Time to rid yourself of Christmas guilt – 2010 Edition


The current economic climate has brought about the perfect time to reassess what Christmas is about.  I recently read this posting that I wrote almost 2 years ago.  I decided that now is a good time to republish it.  The following has been edited and updated for this year but the message is the same.  I even fixed some misspellings, and rewrote some poorly constructed sentences.  I hope this post gives you something to think about.

——————————————————————————————————————————————————————————–

Christmas means different things to different people.  At its core, Christmas commemorates the birth of Christ.   It is a Christian holiday.  I  believe that unless you are devout in your celebration of this birth then you have no business celebrating Christmas.  Otherwise it’s no different than celebrating Hanukkah.  You may as well.  You’re guaranteed eight gifts that way.

I have not forgotten the magic that Christmas can bring, but from where does that magic come.  We are often more prone to charitable gifts during Christmas.  So to some less fortunate child, or family, a Christmas miracle could be one toy, or one meal.

Many of us get emotional during the holidays, mostly due to the memories of our childhood.  Some never had a Christmas. Some never had a happy Christmas.  I”m not sure which is worse; never having one, or never having one that lives up to the hype.

A few years ago, I had my own economic downturn.  Giving gifts that year wasn’t within the realm of possibility.  Yes, I could have given home-made gifts.  But, I would have felt inadequate and guilt that comes from NOT giving.

So I decided to take a different approach.  No Christmas presents?  I approached the people with whom I normally exchange gifts and told each one  the truth (do people tell the truth anymore? – I’m used to it, but I find that many struggle with it).  I told them I can’t afford to buy presents and I would appreciate it they didn’t buy me a present either.  I can’t pretend I have the money to do it, and if I spend money on gifts, I won’t have money for Rent, or Food, or to put gas in my car.  And I don’t want to feel the guilt of getting a gift when I don’t have one to give.  I don’t believe that my “plan” was received very well, but I had no choice but to move forward with it.

The most important gift in the world, in my opinion, is your time.  I wanted to spend time with the people I love.  Laughing, relaxing, telling stories, playing cards; all of those things that we rarely have time for.  Since most of my friends and family aren’t consistent church-goers, we weren’t celebrating the birth of the Messiah. No, in previous years we weren’t celebrating anything, and giving each other mounds of presents because of it.

In as little as one day after opening gifts, maybe less in some cases, most kids can’t remember who gave them what.  They were already bored with the toys, and the adults usually think “thank god that’s over”.   How sad is that.  Such a build-up and in a flash, it’s over.  Some are happy it’s over.  Some are disappointed that they didn’t “get what they wanted”.

In recent years many of the people I know were ready to take down the tree and decorations by the evening of Christmas Day.  And as we reflected on Christmas, we realized introspectively that we spent too much, probably went into credit card debt, and even if you got great stuff, something was missing.

After the time when I stopped giving out Christmas presents I didn’t feel that way anymore.  Christmas had taken on a different meaning.  As I said before, the gift of time, and laughter, I think, are such valuable commodities.  What an incredible relief it would be, don’t you think, if you never had to worry about the traditional gift giving aspect of Christmas?  I know people who say that they truly like the chaos of shopping for Christmas gifts.  I think they are lying to themselves.  I think they are trying to recreate a fantasy that is unattainable.   The magic of the perfect childlike Christmas is unattainable.

To me, it’s not that gifts shouldn’t be exchanged anymore, just not gifts that come with a receipt.  I have always believed that birthdays are special.  That is one person’s special day and that should be the day they get all the attention and a gift or two.  And I also believe in buying people things that you happen upon and give for no specific reason.  I bought a family member a certain gift,  just because I knew they liked it, not because it was their birthday or Christmas or any other holiday.  Those, to me, are real gifts.  The unexpected act of kindness.  But giving wrapped gifts is NOT necessary at Christmas.

So I am asking you to participate in a new kind of gift giving for the holidays.   Stay out of the stores and off the online shopping sites.  Make a promise to yourself, and to those you love, to spend time with them during the Holidays.  Why do we keep perpetuating the myth that a “present” equals “love”.  And if you decide to spend more time with the ones you love playing cards, relaxing, enjoying food,  and most of all laughing, then maybe you will begin to see what is really important.  You will be able to see it because your mind will not be consumed with guilt over whether or not you spent enough money on so-and-so, and “oh I hope he likes it, I don’t think he’ll like it” or “maybe I should get her something else, or something more”.  Rid yourself of that Christmas guilt and put your energy into memorable, intangible, important things.

