Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Merry, Indeed

I know Christmas is often seen as a time you're supposed to gather with tens and tons of friends and sing 'round the tree. You're supposed to have multitudes of family near, that without all of that, your Christmas cheer is somehow lessened.

As usual, I found myself feeling differently this season. Oh, sure. I missed the friends I haven't seen in a while. I missed our families. But I wouldn't have traded anything for the wonderful, wonderful Christmas Sam and I had (and are still having, really) this year.

It was simple. But it was still joyous and loving and full of cheer. We celebrated Christmas Eve, old school-glamour New York City style. We got dressed to the nines and had an amazingly fancy meal while listening (and later dancing) to a great swing band that sounded straight from the 1940's. I even remembered most of our steps, and I believe we even held our own with the rest. Though, despite my falters, I love nothing more than to dance with my husband. I don't believe I'm ever happier then in his arms, hearing the music, and us laughing at my constant distraction. Somehow, dancing, my feet never get sore. My heart so always too light.

We walked home, late. Christmas lights shown in the apartment windows of ninth avenue. The bodegas were still hawking what was left of their christmas trees. The bars had yet to close down, and a different carol seemed to seep out onto the street every 10 feet or so. I wished a handsome cab driver a merry christmas; and Santa on a late night walk with his dog, wished us one.

It was a perfect night.

Only to be matched by a perfect day. A day of opening presents under the tree, eating fresh cinnamon rolls and watching "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer." We walked about our neighborhood, made chex mix, made dinner, watched more chrismtas movies . . . I couldn't have asked for a more lovely day.

Just me and Sam. Yesterday was just a long reminder of why I love him so. Of how lucky I am he's in my life. There's no one I'd rather spend Christmas with, no one I'd rather do anything with, really. We had a truly amazing time.

I hope you had the same.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

"twas the Night before Christmas . . .

. . . and the kittens were cuddled, all snug in their beds . . .

and Sam and I are off to go dancing . . .

Merry Christmas Eve!

Tuesday, December 19, 2006


Sam told me the other day I should get a job as a spin-master. (Taking normal facts and spinning them to support whatever cause need be.) I did not point out that in fact, that IS my job . . .

But, regardless, it came from a conversation we were having on how we would explain to our someday-kids what Christmas was, and then, most confusingly, why we celebrate it. I mean, Sam and I are pagans. There is no denying it, no shying away from it. And that is how we plan to raise our children. There will be no Easter for them, no All Saints Day. How will we explain the sudden onslaught of Christian winter-time tradition in our home?

Because, well, there it is. It's not blatant, or overly wrought, but it's there nonetheless. Sure, instead of a crèche we have a Rudolph scene complete with not one, but FOUR Bumbles and three Jedis. But still, there's the music, the trees, the lights . . . everything else. And of course there will be a Christmas morning.

How to explain? Sam mentioned it might be a tad confusing. I scoffed at him. He mentioned perhaps we could scale back a little. I almost refused to continue speaking to him.

I mean, I LURVE me some holidays. And while our "true" holiday is this Thursday, which our family will one day celebrate in full rigmarole and joyous occasion, I simply do not want to give up Christmas morning. Or carols. (All the other stuff I could keep, as it was all stolen from pagan traditions to begin with anyway. But the "Silent Nights" and "God Rest Ye's" - there's no real getting around that.)

But to me, it's quite simple. I'm not celebrating the birth of our savior, god's only son. I'm not celebrating all that entails, and by the look of the general marketplace, neither are a lot of other people.

I am, however, celebrating the birth of a child, and the hope that surrounded that child. Christmas, to me, is about the sheer wonder and amazing tenacity the world showed (shows) over the birth of one, small, helpless child.

I love the story. A small family, not royal, not famous, not rich, expects a child. Under circumstances that aren't ideal. They do their best to prepare; they do their best to be safe. And while they are trying desperately to keep it together, to make a home, a safe respite for their small blessing - something else happens. The news spreads. Kings lift up their scabbards, robes, and scepters and begin traveling to where they believe the baby will be. Small groups of shepherds herd their flocks to be nearer; people gather. All kinds of people from all kinds of places. They gather with hope in their hearts, anticipation in their souls.

