Charley Brown Christmas

One year right after my parents split- my dad had quickly become a hot shot sports car driving jitterbugging bar fly cool guy single dad, who was also filing for bankruptcy and living in an empty house in a snazzy neighborhood, so he had a gold nugget ring and chain around his neck, but no money for Xmas. My mom was an angry divorcee bent on proving how desirable she was by staying at the hotel lounge after work, shooting flaming dr peppers, dancing on tables, and sleeping with staff members- all while being a late eighties 9 to 5 tough bitch in the workplace to prove her inherent and unrecognized worth as maker of our former happy home (or at least the illusion of it)... 

Anyway, I digress- the four of us- me, my one yr older gay brother, and our two younger siblings (8&5) were basically left to fend for ourselves. Left sleeping at home alone without notice (and before cellphones) to wake up in a dark empty house to my brother screaming and running down the stairs, around the green pool, or to the neighbors cool guy high school party while in the midst of a night terror and wearing only underwear. I was around 11-12, my older brother 12-13- possibly a year older... 

Again I digress- we were sitting around that empty house one weekend,

The four of us, looking like flowers in the attic, unkempt homeless kids in ill fitting and faded clothes, feeling kind of sad and sorry for ourselves (without saying as much) but all of us with the distinct recollection of the holidays of our previous existence- cookies baking, candy making, those same cozy dishes every year, blueberry cheesecake, chicken casserole, ham with pineapples and cherries- hand dipping Martha Washingtons and peanut butter balls in melted chocolate and wax, listening to John Denver and the muppets sing Christmas songs on the eight track player while decorating the tree with all our school ornaments and silver icicles over multi colored twinkle lights. The Mr and Mrs Santa statues on each end of the mantel, with four little red stockings hung in a row around the chiming mantel clock... We usually had hand sewn matching outfits to wear to church for Xmas Sunday (Mormon church- where my uncles were bishops and church board members) and there was never a need to question that anything your parents and grandparents said was true, and right, and good... 

And then- fast forward a few years- my simple plain country girl veggie growing gingham shirt and denim shorts wearing mama, has cut her waist length straight hair into an atrocious 80s permed poof, taken to aerobics and tight lee jeans and too much blue eye shadow, started wearing jewelry and flashy clothes, got a job, lots of boyfriends, some who she let smoke pipes inside our house, in the orange recliner that belonged to our dad before he moved in to the river camp with his brother... 

We were still not allowed to question anything, only now there was no comfort in that. Only mistrust, insecurity, and disgust... 

So, alone one afternoon, in a nearly empty room, with black carpet all around, adjoining the black and white checkered tile kitchen floor, and a non-functioning mod white metal fireplace- we decided to make our own Christmas. My brother marched his ass outside and chopped a big branch off of one of the magnolia trees in the yard, and we made up some form of decorations, and we felt strong. We had always been so taken care of, that we never had a need to be strong or resourceful- and while that Christmas was one of the saddest, loneliest, most challenging that I can recall- it was a turning point. It was the end of our childhood as we had known it, the end of our innocence, or naivety, our complete blindness to the humanness of authority figures, and complete reliance on others to take care of us. It was the end of trust. But it was also the beginning. Of digging down and finding inner strength, of making blessing for ourselves, of being rocks for each other, and learning to trust ourselves. And we were truly blessed. 



Sometimes you just get tired of making nice for everyone. 

Sometimes you get quiet, and that makes some people uncomfortable. 

Sometimes you speak up, and that also makes some people uncomfortable. 

Sometimes you spend so much time being 'nice' that other people forget that perhaps you have feelings as well. 

Sometimes you can give so much of yourself away, that there is nothing left of you. 

And when you are no longer there to give, those people often disappear or move on to something, or someone, else. 

Sometimes you may lose people in your life because you make them uncomfortable. 

Sometimes you think if you accept people where they are and forgive their shit, that you will be treated in kind. 

Sometimes this is true. 
Sometimes it's not. 

Sometimes you can turn yourself inside out to be everything to everyone else, and then feel shocked that no one seems to care or notice. 

Sometimes you can have a dark night of the soul, and really have to go it alone, as uncomfortable as that truth might be. 

Sometimes you can feel judged by the 'happy people', and sometimes you wonder if they realize you also judge them, as careless and selfish.

Sometimes people don't care about your shit, because they are so wrapped up in their own. 

And sometimes, ALL of that is just fine. 

Because sometimes, it just has to be about you for a while. 

And often, when people have gotten used to having you there for their every need, they will get angry when you stop. 

But usually, they will casually dismiss you as crazy or troubled, rather than take a look at their own unjust or unkind behaviors, and just move along to the next person or distraction. 

Because some people are just takers. 

And some people have no interest in growth, spirit, or fairness. 
Which sounds pessimistic, but it's not. 
It's realistic. 

Many people are unkind. Selfish. Inconsiderate. Careless. And superficial. 

And that's ok. 

Because any of us, can only take care of our selves. And the kind of people that we choose to be. 

And sometimes, the best way to do that, is to stop caring so much for others. 

And sometimes that's ok. 


Good things.

Here's something- 

You can be so involved in a good thing that it becomes a bad thing. 

You can be so close to a situation that you can no longer see it clearly. 

You can be so stuck in what you thought things were, or should be, that you don't realize what they really actually are. 

So... hmmm...

Where does that leave us?

Wiser, maybe? 

Yes, I think so. 

Chalk up another one to 'life lessons' I guess...

Take the time to stop and smell the roses. 

See the forest for the trees, and whatnot. 

