Dear Colorado

I’m so sorry you’re going through this. We’ve had our differences, but wildfires are terrifying and devastating and I wouldn’t wish them on anyone.

For those Coloradans who’ve lost homes and loved ones, I’m so deeply sorry. I know some of the heartbreak you’re dealing with and I know some of the nightmares you’ll face. If you can, find a support group or a professional counselor now. The next few weeks might be desperately hard, and leaning on the family and neighbors offering help might be enough. But it might not be, and that’s not the fault of you or your family and friends. I don’t know you or your lives, but I can tell you that the one-year anniversary could be more devastating that you might imagine, so having a support structure in place now will help then.

For those who were near the fires, please know that you have been through a trauma, too. People will tell you that you’re lucky even though you might feel more terrified and out of control than lucky. They’ll assume you’re fine because your narrow escape was a lack of actual damage.

But you might have some of the same post traumatic stress that other fire survivors have. I don’t pretend to know those whose homes were saved by the incredible efforts of firefighters, but I’m willing to guess that their lives might be consumed with fear and guilt for a while. You are survivors, too. There is no escaping a fire like this. Losing neighbors but not your own home or family is a blessing, but it’s a traumatizing experience, too. A lesson in “almost” and capriciousness and “what happens next time?” I’m glad you’re safe and that your houses still stand. I’m sorry about your loss of security and peace of mind.

Please give yourself the space to grieve. Please find a support group or a counselor to help you through, too. Fire victims have all manner of stories. Even those neighboring Colorado towns who feared the winds might come their way, watching for days every minute of television coverage have a story, will grieve for a while. Allow that, because it helps. I promise you won’t fall to pieces if you let the sadness take over for a part of every day.

Know that fire survivors all over the world feel for you this week, this month, this decade. You’ve joined a terrible, wrenching club. And I’m sorry to have you join us.

Fire fighters: I still don’t have the words and I don’t know that I ever will. With all the talk of heroism, embrace that you’re human. You, too, will have fear, make mistakes, feel guilt, and be emotionally exhausted. You’re allowed to grieve, too. This is what you’re trained for, but it’s scary. I still wish I could find the fire fighter overwhelmed by flames who had to ignore us as we fled down a burning fire escape. He looked so scared and I think we could all use a drink together. Tomorrow works for me.

May all of Colorado sleep well and get the emotional, financial, and spiritual help they need in the coming days and months. Fight the after effects of that bastard fire, survivors.

Be well, Colorado.

Making people into Santas

I wrote two years ago about how Christmas is different in our house. We celebrate every December holiday we can think of: Hanukkah, Solstice, Nana’s birthday, Christmas…

And we try to temper the gift receiving with a lot of giving. When Peanut was almost two he focused on giving to animals at the shelter. When he was almost three he chose to give to the hungry and to animals at the shelter. At almost four we brought toiletries to the homeless, toys to shelter animals, and human toys for toy drives.

And this year he spent almost an hour with me at the Heifer International site, making people we love into Santas.

See, we’ve taught him that the myth of Santa is a story about a man who, a long time ago, gave a lot to people who need. (Yup, we’re the jerks whose kid told your kid that Santa is dead. Cuz he is, yo. His story of selflessness and charity is what’s important and if you’re still pretending that’s your business but I ain’t playing along.) We talk about how the pretend Santas around this time of year are roaming the scenes of capitalist excess to remind people to give to others. Our Solstice-tradition pine cone bird feeders give to animals who need food when it’s cold; and this year our gifts of animals and education to families all over the world make each of our loved ones feel that they can be part of the Santa myth of love, peace, and charity.

Because the more Peanut thinks Christmas is about giving, and the more he thinks about people who need, the better our holidays feel.

Happy Almost Nana’s Birthday, everyone!

Reality Check

Quote of the week:

“Everything you think, say, and do either helps or hurts. Leads you where you want to be or takes you off your path. Contributes to the family or tears it down. Everything either benefits or compromises you, the ones you love, and the entire Universe.”