We need to stop buying into Corporate America’s idea of Christmas;  the kind of Christmas that makes Corporate America rich.  They wait all year for Christmas because it makes up something like 60 or 70 percent of their profits for the year.  And you wouldn’t believe how they try to get into your head, and your heart, so that they can get into your wallet.  Stop the insanity.

If you believe in God, then you should know that God doesn’t keep track of the presents you give;  God only cares about gifts you give that can’t be wrapped.  If you don’t believe in God (nobody says you have to – I don’t) then all of this should make perfect sense to you already.

I welcome your comments.

Advertisements

Tyler Clementi – a personal memorial


I’ve had Tyler on my mind for the past week.  I can’t seem to shake it.  I call him “Tyler” not because I know him.  I should refer to him as Mr. Clementi out of respect.  But I think if I knew Tyler, we would have been friends.

I’m older now,  amost 30 years older than Tyler, but I have not been able to shake the flashbacks of what it was like to be 18 years old, gay, and terrified.  By the time I was 18, I had known I was gay for several years, for as much as I understood what that meant.  But I knew for damned sure since I was at least 15.  And I lived in terror of people finding out.

Anyone looking back on MY life would consider me lucky.  Sure I was called faggot by every cruel and not-so-cruel person I came into contact with.  I was also overweight, scared out of my mind on a daily basis, and didn’t feel comfortable in my own skin.  By 18, I had gone on a crash diet.  I was 6 feet tall, had a 31 inch waist and weighed about 170 pounds.  It was the night I graduated high school that I had my first sexual encounter with a guy I had a crush on for a while.  I didn’t know then, and don’t know now, why it happened, why this guy liked me, or why he was interested in a sexual relationship with me.  But it happened.  And I was in heaven.  Somebody out there cared about me.  Somebody that I cared about, maybe even loved, held me in his arms and awakened things in me that had been pent up for so long.  Somebody wrapped his arms around me and let me fall asleep against his chest.  I woke that same way.  I did not know that happiness like that existed.  I had never experienced happiness before that time that I can remember.  But finally I knew what they meant by “happy”.

So I can not imagine (and I am welling up as I type this) what would have happened, or how it would have affected my life, if two hateful losers broadcasted my secret to the whole world.  I haven’t seen, nor do I want to, the video in question.   But even if it was as simple as a beautiful first kiss, a kiss that lingered for a long time, for the first time, then the possibility that the world was laughing at me for what I was finally feeling would have crushed me.

I don’t know the history of Tyler Clementi.  I don’t know if the experience at his college was the first or second or tenth.  It doesn’t matter.  Nobody deserves what Dharun Ravi and  Molly Wei did.  Betrayed by his own roommate just a few weeks into the school year.  How do you face that without the right support system.

In a perfect world, what would be broadcast instead to the world is the trial and conviction of Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei.  What punishment is fair for invading another human being’s most intimate expressions and behaviors without his consent.   This was not an innocent prank.  Ravi and Wei knew exactly what they were doing.  Their intention was to totally and completely humiliate Tyler Clementi to a point beyond repair.  What other reason could there possibly be for what they did.   The perpetrators and their defenders may come up with all kinds of reasons or explanations.  But no matter what, there is NO excuse.  Again, this was not a prank.  It was an intentional, malicious, hateful attack.

Maybe too much time has passed and my wounds have healed.  But I think  I was lucky to find the support of some very good friends who accepted me completely for who I was.  And eventually, my family came around to the point where I would bring my boyfriend (the few times when I had one) to a social event.  Today, it’s just not an issue.  Partly because the world has changed a lot since I came out (or so I thought), and partly because I am so accepting of my own sexuality.  I don’t have an issue with it so why should you.  I don’t hate myself so why should you.  I don’t force my sexuality down anyone’s throat, but I won’t deny it nor will I miss an opportunity to correct someone who doesn’t know I’m gay.   If someone refers to my wife or girlfriend, I simply say “I’m gay”.  I don’t believe that sexuality should be flaunted by anyone, gay or straight.  I don’t want to watch a straight couple grope each other on a park bench.

I wish so much that Tyler was my friend.  I know, I just know, that if we were friends, I could have helped him get through this.  I would bring him to places to be around people who just don’t give a shit if you are gay.  And I’m not talking about bringing him to gay bars.  I’m talking about normal heterosexuals or homosexuals (although most people I know are straight) who treat you like a person, not a “type” of person.

