Christmas has chewed up more than a week of my life, and I don't mean that in an entirely bad way. Heaven knows I loved cutting the Christmas tree with Eli and Sami; decorating it with ornaments from three generations of my mother's family; weeping at true life stories of redemption and kindnesses; singing Silent Night in a ring of friends holding candles circling a small darkened sanctuary in a church on the east bank of the Sheepscot River; sumptuous, slightly tipsy meals with dear friends; the sensation of sheer cool pouring off my seven year-old as he struts his new black cowboy boots; twinkly lights; visiting a re-urbaned friend in her new city digs; downhill skiing in less than perfect conditions and living to tell the tale; time to stare at the startlingly starry sky last night after tucking my horse in. No, these are not exactly akin to delivering frankincense and myrrh to the Christ child, but these longest, darkest nights afford some introspection for even the most distracted.
How I wish I could say that I have arrived at cogent, universal conclusions. Hardly. Just more reminders of my failings as a human being.
For years I have been neglecting my horse and my friends. After five years, I am still shaking off the isolation of life with my then-husband. So ingrained is this dark, bitter, hard seed that I almost fell into a similar pattern recently with my unwitting beau, Mike.
To my ex-husband, the only social situation worth a damn consisted exclusively of blood relatives. He had 50 within a few miles and some 152 who might drop by at anytime. Since I only have two blood relatives east of the Mississippi and only one in Maine, this considerably shrank my own previously broad and deep society.
Those of us with small families are the outliers at Christmas. It is especially poignant for me and Eli since, partly because of Maine Family Court and partly because of my own wish not to compete with his dad's tribe, I have not awakened on Christmas morning with my son since 2002. I am blessed every holiday, however, with my friend Becca and her crazily extended family. Their acceptance and love has sustained me through some truly dark times.
As I understand it, if Christ said anything, it is that we are all one in love and fellowship, regardless of tribe. As a card-carrying extrovert, this has been reinforced for me over and over. My friends have meant everything to me, especially since my mother died. And the friends who knew and loved my mother, many of whom I see at an annual Christmas party in Wiscasset, hold a special place in my heart.
I will never forget their stalwart support when my ex-husband's family tried to prove that I was unfit to care for my son. In a Rockland courtroom, eight of them stood up to a local criminal defense lawyer famous for crushing witnesses. Sadly, the judge was swayed enough by the pathetic, incompetent, first-timer Guardian ad Litem, Rosemary Fowles who in turn had been swayed by the first GAL, Felicity Myers, who only left the case because a magistrate was about to remove her for bias against me. The judgment left me partly in the same situation I was attempting to escape. That is a story for another day. Suffice to say the false charges my son's father and his family levied were so heinous I certainly would have lost more than I did without the support of those brave enough to tell the truth on the stand.
It would do me well to remember this in every season, not just this one.
A long time high school English teacher, now mostly writing, I wish I could say I love my new vocation.
I don't. Though I have loved a steady news reporting gig, I've apparently outlived that work and haven't quite made the leap to monetizing by page views.
It's as if I hit my stride as a horse and carriage driver about the time Ford popularized the Model-T. My particular skill with a buggy whip seems a little redundant, at least in Maine where excellent writers are thick on the ground.
For now, I produce feature copy for a highbrow glossy real estate shopper called OpenFences, and am picking away at My Mother's Recipe Box, a project/paper meant to get me to the last stage of a ridiculously protracted master's degree in American and New England Studies.
However, I do love to travel. I've been to four of the six continents, every state in the Union but Alaska, and five Canadian provinces. With some luck, maybe I'll find a way to wrangle some writing assignments out of my devotion to the road.
On this blog, sometimes I write about high quality education, food, safe homes and workplaces, and reliable health care for all. Other times I don't.