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Monday, December 17, 2012

Within A Child's Eyes

I hate to admit it, but I’m not feeling very jovial this year, but rather a bit nostalgic about Christmas. I find myself conjuring familiar details from Yule’s gone by, like how the snow felt crunching under my boots as Ma led us along the crowded sidewalks of downtown Worcester, peering into store windows and judging their Christmas displays. One display in particular concerned me. It was a bare-bottom boy lying across his mother’s lap as she spanked him with her big mechanical hand, his red face twisted into an endless squall—forever humiliated. He would certainly be the recipient of a heavy heaping of coal, inspiring a rush of fear that my own misdeeds might be exposed.

Me & Santa
I recall the rousing smell of new toys, while taking my turn with a well-groomed department store Santa, dressed in kingly red, ho-ho-hoing from his velvety throne, his all seeing eyes measuring my earnestness, peeking into my soul, exposing my coal-worthy deeds in spite of my new coat and shiny Maryjanes.

Yes nostalgic. The carols of yesterday seem to be carrying bygone Christmases into my present, revisiting the times when poverty nipped every nickel from Ma’s thin purse, and S&H green stamps were the currency of the season. The days of small joys tucked within tough times like diamonds hidden within the folds of an old burlap blanket. I hadn’t yet learned how to be discontented with life, accepting my mother’s world as the way everyone lived, her reassuring words pointing out the praiseworthiness of life, guarding our spirits from hunger and want. Spending contented hours snipping paper chains to drape across our bare walls—turning Styrofoam balls into a galaxy of jeweled ornaments to hang on our tree.

I guess I find myself looking backwards to simpler times because the present seems so complicated—so transitional—so sad. I want to look back to the Rockwellian days, when the sparkle of wonder within a child’s eyes was revered, as was the sanctity of childhood.

My husband Mike & Santa
I want to stroll those easy streets once again, mingling with familiar strangers all high on the same holiday cheer. But, I mustn’t fool myself, for even back then evil had a face—clean shaven and reeking of Old Spice. I knew that face. And as I sat on Santa’s knee in front of Ma, I held back my request that Santa would make that face go away, and asked instead for a doll that could cry “mama”.

Life is indeed a spectral journey, where shadows dance like opaque fairies amidst the twinkling lights of our festivities. These dark stalkers have always been there. They sought to murder the Christ Child, who was whisked away into exile, safe from the blade of Herod’s plan. But this type of evil can never truly win, because the loveless womb from which it crawled has seeded it with barren fear, leaving it no place to go beyond the grave.

If Christmas has taught me anything over my lifetime, it is this: that life takes no break for the holidays. That Christmas is a microcosm of life, a compact version brought into acute focus under the brilliant lights of the season, causing our tears to flow faster and our joys to sing louder. I lost my mother during the holidays of 1998, and five loved ones already this year, including my dear mother-in-law just last week; I’m reeling with the sting of loss, yet I continue to sing the sweet praises of life, inspired by a divine love which expands the human heart, infusing it with the silvery light of hope. This is where the magic lives—within the restorative power of love’s embrace. This, my dear friends, is the spirit of Christmas…our greatest gift to one another.

Whether in mourning or mirthful, let us share this most precious gift of love with those around us, for in doing so we confound evil plans and light a torch in the most desolate of places. Merry Christmas fellow citizens, may our deeds mark the day as good, and compassionate wisdom be our earthly legacy.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Birthdays Buzzards and Rainbows

Monday’s attempt at a birthday blog:

Okay so I’m suppose to be writing a birthday blog and I’m finding that it isn’t so easy to write. I feel scattered. Maybe it’s that I have so much on my mind. Or perhaps it’s my age. Maybe my brain is starting to sag right along with my other assets. Sagging assets. Hahaha! Sorry. This isn’t going so well.

Tuesday’s attempt at a birthday blog:

I’m not feeling very reflective or poetic about my birthday. Having a birthday in December is like throwing a party at Mardi Gras. Everyone is already celebrating. How can you compete with that? My birthday sort of gets lost in all of the holiday hubbub. Yeah. This isn’t going so well.

Wednesday’s attempt at a birthday blog:

I’m sitting here in my summer bathrobe with a pooch tucked in against my heart. It’s quiet and calm. The Florida morning breathes lightly, gentle and vacation like. I’m adding my blessings. I’m also adjusting to losses. Epic losses. Life holds all things in one big pot—the gains and losses, the pretty and painful, the whole thing. God, I’m so sick of myself. This isn’t going so well.

Thursday’s attempt at a birthday blog:

This birthday blog thing isn’t going too well. Last night I dreamt of a sailboat and it was tied to the dock. A voice said to me, “What good is a sailboat if it’s tied to the dock?” I didn’t answer but I knew I had to untie the rope and set sail. The thing is I hate sailing. I prefer walking. But sometimes we are required to sail. So what did this dream mean? Am I supposed to be going somewhere?

Mike’s mother is sick. Sicker than sick. Mike is there with her now. Her days are numbered. But aren’t all our days numbered and we just don’t want to face it. We live like we have endless days. Like summertime and youth are eternal. I’m healthy and have this life to live. I’m blessed. I should be more grateful and active but instead I’m feeling listless. I just want to crawl into bed with my mother-in-law and hold her. She’s too precious to say goodbye to.

This isn’t going well. I’m dried up. I have nothing to say.

Friday’s attempt at a birthday blog.

I have endless miles of white to impress upon. I do. I have endless thoughts and emotions. I don’t however have endless days in which to write my stories.

So, what shall I say then? A birthday blog. Who gives a shit? Really? Don’t we all have birthdays? We expect too much. We’re spoiled rotten.

Shouldn’t I be celebrating every day? Is the birthday thing really necessary? Oh fudge, this isn’t going too well.

What would make me happy on my birthday? What are a few of my favorite things? Puppies, and teapots, and Gumby & Pokey, nice friendly people who say “okey dokey”, crunching dead acorn tops under my shoe, making them pop is what I like to do.

Buzzards and rainbows and pies of all flavors, a friend who will listen and do me some favors, someone who loves me without keeping score, and stays closely by with his ear to the door.

Listening to music while I’m Sunday driving, going in circles and never arriving, feeling as boundless as space and the sea, talking with God as he talks back to me.

Watching the stars blink is better than Vegas, the same stars that made Galileo so famous, feeling a part of ev-er-y thing, makes me so happy that I want to sing.

Eating a donut with jelly and coffee, walking a mile so I won’t be a softy, watching a movie that gets in my eyes, hiding my face so they won’t see me cry.

Blowing a straw sleeve across at my daughter, watching her flinch with sur-prise cause I got her. Laughing while showing my gums and my teeth, ducking the straw sleeve that’s aimed back at me.

Writing down words all jumbly and noisy, letting them spill out like milk on a doily, killing the editor and hiding his corpse, living wide open without any doors.

Stupid song lyrics that wiggle and hover, making me wonder if I need a doctor, to cure me of this so no one will know, that I’m a crummy poet without any clothes.

Whew! Glad I got that out of my system.

So ends my birthday blog. Thanks for indulging this old girl for the moment. It’s been a rough week. And by the way, I was sober when I wrote this. Big mistake. Anyway, when your birthday rolls around (and it will) I promise to be, the sort of friend who listens no matter what you say or sing.

Happy Birthday to me.

This didn’t go so well.