Well, gee, that’s not putting too much pressure on our choices. Now I have to actually think about what I put in my mouth, what comes out of my mouth, how I react, and what I choose every moment of my day.

I guess I’ll start taking deep breaths and long drinks of water before every blink.

Like I didn’t have enough to do this week.

Thank you Jehovah’s Witnesses

I’m pretty proud of yesterday’s big conversation with Peanut, and I have only the Jehovah’s Witnesses to thank. I can’t believe it actually happened this brilliantly, but it did.

P and I were eating dinner when we saw a woman walk up the porch and knock. When I opened the door she apologized for interrupting dinner and invited us to a celebration of her faith and I thanked her then closed the door.

Peanut: What did she say?
Me: She wanted to invite us to a meeting.
P: Me, too?
M: Yes.
P: And the cats?
M: No. Just the people.
P: What’s the meeting for?
M: Well, she and her family believe something and they want to tell us about what they believe.
P: Is it true?
M: Nobody knows, but she wants to tell us about it.
P: What does she believe?
M: Well, this is a big idea…….People have always tried to figure out how the Universe and the solar system and the Earth and humans got here, and some people believe that some chemicals got really hot and exploded and made the Universe, and some people believe that a kind of creator, not like a person but kind of like a ghost person that was here before anything else was here made the planets and the solar system and the people.
P: Do you believe that?
M: No. Daddy and I don’t believe that something decided to make the Universe. We believe that physics made the Universe. But lots of people we know believe a spirit decided to make everything and then created planets and people. [He asks who and I list the people we know and tell him who does and who does not believe in God.]
P: Well I believe a…what’s the name of it?
M: Most people who believe call it god. One god or lots of gods.
P: Yeah. I believe god made everything.
M: Oh.
P: But I believe something else made god.
M: Interesting.
P: Yeah. It was kind of like a bicycle that was just a basket and people have to push it and it made the god.
M: So a bicycle that’s just a basket makes a creator, and the creator makes people, and the people push the bicycle.
P: Yup. That’s just what I believe.
M: Interesting.
[eating]
P: Is god around anymore or did it die?
M: Depends who you ask. Many people believe many different things. Some believe god is everywhere and is still everywhere and will always be everywhere. Some believe god is an idea that people made and that idea died.
P: I don’t believe that.
M: No?
P: No. The bicycle and the god are still around.
M: Hmmm. Okay.

Here’s the thing. I’ve been waiting for just the right moment to introduce the idea that lots of people believe different things about supernatural forces. And I wanted it to be a discussion that respects all ideas, like our discussion about the afterlife late last year. So I’m thrilled the faithful came to the door. I’m proud of myself for teaching P by example to respect what other people believe, and I’m proud of not teaching him only what I believe. I’m glad I’ve been introduced to so many faiths and paid attention, so I can explain, when he asks, the basics of Catholic and Lutheran and Muslim and Buddhist and Jewish belief. I’m glad I got to introduce the idea seriously, with no pressure to hurry, no frustration at who introduced the topic or how. I’m glad I got to explain that we believe something, that other people believe something, and that you never know who will believe what, but that it’s generally pretty important to them.

And I’m proud, in a detached intellctual kind of way, that P saw the immediate question of “what existed before the Creator?” because this kid is gonna be way cool to talk with about philosophy, theology, and sociology, whatever he ends up believing.

