Tag Archives: Santa

Another Monday

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I can’t think of anything to say.

More accurately, I can’t think of anything¬†nice to say.

My default mode is usually just to fall into a long, rambling whine about all the things that are wrong in my life: all of my frustrations, petty grievances and bothersome little problems. I’m awfully good at that.

“It’s six days before Christmas,” I’ve been telling myself, “Pull yourself together!”

So, that’s on my agenda again today. Pulling myself together, that is.

My plan is this:

  • Take the dogs out for a walk.Bundle up well against the cold and wind. Bring the camera. The woods are beautiful with the fresh snow. The fresh air will do all of us some good.
  • Do some more Christmas baking. I have the ingredients for a dozen batches of cookies that I was too sick to make. I’m better now. I brought jam tarts and mini banana-nut muffins in to the hardware last week. Both customers and other employees seemed to enjoy them. It would be nice to have a plate of goodies out every day through the holiday season. I could also put together plates of treats for the service people around town.
  • Give this house a thorough cleaning. More than just the usual maintenance. Flip the mattress and put clean sheets on the bed. Vacuum under the sofa cushions. Wash windows. Clean out the refrigerator. It will give me a good sense of accomplishment when it’s done.
  • Maybe, pull out a Christmas decoration or two. I have two large totes in the attic filled with lights and ornaments. There are ornaments I made of cardboard, tin-foil and felt, for early Christmases when there was no money. There are things my daughters made in school, out of recycled cards, tuna fish cans and pop-sicle sticks. There are fifty small baskets I collected to hang among the ornaments on a tree. I used to fill them with candy and small gifts. I have a collection of small Santas that range from hand-carved, folk art versions, to the little plastic Santa on a spring with a suction cup, that I used to put on my first daughter’s high chair tray. There are stockings I crocheted for each member of my little family, and a granny square afghan in Christmas colors that I used to use as a tree skirt. I might feel more festive with a few Christmas lights around.
  • Wrap gifts, box them up, and get them in the mail. Late as it is, they should still arrive before the New Year. Write and send out at least a few Christmas cards. My biggest joy, this time of year, are the cards I get from family and friends. With that in mind, sending out cards is something I should definitely do. The cost of stamps has caused me to drastically shorten what used to be a long list, and some years I don’t even get around to the few that are left. Let this year be a good exception.

That’s my plan. I hope it works magic on my Monday morning mood!

Larry, My Friend

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I heard the sad news this morning that my friend, Larry, has passed away.

There, that’s it.

I was going to tell this story another way.

I’m taking a little course in creative writing. I’ve also been reading about the craft of telling a story well. I’ve been learning about talking around the thing you want to say, until there’s nothing else to do but say it. Anticipation, suggestion, forewarning, premonition.

I was going to start by explaining how the owner of the hardware store where I work is also a veterinarian, and that his clinic is in the back, and about how I first met Larry and his partner, John, when they came in with questions and concerns about their two old dogs.

We became better acquainted over pipe and wood stains and plumbing fixtures as they struggled to get their little house in shape.

They came to the opening reception when I had an art show here.

We met for lunch a few times.

Our friendship deepened.

I’d grumble to them about my problems while helping them pick out a paint shade or compare the qualities of different snow shovels.

They’d talk to me – separately and together – about changes and issues in their own lives.

They sold one house, and bought another. They moved a piano. John made drapes.

One year, Larry taught a class on making Christmas ornaments from long strips of colorful papers; my daughter attended with me. What a hoot, watching Jen and Larry tease and cajole and laugh together as she tried her very best to grasp his technique!

Larry played Santa at Christmastime for our charitable animal fund: “For a donation to the Animal Fund, have your pet’s picture taken with Santa!” He was a big hit! He even had his own Santa suit! I’ve never seen anyone so capable of handling animals of all types and sizes, while keeping hat, belly and beard on straight!

Larry came in one day alone, to tell me that John had been diagnosed with cancer. We just hugged each other tight with that sad news.

One day after I had quit working there, Larry called the hardware store regarding an urgent problem concerning his dog, Samantha. To Larry, all problems with his pets were urgent. He doted, fussed and worried over his animals like an over-protective mother.

The young girl that answered the telephone was new to the business. When Larry said, “I need to talk to the doctor!”, she replied, “Sir, this is a hardware store! There is no doctor here!”

Larry and John came to the little downtown gallery where I was working that day.

“This is crazy,” Larry shouted, after relating the telephone conversation. “What are you thinking? You have to go back! You are needed there!”

And then he broke down.

And we sat there, side by side, and I held both of his hands in mine as he told me about Samantha, and her nervous stomach, and the diet they tried first, then second, and the meals they were now making for her themselves, with organic brown rice and yams and chicken. He told me about her arthritic joints and how he could sympathize because of his own aches and pains. He told me about the puppy they took in, to replace the old dog they’d lost, and how it terrorized the entire household, especially Samantha, until they regretfully had to find it another home. He told me about their house-guests, who understood nothing, and stood in judgment of his doting and worrisome nature…

Every single painting could have been carried out of the gallery, and I would not have been able to turn away from Larry that day, he was so distraught and sad and in need of a listening ear.

Every now and then I caught a glimpse of John rolling his eyes.

Mostly, having missed Larry and his sweet disposition as much as he’d missed me, I was content to just hold his hands and let him talk.

I was going to tell all of this first, so that the message of Larry’s death would be a shock to you, as it was to me.

Having gotten to know him a little, you might feel the loss, too.

I just couldn’t get my heart into it.

It seemed manipulative, for one.

Two, there’s really no dressing this up.

Sometimes, a sad story is simply that.

And the loss of a dear friend is always a sad story.