A Ten-Year Old’s Letter To Santa

I have been an avid fan of Reader’s Digest for forty years. I was looking over the December/January issue yesterday at the public library, where I work part-time, and decided I just had to share something I read with my followers. Keep in mind, I did not write this article. It is the property of the Reader’s Digest Magazine. I think you’ll enjoy this item. Please note: The original Reader’s Digest article had illustrations, and the wish list sometimes refers to the pictures, so I modified the text to make sense without having to see the illustrations.

A Ten-Year Old’s Letter to Santa, By Raquel D’Apice.

Dear Santa,

I am a ten-month old baby, and I am writing to you because my mother has been sending out my Christmas list to people, and her list does not in any way represent the things I really want. I don’t really want stacking cups!

And before you say anything, I know you’re ready to make the joke about ten-month-old babies and how all we want is the wrapping paper and the boxes. Touche´ Santa. Touche´. We do, of course, want those things. But I have a number of additional things that I want very badly.

My list is enclosed. Have a lovely holiday.

– Baby

  1. I want a laptop cord more than I have ever wanted anything. Please. I also want the power strip with the orange on/off button and the white label on the end of the cord. I would love these specific cords located behind my mother’s desk next to the air conditioner (whose cord I also want).
  2. I want the wall-mount entertainment center in the bathroom. (He is referring to the toilet paper dispenser.) I have no idea why my mother does not want me to play with this thing, as it is obviously a child’s toy. I would like one for my room.
  3. I would love a whole set of house keys. To eat, obviously. Only metal house keys will do. Please do not bring me plastic ones. I am not an idiot – I know that plastic house keys are not real keys.
  4. I want everyone’s eyeglasses. I pull these off the face of every person I meet, only to have them pried from my fingers and reclaimed by their original owner. I would love to have a pair of my own. Again, these are going to be for eating.
  5. I want the entire contents of the bathroom garbage can. I would love for this thing to be emptied out on my bedroom floor – particularly things like used wet cotton balls and discarded pieces of floss. If you would like to just take the contents of this bin and transfer them directly into my stocking, that would be fine.
  6. I want handfuls of the dog’s hair. This stuff is the best. I keep trying to pull it off her, but she moves frequently, making collection difficult. My favorite thing to do with it is put it in my mouth and then immediately realize that I didn’t want it in my mouth!
  7. I want the hole in the hallway floorboard. I spend hours looking at that hole. I keep poking at it. I know I cannot “have” a hole, as a hole cannot be had. A hole is an absence. Yet this is a list of the things I want, and I want this hole the way Gandhi wanted peace. The way the dog wants to lick my face. The way my mom wants me to stop pulling off her eyeglasses.
  8. I want the stuff that is all over the floor of the apartment. I have no idea what this stuff is. All I know is that i want it in my hands, and no sooner have I grasped its sweet, delicate softness my mother comes running over yelling something like: Stop touching that – how often do I have to vacuum the dang hallway?”
  9. I want the dog’s food. Every time I get close to it, someone pulls me away from it. If they don’t want me to eat it, why is is on the floor?
  10. I want a cell phone. I have no idea what these do, but it’s clearly a lot of fun, given that my mother never stops looking at hers.
  11. I want bobby pins. These are my favorite! If I had a nickle for every bobby pin I found on the floor, I’d have double the number of little metal things that I could put in my mouth because, go figure, I also totally love nickles.

Raquel D’Apice. The author works for Huffingtonpost.com.

You can follow her blog at: www.huffingtonpost.com/author/raqueldapice

Christmastime

So sorry this reblog is late. I wanted to get it up on the site by Christmas Eve but forgot all about it. Although Christmas was yesterday, I hope you enjoy this nostalgic tale about Christmas as a young boy sees it.

The Accidental Poet

Wow, only four days til Christmas Day. The last year went so fast I almost forgot there were twelve months. Sometimes the days seem to run together. Partly because of the limited daylight. It’s typical for office workers this time of year to go to work in the dark in the morning and come home after work in the dark. Add to that all the rushing around as Christmastime draws near. Time slips by without seeming to move the hands on the clock.

