Monday, November 16, 2015

I Can't Even Come Up With A Good Title ...

Opening Disclaimer:
I am not fishing for invitations.
Secondary Disclaimer:
I didn’t spend a lot of time organizing my thoughts. (Remember: I couldn’t even come up with a good title.) Please bear with me, and if you can’t bear to read the random musings, my feelings won’t be hurt.
In the months since Greg passed, I’ve had to deal with a few dates that were significant to our shared life: first St. Patrick’s Day without Greg, for example, or Greg’s birthday, or our wedding anniversary. They were difficult, each in its own way, and only time will tell if those observances will get easier for me as the years go on. But today, the thought hit: Thanksgiving is only a little more than a week away!
And I started to cry.
I realized something very, very important, that makes Thanksgiving different for me, and perhaps for others in a similar situation. When St. Patrick’s Day came along, I was surrounded by not only my band-mates but thousands of revelers, and we had a connection. When Greg’s birthday came along, all I needed to do was to run a few errands and I would see busy people all around me, also doing errands, and I was connected to the world. When our wedding anniversary came along, a phone call from a friend helped to make me feel connected again. But on Thanksgiving, people tend to pull in toward their nuclear families and close friends, and the newly-alone person can’t easily find the connection. They’re not going to be able to simply step outside their door into the world and feel normal, because Thanksgiving Day isn’t a normal day. For anyone.
Your grieving friend is not going to call you, for fear they might interrupt your dinner preparations or your dinner, or your family ritual of watching the Detroit Lions game. They have no clue, in fact, what you may be up to that day ... because after all, for the previous years, they’d been absorbed in their own family rituals. And now that family is substantially and irrevocably changed. So please, please reach out to them if you possibly can.
A blanket, open invitation to “stop by the house,” made to several hundred Facebook friends is not going to do it. They’ll likely feel a little awkward. A vague, “You know you’re always welcome,” is better, but how about asking them if they have any plans for Thanksgiving, followed by “We’d like to have you join us this year.” The specific invitation gives them a sense of “belonging” again, of feeling connected.
I’m blessed to have a family with whom to spend this Thanksgiving. We’re not going to spend hours roasting a turkey, and I’ll miss making my mother’s dressing, and “everybody’s” favorite -- the Green Bean Casserole. We’ll be going out to some restaurant; it’s the way they’ve celebrated Thanksgiving for the last several years, and while it may not seem “normal” to me, I am grateful to be connected.
Maybe next year I’ll feel like hosting my “own” Thanksgiving again. And if I do, I promise to think about who, among my friends, may need me to reach out and help them feel connected on Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Thinking Outside the Big Box

Every year around this time, I start hearing the same complaints: 

"I've got people on my list who are so hard to shop for!"

"I'm sick of having only imported stuff to choose from. Nothing's made in America any more!"

This holiday season, I'm suggesting artists -- all friends of mine -- who offer unique items handmade/recorded/written by themselves ... in America. Everyone on this list has an online presence and an online ordering process that's simple and pretty painless.

In compiling this list, I've discovered that a lot of my friends sell their wares only at festivals/shows, so they're not listed here ... but I'll encourage you to shop your local holiday bazaar or street art fair. In either case -- whether you order online or shop the weekend street fair -- your recipient is almost guaranteed to be delighted with something unique. And I guarantee that my hard-working friends in the arts will be thrilled!

Here's my "starter" list, subject to change:

Brendan Nolan
Celtic Soul Craft
Cutthroat Shamrock
Groovy Marie
Infamous Welsh Cookie Company
Just Mine Creations
Key West Soap Co.
Lavender Sky Music
Marci's Chain Designs
Medicine Wind Music
Michael DeLalla
Mindy Simmons
Rathkeltair/Gypsies Ginger/Trevor Tanner
Scooter Muse/Jill Chambless
Sharyn McCrumb
Sleek Soap Studio
Stephan Mikes
Susan Sorrentino
Tamela D'Amico
With My Own Two Hands 

It's not meant to be a definitive list, by any means! And there simply aren't enough days to list all of the deserving folks who could appear on this list. But I hope it'll help you to "think outside the Big Box" this holiday season. Cheers!

And while we're at it ... one more "made in America" candidate ... Marcille Wallis!