Yes, Virginia . . .

“I bought my brother some gift-wrap for Christmas. I took it to the gift wrap department and told them to wrap it, but in a different print so he would know when to stop unwrapping.” – – Steven Wright

A while back I became motivated to start writing again, and to put out at least one piece of writing a week. Hopefully two. It has been easier said than done. I know tons of material waits to be harvested in the ethers, but I just can’t seem to access it. I finally thought I hit paydirt tonight and wrote what I thought was a nice little piece after hearing my favorite version of “The First Noel.” As I putzed around for an hour or two after though, I just couldn’t help but think that it was weak – not anywhere near what I’m capable of allowing to come through me. I thought about times in the past when material just seemed to drop into my lap. Why can’t that happen now? So I headed for my frequent fall back coping mechanism: munchies. With today being Christmas I know everything was closed. Except for a twenty-four hour Walgreen’s not far from me which has often been a Godsend. Tonight I just didn’t know how much of a Godsend it would be.

As I entered the parking lot I noticed a gentleman leaning against a post near the entrance of the store and sort of braced myself to be given a sob story and to be asked for some money. As I got out of my car and headed for the door, sure enough, the guy approached me. “Do you celebrate Christmas?” he asked. I was a little confused. I’m so used to hearing “can you spare a dollar or two or even some change” as the opening line. I gave him the most intelligent response I could muster at the time. “Huh?” He said again “Do you celebrate Christmas?” Except this time his right hand was moving toward me with a twenty dollar bill. “Well, Merry Christmas” he said as he handed it to me. I think I said something like “For what?” as I was still pretty surprised. He said “I just want to spread a little Christmas joy.” I thanked him and headed into the store, not sure if this was part of some goofy dream I was having.

When I came back out, the man (I learned that his name is also Michael) was handing another twenty dollar bill to a fellow named John. They were in a conversation about bitcoin when it dawned on me: here was the topic material I was looking for. So I started asking questions. “Do you mind if I write about you?” I asked him. “I don’t do anything large-scale, and I just think this would make a cool little story.” As we continued to chat, John started commenting about synchronicity and how we’re often led to the people we need. Indeed. John went into the store and within a minute or two Michael handed out twenty dollar bills to two other people. One in particular seemed more than a little resistant.

“I had six hundred dollars in twenties in my pocket after helping out my brother (I think he said brother, anyway). I was in line in the store and the lady ahead of me had her card declined.” Michael said. “So I paid for it and thought ‘that felt good.’ So I’ve been out here for the last two hours handing out twenty dollar bills.” Amazing. John emerged from the store, not with his items yet, but helping a woman bring her groceries to her car. Apparently the spirit of giving was spreading.

In retrospect, I’m amazed at the thoughts that ran through my head as I walked around inside the store. “Oh, oh – did I forget to lock my car?” “Is there some sort of disease he’s spreading on these twenties?” “This can’t be for real.” Nine times out of ten it really is not. But what really got my attention was my resistance to something I had already been given. The gift was already mine and I was doubting its reality. Just as I doubted there is enough material to write about in the universe. Just as I sometimes doubt the gifts I have to offer to people that don’t have the faces of presidents on them. Like we all have. I’ll take twenty bucks for sure. But Michael himself was the gift. Restoring faith is priceless.

When I got back outside I told Michael “you can spread joy to me any day.” I handed he and John my “magicianstouch” cards and asked that they please read my work, and thanked them for the inspiration. I am in a totally different place than I was an hour and fifteen minutes ago. I read often how God and Santa Claus can be confused, as we often ask “God” to reach into his grab bag and fix things and situations in our world. The miracle for me tonight was in my joining, or being joined with two other people. Spirit likes attention. Of the three of us, only one had to be focusing on his higher power in order to draw in others. Its when Spirit (or your superego or whatever you want to call it) gets the attention it gently requests of us that we are reminded that we already have so much more than we think. That twenty dollar bill I got tonight will likely be gone in no time. Michael’s gesture will be with me a considerably longer period.

