I am not a Yeti Yet.
At least not a fully evolved Yeti.
I am a work in progress.
I am evolving.
It all started in 1989.
With a Christmas letter, I received.
The letter stuck its nasty foot out from under the pile of bills and advertising fliers and tripped me up. I opened it. Twenty seconds later, the Yard Yeti Revolution began.
The Christmas letter was from a college friend. The mother of three, with a full time job outside the home, and a jolly ho-ho-ho list of outside activities she regaled with such offhand delight, I felt my blood begin to boil. The coach of her daughter's synchronized swim team, which placed second in state finals. Her own by-line and column in the local paper. And finally, the spark that lit the fire, started the blaze, ignited the inferno...in her SPARE time, taking flying lessons to become a full fledged pilot. An Ace.
I saw red. And green. And my own pitiful Christmas letter still sitting on the kitchen table, covered in peanut butter and jelly. The Joker.
I waited. I fumed. I steamed. Stomped and pouted and rode the red rage wagon around the house until midnight. Everyone in bed, asleep, my major and only accomplishment of the day, I sat down at the computer with a glass of wine and roared to life.
"Personally, I don't want to hear that you finished all your holiday shopping during the Labor Day sales...managed to buy everything for less than $2...have put up your tree, which you bought at an ecologically controlled shelter for foster fir trees...use only recyclable tinsel...that your children made all their presents while learning to speed read in German...and that your condo in the Alps has tripled in value."
"But that certainly doesn't mean that I cannot tell you that our children are both Pre-Med at Yale, or that the old man and I are driving matching Lamborghinis, or that I have lost 96 pounds on a liquid bran and corn dog diet, or that the most annoying part of my day is snagging my 9 carat diamond on my cashmere sweaters...and if you want to believe any or all of the above I suggest you stop reading right here."
The following Christmas, I actually found myself eager to put pen to page. Gleeful. A bit of holiday madness. A chance to let loose in flying keystrokes the wonder and folly of our household. To share stories. Silly, comical misadventures and rollicking rantings about parenting, teenagers, travel disasters and my own struggles growing up and older.
One by one the cards landed in the mailbox. Most were printed on pretty paper, embellished with current photos...but at the very end...in ink...a postscript...
It wouldn't be Christmas without your letter.
We look forward to hearing your adventures with great glee, don't forget us.
You are the smile under our tree.
Year by year I built quite a following...but truth be told...I was a follower as well. Stories. We were all busy telling stories of our lives, our loves, our dreams, our hopes, our disappointments, our successes and failures, our wins and sadly, our losses. Exactly what friends and family are for, telling tales at Christmas. Whether down the block or across the miles, a quiet moment to sit and read, coffee in hand, and catch up.
Just like the Yard Yeti Motto: "Tick Tock goes the clock. Time won't stand still, but we can. Let's catch up."
One of the letters stands out as a personal favorite and still makes me smile. Here goes....a blast from the past...1996.
Let me begin this letter with a brief little tale called (SOB!)...
...the Christmas tree...
...EXACTLY 18 years ago, Pop and I found a tiny farm in a tiny corner of our tiny town. There was a kindly farmer and his wife who let us city people cut down our own tree and haul it home for the holiday. The first year, we were only two. Then came our first child. The farmer and his wife would cuddle the baby, and we would run to cut down the tree. Then there were four. Son #2 ran and ran around the tiny farm hugging every tree and scaring them all to death. Each year the ritual continued. The boys grew and carried the saw...and punched each other in the arm...and smiled crookedly at the camera...while Dad lay on his back in the mud sawing down the tree. Finally the little town grew and BIG TREE FARMS with HORSES and HOT CHOCOLATE and WAGONS and GIFT BARNS sprung up out of the earth. Many families left the little farm to find happinesss elsewhere...but OUR family stayed true.
