Finding Christmas.

December 20, 2015 § 17 Comments

Walmart, 12/19/15

Weary shoppers leaned on the handles of their carts.

Searching for Christmas at a bargain price they filled their buggies with plastic and polyester but it was easy to see they knew what they had and that it wasn’t Christmas.

Christmas, the genuine article, is one part made-by-hand, and two parts memory.

Mildred's Pound CakeThis is Christmas: my family’s traditional holiday cake known simply as “Mildred’s.”

Mildred was a long-ago neighbor of my grandparents in Congers, New York.

I suspect the recipe came off a can of Crisco sometime in the thirties or forties, but to us the cake is hers, the recipe an unwavering part of our family’s Christmas celebrations.

I baked and shipped a couple of “Mildred’s” this week, late as always in the get-ready-for Christmas department and therefore paying, as always, an outrageous amount to ship Crisco, eggs, and flour.

And so it is Christmas—that pulse that runs through this time of year whether our celebration is religious or secular.

We are shoved and coerced and schooled on how to find Christmas by ads that encourage us to give diamonds and drones and the latest handheld devices.

For me finding Christmas is as simple as opening the annual can of Crisco and setting out eggs so they can come up to room temperature.

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The season of giving.

December 5, 2015 § 2 Comments

IMG_0217Tis the season to shop, wrap, and add a bow; tis the season of joyous giving.

But in ways large and small we give all year long and not always because we are celebrating.

Sometimes giving is an act of compassion.

If we are lucky, giving is easy. We write a check. We hand it to someone who is trained—and paid—to exercise compassion on our behalf while we go on about our business never breaking stride.

But some giving involves the expenditure of time and a face-to-face encounter. The amount of time and the boundaries of the encounter are pre-defined, the experience orchestrated.

This is the Disney version of giving. We serve Thanksgiving dinner to the homeless at the shelter. The experience is safe and predictable—but we do see the faces of those we help. This act of giving leaves us with a memory that will perhaps call us to do more.

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