Former columnist for the Los Angeles Post Examiner, the Baltimore Post Examiner, and Gatehouse News Service

Monday, November 29, 2010

Uber-fans

Hmmm...where might these guys be going?  My sons Fred, James and Matt (left to right) and my husband scored great Bruins tickets over Thanksgiving.  James is thrilled to have both older brothers home!  Full house = happy house.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Santas, Santas...They're Eveerywhere...

So, the madness begins.  No longer content to commercialize Halloween until it drops, (Halloween villages? Orange lights in the trees?  Come on) the almighty Gods of Commercialism takes aim on Chrismas in America in a new and devious way; by skipping Thanksgiving entirely.

Thanksgiving is the new pre-Christmas.  Wipe that gravy off your chin and grab the newspaper circular; you've got real shopping to do!  Leave the warm bed and the family and drop some coin at your nearest Starbucks or Dunkin' and get goin', baby!  You are "bad" at Black Friday if you are not out by 5am; you are not saving $$ for the family like you could, and really should.  (By the way, a lot of "self-gifting" going on this year in a tepid sign of "possible economic recovery" - yeah, ok, MSNBC.)  And before the turkey is turned into turkey soup, you have checked many things off the list.  Funny thing about that, though; the list then grows a little more right there in your gloved hands, in a shades-of-Twilight-Zone chase to be ahead of the shopping 8-ball.

I walked into a decorating superstore the other day to get a lamp, and was hit by never-ending, cascading layers of decorative fake Santas of all sizes and shapes, glittering and twinkling at me, and giant light-up reindeer and elves, and wise men and donkeys carrying empty gifts and giant Christmas-tree decorations (are all our decorations being super-sized at he factory because we are slowly super-sizing as a nation?  Do small ornaments make us feel bad in our now-meaty hands?)

The Santas in particular got to me; maybe it was the three-bean salad I had for lunch, but the rows and rows of Santas seemed to be looking at me in particular, and some seemed not to be smiling, but grimacing a me.  Like, "I dare you to not get in the spirit here, lady!  I dare you to name us grotesque, or excessive, or even over-the-top.  Accept it; this is what makes you people feel good now!  And a lot of us are hollow, so we're easier to carry and less expensive, too!  Now Merry Christmas!!"

I turned around and left - left the lines of frazzle-faced shoppers, left the lights and the music, and left those Santas.  Not because I was better than anyone else in that moment, or more enlightened, but because I felt so tired. 

Bah, humbug.  I am no better than anyone else - I went out and got two light-up reindeer for my lawn the next day, and the Santas looked not threatening, but merry.  I will carry that day in the superstore in my memory, however, and put it in the plus column that I felt that way.  When you turn your mind (and your shopping cart) away from the commercialism, there is more room to let real Christmas in.

Does the congregation say Amen?  Amen!  Get thee to a quiet place for some meditation, or prayer, or just solitude - stat!  And then your Christmas begins.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving prank 2010

My son's girlfriend's family participates with another family in a Thanksgiving ritual...they show up on each other's lawns and do outrageous pranks, each year upping the anty. Here is this year's prank. My son is the blonde cheerleader...with the beard. He has rhythm, though... enjoy!! Too funny.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sour D - Sea Song

Here is a beautiful song by my son's band Sour D (wait...does that D stand for Deirdre??) to start your Thanksgiving week. Enjoy your family and friends and feel grateful...

Monday, November 15, 2010

The Mystery of Travel

2007 -This is a photo of Cline's Corners, New Mexico - one of the smallest towns in the country, and one that I stumbled on when lost and by myself in a rental car (rented GPS had pooped out; the only thing I had going for me was a full tank of gas.) I sat in the parking lot and took this photo as an homage to the town that presented me with civilization again...and the feeling that where there are people, even strangers, there is hope of finding your way again.  I bought a really cool purse here, too, and a plastic wild west cap gun that I had to regetfully abandon before arriving at Lubbock airport - much to my waiting eight year old's dismay.

2010 - Another trip, another realization that sometimes I feel the pull of travel, and that that's okay.  This trip was a jaunt to see vacationing family in Virginia.  Not everyone can always go, so I used to feel guilty when I pulled out of the driveway every year or so to take off for a three to four days.  And I am not talking luxury travel; these are not trips that involve massages or candlelit dinners.  These are trips that are framed by my windshield, that involve rest stops and toll booths and favorite CD's.  They are trips to get out and see how my slice of America is doing - to talk to people, take photographs, and to watch my odometer roll.  I find fulfillment in the scratchy, wavery sound of an AM radio station at night, and the lurch of sadness I feel at the sight of a mangled deer by the side of the highway reminds me that I have the capacity for sadness over a deer, and it feels more real than anything, in that moment.  The content of these days on the road can be wildly varied, as unscripted things often are. One morning I tried to talk a homeless pregnant woman begging outside a WalMart into going to a shelter, and the day before my sister and I had been pulled over in Quantico, Virginia, talking to a Marine who helped us find the freeway.  I watch the cloudy sky above me and marvel at the V formation that sustains the geese in their own journey south, and wonder why these soul-expanding experiences don't happen in the suburbs.  There are geese there, too; and women in crisis, and service members that I could talk to.  Why does the road give them this sheen that I can't get enough of?

Maybe the best part of the travel comes when I am on the phone with my now eleven-year-old, and my trip has lasted long enough for us both.  More than I need to be away, I need to be back, and in the chaotic middle of the people who need me.  They love me, so they let me go away, certain of my return and not needing to understand my trips, but accepting them all the same.  That is real freedom; to be loved for just who you are.  And no one can resist the pull of an eleven year old. :-)