December’s Ides

7

December 15, 2018, Prescott-

In Renaissance times, as we know from Shakepeare’s Macbeth, the dividing point in a month was called “the Ides”.  This hearkened from a time when all months, save February, had 30 days,  and the 15th served as the dividing point.

We’ve reached this point in December, in which the work-a-day cares and tribulations of the first two weeks, being as they are combined with holiday planning, give steadily away to the mix of moods and accent on celebrating that characterize the period, right up to January 1.

I spent the first part of today helping to lay wreaths on the grave sites of those who served in the military or were married to those who did.  There were about eighty people, of all ages, doing this, following a forty-minute ceremony of patriotic music and short speeches, culminating with a 21-gun salute and playing of “Taps” (Il Silenzio).

Wreaths Across America is a national program of wreath-laying at the graves of those laid to rest in military cemeteries, on the third Saturday in December.  It began with a wreath-maker in Harrington, ME, in 1992 and became a national effort in 2007. One of my maternal uncles, who served with distinction in the U.S. Navy, during World War II, was among those who helped organize the national effort.  I learned of his involvement in this, upon his passing, in 2010 and have been involved in this effort, myself, since 2011.

The rest of this Ides of December saw me get out the last of my family Christmas cards and put up a hand-made wreath on my front door.  The weather outside is far from frightful, but I aim to keep the atmosphere, around home and work at least, delightful.

A Progressive Rogue

4

December 17, 2016, Prescott- 

I regard myself as a progressive.  There is only one way to real progress, though, in my view.  That is, for everyone to roll up their sleeves, get a given job done, and not be concerned with WHO ELSE is on the team, or in the relay line, so long as each person is carrying his or her weight.

I was on a team, this morning, whose collective task was to empty a storage yard of holiday wreaths.  We had about a thousand wreaths, most of which were in boxes of six.  Our team, of ten men and one woman, loaded the boxes and loose wreaths onto any of three trucks.  The trucks then brought their loads up to a staging area, in Prescott Memorial Cemetery, where others took the wreaths and placed them at each of a thousand or so gravesites, as part of Wreaths Across America, which honours our departed veterans, each Christmas season.  The team members did not stop for a minute, until the job was done.  Yes, it was cold(18-25 F), but so was shoveling snow, back in Saugus, Deerfield and Bangor, in my earlier days.  As the project director said, when we first gathered for assignments, the men and women whose graves we honoured did not flinch, for convenience’s sake.

I left the site, after our job was finished, and went over to another place, where 45 women, men and children were putting Christmas baskets and backpacks together, for homeless veterans and disadvantaged families.  My jobs were to sort donated groceries into food types, sort empty backpacks into piles, by colour and size, and then help fill twenty backpacks, with donated clothing, safety implements, toiletries and stationery. Once again, each of us worked with the others, across lines of ideology, gender and age, with no regard for differences.

These two events, no doubt, had their counterparts, by the thousands, across the country, and around the world.  We do them, as part of our community loves, on a daily basis, some of us more than others, but each according to his/her own talents and time allowances.

I  went to see “Rogue One:  A Star Wars Story”, last night, in our very comfortable, and inexpensive, Picture Show Theater.  The plot told of a young woman who grows up, a de facto orphan, learning the self-reliance and self-discipline that such a state of affairs imparts.  She trusts few, having been abandoned by her father, and betrayed by two competing groups of tyrants.  The rest is up to anyone, wishing to see the film, to find out for themselves.

I have had to go it alone, several times, in life and I’m sure this will happen again.  Being “rogue”, however, doesn’t mean that one should lose sight of the greater challenge facing humanity.  We are here, I believe, to care for one another with enormous passion.  My opus, gladly engaged, is caring for others with an ever-decreasing regard for my own comfort.  Yes, my “job”, in the eyes of family members, is to take care of myself, and I have that one down, pretty well.  That said, people and their chronic issues will not go away by themselves.  Progress means that the problems of society are to be remediated systematically, or not at all.  It means we do this together, and get over our differences.

Adventine Hope

10

December 12-13, Prescott- It seemed this weekend saw no end to meetings and gatherings.  Saturday dawned with the placing of wreaths on most of the grave sites at Prescott National Cemetery.  The event was part of Wreaths Across America, in which I have participated for the past four years, in honour of my late Uncle Carl, who was intensely active in Wreaths, when it first started, and remained so until his passing in 2010.  Snow made it interesting, but we’ve had a white ground cover every year, except last year.  The children who participate are a major reason for its success.

Yesterday afternoon, we Prescott Baha’is had our Spiritual Feast, a worship service held every nineteen calendar days, or so, which features devotions, consultation about the business of the community and a social gathering.  We have a good rapport with each other and the home-based gatherings add to a family feeling.

In the evening, I joined the staff of Mingus Springs, for their Christmas party, also held in a spacious home, with a lovely view of the valley below.  Exquisite food, raucous camaraderie and intelligent conversation on a variety of topics lit up the four hours we had together.  The party games were both wholesome and spirited-one involving a question and answer competition between two teams, and the other an unravel-the-ball-of-tape, which involved rolling a pair of dice, and getting a chance to peel back on one of two taped balls, which had small treats inside.  Rolling doubles was required, in order to have at the ball.  It got quite energetic, when two people rolled doubles at the same time, and we were down to one taped ball.  The evening ended with the usual White Elephant gifting.  I came away with Ben Goode’s “857 Habits of Annoying People”.  I’ve seen some his other books in various truck stop diners in the Southwest.

This morning, after such a frenetic day, saw me get up a bit more hesitantly than usual.  I got it together for a short meeting, first thing this morning, then went to a Legion gathering to honour one of our members who is going to California for a while.  Of course, there was yet another full buffet. The cooks of Yavapai County do supreme justice to our community meals!  Somehow, I am not packing on the weight, but it sure is fun being part of things.

Now I am just enjoying the quiet of my little place.  Someone asked me, last night, if I found it lonesome since my wife passed on.  There are such times, but in the presence of so many loving friends, I haven’t found them to be all that frequent.  Besides, she is taking good care of me, from the place beyond the veil.

I called my replacement teacher, this evening, and will meet with her, at the end of December.  In the meantime, the kids and I will finish up our quarterly business, and I will tie up loose ends, before heading off to Boston, at the end of the week.