Pilgrim Path

This blog is the work of a seeker and poet. Walking stick in hand, I head out into the world, not of the world, but in the world. My words and my friends carry me along and light the pilgrim path of spiritual journeys.

Thursday, December 24, 2009


  • After a couple of weeks of sleeping from 3am to 10am, I was awakened by my alarm at 7am. It’s OK, I am taking a dear friend to the airport so he can be with his family for Christmas.
  • Having breakfast at Orange with same dear friend and being cajoled, and refusing, to taste Chai flavored French Toast. (bleech!) I had the “boring” buttermilk pancakes (yes, that is what they call them on the menu). (I thought I was being adventurous enough with the orange/grape juice.)
  • Getting a call from my brother to bitch about Christmas plans and family members, but knowing the real reason he called.
  • Pre-heating the oven and having the leftover scent of chocolate chip cookies waft through the house.
  • Deciding it is overcast enough to turn on the Christmas lights in the front window at noon.
  • Looking out same front windows and hoping that the forecasted rain doesn’t melt away all of the snow before Christmas morning.
  • Reading friends’ blogs and sending brief comments just to stay connected.
  • Remembering Uncle Don a.k.a. Santa.
  • Putting the finishing touches on the Christmas baskets.
  • Grateful to have rediscovered old photos and old memories.
  • Laughing as Basil (my oldest cat) sucks up to me today thinking he’ll get a better present than Abbey and Bruiser.
  • Cuddling up on the end of the couch, wrapped up in a snowman blanket I got from my Pennsylvania great-nieces, near a small lamp so I can read the book I just received that was written by my very dear friend, John. You can read it, too. Just order it at: http://www.amazon.com/Touching-Wonder-Recapturing-Awe-Christmas/dp/1434764656/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1261680621&sr=8-1
  • Hearing the buzzer on the stove go off, telling me the last batch of chocolate chip cookies is ready.
  • Thinking how blessed I am.
  • Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!


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Tuesday, December 22, 2009


What more does a young boy need than an eyeless teddy bear, a stuffed monkey and a phone?

Thanks, Santa

Merry Christmas!

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Monday, December 21, 2009


If you read my previous posting, you know that I recently re-discovered a collection of childhood photos. Among them were a few taken during the Christmas Holiday season. I'm guessing this one was taken in (gulp) 1956.

This photo mesmerizes me. My attention is first drawn to the pretty sparse Christmas tree, heavily laden with ornaments, garland and tinsel trying desperately to look full and ready for its camera, Mr. DeMille. I can spot a metallic silver bell that I have to this day. Every time I hear that Christmas song about “…Christmas-time in the city…” a smile appears on my face.

I can see the glittery cotton tree skirt that hosted a tiny village of houses and trees. My mother would take a pair of scissors and cut a hole in the skirt and place a small mirror under the opening to mimic a frozen pond. Although I can’t see them, we had small metal ice skaters that I used to play with on the “pond.” In later years, I’d improvise a snowy hill for small metal skiers by placing books of the encyclopedia under the skirt, too.

Does anything in this picture date it more than the chair in which I’m sitting? It was a bright red with silver threads that looked like tinsel. The best part of this chair was that it spun 360 degrees.

Most surprising of all in this picture is my pose. Where did that self-confident, self-assured child come from? I suppose part of the confidence came from being “related to Santa” (see previous posting). It’s kind of appropriate, I suppose, in this Holiday season to look at this picture and ask “What Child Is This?

Now before you begin lambasting me with accusations of blasphemy, you must know that in the deepest part of my faith is the belief that God is within each of us. He shines from within when we are being the best we can be. The child in this picture is living fully in the moment of the Holidays in a way that I’m not sure adults can. I only know that finding this picture this year has brought me back to that feeling in a way that I haven’t felt in a long time.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009


Several weeks ago, I tackled a long overdue task of cleaning out the garage…or at least “starting” that job. Most of the items I touched made the very short trip to the garbage can. However, I found a mini-photo album with several early childhood black-and-white photos of myself that had been missing-in-action for some time and I was very glad to find it. Despite my exhaustion from pawing through so much “crap,” I was very excited to drive over to the neighborhood Walgreen’s later that same day to convert these newly found treasures into digital photos.

During the time it took for the scanner to work its magic, I had a chance to look at each picture more closely. I was surprised at how quickly the childhood memories came flooding back. While most of the pictures were taken when I was an age too early to remember the circumstances, there were a few that prompted vivid memories. Witness:

Yes, that is me. I’m standing in front of Santa a.k.a. Uncle Don. Uncle Don was my mother’s oldest brother. I’m not sure exactly when he began playing Santa, but I’m pretty sure his performances spanned 5 decades. He began playing Santa for the American Legion post where he was very active. It sort of ruins the mystique of his work to wade too deeply in the facts. I’d rather wallow in the memories.

Each year, my father and I would hop in the car and drive over to the Legion Hall on 38th Street at Central Park Avenue. It was always a very dark night just days before Christmas. As we’d exit the car, you could feel the electricity in the air – at some point tonight, Santa would arrive. I remember always glancing up to the roof of the Hall to see if I could catch a peek of a Santa who might have arrived early. On balmy winter evenings, I’d worry about the rails of the sleigh on the roof. (At some point, I was assured that Santa would plan ahead and fasten wheels to the rails on snowless visits.)

Entering the Legion Hall, there was a steep set of stairs to climb to get to the hall where the entertainment would perform as we waited for Santa. One year, there would be a puppeteer with marionettes; another year there would be a magician. We didn’t really care too much about their acts as we were just eager for them to exit the stage so we could begin singing carols in anticipation of Santa’s arrival.

You could never tell each year how many carols it would take for Santa to arrive. I quickly learned that it was wise to keep one ear open while singing carols for the sounds of Santa’s sleigh landing on the roof. An otherwise frightening thud would shake the building and simultaneously about 200 children would be catapulted into a frenzy that stirs my heart to this day.

I have no idea how they managed, but the women’s auxiliary would corral us into an orderly line so as to visit with Santa and get our stocking filled with simple games and cheap candy. The gift didn’t even matter – the experience and the memory of it were most important.

Being related to “Santa” brought an amazing benefit: a personal home visit. There is a magic in a child’s oblivion. I’m sure that there were many calls to arrange the date and time of the visit, but I never caught on. We lived in a second floor rental apartment, but on a random night before Christmas, while already dressed in my pajamas, I would hear the loud jingling of a leather strap full of bells from down the street. I’d run to the front window and see Santa walking down my street. The best part of this all was that I knew he was coming to visit ME!

There’s not a Christmas that goes by without these warm memories being stirred. Uncle Don may well be my favorite male role model. Even when not in his Santa “uniform” he was a gregarious, generous soul. I adored the tenderness with which he treated my mother (his sister). I respected him for the way his personality gently fit his role as “patriarch” of my mother’s side of the family. There was always a hearty laugh ready to explode from way down deep.

Like Santa, Uncle Don will always live in my heart.

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Friday, December 04, 2009


I did my best, it wasn't much
I couldn't feel, so I tried to touch
I've told the truth, I didn't come to fool you
And even though
It all went wrong
I'll stand before the Lord of Song
With nothing on my tongue but Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah
Hallelujah, Hallelujah

- God Bless Leonard Cohen