Thursday, December 25, 2008

(for the fifth candle)

62. Know how to balance your checkbook, even if you never do it.

63. Be mindful of your finances. Know how much you have and where you have it.
64. Know how to access all of your financial information by yourself.
65. Pay your bills on time and in full.

66. Tip well.

67. Know your medical history.

68. Learn how to drive stick.

69. Know how to change a tire.
70. Carry an auto club membership card. It’s okay to use it for a flat tire.

71. Get thee some basic home maintenance and home improvement skills. Pin It

The most meandering Merry Christmas wish you've ever received

Last Friday I was running an errand on my lunch hour in the rain, except to say that I was in the rain is a misnomer because I was dry in the bubble of my car, watching the rain hit the windshield, watching the drops splat above me on the sunroof. The item I had picked up, a print I had left at the framer’s, was safely wrapped and dry. It was a sock-soaking rain for those women I could see puddle-jumping to the shelter of a bus stop. It was a hydroplaning rain for the cars I could see on the diesel- and unleaded caterpillar beneath me, the Beltway. It was just a distraction for me, bubbled as I was, forced by a stoplight to stop. To look.

Cold and rainy. Blurgh. Better, though, than the foot of snow my brother said he was expecting up his bit of that northeast corridor.

Up, I saw just gray, and splat splat splat. I have always thought that sunroofs are wasted on the sun. They are best for cloudless nights and rainy days.

Left, I saw the rolling green acres of the USDA farm labs. A steady rain looks to be in the right place on top of fields of grass. Whatever grows on those hills, I thought, was well nourished today.

Right, I saw an old brick building. A shallow door stoop. A person (man?) partially obscured, resting (sleeping?) (living?) in the doorway. His roof was borrowed from another failed empire a half mile down: a tall, narrow sign of the sort somebody is paid minimum wage to stand in numbing precipitation and wave at the eyes of pre-Christmas shopping motorists. Store Closing / Everything Must Go / Fixtures / Liquidation Prices. A driving rain on a particle board roof-replacement just looks cruel. Whomever crouched under that sign, I thought…and with my thought left unfinished, I felt only sadness and dismay.

I couldn’t reach him from a middle lane of a six lane road. And the light was about to turn green. And really, I didn’t know if he needed anything. And the only food item I had was actually a drink, in a glass bottle. Can’t chuck that across two lanes of cars. And I didn’t know if he’d want it. And I didn’t know if he was awake to notice the gesture. And really, I didn’t know if he was a he. In that moment, I didn't know anything right about anything.

But there I was warm and dry on my mediocre errand on a blah but really-nothing-to-complain-about day, and rain that looks bucolic, even hopeful, on the verdant test fields looks so disheartening on the plastic-wrapped feet of the person taking shelter behind another sign of the failing economy.

So the least I could do was resolve not to make such a mountain out of my blah-day molehill. I finished my dangled thought with an eye-squeezing hope for his luck to turn around. I finished my work. I collected my girls, went home and reunited us with their daddy, and hung my new print in its intended place on our kitchen wall. And that’s how I started our weekend: the four of us together, warm and dry in our comfy-if-crazed house.

How fitting:

And just what I need to see each morning to keep me bobbing above the less than euphoric zeitgeist.

Straight to the point has never been my strong suit but just as I was reminded in such a visible way last week to count my blessings, I’d like to wish all my Christmas-celebrating friends and readers (!) a wonderful day filled with blessings so numerous that they pile, as my elder daughter would say of the biggest infinities she can comprehend, all the way to the ceiling.
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