Dec. 19th, 1996 came due. We bundled up and rode across what was now suburbia, and screeched to a halt. The little farm gate was bolted shut. Weeds grew around the trees left orphaned in the snow. A small cardboard sign read "NO TRESPASSING". We all stood in the cold, looked at each other and said not a word. It was as though someone had died. Our eyes filled with tears. We drove to a nearby Nursery and wandered Zombielike for over an hour for our tree. Men in wagons with power saws cruised by...but we shouted "NO!"
As I wrote the check, I softly inquired about the little farm and its little family. For all we knew, tragedy had surely struck. And after 18 YEARS OF FAITHFULNESS...we were told...THEY SOLD THE LAND TO THE NEW TARGET STORE!!!!!!!!!! We gathered up our tree, put it up and in three days our family room was covered with ten thousand midges. (It's my story and I can exaggerate if I want to.) You know...MIDGES...little Christmas GNATS...SANTA GETS THEM FROM THE REINDEER..
...the moral of this story...
Don't Count Your Midges Until They're Hatched
Wherever you are on your Advent Calendar, flip up the little window and you will find me there humming Christmas tunes, jingling Christmas bells and reminding you that this is the season and you have a reason to...
...send a Christmas letter...
..to each other...
Make it a gift. To yourself. To the ones you love.
In your own handwriting.
Tuck in family photos.
In your own words, from your own heart.
Find a way to treasure and to cherish.
Put your letter in a mailbox.
....or just a simple box...
Tie it up with a bow.
Then sign it.
And send it.
I promise that this little gift you send out, will return to you,
It all started with a Christmas letter that made someone laugh.
Like I said...Christmas isn't Christmas without YOU...
...so...from the bottom of my heart...
Thank you for caring.
Thank you for sharing.
Thursday, November 15, 2012
The First Thanksgiving
On the Air
It's the Yard Yeti Radio Show...
"Tick tock goes the clock...time won't stand still...but we can...let's catch up. (my signature opening line)
It's Yard Yeti Time!
Cue the Noon Whistle!
Greetings friends and neighbors from across the globe. It's me, your favorite Yard Yeti, welcoming you from my studio upstairs above Ace Plumbing with my window on Main Street, where I can see the world from Coast-To-Coast and as far as the Flickering Flame can flicker.
I am on my own this Thanksgiving Eve...as my pet parakeet Pepper is in hiding. On a secret assignment, or so he told me before he flitted out the window, a mashed fedora pulled down over his brow and the belt to his London Fog trench coat cinched tight. Secret Agently accessorized in wrap around designer sunglasses.
Sometimes, as with all good, treasured and feathered friends, it is important to provide cover. To come up with an alibi. A realistic excuse. A note from mother...Pepper will not be in today as he is under the weather. I do this for Pepper because I know he would do the same for me.
On second thought, considering his closing remarks, taunting me just as I opened the program and had to hit the Bleep button for the ten second delay, let's just say his language was extremely salty and FOWL and could get my radio license revoked.
So I will tattle.
It is my job.
Pepper hangs out with a feathered friend. Let's just call him Tom, to protect his identity. Tom has been known to hang out with his buddies under my back porch in the middle of the night about this time of year.
Gobble. Gobble. Gobble.
So here we all are, the Yard Yetis and I, prepping for the special Top Chef Edition of the Pre-Thanksgiving Program. The aroma of pumpkin pie wafting through the air. Pepper and Tom, sleeves rolled up, aprons on, chopping veggies and whipping cream into a frenzy...
the door opens...
It's Yard Yeti Extraordinaire...
Rampaging, raucous, ravishing, regal, robust, rowdy and ruthless... Raquel clutching a stainless steel roasting pan in one hand and a turkey baster in the other.
Tom swoons mid-gob.
The birds take flight.
Pepper and Tom exit the building just as Raquel preheats the oven to 450 degrees and breaks out the melted butter.
