You’ll Catch Your Death, Baby Jesus! // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #9

Last night, I watched Angela’s Christmas, a brand new, short film on Netflix. This adorable animated film follows the story of Angela, a little girl who steals baby Jesus right out of his crib! Er, manger?

According to IMDb, this, “half hour CG film is based on Frank McCourt’s only children’s book, inspired by a story his mother Angela told him as a child. (…) Set in Ireland in the 1910s, ‘Angela’s Christmas’ is a funny, heart-warming and poignant story about the power of family and the innocent desire of a child to ensure everyone is safe, warm and loved at Christmas time.” — including baby Jesus himself! I mean, the kid is butt naked! I think Angela’s got the right idea, don’t you?

Although Angela’s Christmas is a simple tale, I think we can learn much from Angela and what it means to serve others. At one point in the story, this small child offers a silver piece to a blind pauper. Her natural instinct to care for a child, who, without her help, would catch his death, is a moving and strong sentiment that can remind us of who we are, in our hearts — caring, loving, human beings.

On this Sunday, let’s serve, care, and love each other, just as Angela did.

 

Advertisements

Gift giving and other things. // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #8

Honestly, if you asked me what I got for Christmas as a child, I probably wouldn’t be able to name more than a few things. Not because there weren’t many, but because, really, those fond and precious memories weren’t about the gifts I received. If anything at all, it was a lot more about giving them.

Gift shopping and gift wrapping was largely something I did with my Mom. I remember getting up early on a Saturday morning and going to breakfast with her before hitting up the shops. She had written up a list including each and every one of my cousins. We set a tight budget, and tried our best to stick to it.

Come Christmas morning, we’d drive across the island and meet all of our extended family. Blankets, beach towels, and straw mats were laid down on the grass before we proceeded to dump dozens of presents along side all of our little ones. Envelopes of cash made their way to the older ones.

This afternoon, I sat on the bed and wrapped a handful of presents for my best friend, Nicole, and her daughter Ranelle. I snapped a few pictures to show her. She said it had her feeling nostalgic and reminded her of the presents she received as a child. As I measured, folded, and cut the wrapping paper, I thought about all the evenings we sat on the living room floor, as I helped my Mother wrap gifts. I’d look up at my Dad, on the couch, asking him which print he liked best — which ribbon would best match. I thought about how, in that moment, I really had no clue how fleeting that moment truly would be.

I didn’t realize that, in the future, there would always be a hint of sadness, a hint of loneliness, a hint of longing for a magic that once was.

It wouldn’t be an S&S Blogmas if I didn’t drop a tune. So, here, my dearest Scribblers, have one more.

 

Serving up blessings Pt. 2 // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #6 – 7

As I’ve said time and time again, I’ve experienced an enormous amount of grace and mercy in my life this year. So much so, that it’s really altered my world view. If there is something greater out there, at work, even if it is simply the universe itself, making what must be, must be — and even if not — if there is no purpose at all, I still feel it. It is still there. My own human experience makes it so.

Last year, and the year before that, and perhaps even the year before that, what I call the darkness of the world entered my life. I experienced cruel and unjust realities that shocked me. Now, I will never see the world the same way. My, rather tiny, brush with homelessness introduced me to, God, like another plane of existence. That is how unparalleled it was to the life that I had, and it’s not like I was rich. I was poor. But this was different. I wasn’t a person anymore. I was a parasite. It was different. And now, well, I will never be the same person again. Those cruel and wicked parts of the world just kind of showed up at my door step and knocked me off my very idealistic cloud I’ve floating on.

From that point on, I just stopped believing in universal concepts of justice, fairness, and honor. I stopped believing that there is any kind of power in ethics. In truth, I still believe this. Hence newfound radicalism in my previous post.

I just don’t think we can expect justice, fairness, or power of ethics to come out of systems, governments, or power structures. I don’t think it exists. Even a law is worthless if those who wield them are not good people. I think these concepts can and only live in people. Good people. People change lives. The power is in you. I really do believe that the answer is to turn to our neighbors; to organize, and to love harder.

In all honesty, I did turn to God, because that is what you do, naturally, when you’re out of options. I went after the unknown because what was known, wasn’t enough. I prayed a lot. Every night, alone, in a filthy bathroom. I prayed and prayed and prayed.

But, in reality, in the here and now, it was people who became blessings. This isn’t to discredit God, nor is it to credit God either. I think, regardless of God’s position, we were always meant to be the blessing. We were always meant to orchestrate the grace. We were always supposed to deliver the mercy. As it is true also with justice, fairness, and honor.