This is probably from watching too many movies or TV, but I keep picturing me, there, on the bridge (and I’m going to cry again) holding out my hand to Tyler.  And just simply, and quietly, I take his hand and ease him down to the ground.  Then I give him a hug and tell him it’s going to be OK.  “We’ll face it together”.

So many young men have killed themselves just his month – all because of the idea that their families and the world won’t accept them for being gay.  I am amazed that in 2010, the attitudes of some are so far behind the rest of the world.  How can it be that we live in a world that has gay marriages, civil unions, domestic partners, gay adoptive parents, openly gay politicians and clergy;  ideas that were unthinkable just 20 years ago.  Yet that same world has so much hate for the exact same ideas.  I can only conclude that it is our fault.  It is the fault of those that are more progressive thinkers.  We haven’t spoken out enough, we’ve tolerated this hate too much, and there are not enough of us watching the bridges for the ones that need a hand to get down.  The time has come.  Keep your eyes, and ears, and especially your mind and heart, open.  Only we can change it by de-stigmatizing it and making sure that all people, not just gay people, are accepted and loved.

As for Dharun Ravi and Molly Wei; the same god that they might quote to condemn homosexuality (they must, why else would they have done what they did) is the same god who said “an eye for an eye”.  So do we make them stand on the edge of that same bridge and force them to do the same?   I doubt Tyler would have wanted that.  I might be mad enough to do it, but he wouldn’t be.  You can tell, just from the few pictures you might see of him.

So in the end, do we really need to be reminded, one more time, to love and respect each other while you have the chance.  Because you never know what tomorrow will bring.  What might be “harmless hate” to some, will be the end of the road for others.  Do you really want that on your conscience.

To my friend Tyler:  Hi Tyler, you don’t know me.  My name is Ron.  And I want to let you know that I’m thinking about you.  You are in my thoughts and you probably always will be.  Just know that while you may not have known it, there are so many people who love and respect you.  And they don’t care if you’re gay.   Maybe somebody, even just one person, will learn from what happened to you and decide to make different choices.  I will keep a candle burning for you.  I’ts my way of leaving the light on.

December ’09 is a slow news month


We seem to by in a news cycle where there is a lot going on, yet none of it is important enough to write about.  And so the bloggers, and the main stream media, begin to fill up the pages and the TV screen with something that can only be called “stuff”.

Does anyone really care about Tiger Woods personal problems?  I don’t.  And neither should you.  All of the wasted file server space used up by people writing articles and opinions about who Tiger slept with or had an affair with; it’s a crying shame.  Who cares?  Let him live his life and handle his problems on his own,  just like the rest of us.

Amanda Knox, did she, didn’t she.  Who cares???  Her family, yes, and friends, of course, but the rest of us have no say in the matter and will never know the truth.  I don’t care if the Italian court works like the American system.  I don’t care if Italians are prejudicial in their court judgements against outsiders; because I don’t plan on going to Italy to kill anyone.  Who the hell cares?  It’s just another murder trial.

Obama took a while to decide what to do about Afghanistan.  He did what any smart person should do – think long and hard about his options and then make a decision and stick to it.  Done.  Do we need to debate it to fill air time?  I don’t think so.

And even I am guilty.  I just wasted how much electricity, and file server space, to write this post about how there truly is nothing to write about that isn’t already being said, or thought.  I’m glad I don’t own a cable news network.  I’m glad I don’t have to fill 24 hours each and every day with noise, so that the advertisers have some place to show their products.

Here’s what I think is going on in the world that we should be thinking about:  We all have friends, and/or family, who are hurting, and to some degree, suffering.  Maybe it’s the kind of hurt caused by personal crisis:  sickness, abusive relationships, or love that seems to be dying.  Maybe it’s the kind of hurt that is financial: mothers and fathers who can’t feed their kids, or people wondering how they will avoid eviction or foreclosure.

We should be writing about, and watching TV that deals with, taking care of each other.   Random acts of kindness are under-rated.  Whether it’s holding the door for someone or helping a woman in the parking lot clean the snow off her car.  Now we’re talking about stuff that matters.  Lend an ear, lend a hand, lend a dollar.  Listen to what people around you are saying.  Some of them have a difficult time asking for help.  But if you really listen, and watch, it’s not hard to figure out what someone needs.  It might just be a hug, as corny as that sounds.  What if a big, smothering, maternal or paternal hug is all someone needs today.  What will that cost you.  Or maybe it’s money, or food, or a ride, or a job.  Just do it.  And do it thanklessly.  You shouldn’t do it for recognition, or glory, you should do it because you are human.

