Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas Eve

This season has come too soon; the Christmas decorations, covering stores since before Thanksgiving, were so long ignored they ceased to register, carols were hummed but not digested, Christmas presents were left unsought until days before, and a grocery store bagger’s holiday greeting met a blank stare. Those decorations and carols are trappings, of course, string and glitter that can no more hold us together than December winds can drive us apart, but those trappings make a visceral impression I carry throughout the years.

I remember childhood Christmas Eves: long goodbyes at Granny’s house while I feared missing Santa Claus, belly full of potatoes and pies, counting the minutes until I could climb out of bed, the smell of oranges in my Christmas stocking and the turkey in to roast, and crawling into bed with my siblings, nestled beside Momma as she read The Night Before Christmas. Our copy of the poem was a pop-up book, similar to the one mentioned in Shelf Unbound’s childhood remembrances, and we each turned the wheels and slid the tabs to make sugarplums dance and Santa rise from the chimney. Those traditions altered as we grew and our family changed, but the memories are treasured.

Each tradition, whether decorating the tree, lighting the candles, or sitting down to a family dinner, holds the meanings amassed over holidays past and creates a frisson of excitement today. After spent wrapping paper is gathered up, broken toys are interred in landfills, and our time passes, we leave traditions for our loved ones and the memories they recall.  As I begin final preparations and settle in to the holiday, I need to pause, to laugh at the sweet potatoes splattered on the ceiling and the tree boughs bared by the cat, to share a moment and create a new memory, because the cooking and decorating and reading are traditions for my family, and our joy and love become the patina absence cannot tarnish.    

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Fortuna plango vulnera

When translated, the title says "I bemoan the wounds of Fortune." It is the opening line to one of the pieces of Carl Orff's brilliant Carmina Burana. I had the good fortune to be able to see this performed last year. It was, to put it simply, perfect.

However, that seems to be the extent of my luck. I found out today that twice, twice mind you, Fortuna (or the Universe, as I like to call it) has denied me what could have been the highlight of my existence. The love of my life, TV's James May, was in fact in the next county over. In a Ferrari. A red one. And I somehow missed him. Twice.

Thanks, Universe.

Admittedly, I was a little heart broken at first. I mean, yes, it is a little odd that the love of my life would turn out to be a 46 year old, slightly pudgy man from Bristol with bad hair and a worse wardrobe, but I adore him. So I sat around and moped. Then I started baking to get my mind off my missed chance.

And then I got over it. Because, you know what? My apartment smells of lemon cookies and Bing Crosby is crooning. Not only that, but I just found out that two friends I haven't seen in a long time will be in town for the holidays. And darnit, it's freakin' Christmas! It's the most wonderful time of the year. There's even a seventy percent chance of having a white Christmas.

(Yes, I'll probably never get another chance to see James in person, but that's ok. I wouldn't have been able to say anything to him anyway, since I am a fruitcake when it comes to love and can never say the right thing.)

Life is pretty awesome right now. Or, as Orff puts it, tempus es iocundum. This is a joyful time.

I sincerely wish that everyone catches my sudden enthusiam and has a truly fantastic holiday.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Giftmas & Thismas

Marilyn Monroe, spreading a little Christmas cheer. (Source: Google Images.)

I hate to tell you this, mainly because I don't want to be the one to break it to you, but Christmas really is about the presents.

Hang in there with me, lemme e'splain.

As I am sitting here patiently waiting for the dreary and weary UPS worker to deliver my gifts I had a bit of a revelation. I realized there are two kinds of Christmas: Giftmas- where you frantically run around trying to find the most suitable gift for your mother/spouse/best friend/dog sitter/ annoying co-worker, all the while become more and more stressed out and not even bothering to sit down. Sounds familiar, right?

Then there's Thismas. It's sort of a new thing. Nothing like Kwanza, I assure you. Thismas has a little more to do with just celebrating. Celebrating a day off due to a sudden snow storm, celebrating the joy of adopting a new puppy, or holding vigil for loved ones around the universe.

Christmas only comes once a year, that's true. As does Giftmas. But Thismas is unique. All that is required for Thismas is to take a deep breath and, using all of your senses, taking in the moment.

When you partake in Thismas you will start to notice the annoying over-played carols on the radio are replaced by actual church bells ringing the hour or a Cantata being performed by a local choir. Almost immediately the outdoors no longer smell like sweat and labor, but instead there will be hints of licorice, cloves & clementines, and pine needles. Thismas is about the feel of snow crunching beneath your boots instead of the hard pavement. It's about seeing friends and family you haven't hung out with in ages and whose company you have genuinely missed.

Thismas is about chilling out in the here and now; about the moment you are in as you are reading this.

Welcome Home.

See? Told you Christmas was all about the presence.

Giftmas or Thismas. Which one will you celebrate? 

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


OK! There are a lot of things I want to cram in the post tonight. So, lets get started...

*Happy Belated Birthday Fantastic Spatula! You have meant so much to me this past year. Although I didn't post as much as I was supposed to/should have I appreciate each and every one of you, the three ladies blogging, the featured Friday artists, and the community in general.

