Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving Anomaly?

Each year prior to Thanksgiving and Christmas, there are letters in the advice columns as well as comments from co-workers and friends about the dysfunction within their families and how they look forward to those holidays with dread. The memories of holiday celebrations past haunt them and they anticipate more bad memories to come.
What have I missed? I have good memories of holidays. Good memories of grandma and grandpa, uncles and aunts – not specifics so much as attitudes – the over all sense of family and goodness together. Yes, there were a couple of specifics – Dad drinking too much – but that was not evident to me very often – maybe I just missed it – or was blind to it – but it never soured the day – or the memory.
On Thanksgiving, I am grateful and very thankful for the many years of wonderful celebrations together as family. My sisters and I were loved by all the old folks – and we knew it. It showed. I am grateful and very thankful for carrying those memories forward and allowing them to color my outlook on the present – and the future.
Yes, my blessings are manifest
Robin and I had a very nice Thanksgiving celebration on the day itself with two people we had never met before and may not meet again but for those few hours, they were a part of our lives – and we were a part of theirs – and it was good.
On Saturday, three of our combined five children came over and we celebrated again. How wonderful to see them as adults. They are good people and we would be honored to consider them friends were they not family. Yes, our blessings are plentiful.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Did I miss a memo?

Yesterday, I stopped at McDonalds for a quick dinner after yoga class. The young man who waited on me was pleasant. I paid him and he handed me my change. I said, “Thank you” and he said, “Uh huh.” He handed me my burger and again, I said, “Thank you.” And again he said, “Uh huh.”
Were this an isolated incident, I wouldn’t have thought much of it other than he needed to be trained in how to close a transaction from a customer relations perspective. I think thanking customers is appropriate – don’t you?
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated incident. In fact, from my daily observations and experiences, it is the “new” normal. “Thank you” has left the vernacular in retail.
Why is that? Is it lack of proper training by management? Is it an insecurity that somehow keeps them from expressing gratitude? Is it self-absorbtion – they are unable to consider others as they would themselves?
I asked a young woman at the “quickie mart” the other day – she had simply said, “Yup” when I thanked her for my purchase – how, if she were the one making the purchase, she would want the clerk to respond. She said she’d like to hear “thank you.”
So, at least using her as an example, it is not for lack of knowledge of the importance of those two simple words.
I’ve been told I’m too picky – it is not a big deal. I say: BS!
I’ve been told the clerks are underpaid and overworked and shouldn’t have to fret about how they close a sale. I say: BS!
Come on! A simple thank you makes the world a little friendlier. A simple thank you makes both people feel good. A simple thank you is the right thing to do. Accept nothing less. Perhaps if a few of us stand at the counter and ask for it, the message will get across. Perhaps not but keep trying. Thank you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Nothing says "Happy Holidays" like a pilfered tree.

As we embrace the diversity of our nation, let us take a moment to consider the inclusiveness of everyone which is reflected in a stolen Holiday tree.
The meaninglessness of the “holiday season” must not exclude those who would take what is not theirs. Steal from a Salvation Army kettle? Fine by me. Take your neighbors lights and string them up in your basement? Good idea – a festive basement is always a delight. Shoplift a doll or a Ipod for the kids? Why not? It’s the Holidays.

Quoting a line in the movie, “As Good As It Gets,” as the character played by Jack Nicholson says to the character played by Helen Hunt, “You make me want to be a better man.” Christmas does that for us – women, men, children. Christmas makes us want to be better. Not because Santa is watching but because the image of a child being sent to Earth to serve as Savior is compelling. The image of a cold night in the desert, of animals at peace, of others there too – in recognition of an event occurring. Those images provide the impetus to be a better man, woman or child.

Without the Prince of Peace to impel this sense, the holidays are empty. Back to Druidism. The Solstice is here – all hail the Solstice. I’m off – to steal a Holiday tree. ©

Monday, November 16, 2009


Yesterday at church, as I was walking out, the fellow who raises money for homelessness was heading out to his tent. I thanked him for his efforts. He said, “It’s something I can do.” And I thought about how profound that simple statement was. There is something we all can do. What a world it would be if we all did it. Whatever it may be.
My mind is getting broader
I’m thinking quite apart
From how I used to think of things
I thought I was so smart

To see someone who is down and out
I used to think this way
Pick yourself up and buckle down
And it will be ok.