They believe that this small babe shall change the world. Make it better. Make it brighter, bring them light.

They don’t know how, or why. Just that this will happen. And they want to play a part. They want to honor this symbol of hope, this symbol of light. This child. They want to kneel before him, before his family, on that dark night. They know not else to do.

But somehow, in the story, that is enough. That they believe in the hope of this child. That the world can be made better, different, more lovely. Peaceful. Hopeful. Beautiful. By this, the smallest of creatures.

(Who among us, even today, wants to believe differently?)

People's hearts were turned that night. And stayed turned for centuries. All because one small child was born. Because people believed that was all it took.

One. Small. Child.

Savior or no, I still believe that's all it takes. The hope that one small, helpless, lone being can change the course of a world gone wrong; can turn hearts and minds to a better place. To making a better place.

Sure, most people celebrate Christmas because their savior was born that night. I celebrate because a CHILD was born that night. That thousands were, and are and will continue to be - that night, this night and all the nights to follow. And with each comes the blessed hope that things will be made right. Better. Peaceful.

Our world can change it's course, and with every night star, every birth, every gathering that hope should be renewed. Should be recognized, acted upon, celebrated.

Because, each of us, in our time, was that child. We were that hope. We are that hope. We perpetuate it.

This world will change. It will become the place those kings and shepherds dreamed of. The one angels from the stars announced and promised. We just need to have that kind of belief, that kind of hope in our hearts. Christmas is a time, I believe, to remember that.

If once, years ago, the world stopped for a mere night in the awe of the hope that one small child would make their world a better place - than perhaps we should too. Perhaps the idea that one small, ordinary person can change our world, our lives, isn’t such a crazy notion.

Perhaps the thought that we can do so isn't so crazy either.

That's what I'll tell my kids at least. That they were born one day, to a small family that desperately only wanted to do right by them - give them a safe, happy home. And that this family believed, with everything in their hearts, that their child would make this crazy, tossed up, frightening world a truly brighter place.

That we each can.

And every Christmas I recognizer that. That each child is born beneath bright, clear stars - with the power to bring kings to their knees and make angels sing. And that is worth recognizing, celebrating, honoring.

At least I think so.

Friday, December 15, 2006


A carol that brought tears to my eyes.

""I knew everybody was playing fantastically," Taylor (the trumpet player) said -- but the feeling grew when he saw how the scene was constructed from the sweet and somehow triumphant combination of the musical arrangement, the dignity of the musicians themselves, the falling fake snow and the pictures of home."

Watch it here.

Read the story here.

Download it here.

There is so much sadness still in our world, but I hold onto the hope this season brings. The hope a simple song can bring; a small act, an attentive moment.

May we all greet the holiday season and this next year determined to make these small acts build to something greater.


Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Weekend of 80 Beers for 80 Years

So we went home this weekend (please forgive us if we didn't see you - the list is ever-so-long now). The trip was all about two things - Christmas with my parents (which was wonderful as always), and Sam's Papa's 80th Birthday!

Last May Sam and I concocted a plan to throw his Papa an "80 Beers for 80 Years - A Generation's Salute to Ted Stiers" birthday party. With much, much, much help from the rest of his family, we did so with great success. We even had a logo -

with shirts!

and steins!

And bibs for the wee ones!

It was so wonderful. Everyone who feasibly could made it showed up with bells (and shirts!) on, and even a couple who feasibly shouldn't have been able to made the forever-drives. I was once again overwhelmed with how blessed I am to have married into, and even more blessed to have been welcomed into such an absolutely wonderful, awesome, amazing family.

We sat until the wee hours, drinking, talking, and laughing until we were all struggling to stay awake. We made it to one hundred beers, and I can't wait to do it all again for Ted's 90th and Century-Mark birthdays. Or maybe perhaps just next time we're in town. . .

