Thursday, December 31, 2009


It's New Year's Eve already! Who'da thunk it?

Well, busy day today. I need to touch base with the new landlord and drop off part of the deposit. Oh my! I haven't made the official announcement here yet. I'm moving...I mean, we're moving! Mel and I are moving to a lovely apartment on Lewis Boulevard in Danielson. It's a second floor apartment with beautiful hardwood floors and lots of charm! This place is really quite the find!!! (BTW, thank you Annie for the tip.)

Dennis, the new landlord is very attentive to his property. That's a big plus in my book. I've always been blessed with good landlords but I hear horror stories from friends who have not been so blessed and I shudder.

Midday I will hit a meeting...because I can. While somewhere in all this I shall try to get to Price Chopper to pick up some soda for the Alkathon. Need a sober place to spend the holiday? Come on down...from 6 PM tonight until 6 PM tomorrow there will be AA meetings, food, folks and fellowship! NOW THAT'S A PROPER PARTY!

The crew will be getting to St. Mary's Church in Putnam for 3 PM today to set up. Wanna join us? We'd love to see ya there. It's always a great time!!! Come for a little bit or come and stay the whole time. It's all good AND it's all sober!!! Woo Hoo!!!

Then tomorrow night, New Year's Day night that is...there is a sober AA Dance at St. Mary's in Putnam from 8 PM to midnight. There will be a DJ (the guy from the Sober Cruise) and more food, folks and fun! It's so much better to celebrate with high spirits instead of high on spirits! REALLY!!!

I don't know how late I will be staying at the Alkathon. I woke up tired this morning. My low-iron thang is really starting to get to me. Of course, a nap is out of the question. I don't do those 20 minute power naps folks...I sleep for hours! Then my sleep cycle is disrupted and I miss half my day. (AND NO ONE WANTS TO SEE SUE WHEN HER SLEEP CYCLE IS WAY OFF...CAN YOU SAY MANIC?) Besides, I have lots to do before 3 PM. Sleep is NOT part of my equation. Still, it is nice to be busy, to have purpose and direction, to fall asleep because I am actually tired.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

RE: The Eight Year Old Boy in Taunton, MA

It is an indictment of the times in which we live that a simple drawing by an eight year old can cause such consternation.

Perhaps the standards in our post-Columbine world are such that anything perceived as questionable/violent requires careful review. I wonder why the Taunton school system doesn't have a psychologist on staff AND available for such incidents. Wouldn't it have been less drama to simple ask the child if he could explain his drawing to the "nice person (professional) who would like to know more about it?" Why make such a big deal? And, if the school felt the child had an issue (i.e., special need) isn't the SYSTEM responsible for any expenses related to that (i.e., the psych eval)?

Catholics and Episcopalians display crucifixes, which the majority of Protestant denominations do not find to their spiritual liking. Both sides are, of course, correct. It is what has meaning to you that counts. Christians are taught that Christ died for their place. Is this a simple matter of cultural ignorance gone awry? Is this the result of the skewed interpretation of an eight year old?

I saw a follow up that this was NOT the actual picture and that the assignment was not to draw a Christmas picture. Well, I can see how that went down, can't you? School officials are unduly alarmed given our current social climate and send the kid home till an evaluation can be done on him. The parents ask the kid, "what the hell happened" and he says "I had to draw a Christmas picture" and he goes and draws a picture similar to what he drew in school. Perhaps the teacher asked for a picture of the season which to a Christian is NOT a request for a snow-filled scene of some sort. Adults play with semantics all the eight year old isn't qualified to play those games.The kid in his understanding of "Jesus was born to die for your sins" puts himself on the cross so that the God he has been taught to love does not have to die for him. Had this been another time (say the 1950's) or another place (a faith-based school) the child would have received accolades for his generosity of spirit to offer himself so Jesus wouldn't have to die for him.