Raquel Rhododendron. A Yard Yeti one woman army. Not one to retreat, to back down. Rather, a leader. A loud and pushy broad of a woman. On the forefront of women's issues, she may not be listed in the Women's Movement Annals...but the truth is Raquel was the first Yeti to burn her bra and stood at the head of the line leading for the rights of women everywhere. It was quite an inferno, as I recall, as she is a Double D, buxom beauty.
Her headpiece makes her tower almost a foot over all the other Yetis. She is formidable and bold. Raquel believes in the right of women across the globe to stand tall, to make their own choices, to give peace a chance, and to fight for freedom when oppressed. She is a believer in the magnificence and dignity of each and every female on the planet. It is not her style to wait her turn, to follow close behind, nor bend to another's will.
Raquel is a flamboyant flaming redhead with a fierce focus on the right of every woman to be seen and to be heard.
It is, however, occasionally, a bit difficult to get a word in edgewise when Raquel is raging.
Thus...the argument ensued.
Originally, I planned to bring in the Yetis for a Thanksgiving cook-off. My studio is littered with piles of favorite recipes for pecan pie, sage stuffing, orange and crushed cranberry salad, marshmallow and cream mashed sweet potatoes. We even had the cutest Yard Yeti aprons made with little yellow wellies printed on the front and matching oven mitts.
A traditional Thanksgiving with all the traditional fixings.
Instead, Raquel, realizing what she had done, threw hot water on all our plans. Literally. She stuck out her chest, her formidable chest, and cried foul.
...Thus in fowl solidarity and in a bit of a foul mood, the Yard Yetis agreed to celebrate...
...a politically correct and historically accurate Thanksgiving Feast....
...however, with Raquel in charge, this will be a somewhat hysterically correct version...
Raquel is a woman who always gets her way or she will get up in yours.
We honor the Native American Yard Yetis, the Women of the Wampanoag Tribe, for the warm welcome on the shores of Plymouth. Sisters in the Sisterhood of the Garden. Celebrating the bounty of the Earth is not just a custom of the Americas, but a recognized ritual around the world by those ever grateful for the second helpings of the harvest.
In fact, maize, beans and squash are called the Three Sisters.
Do not think for a minute that these women were relegated to setting the table and doing the dishes.
The Wampanoag Women and the Pilgrim Women stood shoulder to shoulder giving thanks.
No silverware. No cookies, cakes or pies.
No fancy ovens.
Food for the soul.
Here's where I put my foot down.
I've heard the folklore.
About what truly happened on that day.
It might not have been in November, but it was cold outside.
There might have been venison instead of turkey. Plums, grapes and dried fruit instead of pie.
It might even be true that they didn't even pass the food around, that the social pecking order determined your place at the table, and those on the lower rung of the social ladder ended up with the stewed pumpkin at the end of their elbows.
This is what I do know.
It was a celebration.
A giving of thanks.
A joining of hands.
Heads bowed or faces turned to the sky, in each and every heart, the simple and eloquent words of grace.
And so dear Yard Yetis across the pond, across the lake, beyond the river and across the seas.
Thanksgiving is not just an American tradition.
It is not a new idea or a badly worn tale.
Thanksgiving for the bounty of harvest, the celebration of the seasons, the endless effort from seed to table, the spirit of gathering, is in us all.
We gather together to ask for a blessing.
As I sign off, your secrets safe with me, except for the ones I posted on the Internet,
I wish you all...
Happy Thanksgiving from the Yard Yeti Women, Raquel Rhododendron, Wanda Wisteria, Ida Impatiens and so many many more....
and from Tom and Pepper in their secret location...
...the sound of a distant gobble and the clink of glasses...
