Monday, December 26, 2016

Saturday, December 24, 2016

The Light of Hope

“I can't run no more 
with that lawless crowd 
while the killers in high places 
say their prayers out loud. 
But they've summoned, they've summoned up 
a thundercloud 
and they're going to hear from me. 

Ring the bells that still can ring 
Forget your perfect offering 
There is a crack in everything 
That's how the light gets in.” 
Leonard Cohen

The Light of Hope

During my life here on earth there have been few artists who have spoken to me as eloquently as Leonard Cohen.  His words wove themselves into a language only my soul could understand, often denying me the ability to adequately articulate their unique meaning for to do so would have been equal to translating words only recognized by the heart.  In a prescient move that seemed to underscore the title of his only just released collection of songs, You Want it Darker, Leonard Cohen shook off the bonds of this world the day after the US election.  (The wisest woman of my acquaintance beat him by one day.)  And darker seems to be what we are destined to experience.  For an artist whose observations had illuminated the vicissitudes of our culture for decades, perhaps what we currently prepare to face was simply more than God felt he should have to endure.  Leonard Cohen’s work was done.  Ours is just beginning.

With each new henchman nominated to the cabinet of our new president-elect it becomes clearer that the values I hold dear will be under ridicule and peril over the next four years.  A known darling of white supremacists is now the chief presidential strategist.  We have a prospective Secretary of Energy who has voiced his desire to abolish that department entirely.  A possible Secretary of Education who is famously no fan of public education and a choice for Attorney General whose racist views denied him a judgeship in the past.  Up for Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency is a man who scoffs at the idea of climate change and our nominee for Secretary of State is the president of Exxon Mobile, a man impoverished in foreign policy experience but rich in oil negotiations, particularly with Russia.  It is now been proven by the CIA, FBI and the State Department that Russia influenced our election process to favor our new president-elect.  This fact is made even more frightening in the face of such nonchalant response from the same people who handled Mrs. Clinton’s innocuous emails as though each was still burning with hellfire itself.  It does not take much awareness to know that if the situation were reversed and Russia had successfully aided Mrs. Clinton the blowback from Congress and their talk radio pals would have been strong enough to sandblast the faces off Mt. Rushmore.  At what point does hypocrisy become evil?

By most anyone’s estimation this had been a dreadful year.  We have lost far too many bright lights to count.  Harper Lee, Prince, David Bowie, Zaha Hadid, Alan Rickman, Gene Wilder, Sir George Martin,  John Glenn -  just a small mention of everyone who left us.   New words entered our vocabulary:  Zika, Brexit, Aleppo.  We gaped as dignity, intelligence and grace were kicked to the curb in our embarrassing presidential election.  We mourned with those in Nice and Paris.  And in the midst of it all we wrestled with a frustrating sense of impotence in the face of each new horror, each new pain.  For what can one person do, really, in the face of a chaos that threatens to obliterate every goodness it can find.  

This weekend we celebrate the birth of Christ, a birth that was illuminated by a star of great light.  A star of hope.  In an interview this week Michelle Obama said, “Hope is necessary.  What else do you have if you don’t have hope?  What do you give your children if you can’t give them hope?"  Indeed, Christmas has always been about hope.  Hope of a new world, a new birth - hope of forgiveness, love, and comfort.  It is that hope that puts my feet on the ground each morning with a continued determination to do what I can, however small and insignificant it may seem, to foster beauty and kindness in the world around me, to share a bit of the hope announced by that long ago star .  

In my book of essays, From the House of Edward, there is a piece  I wrote one cold night during a Christmas season several years ago when I couldn’t sleep.  Sitting beside a twinkling Christmas tree as the last embers of a fire dwindled down in the grate I looked out my frost-rimmed window and felt as though my little fir-scented home was as removed from the ugliness of the world as those storybook cottages that sit, forever serene, inside a snow globe.  This year I feel that way more than ever.  It is from home that I take my strength to face the world around me.  Inside these walls it is cheery, loving and warm.  There is respect, kindness and laughter.  A favorite light is always on in the window, a light that glows in the darkness when I pull in the drive in the evening and, like the great star before it, it gives me hope, for I know inside those doors I’ll find much needed nourishment for my soul. 

 May we all look to that star of hope this Christmas season.  May it give us what we need to fight the good fight in the coming year; the fight for goodness, truth, love, and compassion.  And may all my wonderful readers have a Merry, Merry Christmas as we march into a new year with the determination such hope provides. 
 Bless you all.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Two Weeks to Go... A Last Minute Shopping List

Two Weeks to Go

The line of traffic stretched out in front of me as far as my eye could see, a long curving garland of red brake lights twinkling in the cold rain.  A rather macabre Christmas decoration, but I see Christmas everywhere just now.  I’m early this year.  My gifts are wrapped and those that needed to be mailed have been mailed.  The fudge is made and some of it has already been delivered.  The cards have been addressed and are winging their way across the world as we speak.  (You can peek into Christmas at The House of Edward on our Instagram page.)
But don’t be cross with me; it’s a rare thing for me to be completely at my leisure with two whole weeks still to go before Christmas, and for those of you with a bit more shopping to do…. here are a dozen goodies you can still grab up before the deadline.
Just click on the picture and it’s all nearly done. 
Fun, huh?

1. The Pajamas
She will love these.
AND, they’re on sale!

2.  The Teddy Bear
Perhaps for yourself.
We all need our own teddy these days, right?

3.  The Holiday Candle
Charles Dickens Library candle.
Combine this with THIS BOOK
 and you’ve got the perfect hostess gift.

4.  The Coat
Fake and fun.
The best kind.

5.  The Books
I know I’ve already done a book post but….
these sets are marvelous.
gardening set....
and a Narnia set.
And many, many more.
Too wonderful.

6.  The Sweater
One you can feel good in.
And feel good about.
Thanks, Emma.

7.  The Cookies
Bake these.
Include THIS.
 And you’re a genius.

8.  The Bike
and yes, a bit of a splurge.

9.  The Gloves
These keep your hands from freezing whilst walking the dog, 
and you can still text for help if you fall in a snowbank.
Plus, a wee bit of tartan!

10.  The Dog Toy
Fun, and immense satisfaction, for the whole family.

11.  The Scarf
Moon and Stars.
12.  The Yarn
100% Cashmere
and there’s still time to knit a cowl.
are flying across the world for Christmas.
Last shipping date, the 20th!
Don’t delay!