The Many Faces of Santa

I am someone who loves diversity. I am fascinated by the food, stories, and ways of other cultures. To me, these differences bring richness, variety, and snap to life.

It is one of the reasons why I used to enjoy going to New York City to visit my daughter. (Alas, my creaky knees can no longer handle the subway system.) So many different types of people—short, tall, thin, fat, brown, white, black, Asian. Wonderful! On one trip, I remember sitting at an outdoor table and just soaking it all in.

I collect Santas, and the ornaments on my tree reflect my love of diversity.

Here is a traditional one.

Here is a fantasy Santa who looks like a wizard. After all, I like to say i was born in County Tolkien, even though I was really born in Kennebec County in Waterville, Maine.

There is also a Father Christmas type who resembles the late great Canadian author Robertson Davies.

And this is one of my favorite Santas.

There is even an Uncle Sam Santa.

Finally, here is a north woods Santa, which honors where I live, north of north, where the winters are still very cold.

The generosity of this season, personified by Santa, embodies a big-heartedness that can embrace all cultures and take in their beauty.

We would do well to carry this lesson with us throughout the year.

From Pancakes to Christmas Lights

The week started on a good note, and it only improved as the days went by.

We began with pancakes, one of my favorite suppers. I know. Traditionally they are served for breakfast, but I am not a morning person and much prefer them at night. I hate to brag, but Clif makes the best pancakes. Ever.

From there, a couple of days later, it was on to pizza. I went to Cushnoc to meet friends for lunch and to celebrate the publication of Library Lost. We had very jolly time, and the pizza was utterly delicious.

Midweek, the weather turned cold, but even that had its advantages as Jack Frost left a beautiful ice fern on my bedroom window.

The week ended with lights on the deck.

And I had a little friend watch as I strung the lights.

Now, onward to the Christmas tree. Ho, ho, ho!

A Circle of Generosity

The first week of December has nearly skipped past, and what a nice week it has been. After working so hard on Library Lost for so long, I have decided to wait until January to tuck into my third book in the Great Library Series. (I am still uncertain about the title.)

Instead, I am going to celebrate this cold season of short days and twinkly lights, a time of year I love dearly. For various reasons, we no longer enjoy hosting big parties, but we do like inviting friends over for tea, coffee, and cookies or warm apple crisp, and that is what we are doing this December. Then there is the Christmas bustle of cooking, wrapping presents, and decorating. I don’t want to rush through the season. Instead, I want to savor each day, each activity.

Christmas can be seen as a time of excess, and to some degree it is. But is also a time of generosity, a time of giving, a time of thinking about what someone else would like rather than what you would like. All to the good, as far as I’m concerned. Simply put, we can’t have too much generosity, a virtue that is often in very short supply, especially in this country.

In the spirit of encouraging generosity, here are a few stories. Last Sunday, we went to our friends Judy and Paul’s house for tea. For a Christmas present, she gave me this lovely vintage post card that she had picked up at a seasonal pop-up called Yuletide in a Yurt. (For readers who live within driving distance of Monmouth, Maine, this is a lovely place to buy locally made gifts.)

Here is the front.

And here is the back. In 1913, Marian sent Bessie this card. Now how cool is that?

Then Judy told us a story of unexpected generosity that had come into her life.¬† A week or so ago, she and Paul went to a local restaurant to have lunch. As they were making their way to their booth—Paul has health issues and walks very slowly—a woman in the next booth smiled at them as they took their seats. Then, later, when the woman left, she looked directly at Paul and Judy and smiled as she passed by. When it came time to pay the bill, the server told Judy, “The bill has been taken care of by the woman who was sitting in the booth next to you.”

Judy was flabbergasted as well she might be. How often does this happen? It has never happened to me, and I think it was a first for Judy. There was no explanation left with the server as to why the woman paid the bill, but I have a notion that the woman observed Judy and Paul and how loving, patient, and kind Judy is with Paul as she helps him cope with his disabilities. (Readers, Judy really is a wonder.) I expect the woman was moved and wanted to do something nice for them. This is all speculation, of course, but I think it’s a good guess.

After lunch, as Judy was going home, she stopped at a light and noticed a woman standing nearby, with a sign asking for money. Judy noted how worn, tired, and discouraged the woman looked. Digging frantically in her pocketbook before the light changed, Judy found $20, about the same price as lunch, and handed it to the woman.

Now it was the woman’s turn to be flabbergasted. “Thank you, thank¬† you, thank you! You have no idea how much this will help.”

The light changed, and Judy had to drive away.

And that, dear readers, is a perfect circle of generosity, a lesson to keep not only for Christmas, but for the rest of the year as well.

Celebrating with Seafood and a Whoopie Pie

It’s not every day that you get the first shipment of your new book. Therefore, when the box with copies of Library Lost came in, Clif and I decided to celebrate and go to the Red Barn for some of their delectable seafood and, of course, a whoopie pie. So good and so reasonably priced.

And speaking of Library Lost…my blogging friend Eliza asked how a copy might be ordered. Glad you asked, Eliza! For others who are wondering, all you have to do is click here, and it will take you to our Hinterlands Press website, where you can order a signed copy directly from us. The book can also be ordered through Amazon.

On another subject…the holidays are coming—tomorrow is December 1—and yesterday I went into the woods to gather pine and dried fern stalks for outside arrangements on our little deck.

I went midafternoon when this time of year the sun is setting and the woods are filled with shadows. There were lots of fern stalks by the little stream that runs behind our house and eventually makes its way to the Upper Narrows Pond.

There were some winterberries left, a bright punctuation against the white of winter. Fortunately, I had gathered winterberries a couple of weeks ago, when they were more plentiful.

And I came across this tree, covered with fungi.

Always something to notice in the woods, even in the winter.

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