Monday, December 7, 2015

We all will be together, if the fates allow…

Annamaria on Monday

Considering recent events, not even Stan’s funny songs cheered me up for long.  When I ruminated over the topic I had in mind to write about this week, I couldn’t force myself into it.  I wanted to write something cynical and angry.   But truth to tell, I don’t have the body chemistry to sustain that point of view long enough to do so.

I procrastinated by putting the finishing touches on the Christmas tree.  I almost didn’t put up the tree this year.  But I am glad I did.  Handling the ornaments reminded me of what was important.

Regular visitors to this blog know that I am not religious.  But I am an Italian cultural traditionalist.  There is a beauty in the old family ways that grounds me.  My hands and my heart are trained to cook the foods, dress up the house, keep the hope of peace alive.

The decorations on my tree are a hodgepodge.   Some handmade things from forty, fifty years ago.  Some the primitive work of child hands.  Some produced by my little girl with her grandmother.

There are paeans to my city.

An artifact that attests to David’s sense of humor.

Extremely precious to me are souvenirs from or of places where I have traveled.   Wherever I’ve gone, I’ve bought things to hang on the Christmas tree.  Some were designed and manufactured for that purpose.  Others are items of local culture that were small and attractive enough to serve the purpose of beautifying our Christmas celebration.

I began today desperate for a lift to my spirits and balm to my soul.  I found it in those souvenirs.  In China, Bolivia, Morocco, Namibia, Italy, Jordan, England, wherever I have gone, I have seen ordinary people going about their lives.  Lovers holding hands.  Mothers with their babies.  Grandfathers, walking home from school, telling their wisdom their grandsons.   Men repairing the roads.   Hundreds of people who smiled at the foreigner with the map.  I have eaten the local food.  Heard the local music.  Admired the artifacts of many cultures.  All those people, wanting nothing more than to be left in peace to live their lives.

Whatever else goes on in the world, they persist.  They fall in love.  They work.  They make music and art.  And babies.

They give me hope.  And I love them for it.


  1. We, too, have a green pickle ornament. We hide it inside the tree, and then whoever finds it first gets a special prize.

    As for the murdering, hating bastards out there, f*ck 'em.

    One morning, years ago now, I was driving to work in my usual drive-to-work fog, thinking about who-knows-what, and there was a car in front of me poking along. I wasn't really thinking too much about them, and when we came to a straight stretch, I pulled out and started to gently accelerate to pass them. After a little bit, I realized I wasn't gaining on them, and about that time they started pulling ahead, as they were accelerating, too. So, I pulled back over behind them, and the young woman in the passenger seat stood up and waggled her arse at me, then sat back down, laughing and flipping me off. I started to get pissed off, then suddenly came to my senses: I was not about to let THEM control my emotions, ruin my morning. So they went their way, and I happily went mine. It took a very conscious effort of will to maintain a pleasant attitude and ignore them, but practice makes perfect. Their punishment was that they had to live the rest of their lives with themselves, while I got to live the rest of my life with myself.

    Now, I realize that's pretty minor stuff compared to mass murder. But it relates: I refuse to let these murdering sh*theads force me to live in fear, or to turn my life into an armed camp, or to otherwise ruin what's good about OUR lives. They may be able to take my life or the lives of others, but until they do, they won't take anything else from me. They may be able to choose some of our deaths, but *WE* choose everything else about our lives, not them.

    Choose well.

    1. You are so right, EvKa. Having lived very close to the 9/11 attacks and lived through it with my family, my friends, and my city, I can tell you this: Within hours of the fall of the towers, we were taking about standing up to it. The only people I saw who were fearful, including my own daughter, had very young children to protect. One colleague who lived only a few blocks away was forced to leave town. It was a year before she could come back because her apartment was contaminated. But NO ONE said anything but "We REFUSE to be terrified."

      Sadness is another matter. A friend was the CEO of a company that occupied floors 94-97. They lost 79 people. He was never the same.
      For me, it is that sadness that needs the comfort I found in my memories--of all those anonymous people in all those places, who were lovingly going about their business. The world is full of beautiful them. Mostly, everybody is beautiful them.

  2. Thank you, Sis, for reminding me of the Christmas trees of my youth. Not mine I assure you, but of my friends. Heirloom family ornaments brought out each December from carefully tucked away storage and hung on real trees to create a different world for a few weeks in the tiny living rooms of working class Pittsburgh.

    That's the only new world I'm up for.

    1. Bro, my tree is a pagan one, I guess. Lights and evergreens are symbolic. Have been for millennia. You were in NYC after 9/11 so you must remember how it was then that we all starting lighting up any trees we could find. The city still does that. AND we light menorahs. And buildings. And windows. And fires escapes. Those lights light me up!

  3. Annamaria, thank you for sharing your beautiful tree and ornaments with us. I, too, have a hodgepodge of ornaments, and they are, each and every one, so special to me. And, I have those special ornaments from favorite places to which I've traveled. Your close-up photos gave me a great idea to take such pictures of the ornaments and label them so my children and grandchildren will know their significance. I've talked to them about where and when the ornaments are from, but a written record would be awesome.

  4. Kathy, I am so glad you liked this idea. I send you and yours a Merry Christmas and many blessings in the New Year!

  5. I echo Kate Gaaison's good comment! Thelma Straw , also a New Yorker of almost 50 years!