[for the record, I do not hold his faith in an immobile bicycle as Creator of the Universe and all within on par with other faiths, nor am I trying to mock religion when I detail his reaction to being exposed to the idea of god. It’s his first try at faith, he’s four, and we’re just getting started on this journey. Please don’t misinterpret my being willing to relate his “god #1 invents god #2 so the latter can create people to wheel god #1 around” theory as an attack on any ideas you may hold dear. Just because I don’t believe doesn’t mean I disdain belief itself. There is no way the bicycle that is just a basket dogma will hold up, nor that fascinating theological texts like Jesus Interrupted or Misquoting Jesus dedicated to Peanut’s bicycle-god-people trinity, but who am I to judge, is the point.)

perspective time

It’s human beings like my friends who work hard to find families to children who deserve so much better, and stories like theycallmejane‘s that make me realize how important is every moment we spend with our children, with other people’s children, and with other adults. The more human we can be, to affect and be affected, the better the world is.

Food Inc.

LOVE having grandma live nearby. Saw Food Inc. last night, our fourth movie in three years, and cannot get over it.

What has become of our nation’s food supply? Why is it all made from a couple of crops, paid for by tax dollars, even though it’s not the healthiest food?

I mean, I taught Fast Food Nation for three years to my freshman English students. And I’m pretty well versed in everything Pollan says on NPR when they get in one of their all-food-all-the-time blocks. But I’m still shocked by a lot of what Food Inc. had to say.

Sure, it had the predictable propaganda moments. Music swell over repeated shots of the boy who died from E coli poisoning because beef recalls are still voluntary and the FDA and USDA have no real regulatory power anymore. Dastardly sinister music while we watch what technology has done to assembly-line food production. But pretty simple parsing of the purpose of the film would predict that. Of course it’s propaganda. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t have important information. Critical thinking skills (which, unfortunately, are not always taught in colleges anymore), deduce that most of the fundamentals of the film are sound.

Mostly, I’m shocked that when the government complains we’re out of money, that we can’t get Americans healthy because we can’t afford it, they’re ignoring a glaringly simple way to rescue two birds with one pocketed stone: stop paying anyone not following organic practices. Stop it. It should not cost tax payers for huge farming corporations (all four of them who control virtually all of what this country produces) to make food seem cheap. What tax dollars buy is the ability for chemical-laden corn syrup and soy Frankenbeans to be cheaper than more healthful foods (healthful for our bodies and the planet).

If we stop paying huge multinational corporations to produce tons and tons and tons of food that we then overprocess and feed to animals who should be eating something else, maybe food will cost what it should. Maybe a head of broccoli will be cheaper than brown, carbonated sugar water trucked all across the country using scarce petroleum. Maybe organic proteins will be cheaper than a chemical-laden, ammonia bathed, bacteria-opportunistic burger or chlorine washed chicken breast at a fast food restaurant. Or maybe people will cut back from their average of 200 pounds of meat a year because the real cost finally makes it a food they enjoy but limit.

And maybe if we take the tax savings and pay for health care, people who buy the now cheaper whole foods will be healthier and not need as much medical treatment. Maybe obesity and diabetes will decline from epidemic proportions and we will all be eating what our local farmers produce instead of the chemical sludge, shipped from thousands of miles away, that we’re all pretending is food.

So cut all subsidies to food producing companies. Don’t lie about how important corn syrup is for our national health. If we have that much corn, so much that it can be processed into any number of pretend foods, then we have too much corn. Stop paying agribusiness to genetically modify and pesticide and herbicide and chemically fertilize and gas-harvest and chemically wash and process and alter and reprocess and package and truck and sell.

Now that we have all that money back, take the savings and give us health care instead of massive profit private health insurance. Or subsidize organic farms and teach small farmers to become organic farmers. It would do the nation’s food supply a lot more good than huge quantities of sprayed and processed and modified foods.

And while the gov. is taking care of that, please vote with your dollars. Buy food grown safely by people you trust.

After the movie, we ate here and I still eyed the potatoes, a produuct normally so pesticide and herbicide treated that it has to sit for several weeks after harvest to outgas all the chemicals before it’s deemed suitable for human consumption. Mmmmm.