Happy Birthday, Papa! Here's to LOTS more!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Professional Creativity

"First, it seems that these people somehow get it into their heads they're artistes and poets. A wrongheaded and dopey notion. We're business people who use creativity as a vehicle to deliver brand messages. This is different from being someone who uses advertising as a vehicle to deliver pretentious crap."

(Creative Director from 1999, describing being a professional interactive designer, and a quote I've kept taped to my screen ever since.)

Had my annual review today and was described in writing as a "formidable creative force."

I figure it doesn't get much better than that.

Here's to being and doing your best with the best.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

When we talk about the future, it's always gut-wrenching for me a bit. I'm all caddywhompus, I don't know what I want.

I want a house with a yard and a tire swing. I want a nursery with a crib that faces a ceiling of sky blue, with clouds I painted; just so. I want a puppy and sidewalks and grass and a garden.

I want Central Park minutes away. I want trains and people and life and the world at my doorstep. I want the eastern seaboard a train ride away. Vermont maple syrup, Maine Lobster, Massachusetts liberals. I want Europe to be a foreseeable weekend destination.

I want my life now, and the life I dreamed of as a kid. I want them both.

I can only have one at a time.

I love my life here, our life here. More than I can ever say. Some of our friends, they look at me sometimes with a kind of pity in their eyes, like I haven’t learned yet. Like I'll change my mind, coming running 'home' eventually. Leave this ridiculous city life behind. The expense, the dirt, the crime.

It's only because they don't live here, haven't seen our home, don't know how wonderful, how exciting, how right our life is here.

But it's not for forever. I remind myself of that a lot. Someday I will miss this place, I will be homesick for it. I will long for smelly sidewalks, the ramble, the zoo, the people, the food. I will sit, watching movies filmed here - straining to see my home. Our first home.

So we talk, we plan, we paint a future of what we want. I cry at the thought of leaving, I sob at the thought of never going.

But through it all, when he looks at me and says "someday, when it's the three of us it'll be my job to make sure you two are happy and safe." I know. I know everything will be alright. I know no matter where we will be - will be home.

I know we are a family. A home. A safe haven.

I know there is no other man I could have married, not in the world. And that I will spend lifetime after lifetime, meeting him, falling in love with him, marrying him, over and over and over again.

And I can't imagine anything more wonderful.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Friday, December 01, 2006

December 1st

AIDS was first identified in the United States of America in 1981. Since then, the epidemic has been steadily growing and by the end of 2004, there were estimated to be just over 1 million people living with HIV and approximately 415,000 people living with AIDS in the USA. AIDS is also thought to have killed over half a million Americans - nearly ten times the number killed in the Vietnam war - and more become infected every day.

According to UNAIDS estimates, there are now 39.5 million people living with HIV around the world, including 2.3 million children, and during 2006 some 4.3 million people became newly infected with the virus. Around half of all people who become infected with HIV do so before they are 25 and are killed by AIDS before they are 35.

Around 95% of people with HIV/AIDS live in developing nations. But HIV today is a threat to men, women and children on all continents around the world.

Started in 1988, World AIDS Day is about increasing awareness, fighting prejudice and improving education. World AIDS Day is important in reminding people that HIV has not gone away, and that there are many things still to be done. This is a cause I have supported since I was old enought to truly understand it, and one that with the loss of a dear friend, has become very close to my heart.

Our greatest tool in this fight is undertstanding and education. Today I ask you to inform yourself. Help inform others. Let's take the stigma and misunderstanding away from this horrible disease and start truly fighting it.

Wear a red ribbon today, let people know why. As I state all the time here, soemtimes the smallest act makes the biggest difference.

The red ribbon is an international symbol of AIDS awareness that is worn by people all year round and particularly around World AIDS Day to demonstrate care and concern about HIV and AIDS, and to remind others of the need for their support and commitment.

The red ribbon started as a "grass roots" effort, and as a result there is no one official red ribbon manufacturer, and many people make their own. It's easily done - just use some ordinary red ribbon and a safety pin!