Monday, December 23, 2013

Memories Of Santa ...

Christmastime, for me, brings many memories of  childhood Christmases.   It was celebrated in our  home in a cultural, rather than religious way, although I was always asked by neighborhood churches to play piano at their holiday programs.  At our house -- full of hustle and bustle -- there were family members from both my parents' families, who would come by to visit and bring me gifts.  My mother, always the gracious hostess, would manage to serve a bountiful dinner to any and all who showed up.  I remember my great-aunts; they were ladies on my father's side who were elegantly dressed and coiffed; they almost always brought me coloring books.  My great uncles were scarcer and, when they were in attendance, were on the quiet side. My "regular" aunts and uncles, though, were quite lively and interesting ... they were from my mother's side. One such uncle, I clearly recall, was the bad boy of the family and brought with him an air of scary excitement when he appeared at the door.  Sometimes I would hide when he visited.  

As I grew up and into my teens, my own friends and their families became most of my Christmas and holidays weren't celebrated much anymore in my own home, due to family problems.  Later, I was married and holidays revolved around children.  So the essence of my own, personal Christmastime nostalgia centers on the magical years during which I was from about age seven through nine.  And the "event" that stands out in my memory and makes me smile was brought about by my father.

Daddy, though very personable and well-liked, was not a warm and fuzzy person; my relationship with him was one I'd describe as an aloof friendship; he would occasionally buy me a treat or spend a few minutes talking with me.  So I was greatly surprised and touched by the playfulness of his Christmas spirit, which appeared two Christmases in a row back then.  

Lying in my bed on Christmas Eve, I wanted to believe Santa Claus was coming, even though the logistics didn't make sense to me.  My mother would tell me to go to bed because she thought she had heard Santa's bells and she didn't want him to skip our house.  I would lie there with my own version of sugar plums dancing in my head :)  And this I was doing.  I had heard my parents' voices talking in muted tones in the kitchen.  All at once, I heard the sound of bells jingling outside.  They sounded very clear and sharp in the cold New England night air, especially as there was snow on the ground.  I listened --  the bells paused -- and then began jingling again, this time under my window and then moving toward our backyard.  How exciting! Could it be Santa?  But I resisted the urge to sit up in my bed, let alone look out the window.  I didn't want to break the spell!  I realized in those moments, that my serious, aloof father was playing Santa because his own inner child wanted to bring me Christmas delight :)  I was thrilled and so happy.  He repeated the performance the following year, running (my father was athletic) across our land jingling the bells  :)         

Now, many years later, the family scene has completely changed, and with it Christmas.   Now it's mostly a quiet time.  My dog, in her twelfth year, prances in her red sweater.  I dress Fiona, my ficus tree, in colored lights. We play some holiday music.  I make a quiche that has become traditional for me over the last 20 or more years.  I enjoy exchanging holiday greetings with friends and strangers.  But in the distant past lies that spark ... my memories of Santa, that warms the magic of Christmas Eve for me.    

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Yips And Howls ...

... well, I AM the Lady Wolf, so yips and howls prevail sometimes :)

First The Yips --  I'm getting ready to record two new songs.  Song inspirations, whether originals or covers, almost always come to me in twos and usually are very contrasting from each other in terms of mood, tempo, concept, genre.  I'll be practicing my arrangements of them again tonight before bedtime as that familiar excitement mounts!   

A Yip That Is A Tip -- Today I found a wonderful place to shop for Christmas items and gifts and trees.  It is the KARM (Knox Area Rescue Ministries) Christmas Store on Downtown West in west Knoxville.  The array of items is wonderful and so much fun to explore.  Perhaps best of all, the proceeds go toward the meals that KARM provides for the homeless and hungry here in Knoxville.  If you want a great holiday tree or gift or novelty item at an unbelievably low price, you will love the KARM Christmas Store.  Also, it is spacious and not crowded.  

Holiday Spirit --  We're about to enter the official week before Christmas. This year I've been so involved in my residential move -- getting this place ready  (lots of repairs and updates were needed) and closing and saying goodbye to my former residence (my favorite charming window where I liked to sit, my shrubs and trees that could not be moved, the Loft where I wrote many a spirited blog post) -- that I didn't know if I'd have any holiday spark. But I do ... and am pleased about that.  Gearing myself up for it.  I plan to make my traditional holiday quiche and some other goodies.  

Greater Good -- This organization's website is another awesome place to shop, especially if you like to shop on the Internet. Gifts of every kind are offered by groups served under the umbrella of The Greater Good, such as the Rainforest site, the Animal Rescue site, and others. I ordered and promptly received a wonderful bracelet for myself that is engraved with the words "Bless This Woman".  This classy bracelet helps me remember that I'm a woman even when I'm hoisting heavy boxes and moving furniture.  I like being a woman; in fact, sometimes I love it :) So I wear my bracelet proudly!  Their website is at  The other organizations I've just mentioned are at and Visiting these sites daily and clicking on their buttons saves acreage in the rainforest and provides food for shelter animals, respectively.

And Now, A Howl Of Sadness -- The Federal government has voted to permanently remove all gray wolves from protection, meaning these beautiful animals are now being murdered by the hundreds, by all kinds of unsavory methods.  This is our government bowing to the special interest groups -- namely, people who like to shoot at live targets and cattle ranchers who have an unrelenting hatred for all wolves (cattle ranchers have always had the legal right to shoot any wolf who was thought to pose a danger to cattle).  Wolves have just found their way back from the brink of extinction and now are being destroyed again.  As of last evening, the Feds were collecting public comments regarding also removing the red wolf from protection.  I sent in my comment, which boiled down to "For God's sake, don't kill the wolves!"  Actually I said more than that, but I did include that phrase.  Please, if you care about the wild, intelligent, mystical, beautiful wolf, check out the website of the hard-working group, Howling For Wolves at, located in Minnesota.

The Night Sky --  It has been so beautiful this week, especially with yesterday's full moon and nearby Jupiter, whose moons can be seen swirling around the planet, even with my little binoculars!

Wishing To All The Very Best --  For this holiday season and the new year.  Let's sing, dance, have joy, meditate, mindfully help those less fortunate -- and pray for peace, compassion, and good will.