Wednesday, December 26, 2012

I'll Be Damned!

Much better than expected. 

Christmas has so much weight to it: the weight of expectations, real or imagined memories, family, traditions, losses, hope. I've always liked the season, but I know better than to give my hopes free reign. This year was a definite gamble.

This year I won. 

I somehow had enough time:

JB and I have spent Christmas Eve for 25 years with the same two friends. This year they brought the appetizers (oh my my: all kinds of fresh cheeses and quince jam and smoked mussels and of course crackers) and dessert. JB made feta shrimp and rice, guacamole, chili-cheese cornbread.

Our friends slept over. On Christmas morning two other friends joined us for brunch: date and nut bread, pumpkin bread, bagels, cappuccinos.  They brought a pineapple filled with berries. They also brought gifts: homemade cinnamon bread, chocolate chip gingerbread, and one winter squash from their summer garden.

I have good friends. That is something I no longer and never take for granted.

And I have a partner who is dear and kind and sweet. She also gave me presents, including almost all of her stash money, with a note saying it is for the casino later in the week. Slot machines: wait for me--I'm coming!

At noon on Christmas day JB had dinner with my Mother at her rest home. All the food served there is family style and home cooked. Our Christmas menu included baked stuffed shrimp, green beans in mushroom sauce, mashed squash, cheese potatoes. We had no room for the turkey, mashed potatoes or stuffing. All of this served with condiments and eggnog and never a charge of any kind.

My Mother's rest home is an incredible place. There are 30 residents in all and without fail dignity and patience and companionship for every one there.

Later that afternoon, my daughter Jess, Mike, and their three boys and dog Sadie arrived, more presents. They stay the night so we are not rushed. Sometimes it is chaos. But not this year. We played, talked, colored, watched  cartoons, ate meals, opened stockings and gifts from Santa, and watched our dog Chase, who has zero experience with children, run with the boys in the back yard; all of it and all of us so gleeful.

Dr Ryan cured all my complaints.

JB and I made our homemade raviolis and four dozen meatballs I made for my son-in-law. Jess and I made garlic bread. After the kids were in bed, we grownups opened our traditional stockings and gifts and it was all very wonderful.

We all played and relaxed.

this is drew and the alligator he has coveted

There is a lesson to be had in all of this. 

My take on that lesson is this: YOU NEVER KNOW. I have had grand plans some years that fell apart in minutes and then, sometimes, a string of days create a lovely peaceful and safe sanctuary. 

I tell my teenage clients that consequences have babies. They almost always understand what I mean by that: you don't just flunk a class but you get punished and maybe the teachers write you off and maybe you won't get promoted to the next grade. In my case I have spent quite a bit of time lamenting the unexplainable. 

This Christmas, not so much.

Good for me.

Here's to I'll Be Damned moments. The thing is, I think they sneak in when expectations don't get in their way.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays

be light

be kind

be astonished

To my friends, family, and visitors:

The world needs you. Please don't give up. This is the view after pizza, taken from a parking lot in a strip mall in a small town in eastern Massachusetts. This is what the world can look like even in darkness. Don't let harsh circumstance or harsh people  convince you otherwise.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and Blessings for any reason you choose to honor. And speaking of honor, that is how I feel to have the blogosphere pleasure of your company. 

Much love

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Little Gifts # 8: More Signs

Two days to Christmas Eve. I hope you are at least hanging in. I have good things ahead of me and I hope that is how things turn out. This is not a trouble free Christmas or holiday or New Year. There are troubles in the world, for starts. For me and I think for many there is that, and there too is the tradition, even joy, of the season; gift giving and baking and balsam scents and friends and family seeing. I think even if I were alone, I could  be restful if I had one pine candle, one poinsettia, and two sugar cookies. 

For the next three days I want to give myself the luxury, and I mean luxury, of enjoying and appreciating little things. Where ever I can find them. 

Blessed and Peaceful Holidays,

p.s. There is one sign here I don't completely agree with. Can you guess?

Friday, December 21, 2012

Little Gifts # 7: Signs

Take your pick. Or take them all!  
For many, a holiday weekend now begins.
I am sending you two parts love and one part acceptance.

Sunday, December 16, 2012


 These days have been surreal. With the heaviest hearts, mourning the loss of precious children and their teachers and principal, yesterday JB and I bought a Christmas tree, strung bough and lights on our fence, put lights around a peace sign, cleaned up the garden, made cookies. It was a rare day without other demands, a quiet day appreciating these little acts and too, grieving not just the loss of life, but the reality that rising random violence chokes our communities and breaks our hearts.

