Christmas Passed – Decs Deferred

This is the year we were caught by surprise.

There were a few good reasons why our house seemed a poor uninspired effort amidst the joy and celebration visible all around us. We witnessed our neighbors welcoming and hosting a blockful of cars and SUV’s. Although our own family was outside of this arena, it still felt strange to come home and have to navigate a darkened driveway without all those garish eyesores blocking the way.

One of the reasons we forewent all of that was that when the time came, there was a daunting situation. How does an older physically challenged person climb a ladder, get those lights in perfect alignment and take hours doing it. Then, the decorations themselves were old. Old, elder lights that were crumbling with oxidation just like our old bones. Older Christmas village that may have been magical beyond when a small child, looked like a group of old paper covered in sparkles which were quickly falling off. Sad.

Then there was the tree itself. It isn’t a tree; it’s the top part of an artificial tree that was also very old, and long gone and forgotten. The needles are out of proportion to the tree, making it impossible to hang trinkets. This year my patience was lost. The tree sits on the dining room table, making it impossible to use the table in the event of a rare, rare, rare, visit by friend or family.

Hence the desire and the drive to make it up. Yule season, thee is not forgotten nor forlorn. No longer will I ignore, and deny myself the magic and anticipation of the return of the light to the earth.

Next year will be hard, yes, with new involvement in environmental and social pushbacks. Despite not speculating and guessing, my life will be just as difficult as anyone else’s. But I’m up to it.

Putting my needs before anything else, downsizing does not mean ignoring. A modified, sale priced lighting display and new tree that actually looks festive, is a goal. So I made sure of this.

Several shopping trips later, I’ve become the proud owner of a plan that will startle and surprise. I will walk the grounds, splying wires and tiny lights. I will attach, hang, tape and smear sparkles and color over all the surfaces out there. And after the feast of the epiphany on January 6, 2018, I will do the entire act in reverse.

Such is life. Holding breath until it is time to exhale simply causes one to understand the importance and peace of the wait. Seasonal decorations may be held absent now, but will brighten our eyes and hearts in years to come.


Bracing for Impact – Just a Few More Daze to Go

Fate had the grace to grant me the privilege of reconnecting with those people I did not choose to connect with in the first place. If there is a lesson in this Thanksgiving holiday, it’s that you have to unburn those bridges at some point or it is not even worthwhile. It will make you compound the ills and mistakes made not by you, oh, no, but by the others.

And that was what they were to me. They have flitted in and out of my life, one flitting taking her daughter with her to end that line of thought with utter hatred, and others making up time when they can, and being very honest about that.

I was once a person who had no truck with the elders. But time has taught me the value of cherishing the nearness, the corporal experience, of one who will not be here forever. And I have the best of motives to be aware of that –

my thyroid surgery is in just a few days. I am quite ready; having read all the materials, incentive spirometer in one hand, advance directive in the other, TV remote in arm’s reach, and pets underfoot. It’s my understanding that the operation itself is quite routine. What is not routine, is the identification and staging of the cancer, and the fact that there will be many repercussions afterwards. I’m just biding my time to handle the complications that may occur – the appointments, the specialist advice, the treatments. All done before with my breast cancer. The goal is complete healing, and my goal is not looking like I just had a head transplant.

Of course, this all comes to a head! The excitement, the confusion, the endless talking and explanations, the overeating and excessive drinking, this will all end tonight, and serious thought begins to go into making my one-night stay in a hospital bed as bearable as possible.

So, looking forward to the landing. Bracing for impact – may it be a soft one, surprisingly easy and one that will allow liftoff once again.

Holy Weak!

(c) Jo Grazide
Not a trinitarian, I.

I never had thought about these things. I was a Catholic, but I wasn’t a Catholic. I was born into a family that wanted to say they were Catholic and that is about it. Growing up, there was no mastery of the mystery, only the misery of the rules.

There were a lot of rules about being Catholic. Chief among them, as I recall, sans Wikipedia, were the sins. You could make big sins, or you could make little or venial sins. Big sins were called mortal sins. A lot of my early childhood religious education emphasized the various penalties for committing one of these varieties of transgressions. If you died with a mortal sin “on your soul,” though, you were in a heap of trouble. You would go straight to hell, and there would be no way you could break out of there. So an after-life sentence was guaranteed. If you died with a couple of venial sins there, you would simply be sent over to this place called Purgatory, where you would lament and whine but you had a hope of getting out, eventually.

Funny how we use time in a sense where there can’t be time, in the immortal afterlife. I do believe in something, if not a consciousness, so this makes me uneasy. What if they are right! But then reason prevails, and I carry on hoping that I can leave the world a better place. What more can I ask?

Forgiveness is what I can ask. It used to be enough that Easter was honoring the death of a person whose father sent him here fully knowing he would be executed by the ruling class, for being a radical. For challenging the old way. For eating with sinners. I don’t think they had figured out, by the way, what the sins actually were. Because how could it be a sin to have like 40 wives and then kill your neighbors if they stepped on your sandaled toes, and things like that. I guess those were the days.

