12 Epiphanies

viii. We have an impulse to share with others.

Kate still faced the question of what to do for actual Christmas, the day itself. With the apartment feeling more cheerful, she didn’t want to spend it alone.

Perhaps she could volunteer. She imagined herself, wearing her bright green sweater and the cap with the pom-pom, serving in the line of a soup kitchen, which, of course, on that day would be offering a savory feast. “Have seconds,” she’d say, with a smile, and the old person (always, in her imagination, it was a grizzled old man that she served) would smile back, his eyes twinkling. She could feel the spread of warmth.

But when she called the Salvation Army, they had no slots for volunteers that day. Neither did Four Corners. Nor United Way. Nor Kitchens Not Borders.

“It’s this way all over,” said the director of Our Home. “We see plenty of volunteers over the holidays. It’s nice, of course. Not complaining. But it’s after the holidays we need help. You really want to contribute? Come back some dreary Friday in February when everyone’s forgotten about us.”

Kate promised she would, and she marked down her calendar on January 25 to call the director back so she could schedule some times to help there.

But that still left her with this Christmas Day without a plan.

One of the cooking channels broadcast “A Very Holiday Feast,” and she thought it would be fun to cook a spread, with cranberries, wild rice, roast veggies–the works.

Her apartment building was bound to have other lonely souls–Bertha, for example, if she wasn’t spending it with her son. Or what about that nice anonymous person who’d left the boxes of ornaments?

She could do something similar.

What if she put out notices on the bulletin boards on every landing, inviting neighbors to her feast?

First she wrote a thank you note to post for the kind person who’d left the decorations. Then, she drew up six colorful invitations, with pictures of dancing butternut squashes, singing cranberries, smiling onions, and frolicking heads of garlic.

“Come to a Feast!”

When she checked the next morning, she found a note scrawled in blue felt-point pen beneath her thank you note.

“You’re welcome,” it said.

In the same hand-writing, with the same pen, on a different scrap of paper, were the words:

Take a moment to breathe. You will only have this breath once. But the moment in which you experience this breath will connect you to every moment of breathing in and breathing out. Breathe. It is all you need to do.

And the same blue pen also wrote “I’ll be there!” on her feast-invitation. Underneath that, in red pen, someone else had written, “So will I!”

It looked like Kate was going to be cooking a feast for her neighbors. This Christmas, she wouldn’t spend alone.

<< Previous | Next >>

Septemus 15


Dear Sept,

I was so excited to greet you when you came home from your first day of school. I had so much to tell you.

I spied you out the window, and you looked really happy.

OK, I reminded myself. Let him (meaning you) go first.


In spite of my news, which I knew you’d been waiting for for years, really, I realized this was a significant day for you, due to starting school.

I didn’t want to pack my news on top of yours until you’d had a chance to tell me all about it. And even then, I wanted to break it to you slowly, so as not to overwhelm. Happy news can sometimes be just as hard to process as the tough stuff.

You came inside looking confident and peaceful.


“How was the day?” I asked.

“So good!” you replied.


“Didja make a lot of friends?” I asked.

“Yeah!” you replied.

“Woot!” I shouted.


I’d been worried. So far, everyone you’ve met has really liked you. We haven’t had to put up with any name-calling or teasing, and even though you’ve been lonely for your siblings and look up at space with longing sometimes, you seem to feel the world is a friendly place.

I want to keep it that way as long as we can.


“So?” I asked. “What else?”

“My teacher is really cute! Her name is Caroline Swits, but I decided to call her Care-a-lot Sweets, because she cares a lot and she’s really sweet. All the kids like her, and when she comes into the corner to read to us, we all say, ‘Shh! Sweets-time!'”


You looked so happy. I felt a moment of worry. If you’re this happy now…

“So, what else?” I wanted you to have a chance to tell everything before it got overshadowed by the big news.

“I made a very important discovery,” you said.

“Oh? What’s that?”

“I love everybody, and everybody loves me!” you said.


“That is an important discovery. Anything else?”

“Nope. That about does it,” you said.

“All right,” I said. “Take a deep breath and rest your smiling muscles for a sec, because I made an important discovery today, too.”

You took a breath and got very still waiting.

“Don’t forget to exhale,” I said.


“So,” I began, trying to think of the gentlest, most round-about way to say it. “Have you ever heard of ‘When it rains, it pours?'”

You hadn’t.

“What do you think it means?” I asked. I was hoping that switching your mind into curiosity-mode would make it easier to take in what I was going to tell you.

“It probably means to not forget your umbrella!” you said.

“Always a good idea to be prepared,” I said. “It means that when something of a sort happens, it’s usually followed by lots more of the same sort. Sometimes, it’s used for bad news. But it can be used for good news, too. Today, I’m using it for good news.”

You looked up at my with your eyes of space.

“So,” I continued, “if we’re talking good news, and if I were to tell you I was really busy doing something for us–for you–all day, what kind of good news do you think I might have to share?”

“A puppy?” you asked.

“Not a puppy,” I replied. “Better. What’s the best–”

“–Bizoopagotogo?” you asked.

And when I nodded, I thought we might both explode from happy.


I told you all about the forum and how we now had a way to get in touch with your siblings, and how you weren’t alone anymore, and we didn’t explode. We just smiled til our cheek muscles cramped.

Oh, son. This day makes it all worthwhile.

Your happy dad,


<< Previous | Next >>