A Nostalgic Christmas Fairy Tale

We met in a college football atmosphere,

eyes locked immediate intrigue,

the sort you might not remind anyone

for it is meant to be a

quiet recall,

a soft memory

when everyone else went home.

 

There’s no one left to remember,

except perhaps

her,

the snowball fight,

the falling flakes

as big as night

Hennepin avenue forever,

we would run into each other’s arms

this sort of love

thing neither understood,

nor would either try to

recall another season.

 

We were playing soul-mates

while cars drove by,

people glanced and imagined

two people in love

playing in the snow,

a winter’s night,

a quiet recall,

I remember being with you,

so now the memory is left me blue.

 

I would say Happy Xmas around now

for we’ll never recall just when and how.

A Christmas Message

We are approaching that ultimate day of family and love and Grace, with all of its beauty, delight, misconception and forgiveness, and I am reminded of where my values first evolved. Going through some papers in my den I came across a picture of my grandmother, we called her ‘Granny’ and I was immediately flooded with the wonder of memory. In looking in her eyes in the picture, I could see the woman that helped shape me and our wonderful extended Irish family into the people we are today. Along with my father’s Nordic influence, we have embraced lives of love and respect that I am proud to celebrate on this Christmas morning.

However, there are always reminders, always moments, forever tellings in our lives that give us pause and naturally ask us each to never forget that the evaluation of our beings is a constant process in our lives.

There are days when I still don’t know who I am. It is Christmas Eve, and I am reeling over a conversation that took place with my family yesterday evening. I know I’m confused, but I am not sure if it is because I am still, at 58 years old, reminded I am the youngest in the family, and I still allow my feelings to interfere with a quiet composure, or am I justifiably irritated by a sense of seeming entitled ignorance. Let me be clear, I love my family and all each member represents in my life; though, inevitably there are times when I need to feel allowed to recognize there are just certain behaviors I feel compelled to not tolerate. This coming from a man whose made far too many mistakes in my own life to throw stones.

I lived a sheltered life, growing up white in a small town in central Wisconsin. I was not exposed to racism beyond what I read in a newspaper, or saw on television. I grew up laughing at ‘The Good Times’ and J.J.’s ‘Dyn-O-Mite’ and ‘The Jeffersons’ making it to the East Side of Manhattan, and laughing at their uncanny ability to muse at themselves. Meanwhile Archie and ‘The Bunkers’ were slaying the dragons of good taste a few floors below in the heart of Queens.

In my life, there were incidents I read about that horrified me, but they didn’t touch me. When Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot, I was listening to the report on a radio in my grandparent’s sunroom, a place where at the time for some reason my grandfather was not sitting in his chair, smoking a pipe, while looking over the harbor of Lake Superior, quietly wondering what his life had measured. He was always reading the paper, always had an opinion, but in the eyes of a 9 year old, he smiled and gave me a pat on the head, for he knew my world was built around waiting when he would take me down to the canal to watch the ore ships steam in. He wasn’t there to see the confusion in my eyes, or my wondered expression when the report indicated that MLK, Jr. had just been gunned down on the balcony of a Memphis motel room.

The time was now around 8 PM, Thursday, April 4th, 1968, and the world as we knew it, continued to turn itself upside down. Racism was suddenly apparent and people were reacting in an explosion of ‘civil disobedience’ across the country. My grandfather has a beautiful smile, and I can visualize it as I write these words, but that smile would turn to a sudden grimace as he would have no words. I ran into the kitchen where my mother was chatting with ‘Granny’ her mother, my grandmother, the woman I would dedicate this writing to and I told them the report.

They went quiet, and quickly turned on the television, which at that time would need to warm up, allowing the riots to already begin before we saw the original pictures of mayhem, starting in the streets of Memphis and escalating in several major cities for the next three or four days. I remember watching storefronts obliterated with bricks and being fascinated, if not a little terrified. The press would later call it the Holy Week Rising, and this horrific weekend would be another in a string of race riots that would mark a cornerstone in the historic bearing of the civil right’s movement and racism in the 1960’s.

