Monday, December 21, 2009

A Christmas Story

Happy Monday. Here is the story that Tante Reni sent to VonMom via email. We figure the year she's referring to was about 1948. Please keep in mind that English is her second language, so forgive any spelling or grammar errors, as I chose to not edit the story, but just to paste it here as written. Enjoy. "Had a memory flash of a christmas when i was 17, This christmas was something that seems to come back over again and gives me a warm feeling. This christmas was one completely unplanned and a spur of the moment thing.The best christmas ever. it was late november or early December during the Blokade in Berlin.Since we only had gas and electricity for 2 hours during the day and 2 hours during the night , we could not cook dinner and had to go to a soup kitchen set up in a church hall not far from our house. Anita , my bosom buddy and I both went to get some soup for our families.Standing in line on this cold, grey noon , we saw a very elderly lady approaching the line and let her ahead of us in line.She wore no gloves and had her feet wrapped in rags, she wore no shoes.her hands were turning blue.Both Anita and I were whispering how sorry we felt for her predicament .Then an idea hit me, why not help her and make a christmas for her.We followed her at a distance to detect where she lived, knowing that we very likely otherwise would never find her again.Then both of us returned to my home and made concrete plans what in reality we could possibly do for her to lighten her burden.She looked so frail and alone.She needed shoes, gloves and possibly some food that could not be obtained with food stamps.A big order understanding that during that period of time there were no manufacturers in production of anything.This ment we had to find any kind of material we needed, by other means.I found an old sweater that we unraveled and stretched over a cardboard to straighten the wool out for knitting.i started on gloves right away.Anita could not knit.We searched for something solid to create soles for shoes , and came up with old bicycle tires.An old blanket from somewhere became the top, on of my childhood muffs of rabbit fur became the liner.I had an idea of patterns , learned from making dolls clothes.Both Anita and I stitched and sewed with an upholstery needle to get the shoes done.It turned out warm soft and with the bicycle tires as soles, quite sturdy.Then we both used our own allowance to start bartering on the black-market for sugar , coffee and butter.A pound of each.We then had to get her also a christmas tree, which we purchased from a florist. A tiny tree in a pot. On the 24th in the afternoon we set out with all of our goodies completed to her home hoping she would be at the place we thought she lived.We had the little tree decorated with some tinsel a few tiny candles and few mini balls. Both of us very excited marched to her house , rang the bell and when she opened the door we also were speachless. We gave her all of our goodies her eyes were wide in surprise, we just could say :Merry christmas turned around and left running.Never knew her name and that was not important anyway, but the feeling that surged through both of us was overwhelming joy.We had done it ! To this day i still see this little old lady against the dark hall. By now it was pitch dark, but for us we where in the glow of giving from the heart.My best ever christmas.And the best part is it returns to me every year and gives me again a warm surge of satisfaction and joy.It was such a dark time in history and yet we glowed. " True or enhanced, I hope this story gives you the same warm fuzzies it gave me. Happy Holidays to you, and yours, and theirs, and those other peoples. Ho, Ho, and Ho.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

A gift given, to be passed on

Yesterday, VonMom forwarded an email to my sister and I that she received from her sister, Renata. Renata is nearly 80, and she's in the process of writing her life story. She's got a very interesting tale to tell, as she grew up in Berlin during WWII. In the email that VonMom forwarded was one of Reni's memories, which she titled her favorite Christmas ever. I asked VonMom if I could repost the story to my blog. She said that I could, and I intend to do that tomorrow. After reading and re-reading the story, I asked my mother if she felt all of it was true. She sighed, and chuckled, then said "Well, Von, it's how she remembers it. So most of it is probably true." Let's keep that in mind tomorrow when you read it. The main point of the story is about giving. And not gifts to loved ones, but a gift to a complete stranger. It got me to thinking. My parents are and always have been quiet givers. Watching them do good things for others while not making a big show of it might have inspired me. I'm not going to go into specifics, because in this I will not look for pats on the back, or atta-girls, but for the past 10 or so years I've been quietly giving myself. Much like Tante Reni, who I rarely see and seldom talk to, I look for a need and I do what I can to fill it. Her story made me feel that even though she's quite a bit older than my mom, and thousands of miles away, and from a truly different time and place, that she's my family. We're very much alike in some understated, blink-and-you'll-miss-them ways. Her story makes me finally feel in the spirit this season. I hope in some way that you either have or will give this season, to someone in need, or a group of people you admire. All I ask is you do it quietly. And then be proud of yourself.

Friday, December 18, 2009

This could get interesting.

Things could get interesting over at the old facebook. One of my very most super duper pet peeves is when people are repeatedly, unending vague and/or cryptic in their status posts (AG - I AM, in part, talking about you). I hate it. Either say what you have to say or don't. Don't make me ask - Gee, what's going on? or Gee, what's wrong? or Oh my! What's up with that? I don't care. Or I did care, but your cancer of cryptic turned me off. SO Instead of going to each and every offenders' pages and virtually punching them in the face, I'm doing something else. I'm being blazingly transparent with my status updates. I'm making a point. They may suck. They may be boring. But they will be point blank exactly what I'm doing, or feeling or whatever in that moment. I hope some of the people take the hint.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Uh buh bye

