Gifts to the Stranger

December 1, 2016

Sorry. I didn’t realize “Giving Tuesday” had become an actual thing. Maybe it’s because it’s tacked onto the end of a long weekend—Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday—of hyped consumerism run amok in different forms that it gets lost. Strangely that seems to be the only way to attract attention to philanthropy; we should always be giving of ourselves. But that’s a rant for a different blog. This one’s about Christmas giving.

A few years ago, I was near rock bottom. I had no money, some part-time work, some unemployment checks, was spending all the rest of my time looking for work, while still being a weekend father, and fending off attacks from my daughter’s mom to make this Christmas bigger and better than the last one as it has to be every year and expects me to pay for it all. At the time, I used to make slide productions of my daughter over the previous year in photographs set to music. But with all that was happening, I had no energy, time, or working equipment to do it. What I did was this: I wrote everyone to say that I had no money for myself much less for gifts to buy and/or mail to everyone, and because I couldn’t give anything I wanted nothing in return. Instead I took a page from my friend Reverend Hank Peirce (who got it from another minister) and asked my friends to please donate some money to their choice of a number of worthy causes (e.g. Doctors Without Borders, ACLU, Oxfam, etc). They could do it in my name or their own, but they should give to help others as more befitting the season. Do something nice instead of scrounging for perfect gifts.

This year I have a better part-time job, am a full time single father, have a decent cushion of funds (barring any serious emergencies) and am less panicked about the holiday. However with the way this year has gone and how events are turning out that are beyond our control, there are many who feel as scared as I was then (if for different reasons). So this year, I’m reaching back to that time to do something good. The gift I will be giving out are donations to charitable organizations—here and abroad—that help make life safer and possible for those who need it. I ask that if you wish to give a gift to me, donate to one of the groups listed below. It can be as little or as much as you want, but give to help others.

I was very proud of Sophia when she asked, quite sincerely, “it it’s Jesus’ birthday, why are we getting gifts?” It showed me that a lot of what I taught her had sunk in. With that in mind, remember that this season is about generosity to others and sharing with those in need. There are a lot of needy people out there, but the people generous spirit outnumber the needy. So give freely and make this a great holiday for you and yours, as well as the stranger whomever they are.

Click the name to go to their website:


Standing Rock Sioux/NoDAPL

Southern Poverty Law Center

Planned Parenthood

Doctors Without Borders

Black and Pink

Heifer International


Amnesty International


Almost immediately after being inundated with everything fall being falsely equated with pumpkins (PUMPKIN SPICE BAGELS???? ARE YOU SERIOUSLY FUCKING KIDDING ME?!?!?!?), now we have to endure Christmas 24/7 for the next two months. I haven’t seen decorations in the stores yet, which is unusual for East Boston this time of year, but maybe I’m not paying attention (part of that whole being in a fog thing). However I saw my first obnoxious Christmas commercial the other day. So I need to say this for me, but I’m sure there are others out there that feel the same way.


There is a war for Christmas but it’s not the kind Fox News whines about. It’s the one Charlie Brown has been talking about for 50 years since the Peanuts Christmas Special came out (yeah this year is the 50th Anniversary of the Christmas special. THAT’S cool). We don’t need to argue about taking Christ out of Christmas; it was taken out decades ago and replaced with a white tag sale and a catchy jingle (ONE THAT ISN’T SANTANA!). The war is for who will get the most shoppers in their stores as soon as possible. I will not get caught up in it. I will not shop on Black Friday or Small Store Saturday or Online Tuesday or whatever day they pick after Thanksgiving (WHICH HASN’T EVEN HAPPENED YET) to plug as a day to get people into to buy shit. For the last few years, my daughter has been most excited about the Christmas gifts that I make for her myself, and it will stay that way for the foreseeable future. Any of you retailers have a problem with that, talk to me after New Years.

Time Flies

January 19, 2014

Wow. I had no idea that I didn’t write any posts for the month of December. I know I ha stuff to write about, but I thought I posted something. I probably said to myself “This would make a great blog” then got caught up in the blur of my life and forgot to actually write it down, but assumed that what I did think had already been written down. Apparently not. So happy New Year and here’s what you’ve missed going on in my life.

  • In going to my friend’s house for Thanksgiving, Sophia got her first ride on Amtrak. I wanted to treat her to it (I LOVE train travel). She likes Amtrak as opposed to the regular Boston MBTA–which I don’t blame her for at all.
  • The word for December was “bloated.” Between Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas eve hot dogs and New York City take out, my stomach and intestines have declared war on me. I’m feeling better but the scars run deep.
  • Sophia turned 11, which a friend pointed out to me that I am officially the father of a pre-teen girl. A scarier concept I cannot imagine. My own primal fears of connection aside, she enjoyed her birthday party. A lot of friends gave her books, which should hold her over until the end of January. We had a Phineas and Ferb themed party in which we got to play Pin the Hat on the Platypus. We had the party at our church and the cake we had still had one-third left after we got through with it. So we were able  to leave it for the following week’s coffee hour at regular church for a whole different batch of kids.
  • After the party, the rest of the month got blurry. I know I did stuff to prep for the holidays and I worked and stuff, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you what happened. Ironically if I had written it down in my blog as I told myself I should, I’d have a better memory of it.
  • Sophia really got into Christmas this year. We bought a tree–a real tree–about as tall as her and decked it out with lights and sports ornaments. With two cats I didn’t want to go too big or elaborate, as it would soon be over the floor. She said it was the best tree ever. Thanks to my parents and out in-home therapists, Sophia also lucked out with gifts big time. She got Monopoly Empire, a pair of winter boots, cap, scarf and gloves, a copy of the book “Divergent” (which she doesn’t seem crazy about), a copy of “Warriors: Untold Strories”, DVDs of “Madagascar 3” and “Despicable Me 2” (which she is crazy about), $20 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble, and a psychedelic bookmark from me. This year she gave me some gifts, which I wasn’t expecting. I got a winter hat (one of her old ones that fits me), a pen, a small memo pad (for writing poetry) and a larger 1 subject notebook (for art stuff). Best. Christmas. Gifts. Ever.
  • Most likely stress and anger (I was upset that Sophia suddenly changed her mind about going to church that evening for some stupid reason) got me so nauseous after dinner Christmas eve that I couldn’t hold anything down for 24 hours. A horrible day. Luckily I recovered in time to make and eat lasagna for Christmas dinner.
  • Speaking of stressful days, getting to my mom’s was no picnic. We overslept the alarm and missed the 11:30 bus, waited on standby for the 2:00 buss, lucky enough to get and stay on it–unlucky enough to hit all the traffic I was hoping to avoid with the 11:30 bus, eventually hit midtown stop about 8:30, and took train to mom’s house by 9pm. Long ass trip.
  • I made no resolutions for New Years. Tired of making promises I cant keep and raising expectations I can’t rise up to. I want to make better plans to achieve results in 2014. This past year was a lot of ups and downs, but things finally wound up on solid ground. I’m glad for that but now I have to make sure I stay steady.

So far the new year holds promises and a sample of difficulties to deal with. I just had my first full week (9-plus hours) of work this past week, so my reserves are spent. I need to make it to the end of the week when my check comes in. I may have a second part time job by February; biding my time until then but that will help money wise. Trying to restart my video work with a friend in NH (hoping to shoot some short video pieces for public access before spring) and by myself (have a short film idea I want to write and put out by end of year). Also have to get ready for the 1 year anniversary of Sophia’s mom’s death as well as my own 45th birthday.

As usual a lot of stuff on my plate and trying to manage it all. Luckily I’m feeling a little more clear headed to do proper time management.