Saturday, December 31, 2011

Long Time Coming

I intended to post this picture several weeks ago, i.e. in mid-November. The reason it wasn't posted is that I seem to have misplaced the cable I use to transfer pictures from my camera to my computer. Could it be that there is still some chemo-brain lingering, or is it old age? Doesn't really matter.

I took this picture at Dutch Gap near Richmond VA on November 12. Earlier in the year, I took a kayak tour of this area and when this picture was taken, I was riding my bicycle on a 5 mile loop around the area. I stopped to rest and soak in the view. Ironically, 3 years earlier, on November 12, I was taking in another view while seated in a comfortable chair. I was watching the TV in the chemo room while the nurse began to administer my first chemo treatment. Even though I initially regarded that day as the beginning of something bad, I now look back on it with a different view.

Maybe the cancer diagnosis I was given was not the beginning of an end, but, like Christmas, the beginning of a beginning. I think of all the times I have heard, "Now that Christmas is over....." in the past few days. Maybe all of the tasks associated with the preparation for the events that occur on December 25 are indeed completed, but Christmas really isn't over. It would be the same as mining the ore, refining it, shaping it into pieces of steel, cutting those pieces into parts, assembling them into a car, filling the car tank with gasoline and then letting it sit in your driveway without ever driving it. 

The same with getting treatment for cancer. Sure, the process is cumbersome and for some folks completely awful. The point of it however, is not to die or look back on how hideous the process may have been, but to be able to....well, as I type this, I am listening to the voice of Boris Karloff...

"And they'll shriek squeaks and squeals, racing 'round on their wheels.
They'll dance with jingtinglers tied onto their heels.
They'll blow their floofloovers. 
They'll bang their tartookas.
They'll blow their whohoopers. 
They'll bang their gardookas.
They'll spin their trumtookas. 
They'll slam their slooslunkas.
They'll beat their blumbloopas. 
They'll wham their whowonkas.
And they'll play noisy games like zoozittacarzay,
A roller-skate type of lacrosse and croquet!
And then they'll make ear-splitting noises galooks
On their great big electro whocarnio flooks!
Then the Whos, young and old, will sit down to a feast.
And they'll feast! And they'll feast! And they'll FEAST! FEAST! FEAST! FEAST!" **

My friends, remember to feast - as a host and as a guest. That's what we do after Christmas.

** Text by Theodor Seuss Geisel, Bob Ogle and Irv Spector.

Friday, December 23, 2011

And To All....

The newspaper editor of whom I spoke in my previous post has this image on his website this week.

I am proud of him.

In this glorious Holiday Season, may you know which gifts can be placed in a box and which ones can not.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

What Once Was Lost

Somewhere in the history of this blog, I mentioned something I wrote about my response to "Merry Christmas." I couldn't find it at the time. I found it while looking for something else. Here it is...

          Give Christmas Away

            Voices are ringing this year. They are at every pitch and every personality a voice can have. There are shouts, returned greetings, wishes followed by handshakes or hugs, all delivering the wishes of all the events and occasions that take place in this time at the start of the season of winter.

            Some of those voices have also been ringing with the dismay that the greeting of “Merry Christmas” has been replaced with “Happy Holidays.” A small town newspaper editor in the December 8, 2005 edition of his paper related, “We Americans are expected to respect the cultures, traditions, and practices of other nations and peoples, and rightfully so. But what about our culture, and our traditions, and our practices? “

            Who are “we?” Are “we” the Native Americans who inhabited this land before our Spanish and Anglo Saxon ancestors came here to explore? Are “we” the African Americans who were deposited here by descendants of “our” Anglo Saxon ancestors? Are “we” any of the immigrants who gazed upon the message held high by the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor?

            To feel that “we” are the ones being persecuted by not being made to feel comfortable in saying “Merry Christmas” is missing the entire foundation of the Christmas Holiday. If the observers of Christmas were to be true to the holiday, evergreens in houses would have to disappear (actually, some of “our” Puritan ancestors outlawed Christmas observances in the mid 1800's in “our” country). The lights on “our” houses, the wrapping paper, the sending of Christmas cards were not part of the origin of Christmas. “We” have added all that.

            Maybe saying “Happy Holidays” does diminish the amount of times we get to say the word “Christmas.” Even the word, “Christmas” wasn’t used until several centuries after the event it commemorates. Its use came about from some of “our” ancestors trying to tie in the observance of the birth of Christ to existing festivals and holidays with origins in the Roman Empire. “Our” ancestors actually caused the existing observances of Saturnalia, Yule, and the flight of Oden to be diminished or eliminated by the evolution of the Christmas holiday.

            With all the compassion and joy that the Holidays observed in this time frame intend to generate, I will wish the appropriate greeting of “Merry Christmas,” “Happy Hanukah,” or “Joyous Kwanza,” when I know what greeting is appropriate. If I am not sure, I will wish “Happy Holidays” with the same compassion and joy. I don’t worry that Christmas will be taken away from me if I don’t say “Merry Christmas.” I don’t think Christmas is mine or “ours” to keep. I think Christmas is to be given away. Maybe it’s time to bring everyone together again.

I think, one day we will get to see the creator of this world. I believe when we see the creator, we will see a form like we never could have imagined. We will ask, “How did you come up with that?” The reply will be, “You could have done the same. I gave you all the ingredients.”

May Peace, Joy, Grace and Love be in your life from now until you meet the creator of this world. Happy Holidays.