Holiday Giving

Each year at the holidays, we are encouraged to give.  Because giving is better than receiving.

I believe in this mantra.  I think it’s noble and just.

But times get hard.  Money gets tight.  And no matter how much we scrimp and save and try to make ends meet, we sometimes come up short.  And sometimes we come up short more often than we come out ahead.  Especially the way things have been going lately.

So this year, I’m going to set up my own Holiday Giving plan.

Yep, that’s right.  I’m officially declaring myself a Charity Case.

Hey, it’s been a rough year.  I had a hellish move, where I lost my sofa; I had a break-in and lost most of my stuff; and even though I have tried to cut costs and make things easier for myself, I still can’t seem to catch a break.

So, hey, can ya help a brother out?

OK OK I know this is pathetic.  It’s also totally tongue-in-cheek.

But in reality, how many of us are putting up a brave front this year in the face of adversity?  How many of us are just one bounced check, one lost paycheck away from total devastation?  I bet it’s more of us than we really think.

I have to admit (and here’s where I’m being serious), I’m really very, very lucky.

With everything that happened in the last year– and believe me, there’s more than I’m even mentioning here — I have still managed to stay both sane and afloat.  That horrible move turned out to be an incredible lucky break for me, because I now have a really great place (despite the break-in).  I still have my job.  I still have my friends and the chorus.  And of course I still have my family.

Things could have been a hell of a lot worse.

But I can’t help but wonder about those who have had it a lot worse.  Do they really and truly need the help, but are too proud to ask for it?

And if they did ask for it, would any of us lend a hand?

Maybe that’s what the Holiday Spirit is really all about.

Memorial Daze

Memorial Day never lasts long enough. No sooner than it starts, it’s over.

But thankfully, I got to fit some really fun activities into my beloved three-day weekend.

The big question when this weekend rolls around is always, “What am I going to do?” It’s like planning for a major event for some; for others it’s a welcome time for rest and relaxation.

In Chicago, an obvious solution is to participate in some way in the festivities at the International Mister Leather (IML) event. This event happens every year and draws a very colorful–in dress and in behavior– crowd that is perfect for people-watching as well as participating.

But I didn’t participate in the IML festivities this year. Most of my friends took off for other locales. I didn’t feel like doing the leather thing alone, since I’m not much into the scene to begin with; so I had to make some different plans. I chose a much more leisurely approach to the weekend.

My friend Matt and I both got new cameras in the past year, and we’ve been talking about going on a photo excursion somewhere in the city for a while now. The weather was nice and was looking to stay that way all weekend, so I thought this would be a great time to go on our first excursion.

Needless to say, I am pleased with the results!

Arthur Caldwell Lily Pond Swim, Duck, Swim!
Skyline from Lincoln Park Lagoon Arches
Enter here Pink Crabapple

On Sunday night I headed north to Kenosha to pay mom a visit.

As I went home Monday night, I realized there was one thing we didn’t do– we didn’t visit dad’s grave.

I don’t think we decided to do this consciously. We certainly talked about dad over the weekend, and other relatives who have passed as well.

It seems to me that people pay tribute to those they love in their own ways. I think if Mom could get around better we would have made a point to go to the cemetery; but we chose to remember him in our own way. We certainly don’t love him any less; it just was easier for her to do it this way.

I cut up old branches that had fallen the yard, and cut down some tree saplings that had begun the grow in the flower beds. I went out in back of the garage and picked an enormous bouquet of lily of the valley and plucked a few sprigs of lilacs and put them in vases on the table so she can enjoy them. I brought up her laundry, I changed light bulbs and did other odd jobs around the house that she couldn’t do for herself.

And we cooked and talked and laughed and just enjoyed each other’s company. In all, it was a really nice visit. I think Dad would have been pleased with that.

Now the week is all messed up. Tuesday should be Monday and Wednesday should be Tuesday. It’ll be like that til Friday- which will come faster than expected, and that’s a good thing. But it was worth it to have that extra day to spend with my mom. I’d gladly take a hundred more of those days than have to work five days in a row! That’s better than any vacation.