sharing everything this Christmas

December 11th, 2017


Sharing the good stuff all over again.

It was close to 7 p.m., pitch dark and cold by California standards, and I was stopped at a red light on the way to pick up my daughter from math tutoring. The light was long and I let my gaze drift to my left, across the street, where I watched two men waiting for the bus. One wore shorts, the other jeans, both in dark hoodies. I knew they were strangers because they stood apart and ignored each other. In the same moment, each raised a cigarette to their lips, an orchestrated pair invisibly attuned. And then the traffic moved.

Earlier that evening my daughter asked me how we used to Christmas shop. “When you were little did you order from magazines?” she asked, stretching her imagination to conceive of a life without computers. For Hanukkah she was given money and the same day spent most of it on Christmas gifts for friends. The spree had made her happy and it had made me happy too, being much more fun than my grumpy sermons on generosity. She ordered everything online (with my help) and the UPS man delivered the first box today. She went to the front gate and took it from him. I think that was a first, too.

I told her about my grandparents, who seemed crazy rich to us but crazy poor to everyone else. There was a book in those days called the wish book that was really the Sears catalogue. Since my grandparents lived far away from a department store they waited for the wish book to come every year. Then they handed it by turns to three little granddaughters and told us to make a mark by anything we wanted. I’m serious. That’s what they said, and then they went in the other room. It was a big book and a tall order for us little girls, but knowing that I could have it all made me less greedy. I remember pausing my pen over a page, empowered with a Midas touch, thinking of my grandparents, and not wanting quite so much as I thought I did.

Last weekend we saw A Christmas Carol at a local theatre.Β  My daughter was in four such productions since the age of 8, so I have seen and heard Mr. Dickens’ tale brought to life dozens of times. On Saturday I saw it and cried again. I cried because you cannot receive that story and not have it tenderize your heart. There can’t be one of us who isn’t afflicted by anger, frustration, cynicism or a shitty mood around the holidays. There isn’t one of us who isn’t sometimes blind to goodness or stingy with sentiment; who isn’t isolated or afraid. To see a human being transformed by joy, generosity, and belonging β€” and to feel it for myself β€” I don’t want anything else just now.

When people say they like the work I am sharing, I look around for the work. This doesn’t feel like work. It feels like life, which is inseparably shared by all of us. If you’re not sure you have anything to share, I will understand. I feel like that sometimes, too. Then I see differently, and my heart is bared. There is good in this world. We have to see it to share it. To start, take a look right here: The Week in Good News.


  1. Thank you for being you, Karen. Your work continues to be a blessing to me. xo

    Comment by Emma — December 11, 2013 @ 10:11 pm

  2. In. Season of unfettered greed and corporate manipulation, to see what truly matters is a beautiful gift. Thank you for pointing it out :).

    Comment by Stephanie — December 12, 2013 @ 6:13 am

  3. I looked up “Maezen” and it seems to mean “wise person with excellent expressive writing skills.”

    Comment by Bill — December 12, 2013 @ 6:34 am

  4. Thank you, Karen, for this wonderful story. I too remember the big Sears book. My grandmother, as she got older, would send me and my wife Julia the kindest letters, in simple words, then just enclose a few dollars in them to let us know she cared. Both of us never forget this simple act of love.

    Comment by daniel — December 12, 2013 @ 7:36 am

  5. Your post today reminds me that I used to emphasize to my creative writing students (grades 10-12) that writing is truly a gift. As my students created and then presented their gifts to one another, I watched their fears and their feelings of inadequacy subside as they re-discovered their shared humanity. Recently I started a blog and re-discovered for myself how terrifying it can be to write, to publish, to put your stuff out there. What will others think? Why risk the emotional vulnerability? Why cast the pearls of my own thoughts to the unseen masses, who might trample them? The key, I used to tell my students, is to write with an awareness of one’s audience. To write for them, not just for one’s self (that’s what a journal is for)–to present a shiny gift, an offering. I suppose that is why I am so very grateful when others do take the time and find the courage within themselves to let their guard down a bit and share their thoughts. Thank you, roshi,for your gifts, and for reminding me of my own. My blog is at (facebook page “Snow Falling Slowly”): all are welcome.

    Comment by Beth Wheeler — December 12, 2013 @ 7:48 am

  6. That girl of yours makes me cry.

    Comment by Roos — December 12, 2013 @ 10:05 am


    Sharing some practical tips for the first day(s) after finding out a bad cancer prognosis. It’s what the path of life keeps showing me: utmost compassion.

    Comment by Roos — December 13, 2013 @ 5:55 am

  8. I want to share a small poem from Kate Dicamillo’s new book. I have it written on a little piece of paper and I cling to it, because everyone in my family needs me so much and I just don’t feel up to the challenge lately, and know I’m letting them all down. Here it is:

    would be
    easier without
    because you
    are everything
    to me.
    – From Flora and Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures

    Merry Christmas, Maezen. Every day is a good day. : )

    Comment by nova bradfield — December 13, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

  9. Some dear memories here! Your sharing brings much joy, kindness and love. Wishing you and your dear ones many Blessings, Karen πŸ™‚

    Comment by mary p — December 14, 2013 @ 11:48 am

  10. The wish book! I love that. We used to do all our shopping out of the Sears or JC Penney catalog. I still remember the year, 6th grade I think, when my mother ordered me six pairs of carpenter pants in a rainbow of colors. That was my uniform for the year.

    And last night I just finished reading a Christmas Carol – original Dickens. Of course I already knew the story but had never experienced it in print. Beautiful.

    Thank you for your words and the reminder that we are all one.


    Comment by Shalet — December 11, 2014 @ 9:43 am

  11. We used to make our list from the thick Sears catalogue as well. I remember adding the page number and the specific batteries needed for the item. Santa’s elves needed details. Thanks for sharing!

    Comment by Jane — December 12, 2014 @ 4:48 am

  12. Your wise and beautiful words go straight to my heart as usual. Thank you, Maezen and blessings on this start of the holiday season. XOClare

    Comment by Clare — December 12, 2014 @ 6:26 am

  13. Your words land, as always, in my heart. Love that girl of yours, and you.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — December 12, 2014 @ 7:13 am

  14. “We have to see it to share it”.

    I love this. And if you can’t see the light, be the light. Eyes and heart open as I navigate the holiday landmines. Thank you for your wise words.

    (Remembering the Wish Book is a gift in itself β™‘)

    Comment by Bonnie Nygren — December 12, 2017 @ 5:01 am

  15. Why am I moved to tears by so much of your writing? This is my first year of firsts without my husband of 43 years. I know there is goodness in the world but I must pause often to remind myself of that, and of how lucky I was to have those years.
    I will spend the holidays loving grandchildren and giving thanks for their innocence.
    Thank you for your words.


    Comment by Jude Smith — December 12, 2017 @ 2:29 pm

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

archives by month