*Merry Christmas all! Wow, how they frack did that happen so fast? But never mind that. Don your gay apparel, deck the halls and bake some cookies! Actually I have a list of things you can do this holiday season to get in the spirit if you aren't just yet (or still can't believe it's really here)
@Call someone you love and sing them a carol over the phone.
@Make your Christmas and Holiday cards. Use found things, recycled papers, crayons.
@Go to a candle light service if you don't normally or go to a church with a friend if you don't normally attend church. It can be a different church than your used to or one you haven't set foot in for years.
@Host a cookie swap party. Bring your friends to your home. Tell them to make their favorite cookies, they can bake at your home, and swap!
@Read some Christmas and Holiday books that you might normally read if you were...6.
@Avoid the mall...
@Go to a pine tree/Christmas tree farm where they plant Christmas trees each year. You don't have to buy one. Just go there and sniff.
@Watch some of the Christmas Classics with friends or Family. Some of my favorites are The Nightmare Before Christmas, A Christmas Story, A Peanuts Christmas...

Tell me your favorite holiday traditions are... or create your own!!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Happy Feckin' Christmas

You guys, there are ten days until Christmas. Ten days!

And if I am perfectly honest, I'm not feeling it. The Christmas Spirit hasn't grabbed me yet. I've got a tree, and it is pretty, but that's it. I've played Christmas carols, but mostly because they are in Gaelic and fun to sing along with.

This is the first year, ever, where I haven't been ecstatic over the holiday season. I'm guessing it is because I have no idea what to give the people I love. The stress of trying to find the perfect gift is hogging all my thoughts and not leaving any room for any cheer. There are parties to plan for, too, and I'm trying not to contract some horrible flu like I did a few Christmases ago.

And that just won't do, y'all.

Christmas isn't supposed to be stressful and miserable. Christmas is supposed to be bright and shiny; it's supposed to make you grin like an imbecile when you see a star topped tree. Hearing a bell ringing should fill you with a serenity that comes from knowing there is goodness and beauty in the world.

So, for tonight, I am not going to think about the presents, the shopping, the planning, the cooking, none of it. I'm just going to sit here, staring at my tree, and think about what this time of year means to me. I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that it will be pretty close to what Tim Minchin says in "White Wine in the Sun."
I really like Christmas.

What have you guys done to get into the swing of the Holidays?

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

One Year Older, But Not More Grown Up

Wow! A year ago I posted my first entry on this blog. One whole year! And what do I have to show for it? A frontier town with a split personality, a zombie alligator, and a ginger werewolf. Hmmmm.
Well, at least it is more than I had a year ago!

Don't get me wrong, I am not complaining. I wouldn't have them at all if it weren't for Miss Lucy and her blog of magic and delight. I am very glad she indulges me my strange bits of fiction.

And until Miss Lucy tells me to stop, I will keep adding to my list of weird accomplishments. I can't wait to see what another year brings!

Here now is part two of last week's post. What has curious little Savina gotten herself into?

Monday, December 6, 2010


Dear Santa, 

I've waited months for Léna Roy's Edgesand it finally comes out tomorrow, December 7, the perfect time for you to put it in my stocking on Christmas morning. I've been a good girl this year--mostly--and it sounds like the type of book I love to read: 
A story of love and grief, addiction and redemption, set in both NYC’s Upper West Side and in the red rock desert of Moab, Utah.
I love Lena's writing over at her blog, and I admire how she supports young writers, so I want to support her debut novel. Please Santa, pick it up from your local North Pole independent bookstore in the next couple weeks, because those first months are crucial for a new novel. In fact, I recommend it for the elves, and the reindeer, and the Island of Misfit Toys, too.  

Thank you, Santa.  

Yours truly, 


Thursday, December 2, 2010

A Year in Magic

Greetings, All!

Tonight is a special night.

A year ago I had asked three talented friends to do something crazy: to blog. I asked them because I wanted others to know how insanely awesome they were. I wanted them to share a bit of themselves with the unknown audience of the neenernet and get something back in return.

In the span of a year, three of us have moved. Skemp boldly went where no Skemp has gone before- a cross country road trip from the shores of Carolina to the mountains of Montana. Clara moved from her teensy apartment a block away, and now has a kitchen worth bragging about. I moved from one upstairs apartment up the street to another upstairs apartment. My neighbors have much improved! Kristi and her hubby (aka: my big brother), have happily not moved.

I think it's safe to say we've also hit a few growth spurts writing wise. Each of us realizing it's okay to admit that you are an artist or author. Scarier than you know, because when you utter such a declaration you ready for yourself for the constant bombardment of inquiries such as: "But how do you eat?", "Don't you make any money?", and "What will your parents/spouse/lover/friends/therapist think?" (Answer: "I'm sorry, did you say something? I was too busy thinking about how much champagne I'm going to have to buy when my first novel becomes a best seller". Or, you know, something like that.)

And as wonderful as this constant tea party in wonderland has been, it wouldn't mean much if we didn't have a small army of supporters. To all of our readers I have been struggling to find the right words all evening to say how much your contributions have meant to us. Naturally, I've fallen short. So to put it simply- with a deep bow and a deeply grateful heart I humbly say, thank you. 

Love & Magic,