Monthly Archives: December 2018

a grand entrance

Our new home is spotless
The clutter is gone
All papers are filed
The laundry is done.

Monies in order
Budget prepared
Bills are all current
With a little to spare.

Goals are in sight
With changes to make
More this, less that
More give and less take.

Now just hours to spare
Before the big hap
We enter prepared
Cuz this year’s a wrap!

Don and Butch have left the building.

A New Year’s Wish

I would wish you the best
But it may not come true.
Lots of money and success,
But there’s more to pursue.

So I’ll just wish you a New Year
With all the mysteries it holds
And the effervescence of life
As each month unfolds.

Raise your vision, your standards
Raise your hopes for this earth
For these alone are the wishes
That raise our net worth.

Turn the page for another
Meet a need, make a smile
May this New Year reflect
Your life lived worthwhile.

And then maybe next year
On this day one year later
Keeping true to our wishes
This world will be greater.

Happy New Year to all.
Don & Butch

Thanks!

I’ve made a thousand jokes this year,
Wrote dozens of stories you needed to hear.
I hope you laughed, I know some cried,
But I hope they made you warm inside.
Now as the year comes to a close
I pause to reflect on the words I chose
To make friends smile, to keep in touch
But mostly to say, Life Means So Much.
Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.

Adriana’s wish

Though I retired from being a professional Santa last year, I accepted the plea for one last gig at a Christmas party last evening. Adriana was probably all of seven years old with the soul of a young lady four times her age. No Nintendo, no red soccer ball, no wish for a surprise to unwrap Christmas morning, she was teary-eyed as she sat on my lap to share a whispered wish with an old man in a fake red suit and beard who thought he’d heard it all before. “Santa, I believe in you and I know you can do miracles. Will you please give homes to all the homeless people for Christmas?” I assured her and gave my promise mostly because she’d no idea that after the suit is packed away, that’s precisely what this Santa does the other eleven months a year. I wish I’d stayed to meet her parents who’d taught her well what Christmas is really all about.

Yes Virginia, there is an Xmas!

Don’t hate Xmas.
X means many things. For example to denote an unknown quantity, we use the symbol X. In triplicate, to refer to an obscene level of films. But people express chagrin about seeing Christ’s name dropped and replaced by this symbol. Every holiday season we see signs and bumper stickers saying, “Put Christ back into Christmas” as a response to this substitution as if there’s no X in Christmas

First of all, you should understand it’s not the letter X that is put into Christmas. It’s already there.  We see the English letter but it’s actually the first letter of the Greek name for Christ. Christos is the New Testament Greek for Christ. The first letter of the Greek word Christos is transliterated into our alphabet as an X. That X has come through a lot of church history to be a shorthand symbol for the name of Christ.

We don’t see people protesting the use of the Greek letter theta, which is an O with a line across the middle. We use that as a shorthand abbreviation for God because it is the first letter of the word Theos, the Greek word for God.

X has a long and sacred history.

The idea of X as an abbreviation for the name of Christ came into use in our culture with no intent to show disrespect for Jesus. The church has used the symbol of the fish historically because it is an acronym. Fish in Greek (ichthus) involved the use of the first letters for the Greek phrase “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.” So the early Christians would take the first letter of those words and put the letters together to spell the Greek word for fish. That’s how the symbol of the fish became the universal symbol of Christendom.

So in reality, there’s a long and sacred history of using X to symbolize the name of Christ, and from its origin, it has meant no disrespect.

Merry Xmas to you and yours!

A Christmas, Carole.

The irony alone sickens Carole but at 79 she can’t survive another new year of rent increases and still hope to feed herself. She’s first on the list for a reduced rent program but won’t be next without a neighbor dying and leaving a program vacancy. Not much of a merry Christmas ahead, to top it off, she’s caught a nasty cold from trying to save on her heating bill.

But it’s Christmas, Carole.
We gave her a long warm winter coat someone donated, a gift card for food, her gas bill paid, and a little something special for under a tree she doesn’t have. And what she doesn’t know is a my friend Joanne has included her on a special list of 10 we prepared, and will be surprising her with a home delivered Christmas eve meal and a Christmas basket of essentials she doesn’t know I know she needs. Her remaining family is far away in New England but she won’t be cold, hungry or alone this Christmas listening for the bells of an ambulance on arrival to ring in the savior of her new year. The hope of Christmas is all year long at my job. We gift people like Carole to keep them housed and fed with the heat on because of your gifts. Troubles and worries don’t disappear during the holidays but we help them take a brief hiatus for something better. You helped bring joy to her world, and that, my friend, is a Christmas, Carole.

what it feels like.

