December 31, 2007
December 25, 2007
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
The stocking were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads.
And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains for a long winter’s nap.
When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tinny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St Nick.
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!
“Now Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! On, Cupid! on, on Donner and Blitzen!
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!”
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount the sky.
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of Toys, and St Nicholas too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St Nicholas came with a bound.
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot.
A bundle of Toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler, just opening his pack.
His eyes-how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were likes roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard on chin was as white as the snow.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to this work,
And filled all the stockings, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, “ere he drove out of sight,
“Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”
First published by the New York Sentinel, December 23, 1823.
November 13, 2007
Yesterday was my birthday.
Anyway, that’s what I thought when I was younger (and dumber), and I stuck to that position in spite of its unpopularity with just about everyone I knew, until it was my good fortune to participate in an actual delivery. A very pregnant and very close friend asked me to be her Lamaze coach for her delivery. We did the classes together and practiced the exercises. When the time came for her to deliver I watched 10 pounds of new life emerge from that little 110-pound woman. She had gone through all the stages of giving birth that I have always thought as heroic: nine months of pregnancy; hours and hours of labor; and a natural delivery – without the aid of drugs or pain-killers.
There in the delivery room I watched in awe as she pushed her child into the world and as he struggled to fill his lungs with the breath of life. Then he was handed to me to lull in the warm water prepared to smooth the trauma of birth. Holding him I realized what a miraculous journey he had just completed. It is a journey wrought with peril because a million and one things can go wrong between conception and birth.
It’s a journey we have all taken. If there is anything that should be celebrated, it’s the successful completion of that journey. So there I was in a delivery room, way up in the north country, slowly rocking a new-born back and forth in a tub of warm water. And as he calmed down I whispered to him: “Well done little man; welcome; and happy birthday.”
November 2, 2007
Last summer I posted a slightly different version of this piece on my “Extraordinary Fitness” blog. I wanted to express my gratitude for the support that I have gotten from the many friends in my life, and I didn’t have anywhere else to put it where many of them could see it. Now that I have launched this blog I have a more appropriate place to post it. Here it is:
My “adopted little sister,” Kseniya, sent me an email the other day asking me to sign up as one of her “friends” on FaceBook.com. Now I’ve always thought of those social network sites as Internet hangouts for kids. And while I’m not yet a complete curmudgeon, I am a bit long in the tooth to be hanging out anywhere. Registering at FaceBook.com is the sort of thing I would not do on my own. But Kseniya, a thousand mile from here, reached out and asked me to do so – so I did.
That’s an example of supporting a friend that’s easy to understand; and it was easy to do. Here’s another: Materials for this blog and a number of other projects are being researched, planned, and written from the home of a couple of Friends in Rockland County, New York. Lou and Alice. Quakers. I was talking with Alice as we sat at the kitchen table last night when Lou came in and handed me a framed statement printed on parchment. Here’s what it said:
Let the guest sojourning here know that in this home our life is simple: what we cannot afford we do not offer, but what good cheer we can give, we give gladly.
We make no strife for appearance sake. Know also, friend, that we live a life of labor, therefore, it at times we separate ourselves from thee, do ye occupy thyself according to thy heart’s desire.
We will not defer to thee in opinion or ask thee to deter to us, what thou thinkest ye shall say, if thee wish, without giving offense. What we think, we shall also say, believing that truth has many aspects, and that love is large enough to encompass them all.
So, while ye tarry here with us we would have thee enjoy the blessing of a home, health, love, and freedom, and we pray that thou mayest find the final blessing of life – PEACE.
Reader, know that I am able to do what I do because I have had the wise counsel and loving support of friends today, and in days past; here and near-by. Some of them are many miles away; and some are on the other side of the world. But they all abide in my heart.
Be well, and Peace.