Each blessing I received was a person. It was a new friend turned ally. It was a social worker who listened when I really needed to be heard. It was being lifted, carried even, by family members and friends, new and old, when I was at my weakest. It was a spouse who shared the darkness, and looked towards the light with. It was the out-pour of support from strangers, through words, gifts, and even financial help. They delivered mercy to me; they orchestrated the grace. It was a real-estate broker, who took on an impossible case, and then under-charged us 4 months later. It was a kind and generous landlord who housed us after nearly a year of homelessness. It was people. It was you.

And now, I try to be you. I try my best to bless others in ways I’ve been blessed. Some days, that might mean reaching out and making sure my friends are okay. Other days, it might mean actively participating in direct action, in standing in solidarity with homeless people. That could mean sending money to a stranger over PayPal. It may also mean buying socks off a shelter’s Amazon wish list. It usually simply means loving people a little bit harder. I truly believe that doing so, loving harder, that’s what it means to do my part in the world. Sometimes it’s not quite clear, and in those times, I simply honor my blessings. I step up to the plate and be my f*cking best.

And, again, I’ll leave you with a song.

Thanks for being here. Thanks for reading. Thanks for sticking around. Merry Christmas.

Serving up blessings Pt. 1 // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #6 – 7

Evenin’ Scribblers,

To nobody’s surprise, I’m already slacking off! I didn’t post yesterday!

Sorry y’all, your girl was lazy. I honestly had time to write throughout my day yesterday, but was tired and just not feeling it. In fact, so much so, that I slept a whopping 12 hours last night! I knocked out earlier than usual, and more or less slept through the few hours I usually spend writing every night.

Once I sent Thomas off to work this afternoon, I made my way north. I decided to take a stroll around Bay Ridge. There is just something about place. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but there really is something mildly enchanting about this neighborhood. Maybe it’s just me. I like to romanticize my life.

I headed back to D&D, the second or third time I’ve been there this week. I needed a few more ornaments to bring my itsy-bitsy-tree together. If you read my last post, you’d also know that I’ve been on the hunt for a backpack. I’ve seen a few cute ones, but I’m never quite confident on the size! Eventually I gave up and took a break for lunch at McDonald’s. Warmth and subsistence. Then off to my favorite mom-n’-pop market, and lastly, our neighborhood’s big box grocery store, SuperFresh. I started a big pot of chili for the weekend once I got in.

Anywho, before I get off track, as I usually do, I decided to merge two Blogmas prompts together for tonight! (I also try to keep flow, cohesion, and those types of things in mind — basically so the posts feel fluid — in hopes that you, the reader, will have a more pleasant experience following through as we progress through the month.) In truth, many of these prompts are very similar in theme/subject. I purposely put together a series of writing prompts that I would specifically choose/prefer to write. (I wasn’t really interested in doing a bunch of gift guides, OOTDs, and Look! I made a rice crispy treat…in the shape of a Christmas Tree! Er, not that there’s anything wrong with that, I just think Blogmas can be a really great opportunity for some heavy, critical, self-reflection about, well, all the stuff I’m blabbering off about tonight!

 

The true spirit of Christmas is…consumerism! // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #5

In ways that I did not expect, homelessness has really, somehow, completely changed my perspective on life. I find myself becoming more and more radical in leftist political views. Ideally,  I would, and do, or at least attempt to, reject capitalism. Ironically enough, some may argue that the true spirit of Christmas is capitalism. It is consumerism. I say ideally (would I reject capitalism) simply because these are my values, yes, but they’re not practical values either.

And, if homelessness has changed me in any such way, I have become even more practical than ever, and I was already quite practical to begin with.

How does radicalism and being practical somehow meld? Well, it doesn’t really. Not well anyway — not for me at least. The borderline anarchist in me wants to reject big businesses as much and as often as possible, yet, the practical in me, wants to choose the best value for my dollar. Value always comes at a price though, and that price is generally pretty f*cking bloody.

As you can imagine, my conscience is constantly challenged as I try to navigate this journey of starting over from nothing, of recovery, of second chances, of trying again.

So, like we all do, I try to find balance. I will swipe my EBT card at the bodega down the street. I’ll go there first, and try my best to buy as much fresh produce locally. Then I’ll hit up TJ Maxx for my clothing.

This was not the prompt I originally intended to write through tonight. In fact, this is not even on the list. I mean, of course it’s not. Who wants to ruin Christmas? LOL.

As I planned to share what it is I wanted for Christmas this year, I realized that what I wanted for Christmas was more or less just things we still needed, but haven’t gotten around to buying yet.

