Especially when that old fool is mine.
And most especially when it is Christmas.
As a member of the blue rinse brigade of fools,
I stand proudly,
next to the gray haired man at my side.
My partner of over four decades.
Lying next to my computer is a stack of totally tasteless, inappropriate, and extremely nasty and naughty Christmas cards.
I am ashamed of myself.
Laughing, yes, but ashamed nonetheless.
I should do better than this. I write better than that.
So why is the cursor blinking and winking at me, as if the laugh is on me and not him?
Because it is.
You see, my companion suffers this fool gladly.
Like the dear sweet Ove of a recent post,
this man in my life, is a man of deeds, not words.
When it is Christmas time, he ponders for many many long minutes, in the greeting card aisle, searching for the perfect card that will express his love for me. And each and every year, over four decades, he nails it. Somehow, he finds the card that brings me to tears. That touches my heart, because I know how long he has searched,
for the exactly right words to say.
The other night we sat and watched the videos of our wedding, and our first five years together as man and wife. We were blessed. Blessed by the gift from my mother, of a Super 8 camera, without sound. No focus features. No fancy apps.
Our lives sans narration. minus Facebook and SnapChat, slightly blurry and out of focus, yet filled with the true spirit of young lives, hand in hand, walking the world together.
We laughed at our clothes, our taste in decor, green and gold, our choice of cars, awful, the incredibly worst pet in history, our dog, our hair cuts, our mistakes and errors in judgment, our seemingly endless mind boggling lapses of oh-my-dear, what were we thinking???
Then, smiling, we looked at each other and said, almost in tandem…
Were we ever that young?
Were we ever that foolish?
Were we ever that happy?
We were young and happy and foolish and silly and scared and full of wonder. We were far away from family and friends, moving from here to there, packing cars, driving long distances,
only to return each night…
To each other.
A trip to the White Mountains in New Hampshire, caught on tape, says it all. Eating Hostess Cupcakes for breakfast in a tent that was rented, scrambling up and down the creek bed, dazed by the phenomenal paint brush of Mother Nature, you can see us laughing. Smiling. Side by side. Practicing life skills in the forest that would ground us far into the future. How to be alone. Separate from family. Alone in the wilderness and yet unafraid.
Because we were together.
I had him. He had me.
We would not let the other fall.
We would not let the other fail.
So I will write on his Christmas card,
a message of delight.
A message of extreme joy.
For this gift we have been given.
Our history. Of love over time.
I look out my window,
as the snowflakes dust the landscape.
It was now as it was then.
A love story long and true.
Deep and wide.
Merry Christmas to you.
Merry Christmas with love.
Deeds are words come to life.
This, my dear heart, are the words of a fool.
From one fool to another,
this life of ours has, indeed…
Been a labour of love.
Take a look in the mirror.
Think of yourself in ten years.
Not bad eh?
Not bad at all.
The years have been kind.
Are the kindest man I know.
Monday, December 19, 2016
’Twas the Week Before Christmas
Somewhere up North, I am imagining in my childlike mind, an angry, frigid, icicle laden old man with a beard and frostbitten, bushy eyebrows, blowing out an Arctic wind.
The sidewalks are slick with frozen rain from the night before, the temperatures plummeting below zero, and the snow picking up the tempo, rapidly piling up and blowing past my window.
It is a good day to be home.
A day to slow down and to catch up.
You are my favorite people. You are the ones I love.
You are those who love me,
to the moon and back again.
This, my Christmas letter to you is a time honored tradition.
This is when I tell you about our lives, our loved ones, our travels, our joys and our losses.
And I would, honestly,
I would, but there is a bell ringing.
No, not the door.
No, not the phone.
There is, I swear, a teeny tiny silver bell, hanging from a silver thread on our Christmas tree, shivering and shaking.
Each and every time I walk past.
There are six silent silver bells on my tree.
I have stared at each and every one of them.
The ringing stops when I stare, and when I walk away, I swear I hear giggles. A childlike fit of giggles.
So here I stand, my back to the tree, staring out the window at the snow, hopeful I can catch the sneaky bell ringer.
Tinkle. Tinkle. Twinkle.
I swivel en pointe, and all is still.
Until I turn back to the window and a snowflake winks.
Winks at me and is gone.
I know none of you believe me.
I promise it’s true.
with every tiny ring tone,
and every winking snow drop,
I am reminded of you.
The blessings in my life.
The joy in our lives.
has a way of turning our heads away,
from the hustle and bustle of the season,
to the heart of the matter.
I am standing in the middle of a flash mob, an orchestra and choral voices soaring through the Christmas carols as everyone around me pauses, look up from their phones with wonder, and begins to sway. Babies cradled in arms, lovers nestled close, seniors holding hands.
I see you there. You see me here.
For this, this is Christmas.
Taking the time to be together.
Smiling and humming along a familiar tune from childhood.
Maybe, Silver Bells???
Wherever you are, whatever you believe,
I wish you the tiny pause,
the one where a silver bell rings,
or a snowflake winks,
to let you know how much you are loved.