I’m not saying all of this simply because it is the holiday season.  As far as I am concerned, even Christmas is not worthy of writing about.  Unless someday (in my wildest dreams) Christmas is no longer about buying presents and instead is about helping each other.   Unless Christmas is no longer about gifts for the sake of buying gifts, then Christmas is not worth wasting more space on a file server somewhere; and it’s not worth filling up the airwaves.

Why don’t we all take this opportunity to take advantage of this “inconsequential” news month.  With the exception of families with loved ones overseas fighting in wars that we shouldn’t be fighting, everyone else should start to make a list, and check it twice.  And on that list should be thank you’s, and donations, and meals you made for someone who can’t get out of the house, and packages for troops, and treats for your dog, and all of the things about which writing words on a page are worthy.

Getting stabbed in the front


White House senior advisor David Axelrod was on “Morning Joe” this morning.  At one point he relayed an expression he had heard.  It went something like this:  An associate of his who was struggling with Washington politics said to him “I’m going back to Chicago, at least there, they stab you in the front”.  This is obviously a comment about Washington politicians who stab you in the back.  And while Chicago politics is tough, at least they don’t blind side; they come at you fair and square from the front.

As I thought about this concept of “being stabbed in the front” I had a completely different interpretation when I applied it to my own life.  I recently reconnected with my very best friend in the world.  And he’s been in my life longer than anyone I know.  Although we were out of contact for a while, we have the kind of friendship that is unconditional and non-judgemental.  I didn’t like that we hadn’t spoken for so long, but it wasn’t because we were mad at each other.  I don’t think we’ve ever been mad at each other.  We’ve gone for somewhat long periods of time without contact but when we finally get in touch, it is as if we just spoke the day before.  No pretense, no judgement.  Just understanding and an honest love for one another that transcends time.  He’s the one person to whom I can always tell the truth.

So for me, the concept of being stabbed in the front means something different.  To me, it means that my best friend will tell me the truth no matter what.  And I am not hurt by it because it is not meant to hurt me.  True friends can be truly honest with each other, they know when to tease, and they know when to listen.  I believe that few people in the world have ever experienced a friendship like I have with my best friend.  I know I am not completely alone.  I know other good friendships are out there.  But they certainly are not as common as they should be.

Maybe it sounds strange to some to compare “getting stabbed in the front” to a great friendship.  But it makes sense to me.  From the front, there is no fear because you see it coming, you know it might hurt but you know the intent.  And the best thing is that when you are about to be stabbed from the front, you can step aside, just a little, and avoid the stab completely, and just give a hug.

To my best friend, thank you for all the years of laughter.  I hope we have many more.

An open letter to Kris Allen


Dear Kris:

I know.  Who cares what I think.  But I wanted to congratulate you on winning American Idol.  The look on your face when you won was priceless.  And how great it must be to have a friend like Adam Lambert close by who was obviously and genuinely happy for you.

I first noticed you when I checked in on American Idol right before the time of the final 13.  I picked you as the winner back then.  I don’t know exactly what it was.  For the first time this year, I actually went to iTunes and downloaded American Idol music and it was yours that I downloaded.  I actually have “Falling Slowly” and “To make you feel by love” on a CD in my car right now and play it quite often.  I must admit, as a gay man, I thought you were adorable.  Your kind and gentle soul was evident even through your shyness.  I often thought you were the kind of guy I could take home to my family and they would love you too.  So I have to be honest and say that I totally have a crush on you.  But why wouldn’t I.  Or anyone else for that matter.

That’s part of the package, you know.  Both women and gay men will think you are adorable and be vocal about it.  Speaking for myself, I would never cross the line and maul you if I saw you in person.  But you sort of have to get used to that kind of attention whether or not it is welcomed.  Gay men are fans too.

You have been blessed with beauty and grace.  You have been blessed with talent.  And most of all you have been blessed with a warm and loving family.  I envy the bear hug you got from your father on your visit home.  That is something that I never had from either parent, even though I grew up having both parents. My father died when I was 19 years old, before I was officially “out”.  As a result I have so many unanswered questions about whether or not my father actually loved me.  You don’t have to walk through life with those doubts so I hope you feel lucky and blessed.

