It is the beginning of the Happy Holidays. When we eat bad food that tastes good; get together with distant family; go to parties and catch up with friends. Happy. But when bad things happen, these holidays make the pain worse.
I am always so grateful for my writing. I know I share this gratitude with other writers. The work of writing a novel is not about becoming famous, but for the ability to string together an entertaining book. The added gift of telling stories is the control you have over the lives of your characters. I am able to turn a bad diagnosis to a healing; send an abuser to prison for life; allow a poverty-stricken life to change with a lottery win. I’ve even been known to remove a bad person permanently from a good person’s life.
For those who have sorrow or worry on their plate, take heart in this quote from Kahlil Gibran:
“Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.”
I live on the spit of land where the first Pilgrims set foot in America. Not on the rock in Plymouth, but on the sand of Cape Cod. Provincetown honors them with the Pilgrim Monument. A lot has changed since those brave souls landed on the shores of Cape Cod. But some things haven’t.
Cranberry bogs are indigenous to the Cape. This fall, the second in our new house, hubby discovered we have our very own cranberry bog. He immediately became a cranberry farmer. I think he scooped over thirty pounds of those tart little berries. He made cranberry sauce, cranberry catsup, and cran-raspberry pie filling. He named our new start up, R & G Organic Cranberries. Seeing as we couldn’t treat pests on plants we didn’t know we had.
As we all learned in school, the Pilgrims enjoyed the first Thanksgiving celebration with the Native Americans. They ate turkey. Turkeys are also indigenous to the Cape. But where did the idea come to serve cranberries with the turkey?
One day, the Native Americans were enjoying nature in the fall on Cape Cod. They noticed turkeys in the bogs eating the cranberries. They thought: turkeys…cranberries…turkeys…cranberries. And that’s why we serve cranberry sauce with our Thanksgiving turkey dinners.
Disclaimer: I’m not a real historian and I write fiction!
About a week ago, I had an experience, so spiritually overwhelming, I am still glowing. Here’s what happened:
My husband and I saw Steve Carell on TV, speaking about the store he rescued in Marshfield, Massachusetts. An old general store he purchased and renewed. We were headed north to visit family, and pulled off the highway to visit the store. It’s charming. While we were there, we decided to try to find a friend we hadn’t seen in years. We knew she had a farm in the same area.
A long time ago, we lived in Scituate, MA, and had the best good fortune to be next door neighbors to Donna Green and her beautiful family. Donna is a collected artist and illustrator. She paints detailed, heartwarming scenes evoking the best of our human nature, especially children.
We visited Donna in her studio about ten years ago, only to find she was ill—with what she now knows was Lyme disease—and lived in pain and fatigue. She couldn’t even paint. This time when we reunited, Donna was healthy. She told us she fought back, but I know differently, saints have healing powers.
As I writer, I wish I had the words to express the miracle Donna has created from the debris of her own illness, but I don’t. What I can do is show you. If you want to be uplifted and amazed by human generosity, please visit her website: http://www.magicalmoon.org. Donna turned her adversity to a challenge. Her farm has been turned into a magical kingdom for children with terminal cancer. Donna has these kids involved in projects and make-believe so potent, they are able to forget their cancer for a while. The picture of the dragon above is part of a mosaic Donna created in her sacred space, which is the foyer to her farmhouse, and was constructed with some of the “knights” who come to the farm. I promise, you will be amazed and uplifted when you visit the website. Travel around it, see the kids being knighted, see Steven Tyler making a roomful of kids and adults at a fundraiser sing at the top of their lungs. Watch him seduce the kids to the microphone and don’t worry about the tears that will spill. I double dare you.
If you want something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving, beside all of your own blessings, Donna is your girl. People like her renew your faith in humanity. She is an angel, and a great advocate for her kids. Her project is ongoing. She reached out to the White House and agreed to do fourteen paintings in three weeks for Barbara Bush, IF she would help expose Donna’s foundation. It happened. Donna has eleven million books in print, paintings collected by long-time followers, work hanging in the National Archives. Her Velveteen Rabbit book is famous. But her work is the sick children, to distract them with projects or just friends and fun, and to teach the world how to prevent some of their cancers by caring about our environment.
Please do yourself a huge favor. Visit Donna’s website. And please do Donna a big favor, donate to help her kids. http://www.magicalmoon.org.
Have a delicious and heartwarming Thanksgiving.
The holidays are a microcosm of the Yin and the Yang of life. At least for me. The season starts with Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays. Great food, family and friends, no gifts to buy. This year, one of my friends (now my BFF) insisted on bringing the turkey, stuffing, and gravy to our house. One of the best Thanksgivings ever. But, as I open the pre-made mashed potatoes, the little nag in my head starts: time to get the Christmas letter written; time to buy the cards; time to gather the pictures; time to buy the gifts; time to bake the biscotti. . . .
The day after we overeat turkey, the marathon begins. Everything must be done before we leave for the holiday visit with family. No time for writing the novel, or even thinking about the next book. Forget chatting up the forums; forget attending the meetings. Put the writing magazines aside for later. Save the queries for January.
I miss writing and all its associated activities, the Yin. But I love when the holiday chores are finished and there is only the unwrapping and the eating, and eating, and eating, the Yang. Mailing the cards with letters and pictures, the Yin. Reading the cards and letters from others, the Yang. Eating the wonderful foods of the season, the Yin. Starting the diet on January second, the Yang.
It’s the time of the year where the contrasts are the most obvious to me. After it’s all over and I’ve partied in the New Year, I’ll look back with a sense of accomplishment, and look forward to a new beginning.
Hope your holidays were filled with family, friends, food, and fun.