Monthly Archives: December 2012

A Beginning from an End


With less than an hour left in December, and 2012, it seems I should write a blog post to conclude this month of “work”. I did not blog daily, or even come close in December, but that is OK, because I began, which is exactly what I needed to do.

As it turns out, I did a lot of things I needed to do this year, to end how things were and pave the way for what I want my life to be. This year Andy and I packed up and sold our house; donated, hawked and pitched things that made our house a home, and moved half way across the country and back. I submitted a hundred job applications, worked two part-time jobs and two full-time jobs.

Tonight, nothing is the same as it was one year ago.   I have a full-time job with insurance, Andy is in a school he loves, and I am sharing my writing with the universe.

In 2012, everything changed. So tonight, as the moon light glitters patches of snow, and 2012 gasps its last breaths of icy air, I am cherishing this year, and its opportunity to forge a beginning from an end.

Happy New Year!

Put Another Word on the Fire


For the past two years, a rite of the holiday season was attending a solstice fire on the farm of a friend of a friend. It is an occasion when people, meaning and setting converge to create a memorable experience. To the observer, (at least me, as the observer) there is a movie-esque surreal quality to the event. The farm is an organic farm,  nestled in the foothills that form the east boundary of the Treasure Valley. It is situated in a way that makes it seem you could walk up the hill and step onto the moon, when it rises. On the grounds, 30-50 bundled-up, handsome, intelligent, healthy, mostly organic people cheerfully mill about or chat with hands wrapped around steaming drinks. Then, they circle a large fire holding pieces of paper or wood bearing words until they are ready to send their aspirations for the coming year out into the universe by giving them to the flames. Most people share their words, many explain them, a few step forward, toss, and step back in silence, and one or two will tell stories about their words. Then, when all the hopes are in the sky,  someone tries to start singing, and laughing ensues. It is an utterly fantastic night in a low-key and profoundly meaningful way.

This year I wanted to share the experience with Andy, but He-Who-Bawks-New-Experiences rejected my proposal of attendance. When I believe it’s genuinely important he does something, I override him, and pull out the Because-I-Said-So card if his protests persist; but I didn’t this time, because in the big picture perspective, it seemed better for us to stay home.

So, last night, in honor of the winter solstice, I dragged the fire pit from its winter home to its place on the patio and built a fire. Then, Andy and I wrote the thing we most want to manifest in the upcoming year and fed them to the small, struggling flames.  Andy threw his aspiration on the fire first. I suspected he intended to keep it to himself, or hoped it would theatrically reveal itself as it burned, but once it was ash, he was compelled to divulge it. I won’t tell you Andy’s word because it is not mine to share, but I am proud of his choice and the consideration he showed in choosing it.

In 2010, my aspiration was “Trust”, in 2011, “Focus”. This year, my word was BALANCE. Our small patio fire pit flame and gathering of two was not the grand gathering and blaze of the farm, but was just right for us. On Solstice, I created the balance I am choosing to seek this year. A rather good start, I think.


Struggling to keep my balance


A persistent challenge for me has been keeping my balance, literally and figuratively. Things have been going quite smoothly for the past few months, so I almost forgot how hard this can be, but I have been reminded of it a number of times, in a plethora of ways, this week.

To me, it seems everything is about balance. In yoga, the fix for my problem is easy. I park my mat near a wall, so I can use it when I need to stabilize myself, or I keep both feet on the ground. In life, the answer is not so simple, because there are so many things to balance…when to try things and when to pass on them. When to talk and when to listen. When to hold my ground and when to relinquish my agenda. When to keep going, and when to stop. When to speak out and when to let things go.

I haven’t been writing this week, because I haven’t know what to say. It didn’t seem anything I could say here could mean anything, in the context of life of past seven days. Tonight I got a call that had me thinking I was going to have to change my plans, start over again, and couldn’t write now. But then, I realized I was wrong.