But we celebrate the death of a man who lived over 2,000 years ago each Easter. And I, a Pagan Unitarian/Universalist, am stuck with the goods. Long ago, in my adulthood, I was able to shake loose the chokehold of the confusion that being Catholic caused. I was lucky to be able to replace that tradition with one that made sense to me. One that embraced the natural world as all there is, and one that gave me a chance to do good here and now. So what – I would never be able to meet the Virgin Mother of Heaven or St. Peter as he guarded the gates to Heaven, or even reside in a place prepared for me since the beginning of time.

I could simply be simple. Live and die, and in the meantime, practice the example shown by the man who was called down from Heaven to live among us for 33 years only to die a thief’s death on Golgotha. Be that as it may, I’m grateful for the reminder that to be a truly real person, forgiveness has to come from your heart, your spirit, not from the fires of Hell or the heights of the sky.

So Happy Easter – make it a good one!

Nothing Like a Little Vituperation in the Morning – How I survived the Snowpocalypse

dark trees
Even in the darkest moments, there is hope and compassion.

January in the Northeast brings with it some rather uncomfortable rewards. Cold, ice, snow, snow. Snow. As they say, we are in the beginning of a climate change and the wetter air due to warmer global temperature is simply producing those monster storms that were predicted long ago.

And, we have another force to contend with, and that is the media, especially television, who are hungry and pounce upon anything, everything, and pepper it with bad taste. So who knows how this alarmist and hyperbolic reportage is affecting those not present and in the midst, as I am right now as we speak, of a constant stream of snow falling for the past 12 hours or so.

My first call was from biological sister or BioSis2 from warm and humid Georgia. A southern state which borders the wild west, and which sucks in people with its acceptance of gun-toting rednecks who are building forts against the coming Armageddon, while touting their Christian beliefs and lynching everyone else.

My phone calls from sisters began with “Have you seen the weather reports?” Classic panic. Being that they know absolutely that I cannot stand rhetoric in my dealings with them (beginning with Roger Fagan, BioSis1’s ex-husband and horrible niece’s father), this successfully and consistently sets me off. I remain silent for a second too long, then respond with a hopefully tentative, “Yes.” Then BioSis2 lit into me. The gist is – if I were there Mom wouldn’t be alone. Mom is alone. Do you know what’s coming? You should go get her.

So, the opportunity arises between Daddy-like stream of consciousness blathering, to mention that I did not like the way I was being spoken to. More blather. Louder. Escalate. Now I cannot speak at all. My words are literally drowned out by a panic-stricken woman in the throes of an alcoholic-like diatribe about how horrible I am. In a few more seconds, as I knew from prior phone calls when i was “bad,” I heard something about “good-bye” repeated over and over and the famous hangup. Nowadays, though, it is a silent, electronic non-sound that is far less satisfying and mystifying to the recipient.

I had my phone on speaker, though, so I could have my partner witness what I had to put up with. Call to Mom. All ok.

Second call, BioSis1, came the very next morning. Now I was in for it. After asking me if I’d seen the weather reports, BS1 reminded me that Mom was all alone. What was I going to do. I had to drive down there and go get her. Wrest her from her cozy, warm, underground-utility and close-by neighbors for like how long? I didn’t wait as long to remind caller #2 that I did not like her tone and that I would not like to be contacted just to be told how horrible I was.

But what really hurt, what really gets me, is that I know my three BioSis’ are discussing me amongst themselves. And they don’t ever call me up to see how I’m doing. BioSis1 doesn’t even know that her daughter, Susan Fagan the Obese Neice, got her tactics directly from her Mom, BioSis1. That is, she lurks in the background until something is done by someone she doesn’t consider quite right (and just what does not calling your grandfather when he was dying curtail?) – and jumps in with statements like “you all just think of yourselves.” And as careful as I am not to tout my successes or personal information, lest I incur an uninvited jealous reaction, I got that thrown up at me too. “You have electricity with your generator” – why oh why did I mention that to my relatives! When will I learn that I cannot be happy among the clinically depressed. The chronically unemployed. The undiagnosed borderliners.

Or what modern times would call losers?

So I hooked on saying “So now you’re calling me selfish!” and that went on for a few seconds, until the screaming went so far that I couldn’t hear myself think. I did volley off that my BioSis’ were acting like Daddy, when he would resort to shouting at me until I gave up any discussion(?) if you could call it that.

Oh, to have some family that I imagine was helpful. Oh, to have some compassion from my biological partners. We share genes, but certainly not emotional stability.

Today and tomorrow, one day at a time.

But, at least I can rest easy knowing I’m seeing the light, the bright white light, of tomorrow. I just hope someday I can say the same about the aforementioned.

If it smells like…to the tune of.


To the tune of Deck the Halls:

Deck the halls with cru-el excess


Tis the season to passive aggress


Don we now our worst atti-tude


Don’t expect a reasonable outcome


Don’t forget our best memor-ies


Make sure no one forgets your mala-dies


Keep the mean frown on your face


that will mean you’re head of the race


Yes, folks. Make up your own holiday tradition. X-mas, Holidaze, it’s all good. Nobody wins on Christmas Day. Pack up your gifts, your food, and warm gloves. Leave the vodka in the sled; no one needs it tonight.

Just hope that you survive tales of childhood bullying and embarrassment. Because you need to be reminded, on this humblest of nights, that you too are prone to idiocy and not special.

The baby Jesus will magically appear on everyone’s lawns, and the blow-up decorations will inflate one last time. Yet I will be the one noticing the one light bulb that has…blown!