Christmas Can Wait

November 20, 2018

My favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. For good reason, I think. It’s a time when we get together with family and friends, enjoy each other’s company, share a warm meal, and appreciate the good things in our lives. And, despite all the negatives that may consume us on many days, we actually don’t have to look very hard to find some –or a great deal of — good.

Thanksgiving includes all religions, or lack there of. It requires no gifts. It involves no loud, bright explosions (going on way later than anyone in the neighborhood actually wants). There are no costumes. There are no fancy decorations. It doesn’t celebrate a person, a group, or a belief. It even always falls on a Thursday, making short weeks and long weekends a reality for many. It’s pretty damn perfect, in my book — even when my family has to host.

Yet, despite its simplistic perfection, Thanksgiving may be the most overlooked holiday. As soon as Halloween ends, Christmas decorations start going up everywhere. People become consumed by the idea of Christmas. So much so that many folks even skip out on Thanksgiving in order to go buy gifts that few of us really need. Hey, I get it! I love Christmas, too. But it has its time and place. It shouldn’t upstage a day that focuses on gratitude — something we seem to be sorely lacking.

This Thanksgiving I will look around the table at my growing kids and aging family. I’ll recall fond memories, while pondering what the future may hold. I’ll eat well, enjoy some good beer, and might even throw a pigskin around. I’ll appreciate quality time with people I love, something we get less and less of as the years go by. I’ll be truly grateful — even for the people who have already moved on to Christmas.

Slow down and be thankful. Christmas can wait. Happy Thanksgiving.

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Dormant Fields

March 5, 2018

my young daughter laughs

as we race through dormant fields

spring is drawing near

Ceiling Tiles

December 13, 2017

crisp white ceiling tiles look down on me

each fitting perfectly in their square

you can have your high and mighty

i’m happy living down here

Late Autumn Hike

December 8, 2017

crunching leaves echo

through the bleak abandoned woods

i watch my breath rise

A Day’s Work

December 6, 2017

the cheerful wood thrush persistently pecks at the forest floor

pausing now and then to share a song

all in a day’s work

the frosty window

November 23, 2017

thankfulness

is sipping

warm coffee

as my loved ones

softly snore

upstairs

a single streak of sunlight

penetrates the frosty window

with more soon on the way

The Table

November 15, 2017

“This old table has got to go,” my wife declared today

Old, indeed

And, admittedly, not very attractive

Well, really not at all

A hand me down from my wife’s father when we were married long ago

It bows a little in the middle

And wobbles a little more

The leaves slowly push themselves apart

Aging lovers tiring of each other’s charm

I sit silently in my weary, matching chair

Looking hard

Looking deep

The maple has darkened over time

The protective shine has worn away in many places

Allowing exposed grain to suck life in

Dust

Dirt

Greasy fingerprints of childhood ghosts

Flecks of cheap paint used for rainy-day art projects

And tiny, crushed-in cake crumbs from birthdays long forgotten

This is where we were

When life seemed like it would last forever

Of course we’ve since learned it doesn’t

This wooden slab served best friends

Close family

Neighborhood children

But, most days, just us

That was probably our preference

We ate big country breakfasts

Strange casseroles that were barely touched

Great-grandma’s homemade spaghetti recipe

Hotdogs and beans when times were tough

Grilled steak on summer Sundays

And carry out pizza for Friday fun

God, Fridays were fun

Game night

We just played Risk, I swear

Eating meals around the board for three days straight

So cautious not to disturb our patient armies

My wife was pissed, until she ended up winning

This is where we did homework together

Wrote letters to far-away people

Assembled toys on Christmas morning

Paid bills, and bills, and bills

Pieced together jigsaw puzzles in the dead of winter

And made important family decisions

I drank coffee here every Saturday morning

While loved ones faintly snored upstairs

The feeling of true contentment

This is where my babies sat

Being fed with little spoons

As they grew we only cut their food

Made them eat their vegetables

And finish their milk

When it wasn’t spilt

No use crying, but we sometimes shed a tear

Still, laughter was heard daily

And even an occasional prayer

Looking back now I realize many prayers were answered

Right here in our favorite spot.

The kids still come by every now and then

Though not too often, these days

Missed sorely, but never forgotten

“Suppose you’re right,” I finally reply

Running my wrinkled hand across our kitchen table.