So tonight, I am writing despite that I am struggling to find words and thoughts, just so I do it, because to keep doing things that are important to me is something I need to work on as much as stopping things that get in the way of being my best self. I am fighting to keep my balance.

When Bad Things Happen – Part 2


I wrote this post after the previous one. There is some redundancy between the two, because the first was a comment in response to a friend’s posting, and this was what I wrote to share on my wall. I don’t talk about mental health much, because I spent so much time writing about it for letters to Legislators Tuesday night, and in the other post, that I felt like I talked about it already.

It’s past 3 a.m. and I take The Big Exam later this morning. I should be sleeping. I need to start reviewing my resources at 6, so if I don’t know answers I know where to find them, but I can’t care that I’m not sleeping. My mind is full of thoughts of how incredibly fortunate I have been throughout my life, and am tonight, to cover my son with a blanket and kiss him good night, as he sleeps on the couch. I think of those who were deprived of that gift forever, today and find myself thinking any worries I can have for myself now, and any problems I may have later this morning are trite, because I could hug Andy tonight,  and hear him mumble, “I love you, too” .

And, I am angry with myself, because I have had very strong feelings about mental health care and gun laws for many years, and shared them on Facebook for the past three years as if that counted for something in someway. I did research on gun violence, accidents and the effectiveness of guns for personal security/protection. I explored other perspectives on gun ownership, tried to make arrangements with several people to go shooting, and learned what it takes to carry concealed in Idaho. I read hundreds of studies, journal articles, insurance benefit descriptions and worked in mental health with real people living in the actual world.  Yet, I waited until Tuesday night to start drafting letters to those who can actually create and enact laws to diminish the problems, the law makers that represent me at State and Federal levels. It took the mall shooting in Portland to push me to that.Bad things happen everywhere, but I am not convinced tragedy needs to be of the intensity or frequency we are experiencing in the U.S. The bombing and mass shooting claiming 77 lives in Norway last year was the worst tragedy there since World War II.There was an incident in a school in China today, too. A mentally unstable man injured an elderly women and twenty-two children with a knife. There weren’t accounts for the number of children who were able to run away from the assailant in the report I read, but since the incident apparently took place on a school ground, it seems reasonable to assume there were at least some others there.

I am bringing this up not to suggest the U.S. should be more like China, but to present the differences between being attacked with a knife and facing a perpetrator with a gun. A person with a knife can only attack one person at a time. It takes intense physical effort, and allows more opportunity for victims to flee. The notable point of the story about China, for me, is that no one died. All twenty-two of those children and that woman in China were alive tonight, with a chance to recover. That is what a knife offers readily, that a gun offers sparingly. A chance to live, even if you don’t get away. The parents of 22 children are fortunate tonight, to hear their children crying.

But here mass killers use guns (if you doubt this, Google “Mass stabbings U.S. and see what results you get, then remember “mass” is 4 or more deaths other than the killer’s in a single incident), and once again, the world saw how that plays out in the U.S. today. Only one woman escaped with injuries. Twenty children and seven adults died, and according to news reports, were still in the school tonight. I keep thinking of them, on the cold, hard floor of the school.

I also keep thinking about the parents, families and community facing the silence of lost daughters, sons, mothers, sisters, friends and co-workers tonight, and keep feeling I helped allow it with my silence for the past several years.

I am done being silent. I have lived, learned and thought about the issues enough. I have reached my conclusion. People with guns kill people. I can’t, with my silence, facilitate people getting guns to kill people any longer.


This is my opinion, my take on Friday morning’s tragedy based on my knowledge, experience and understanding of life’s issues. I do not expect it to be yours, nor am I suggesting it should be.

When Bad Things Happen – Part 1



I was up all night last night. Thinking, reading and writing. If you read  my reaction to the Portland mall shooting Tuesday, I am guessing you can figure out why.

