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      From a study by his officials: In the report, “The State of Homelessness in America,” even shelters get some of the blame for increasing the number of people who are homeless.The argument: Some people would be able to find their own housing if they were turned away from shelters. “While shelters play an extremely important role […]
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With a Christmas Heart / My Grown Up Christmas List

Every time at Christmas when I hear the song “Grown Up Christmas List” it reminds me that the most important things in life are the intangibles of love, health and family.

Do you remember me?
I sat upon your knee
I wrote to you with childhood fantasies
Well, I’m all grown-up now
Can you still help somehow?
I’m not a child, but my heart still can dream

So here’s my lifelong wish
My grown-up Christmas list
Not for myself, but for a world in need

No more lives torn apart
That wars would never start
And time would heal all hearts
Every man would have a friend
That right would always win
And love would never end
This is my grown-up Christmas list

Christmas has always been a mixed bag of emotions for me.  My early childhood was idyllic.  As a “cradle Catholic” I remember early on going to Midnight Mass with my parents and my two brothers, driving around to look at the Christmas lights, and then coming home to open one gift before going to sleep.  Christmas morning was absolute pandemonium.  Our parents spoiled us and there were piles and piles of gifts under the tree from “Santa” every year.  However, in 1966, my six year old brother died a week before Christmas.  It tore my family apart and Christmas was never again the same in my house.  My parents divorced, and my mother slipped into a horrible depression.

Three years later, my mother passed away in the first week of January.  My remaining brother and I were shipped off to live with separate family members since my father had to work full-time to pay off the bills that had accumulated from my brother’s and now my mother’s death.  I was eight years old at the time, sent to live with a relative that saw me as a burden she put up with only as a favor to my father.  Those loving, happy, Norman Rockwell Christmases were a distant memory to me now.

At 13, I was able to come home and live with my father again.  We had our own special Christmases and tried to regain some of the lost time, but it was bittersweet since my other brother, who was now 18, had become estranged because he felt my father had abandoned us.  I was just grateful to be back in a family home with my ‘daddy’.  He showered me with love and called me his princess but never exposed me to the pain he had in his heart as he still mourned the loss of his son and his wife.

At 15 I met the man who would become my husband.  We were married one month after my 18th birthday and I eagerly awaited our first Christmas together.  That year, my new husband, my father and I celebrated Christmas as a family.  My father and I had reconciled with my brother who had attended my wedding that August and we were looking forward to his visit during Christmas week — but the call came two days after Christmas, telling us that he had been killed in a motorcycle accident.  Another passing at Christmas time that would become a memory interfering with our ability to create joyful Christmas memories – but I refused to give up on Christmas.

In 1988 when our daughter was born it was now our turn to create those idyllic Christmas memories.  My father was eager to join in.  Each year, as we sat around our Christmas dinner table I said a silent prayer thanking God for another happy Christmas and another year that my father remained with me – the sole remaining member of my childhood nuclear family.  I knew it could not last forever and in 2001, I watched my father’s health fail.  I knew deep in my heart that his passing was near but I hoped against hope that there would be just one more Christmas with him; however, on December 20th, as I sat by his hospital bed, he opened his eyes and reached out his hand as if to someone in the room I could not see and said my brother’s name (the one who had passed in 1966).  Something in my heart told me this was it…he was moving on and I had to let him go.  I knew he would not go if I stayed there and held on to him, keeping him selfishly with me.  He looked over at me in a brief moment of clarity and while I had his gaze I said “goodbye Daddy…I love you” and I left the room.  The nurse called me at home about four hours later and said that he had passed peacefully. It was Dec. 21st.

We now have new traditions since my father’s passing.  My husband’s sister, who lives out of state has 3 little girls who are absolutely adorable and they join us on the day after Christmas for what we call “Our 2nd Christmas.”  We have our “Christmas Eve” and wake up to piles of presents under the tree; my husband dresses as Santa and hands out the gifts while my daughter snaps piles of pictures.  We then all sit down for a huge family meal and celebrate the joy and love that a close family can bring.