When I was young, time seemed to stand still on Christmas Eve. About six o’clock on WNEP 16 out of Scranton, PA, up-to-the-minute tracking of Santa Claus on radar would begin. It always felt like bedtime would never get here. And when it did, I would never be able to get to sleep. It’s Christmastime, I would think. Santa’s coming. If I go to bed. If I…

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Dream On

Some people go their whole lives
without ever writing a single poem.
Extraordinary people who don’t hesitate
to cut somebody’s heart or skull open.
They go to baseball games with the greatest of ease
and play a few rounds of golf as if it were nothing.
These same people stroll into a church
as if that were a natural part of life.
Investing money is second nature to them.
They contribute to political campaigns
that have absolutely no poetry in them
and promise none for the future.
They sit around the dinner table at night
and pretend as though nothing is missing.
The family dog howls at night,
lonely and starving for more poetry in his life.
Why is it so difficult for them to see
that, without poetry, their lives are effluvial?
Sure, they have their banquets, their celebrations,
croquet, fox hunts, their seashores and sunsets,
their cocktails on the balcony, dog races,
and all that kissing and hugging, and don’t
forget the good deeds, the charity work,
nursing the baby squirrels all through the night,
filling the birdfeeders all winter,
helping the stranger change her tire.
Still, there’s that disagreeable exhalation
from decaying matter, subtle but ever present.
They walk around erect like champions.
They are smooth-spoken, urbane and witty.
When alone, rare occasions, they stare
into the mirror for hours, bewildered.
There was something they meant to say, but didn’t:
“And if we put the statue of the rhinoceros
next to the tweezers, and walk around the room three times,
learn to yodel, shave our heads, call
our ancestors  back from the dead -”
poetrywise it’s still a bust, bankrupt.
You haven’t scribbled a syllable of it.
You’re a nowhere man misfiring,
the very essence of your life, flustering
nothing from nothing and back again.
The hereafter may not last all that long.
Radiant childhood sweetheart,
secret code of everlasting joy and sorrow,
fanciful pen strokes beneath the eyelids:
all day, all night meditation, knot of hope,
kernel of desire, pure ordinariness of life,
seeking, through poetry, a benediction
or a bed to lie down on, to connect, reveal,
explore, to imbue meaning on the day’s extravagant labor.
And yet it’s cruel to expect too much.
It’s a rare species of bird
that refuses to be categorized.
Its song is barely audible.
It is like a dragonfly in a dream –
here, then there, then here again,
low-flying amber-wing darting upward
and then out of sight.
And the dream has a pain it its heart
the wonders of which are manifold,
or so the story is told.

James Tate

I Crave

I crave interaction.
I want it, desperately,
But it requires conversation.
And conversation requires words.
But here it is,
My dilemma, my handicap:
You know that feeling you get
In your throat when you haven’t
Had a drink of water for an entire day?
It’s like that.
I can’t swallow, or think, or speak.
I know what I want to say,
And I know to whom I want to say it,
But there’s no lubrication in my mouth.
No moisture in my throat.
I have no courage in my belly,
Waiting to be the propellant for
What needs saying.
Here she comes, the whom, the object,
close enough now I can hear her breathing,
Labored from her quarter-mile climb
Up the tree-lined hill.
She stops at the park’s entrance.
I’m standing there, talking to Theo,
A gorgeous man
Who looks like a John Everett Millais painting.
Again I try to swallow. She turns to me.
Steven, she says, and smiles.
Deep within my throat is that arid, fruitless,
Empty cavern from where
Only monosyllabic, moth-eaten words
Crawl out, desperately wishing to be brought
To life, tickling the ear drums of a
Curious, passionate, full-of-life gal.
I long to hold her attention,
Even if only for a moment,
But who am I to be given
That which I crave?

©2016 Steven Barto

Why Do I Freeze Up and Go Silent? Move Beyond the Separating Power of Shame

The following is an excerpt from “If the Buddha Got Stuck: A Handbook for Change on a Spiritual Path,” by Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D.