Reason number 572 I will never live in the South

A friend posted this article on facebook, and I was shocked when I read it. They still have segregated proms in Georgia, Mississippi, and other Southern states. One night is the white prom (exclusively), and one night is the black prom. Students responded overwhelmingly to Morgan Freeman’s offer to fund an integrated prom, but white parents submarined it. Schools don’t sponsor the proms; student groups plan them with parents. And efforts by some students to combine the proms always fail because the white parents say they won’t pay for a prom where there are black students.

Are you freaking kidding me? You think we’re gonna have thoughtful, engaged citizens when parts of this country still act as though people are different just because of their color, gender, religion, orientation, politics, learning style? Geez, Georgia, what the hell is wrong with you? America, what the hell is wrong with us?

Segregated proms are a symptom, but a pretty big symptom, of intolerance and fear and hatred and ignorance.  People who believe you can’t marry someone you love. People who don’t “believe” in evolution. Beating other people because of who they love. Government sponsored killing. Government sponsored torture. Wiretapping Americans. Disenfranchising citizens.  Blaming other people for our failures. Corporal punishment. Death penalty. Body by McDonald’s. And AgroBusinessChemicalUSA. Picking and choosing who we help and who we leave on the side of the road. Concentrating wealth in the hands of, like, four hundred people while the rest of the world starves to death.*

Could we, as a nation, be more backward and uncivilized? Didn’t we used to stand for something? Like, maybe, equality and democracy and secular morality? Why do we now seem to stand for narrow-mindedness and hatred?

*no claim of moral equivalence in this list of terrifyingly unAmerican realities in America.

Valliantly finding happiness

Fascinating look in the Atlantic Monthly at George Valliant and The Grant Study, a 70+-year look at the lives of promising young men and what they’ve become. The data is being analysed, as seems fitting, as stories about these men and their lives. The results are remarkable.

One of my favorite quotes from Valliant in the podcast accompanying this article is about “the miserable process of getting from 25 and 35 when you’ve got all this health and all this your and you’re scared stiff that when it’s all said and done you’re not going to amount to a hill of beans…”  I’ve said before that 25 is hands down the worst year ever, in terms of existential angst, and I’m finding that mid-thirties ain’t much better. Now that he mentions it, the whole period had some bursts of “okay, I think I’m going to make it,” but it is a morass of angst and torment and existential malaise.

I hope to heaven the hill of beans can begin now…

Robert Thurman on Buddhism and women

Today was the second interview I’ve heard with Robert Thurman (Jon Carroll interviewed him at Herbst Feb 9, 2009 and though I could have planned to go I didn’t know until today that it happened, so I heard the podcast instead) and I was once again captivated by his voice, manner, and intelligence. First lecture was on Tibet and the geopolitical implications of Chinese rule there. Made me think of the globe, of capitalism masquerading as communism, and of debauched ethnic greed in whole new ways. This more recent City Arts and Lectures podcast  included bits I found fascinating, especially about Buddhism and messianic heroes.

One was that Buddhism qualifies as a messianic religion because it has room for the self-sacrifice of making others’ suffering less by taking on the suffering oneself. That, by definition, is messianic. So, he announced, is the work, worldwide, of women who suffer the slings and arrows of society and their own families to bring peace to their homes. He argued that the planet and the countries within it will only get healthy when women take over, since they know how to take everyone’s strengths and apply them for the greater good, and are, unfortunately, willing to suffer themselves to make others’ lives better. His argument was not essentialist, nor was it entirely womanist. But he made it very clear that we don’t appreciate what women do, everyday, in every country, to ensure a liveable life for their families.

check out some of his other podcasts here

and the lecture itself here

Eco Lunch Boxes

In looking for preschools, we’re finding that a lot of local programs are at no-waste schools. So Peanut and I have been on the lookout for the perfect reusable lunch box and supplies. And in our search, we found a wonderful mom-owned and operated business that has all the best nontoxic, eco-friendly lunch containers. (I don’t know the owner or anyone who works for her. I get nothing if they do well, and I got nothing for free during the process of finding them and buying from them.)