One of the things I wrote was a comment responding to a post on Facebook by my friend, “Buddy” (not his real name). I thought I would share it here…

In our posts, we refer to an article about mass stabbings in China yesterday.

I will try to post the link, if I can figure out how to do it quickly enough, but you can also find it here:


BUDDY:  What happened today is so very tragic as were the past shootings. As much as I would like to see gun laws reformed, it would not have prevented this from happening. Just today in China a similar attack happened, instead of guns being used knives were used. We could put metal detectors and security at every entrance of every school library or public building, shopping mall and theater. We could outright ban guns entirely and not change anything. What we need to do as humankind, as a society, is to address the underlying problems that pushes us as countries, groups or individuals to the point that we feel the only way to achieve results is through fear,violence or someones death. Somehow we as a society have to stop these tragedies from happening.


ELYSE:  I agree with you almost completely Buddy, but also think it is noteworthy that the children and woman in China were injured, and have chances to recover. In the U.S. similar perpetrators have semi-automatic guns with high-capacity clips that significantly diminish the opportunity to escape and survive. Bad things are going to happen, but I believe our nation’s tragedies are made profoundly worse by the ease of acquisition of guns. If it is harder to buy “assault” weapons and high-capacity clips, less people own them, and it will be more difficult for potential perpetrators to get them by buying them or stealing them from people they know (as was the case in Portland). Nothing is going to prevent tragedies from EVER happening, but I think there are ways of diminishing the frequency and degree of devastation one person can wreak on those at a school, in a mall, or swimming in a river, in the single or small number of opportunities they tend to get to act.

I believe we need a system that allows those dedicated to being responsible gun owners/users the opportunity to do so, but weed out those acting on more situational or impulsive motivators. It seems to me this could be done by making gun ownership/use of any gun capable of holding more than 10 bullets (or other capacities/firing rates beyond those of hunting rifles, shotguns, or small handguns) require: (1) a prolonged, concerted effort and (2) acceptance of responsibility associated with the power of owning a gun. This could be done by requiring background checks, courses and competency requirements for licensing, public service protection/militia training and registration commensurate with the 2nd amendment right allowing citizens to have said gun, AND requiring potential buyers to pay for and complete background checks, classes, certifications, etc. to get a license allowing them to legally purchase a gun.

Yes, people would still sell guns illegally, which means people could still buy guns illegally, but that does not make anything any different than it is now, or was when the ban on assault weapons was in effect. But those who break laws are criminals, subject to punishment by law. Fees for licensing could include enforcement funding, which could help reduce incentive for generally legitimate gun sellers to circumvent the system. Owning an illegal firearm one can’t justify having simply because they “can” would also be more likely to raise big red flag to those who know a person, and their behavioral propensities.

Since mental health problems tend to “cycle” in intensity, it is not unreasonable to think that the potential side effect of a prolonged process for gun ownership could take the time someone needs to cycle out of a highly violent episode of mental illness, or to register on someone’s radar, and get the help they need. This is just my opinion…or the Facebook part of it, at least.

A Night When Blogging Won’t Do


I had three ideas for blog postings tonight. I even have outlines, actually scribbled words and arrows on memo paper (SWAMPs?), for two of them, so I could express my thoughts in an orderly, coherent fashion that may actually be meaningful and entertaining. But, my plans changed when I heard the news, while driving home from work.

A gunman armed with a semi-automatic weapon opened fire in a mall in Portland this afternoon. According to the article I read in The Oregonian, three people (two victims and the shooter) are dead and another is critically injured.

Suddenly, there is nothing I can say here, because everything I had to say seems trite.  I perceive the word “people” as  multiple number of breathing, feeling, thinking, caring human beings. I don’t understand why people should be able to own semi-automatic assault-style weapons or high-capacity clips, and why The People aren’t demanding measures be put in place to reduce the opportunity for this to happen. So tonight I am going to start looking for answers.

