Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘Christmas’

This Christmas

Four Generations

Four Generations

I had in mind to write a post called “Last Christmas”, and (not unlike some previous posts) talk about how we’d feel if we found that this had been our last Christmas.  If we got the news in January or February or May, that we would not be likely to see another Christmas. Would we be pleased at the way we spent our days?

The post, however, is about This Christmas. Really, this philosophy is always about “this”. This day, this month, this anniversary, this birthday, this autumn, this season. It’s not so much the old “living-in-the-now” as much as it’s carpe diem, seize the day, make your life, in this moment and the next, the life you imagined for yourself.

This Christmas bears the most special and wonderful gifts for me. More than I deserve, I am humbled.

The photo above is taken at my son’s wedding in October. That’s Ryan at the left. Next is me, beside my Dad, and this year’s Christmas gift, my new granddaughter Ellie.

It’s a rare fortune for families to be able to gather four generations together. Turning 83 in January, every Christmas with my Dad is precious, invaluable.


So, about this “Last Christmas” thing.

I’m not trying to be particularly Dickensian or dramatic, but must reveal something I usually keep to myself.

Whenever I am recounting joys and fortunes, sadnesses and hardships, there is a bar, a benchmark, that is never out of my consciousness.

For me, no matter what occurs I compare the situation. We don’t like to talk about it, but we are patrons, “Partners In Hope” they’re called, of St.Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. Here, children stricken with life-threatening cancers are cared for, and research is ongoing to combat this deadly foe. Families of these children are never asked for a penny in payment. Don’t we think they have enough to deal with without monstrous medical bills?

My heart and spirit are tied with strings of tears to these children, and their families. Some of them are just babies.

I can’t single-handedly save the whole world so I searched for a place I could do my best work. What could be more important than helping to save the lives of children?

I will listen to your troubles and woes. I will console, cajole and support anyone that comes to me. I will offer opinions colored as advice if you ask.

I will feed you, I will offer you a bed in my home. I will sit silently and hold your hand.

When it comes to an assessment of our troubles—yours, mine, the next guy’s—you will be given perspective.

You see, in Memphis, I have a lot of kids. We’re not hoping they get “what they want” for Christmas.

Every day, throughout this rolling year, our hope for them is simple.

We hope they live to see This Christmas.

May the peace of the season reign in hearts everywhere, and last throughout the year.


Thanksgiving is under-rated

Thanksgiving doesn’t get the recognition it should.

Songs and greeting cards posit the unanswerable question: “Why can’t every day be like Christmas?”

The sentiment here is that folks observing the season of holidays act differently when they’re fulfilling Christmas wishes, following Hanukkah customs, or celebrating Ramadan.

“We’re more like the people we want to be.” is one way it’s put.

I say “Why can’t every day be like Thanksgiving?”

Why must we wait for once-a-year tidings to assess our tiny worlds and appreciate what we have?

Nearly every day is Thanksgiving for me. More, even, than Christmas.

While Christmas and other observances of the season are religious, there’s another side to the holidays. A side for those less zealous, or those whose beliefs do not follow those prescribed paths. It is a holiday of sharing joy, gifting others as a gesture of love or esteem.

“We’re all a little kinder, a little more patient.” come the descriptions. “We smile a little easier, we hold the door for someone, we say thank you more.”

For Thanksgiving, we gather together. We give ourselves and appreciate one another.

We may bring a pie, a jug of cider, or perhaps nothing more than greetings and smiles.

No cards needed. No gifts necessary. No tree in the house or symbolic candelabra.

At a traditional Thanksgiving, all gathered will sit still together. One, many, or all will recount that for which they are thankful. Sure, some kids will say “I’m thankful I made the football team.” or “I’m thankful I got an iPod.”

Most adults will (finally, after a long year) inventory those most precious things in our lives, and list them accordingly.

Our health. You, me, him & her. The number gathered this year. A table of food, if one is fortunate.

Some may even take the moment to notice that there are so many people in this world less fortunate. (Frankly, that’s putting it mildly & politely)

If you like movies of the season and a good laugh along with a heartfelt message, watch Bill Murray in Scrooged.

It’s a modern romp through Dickens’ famous tale of visitation by spirits upon a miserly curmudgeon without compassion.

In it, after Murray’s revelation, he tries to relate the elation of the season, and the compassion.

After observing how we act more like the people we want to be, he describes it as a miracle, and follows with a plea for action.

“Some people may be having trouble making their miracle happen.” We are admonished to reach out and help someone, feed someone, touch someone in a meaningful way.


All of these things are the things I chase every day, throughout my year. They are not relegated to holidays.

No, I’m not a saint. There are days when I forget to look for someone to help make their miracle happen. There are times when I forget what a beautiful world is spinning about me in an infinite beautiful universe. There are days when I inadvertently elevate myself and my tiny troubles to the status of important.

Thankfully, these days are fewer and fewer with each passing year.

A note to Elvis Presley, Gene Autry, Bobby Helms,  and so many others with the question on their lips:

Living, Breathing Angels

Living, Breathing Angels

Yes, every day can be like Christmas.

Better yet, every day can be like Thanksgiving.


Be at peace,



December 30 first

December 30 firstAll around lie the remnants of summer and fall,
These dry brown grasses, the tall and the small.
Each conifer stretches, the low and the high,
Each stretches, in vain, its limbs to the sky.

The sun hangs low in it’s arc, non-chalant,
Neglecting her earthbound petites enfants.
Cold comes to slumber and lumber around,
Packing the earth to hard frozen ground.

Smoke from chimneys dances and twirls,
Having never seen the summer world.
I shutter the window, and put logs on the fire,
As I patiently wait for the year to expire.

As into the pink night sky sets the sun,
Another year ends, as another’s begun.

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