I would like to request the banishment of the phrase "It is what it is". I think as of 12/31/2009 11:59:59 we should all stop using that phrase. I've heard it used by each of my friends who lost their jobs this year, also in regards to deaths in families that I care about. When my car breaks down, when your car breaks down, when it rains/snows/is hot/cold/tepid/chilly. ENOUGH. What a defeatist horrible statement. It should always be accompanied by a dramatic sigh and the swiping of one's brow with the back of one's hand. Please. Please help me in my campaign to abolish this phrase from our daily vernacular. And if it does get carried into 2010? Well, it is what it is. Sigh.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I smell like potato pancakes

But the warm fuzzy in my belly from eating said pancakes, and bratwurst and some cocoa make it all ok. God bless the ChristKindle Markt in Daley Plaza. And woo-hoo for my parents and sibling coming downtown to have lunch with me there. And cha-ching to the candy shoppe who has my $$$, and I have their cola gummies, and cherry gummies, and chocolate santas, and wafer kuchens, and kinder eggs...... Man, I love german stuff.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Reason # 467

Why do I love SIL1X so much? Let me count the ways...... but here's reason # 467: Got a text message from her on Friday: 'can you stop by on your way home from work? I have something for you.' my response: 'sorry, I'm already at Old Town. ooooh what have you got for me?' her response: 'Fun Dip' See, not only does she read my blog, she gets me candy just because I said I want candy in my blog.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Awww, kids

Had the iPod on shuffle today while doing some chores, and suddenly a Fall Out Boy song came on. I don't remember which song it was, but it reminded me of a story. It's Chicago. Pretty much everyone between the ages of 25 and 35 has a Fall Out Boy story. Don't worry. I'm not going to the the I know them thing. I don't know them, nor do I care. But. I do have a story about me and them. Many many years ago I was at a show for my friends' band. It was at this place where it was a mexican taco counter in the front, and a bar in the back that let bands play. It was called Big Horse Lounge. AWESOME. Anyway. It was winter. Bitter-ass cold. It hadn't been snowing when I got there, but as my friends' were packing up their gear, it was really coming down. One of those horrible storms that pretty much had the city all tied up. Big Horse is somewhere more in the city. I don't remember what neighborhood, but it was a pretty busy area. I was standing outside the bar having a cigarette waiting for my friends. A car pulled up and this dude jumped out and walked right up to me. "Hi!" "Hiiiii" (that's me, being uncertain and trying to be standoffish) This dude had to be a teenager, and I pegged him for being suburban right out of the gate. "Hey, so my band has gotten a show at -------- Bar, and we need a bunch of people there. If we get a lot of people there, then maybe we'll get another show there..." He kinda went on and on and on. He was preaching to the choir. I know of which bar he spoke, I'd been there many times. I even knew how they operated. I knew that it's a big(ish) deal to play there, and all of the rest....... " I'm going to hang some flyers in there and here's a flyer you can have." "? Oh, yeah. Sure. Ok." But something about the kid struck me. He was so excited and eager and into it. In that moment that was the most important thing in his life. He had driven in from somewhere (again, suburbia) in a big storm to get these flyers out and talk to some music fans. He was freezing (too cool to button his coat, hat more stylish than warm, you know, teendress) but was approaching anyone he could and grinning while asking if he could hang some flyers. He went right up to some scary looking people and started chatting them up. He had it. IT. On his way back to his car, he stopped by me again. "So you should come. We're pretty good. Well, we don't suck. It's something new. You'll like it. You should come to the show." "Um, yeah, ok maybe." I really didn't know how to read this kid, so I wasn't my usual warm sunshiny self. After he hopped back in his car and drove off down the street to the next "live music here" dive bar, I watched him go. I admit, I forgot all about the show, and didn't go. I've thought about him over the years, whenever I go see friends' bands in the winters. Flash forward a bunch of years...... I'm working at the Teen Center. My kids like to bring me new music all the time. They give me this new CD "From Under the Cork Tree". At first, I was meh. Then I gave it another listen. Witty. Lyrics and song titles? Witty. Songs. Ok, not half bad - and I would clean my house to it. I keep it in rotation (this is before iPods, people) Slowly we as a people started hearing more about this it band, Fall Out Boy. Hm, ok, I have their CD not bad. Local boys make good? Ok. I didn't see them or pay any attention as I was not 15, nor a cougar, so I didn't care much what they looked like. Then they blew the hell up. You couldn't turn around without seeing that Pete Wentz turd everywhere. Finally there was some thing somewhere that showed the whole band. I did a double/triple/quadruple take. Patrick Stump. The kid, outside Big Horse. Holy Shit. He still had it. Quite a bit of IT. But the glimmer of glee seemed to be replaced by the you think you know, but you really don't have a clue half-smirk, which was a little sad.

Friday, December 4, 2009

I had to

I just had to.

I want it! (times 2)

Seen on CTA bus last night on my way home: Guy wearing a button that says "It's OK to say Merry Christmas to me!" Yep, I want it. Seen in Ogilivie train station last night on my way home: Old-boys-club type 60+ dude with very expensive suit and coat eating a Fun Dip, grinning like a school boy and I even heard a little "yummmm". Yep, I want Fun Dip. AND I wanted to give old dude a big hug. My commute? Not so boring when I'm paying attention to those around me.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I am.....

You're Ulysses! by James Joyce Most people are convinced that you don't make any sense, but compared to what else you could say, what you're saying now makes tons of sense. What people do understand about you is your vulgarity, which has convinced people that you are at once brilliant and repugnant. Meanwhile you are content to wander around aimlessly, taking in the sights and sounds of the city. What you see is vast, almost limitless, and brings you additional fame. When no one is looking, you dream of being a Greek folk hero **There you have it - I am brilliant and repugnant. *** And thanks, everyone, for the fun little quiz!!