AND I am drafting a letter to send to my state’s representatives in D.C.. I’m sick of hearing about people’s mothers and brothers and children and friends getting shot while watching movies, shopping at the mall, driving down freeways, going to school, or swimming in a river. I am tired of feeling bad, moving on with life, and then having it happen again.  So, this time I am doing something about it. I am expressing my concerns with the state (the lack of it) of effective Mental Health care and the ease of access to lethal weapons and munitions in the U.S.

Yes, I do know that I am probably wasting my time, but when it comes down to it, SOMEONE in a Congressional office somewhere will browse my letter, or at least part of it, because they MUST…which will put it one reader up on this, AND give me the comfort of knowing I actually DID something, this time.

Nipped by a Bug


It is one minute before ten (at night) and Andy just emerged from his room to scrounge for some dinner. He had salad on his mind, but could not find dressing he likes, because we got sidetracked in the grocery store yesterday when we needed an ingredient for the BBQ French dressing he likes me to make that was not on our list. We were so worried about forgetting to buy Barbecue sauce, that we ran right by the shelves of dressing in the produce section that offer instant gratification. Making salad dressing now is not on my radar or his, so he is making a sandwich. Natural consequences can be a bite.

I feel a little bad though, because I meant to show him how to make the BBQ French dressing yesterday, so he could have it on hand, and this would not happen — but I got sidetracked from that too, first by setting up the Christmas tree, and then by exhaustion. I have been worn out at the end of most days, lately, and I think I found out why…

I got nipped by a bug. It is going around, and people are dropping like flies at work, at the schools, everywhere. Today, it got me. So I left work early, came home and worked on taking care of myself by lying low. I am feeling a little better, so I am choosing to believe it helped. Now I am going to keep that up by calling the day done, instead of making salad dressing.

It’s Beginning to Look a Little Like Christmas…


Andy and I have been needing a little Christmas lately, which means there are halls (or at least a living room)  to be decked and movies to be watched.

So today we did it. After a month plus of putting it off, we went to storage. We did not find the sweaters and other winter clothes I actually need to stay warm for the next few months, but we did find some books and knick-knacks Andy wanted for his room, and more Christmas stuff than I remembered keeping last spring.

We left storage with 10 boxes plus a few stray items. Andy, a Dr. Who fan, declared my Corolla was a Tardis (the Dr.’s time machine that looks like a Police Call Box from the outside, but is endlessly spacious, on the inside) when I had it all packed, with room to spare in the trunk, but not for his legs in the front seat.

The next stop on the itinerary was the store for some groceries, new earbuds and a Christmas tree. Getting the Christmas tree was an “event” of the holidays, in our former lives,  meriting a double page spread in the scrapbook. When Andy touted the “efficiency” of getting a tree from the grocery store after leaving storage, I did not know if I should be proud, or sad, so I was a little of both, believe it or not.

Andy took it even further, by suggesting we buy an artificial tree, as we walked in. I did not know what to think of this. The kids had artificial trees in their rooms for years, but with the exception of  last year, when we used Andy’s 6′ tree with lights, and nothing else as our main tree, we had real trees.

Ours were big and beautiful trees that involved a process that became a rite of Christmas, for our family. Sometimes a week could pass between picking it out at a tree lot, and the final step of placing the skirt beneath it. Getting the ornaments and house decorations from the storage shed or the attic above the garage was a planned family activity, the first weekend in December. I wound strings of lights around the branches, from trunk to edge, to trunk again for days. Then I started on ornaments. The kids would help a bit each year, or most years, but I did most of it at night, after they were in bed, because that was the way it started when they were little and late night was the only time I had to decorate a tree.

The first time was our first Christmas in our first house. Zoe was going to be turning five in January, and Andy turned one that fall, so I was determined to make it magical, and my plan started with a big, beautiful tree.