He’s the guy who among other things, taught me that on a cold night, two shots of tequila will keep you warmer than a cold beer leaving you free to shake hands with anyone all night long.
Though my drinking days are over, if I did, it would still be two shots of tequila because of what I learned from him that cold winter night.
At some point, we’ve all been enamored meeting someone like Stu. For me it was in a crowded bar, drinking and playing darts into the wee hours. Someone in our group knew him and called his name to join us as he entered the darkened bar with frosty breath from the cold night. He gestured a wave our way and headed to the bar. Even at a distance, he was quite obviously everything we were not. A beautiful specimen of a man both socially skilled and magnetic. Everything each of us secretly hoped to be.
Approaching our wayward group with stacked handfuls of half-filled glasses of bronze liquor, my second impression was either a very thirsty remarkably ambitious drinker or slightly OCD about glassware. I’d never done shots before that night.
He was introduced to us by name and that was when I first noticed his uncanny knack of noticing the unnoticeable. “Hey, Don, nice to meet you” was his greeting with a hug as he handed me two stubby shot glasses while regarding the form of my dart arm mid-throw as particularly good. His greeting, hug and comment were all one incredibly smooth motion. He knew how to meet someone anywhere and make them feel they were a newly welcomed guest in his own home. He spoke his words in an intentional, soul-piercing eye to eye vernacular and a shake with his free hand—the right one, of course–which was a remarkable act of balance in itself considering his left was still stacked with greeting shots for other new guests he had yet to meet.
Either Stu was the most astutely engaging person I had ever met to date or he was born with the last of a long discontinued gene, or both. He seamlessly joined our motley crew as if he’d already been there with us most of the night. He played darts like a pro, did shots like milk, spoke with ease and generally made everyone around him want to be him. If memory serves me, he was also wearing a kilt. Why? For some reason it didn’t seem to matter at the time but further underscored the engaging social confidence that seemed to drive his very existence.
We were all enamored with him, and all the more as we watched him repeatedly whip ass at Cricket, 301 and 501 for the next several hours with the style of a true gentleman. He cast an engaging spell that made each of us feel we were the winners. He was unstoppable in every way.
To this day, Stu and I remain friends. I threw him his 40th birthday party when he still lived in Vegas and he has since moved 3000 miles away. On Facebook we still follow and like each other as he now lives a charmed life as a consultant and TV show host traveling the world posting pictures of exotic locations and experiences through which I still live vicariously.
Stu taught me something that late night/early morning that forever changed the way I view others.
Somehow, he knew what it felt like.

In the middle of one game, he left our group for a vacant corner of the bar to start a conversation with a stranger. I didn’t know he was a stranger, only that I’d seen him over there sipping on a beer by himself all night. Stu returned with him as a new addition to our team of losers. “Guys, this is Michael.” Nobody questioned the add.
At this point, let me share that one of the things that makes us all most warmed in the heart are those rare stories of someone stepping out of their element, off their podium and out of their comfortable stature to notice one lesser. Jesus speaking to the Samaritan, the celebrity fixating on the most unlikely of fans in the crowd, the captain of the football team eating lunch with the nerd, the beautiful seeking company of the ugly.
What it feels like to be embraced by the smile of one you least expect. What it feels like to be welcomed in smallness at the table of greatness. What it feels like to be considered equal among those clearly superior in so many unimaginable ways.
It was in that bar that very evening when I saw love and humility at work in tandem. And it was that unlikely night when I absorbed the virtues of a stranger which to this day, defines who I am.
I haven’t seen Stu for many years now, but the guy in the kilt taught me more than how to be socially savvy. He taught me that inviting people into one’s life requires a warmth of spirit, remarkable humility and maybe a couple shots of tequila.
Come in from the cold and warm up to people. ‘Tis the season to be jolly, to make new friends, and to be an inspiring example.

every season ’tis the season

A three time cancer survivor at 78 with no remaining family, she fears the odds won’t be in her favor this trip.
Lab work was completed two weeks ago and she’s so afraid, she’s gone without renewing her prescriptions for the fleeting good feeling of having saved $38.
She says it’s actually not so much the news but of not having someone there with her when she gets it. Just for an hour to help her through it and get her home safely afterward back to an empty apartment to ponder her options.
This.is.loneliness and a true story with dozens more just like it all over town today.
Especially this season, be a new friend to an old one if you can spare the time because someday you may be there yourself.
I know sad stories aren’t popular this time of year, but then sad stories aren’t popular any time of year. And because friendship always is, we got in the car.

you better watch out

Walking into my apartment building late last evening in full Santa costume tired after a gig, I turned the corner and ran into a startled mother and her dumbfounded but precocious 5 year old whose only words were “Hey, aren’t you early?”

Quick thinking in my Santa voice, I said “I came to get your Christmas list sweetheart, but since you’re awake, maybe we should talk.”
After 15 minutes on the stairs outside my apartment with Amanda on my lap taking her order, she and her mom left.
I walked upstairs to the front door of their third floor apartment and sprinkled snow around my Santa boots on the welcome mat leaving her a more than convincing reminder for when they return home.
That night, I retired my boots for good but still miss moments like these from my years as a professional Santa.

untapped

I never used to be like this, but would wake up anxious, ruled by ‘what ifs’ of the day ahead and what I might do to defend against consequences of the yet unknown. It’s a miracle how things have changed.
For many years since I first realized I’m not in charge, my first waking thoughts are now much less ‘what if?’ and much more ‘maybe today!’ and a hopeful difference in my morning outlook.
I’m not sure exactly when I pivoted from viewing time and unfolding experience as my enemy instead of my comrade and frankly, I don’t wonder much about it anymore because the view is so much better looking down on a heavenly menu of possibilities versus getting up dodging the anxious unknown.
At some divine moment, anxiety turned its ugly head to reveal a friendlier counterpart, anticipation, and my mornings haven’t been the same since.
Looking expectantly to a day’s unexpected revelations sure beats blind strategizing against them as foreboding enemies.
There’s an untapped power in ‘maybe today’ thinking and a good morning is what you make of it. So try plugging into the power of expectancy and today might just be yours for the taking.