Happy New Year, and welcome to 2020! I like the way 2020 looks and sounds.
I would like to think we are off to a good start; though I may have to moderate my use of the word “we”. Both the domestic and international news appears marked by great heartache and turmoil; but there are others paid to report and analyze acts of nature and war, I shall leave those cares in their much more abled hands, at least for today.
Instead, I shall limit my reflections to a smaller stage, my world. A new year, which ushers in a new decade, all but demands that we stop for a moment or two, to take stock of the road we have been traveling on, at least in the last twelve months.
Earlier this year, I received a note asking how I was; the question was prosaic enough that my answer should not have required thought. But on that very day, I had received extraordinarily good news, as well as deeply troubling information, about one dear to my heart. I walked away from my computer to ponder how to answer the question; after a bit, I came back to look up the word bitter-sweet in Spanish. I was agridulce.
In fact, when I look back at the entirety of 2019, it repeatedly leaves me feeling that it was a bitter – sweet year. Fortunately, most of the sweet was in my own life, and sadly the bitter fell on so many that I care for. It has been a while since the ratio played out that way; it would be untruthful of me not to say that I prefer the sweet to the bitter.
Oddly, when I went back in these pages, to see how I was doing in December of 2009, I found these words: As we continued our drive, Miami was particularly beautiful, with her buildings brightly lit, and the red and white car lights looked like streaming Christmas banners. We will be home for Christmas. Home is no small thing; and neither is Christmas. Our house is filled with our history and traditions, and truly there is no greater time of year than Christmas; but I will not be with the rest of my family. We shall eat well this holiday season and there will be presents under our tree; though I know that our blessings will not extend to too many that we know, and countless that we shall never meet. My Mother will be out of that hospital for Christmas; but her bed will undoubtedly be filled by another. This is a time of joy, but there is still much sorrow – topsy-turvy. I wish you all a Merry Christmas, that is all for now.
Topsy-Turvy and Bitter-Sweet are apparently a theme in my life when decades change.
One of the gifts, of these pages, to me is that I capture our history; and what is not printed here, is nevertheless photographed. As I checked my files, for pictures taken during these days in 2009, I found that we had spent the evening with our very dear friends, Marcial and Adriana, at their Cuban Club.
Their club is a conglomeration of the famous Big Five social clubs in Cuba, which recreated themselves in exile; as so many Cubans have.
It was a very interesting night, and for me an opportunity to step into a world long since gone. We took very few pictures that night, but I could not resist snapping this woman’s fur stole, hanging on the back of her seat – we were in Miami, it was not cold. I so loved that moment.
But as we get ready to start another decade, the moment we rang in 2009 has even more meaning to me, as our friends were recently with us, along with their children. What could be a more important resolution than to sustain the relationships in our life?
I checked my post for January 2010, as well: I do not want to wish you a Happy Birthday or thank you for your kindness out of obligation. I want the pleasure of acknowledging you without the pressures of life, which make such acts feel like an item on a “to do list”, which must be checked off. However, if I must write your name on a “to do list”, in order to do the right thing, then write your name I shall. I shall also continue to expect that you too will do the right thing, and I shall be disappointed when you fail to think that my right thing should be done. But, believing that extending mercy to those we love is also the right thing, I shall continue to forgive you, and to seek your forgiveness when we both fail to do the right thing. That is all for now.
For me it is always about the people I love; yes, yes, yes, God comes first. But I truly believe that one of the ways we show our love to God is by loving His creation; I think I am in good standing, on this point.
I did not finish my book this year, yet again; nor was that one of my resolutions last year. Though when I take it out and work on those pages, I do get excited about the material and words and pictures, until that is, it makes me sad – life is just bitter-sweet.
It has been good to be able to spend so much time with friends and family, both near and far. I have had the opportunity to reconnect with people I had not seen in a while, some a longer time than others; all visits were lovely. There have been many wonderfully unexpected moments; I think none more so than at the hands of my niece, Allison. There has also been stirring in some relationships, which had appeared to have breathed their last breath.
My very Dear Shahnaz sent me a Collins Street Bakery Fruit Cake for Christmas; I cannot imagine that she knew it was the fruitcake, which I used to buy for my Mother, who loved fruitcake. (Though I did make my Mother fruitcake, she preferred Collins Street Bakery’s cake.)
Shahnaz’s fruitcake arrived on the same day, as another box from Collins Street Bakery, and thus the confusion about your gift Shahnaz. You see, this year, I decided I would order a fruitcake for my sisters, the only other people I know who appreciate fruitcake. I knew the gift could be a hit or miss, but nevertheless, I placed the order.
As the holiday season developed, Marcial, Adriana, and their children ended up coming up to Maine, in time to partake of a little Christmas cheer. We arranged to go see a production of The Christmas Carol, and I decided to try to serve food fitting the occasion. Because my dear friends are so absolutely delightful, they did not exclaim that they do not like or want fruitcake, thus we were able to share Shahnaz’s fruitcake together; it was also such a treat to share yet another element of my Mother with them.
A few days later, as I was anticipating giving my sisters their fruitcake, Kate pointed out that the cakes contained foods my sisters did not eat. Kate was correct, but I had not thought about it until she spoke up. For a moment, I processed the fruitcake in my bitter-sweet world; grateful Shahnaz had sent me a cake and that I had been able to share it with my friends. I offered the cakes to my sisters, with ample disclaimers, and made it clear they did not have to take the cakes home.
Much to my happiness, they both said yes to my offering; the bitter was mitigated – who knew, maybe we can all have a little more sweet and less bitter in 2020!
I really do wish you a Happy New Year! That Is All For Now.