I was nine years old, and my greatest concern again was fixing the loop to loop on my matchbox car set so I could run my track around Grandpa’s chair. I looked out the window of the sunroom and saw the Duluth Harbor and the aerial-bridge and all seemed well. I still was too young to realize a world outside our warm and comforting home contained an ugliness it would take me years to understand, a world I still try to define as my involvement in it becomes far more prevalent than that of a young boy playing with toys in his grandparents home, celebrating Easter surrounded by family.

I listened to the conversations turn political that were honestly white noise(sic) in the forefront of my mind, but I knew something important was happening. I could tell by the expressions the faces of all the adults held. I knew the table conversations the remainder of the weekend would be far different than originally planned. We would talk about a nation in turmoil the next few days. We would talk about a man revered by my mother and her mother for his peaceful intent, for his ‘dream.’

It was 1968 and while ‘Granny’ as we know her continued preparation for a probable ham dinner in the coming days, I began to be cognizant of a world outside my own that demanded attention beyond a simple television article. There was clearly nothing simple about the change our country would endure as my thinking would shift from childhood toward adolescence. A civil right’s leader had been gunned down and a people of hope and faith were suddenly halted in their tracks. The death of MLK, Jr. changed my world as I knew it.

I recall suddenly being directed there were certain terms we could no longer use as freely as we once had. The word Negro had transitioned to Black to today’s African-American and its many variation – still today, the term mulatto has now become bi-racial – but the most disturbing and vitriolic being ‘nigger’ a term used quite viciously in my childhood. It was a word we didn’t hear at our family dinners. Granny insisted we recognize tact and decorum in her home. This value was taught to me at a very early age, and I am forever grateful.

I recall years later a specific incident when arriving home as a young adult I had come across a book of jokes, that contained disparaging and racist commentary. I remember at the time feeling clueless of the nature of their impact. I walked into my very white family home and tossed a couple of them around, and was immediately shunned by my loved ones for producing something our world could no longer tolerate. I was mystified and hurt and confused, but more importantly immediately reminded where I came from. The shame and guilt I felt in that moment were overbearing. I took it to heart, and from that day on, recalled again those early values instilled by my grandparents, and as I envisioned a family dinner with Granny presenting as the matriarch of our simple existence, made a pact with myself that I would never ever again partake in such discrediting misinformation of a person of color or culture different than my own.

That moment in 1982 helped shape me into the person I am today. Certainly there have been many experiences in my life that have been integral, but moments like those, when my family reminded themselves and me that we can be beautiful people together in a world where everyone deserves that same element of Grace, I began a journey of sensitivity toward my fellow human beings that I hang onto with every fiber of my being.

So today again, I am reminded of who I am. For a moment I can take solace in the knowledge that our world is one of good, where love and compassion do exist and we live in a society where acceptance and sensitivity to another person’s needs are real. We live in a world where humor and a good joke are real, yet there is also a boundary of recognition that is an earmark of respect that is one of the most important values in our lives.

Today, while I recognize Christmas in the world around us all, I am reminded of my grandmother, ‘Granny’ for the love I know she would wish we all share together in the arms and energy of our family and friends. I am reminded there is truth in the realization that our world is a constant learning curve and we must all recognize the individual merits we bring to whom we are today, together and in the future. The education of our lives as human beings living in a world of constant change is certainly eternal in its mystique.

Love your family, your friends, the man or woman or child or vagrant or executive or definition of difference on the street, your neighbors, the person that cuts you off on the road today while you last minute shop. Love the world around you. Love yourselves.

Thank you ‘Granny’

Have a Happy Christmas everyone.

Sweet Morning Peace

Oh I do wish the world might offer solace

When it is we are all wandering an alone,

A wonder is to recognize any one pace

Could, would offer a shoulder to unknown

 

Soul who cries in the midst of happiness,

For it is the season to seek absolute joy,

Because we were told, and now deploy

Our finest avenues of energy to impress.