Maybe you’re not shy; maybe you’re just humble.  Humility is an honorable trait to have.  You are inspiring to many in the way you pushed through that “thing” whether it be shyness or humility, to become an artist comfortable on stage in his own skin.  Again, that’s another thing about which I envy you.  I can barely walk into a crowded room, even if it’s just family, without suffering from severe self-confidence issues.

Back to the music.  As emotional a person as I am, it takes a lot for a song or piece of music to get to me.  In the words of “To make  you feel my love” you sang “I could offer you a warm embrace, to make you feel my love”.  That song, and the story it tells about giving of yourself and your unconditional love to another human being, in the way you sang it with just honesty, brought me to tears.  It still does when I listen to it.  And when I do listen to it I picture you singing it.  To me, that is the difference between you and Adam Lambert and the reason why you won American Idol.  It’s not that Adam is not a good looking guy.  But let’s face it, the world of music is based upon love songs.  It’s your gentle manner, your honest belief that love is so important, that raises the bar on the music you choose to interpret.

I’m going to tell you the same thing I told Adam in the open letter I wrote to him.  If you can, meaning if the almighty American Idol machine will let you, now is the time to think about what you want to do musically.  If you are going to experiment and collaborate, do it now while the iron is hot.  I think too many American Idol winners get pegged early on as “this” or “that”.  Prove them wrong.  Spread your wings a bit.  Do a duet with Josh Groban or Celine Dion.  That superstar pop-star thing may be out of your comfort zone.  But if you try stuff like that, we’ll be behind you.  You can’t sing “No Boundaries” for the next year and expect to have a career at the end.  In my opinion, you shouldn’t sing that song at all, but you are contractually obligated.  I only hope you can convince someone to let you do it your way.

I read on line, just today, the flurry of opinions regarding who won and why.  Some tried to bring everything but the kitchen sink into the conversation.  Religion, politics, homophobia, Red States versus Blue States, the Christian vote.  Believe me, none of that matters.   I think you know that.  You can tell a lot about what is going on in American culture by observing the gay community.  I read many stories and comment on blogs from gay men who voted for you.  They did not vote AGAINST Adam.  They voted FOR you.  One might think just the opposite would have happened.  I don’t know for sure if Adam is gay, but he’s certainly “gay enough” to have attracted the gay vote.  But gay men are usually well educated.  For me, it was your introspective manner and your desire to tell us who you are through your music that was so honest.  And that, my friend, is something that the gay community responds to very much.  Honesty.  It doesn’t matter if we agree about politics, religion, art, nature, sex, love, God, or anything else.  Real gay men respect those that are true to themselves.

I wish you all the best and look forward to seeing what directions you take, musically speaking.  I’ll always have a little crush on you.  And I will always get just a little emotional when I hear you sing “I could offer you a warm embrase to make you feel my love”.

Maine gets Gay Marriage just right


When I listened to Governor John Baldacci of Maine give his speech following his signing of the of the Gay Marriage Bill  just a few short hours after receiving the bill, all I could think of was “He got it right”.

I watched and listened to what he said, not as a gay man,  but as a citizen of Maine, and the United States.  Even though I am gay I have not always agreed with the arguments FOR or AGAINST gay marriage. 

It wasn’t until I heard the Governor explain that the new law is about affording equal rights to all Maine citizens as outlined in Maine’s Constitution that it all made sense to me.  The Constitution’s first Article states “All people are born equally free and independent, and have certain natural, inherent and unalienable rights, among which are those of enjoying and defending life and liberty, acquiring, possessing and protecting property, and of pursuing and obtaining safety and happiness.”

Baldacci used this first and most important Article to first understand for himself that allowing Gay Marriage in Maine is not about granting the same rights to gay people that are affording to heterosexual people.  He said we are all equal and all deserve the same rights and when he looked at the issue from that perspective, he could not come up with any reasons not to allow Gay Marriage.

 He went on further to say that that no religion will be required to conduct same-sex marriages, or even recognize same-sex marriages within the realm of their own belief system because Maine has strict policies about the division of church and State.  And Maine whole-heartedly abides by the Church/State tenet.

These are ideas that I had never heard anyone express in this specific manner before; the idea that the State will allow gay civil marriages but it won’t force any church to recognize them.  So if, for example, the Catholic Church doesn’t want to recognize gay marriage because it goes against their belief system, they don’t have to.  But the Catholic Church can’t tell a gay couple what civil rights they can or cannot have.  The same applies to any other religion.  On the flip side, a gay couple cannot force a religious organization to perform or recognize their marriage and cannot claim discrimination if that church will not recognize their marriage or perform their marriage ceremony.  Under these circumstances, anybody against same-sex marriage CAN hide behind their religion, and take comfort there.  But they can not deny rights to others.