Shame is a great paralyzer. To become unstuck we need to explore this troublesome feeling. When people are left, excluded, shunned, or abused, they often slide into persistent shame, which can result in depression, isolation, anxiety, and illness. Shame is a mired down, wretched feeling that arises in response to believing we are intrinsically bad, worthless, and defective. It can become a visceral, hardwired reaction that stems from having been humiliated, degraded, embarrassed, and diminished into an object for someone else’s use.

Shame is like an old experience ready to be resurrected when someone talks or responds to you in a way that echoes an earlier shaming situation. For example, if someone in the past frequently implied or referred to you as stupid, feelings of shame can be instantly triggered in current time when anyone so much as implies you’ve done something wrong. When this happens, you are basically reliving an experience from the past and falling into a child state. The reaction is often a wish to disappear, hide, punish yourself, retaliate, defend, or give up on yourself. When this happens, we tend to avert our eyes, blush, collapse in the chest, close the heart, isolate, and sometimes slink away as if in disgrace. The flow within the body becomes constricted.

Shame keeps us from learning. If you’re taking music lessons, for example, and you translate every suggestion the teacher makes into, “I’m no good, I have no talent, I’ll never make it,” you are creating a lot of inner anxiety, which blocks learning. Shame is like a non-stop negative evaluator that thwarts fascination and curiosity because you’re so worried about being judged as bad or wrong. And, unfortunately, trying to prove you are smart, talented, good, and right won’t counteract it; it will just lead to inner combat.

Shame also keeps us stuck because it stops us from taking action – you don’t apply for a new job, tell your partner you’re upset, take a class, try a new venture, or value your talents because you’re afraid of feeling shame if you’re turned down (which you call rejected), you make a mistake (you’re not perfect), or if someone doesn’t want to spend time with you (they’re abandoning you). To counter entrenched feelings of shame, some people blame, counterattack, change the subject, get defensive, make excuses, become arrogant or cruel, or exert power over others through leadership roles.  They appear in charge, but do great harm with little understanding of their impact on others. Addictions often are a cover for a feeling of deep shame.

SOME SUGGESTED EXERCISES

Easing Your Feelings of Shame

Name it. Observe it. When you feel shame, say to yourself some version of the following: “There’s the feeling of shame. What happened or what did I say to myself just before feeling it?”

Realize you are not your shame. Say to yourself, “This shame is not my essential self. It is an intruder, like toxic chemicals, pollution. It was put there when I was abused, left, hurt, shamed, seduced, teased, neglected, scolded, or not allowed to voice my thoughts or feelings.

Think of what you don’t do for yourself because of your shame, and then give yourself permission to do it anyway. This could include standing up for yourself, expressing feelings, initiating a conversation, asking for what you need, inviting someone to get together with you. Having a feeling of mastery over yourself in current time helps counteract the old experience.

Imagine having a new response to a shameful situation. Imagine being centered, confident, and at peace with yourself in a situation that has previously triggered shame. For example, you could say to someone, “It’s not all right to talk to me like that,” or , “Please ask me what you want without all the innuendos about how I did it wrong.” You could also try, “Something about this conversation doesn’t feel right, and I need to end it for now,” or, “Could you tell me what you meant by that? That feels like a shaming remark. Was that your intention?

REFERENCE

Kasl, C., Ph.D. (2005). If the Buddha got Stuck: A Handbook for Change on a Spiritual Path. New York, NY: Penguin Books.

Afterimage by William Kelley Woolfitt

The sun clambers over the husk
of the button factory, brushes
the tarp-roof of our fishing shack.
We burrow under pillows,
mimic stones, sink from light,
like the pink muckets who bedded
in river-cobble until the factory
forked them up, cut their shells
into round button-blanks. Later,
the factory was shut: too much
button-polish soured the water,
softened the mucket-shells
to puce jelly. Spilling in, scalding
our shack, the sun dampens hair,
flushes skin, poultices our bodies
with sticky heat until we pull on
dungarees, slip outside. We boil
horsemint tea, eat bruised apples,
try to net spooneys, flatheads,
relic-fish with no bones, no teeth.
Mile-a-minute vines shallow
the factory, whose afterimage
sheens on the river, ghost-picture
that lingers until a barge glugs by,
churns the water to tatters.