One Small Step is an aggregator of all the best lunch sacks, lunch boxes, bento boxes, reusable containers, washable sandwich wraps, stainless beverage mugs, and other eco-conscious, non-toxic stuff. And they offer the best prices I could find online, which is more than a little important to me.

We got a lot of things, since we’re new to the whole “eating away from home without ziplock” thing.

Peanut chose a washable cotton lunch sack that he can paint with fabric paint.acme2

He chose a brightly colored bento box that we’ve used now for four meals in a row. I checked the measurements before we bought, and it fits perfectly into the bag.bento4

The bento box is big enough for an adult lunch, but small enough for preschooler who likes lots of choices.

He also chose a great washable sandwich wrap that velcros contents in a little non-toxic burrito.

cozy1

And the reusable-lunch gurus at One Small Step (maybe just one guru, if the handwritten note included in my recycled box from the owner is any indication that this is a new, new, new one-mom company)  included a few awesome bamboo sporks.

This company has no idea I’m blogging about its offerings and my enormous satisfaction with the customer service and quality of products. The ownerhas no idea I have a blog, nor that I have tens of thousands of readers (somewhere in there—who’s counting?) who hang on my every word.

Local, home-based business a mom started = yay. Eco-friendly = yay. Prices as low as I could find anywhere else online for the best quality stuff = yay. Can you tell I don’t have a future in reviewing? Yea.

Go get yourselves some reusable, nontoxic lunch stuff. I’m temted to go back for the Fugu neoprene lpunch box for myself. For the planet, you understand. For the planet.fugured

You know what, World?

You really suck today, World. Sure, it’s a gorgeous 70plus degree day. Sure, there have been some very nice people in my way today. But overall, you are a rotten and no good inhabited planet today, World.

So since you suck so much today, and you owe me some *major* kharma points for royally fucking with me when I really didn’t have it coming, please send some of your worst asspain to the following peeps:

Do me a favor and throw a pebble in the shoe of the a–holes who lied to us when they sold us the last house, the realtor who let them, and the realtor who didn’t catch the lie. Also, please, give a huge festering stye to the people ruining the planet, a labial sebacious cyst to chemical companies who get away with the slow murder of the human race because they have strong lobbyists, and a painful nasal laceration to the jerks abusing workers for a profit.

It’s the least you can do, you sucky, sucky world.

Inauguration without a t.v.

Whether you’re employed in a place without television or plan to be at home Tuesday without a television or work really hard but plan to be in a place without a television because society doesn’t value what you do and you can’t afford a television, you might want to thank the kind people over at newteevee.com for posting this detailed list of where to get your Hope and Change online Tuesday at 9 am pst.

(I guess my last bit about not affording a television is silly because linking from a blog to another blog that details live feeds implies access to a technology that costs a lot more than a television. But still…)

Okay, that’s it.

Attention ants: Stop it. I know it’s warm in here, I know it’s dry in here. I don’t want you in here. Stop it before I run out of Biokleen spray, because its replacement is decidedly less pleasant for all of us.

Attention interest rates: Stop it. Fucking settle around the low 5s and stop. For fuck’s sake. We’re trying to fix an economy here, and you’re not helping. Greedy fucking bank jerks who stole our 401ks. Stop, stop, stop. Just lend everyone nice some money and quit trying to turn 2005 profits. Stop it stop it stop it.

Attention toddler: Keep up what you’re doing, boy. We’re having a great month. You’re doing very well. Nice effort on the friendliness, the compromising, and the listening. You’re a fine and decent human. Keep up the good work.

Attention early morning freight trains: Stop it. You don’t need the horn. Nobody on the planet could miss the blinking lights and dinging bells and dropped crossing arm. Stop honking your horn at 4am already.