I believe that this is as close as anybody is going to get to writing a law that makes sense when defining gay marriage.  It covers all the bases.  Nobody is forcing anyone to “believe” in anything and those who call themselves “believers” can’t squelch equality and civil rights by hiding behind their religion.  So, like the U.S. Constitution has done so many times, it was Maine’s constitution that acted as the final document to guide us through this divisive issue. 

Governor Baldacci was never comfortable with the gay marriage issue.  But, he found it in himself to understand that legislators, or politicians if you wish, need to take a stand and can not continually defer to public opinion.  All of the far lefties, and far righties have had more than enough time to express their viewpoints on this issue, and they have.  Neither is a shy group. 

The Governor said that he realizes this will not be the last word on the issue.  In my opinion, it should be, but it won’t be.  Instead of worrying about real problems, the whack jobs are going to come crawling out of the woodwork.  

The Maine Legislature and the Governor have laid down the gauntlet.  There are no “reasonable” arguments against this law as it was written.  First, anybody who protests this law must first say to themselves, and then the public, “I intend to take away the civil rights of others”.   Secondly, anybody who intends to use the Bible or their religion as an argument can stop right there.  The law clearly states that you don’t have to religiously recognize gay marriage or perform gay marriage if you don’t want to.  So what’s left?

Well, there’s the “I simply think it is wrong” argument.   Hmmm?  Are they also against heterosexual couples who get married and never intend to have children, or those who get married for convenience, or those who get married to obtain property, money, or social status (you know, the reason marriage was invented in the first place).  What one “thinks” or “believes” is wrong is immaterial.  Because under the Constitution of the State of Maine, all citizens have equal rights and included in that is their right to marry whom they choose as long as it is not breaking any other laws (like the minimum age for marriage or harm to animals). 

There is only one argument against Maine’s Gay Marriage law and it’s a faux-argument called “hate, fear, and ignorance” none of which are viable arguments against ANY law.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean some people in Maine won’t mind standing up and saying “I hate, I fear, and I am ignorant” to try and get their way.

How to survive the holidays


I haven’t written anything on this blog in ten days.  I haven’t really been focused on politics, current events, or pop culture.  While I no longer participate in exchanging gifts, I have been concentrating on the holidays.  They are an especially difficult time for me and each year I try to survive them the best I can.  Christmas is a very emotional time for many.  I believe it stems from looking at your Christmas tree late at night with just the tree lights on in a quiet room.  How can you not think about Christmas past.  Yes, there were good times, but bad memories are easier to conjure up in your mind.  There will always be the gift you didn’t get when you were a kid.  The one gift you wanted so desperately.  There will always be memories of what was going on in your life during a particular holiday season.  There will always be people missing from your life that were there during one Christmas, but are no longer. 

I would like to dedicate this posting to my friend Sarah.  In addition to her insight, she has been a kind ear to listen to my pinings.  She is a soft place to land as I feel the harshness of disappointment and lost love.  I must say that this Christmas is better than I remember Christmas being for a long time.  This year I have so much to be thankful for and luckily, didn’t forget it this year.

It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t tear free.  But I enjoyed the holidays this year because I felt more like myself, more inner peace, than I have in years.  I have talked with a few people who know me well and I talked to Sarah who doesn’t know me all that well.  Her interest in other people’s stories opened the door for me to tell my story  to her.

To me the Christmas season should be about giving thanks, just as much as Thanksgiving is.  I am hopeful that since sales were down this year, some people have learned that you can celebrate and be happy at Christmas time with less “stuff”.  They may have sweated and toiled over what to buy and how to buy with less money, but in the end maybe they realized that Chirstmas spirit has nothing to do with “stuff”.  It has to do with the people you love, being there for them, and them for you.

So next year, maybe the world will spend even less, regardless of the economic conditions.  You can’t put a price on kindness.  I’d also like to thank my family for welcoming me back into the fold this year.  The last 2 years have been very diffucult times and I wasn’t the same person during that time.  Many didin’t recognize me at all.  But luckily family always foregives, if it works out right, and this year it did.

Thanks again, Sarah, my jewish friend who helped this gentile make it through a difficult time.  My Christmas wish to everyone is that they have someone to share their successes and failures, their pain and joy; a soft place to land, all without judgement from anybody. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year