Friday, December 23, 2016

2016 Christmas Greetings

A child is born to us, A Son is given

King of King
Lord of Lords
                Prince of Peace

Frater Max Schmalzl, CSsR – 1850-1930
                                                                                                                                                                                        December, 2016
Dear Ones,

            This message comes to bring you joy! May that joy begin with this photo. Matilda welcomed her brother into the family of Teresa and Andrew Pleva on September 16, 2016. They live in Kingston just two blocks away from the house where I raised my sons. That house now belongs to Heidi and Matthew Pleva along with their son Harrison, age 2. Having three little ones nearby makes for lots of time together and my ability to assist a bit in their care.
November 8th marked one year since my departure from the Redemptoristine Community in Beacon, NY. The emotional and logistical complexities were so complicated in 2015 that many heard little from me last Christmas. I relied on email and Facebook to remain connected. Fortunately, I can now report that the year 2016, while a busy one, allowed for good adjustment and happy resettling in a comfortable new home. My two bedroom apartment in senior housing provides a safe, convenient, sunny hermitage of sorts with ample space for my creative efforts, as well as overnight guests, all only a short ride from the little ones.
Shortly after relocating I began reorganization of the library at Linwood Retreat Center in Rhinebeck. There was a good bit of driving involved at that time as I was also visiting my mother in a Brewster Nursing Home. The day after I finished the library project, my mother died. My sister and I knew that she was slipping away but we did not expect it on that day. She was laid to rest alongside my father in the graveyard of St. Mary’s Church, Tuxedo, NY. She was 92 years old. Unlike the situation surrounding my father’s death in 2013, this was a much more peaceful time because house and possessions had already been dealt with. We are fortunate to have so many of my parents’ beautiful things, especially my mother’s paintings. Most of all, we are blessed with the intangibles; values, memories, and heritage. How often during this current election cycle I have wished to discuss it all with my father! How often I think of my mother’s beauty when I handle an accessory or piece of jewelry which she enjoyed wearing in her stylish manner.
            It has been lovely to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. In their company I enjoy concerts at Bard College (Puccini last summer) live via HD video performances from the Metropolitan Opera, strolling through the Rhinebeck Sheep and Wool and New England Fiber Festival and leisurely luncheons. I have joined St, Joseph Parish in New Paltz, became a lector and offered an introduction to Sacred Scripture class. Am also blessed by friendship with the Brothers at Holy Cross Episcopal Monastery. My friendship with and affection for the nuns of my former community continues. We have enjoyed visits particularly those with a grandchild in tow.
Most lovely of all discoveries is that in spite of being removed from the heart of the family for 15 years the connection with my sons remained a deep one only to be picked up again where we left off. Now there are three wonderful daughters-in-law involved and five grandchildren. It seems that it is a mutual joy to be present to each other but also respectful of the individuality of our lives. At this time, I am reminding them that they are the greatest gift given to me.
Today I mark one month of a bout with a bug common these days which has left me with what I have diagnosed as a chronic bronchitis. This kept me at home for Thanksgiving and caused me to miss lovely activities including singing at the holiday concert of the chorus I have joined. But last Sunday I took Matilda to see “The Nutcracker”. Each week I have Harrison with me for the day. He just turned two and I am mesmerized by his acquisition of vocabulary, exploration and manipulation of new construction toys and his observations of the world around him. Matilda is asking about another sleepover at Nonna’s. She just turned three and in caring for her one day a week for the spring and summer this year I found her such good and loving company. Homer is 3 months old; a happy little baby greeting all with a smile. My bug has kept me from spending more time with him. This summer, through their generosity, I spent a few days on the Maine shore with Jonathan and Kim and grandsons Nicholas and Benjamin. Later I had the pleasure of being with the boys while their Mom and Dad were in New Orleans. Interesting to spend a week with a 12 and 9 year old. We had fun both in Chelmsford, MA where they live and down here in Kingston. All the cousins just love being with each other. Matilda loved cuddling with her big cousins and they are so good to her. We will all be together during New Year’s weekend.
In reporting all of this to you and in listening to the news each day I am keenly aware of my blessings in a very troubled world and nation, not to mention the extreme suffering of so many. Since the presidential election I have been asking myself how I can respond as just one little person, merely able to feel her way through Baby Boomer Seniorhood! Wary of being consigned to the ranks of the educated elite living in ivory towers, I struggle to find my voice and ways of expressing the viewpoints of a longtime student of history. Guess that is one of goals for 2017.
I look forward to more amazing time with my little and not so little “Chicklets”.  Time with them is pure gold.
Thank you for all of the support and encouragement I have received from you. I look forward to hearing from you about your year. Thanks to those of you who have patience with and accept email delivery of this message. The time and money saved in the process allow me to connect via surface mail with those who have not discovered the wonders of online communication.
May the joy of Christmas bring peace and hope to your hearts.  Much love,