Attention everyone on the planet: Step off! Just get out of my way for a few days. I have a novel to send to KGT, about which I’m terrified, even though she’s the sweetest and most gentle creative soul I’ve met, including MPG, who is the sweetest and most gentle creative soul anyone has ever met. While dealing with that fear (and unfinished novel that has two days to be finished), I also have to stop interest rates, decide whether to buy a house, decide how to finish this conference paper, decide whether to think about another kid, decide whether I can pull off above the knee striped socks with a skirt and an aircast. It’s an artificial-crisis-filled stressful month, and I’d like to ask that you all stay home, stop calling, and take a step away from the car keys. Just have some eggnog, chill, and resume your duties after the new year. (NDM, you may resume whenever, since the whole international date line gives you an extra day, anyway, and you wouldn’t get in my way, anyway, since you’re busy not drowning on the other side of the world, fighting to keep the world a better place than the rabid monkey blogs ever could without you.)

Attention babysitters: please select the best amongst yourselves and call me. I have no idea how to find one of you, but I need to see Spouse once before Peanut turns three. It would make three dates in three years, and I’m begging you…please call your own references, because I don’t have time. That’s why I haven’t found you yet. I haven’t looked. It’s a daunting task, one that should be important enough to stop parenting for the three months or so I assume it takes to find a good sitter, but that would sort of make the whole thing a bigger deal than I’m willing for it to be, seeing as I just want one stinking date with my husband in 2009. At least, I mean, but still. Ah, fuck it. I’ll just have Netflix send something not subtitled, and we’ll have our stinking Hot Tamales and popcorn on the cat-litter dusted couch. Sigh.

Attention world governments: please, please hear me now. I’ve figured out the secret to world peace. It came to me in the car (you know, that thing that very few people in the world have, and I’m way too spoiled to even have that, considering what most of the people in the world go through daily). The world would stop its fighting if every man woman and child had working indoor plumbing. Clean water, yes. That’s just necessary, though millions don’t have it. But beyond that, a flush toilet in some sort of structure where you can go all by yourself and close your eyes and have one minute of peace and quiet. And I’m going to go out on a limb here, and GUARANTEE world peace if somehow Bill and Melinda can get everyone a heated toilet seat. I know. We need to fix malaria and AIDS and birth traumas and birth defects and maternal health and cancer and everything else that afflicts the world populations. But once we’re all healthy, we might still be angry. Not with a heated toilet seat. There would be no wars if everyone had a heated toilet seat (which, if you were paying attention above, requires clean water and indoor plumbing, and about three thousand steps of poverty and disease eradication before the heated seats, but still).

Just consider it. Because once I go against my personal beliefs and kill all the ants in the house and strangle bank interest rate people and put a huge boulder on the railroad tracks and kiss my toddler and get a sitter and finish my novel and cure all those diseases, I would really like, for once in the winter, to not freeze my ass just trying to keep the house cleaner than our cat is willing to. And I can’t enjoy a heated toilet seat unless the rest of the world is also fed and healthy and happy and not abused and not endangered and also evacuating on a lovely, clean, heated toilet seat.

So there.

Facebook-Starbucks quandry

Some of my facebook friends are part of a group getting all in a dither about going to Starbucks on December 1, 2008 and ordering one of the company’s RED coffee drinks so that 5 cents goes to AIDS research, relief, and humanitarian aid.

Fine, good, and lovely. But am I the only one who thinks it’s a better idea to vow off expensive coffee for, say, a week, and send the proceeds, whole cloth, to AIDS research, relief, and humanitarian aid? Say, if I went out of my way to get overpriced coffee on December 1, 2008, and spent $4 on a chocolately espresso thing, they’d give 5 cents. Nice. If I sent that $4 to one of the charities at charitywatch.org, maybe most of that $4 would help. Five cents is a lot. Four dollars is eighty times more.

