2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 3,100 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 5 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Christmas at the MCL

I800px-Christmas_tree_bauble[1]t’s December 23rd. Tonight I had dinner with my sister and brother-in-law at the MCL cafeteria. It’s known locally for having lots of vegetables and plain but palatable food. It’s also known as the Medicare Cafe.

The cafeteria line has salads in portions, five or six different entrees in addition to fried chicken, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, and several desserts. You slide your tray along to the cashier. Then an attendant comes and carries your tray to a table if you aren’t able to yourself. They are younger women in white waitress uniforms.

Most of the clientele is north of 65. Tonight several were elderly, some in pairs, many alone. Buzzing from table to table were the table waitresses, mostly older women, who refill coffee and clear the tables. The one who waited on us tonight moved slowly, bent at an angle slightly toward the floor. But she never stopped moving, pouring coffee, and talking to the regulars.

“She knows so many of them,” my sister said. “See that man? He’s here every time we come. He’s always by himself and reading a book.” The grey-haired man sat in a small booth alone, eating slowly.

Then the waitress shuffled over, refilled his coffee and gave him a Christmas present. He smiled.

I hope he had somewhere to go for Christmas. But someone did care. So he wasn’t alone.

The Return of the Light

800px-Christmas_tree_bauble[1]A lot of us find the holiday season difficult.  As the days get shorter and darker, some folks get more and more depressed.  In ancient times people sought for explanations of the seasonal changes.  Why did the days get shorter?  Why did they then begin to lengthen again?  What is the pattern of all this?

Astronomy evolved from the search for answers and from observation of the natural world.  Many of the world’s religions celebrate the winter solstice, when the shortest day of the year leads to lengthening again.  Many religions and cultures have a festival of lights, whether it’s Hanukkah or Diwali, the winter solstice or Christmas.

Why do we long for the light and fear the darkness?  Is it because we as humans don’t see well at night, so darkness became a source of fear?

This year seems particularly dark, especially with the horrible massacre of children in Newtown, Connecticut.  And there have been several other mass shootings this year.

Next Friday, Dec. 21, is the solstice.  Let’s hope that this holiday season will help us turn to the light, as the days begin to lengthen and we celebrate Christmas.

And I am calling us all to action.  Enough darkness.  Enough killing.  There is no legitimate reason for any private citizen to have an assault rifle or a semi-automatic pistol.  Let’s work to outlaw these weapons of massive death!

A Need for Quiet and Repose

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADon’t get me wrong–I love Christmas, and New Year’s, and the whole holiday season.  I love being with friends and family.  I always travel to be with a part of my family at Christmas.  I have given a “holiday party” for anywhere from 12 to 28 people for the last 15 years.

But I also find this season exhausting, and sometimes melancholy.  I think of my parents who have died, the many aunts and uncles who are gone, and others I have loved and lost.  Holiday grief is not unusual.  Here’s a useful blog post (which I wrote) for my former employer, Regional Hospice and Home Care of Western Connecticut, on the topic.

Sometimes it’s not even that.  It’s just exhaustion!  And sometimes, it’s just good to be at home.  Nights like tonight, when I am tired and still coughing from this blasted upper respiratory infection (2 weeks later!), it’s a wonderful thing to have the Christmas tree lit, and a comfy bed, and a good book.  I’ll even turn off Sunday Night Football and go to bed early with a book, the cat, and quiet.  I don’t need snow or carols.  I just need home.

So, as Tiny Tim said, God bless us every one!  Here’s to being snug and warm and loved.  And for those who aren’t, may God give you those graces in the new year.  And may the rest of us step up to make it happen, too.