the blessings in the coming year ahead!
The Grryo team would like to sincerely thank you for making 2017 a great year of stories shared! Whether you wrote stories or read them – or both! – a very big thank you for your continuous, amazing support. We wish you safe and happy holidays. Looking forward to more of your wonderful stories in 2018!
What does Christmas mean to you? Do you look forward to this season earnestly or is it a mere family ritual and gathering that you do every year?… Here at Grryo, all of us in the team, come from different countries across the globe with distinct backgrounds. In this post, we will all share what Christmas means to us and how some of us Celebrate it.
Christmas for me is deeply rooted in my faith in Jesus Christ. This holiday is to be a reflection of everything he is and I find it summed up in the word giving. I’m talking about giving without any expectation of a return. This year I have found a couple of actions that demonstrate the type of giving I mean.
John and his wife Shayla started helping a couple of weeks ago at Soul Food Cafe, a local food ministry to the hungry. John’s heart was touched by the need he found all around him. Putting his photography talent to use he had the idea of doing free portraits for anyone who wanted one. On the particular day I visited John there, he took over 50 portraits in front of this tree as Shayla, with infant son “Cotton” in tow, gathered information. This week they are taking photos with Santa. In the meantime he made a video on Facebook about what was happening that generated 1500 views and gained help from several local photography clubs.
This past weekend I helped a group of teens that joined with several hundred other local Arkansans to fill food packs to send to hungry children in Haiti. A local restaurant, Tacos 4 Life, gives enough from their profits to feed one child for every meal they serve. They do this by teaming with Feed My Starving Children® which is a non-profit organization committed to feeding hungry children. They organize volunteers to hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and then ship these meals to distribution partners. These kids gave a couple of hours of their time on a Saturday to pack 492 boxes of food packs. That’s enough to feed 291 kids each day for a year.
Christmas has always been a favorite holiday for me. Despite living in Indonesia with the largest Muslim population, this festive season has always brought me a feeling of joy, warmth and excitement. For many Indonesians, Eid/Idul Fitri is the main holiday season celebrated extensively. The Christmas decorations and carols around Jakarta are mainly found in every mall or churches across the city. The roads and streets are not lit up with lights or decor as it is regarded as a normal public holiday. It is being recognized and celebrated more now by people in Indonesia. For me, during this festive end of the year season, it is more of winding down and enjoying the break from a well-spent hectic year.
Pictures of Christmas decorations in various places I found, that captured my attention.
Colourful Christmas ball ornaments on a huge Christmas tree at a nearby mall. The popping colours and lights was a lovely sight to capture.
A beautiful framed setting done by TWG Tea at a nearby mall. As i was walking past, I noticed a girl sitting next to the teddy bear and her friend taking a picture of her. The colours and moment itself intrigued me to capture it as it is.
Although, Christmas doesn’t hold a special meaning to me, someday, I would love to experience this festive season in countries that celebrate it. So, I can also experience the spirit of joy and bliss.
A huge part of Christmas for me is being thankful for, and spending quality time with, my family and friends – particularly my husband and our two boys. Our lives are pretty hectic; we’re always rushing from one thing to the next, Monday – Sunday. It’s all good and enjoyable, but hectic. So the few days we have over the Christmas period, where deadlines and school runs are thrown out of the window, are very special.
Playing board games and watching films together. Catching up with friends. Having late night adventures in the woods with our boys and their torches. Watching my kids playing and running free, without a care in the world. Like children should. Watching the adults behaving like kids again too. Enjoying the magic of school nativities and music concerts. Eating mince pies that we don’t even like. Wearing silly jumpers and daft Christmas accessories.
Enjoying long walks in the cold.
Not setting the alarm clock.
Decorating the tree together.
Remembering dear loved ones.
Enjoying the little things.
Because I work for a non-denominational church a lot of my time revolves around special events around the church. My wife and I have to get creative with our time to enjoy the holiday with our kids. We have our usual family traditions like decorating our house and listening to Christmas songs by Louis Armstrong. We also drive to neighborhoods and marketplaces adorned with a lot of Christmas lights and if when we can afford it, we will go to Disneyland to enjoy fake snow and watch people play at the skating rink.
The weather folks say that it snows in my region along the coast of Southern California only once for every hundred years, so unless we drive 2 hours up to the local mountains, any expression of “White Christmas” is man-made.
My family wanted to focus more of our attention on people in need this year. Our kids participated in Operation Shoe Box and filled a shoe box with gifts and a note to be given to a child on the other side of our world. Locally, I went with our church group to deliver groceries we put together to families nearby, so they could have a Christmas dinner.
It’s a special time of year for us. We could go insane trying to keep up with all of the traditions that go along with this season. Plus, it is too exhausting to get swept up in the shopping frenzy that happens from Thanksgiving to New Year’s. At my home, we try to simplify how we the celebrate birth of our Savior Jesus Christ by helping folks in need and getting together with family and friends.
December, the darkest of the months. I feel the lack of shadows, I feel in me the lack of light.