Sometimes in the midst of all of the commercialism we lose sight of the spirit of the season.  It’s about Love and being good to one another.  As I grew up, all I remember about Christmas is wanting to have a family to celebrate with.  I never gave up and I have been blessed.  My wonderful husband of 30 years is by my side for another Christmas.  My beautiful daughter is here with me; and our house will soon be filled with the laughter and chaos of three young children.  Wrapping paper will be flying everywhere, Christmas tunes will fill the air, and I will sit back to observe and thank God that I have another Christmas with my family.

May you, my extended Conflucian family, have a Holiday Season filled with Love, Peace, and Joy.  You have all earned it.  Celebrate whatever religious or secular traditions that are an important part of your life “With a Christmas Heart.”

As an update, my very best friend — who had stopped talking to me because I didn’t support “teh Precious” — called me this Christmas Eve to say she missed my friendship and agreed that he was a backtracking empty suit.  I missed her too and to me, these are the things I consider the very best gifts I can receive.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS TO EVERYONE.  I’M SO GRATEFUL FOR THE COMMARADERIE HERE.  JOY TO ALL.

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Rascal Flatts

Tis The Season to Be Jolly!

santadump

Many years ago when I first got out of the Army, I got a job as an exterminator in San Jose.  It wasn’t exactly a glamorous job but it paid the bills.  I had a route that was mostly residential accounts, which meant  I did exterior  sprays of the homes and yards of regular customers.  In San Jose that’s a year-round job because the weather is so mild.

Some of my customers kept their gates locked so I had to call ahead the evening before to let them know I was coming.  One Christmas Eve morning I knocked on the door of one of my call-ahead accounts and I was surprised when the lady of the house answered the door in a sexy negligee.  I was even more surprised when without saying a word she took my hand and led me to the bedroom where she treated me to a very erotic experience.

Afterwards, I was putting my uniform back on when she reached over to her purse on the nightstand, pulled out a dollar and handed it to me.  I was confused and asked her why.  She said:

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Wrap Music

It’s that time, guys.  It’s the crunch.  Can you get all your presents wrapped in time?  Do you even care anymore?  Sure you do!

But if you’re like me, you need to be in the right mood.  No, not Christmas music.  I’m talking about music that gives you energy and optimism.  I’m not talking about Ludacris or whatever the hell Obama listens to these days.  I’m talking about someone from Down Under.

So, fix yourself a Negroni, because it just looks so damned festive and tell me what music you like to wrap to.

Prayers to Light Your Way – for BJ

empire-state-chanukahThe Empire State Building, lit up for Chanukah

in NYC’s first snow storm of the year, December 19, 2008

Dear Readers,

Chanukah, the festival of lights, more than any Jewish holiday I know of, celebrates miracles. In ancient Judaism, circa 168 BC, the second temple was destroyed in a war between the Jews and the Syrian-Hellenists, when they forced Jews to assimilate. Although the sacred items of the temple’s altar were decimated, enough oil was recovered to light the flame of remembrance for one night. But instead of lasting for just one night, the flame burned for eight days and eight nights. It was called a miracle and Jews made a holiday, and with that, of course, they/we eat.

In remembrance of this time in history — when what seemed like the darkest hour, light emerged, propagated by a small flame. Jews celebrate by lighting candles and partaking of delicacies fried in oil: latkes in the US and doughnuts in Israel. The Jewish calendar is lunar, thus different each year, and this year, the winter solstice coincided with the first night of Chanukah. On the shortest day and night of the year, where darkness prevails, the light of hope was kindled. And now, the year has turned and daylight will continue to increase. In that same vein, may our ability to produce good in the world, in the “square inch field” and in the grand scheme of things also increase.

In this spirit, I ask that you to turn your attention and prayers to one of our own PUMA family members who’s in need. I’ve been sending prayers and thoughts toward BettyJean Kling, her daughters Louisa and Denise, and her whole family since hearing of their horrible family tragedy.