Somehow I’d feel better
Like I’d done something right
When in fact I had ignored them
Blindered to their plight

Is my conscience stretching?
To embrace a truth unseen?
To help ease suffering in a life?
Have I become less mean?

Whether events or age or other stuff
Has given me this start
I’m grateful for an open mind
And openness of heart. ©

Friday, November 13, 2009

I am praying for my niece. She is having a difficult time of late. Her mental health has been tough on her and her family for the last few years. I pray that she will be treated with the right combination of meds. I pray for her to have strength to slog through the depressions. I pray for her to see light beyond this moment, this hour, this day. I pray for her to be healthy and happy. Should you read this, please do likewise. Thank you.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Wrong Number

I am suprised at how little, inconsequential events can take us to places long dormant in our minds. This "wrong number" was one of them. Thank you, small child, whoever you are.

I got a little gift today; don’t know from where it came
My cell phone rang and on the line a small voice, anxious to proclaim
“Dad?” he asked a bit surprised
To hear my sound, unrecognized

A small boy, I think, from just that word though I don’t know for sure
A little girl it could have been but “Dad” is what I heard.
The precious thing from one so small; to hear that name once more
In such an eager, love filled way; to cause my heart to soar

The instant swept the years aside. Just where am I? And when?
Am I yet there? A child this age? The years a dream have been?
The memories flashed all through my mind of Steve and Jill and Dan
Of playing catch and playing games and summers in the sand

They flooded back, as fast as light, these visions of my love
Their gap-toothed grins and small warm hands
True gifts lent from above

Then I returned to here and now to answer his small plea
To gently say the dad he’d called was someone else, not me

And then he knew, I wasn’t his but just some other dad
Before he went, he just said, “Bye” - and left me feeling glad
And grateful to that little one, mistaken though he’d been
For he gave to me the greatest gift of memories so long not seen. ©

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Today is my daughter’s birthday
She turns 32 and has two little boys of her own
The circle of life.
When I talk to my mom about aging
She tells me she still thinks of herself
As if she were in her mid-30s

I still think of myself in roughly
That same age bracket – and I’m 58
The circle of life
And I think of all that have left
Been here and gone
Remembered and missed

For the people they were (are?)
For the love they gave and got
The circle of life
I look at those older than me
In a different light than in years past
Knowing we’ll all be gone someday

I look at those younger than me
Realizing they too have the same fate
It helps me to love; the circle of life
And so it goes. ©

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The natural world awes me. It supports my faith in the supernatural world. The way of things – liquids, solids, gases. Molecules, atoms and the smaller particles. The electrical charges each carry. The complex interactions and combinations that make stuff – from dirt to oils to plants and animals. The chemical balances that exist that permit such combinations. Awe is hardly an adequate word. Understanding the science that supports the mechanics of it does not diminish the wonder. It enhances it.

This morning I witnessed a hawk capturing a songbird for breakfast. A bit further on, two bright red-headed woodpeckers warily eyeing each other in a stand-off in a parking lot.

From the ultra-micro to the super-macro – awe and wonder. Affirmations of the supernatural. The spirit of it. The spirit of us. The spirit of all.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Monday, 2-November - Year After Year After ....

Moon setting at the same angle as mid-summer sun. Glimmering light across a still lake. To the East, sun just lightening the sky.

Full moon sets at dawn’s first light
Streaks yellow on the lake
Morning sun though not yet born
Glows orange in nighttime’s wake

And as the night with white light fades
The quiet is so deep
I listen and can almost feel
The heaviness of sleep

No birds are trilling, they still perch
With heads beneath a wing
Unwilling yet to test the air
Unwilling yet to sing

November morns portend what’s next
What debt will soon be due
And seasons come and seasons go
With life that’s old and new. ©