My two hearts- Granddaughters Tenley age 2.5 and Sophia age 3.5. Next year there will be a third face in the photo. Photo by Stephanie Seccaspina
In December of 2006 I was in Berkeley, California and this little story was a feature in many publications, but years have gone by, so I have edited it. A lot happens with your writing in 11 years.:)
Dec. 14th, 2006 at 6:49 PM– Searching for Goodwill Among Men and Women
It’s pouring rain as I walk around the downtown in Oakland and there seems to be just no mention of Christmas anywhere. No tree or lights–not even a garland, just an over abundance of Peking Ducks hanging in the window due to the pouring rain and few customers.
St. Mary’s Church on San Pablo Ave. in Oakland, California
The Salvation Army has a Seasons Greeting sign and some Christmas dolls in the window, that’s it. St. Mary’s Church on San Pablo Ave. has over 100 crosses on their front lawn now. I try and count them as I wait for the light. Each one represents someone who died a violent death in Oakland this year. These people were not killed by terrorists, nor cowboys from Nevada. They were killed over drugs, and killed by brothers and sisters, neighbours and old friends.
I decide to take a hike over to San Francisco and give my seasonal wishes to Alan at Goodwill on Mission Street. He tells me the employee Christmas party is tomorrow night and they had to take the tree down as someone complained, and it’s now called the Holiday Party.
The Castro in San Francisco
On the other hand, all of the Castro district has Christmas trees and one heck of a festive spirit. Windows are beautiful, and even the Pottery Barn has a tree in the window. The cookie shops have their doors open and it smells like home which I miss. I walk slowly and savour each window. Glancing over my shoulder I catch a glimpse of Twin Peaks which is covered in fog, but I can still see sparkling lights all the way up the street.
When I arrive at the record store I find out it doesn’t open up for another 15 minutes so I stand in a doorway to stay out of the rain. My hair is soaking, I look like heck, and I have a cart. A man goes by me, hands me a dollar, and tells me to stay dry. I begin to laugh as he thinks I’m homeless. I thank him anyways.
The last year the Christmas lights went up on our home before my late husband Angelo shown here with our dog Axel passed away. Miss them both. Read —The Story Behind the Christmas Lights on Stonewood Drive— and–In Memory of The Man Who Loved Christmas
So what happened through the years? Did I miss something? Where has the love gone? Was it stolen by the partridge in the pear tree? Did the Grinch hide it? In reality it’s not the icon of the Christmas tree, nor the decorations that I seek, it’s the love, the warmth, and the fellowship.
I make my way back to the subway and hand the dollar I got from the man in the Castro to a very wet homeless man and give him a hug. He smiles and says,
“Merry Christmas Mam”
“By the way if you have time we are all going to be sitting in front of Carl’s Jr. tonight”
I laugh at the homeless reference once again and give him the biggest hug I can muster.
Ange’s last Christmas 2013 and our sons: Schuyleur (Skyler) and Perry. He passed away barely two months later in February of 2014.
In the end I realize that Christmas for some,has basically become just a day most people get presents, even though it’s not supposed to be that way. The season is supposed to be about celebrating what you believe in and family. It’s about loving and sharing, and hopefully keeping those same thoughts in motion for the rest of the year. We all must remember that the love that he or she gives freely is always there– you just have to stop and listen.
It’s there– trust me– pass it on.
Tenley and Sophia 2017- Photo by Stephanie Seccaspina–Perfect balance– One to moon the world to not take itself so seriously and the other to make sure she doesn’t moon too much.
The man in my life who gives love freely and keeps me sane and puts up with all this writing I do daily. I don’t know what I would do without him–Steve Yaver. My neighbour and friend Jennifer Fenwick Irwin.
I wish I could tell you how I got into writing and how history has literally taken over my life. I know a small bout of depression was the beginning, but I have figured out it was always somewhere inside of me. After blogging about this and that for 10 years, all of a sudden world politics and rants became lower in interest on the food chain. Knowing about the local past of the Lanark, Ontario population and the Eastern Townships in Quebec became more important to me, and quite honestly an obsession.
Was it my beloved teacher from Cowansville High School the late great Miss Phelps who named me the recipient of the top award for art honours in Grade 6 even though I can only draw stick figures? What did she see in me? Does creativity count for that much? Was it something I caught from her?
Or, was it from Jimmy Manson—ooops, now known as Jim Manson, who I won the Twist contest with in Grade 5 at Cowansville High School in Quebec? We all know Jim became an iconic history genius teaching at Bishop’s University etc. and was mentored by Miss Phelps. He is now a prominent figure representing Eastern Townships history and also a Brome County Historical Society lecturer among other things.
Small acts of words when shared by many people can transform the world. If we as a community don’t step up to help each other — then who will? My greatest achievement in life is recording community history about the citizens who made it what it is and was. We rise by lifting others.
Whatever you celebrate–enjoy– and from me–Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and the best of the season. Just like Sophia and Tenley– let those feelings go!
Come and visit the Lanark County Genealogical Society Facebook page– what’s there? Cool old photos–and lots of things interesting to read. Also check out The Tales of Carleton Place.
Information where you can buy all Linda Seccaspina’s books-You can also read Linda in The Townships Sun and Screamin’ Mamas (USA)
Hometown News 2017