Last week, Louisa was violently assaulted by her sister Denise’s estranged husband. Riverdaughter stickied her poignant vigil post that described the situation: Louisa, who had been caring for Denise who is in an advanced stage of cancer, is now in the hospital fighting for her own life and brain function. If you want to read more of the story, you can find it here. And, last Friday night, December 19, Sheri Tag broadcast a special interview with BettyJean on Puma United Radio that you can listen to here. The show had me reeling, shaking my head in disbelief. It’s hard to believe that such assaults occur in our world, but indeed, they are all too common.

BettyJean welcomes all prayers. She asks that “no infection take hold, and may the left brain take over for the right with some time, God willing.” The latest update gives us more hope: on Monday night Louisa squeezed BettyJean’s finger and the doctors are now concerned with brain function instead of removal from life support.

Great Spirit, please provide strength and healing to Louisa, Denise, BettyJean, and her entire family. Amen.

Please take this time to click on and play the Moody Blues track below, listen to the words with your eyes closed, let the music inspire you, and try to contact Louisa, and anyone else in your circle that you’d like to send energy to or connect with.

Thank you for all you do! With love, and may the lights of Chanukah and Christmas shine upon you all, and brighten your nights, LBNYC

I Know You’re Out There Somewhere

[. . .] The words that I remember
From my childhood still are true
That there’s none so blind
As those who will not see
And to those who lack the courage
And say it’s dangerous to try
Well they just don’t know
That love eternal will not be denied

I know you’re out there somewhere

Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

Yes I know it’s going to happen
I can feel you getting near
And soon we’ll be returning
To the fountain of our youth
And if you wake up wondering
In the darkness I’ll be there
My arms will close around you
And protect you with the truth

I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere, somewhere
I know you’re out there somewhere
Somewhere you can hear my voice
I know I’ll find you somehow
Somehow, somehow
I know I’ll find you somehow
And somehow I’ll return again to you

[cross-posted from LadyBoomerNYC]

Merry Almost Christmas!

I Hate You, and You, and You...

I Hate You, and You, and You...

In the spirit of the season, I’d like to take a break from my usual snark to ask this question:

Who Would Jesus Hate?

Now, if you ask Rick Warren, it’s Jews, women who have abortions and are not properly submissive to their husbands, and teh gays. (Whew – that’s a lotta hatin’.)

If you ask the pope, it’s teh gays. (Yes, homosexuality is hot! Oh, that’s not what he meant?)

I know I’m a Jooo, but so was Jesus. And if we’re going to cherry-pick the Bible to make it reflect our beliefs (as all Judeo-Christians do, since the book is full of contradictions and outdated restrictions), then why can’t we pick the most enlightened parts, the most tolerant parts, the most loving parts?

Like this one:

“If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing….

And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.”

– 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

And what about this, which is directly attributed to Jesus himself?

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.

Matthew 22:36-40

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Toxic Fallout from Proposition 8 and Other Anti-Gay Initiatives

Alternative to the "O" *hate signal*
Photo is of young gay men at a counter rally to an anti-gay demonstration.

Yesterday, Murphy wrote a powerful post about Melissa Etheridge “reaching out” to Rick Warren and getting rolled. Then Murphy contrasted Etheridge’s cowardice with a news story from Richmond, CA, in the San Francisco Bay area–same state different lesbian.

A woman in the San Francisco Bay area was jumped by four men, taunted for being a lesbian, repeatedly raped and left naked outside an abandoned apartment building, authorities said Monday.

Detectives say the 28-year-old victim was attacked Dec. 13 after she got out of her car, which bore a rainbow gay pride sticker. The men, who ranged from their late teens to their 30s, made comments indicating they knew her sexual orientation, said Richmond police Lt. Mark Gagan.

“It just pushes it beyond fathomable,” he said. “The level of trauma — physical and emotional — this victim has suffered is extreme.”

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