Step back and take a moment to enjoy the view. 

Savor life. Drink it in. 


Cliche? Yes. Certainly is. 

But cliches are born of truths. 

Very simple, basic truths. 

And very simple, is often, very true. 

Radical acceptance of what truly is, without wishing, wanting, or needing, to bend, shape, mold, perfect, or change it, is a very good thing. 

Sounds like I've watched too much Martha Stewart today. But really...

keep it simple sweetie. ;) 

Now, i'm going to eat chocolate chip cookies with my girls, and watch Martha Stewart whip up a perfect coq au vin- without even wishing I could do it! 



Here's something I've been chewing on for a while...

I've been really unhappy. (Shocking, I know- given my chipper and upbeat attitude of late, my general positive outlook on life, and my overall love of people in general) *ha

I'm actually amazed, given my recent personal reflection, that I still have any friends or family willing to speak to me at all. 

I mean, I don't even like me any more. I'm negative and uptight, and cranky, moody, bitchy, impatient, defensive, suspicious, accusing, and I'm sure lots of other not pleasant things too...

On one hand, I want to give myself a break, and realize just how hard it is to be sick, and getting sicker, over a long period of time. To lose hope, and become a cynical asshole who loses the ability to find joy in anything any more, or feel truly in the moment without fear or worry. 

To even begin to believe that nobody truly cares what happens to me, and at times to think perhaps everyone's lives would be better if i would just get on with it and drop dead already. 

I'm sorry, I know that's uncomfortable. But, it is what it is. And it is how I've felt. At least at times. 

I've rolled out of bed, and pulled up my bootstraps, and put on my game face, more times than I can count in the last year or so. I've repeatedly ignored my body, my heart, and my soul, in the cries for rest, recovery, and release. 

I've just continued to do what had to be done, putting one foot in front of the other, and getting from one side of the day to the other, and crashing again feeling drained, depleted, and like life has become utter drudgery. 

This... Is not living. 

But, we do what we do. We do what we can. And we do what we have to. To get through. To keep going. To move past. We just do. 

Until... We don't. Until we can't. 

And I can't. I can't keep doing... This. 

This... Is not living. 

I give everything I have, and much of what I don't, to what I think are the right things to do. 

For my kids, their education, their social lives, their entertainment and enrichment. 

For my husband, his business, his needs, our relationship. 

For my home, decorating, cleaning, planning, organizing. 

For our health, our meals, researching, preparing, learning, trying new diets. 

So much goes into a family. 

So much of it comes from the mother. 

I once wrote a post about what a mother was not... 

Here is what I've come to learn about what a mother is: 

A mother is the glue. 

She is the sticky goop that holds everything else together. 

Perhaps in neat and orderly rows that line up in perfect military fashion. Perhaps in the most wild and crazy haphazardly type mess you could imagine. Like marshmallow fluff melted and being mixed into cereal bars.

A mother is the root. 

She is the place from which the heart of a family grows. She is the source of the bringing forth of vital nutrients and life giving vitality, from the earth, from underground, from below the surface of what is visible to the usual point of view. She digs in and finds energy from some place deeper, dark, unseen. 

A mother is the voice. 

She is that quiet voice that says, everything is going to be ok. She is the nagging voice that reprimands you when you really know better. 

A mother is many things in relation to what she means to her family. More than I have the time or focus to reflect on here. 

But aside from all of this, the one thing I have been forced to recognize recently, despite thinking I already knew this, despite having heard it come from my own mouth on a multitude of occasions... 

A mother, is a person. 

She is a human being. 

I feel the need to say that again.

She is a human. Being. 

I have lost touch with my own humanity. In this silent march of strength and duty, to keep on doing what I am supposed to be doing- I forgot about the being. 

I forgot how to just be... human. 

Flawed, imperfect, ridiculous, and all the rest. Only I'm still all of those things. I'm so much more flawed by my constant pursuit of perfection. I'm so much more imperfect in my quest to meet some imaginary self imposed standards, for what? For me, for everyone else around me. My complete rejection of all that is as not enough- well that is truly ridiculous, at it's highest. 

I don't have a neat little bow to wrap up this post. I haven't worked my way to the end of it yet, and I don't really think I need to. I don't need an answer, a solution, a finish... 

Life is not like that. 

It's messy, it's confusing, and it's ongoing... 

And that's okay. 


Roots... and wings... run deep.

My maternal grandmother... Vernie Almedea Mercy Kinchen Hughes- brave, strong, independent, adventurous, willful, progressive. Proud member of the WACs Women's air traffic controllers in World War II, proudly served and traveled all over the US, fan of the theatre, the Dodgers, the Rockettes, and Macy's Thanksgiving day parade, all fondnesses from her time in New York, postcard collector,  play bill and ticket stub saver, New Years Eve Manhattan party goer, free-spirited and engaged to at least 2-3 men before meeting 'the one' -my grandfather, who upon seeing walk into the diner told her co-workers, 'I'm gonna marry that sergeant' despite being engaged to someone else at the time. So a dear john letter, five kids, 18 grand kids, and many years later, here I am- recognizing the roots of my wild and willful ways, seeing the source of this mysterious gypsy blood of mine- having only really ever known her as Maw-Maw Vernie- moo-moo wearing, church going, child raising, god loving, family building, pancake flipping, popcorn ball making, chicken calling, stray cat feeding, kind and patient, big and squishy grandma... Widowed 40+yrs, never having even entertained the thought of seeing another man- bc she had a husband, and was always married to him, and him alone.  

This explains so much- the source of my roots, as well as my wings.