And it was just minutes ago I thought of the eeriest, coolest part of this whole incident. For years, in particular this year, I had a strong urge to drive around handing out twenty or maybe even fifty dollar bills to people on freeway ramps. (These things are best done in secret – if I had followed through I wouldn’t be writing about it.) Finances took a bit of a left turn for me this past summer, so my plan was thwarted, or maybe just delayed. Or maybe completed through another person. Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. Sometimes he’s just not visible. And sometimes he’s named Michael.

Merry Christmas


Dear Mom

“Oh, sure. They’ve had me working since I got here.” – – my mom answering me in a dream when I asked her how if she was ok – the day after she died.

It seems hard to believe that it’s twenty-eight years ago today that you left, Mom. I still remember the holy terror of finding you dying, and yes, I still feel the guilt of not comforting you enough as you left, although I know you don’t hold it against me. I miss you. And I know that grief has its own life. I’ve never tried to rush it and I know it’s right where it needs to be, even after twenty-eight years. It will leave when it leaves.

You never got to meet Laura. She and I were dating until a few months before you left. We met at an Adult Children Of Alcoholics meeting, the same meeting my attorney friend Eric attended. Anyway, not having any clue how to settle an estate, I contacted Eric for guidance when you died. I was no longer going to the ACA meeting by that time, but Eric and Laura still were, and I still knew everybody in the group. Thus one Friday Eric made the announcement that “Michael’s mom passed away this week.” According to Eric, Laura fell to pieces. Apparently she’d had a dream that you had died. Although I was concerned for Laura’s well-being, I also felt some relief. Laura and I were not destined to be together forever. Still, the dream almost seemed like an explanation that I was needed elsewhere, that I was to become a sort of caretaker for you in the last few months of your life. If you remember, things had gone south for me financially around that time and I moved back into the old house. And it was that fitting that we made some amends those last few days. Laura and I met a year later and reconciled. I’ve not seen her for years, but we parted on good terms.

And then there was what I’ve come to think of as “The Opus Incident.” The Friday you died I was starting a weekend “angel workshop” at a local church. At the end of the night we were told to make a wish. Mine was pretty obvious: “give me a sign that she’s ok.” But nothing happened for next two days. On the following Monday I sat reading in your house, in an easy chair right by that old trophy case you had. Behind the glass was a little Opus doll I had given you one year for Christmas. Anyway, the night was extremely windy, and ironically I was reading from A Course In Miracles. At one point I heard this big “whoosh” and I turned to the picture window as if to make sure it wasn’t shattered. When I looked back, there was the Opus doll. In front of the glass. I had my sign. Know what? That scared the hell out of me. Thanks, Mom.

Long gone are the days when you would come home and excitedly tell me you saw a scary movie called “Pocket Full Of Guys.” I thought that a rather odd title, until someone else told me you had actually seen “Poltergeist.” Nice try though, Mom. But my favorite was when you told me about seeing a tear-jerker called “Bitches.” That one didn’t seem to make sense either. So I’ll let you in on a little secret now, Mom: the title was really “Beaches.”

I straggled getting to the hospital when they called to tell me you were dying. You had died the night before and came back to life on the table just like Shorty (dad). My guess is the possible future you saw just wasn’t acceptable, so you decided to make a final exit. I still remember my shock when I saw how badly the pain you were going through had contorted your face. It seemed like this horrible, frozen cry for help. And nobody was there to hold your hand through it. What I mean is I wasn’t there. The abyss I was walking into, the dreadful fear of losing both parents within two years of each other was more than I could handle. I am so sorry.

I like to think we live many incarnations. Likely we’ll both be in the same tribe again to even up karma, although time is becoming less of an illusion to me these days. I promise to be of stronger fortitude next time. Or maybe you’ve already assumed another incarnation in a parallel life. Or maybe even this one. If not I could write volumes on the insanity you averted by leaving when you did. I miss you, but I know we’ll meet again when the time is ripe. And you know what, Mom? You’re really not missing all that much. We’re all still pretty crazy.