( If you are a new Yard Yeti Radio Show Listener...just click here for archived shows! )
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
In the darkness...
i go to where i am the most me
in my bed
a soft blanket
a night light
and a book
places to go and
people to see
someone with a pen
and too many loose ends
tying everything up
making word art
just for me
when they are most like themselves
just like me
here in the dark
where the story begins...
when my head is too full
i get lost
calgon take me away
better than a hot bath
a goodnight kiss
the wizards with words
into the pages
i take in the scene
from another point of view
i zoom out from me
and zoom in for a close up
with a page
a page of prose
disappear from my world
and appear in theirs
sometimes i swear
we've met before
or if not
it is a gift
to tell a tale
to take the time
to take the risk
to get out of bed
to sit down and write
i just wanted you to know
you writers out there
i've found you
and you've helped me
Thursday, November 1, 2012
It's the day after Halloween and I'm still scared of stuff.
I'm not afraid of ghosts.
Not afraid of heights
Not bothered by spiders.
Don't mind getting dirty.
I'm not even afraid of peanut butter getting stuck on the roof of my mouth.
And there ARE people who are.
Look it up.
I did look.
The list of phobias is enormous.
And some of them make me smile...fear of chickens, fear of chins, fear of vegetables, fear of belly buttons, etc., etc.
I smile until the thought crosses my mind that if there is a LIST, then there must be at least ONE person in the world who wakes up each and every day looking over their shoulder for bogeymen.
For them, the fear is real. No joke.
Irrational to you and I, perhaps, but real just the same. The same sinking, creeped out, sweaty palms, heart thumping, paralyzing fear most people feel at some point in their lives.
You know you have.
Been that afraid.
At least once.
Over a lifetime, the chances that it will happen MORE than once, increases exponentially.
Because, let's face it.
The world can be a very scary place.
You can leave a light on.
Be sure the closet door is shut.
Wear your seatbelt.
Avoid riding in an elevator and use the stairs.
Build a storm shelter. Load up on supplies. And batteries.
Why you can even stop going outside at all.
You can shut out the world with duct tape and plastic wrap, but don't kid yourself.
You still have the ability to think about scary stuff.
You still have the ability to invent and imagine a whole list of stuff that demands your attention.
So what's the rational response to the rap, tap, tapping on your windowsill.
I remember reading somewhere that the event is not as important as your reaction to it.
The truth is, I am actually a bit jealous of the folks who are afraid of chickens.
That kind of fear seems so finite. Something you could definitely build a moat around.
What I am talking to myself about here, is not the known, but the unknown.
A fear of the kind of things that haven't happened.
Stuff that could or might or may happen in an hour, in a day, in a week, in a month...well, you get the idea.
I suppose there is a methodology to help people who are afraid of chickens. Or shoes. Or dust. Or vegetables.
Face the fear.
Sit meditatively with a plate of broccoli.
Spend the night in a chicken coop.
I am sure this might work well if your fear has an actual face.
But what if the fear kind of floats around in the air?
How do you take a swing at it?
How do you look it in the eye?
How do you turn your back on it and walk away?
Practice, I think.
It takes practice.
The scary thought jumps up and says Boo!.
You say...I know you.
I've seen you before.
We've been introduced.
I didn't like you then.
And I don't need you now.
I am busy.
How do you break the habit of expecting the unexpected?
That's how life works.
Everything is unexpected.
Like my son's first grade teacher once said.
Make better choices.
You get to vote.
You have a voice.
Tell your scary thoughts to take a hike.
And for Pete's sake, ask for help if you need it...
Or offer it if you don't.
I know right now there are lots and lots and lots and lots of people busy yelling at each other.
I have a feeling that some of that yelling is from fear of both the known and the unknown.
Maybe it's time for a little less WebMD and a little more TLC.
The ones that listen to your fears, and hold your hand.
Or take you for a walk in the park.
Or just sit.
Until the moment passes.
I know this works.
Today, in the midst of a scary thought...
I got a text...
From a friend...
I missed it yesterday.
I needed it today.
All it said was..."Boo!" and a smiley face.
So I said it too.
And I smiled.
I have a date with the dentist tomorrow.
I'm no longer going it alone.
I have back-up.