The December holidays are a magnet for old thoughts and feelings. Our memories lie in wait for just the right moment to spring a heart-felt trap and propel us to events and moments of both pleasure and pain. Regardless, a journey to the past usually comes with our own commentary and shaded truths, but sometimes they are a welcome reminder of people and experiences.
Recently I attended a holiday party to celebrate the Tacoma Exchange Club, which folded about five years ago. It was a great organization that helped the Tacoma and Pierce County community. I missed the party last year . . . and possibly the year before that. Peg wasn’t feeling well, but I decided to go on my own. I was talking to Mark Langford, he was a Lieutenant with the Tacoma Police Department and he had a question for me. He said he had been at a fundraising event where I had spoken. The theme was Tapestry. I thought wow, that had to have been eight or nine years ago. It was ten years ago.
The fundraiser was for TACID, Tacoma Area Coalition of Individuals with Disabilities. My buddy Chuck Hellar asked me to join the board and It took me a couple of years to commit. The first board meeting I was asked to co-chair a new fund raiser. Since I was just co-chair I thought why not. The next week the chairman moved to Seattle and I was chair. A couple of years later I was board chair (twice) and a constant co-chair of our breakfast fundraiser which included my friends Roy Kimble and Dave Thomas. I loved working with these guys. I think the three of us working together could have ruled the world . . . and made it a better place. All three of us were members of the Rotary Club of Tacoma #8. The Tapestry breakfast featured polio survivor and comedian Debbie Wooten. We talked and illustrated how all lives were woven together and offered different colors and textures that made our lives richer.
Jessie Bell & Don Izenman performed Carol King’s “Tapestry” and “You’ve Got a Friend.” The raffle featured a grand prize of an Iranian, hand knotted, Persian carpet with Turkish and Kurdish influences. “Unlike machine-made rugs with perfect symmetry and shape, handmade rugs may have slight imperfections and variations. Handmade rugs are just like people. We are all different and have our own imperfections and variations. That’s what make us and life in general, so interesting.” I’ll have to thank Mark for bringing up that wonderful meeting. I had not thought of that event in years and years.
The world can be such a nice place. Peg and I attended A Christmas Carol at the Broadway Center on Saturday, December 21st. The couple in front of us had two small children. The mother left and brought back two booster cushions. We rarely see these any more. Peg asked the mom where they were located and the mom told her. Peg decided that she could see well enough over the heads of the children, so we did nothing. A few minutes later the mother brought back a booster cushion of Peg. What a thoughtful gesture. Peg said she felt six inches taller.
Sunday morning I got up at 4:30 my standard waking time. I had one final edit to make on a video project, but sitting in front of the computer I faltered and went instead to our kitchen to read the Sunday papers. With papers in hand I walked to our breakfast table passing an open sketchbook. Peggy had written and decorated the directions for rag muffins. The recipe was handed down from my depression-era great-grandmother, grandmother, mother, and aunt with Peg’s variations. She will be making a batch of these sweet little biscuit dough pinwheels of cinnamon, sugar, and butter for “Low-beam” Frank at the Shell Station on North 26th and Stevens. Frank’s nickname is not really Low-beam, but he had recently changed out my Volvo’s low-beam headlight after I decided there was no way that my meaty paws would be able to pass through a myriad of wires, tubes, and connections between the radiator and grill. Frank is a marvel and the prices are very affordable. We pay him of course, but we tip with homemade cookies and now rag muffins, which are a holiday tradition at our house.
Sitting down at the table I sketched out my morning. While we had been at the Broadway Center Dennis Flannigan had dropped off a Christmas card and his mix tape of holiday music. I got a little chuckle at Woody Nelson performing “The Little Dealer Boy” and the quasi commercial “Merry Christmas from Preparation H” among others. While listening to Denny’s mix I looked at the CD I had taken out of the player. It was K.D. Lang’s Shadowland. Ah, Christmas presents past . . . I noted song #4 was “I wish I Didn’t Love You So.” I interrupted the mix tape to listen to this favorite Frank Loesser song from the Betty Hutton film “The Perils of Pauline.” I play this song from time to time on my baby grand for me and Peggy. It is such a beautiful and heart-wrenching tune. Next I saw the song “Black Coffee.” I have a music book called “Torchy” that I have had since the early 1960s. I usually only play it for myself. Peg also loves Ella Fitzgerald’s version of the song.
About seven, the phone rang. I knew who was calling. It was my friend, Donnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn. Normal people, like me, are called Don. One “N” is enough for most of us, but my friend Donn was blessed by a mother who gave him an extra letter. If she had given him an “E” he would be done. Donn was calling to invite me to breakfast. I explained about the video edit. He mentioned long-time not seen grandkids coming over the day before. The holidays are a great time for experiencing and remembering. Peg and I are looking forward to a family party next week. We’re still working on presents and remembering.
I finished checking out the headlines and reading a few articles from The News Tribune and The Seattle Times. I retreated to my office, completed the video edit, forwarded it to my client and then read articles and comments online about the holidays and community. Often I smile over email or messages from Cloe Jones about good projects in the Puyallup area from her family or church. I love to see people helping people. You never know what will catch your eye to make you stop and think.
A friend sent me a note via Facebook about shopping for food at Fred Meyer. When the total was more that they had in their bank account, they started looking over the items to reduce the purchase. The next person in line simply handed over their credit card and paid for the purchase. I’ve seen this kindness displayed several times.
Holding the door open for someone, dropping loose change into the red kettles, or sometimes just nodding or smiling at a stranger . . . all these things add up to a better world. We are all in the same family, why shouldn’t we be kind?