This entire year has been all about rebuilding. Although we’ve been housed since March, starting over from scratch takes time, money, and a lot of attention. Much of which, mind you, wouldn’t have even been possible without the blessing of family and friends. Truthfully, over the last few months or so, we’ve made huge progress. Hell, we own more than one set of pillow cases and bed sheets now! I have nearly enough clothes to make it to laundry day. I have a stocked pantry.

Clearly, I have a computer, access to the internet, and enough comfort, enough privilege, to participate in Blogmas.

So you could say, life is pretty damn good.

Perhaps I should mail Santa my letter anyway, huh? What should I say?

Dear Santa,

This year, all I’m asking for is a comfy pair of sneakers and a cute backpack to take with me to work every day — just roomy enough to fit my lunch bag and water bottle.

Love, J

Creative and frugal ways to celebrate Christmas (i.e. my sad-looking 2ft. plastic tree) // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #4

Today I purchased an itsy-bitsy Christmas tree from our local discount store, Discount and Deals! In my cart, I tossed a sad-looking 2ft. plastic tree, one of few left in the store. With a price tag of $6, why the heck not?

My thought was, instead of overcrowding our already small apartment, let’s DIY this poor tree into absolute magnificence.

I knew I had to make a decision and make one quick. The longer I wait, the higher the chances I’d miss out on a sale, or worse, all the good ornaments would be picked over and I’d be left with gaudy, glittery, gigantic balls. 😉

Although I really wanted a fresh tree, it’s kind of a big investment. I would much rather invest in ornaments that I love! Not to mention, the bigger the tree, the more ornaments you’ll need to fill it. Next year, we can go fresh, or a bigger plastic tree. Until then, get a good look at these absolutely adorable ornaments!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I also picked up some LED lights. I just lack the AA batteries to light this thing up tonight.

My best friend, Nicole, suggested more pops of red — specifically poinsettias! I think what I’ll end up doing is adding a larger red ornament and a poinsettia floral filler. That will run me just a few more bucks! Not bad for making-magic-under-$10, amirite?

What else can I do to jazz up this tree? Some ribbon? Place mat?

I look forward to sharing the progress of Henry. Yes, I did indeed just name my poor little tree Henry 🙂

GUISE! You can do so much with a little hope and creativity! Really! Even if you’re not exactly the creative type, YouTube has just about an endless supply of videos on DIY Christmas decor. If you like simple (I mean, who doesn’t? hell, the more idiot proof, the better!), I’d suggest looking for a *REALLY pretty holiday gift bag. Now head to Dollar Tree, or Walmart, or Target, or anywhere you can get a picture frame for a buck or two, and frame that sucker!!! 

Not feeling crafty? (Let’s face it, putting a bag in a frame isn’t exactly crafting.) Just head to Dollar Tree! You can find some really good stuff at a Dollar Tree (YouTube will confirm this.) And, obviously, everything is $1. I picked up some Fall decor at Dollar Tree a few months ago.

Pack of a dozen magnets? A dozen Santa magnets, even? Bam! Festive!

A sign that says Deck the Halls ???

BAM!

FESTIVE!

Dollar Tree is also a fantastic place to find stocking stuffers. 😉 😉 😉

Believe it or not,

Once upon a time ago,

I used to blog entirely about frugal living, i.e. Dollar Tree hauls, other narrated adventures of me, head first, in a deep freezer, at the back of a questionable corner-store bodega…but I digress. That blog eventually fizzled out. Perhaps I’ll eventually share more about frugal and sensible living? Someday, y’all. Someday.

Before I let you go, here’s an awesome rendition of Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song by Postmodern Jukebox and vocalist Cristina Gatti.

 

What are you most thankful for this season? // #BLOGMAS 2018, Day #3


What are you most thankful for this season?

You and I both know that I have so much to be thankful for, however, this season, there is one thing that means the absolute most to me. It is quite simple, really. It’s what I, and the rest of us, probably do or have taken for granted. If you’ve been here for a while, or have read Scar Tissue, you’d know what that something is. I’m most thankful for being housed.

I’m thankful to wake up each day and not feel insecure about the roof over my head. I am thankful for feeling safe. I am thankful for feeling secure. I am thankful for shelter; which shelters me from the elements. I am thankful for having someplace to go at the end of the day. I am thankful for warmth. I am thankful for fuzzy socks and puttering around the house. I am thankful for a stove and an oven. I am thankful for a fridge, where I can store my food, and prevent it from spoiling. I am thankful for running water. I am thankful for the steam that floats up from my shower and hovers beneath the skylight. I am thankful for heat; for windows that shut tight. I am thankful for a bed covered in sheets and blankets. I am thankful for the round table in the kitchen and the coffee pot that brews upon it. What I am most thankful for is not being homeless anymore.