Bottom line...there will always be CHRIST in our public educational system as long as CHRISTIANS send their kids to public schools. And as long as Muslims, Jews, atheists, etc. continue to send their children to public school the diversity will be maddening at times as we try to grapple with what this means to us as a society.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The Christmas Spirit

I've had folks say, "Merry Christmas" and "Happy Holidays" to me. I don't mind either rendition of sincere wishes from a friend or a stranger's heart. It's not the words. When the spirit of the season shines through in what is spoken, then there is no wrong way to say it. When "Merry Christmas" is spoken grudgingly or by rote, then there is little spirit and little meaning that shines through. Why bother?

I keep hearing about service to others. Well, it is the twelfth month and therefore, the twelfth step is a common discussion topic at meetings. I like that about December. I like talking about the gifts that don't get put under the tree, those gifts that don't get wrapped and commercialized. The spirit of giving that prevails for this one solitary month in our culture is astounding. I wish it stayed on for the rest of the year. Yet, I do see evidence of it all around, all the time.

I see evidence on of people offering to others, freely, with no strings attached. There is a wonderful generosity of spirit that lives in cyberspace yet exhibits itself locally. What a concept!

I see the spirit of giving in the 'Toys for Tots' program and the local food pantries and the Council of Churches help with heating fund. I see the willingness to be part of a larger whole in the scouts and the 4-H and the Rotary and the Lions who all do their part to build community. Volunteers offer service at schools and libraries and hospitals. There are foster parents and foster grandparents and mentors and people reaching out to others in so many ways, one generation helping and guiding the next. Churches, synagogues and mosques build bridges of hope and faith and unity to create a brighter tomorrow.

This week I received several prayers in my email...and then I shared them with others as well. I prayed for some friends and family and even complete strangers. I spent a few moments marvelling a the softly fallen snow as it blanketed a stormy December morning and experienced the awe of nature's ways.

I see kids rushing to line up to visit with Santa, full of the wonder and innocence of youth. I see the older folks slowly shuffling along, enjoying the scenery as they have come to appreciated the wisdom of taking life easy that comes with experience. Then there are those somewhere between the impetuousness of youth and the serenity of old age who seem to scurry along in a frenzy in one moment only to slow down and enjoy a leisurely pace in the next...caught between those worlds.

Christmas tunes abound on the radio sending a message of comfort and joy. The world soaks up the spirit of the season. It is a kinder, gentler time of year. The cold has not settled into our hearts but rather we are warmed by faith and love and family.

Madison Avenue steps in to insist we have to give 'more' and get 'more.' The advertising industry tries to sell us a bill of inferior, commercially produced goods. We resist, weakly and ineffectually. We often times give in while feeling the void, empty feeling that comes with their agenda. Then, we buck up and let the season take us where it may. We pick up the phone and connect with loved ones. We laugh and cry and share our memories of Christmas past. We remember loved ones who are gone and cherish those who are still here.

I hear folks speak of tough economic times, of getting back to basics, of a lean gift-giving season. Then I hear about family traditions and holiday get-togethers, about love, laughter and joys. I listen to the lessons of bonding and binding ourselves the people we hold dear and to the principles that are important to us. There's nothing missing here.

Perhaps the economy won't be stimulated in the way big business would like to see. But, hearts are being stimulated, rejuvenated and healed. People may or may not be coming to the malls, but, we are coming together. We're discovering that it is not what is under the tree that is set up in our house but rather it is the spirit in the home that makes it Christmas. When that spirit travels with us into the world, as we work and play and live our lives, then and only then, does the spirit of Christmas truly live. Only then can I truly experience that spirit of loving-kindness, of giving, of hope and of fellowship with other people.

I wish for all my family and friends the spirit of Christmas, not for this single month, but for always. I wish for this season to touch hearts and minds and to heal the souls of all who have lost their way in a busy world gone awry. I cannot wrap this gift and place it under anyone's tree. What I can do is live this Spirit of Christmas that I may keep it alive to give it away. I cannot hold onto it. I must offer it to others. Then indeed, it becomes the gift that keeps on giving.

Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! May the joy of this season reside in you, guide you and console you and provide you a path for your journey in the coming year.