1. Happy Holidays Everybody!
2. New Website... (online NOW)
3. Food for Thought... from Sufi mystic Rabia
4. A Poem for the Season ("My Sister")
5. A Mini-Holiday Song mp3 gift... for you (attached)
1. Holiday Greeting
Here's wishing you all Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Everything possible! (If you celebrated Hanukkah, I sure hope it was sweet.)
And for goodness' sake, Happy New Year... Come on 2021!
OK, everybody's crazy busy, so here's the briefest of news briefs...
2. New TK website... went live earlier TODAY.
As web tech has evolved, my old website's been patched, stitched and glued together. So... earlier TODAY we went "live" with a clean and lean NEW site. Big THANKS to my longtime creative director Shauna Jamison for making it happen.
To take a look, click HERE. (Same as the old web address, of course: tomkimmel.com.)
—We will be adding a couple more pages and features over the next few weeks, so if you have ideas or feedback for us, please reply to let us know. (We're all ears.)
3. Food for Thought (as we turn the page on 2020)
"I was born when all I once feared—I could love."
Rābiʻa of Basra (Sufi mystic, 714-801 AD)
—translation: Daniel Ladinsky (from his book, Love Poems from God)
4. Poem for the Season
I wrote this years ago, but I enjoy sharing it this time of year. It was inspired by my sister Helen and a Christmas memory.
My sister sang Christmas carols
even in the summertime;
she was weird like that.
Once she ate a whole
stick of butter. And once,
I guess because she was told
not to, she stuck her arm
right in Bubba’s big window fan.
You had to keep an eye on her.
If my sister was last at the table
she might well have hidden what was left
of her peas and rice under the rug,
and once a fossilized sandwich
was found in her Sunday purse.
Mama used to say that whereas
I would tell the truth when a lie
would save me from a whipping,
Helen would tell a lie when the truth
could get her out of trouble.
Fact: My sister was much smaller than
I was & thus extremely susceptible to torture.
At various times I:
– locked her out of the house
in the snow wearing
only her pajamas
– stuffed her upside down
in a garbage can
– placed a large dead spider
in her open mouth
while she slept in the
back seat on our way to the beach.
But here’s the story of the meanest thing
I ever did to her:
My sister wanted a horse
more than anything in the world.
She asked for one each birthday
and Christmas; and as every birthday
and Christmas approached she was told that
Mama and Bubba and Santa Claus
were very sorry, but that you just can’t
have a horse if you live in town, and so on.
Still, this was implausible to Helen and
she continued to dream as she played
with her toy horses, drew pictures of horses,
wore her cowgirl outfit, pretended to be a horse,
wrote Santa faithfully each year
(starting around July), till one Christmas morning
when she was six and I was eight, I had an awful idea.
I ran to the back window and yelled,
Helen! Helen! Look what’s tied to a tree
in Bubba’s back yard!
* * *
My sister has long since
forgiven me for this and for countless
other crimes & trespasses,
but I can tell you without a doubt that
I have not forgiven myself
for this particular transgression.
Therapy and prayer have alleviated other regrets,
but somehow I still imagine myself before the Judge
being told, Son, there’s a difference between
a practical joke and a sin, and there are sins
for which there is no remedy, for which penance
is ineffective; for certain acts set worlds in motion
that will spin eternally, worlds of dark secrets
from which you will never be free.
These days, when the family banter starts up
about our childhood pranks and follies
I inevitably remember that Christmas morning;
and if the story is told I hold my breath and sweat it out.
So my prayer now is not for the gift of remorse.
I have that; I’ve had it for years now, certainly.
What I need is no less than a re-write of history,
a chance to undo what began with great force;
I imagine a world where dark fact becomes fantasy
and fantasy fades from a gray sky to blue;
where a wish is a seed taking root in reality.
Merry Christmas, dear Helen, may your dreams all come true.
—from "The Sweetest and the Meanest" (Point Clear Press, 2006)
5. A mini-holiday song gift for you
Note that I'm attaching a little gift for you—a mini-holiday song (downloadable mp3) that I recorded with vocal support from my sweet wife, Kat. It's a freebie, and I hope it'll make you smile.
(See the link and download code below snoozing cat pic at the very end of this newsletter.)
I'll be back with news and more after the holidays. In the meantime, be smart, be safe, and let's be kind to each other down this challenging stretch.