A Christmas Story

The countdown begins. Gifts to buy, holiday events to attend, decorations. Yes, nothing says Christmas in the USA like people getting stressed out! I’m adding my voice to those who say we need to keep the focus on what this time of year really means. I have my own Christmas story.

I work downtown and walk for exercise on my breaks. One of my usual routes is the the historic neighborhood called Spanish Town. A sweet elderly lady would sometimes be in front of her adorable little cottage styled house tending her many plants. In true southern style we’d chitchat without even knowing each other’s name. One day she asked if I liked plants. I said, “Yes, ma’am”. She gave me a Christmas cactus and a hug. That was in the summer of 2013. She explained that it bloomed once a year around around Christmas, which is where the name comes from. I placed the plant in the window of my office and in mid November I was shocked at the lovely pink flowers. My new baby bloomed right into early January, which astonished my co-workers, some of whom had Christmas cacti of their own. I saw my new friend only a few times, she didn’t get out much. Later she told me she’d had a bad fall. I didn’t see her for a long time.

In September she passed away. I know because I saw her picture in the local paper and read her obituary. I didn’t remember her name, we’d only exchanged names that one time, but I remembered her sweet smile. Mrs. Clytice Cohoon was born in Arkansas, had been married for 59 years before her husband preceded her in death, and raised 4 kids while her career Army husband spent months away on deployment.

Last month I left for a long vacation to Peru. When I got back to work my cactus looked a lot less healthy. I was afraid it would live, much less bloom and that I’d lost a precious gift. Imagine my delight this week when I saw tiny buds! I think of the warmth of Miss Clytice’s smile and the true meaning of the words Christmas spirit.

So this year my countdown includes waiting for my Christmas cactus to bloom. I’ll have a wonderful tribute to a sweet friend I only knew a few months.

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Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day is a uniquely American holiday because of the tradition of its origin, a group of Pilgrims sitting down with Native Americans to give thanks for surviving a harsh world. The same can be said for all people, because though modern times are much different the world can still be a rough place. There is an African-American gospel song with the lyrics, “Everyday is a day of thanksgiving!” Enjoy the time with family, friends and great food on Thanksgiving Day. But let’s be grateful for every day that we have a chance to start new, get it right and make right what went wrong yesterday!

Woman Meditating

“Gratitude is the inward feeling of kindness received. Thankfulness is the natural impulse to express that feeling. Thanksgiving is the following of that impulse.” Henry Van Dyke

“Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.” Oprah Winfrey

“If you are really thankful, what do you do? You share.” W. Clement Stone

“The thankful receiver bears a plentiful harvest.” William Blake

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Poetry & Black History Together!

Preparation

by Effie Waller Smith

 “I have no time for those things now,” we say;
“But in the future just a little way,
No longer by this ceaseless toil oppressed,
I shall have leisure then for thought and rest.
When I the debts upon my land have paid,
Or on foundations firm my business laid,
I shall take time for discourse long and sweet
With those beloved who round my hearthstone meet;
I shall take time on mornings still and cool
To seek the freshness dim of wood and pool,
Where, calmed and hallowed by great Nature’s peace,

My life from its hot cares shall find release;
I shall take time to think on destiny,
Of what I was and am and yet shall be,
Till in the hush my soul may nearer prove
To that great Soul in whom we live and move.
All this I shall do sometime but not now–
The press of business cares will not allow.”
And thus our life glides on year after year;
The promised leisure never comes more near.
Perhaps the aim on which we placed our mind
Is high, and its attainment slow to find;
Or if we reach the mark that we have set,
We still would seek another, farther yet.
Thus all our youth, our strength, our time go past
Till death upon the threshold stands at last,
And back unto our Maker we must give
The life we spent preparing well to live.

 

 

About Effie Waller Smith

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Effie Waller Smith was born in Pike County, Kentucky, in 1879. Her parents, both former slaves, insisted that Smith and her siblings receive the highest quality education available. After attending Kentucky State University, Smith began submitting her work, and published three volumes of poetry before her death in 1960.

 

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“There is no such thing as part freedom.”

Nelson Mandela 

 

 

 

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Creating Peace

The holiday season is here! This poem really struck a chord with me, and seems to embody what the holidays are about – finding peace within. We must have inner peace to have peace in the home. To have peace in the our communities, we must have peace in our homes. To have peace in the nation, we must have peace in our communities. To have peace in the world…

 

There may be chaos still around the world
by George Santayana

There may be chaos still around the world,
This little world that in my thinking lies;
For mine own bosom is the paradise
Where all my life’s fair visions are unfurled.
Within my nature’s shell I slumber curled,
Unmindful of the changing outer skies,
Where now, perchance, some new-born Eros flies,
Or some old Cronos from his throne is hurled.
I heed them not; or if the subtle night
Haunt me with deities I never saw,
I soon mine eyelid’s drowsy curtain draw
To hide their myriad faces from my sight.
They threat in vain; the whirlwind cannot awe
A happy snow-flake dancing in the flaw.

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Reconciliation

Reconciliation

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.”

Mahatma Gandhi

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