Greyhound to New York

A Christmas journey through the night by Greyhound bus – a community of strangers, a chance encounter…”Connections in my life were slow, cautious dances that took time and work, but he smiled straight at me as if there were no barriers to overcome, as if we had always known each other. I felt like someone had spun me around, my bearings lost in the flat Montana landscape.”

Read more about a Christmas night on the Great Planes at: “Montana Mouthful” (scroll to p. 2)

Creating a Peaceful Holiday Season

I find it difficult to recall a family Christmas without some sort of conflict.  I’ve spent Christmas with several different families from my own nuclear two parents, three kids family of origin to extended families of unrelated adults.  At some point, somebody gets upset, testy or outright angry.  It’s a common experience.  One of my friends decided that staying at home alone on Christmas day was easier…For many years he spent the holiday in his own house, alone, phone turned off.  But does it have to be this way?

Read more about how the power of acceptance can turn Christmas into a time of peace and joy for all the family in Creating a Peaceful Holiday Season Sibyl Magazine December 2015.  Read the December edition of Sibyl Magazine here.


What Makes a Family?

family, family tree, friendship, family values

It’s Thanksgiving in the United States this week, a Thanksgiving following an election.  Americans go all out on Thanksgiving – turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, sweet potatoes, all manner of pies.  It’s like Christmas really.  Americans have two Christmases a year and I’ve never been left alone on either of them.  They’re  like that, at least the Americansn I know are.  They invite you into their home and make you an honorary member of their family.

Family is important in this country.  Politicians crow on about it endlessly and about something they call ‘family values’.  I haven’t quite worked out yet what family values are in this increasingly polarized nation but they seem to have something to do with marriage, heterosexuality, being gainfully employed, having a home and a car.  Family values also preclude things like abortions and, bizarrely in this year’s election, contraception.  That eliminates a wide swathe of the population.

This year I’ll spend Thanksgiving with a motley collection of people who call themselves a family:  a male friend and his third wife, her stepmother and her second husband, a twenty-two year old single mother, her boyfriend and her son, a good woman friend, long divorced and her adult son…and me, an emigrant.  I’ll spend Christmas with one of my closest friends, a thirty something straight writer and her two gay male housemates who also see themselves as family.  I’m invited into other families too – a huge Irish American one and a tiny one made up of an old friend and his little daughter.

I don’t recognize the families politicians talk about, the ones defined as man and woman, wedding rings and kids who sail through college, find a good job and live happily ever after.  They probably exist, but increasingly in my experience, a family is a strange, oddly shaped collection of people who choose to be together and who define themselves in whatever way they choose.

I like these families where difference is embraced, where being ‘normal’ is not a requirement for membership and where strangers are invited in.  In spirit, they seem to have more in common with the family in Bethlehem that gave rise to Christmas than with the family at the center of the recent bitter and divisive political debates.