Monthly Archives: November 2015

Christmas can be murder

Dear Mom.
It’s Christmastime andI think I’m going crazy.
I’m getting ready to hang the kids’
stockings and it’s been murder
decorating the tree so tonight I’m gonna have to knock myself out
to finish up before I go to bed. I have a sharp knife
to trim the extra branches and a loaded gun
of hot glue for the ornaments. I’d like to end it all
by around 10pm before I go on a rampage
cleaning the kitchen. I’m sure you’re just as sick
of the holidays like me and will shoot me
a return email in the New Year!
Meanwhile, tonight I need to be committed
even if it kills me.
Merry Christmas!
Your son.

Joining ranks, giving thanks, and better things.

I  hit the jackpot.

Double nickels.

At 4:21pm this Thanksgiving day,  I officially join the ranks of a population I’ve served for the last two years at a job I love. It’s a cohort which has inspired more stories on my website than any other life experience to date. And I’ve had my share.

Butch (my dog and resolute Facebook icon) shares my birthday, entering his third year on four legs. Our “Thanksbirthday” celebration (I tried “Birthgiving,” but it sounds like a bloody placenta–which is kinda gross–though I understand there are some cultural traditions known for eating one now and then,  and if I don’t stop here,  I’m gonna barf a pumpkin pie) will be with family and friends…and festivities most will enjoy and appreciate this holiday.


Across town,  generous Thanksgiving  workers will be sweating the stuffing that matters.  St. Thomas More Catholic Community is carrying out their part of a huge mutual tradition we began together 20 years ago delivering meals to 800 senior citizens who have neither family, food nor invitations elsewhere. Casa de Luz is feeding 600 families, ministering deep within the district of the desolate Naked City.  Indeed, across America, prompted by the abundances in their ovens and on their tables, kitchen cooks will find themselves inspired to extend spontaneous invitations to strangers and almost forgotten others, and will send them off with leftovers and homespun experiences most never had and many never will again.

Every breath I take is a moment growing older. I hyperventilated once in February and lost count but I still calculate 55 years breathing and I am more alive today than ever before. This past year, some have lost that gift and the many who remain will spend some part of the day and much of the ensuing season lost in fond memories and teardrops that will decorate their brittle little Christmas trees.  Older now, I find life is a lot less a celebration of another year or another holiday than the simple thankfulness that I’m still very much alive to write this short story for your Thanksgiving day.

Writing stories for people is my passion. Today, this one marks the 150th on my website. And as usual, I’ll be posting shorter ones on Facebook for followers to catch a laugh or two.  I will also be thinking about my dad and others who will enjoy breathless feasts in a faraway place somewhere at a table which will soon hold a place setting bearing my name, and indeed, will take my own breath away and not make me fat.

But while I’m alive, I write my stories and breathe life into those around me just as are those servants across town at this very moment.

Stories sparked by inspirations are gifts to those who need reminded that someone cares. The season for making memories is now in high gear.  For me, it’s not because it’s our birthday, my official entry into senior citizenship and the dreamy discounts at restaurants, nor is it because it’s Thanksgiving.  It’s because I’m not yet a corpse. And that’s pretty remarkable if you ask me considering the life I once lived.

So, as the parishioners of St. Thomas, the servants at Casa de Luz, and the many quiet summons from early morning cooks in country kitchens everywhere, I will extend an invitation to the uninvited, hoping to breathe life into someone and to write a truly unforgettable chapter in their lonely life.

Indeed, bigger things are happening in our world today. Much bigger than birthdays or birds on dinner tables. Yet in the midst of the daily news, the best  human kindness begins with an invitation and a pen to author generosity in the life of someone who really needs some. That’s how love works.

I tell my stories using words as tools to warm breathing hearts.

Yours can easily be with a place setting a hot meal.

Happy Thanksbirthday to my dog and me, and happy human kindness to all who still have breath and life and a hot meal to share with someone.


Tragedy begins at home.

Paris is burning, but Megan is on the bus home from her second job at 2am and hardly knows today’s world news. She’s thinking about what she can make for three school lunches that need to head out the door in a few hours, how she will pay her overdue rent and if she can get just three hour’s sleep before leaving to her other job.
Important things are happening in the world tonight.
I know John has been up most of the night not because he’s a night owl, but because he’s an 81 year old vet whose gas was shut off last week. He’s cold and can’t get a warm meal until next week sometime when his $700 check arrives to pay the bill, the rent and a ride to the food bank to pick up leftovers others have donated.
Important things are happening in the world tonight.
And here I sit in shiny black shoes and a borrowed suit at 430am at my office, because I know they’re awake and they are the important things and because I think I’ve crafted a plan that might help their tragedies.
Important things are happening in the world tonight.
I’m always in the office at this time of the morning. It’s quiet and I’m alone to think about these important things. I’m not generally wearing a suit and shiny shoes, but tonight I will be at an event with over 400 people who need to hear about what’s important.
I honestly don’t care about winning, but I do care about the possibilities it may bring to our little non-profit in old Henderson and how, if translated correctly, some important people tonight might pause and hear about people like Megan and John and 10,000 more like them. And maybe they’ll give a dollar to help.
Our agency was nominated for Outstanding Non-Profit of 2015 and the winner will be announced this evening over a gourmet dinner in a room full of suits at a luxury hotel. Win or lose, all nominees will win something for the people they serve every day. A voice.
People don’t like sad stories, but sad stories can move the right people to do the right things to help make fewer sad stories. I believe that’s important.
So I’ll sit there for a few hours, maybe win, likely not, but I’ll have the captive ears of a privileged few who need to know the important things that are happening in this world, right here at home.
And taking off this suit and uncomfortable shoes, I can sleep well tonight, knowing I went to bat for the tragedies which begin at home and end with charity.