How dearly you are missed.
How richly you are blessed.
I must leave you now,
as the wooden Snowman in the garden,
just tipped his hat at me,
and strode away in the snow,
leaving only his footprints behind.
Isn’t life wonderful!!!
Merry Christmas From the Garden
Thursday, December 8, 2016
The first of the year white fluffy snowflakes drift down past my window early this morning. A soft powdery dusting until the ground reminds me of a powdered donut. A sweet carbohydrate multi-caloric treat paired with a hot cup of coffee. Welcome Winter I whisper. Then shiver as I step out onto the porch to get a different perspective. The temperature dropped overnight from the mid 50’s to the low 20’s. Brrr.
It is after all December. It is not unexpected.
But what I see below, above and all around me, are not only swirling and diving snowflakes, but something truly unexpected. A bevy, a clutch, a flock, or whatever you call them, a barrage of red breasted robins in full frontal assault, swooping, flapping, diving, landing, and lifting back into the air in a full feathered frenzy.
A red robin rebellion. Rioting and ricocheting from tree limb, to eave, to branch, to patio, up and down and back again. Not one or two or three little birdies. No this is a ginormous flash mob of out of control robin red breasts, fully grown, pudgy fat bellied birdies. As I hold my breath so as not to frighten them, one poor birdie, sans his reading glasses, hurls headfirst into the windowpane. I wince in empathy and look to see if it has survived. I see it on the patio below, stunned and shaken, but thankfully no broken neck or hip.
I worry about those things as well little birdie.
And for a moment, a magical, inexplicable moment, our eyes meet as the confusion lifts. We are having the same exact thought at the same exact time.
Something is amiss.
Someone is seriously out of place.
As I too, am approaching the age of addled thoughts and misplaced keys, I can sympathize. What am I looking for? What was about to do? Where did I put the remote control? Is the garage door down? Am I the only one who gets confused or slightly turned around. Occasionally lost. Taken a wrong turn?
Then I see it. The reason for the misplaced season. There is a pattern here amidst the chaos and flapping of wings. Each dive bomber settles briefly on the patio to sip at the tiny puddles of melted snow. They see this landing zone as a liquid oasis. A refueling stop. A Quik Trip stop on the way out of town. The diving temperatures gave them a jolt. A wake up call to get the heck out of Dodge.
I take out a piece of cardboard and a black Sharpie.
I write in large bold letters.
SOUTH…GO SOUTH…YOU MADE A WRONG TURN
The birds ignore me and continue to swoop and dive. So I resort to more dramatic gestures. I stand on the deck, and speak in my most avian and aggressively passionate voice…Go South my birdie friends. Toward the warm air, the palm trees, the white sand beaches.
Think Margaritaville. Florida. The swim up bar and a poolside Margarita. Oh where are you Jimmy Buffet when we need you?
Skip the sips I cry. Flee. Tell your leader to reset the GPS. Call up SIRI and ask for directions. I know for a fact she speaks avian. If you must, Google…warmer climes. You are lost and flying blind.
I stand quietly and stare at what at first sight seemed so out of place, but I can be impatient and quick to judge. Perhaps there is a plan here. A plan to get home safely to friends and family.
Who has not or is not contemplating a holiday trip across the miles to see loved ones, only to end up sleeping overnight in an airport, flights cancelled due to weather. Or a sudden snowstorm stranding us on the side of the highway, deep in the dark of night, all rooms in the inn closed or taken. No Vacancies.
Home. Home for the Holidays can be a long hard trek. Christmas has a way of pulling us back to where we began. An emotional homecoming tug on our heartstrings. The trek is difficult for the traveler, yet those who wait by the door or at the airport, arms open awaiting arrival, they are praying as well.
For a safe journey.
For the simple joy of that first embrace, folding into one another with tears of welcome.
Even harder, are those souls who know that the ones we love, cannot return. Will not return. Yet, we keep a place at the table, as we bow our heads and give thanks for those who arrived safely, and extend our love to those beyond.
“I’ll be home for Christmas…the song says…”You can count on me.”
I wish my little birdie friends Godspeed.
A scene from a favorite movie flashes in my mind’s eye. ET extends his long alien fingertip toward Eliot, and as the tips glows red, as red as the glow in the center of his chest, he says…
I’ll Be Right Here.
I whisper that to my birdie friends.Then to my family and friends and neighbors. To all my fellow travelers on the journey to Christmas…
I’ll be right here.
P.S. The next morning is much colder than the day before and outside my window the trees are bare. The branches are empty. The eaves untouched. The birdies have flown. Followed their instincts and headed to their intended destination.
Together. Side by side.
Safe travels to all. But to be on the safe side, make a quick Quik Trip stop. For bottled water and a bag of Twizzlers. ’Tis the season to have a reason for a remarkable road trip toward the ones we love.
Footnote: I know that the picture I posted is NOT a robin. Forgive me. It was really cold and the birdies would not stop long enough to pose for me. But you get the idea, right?