 

Yet how might the onlooker really feel

If in the end their yearning find sorrow,

If only in a moment their truth borrow

The Grace in everyone’s eyes they appeal.

 

For when the world begins to understand

Is the time that hardship wears no land.

On Buying, Sharing, Wondering Love

Oh it is the season now,

and our lives,

torn up, shredded, a certain fodder in the air,

for Man might feel abused,

when in reality,

he ought felt this way,

decades ago,

a century perhaps,

so those followers

could stand a chance.

 

There’s no condemnation

could be strong enough to withstand

the scrutiny of the individual mind.

Oh to recognize the theoretical expanse

of the human condition

taken for chance.

 

If when a cry could send the body reeling,

a ledge perhaps, a modern day semi,

a conductor noticing in a sudden glance,

that life as easily as born,

would become just

an imaginative notion we enhance.

Oh then might the world better understand,

the turmoil in losing our concept on love,

is far greater than the answers we seek,

without the cherished ideal of support of understanding

of forgiveness when fear is our only safeguard.

 

For it is the toys of our world,

we focus upon today,

the frivolous in nature,

the common good toward overcoming the would

of this season

when buying her love is far greater

than actually knowing her sweet elegance.

 

There is lost in the masses of the local bistro,

the purpose in mind,

cell phones inclined,

to keep searching, keep your eyes open,

keep your conscience …

wanting,

we are all in lock-step,

trying to own the sensitive lift,

a spiritual sojourn,

the perfect gift.

The Sitting Hours

I always looked forward to the late hours,

the night flying by with dialogue and absurdities,

everything we could say we believed, and more importantly,

we loved,

We did delight in knowing we could look in each other’s eyes,

well into the twilight,

all of us, whoever might have chosen the time,

or simply allowed ourselves to be drawn in,

that was the key,

we knew always we wanted to be there.

 

These are the holidays we would request

each other’s company,

my sister, brothers, and mom,

our sister’s, children and the occasion of relatives …

so current on everything we knew.

to be important in everyone’s lives.

With dad in the background, an occasional chuckle,

he’d pass out the a beverage with endearing blue eyes,

we all heard his screams inside,

the delight of our lives, he is a beautiful man.

 

We were, are, can be the beautiful people,

the family that smiles, tells jokes, lives lives with uncanny candor.

These are the nights when time would value,

only the shared nostalgia of wanting the laughs

in the history of our lives.

These are the holidays when love does always,

compete well with the nature of our own,

sweet recall, when the essence of everything we believed,

in the realm of the human condition,

could suddenly find the energy

to contribute the next line,

so the stories never found a way to end …

Same Songs Remind Me

Happy Xmas – John Lennon / Yoko Ono

I listen every day,

while the hours seem to fly,

I wonder if ever I might understand

the actual rhythm or the notion,

that temperate fire of our lives.

We seem to need

sometime a gentle reminder,

what it is, why we are, who we may,

we want always to have an eventual

quiet or loud,

boisterous or mild

coming of age,

an epiphany, delightful in retrospect,

idyllic in the coming days …

We do really wish peace,

we want love,

those tears we feel are the reason,

we choose to walk forward,

again, again, again,

we will always hold onto that hope,

it is love, only that, simple,

please!

Peace!

When love becomes our answer to today – A Sonnet for Christmas

Christmas

When love becomes our answer to our day,

our dreams, our passions, are every way

responsible. We seek new travels when

just ahead,

family makes some sort of sense again.

Each day we walk across same horizons

acting out our world through inspiration.

We live to dream to overcome our fears.

to be led

along safe departures strong with new tears

Please look aside in front and all around

A spiritual reality is found

We are the energy of our sweet lives

break some bread,

cherishing love when anyone arrives.

So now tonight take hands in quiet peace

share love, draw happiness, allow release!