I think I’ll stay out of Starbucks on Monday. Not because I have taken to heart Ilene’s rejection of their business model (though I’ve always respected her view, and my frustration of their early assertion that the company was named after the firstmate in Moby Dick, whose alleged love of coffee is not supported by the text).

I’m not making a political statement here. I’m making a mathematical decision. And I’m sending at least $4 to AIDS relief on Monday, when I will be making coffee at home.

Thanksgiving for Santa.

Peanut has been in an intense no-sharing mood for almost a year. So he’s intrigued lately with the concept of giving presents. You give someone stuff, but you’re not sharing. It’s not yours; it’s theirs. You don’t get it back. There is no control after the giving. But there is control in the choosing.

He likes this.

He’s picked out birthday presents for friends, telling me exactly what his friends get and what they don’t. He usually picks out something for himself, too, though he’s perfectly willing to have it put away until birthday, Hanukkah, Christmas, Nana’s birthday (which is a great holiday at our house–Nana’s birthday is a couple days before Christmas, after the all important Solstice. Nana’s birthday is a holiday nobody else gets (except, well, Nana). We love Nana’s birthday. We get presents for no other reason than because we’re lucky enough to have her in our family.)

So we’ve been talking about Santa in our house for two years, because I knew it would come up, and, like making spiders and owls and wolves friendly, and fairy tales completely non-scary, I wanted to manage how this once-benevolent and now out-of-control commercialist holiday is portrayed in our house. I want him to believe in magic and hope and love, but not in getting stuff because you’re good. So I researched Santa Claus and found that the original dude, on whom the St. Nick character is based, was intensely into charity. He gave to the needy. That, Spouse and I discussed, is something we can be down with.

We taught Peanut that Santa, when he was around, gave to people who need. Santa’s not around anymore, but remembering him makes people want to give. True. Not as true as I’d like it to be, but still. (And yes, I did just teach my kid that Santa’s dead. So? He’s a myth. He’s fun to talk about and believe, and being honest now makes it less upsetting to find out later that Santa’s a myth.)

So each year, as often as we can, we give to people who need. After we moved, a truck came to take all the gently used things that we don’t need anymore, but another family might. He was totally fine giving stuff to the truck, because we said it was like Santa’s truck. When we read books about Christmas and Santa has a bag of toys, we tell him that it’s like the fire station and the library having Toys for Tots barrels. Santa has a bag of toys because the family left them out for Santa to take to people who need. Santa’s not bringing to the people in the stories. He’s taking, so he can redistribute. (That’s called being nice, you pre-election hatemongers.)

So I asked Peanut what he wanted to do for Christmas to help like Santa. Last year he wanted to bring toys to the dogs and cats at the local shelter. He loved every minute of giving, in part because he got to choose which dog got which ball, and which cat got which feather. This year he wants to bring apricots to the Food Bank. Because he says they don’t need raisins, but “if they need apricots, I give them apricots.”

Then he said, and I won’t let him forget this ever, that maybe some people just need someone to cuddle them. Maybe, like the babies Grandma cuddles at the hospital, maybe some people just need friends. He would like to find them, he said, and listen to them and cuddle them and make them feel better.

So that’s what we’re doing for Thanksgiving. We’re going to try the local retirement community, and see how he reacts to cuddling seniors. He tends to be wary of older people, so that might not work. Then we’ll bring apricots to the Food Bank.

And we will head to the animal shelter again this year. At least once a month. Because those dang critters love them some attention. And though it’s hard for me not to bring them all home, it makes Peanut feel very important to cuddle small creatures who don’t have families yet. He needs to feel important. And lots and lots of people and pets this year need love. So Spouse and I are going to try to meet as many of those needs as we can, and teach Peanut in the process that the best thing you can do is give.

Santa didn’t come to our house last year, and won’t be coming to our house this year. We don’t need anything. But we’ll make sure that we help whomever we can.

So let us know if you need a cuddle. ‘Cuz we’re ready for ya.