I had left my outside job in August to do home daycare, so I could be home with our kids and actually generate income, rather spend my earnings on day care. By Thanksgiving, I had 7 kids coming and going each day, the first set arriving at 5:30 in the morning, the last set leaving at 6:00 p.m. Sitting on the floor with a glass of wine, wrapping the glowing strings of multi-colored bulbs around and around to the soft beat of Christmas music was a nice way to launch the Christmas season, at the time. So nice that I left nary a sprig was unilluminated, and ran out of lights twice  before I finally wound a cord around the needle-bare stick at the top. I used a total of 21 strings of 100 count lights on our eight foot Christmas tree that year, and  everyone who saw it reveled at its splendor. It was radiant.

It was also hot, with all those lights, so by Christmas Day, the tree was so dried out that we only dared let it shine for 10 minutes at a time, while both sides of the family filled our home for dinner.

From then on, all of our trees were like that…glowing spectacles of thousands of miniature lights and hundreds of memories hung by hooks. It was what we did, or I did, at least.

So, I was surprised today, when Andy suggested we buy an artificial tree, and I agreed. And I was surprised when I guessed that five sets of 50-count LED lights would be enough irradiation for the seven foot cone-o-wires and plastic shred, and it turned out that four strings were enough.

I like our tree, just as it is, because today, Andy and I found the Christmas we were needing came in making it happen together, and the joy of the season doesn’t get any better than that.

Unable to connect to the Internet



Written Saturday, December 8

I am a planner. Planning is how I get everything, anything done. I had plans for today. To have coffee with friends, go to yoga, get some groceries and go to storage to get winter clothes and Christmas decorations, then to study for the tax exam I take next Saturday,  work on a Microsoft training course, and write this blog entry.

The universe had different ideas for me though. I have been feeling like I am coming down with something this week. I have been achy, and had the chills. When I got home from yoga around 1:00 I was exhausted, and decided to take a nap. I did not set an alarm, and woke up at 6:30 this evening. I slept the light away, and was thrown off.  I was foggy. How am I going to get to sleep tonight? Should I study?

I should return the videos we rented last weekend, I realized. They might have been due yesterday, but could be due today, and if there is a chance I can avoid late fees, I want to. So I drove to Hastings, returned the videos, and rented a new one, to do something with the time I seemed to need to figure out what to do about sleeping.

When I got back, I was chilled and achy again, but ready to study, and write my blog entry. A different entry, that I will share another time, if it feels right. But the universe had different plans for me.  Its message was Unable to connect to the Internet, and I knew it was right.

My exam prep, the Microsoft courses, and the posting of my blog all depended on getting online, so I saw it as a sign. I stopped worrying about what I was not doing, and focused on curling up under a blanket, relaxing, and enjoying the movie I rented tonight. I probably could have figured out the problem with my wireless connection, but chose not to try. I chose to connect with what my body was telling it me needed most, instead of what my brain was saying I “should” do.  I stopped.

Tomte, Klompens, A Rocking Chair and St. Nicholas (A Story)

A Tomten and Klompens

My Tomten and Klompens – December 6, 2011

I wrote the first draft of this story last year on December 6th, St. Nicholas Day, then revised it a few days later to share at the December meeting for a women’s writing group I belonged to then. I planned to share it on this blog last night, but did not have the energy to proofread it, and write the update I wanted to include, so I slept last night and am sharing this today.


On December 5th, 1966 I sat on my bed, like I did every night when I was 3, and waited for my mom to read me a story. That night, she carried a book into my room, rather than picking one from the shelf or asking if I had picked one myself. It was The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren.

I was excited before she lifted the cover.  Tomte – Swedish gnomes – were notorious mischief makers in our family.  They stole socks from the laundry, dropped mittens onto the back stairs, and were unquestionably blamed for eating the ripe cherry tomatoes in my grandma’s garden. That there was a book about them meant they MUST be special.

