Monday, December 21, 2009

Getting ahead of myself

Today is Monday, December 21.

Just four days until Christmas.

I am not done with my shopping, and haven't even thought about wrapping, and have just a bit of baking/cooking to do. You might think that I would feel a little overwhelmed by all of this.

You would be wrong. The thing is, I have seeds on the brain.

More precisely, I have next year's garden on the brain. This is a phenomenon that usually sets in a week or so into January, when the dust of the holidays is long settled and that mid-winter funk starts to set in. The seed catalogues begin to arrive, and I spend hour after hour leafing through them, planning gardens and scheming about canning and freezing and preserving.

We will never have a big enough yard to fulfill these wild dreams of mine. (My dear husband should take some small comfort in this.)

I've been doing my best to stave off these cravings. After all, it's the holidays! I have a little girl who is VERY excited about Christmas, and Santa, and carrots for Rudolph! 'Tis the season! And while on the one hand I am not as overcome by the holidays as I have been in years past -- with the traditions and the merriment and the warm-fuzzy feelings -- on the other hand I am not as overcome by the holidays as I have been in years past -- with the rushing and the stressing and the why-didn't-I-start-this-in-October panic.

To me this feels like a year of transition, at least holiday-wise. This will be, to say the least, a Christmas like no other. The vestiges of the season spent so often with my parents have all but completely fallen away, and let me be quick to say: I'm alright with that. The traditions that are dearest aren't going anywhere. But still, it's all so different. A little freeing even.

Free to dream about seeds, and planning, and a summer spent working and playing in the garden with Sara; remembering how my father tended the plants and my mother put up the harvest, and then making our own way ahead. Maybe ultimately, that's really what I'm looking toward: time in the garden with Mom and Dad. A new season to celebrate with them.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Birthday blessing

Happy birthday, Dad.

Today would have marked 75 years.

We mourn that you're not here for us to celebrate, but the truth is this--
you are happier where you are:

No tears or pain or sadness
No cancer to rob you of your independence
or grief to weigh on your heart.
There is only love and peace and joy and health for you now.
The pain and sadness is left for us
But we accept it, knowing that it will pass away from us one day, too.

Today would have marked 75 years.
Instead, you have eternity.

A birthday blessing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Should you ever forget

An editorial piece from the September 21, 1897 edition of New York's Sun, written by Francis P. Church. (You can also view it here.) It never loses it's relevance, and I look forward to re-reading it every year. I hope you'll enjoy it as much as I do.

I'm a believer -- how about you?


DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Standing outside the fire

I was chatting today with some friends from work about a girl I went to school with many years ago. The details of her story aren't really relevant, but the bottom line was this: She's doing something she's just not very good at, but she does it proudly and without any trace of doubt.

And at that moment I realized how that would never, ever be me.

I am my own worst critic. My dreams never seem to get off the ground because I'm convinced I'm not good enough to do whatever it is I imagine. There is always someone better, or more creative, or more talented, or better suited, or more experienced, or luckier, or prettier, funnier, faster, smarter -- whatever. Some of this self-doubt is in the genes, I'm convinced, but most of it is just me. Me & that shitty little voice in my head that is incessantly reminding me of my mediocrity.


Sadder still is that I'm not really sure what to do about it. I guess it's some small thing to at least recognize it for what it is. But even as I praised my old classmate for doing what she loves, critics be damned, I silently reminded myself:

But I could never do that.

Monday, December 07, 2009


This morning while I was making breakfast I looked out the kitchen door & saw the year's first snow. I could not have been happier.

Four years ago this very day I looked out of my hospital room window and saw the year's first snow -- but that's not why I was so happy.

This is why I was so happy.

What a difference four little years can make.

Happy birthday, big girl. Thank you for an annual reason to remember the very best day, ever.