I woke up this morning with resolve that today would be the last day I would face the brick wall that has loomed in front of me, blocking thoughts of writing. For the past few months, my mind and heart took on a black mode, completely shutting down. I tried and tried to turn it on, looked around for inspiration, but it was not working. Perhaps there was a reason for the wall. Maybe it was a way of escaping the unpleasantness and injustices occurring in our world and also the absence of loved ones.
I should have been feeling joy in my heart during the Christmas holiday. Instead, I found disillusionment and discouragement. It seemed to be everywhere. Television featured numerous programs containing violence unfit for grownups, let alone young people, to watch. Couples were pitted against each other, airing family problems under the guise of entertainment. This is not entertainment — it’s embarrassing and degrading. The local news reads like a big-time crime arena, while national and international news is filled with events and crimes that should not occur in a civilized world.
This is what I’ve learned through life’s experiences: One has to dig deep into the reserves God has planted within us to make things better. That reminder to myself is where I started.
During the holidays, the sounds of Christmas music flowed through the house each morning as Chet and I enjoyed coffee. Montavani, the voice of Winona, singing the “Ave Maria” and the 101 Strings listing 20 spiritual songs, were inspirational.
Music fills the heart, uplifts the spirit, sets your feet to dancing, takes one on a sentimental journey and causes tears to flow. Many times, the effects of music do not happen one at a time, but as a combination of many emotions.
Lights! That’s what I needed. I called my daughter Marilyn and informed her we were going to hang lights for Christmas. “You’re not going to use those big candles?” she asked.
“Indeed I am! Your father bought those candles when you and your sister Michele were 6 and 7 years old. As long as there is life in me, those candles, faded and old fashioned as they are, will be standing on our front porch. You can’t buy those candles anymore. They are priceless in sentimental value,” I told her.
I could hear the I-can’t-believe-this attitude in her voice and imagined the frown on her face as she responded, “Mother!”
It was delightful driving through the neighborhoods in the evening to view the homes aglow with bright colorful lights, candles in the windows and the elegance of tiny white lights. Some homes resembled a Broadway production while others were elegant in their simplicity. All in all, it was the pleasure of the decorator and a joy to the viewer.
On such evenings, I would ask Chet to drive down Main Street, Pittston, to enjoy the enchantment with the colonial street lights adorned with Christmas wreaths and large red bows. Other decor included twinkle lights glowing on the trees lining the street, the huge Christmas tree and gingerbread house, the red and green reflector lights on the Penn Park Building decorated with an extra large Christmas wreath. This brought to mind the huge rope-like Christmas tree that hung on the Miner’s Bank Building in my childhood years. Even the Tomato Festival donkey was festively decorated with a matching wreath encircling his neck.
While the heart blocks out motivation to write, the mind stores meaningful occasions and incidents. One happened at the book sale sponsored by the Friends of the Pittston Memorial Library. This year, we added something new to the sale — a boutique with new items at low prices. It was especially heartwarming to see young girls selecting gifts for their mothers.
Among the wares, I had placed a book from my collection, entitled “Hugs for Mothers,” thinking providence would place it into the hands of the proper person. Two sisters made a few stops at the boutique, at first to discuss and then to decide. On the final stop, the younger sister purchased a tote bag while the older sister, with sadness in her eyes, spotted the book.
“How much is that book?” she asked. I, sensing a dilemma, responded, “One dollar.”
Looking pleased, she glanced at her sister, who nodded and gave her the money. As I handed her the book, I said, “Your mother will love this book.”
Teary-eyed and with a timid voice, she said, “Yes, she will. I haven’t been too nice to her recently.”
Standing, I enveloped her in my arms, hugged her tightly and asked why.
“Some girls at school have been bullying me and I have taken it out on my mother,” she responded.
My mother’s heart told her there would never be anyone in this world who would love her more than her mother. “Hug mommy when you give her this book. She will love it but, more importantly, she loves you,” I said.
For now, hopefully, the brick wall is torn down. As I clean up the debris, allow me to wish everyone a happy and healthy New Year.
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