The Tomten of the story lives on a small, lonely farm nestled deep in a forest of Northern Sweden. We enter his world, on a clear winter night. “The snow lies white all around, the frost is cruel,” we are told, the people have gone into their warm, cozy houses. The farm is quiet. “Everyone is sleeping. All but one…”

By the soft glow of moonlight, The Tomten moves from building to building, making tracks in the snow.  He cares for the animals as he makes his rounds, and talks to them in tomten language, “a silent, little language” they can understand. As he tends to their needs on this bitter night, he reminds them that spring will come, of the blessings in what they have, about friendship, faith and love.

I was mesmerized by the tale and its charming illustrations.  When it was time to leave the Tomten’s farm, I was bursting with enchantment, and my mom knew it.

So it was at that very moment that she told me about St. Nicholas Day, December 6th. On St. Nicholas Day, she told me, St. Nicholas visits towns and villages, where they have parties and feasts in his honor.  On the night before, she reported, children in Sweden and “other countries” left their shoes outside their door. If they had been good, they would wake to find St. Nicholas had filled their shoes with treats.  Because we were Swedish, mom continued, St. Nicholas visited our house, too. Today is December 5th, St. Nicholas Day is tomorrow, she explained, so I would probably want to pick of a pair of shoes to set outside my bedroom door. I was skeptical, I remember, because I knew St. Nicholas was Santa, and Santa came on Christmas Eve and Christmas Eve was a looooong way away since we had opened Door 19 on the Advent calendar that morning.  I expressed my doubts. “OK,” mom said, “but don’t expect your brothers to share their treats with you tomorrow.”

After I climbed out of bed, a slight detour toward the door allowed me a glimpse my MUCH older and wiser brothers’ Sunday shoes in the hall. If they, of 9 and 12, set their shoes neatly against the baseboard of the wall between their bedrooms, I should put a pair of my shoes outside my door, too. I slid the heavy closet door back on its track so it thunked against the frame and scared the trolls living in the closet into the walls, just as my brothers told me to do.

I was leaning in, surveying the dark void to make sure it was troll-free when my brain sounded the alarm. Would my Sunday shoes be good enough?  I wondered. I had called my cousin Ginny a brat that day and tattled on my brother.  I needed to put out my VERY BEST shoes, I realized as I inspected the mound of footwear on the floor.

Then I saw them, in the corner where they landed after bouncing off the laundry basket during night time clean up – my klompens – the wooden shoes my mom bought me at the Holland (Michigan) Tulip Festival, the spring before.  If any shoes could get me treats despite my errant three-year-old ways, it would be my klompens.

The next morning, when I emerged from my room, one my shoes and each of my brothers’ were filled with a glistening ruby-red apple and a candy cane, and the other contained a small wrapped gift.  My gift was a Millie Middle Little Kiddle doll. It was magic, I proclaimed as I ran from room to room. Magic that can wait for daylight, my older brother said, as I tried to roust him from his bed.

That morning was the first of many enchanting December 6ths. As I grew, the trinkets grew with me, and when I stopped putting my shoes outside my door, St. Nicholas came anyway. He sneaked books into my Moon Boots, Lip Smackers into ski boots left in the breezeway, and earrings into a stray Candie’s clog on its side on my bedroom floor. It was a tradition, for our family.  Every year there was something, and it always felt like magic, for a moment, at least.


On the night of December 5th, 1994, my daughter sat on her bed, as she did every night when she was almost 3, and despite her objections to my reading  MorMor’s Story, I read her  The Tomten.  It had been a gift from my mom, her Mormor, when we gathered for Thanksgiving that year.  After I finished, and she conceded that it was OK this time, I told her the story of St, Nicholas Day, and how I had chosen to put my klompens outside my door, when I was her age. I told her she could use my klompens, too, if she wanted.

But my daughter did not inherit my skepticism or doubt concerning whether she was “good” enough to get treats. She jumped from the bed, pulled her pink Converse high tops from the closet, and placed them outside her bedroom door.  That year and the next, we were both enchanted on the morning of December 6th, Zoe by the treats that magically appeared in her favorite shoes de jour, and I by the comforting exuberance of continuing traditions steeped in love.