Yet Christmas gives me hope. It brings light, all sorts of lights: tiny little ones, bright ones, yellow, red and green, the white paper stars we set up on our window sills early in December. Christmas celebrates light and reminds me that nothing lasts forever, not even the darkest days. That light remains. That I’ll have the shadows back soon again.
I’ve always loved Christmas, how it changes us, the magic of it, and I spend the Christmas days together with my loved ones.
Hope you enjoyed our little contributions from the Grryo Family to spread the joy and spirit with you all.
Thank you to each and every one of you for your participation and contributions throughout the year. We deeply appreciate it.
We would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a Blessed 2017!
Enjoy the holiday season with your loved ones and we look forward to another exciting new year with you!
In GRRYO’s Instagram account we feature a photo prompt each Monday and ask our audience to share their stories to accompany the image. You can join us each Monday to stretch your storytelling skills and enjoy stories being told around the world. We have a special digest to give you on Leap Year Day that reveals what happened in the month of January as we invited Marina to share a series of her street photography so that we could piece together a running story for that month. Read on to unfold the magic that was conjured in an Italian café.
Story portion by @grandreopening
Antoine’s mother had always said magic was real. He had thought she was a just a dumb hippy, that her version of magic was some Jerry Garcia unicorn pipe dream but despite a lifetime of crystals that had adorned her neck she had always insisted that sometimes things did go bump in the night.
Now Antoine believed.
The witches had been coming to his café, his very table, for two weeks. At first they seemed like normal women but a good server notices things. The sweet smell of dead flesh had hooked Antoine’s nose while reaching to deliver a basket of fresh baked croissants; in a glance he had witnessed their subtly forked tongues, tongues that twitched and tracked him like copperheads. In a blink they were normal tongues again and he was left staring and feeling rude. The way the witches had looked at him while he looked at them; wet, obsidian eyes and the synchronized tapping of long, pointed, putty gray nails on the table had made his skin crawl.
There had been more clues since, enough that he drank wine each morning to ease the shaking of his hands. The cafe’s china cups clattered on their saucers without it.
He told himself the spike of missing children post bills he had suddenly started to notice in his neighborhood were just his imagination. They had always been there he told himself, Chianti in hand.
Story portion by Cally
Today is the day. Lobelia glanced at her sisters, a slight nod echoed among them. This is the one, they had all agreed. For the past couple weeks, the three had driven down into the valley to the café, just to be sure. And they were. His name is Antoine, and sure enough, he has the sign. At each visit, Lobelia sensed his increasing anxiety at their passive observation. He knows, she thought. That’s good. Most men know nothing until it’s too late. Antoine was different. Maybe this time would be different.
Story portion by @theliebox
By the end of the third week Antoine could see nothing but the gap-toothed smiles and pink pom-pom stocking hats; the wild eyed grins of children once happy but now lost. New posters seemed to appear daily on light poles, taped to mailboxes and bulletin boards. Where were the police Antoine wondered, didn’t everyone notice?
Just this morning outside his neighborhood wine shop he had paused to note a lovely girl, no more than five, with a corona of flaming red hair clutching a doll. The photo was stuck with glue under the shakily written words MISSING, PLEASE HELP. The doll had hair that perfectly matched the girls. Clearly handmade, the creator had teased the ends of the yarn until the exact quotient of frizzy had been reached.
Antoine had nursed wine from the bottle as he finished his walk to work pondering on what pure love it had taken to make such detail and how much love the little girl had squeezed into that doll when she’d first been given the gift.
Hours later, Antoine with his clattering hands and crimson stained lips had forgotten the doll as he served the witches. He had thought of nothing but the looming arrival of those tallow skin faces. His eyes downcast as he delivered biscotti he saw in the open bag at the feet of Lobelia the witch the curly haired doll, now dirty and stained the color of rust.
Antoine gasped audibly and in inadvertent panic looked directly at the witch. She smiled a coy smile marvelously pleased with herself. “She’s done it on purpose!” Antoine thought to himself, “she wanted me to see it!”
Story portion by Joe
As cunning as the “Terrible Trio” (as they delightfully called themselves) were, they were also forgetful. A dull black notebook was left in the restroom just minutes before Antoine stumbled upon it. Knowing this was planned to be his last living day, he scurried to the kitchen turning pages frantically and found a page titled, “A recipe for Antoine.”
He followed the directions which included “scraped human heel skin,” which Antoine quietly obliged. He poured his new spice mix named after him into the wine bottle and collected himself before going to serve the witches one more time.
As the ladies gleefully sipped their wine waiting for their opportunity to trick Antoine into drinking his customized glass of death, they unknowingly drank their own concoction that would end their lives just moments later. Antoine took off his apron, and walked outside reading the black notebook once more for handwritten directions the witches left behind to find the little girl.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the creativity of our photo artist, Marina, and the storytellers who gave words to her images. Please share this series with others by using the social media share buttons at the top of the page beneath the first image. Of course you’re always invited to drop into our Storytellers Circle each Monday to spread your imagination wings with the rest of the world.
[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]
i carry your heart with me(i carry it in
my heart)i am never without it(anywhere
i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done
by only me is your doing,my darling)
no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want
no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)