It's a stressful unspeakable time in the world. I don't like to say that: I am an optimist and activist and I believe problems can be solved. But I too know there is now unsettled trouble in my country and in the world. Guns. Video violence. Not enough support for mental health. Stalemate.

And yet, we must live our lives. 

How can I not be heartbroken? And yet I made cookies and decorated them and ate three and gave thanks. This is our human condition, don't you think so? We have reason to cry and we have reason to love.

Don't waste a moment.


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Love & Mourning

Gone. Twenty small children. Innocence. Twenty six families. Trust. Christmas....

My daughter Jessica hugged her three boys very tight tonight. She will protect them

as I will protect her. 

I wrote this poem maybe six or more years ago. I've posted it before. Tonight, what more

fitting than to share a love so deep in me that there is nothing, nothing that can stop it. 

My daughter. Our children.....


Take both eyes, both hands,
My legs and arms, 
Even take the precious German clock
And every special book.

Take my bank account,
All twenty photo albums,
My garden in August
And the miraculous April rain.

Take it all if you can promise. 
I knew in the instant this would be so.
I’m in to any burning house,
On to a frigid raft at sea,
I’m ripping the mangled steel with my bare hands.

Anything, anything for this girl.
The edgeless corners of the truest love
And the endless reserve of cavernous protection
Surround this child who lives within and without,
This fantabulous kid with the crack up wit
And the tender expansive heart.

Take it all, whether you are a son-of-a-bitch
Or an evolving angel, 
Whether the cost is temporary or forever,
Take it all, and then shelter this child
Through every molecular motion and moment. 

She sits at a desk 
And she finds little bargains at the malls.
She eats salads at Bugaboo Creek and 
On Sundays brings Sprite to her grandmother.
She is an anchor in an unsteady world.
She is hybrid fuel to those who love her.
She is a reason to push
And the forever foremost answer
To everything that could ever matter

Given the chance to love like this, 
The price of my sightless limbless body
And wiped clean barren possessions
Amounts to nothing more than shiny pennies and
And effortless will. 

That’s all. That’s everything.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Little Gifts # 5

It hasn't always been this way.

When my daughter was young, she begged me not to embarrass her. She had to fit in and my single Mom same sex status was hard on her. It was not until her first year in college that in a flash she was no doubt proud of me and there were no more secrets. 

A little gift? NO. Not little at all. But I'm calling it that because the change in the world at large these past years, while disturbing to some for religious and other reasons, is another step in allowing people, all people, to be who they are. Little by little that filters down through families into communities and all the way to oppressive governments.

A few years back  I loved a woman who loved me but she was homophobic in ways that sometimes broke my skin. She reminded me that mostly I am insulated by  people who accept and don't make exceptions about what for me are civil rights. In her own way that was her little gift to me. I would not want to be ambivalent about myself or anyone else. 

 I'd like to hear about your own experience, from whatever vantage point you occupy. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Little Gifts # 4

Not going to be so easy. 

I had hoped this Christmas there would be time, family, friends, cookies, restaurants, warm bread, a tree already. I had hoped a sadness that was planted a few years back would be gone, but finally I know it is part of me and I am wise to honor it.

It's not to be. There have been troubles here; not catastrophic but unsettling. Many are now resolving. But tonight I am replacing my imagination with small possibilities and likelihoods. Over the next two weeks I will take my 96 year old very active godmother for a Mexican lunch. I will visit Joe and bring him chocolates. I will delight in wrapping certain presents and god help me, I hope I'll cook at least one good meal. And a tree. It will be smaller and maybe the damn lights will stay on this year.

I thought my little gifts throughout December would be easy. Not so much. This is what I have to give tonight:

Chase is WAY better. It's only been a week or so that he's had no seizures, no knockouts from his medicine, but it is so nice to see him, even for a week, settle into our home and enjoy his life as a dog. I think you can tell by these pictures that he is feeling better. He is sweet, fascinating, and odd. I think we are going to be great friends. 

And a little gift of advice from me:

I'm not quite in the mood
To be wise witty or lewd
It's enough I'm awake
For holiday's sake!
I'm reminded again
Whether family or friend
Don't pursue the last word:
To be right is absurd.
Better to start
An accord of the heart
and let things unfold
while the story is told.

In other words, relax.