teeny tale: needed.

She pulled up slowly; the gravel popping beneath each turned tire. And there she saw it. He had found this spot some years ago, bare: what he took as a kind gesture from nature, a welcome invitation to settle among the towering knotty pines. It was a hardy build, constructed from eastern white pine, kiln dried, its dovetail corner notching a work of his own hands--a practice he was taught by his father who along with the skill, shared the tender story of its assumed origin, one of a farmer who sat, marveling at the wedge-shaped tails of some neighborly doves. It was a simple technique, and a simple means for a father and son to bond. 

From the interlocking hand-cut joints of boxes, to dresser drawers, to the logs of his own home, the size of his projects grew with time, as he had with age. There was much he could do for himself, and that which he couldn't merely filled a thimble--something he neither owned nor would ever know existed. She still longed for the days before his hard-working hands, once smooth, turned calloused and cracked; it seemed both she and his leather gloves became a cozy luxury--something his simple life could do without. But for as much as he didn't need her, she was still in need of him. Yet she sat alone, staring down the narrow drive that led to him; the steady stream of smoke pouring from the flue being the closest to him she would get.


'tis the season.

Another year, another holiday season. Give. Give. Give. But it isn't the presents under the tree that I look forward to most, unlike those of (many) years past. From the awe of bounding down the stairs to snatch the first glimpse of wrapped gifts from "Santa"--and the partially nibbled carrots and fully-eaten cookies--to the awe of the gift of others, Christmas has evolved, but only because I have, too.

I won't discount the pleasure I have in giving the "perfect gift," that gift you just know won't disappoint. But I will say, if all I had was the people who mean most to me, the crackle and smell of a wood-burning fire, mashed with a little "Ruddy the red-nosed reindeer, you'll go down in history..." rocking around a freshly-cut balsam, my grown self would agree that "Santa did come!" 

In the rush to make sure that presents were bought and sent and packaged, I've found there are holiday favorites I'm missing, things that say "happy holidays" to me more than any glossy package. Like finding the least prickly tree that's not too big, not too small, and as close to perfectly symmetrical as possible (although you can always turn the "bad side" toward the wall). It's filling my home with the smell of peppermint, cinnamon...pure confection...and hovering over the first batch of chocolate chip cookies; waiting for the dough to cool just enough to hold it together to make it to your mouth without slowly bending in half, and short enough to keep the chips in ooey-gooey form. 

With the hype of the holidays there should be more taken from them than just the giving of gifts. They should include spending time with family--the family you were born into and those who've become "family" along the way--and friends...old and new. It's about the people, the traditions, the memories. Christmas has always been a guarantee that I'll see those that have staked a claim to a piece of my heart...and that my stocking will have gum and lip gloss. It's the former that I value most, but even the traditional stocking stuffers work their way into tradition. Into a day I've enjoyed since birth, but only began to remember from age 5. And as the years have past, I've realized just how special the holidays are.

Being that I don't live close to family or even some of my closest friends, the holiday season of the past 10 years or so have brought the joy of knowing that I'll return to the familiar place I still call "home." A place I knew well for 17 years. And while I've stopped growing, the trees that I danced around and hung from as a youth have grown taller, marking the time past. Each return home I'm flooded with memories I've created around that exact time in all the years leading up to that point; it's the memories that will last much longer than any material gift given. My nostalgic nature had, at one point, even brought me to slip a piece of wrapping paper into my stocking to stay until December 25 of the next year: a physical object to trigger the intangible of the Christmas before.

This season (and for those that follow), make the extra effort to enjoy the moments the holidays offer, as they are the most honest and "perfect gifts" given. The laughs. The drinks with old friends. The board game with a sibling. Even the embrace from the black sheep of the family, because no matter how you cut it, it's a hug people, and we could all benefit from giving and receiving a few more of them...

Cheers to you and yours!


through the words of others...

These words hang closely to the right of me each day at work, but they've gone unread for over a year. I let the words find a place in the minutes of my scattered day, and I'm sharing them here so they have the chance to find a place in yours:

To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch... to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded! ~ Emerson


teeny tale: Chinese finger trap.

they were similar but different. and it was that which made them different that pulled them in opposing directions, while oddly pulling them closer like two fingers fallen victim to the woven bamboo of a Chinese finger trap: the greater the effort to pull away, the stronger the force grew that joined them. until they each fell tired. finding themselves stuck in the middle of nowhere between here and there. it was then that the force that bound them released. but rather than quickly retreat, they slowly crept apart, as to not. trigger. the reflex. that had trapped them in the first place.