The Holiday Season

The holiday season is a double edged sword. Oh how I love these days between now and the new year. These are times of the gatherings of family. These are the times of great meals and food…familiar dishes and recipes send wonderful, memory jogging smells through the air.

They pick me up and take me back once more, to the place in time where old memories are stored.

I’m at Grandma and Grandpa’s old clapboard house, and Granny has the table ready. Most of the Aunts, Uncles and cousins are already there, but there’s always a late comer or two. It might be Uncle Jack, and Aunt Kay and their boys this year….but everyone finally makes it there. We all gather round that big old wooden table…so many of us. All scattered now, and so many gone, but the memory lives.

Then I think of the days when my family was young. I had never heard of stuffing a turkey before Paula and I got married, but oh how delicious that stuffing was…and is still. I like a pan of cornbread dressing too, but I can’t wait for that delicious stuffing…my dear mother in laws recipe….I cannot believe she has been gone so many years now. It doesn’t seem possible…

I think of the times with Mom and Dad, not particularly the days when Mike and I were kids, but their very last Thanksgiving meal with us, over there in their own house on 7th street in 2009. We had moved into their house and they were in Assisted living. We went up and brought them down for the meal. Momma kept asking where their stuff was. She couldn’t understand that things had not been left the same as when they had moved out. She was always planning on coming back! Daddy just ate like he was starving, and asking for more sweet tea. Then 2010 came and we lost them.

And so there is the bittersweet of this time of year. Time passes by and people pass on, as the old Kathy Mattea song says.

So as my wife and I walk through this 65th year’s holiday season I will rejoice in all that we share together, my wonderful family and good friends! Let’s eat some turkey, and open some presents and pass the love around and back again. Let’s make some great memories together. After all that is what makes us who we are.

Fire in California

The “Camp” fire in Southern California which is the predominant fire that was so deadly in terms of damage and loss of life, occurred almost entirely on private land, which was mainly shrub land. The shrub and brush in these areas is left in place due to the fact that winter rains would cause massive mudslides without it. When the Santa Anna winds blow into these areas, it’s like blow drying your hair. The shrubs get totally dried out and any sparking, such as the impetus of this particular fire, which was started by a PG&E malfunction, is like striking a match to dry cotton.

Hundreds of people have lost their lives here, with hundreds more missing, and many thousands with permanently disrupted lives. It’s easy for people who are not there to say: “well they should have done this or that to prevent it”. It’s easy to make a political football of other people’s lives when it’s not something in which we are personally involved. That includes me and whatever I have to say.

The breakdown of forest management is, as far as I can tell from researching: the federal government manages just over 57% of the land in California, 39% is privately owned, and only 2% is owned or managed by the state of California.

This post is strictly informational, and not meant as a statement for or against any person or group of people.

I hope that everyone continues to remember the people who have been affected by these tragedies, and others this year, such as Hurricane Michael. All these people could probably use any help we can give them, and prayers if you’re so inclined.

The Hereafter

I dreamed a strange dream a few nights ago. Paula and I were in the “hereafter” so to speak. We were both young again, and we were in this huge empty house. Paula was sitting around playing the guitar and singing! “When did you learn to play and sing like that?” I asked. She replied, “Do you think I watched and listened to you for fifty years without learning something?” “I guess not” I said.

The house was huge and beautiful, but empty. I seemed to sense instinctively though, that it had once been full and joyful…and that it would be again one day.

It’s strange what our minds come up with in dreams.

During this time of the year we all see the beginnings, and the endings. The firsts and the lasts. The first Thanksgiving and Christmas for some little ones, and the last for some. Some perhaps expected, some unexpected. “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”

I get emotionally caught up in this vortex of life we all have going on around us constantly, and often forget what I should be all about. I get sidetracked by the everyday humdrum racket of Social Media going’s on, and jump out there with stuff I should just keep “in my heart”. I gotta watch it.

There are firsts and lasts happening this year. There are holes in the fabric of Joy we naively weave around the holiday season left by those whose last, was last season. We fill those as best we can with those tiny, beautiful “firsts” who have come into our lives. We gotta do that. We also need to look around us this year very closely, and tell those around us that we love them. It’s easy for me in some cases, but a little harder in others, although it should not be. It should be unconditional. It’s my burden to bear that I cannot be as kind as I should be, that I cannot be as forgiving as I need to be. I thought about that very thing this morning while I was walking, but then ran off the track before the day had ended. Ah, the nature of humanity constantly wars against our need to be more loving. My fifth grade teacher used to punish us by making us write a particular sentence by longhand either 500 or 1000 times on paper, and turn it in to her. I need to write “I will be a better man” 1000 times by tomorrow and turn it in to God….Maybe then it would stick.

Having now rambled on far too long, I have said all of that to say this: love those around you this year. Be kind to them, and enjoy your time together. Most of us will be able to do that, but there are many out there for whom the holidays are a toil. Children get abused…cruelty runs rampant. If you find any way to help someone for whom the holidays are not a fun time, please do it.

As for me, I’m practicing more on my guitar starting tomorrow because in my dream of “heaven” Paula was playing and singing a lot better than me.