Something happened after that, though, and St. Nicholas Day got lost in the melee of parenting, work, holiday shopping and the ongoing stress of a bad marriage. Each year, around Halloween, I would want to remember, but December 6th would come and go before I would think of it again. My son Andy, who is only three years younger than his sister has never known the simple joy of finding treats and trinkets in his shoes. The tradition died.


On December 6, 2011, I sat in bed as I do many mornings, and wrote in my journal. When I finished waxing on my hopes for the day I went downstairs to get new tax class information I wanted to organize. When I picked up the papers and workbook, I realized the binder I planned to use was too small, so I went out to the garage where I keep the overflow stock. Mission accomplished, stuff on a makeshift table fashioned from floorboards laid across strategically spaced plastic bins, grabbed my attention. It was a garage sale table, one of several currently filling my garage as I try to sell off and get rid of what we don’t want or can’t take with us when we lose our house and move, soon. This one is different from the other tables of “junk” though, it holds trinkets of memories  –  a little girl’s jewelry, beanbag toys , resin figurines from birthdays past. Memories better held in hearts than in our hands, I chanted to myself, as I stuck colored dots declaring 25¢ and 50¢ and laid them out for sale.

On top of the wood crate “shelf” in the center of the table, were my klompens.  It wasn’t the first time they caught my eye since they were relegated to liquidation in August. I’ve wanted to pick them up a hundred times since I put them there, but wouldn’t or couldn’t touch them out of fear that I would not put them back down, and a frenzied reclamation of knick-knacks would ensue. “Let them go,” I told myself as I walked into the house with the binder tucked under my arm. Then I remembered it was St. Nicholas Day, and the memories you’ve been reading started swirling in my brain. I went back out to the garage, picked them up, peeled the red dot with a Sharpie scribbled $1 off the toe, and carried my klompens back into the house.  Once inside, I set them on the floor next to the chair I sat and rocked my children in, on long, dark nights, while everyone else was asleep. Then I sat down, and pulled The Tomten from the wooden rack next to the rocker.

“Winters come and winters go,

Summers come and summers go,

Soon you will be in your clover field.”

The Tomten said, in tomten language, a silent little language I could understand.

It’s been 45 years since I woke up that first December 6th.  Life has proved more challenging and amazing than I ever imagined as a child, or while raising mine. My klompens are outside my bedroom door, now, empty of treats but overflowing with memories and dreams. I don’t know whether I will keep them or not, now that I know I can hold onto memories without keeping stuff. But for now, they will stay, in honor of St Nicholas, my loving mom, the Tomten, and me.


2012 Update: When I wrote this story last year, my son Andy and I were living in “our” house, the house he and his sister were raised in for the previous eight years. The house was on the market, and in foreclosure then, because the divorce I needed to refinance the mortgage the year before was not final until after I had left my job on the promise of another that fell through, and I had been unable to find a job that provided the income I needed to qualify for a new mortgage or modification.  We did not know what the future held…I had work starting in January, which would turn into two jobs, by the end of December, but whether they would provide enough income in time to apply for a mortgage modification was something only the future could know. As it turned out, the income was a week late. Exactly one week before I had the pay stubs I needed to apply for the mortgage, an offer was made on our house. Our garage was set up as a garage sale until spring, when the sale of the house closed, and everything was either sold, donated or put into storage.  A lot has changed since then. After Andy and I moved out of our house, we moved to St. Louis for a job after school let out in June, and back home to Boise in late August, in time for him to start at a new school this year.  A school he loves. In October, I got the job I have now. The job I love.

Almost everything has changed in the past year, and in the process, Andy and I lost much, and gained more. But some things have not changed… St. Nicholas Day eluded me again, this year, and I still  have my klompens.