Friday, December 21, 2012

A Little Tree

In 1999 my mother was in a nursing home. For her first Christmas there, I took her a little tree—about three feet tall—covered with tiny red glass balls and lights.

“Baa Humbug,” my cranky mother said to the little tree. She didn’t really hate the tree, she hated her life. I put the tree on the top of her dresser and plugged it in. White lights sparkled in her dim sterile room. “I like the lights,” Scrooge conceded.

In 2000 the little tree returned to Mom’s nursing home room for another Christmas. “Oh, that again,” Mrs. Crabapple said. Then I plugged it in and she smiled. She liked the lights.

By Christmas 2001 my mom had moved on. She had been saying she’d go to heaven, but I figured she was at the North Pole in charge of putting soot in the stockings of the naughty kids. The little tree stayed at my house.

One year I put the little tree in the bay window in our bedroom. Some years it hung out in the basement. This year I put it on the end table in the living room. John and I put the gold Christmas tree I made out of junk in the front window. One living room. Two trees—seemed a little glutenous.

Last Sunday I talked to my friend, Kim Fay, who’s been having one nasty, baa humbug year: sucky finances, a leg pain that’s been hurting for months, two horrendous trips to the hospital and—with good reason—depression. She wasn’t decorating for Christmas this year.

On Monday I put the little tree in a black trash bag. I tied a red bow to the top and attached a card signed “Merry Christmas, From Santa.” Anonymous is good. No fuss, no muss. No “Oh my gosh, now I have to reciprocate" woes. None of that. Just a little tree to cheer up a friend.

When I put it on Kim’s front porch, her car was in the driveway, but the house looked dark, no lights, no movement. Of course, it was early afternoon, so she wouldn’t necessarily have her lights on. Then I worried. What if someone stole the bag from her porch. What if she didn’t leave the house for days and didn’t find the little tree?

There is a line of deception one follows in these matters. I asked my friend Joy Powell to have her partner Keith Brown call Kim from an untraceable number. “This is Santa,” he told her, “I’m calling from the North Pole. There’s something on your front porch.” He said Kim laughed.

On Facebook she posted, “I don’t recall a kinder gesture. I have no idea who you are. Be it known to you somehow, you delivered hope to a worn out soul.” 

One night I drove by her house on the way to somewhere else. The little tree was in her front window. The lights sparkled. 

My Xmas was beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. One of my very best.

Since then I’ve come clean. Kim knows where the tree came from, and some really good things have happened for her—a painting commission, a little prize from the Detroit Artists Market…the little tree was ”the start of good juju,” she says. 

Also, through Facebook, she discovered a woman who had been dreaming of having a violin for forty-two years. Kim’s giving the woman her old violin. Next year she plans to pass the little tree on to someone else who needs some cheering up. Remember the movie, "Pay It Forward"? This is how it works.

It's a Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

2012 CLOG

How did this happen? It's just twelve days until Santa. The pundits on Fox are all in a dither over the atheists and Liberals stealing Christmas. Huh? I want to know who stole Thanksgiving. Oh, right, it was Macy's and Kohl's and Target and all the baa humbug retailers putting Christmas shopping before the turkey.
I also want to know why my life is going by so fast. I heard it has something to do with the speed of light. Believe me, friends, I'm not getting any lighter. All kidding aside, I feel like it shouldn't even be November yet and it's the middle of December. How can this be? They say, time flies when you're having fun. I must be having a blast.

Do you get Christmas letters? I like them, basically because I'm a nosey person. I really want to know that Trudy's aunt Dorothy had her gall bladder out, and that the whole family went to Frankenmuth for chicken dinner. All good stuff. 

Since I haven't written any blog entries for MONTHS, I thought I'd send you a Christmas letter blog. We'll call it a Clog.

Here goes...
You may remember that I wrote a memoir last year. It's okay if you don't remember, It was pretty bad. But I liked the writing—the act of it. Since June I've been making up stuff. I'm writing a novel. This is incredibly fun. I'm getting old and in the process of getting old, I've had the good fortune and bad fortune to see and feel and hear a whole lot of interesting tidbits. So now I wake up early with people who don't really exist—Fred and Lily and Grace and Robert and Christina—filling my head. Oh my gosh, I'm so excited, I can't wait to get to the computer and write it down. But when I start writing these made-up people have their own ideas about what happens next. They have overtaken me. Seriously.

When I'm at the grocery store, or separating whites from darks, or watching Rachel Maddow, Fred will say something and Robert will reply. Whispering here...they aren't really real. I am possessed.

For my concerned friends, who think I should be painting, Fred and Lily and Grace and Robert and Christina won't let me. Sorry. They own me.

Other than that, we spent most of October gone. Airlines and car rental people love us. We drove down to Atlanta for a weekend in the beginning of that month to visit John's daughter Laura and her family. A week later we flew to Austin for our niece Nicole's wedding. It was all wonderful.

When we got home I talked John into a trip to New Mexico, so I could do some research for the novel. This involved a trade off. I got Santa Fe and Taos. He added Moab, Utah; Mesa Verde and Redstone, Colorado. Ten days total. What he really wanted was to drive us through the mountains up to Denver. So thanks to my being drugged up on Xanax, it was a beautiful scenic drive. In Denver we had a pleasant visit with his daughter Alison and her family.

Mesa Verde

Rio Grande River near Taos

All the gall bladders are long gone from the people in this household. We had a chicken dinner in our own kitchen last week. And I'm happy to report that we're healthy and happy. I wish the same for you and yours—not the gall bladder part, the healthy and happy part. 

May your sacred holidays be sacred, and your best gifts be intangible.

Happy Christmas, Merry Hanukkah, and a Glorious New Year to all of you.