The Holiday Letter
I still remember 1999 like it was just a few years back, that year when people looked to the new year with a bit of heightened curiosity or anxiety for the Y2K turn of the clocks, though I cannot remember these days where I laid something down moments ago and it tauntingly evades my frantic attempts to find it though I only traveled between two rooms over the past ten minutes. I can remember Peter around the house like it was yesterday, though it’s been ten years. I can remember being stoned in a friend’s apartment in Waterbury, eyes closed, body so entwined in the over-sized arm chair in the middle of the room that I was nearly non-extract-able, listening to Cat Stevens, or was it Elton John, or Yes, Queen, White Snake, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan, James Taylor – it was, after all, 45 years ago. I often recall special moments from the bike trip in 2005; India in 2010; though I have quickly and without regret forgotten those two years living in Danbury, CT before my latest move in April of this year to Heritage Village in Southbury. These days, distant memories whisper from shadowy corners, tap me on the shoulder then spirit away when I turn to see who’s there, invade my dreams, distract me from some chore of the moment, and I acquiesce, help them along giving voice commands to my Echo Dot to play one of my favorites from the past, turn up the volume if I am doing housework, turn it down if I am writing, reading, working on my website, taking a break, and I let the memories flood, make me wistful.
Some of you know about the bike accident in Sept of 2016 — fractured left knee, broken left rib, dislocated ring finger on my right hand, destroyed ACL (left), torn meniscus, bone bruises the full length of my right arm and half of my left side – and it has been a long recovery but I put up the good fight – go the gym a few times a week and physical therapy. When I moved here, to my latest abode, it was my third move in 24 months, and the most difficult given my physical state. Each time, I have attempted to downsize, giving away furniture, art, camera equipment, books, plants, but still there is too much stuff. Many of my friends are going though the same phase I am, looking to simplify, especially, for me, wanting the next move to be easier than the last four (2006, 2015, 2016, 2017) and I envy friends who have already simplified, or have been in the same space for some time, everything in its right place. But envy or jealously are not becoming, and besides, there is so much to be grateful for.
It is this time of year that I am reminded, though I intentionally practice gratefulness all year round, to do just that, to be grateful – for where I have traveled in my life, for family, for friends, that I am safe, warm, loved, that I have a good job, can pay the bills, have medical coverage, that I have my books, my art, my music, that I wake up in the morning, that I am hopeful often enough, that I have loved people enough, so much so that I miss them still after all these years – my husband of twenty years, my brother. And I am grateful for the people I have met along the way, those I have called friend, those that I have helped, those who have helped me, given me a shoulder to cry on if need be, or drove a half day to Canada to pick me up and bring me home to Connecticut at the end of the bike trip in 2005, those who taught me some new art form, some new way to think about a poem, a canvas, the world; those who moved away but left something of themselves with me. It is easy to intermittently forget what doesn’t work so well these days – my body, living in a small space after all these years, the fact that I cannot retire just yet, that I work too much, that I don’t spend enough time with family and friends – when I focus on what does work: 13 beautiful grandchildren, that I have not lost every member of my family to some incursion or natural disaster, that I still care about the state of the world though it is often a tough sell, that I have held onto some of my idealism into my old age, simple pleasures – houseplants with winter blooms, small successes like the soft launch of my web site (at long last) (//faithvicinanza.info), and that I have learned, or maybe I have simply surrendered, to let go of another year come and gone without some of my goals realized, appreciating that I still have goals, that I have ever had goals and dreams, and that I have actually fulfilled on some of them.
As 2017 comes to a close, give your heart over to something or someone in need, help a friend, pray for the world, for the innocent, the less fortunate, forgive, be kind to yourself in all matters, tell someone you love them, look to the overcast sky and send an intention, a declaration, into the cosmos that we might all find our way, stay safe, stay warm, and know you are loved.
Postscript: After sending out my holiday message by email, there comes the reality of bounced addresses, contact information that is no longer valid and the disappointment of removing names from my contacts directory, wondering what has become of him or her. It reminds me of looking though my mother’s old address book when she passed away just this side of 80, how often names were crossed through, the collective wearing away, the inarguable ebbing. But there was also the many voices of old and new friends in response, an acknowledgement, a celebration that we are on this road together, though we may not be able to see the other in the distance. That is what I carry into the new year, the promise, the hope of new encounters, new adventures, rekindled kinship – what else is there, really, that matters but beauty and love and compassion and generosity of spirit.
In case you missed it, go back up to the word “stuff” and click on it 🙂
“Blessed is the season which engages the whole world in a conspiracy of love.” — Hamilton Wright Mabie
Image: “Pale Whimsy,” Maine, 2005. © Faith Vicinanza