Christmas Card 2016

img_2600Yes, once again, my Christmas Card is posted before Easter Sunday!  This makes Four Record-Breaking Years in a Row! 😉 In a time-honored tradition of MidWinter Christmas Stories, I offer you a tale to enjoy. Please make yourself a nice cup of tea or hot cacao, curl up, and maybe just enjoy this brief period of time together, celebrating who we are, and the Magic of our Humble Lives… Wishing You Christmas Magic Every Day of the Year, and all the Bountiful Blessings of Winter…

The Winter Queen

By Arnold J. Mungioli

She remembered as a little girl how her father, mother or some relative would always tell her a bedtime story. She could request a favorite, and each aunt or uncle would tell a slightly different version of it. One year, in the days leading up to Christmas, she spontaneously asked her father to tell her the story of “The Winter Queen.” Since there was no such story, at least for children — at least of which anyone knew — her father made one up for her right there on the spot. After that, regardless of who was putting her to bed, she would always request the story of the Winter Queen. Others would also make it up, the way one does for a child. Each telling was different, but it would usually begin something like this:

This is the story of the Winter Queen. She is a radiant figure, like a blinding snowfall touched with dazzling sunlight. She glistens with magic and she has never been seen by anyone, although her most welcome presence has been felt by many. Anyone who has ever lived through troubles knows when they have experienced her magic touch. She makes things, perhaps not easier, but noticeably more bearable, and enables us to become better people from having wrestled with our difficulties. She wears a Snowflake for a crown. Her body, having absorbed all of the tears we have cried, appears like a crystal icicle, for which she might easily be mistaken. Her eye shadow is ice blue, but that is the only color you will see on her, except for her holly berry red lips… All else is crystal clear — white, silver, shimmers of dazzling light.

Around the world, her secret tale is known only to a select few. It is a fantastical tale of encouragement, protection, kindness, and comfort. In Italy, we celebrate the story of the Three Kings, who travel so far, bringing their precious gifts to the Baby Jesus. In Eastern Europe, the tale of Baboushka is perhaps the most well known — the old woman with a sack of gifts for children as she trudges through the Siberian Forests in search of the Newborn King. And in America, of course, it is Santa Claus. But these other helpers only appear, and are only ever talked about, at Christmastime. They bring gifts of the physical realm. The Winter Queen comes to us throughout the year, and her gifts are of a higher order. She is always available to us, so we need never ever be afraid.

She does not travel alone. She has only ever appeared with her Magic Snow Peacock who brings the gift of beauty, and even more notably, the gift of ability to see the beauty in whatever your circumstance. The Snow Peacock is also white as the snow and silver as ice with rays of silvery light shooting out in every direction as he waddles, with a most peculiar gracefulness. There is no color on him except for the ice blue of his eyes, which is more magnificent than the myriad colors of any ordinary peacock’s tail, wholly unfurled.

Both the Winter Queen and the Snow Peacock possess a magical transformative ability to appear at any size, sometimes so tiny as to be barely visible on the head of a pin, or unnoticed tucked into a staple on the corner of a document; other times, their presence is so mammoth that they might be mistaken for exceptionally enormous clouds, as they float by in the sky — and they often are. Have you ever seen giant clouds that seem to take the shape of a snowflake-crowned queen and a blustery peacock? That was probably them.

She didn’t remember much more than this; would not have been able to tell you exactly what happened in anyone’s telling of the story, as she was usually asleep by this point, and for all she knew her storytellers may have gone away without ever making up an ending. This is how she remembered the beginning, and if someone were to stray too far from what she knew of it, she would say the way children do, “You forgot about her snowflake crown!” or “Tell me about the snow peacock!” Perhaps in other parts of the world — even as far as Slovenia and Japan — parents were making up bedtime stories of the Winter Queen, and all across the earth, her tale was bringing comfort and beauty to children’s lives. Hard to imagine that in the days before the internet, the same story could be transmitted through so many people — come alive in so many children’s minds at once. But we must remember that these were the days of radio waves — infinitely more powerful than anything that humankind has discovered since. Are you aware that the radio broadcasts of nearly a century ago — The Burns and Allen Show, Fibber McGee and Molly, Bing Crosby’s Christmas Show — are still gyrating through the galaxy in outer space? Sound waves, once created, never disappear; they reverberate for all eternity — much like stories, or love, or an act of kindness. And so, the appetite of this small child to know the story of The Winter Queen created an echo throughout the Universe. The Winter Queen and her Snow Peacock had entered the collective unconscious.

She would never forget the feeling of that story — being protected, no matter what happens, rocked to sleep, comforted and cradled in the kind warm arms of a woman of peaceful winter, safe and sound, with a magical silver peacock standing guard against anything that threatened the beauty of the moment.… It felt like being in another dimension — an enchanted place where the snow was not an obstacle, but a purification, which blanketed everything as far as the eye could see. And from which you could make your footprints in whichever direction you choose. Perhaps it was this feeling of absolute freedom, of blank canvas, that was so empowering, and brought about the deepest most peaceful rest. It was all the Gifts of Christmas every day: Kindness, Grace, Joy, Beauty, Love… There was no need to know what happened next. She was complete. She was whole. She was at peace.

Alba was born in Yonkers, New York. Her Mother and Father had come over from Italy, and although they never learned English themselves, they insisted that she study it and actively worked to forget everything about what they referred to as the old country. She did as she was told, as did her siblings. She adopted her new America, and by the time she was a teenager, she spoke in a new vernacular, and had forgotten everything she had heard from the adults in her life about the old country, except the legend of the Winter Queen.

It was a difficult time to be an immigrant in America. The Streets were filled with people who hated you for no other reason than some idea they held that “We were here first!” And none of them were here first. But always the most recent arrivals were the most persecuted. Her family was a recent arrival, and she wondered if this would be how it would always be here. She vowed that she would participate in her new country differently, and she grew up to live her life in a way that redefined hospitality, and welcomed everyone. At night, she would lie in bed, in a room she shared with her three sisters, and every now and then, after a particularly defeating day, there would be a subtle change in the air. Quite suddenly, the difficulties of whatever bullying may have occurred at school or whatever burdens she had been carrying would be lifted. She could feel the presence of a tiny woman in white and a petite magic snow peacock, passing through on the air above her, as if it were as solid as a frozen lake. At Christmastime, it seemed the air inside her bedroom was filled with the same white and silver moonlit darkness as outside the window, except for a few magic flecks of blue, and holly berry red lips. She couldn’t talk to any of her friends at school about this, for fear that they would make fun of her. But she longed to ask if any of them, or anyone else in the world, also had this experience.

Dear Amalija,
Vesel Božič
Or as my aunts and uncles say, Buon Natale! And Merry Christmas!
(I hope I got that first one right! A friend at school who is also from Yugoslavia wrote it out for me to copy.)
Killer-diller that our schools have selected us to be pen pals!
It will give us both a chance to practice writing letters. Yes!
It is hard to feel much like Christmas what with everyone involved in this war.
It seems so much worse than the last one — of course, we weren’t alive for that one, so it’s peanuts for us to say, I suppose.
But, straight up, Yes, we must all take a stand against Hitler and Mussolini!
Oh, and although my folks are from Italy, we are not in cahoots with what Mussolini is doing. Many of us are here in America to escape that. I read in the newspaper that they have invaded your country, and I am so sorry to hear that! I hope that all the dictators will be beat and this crummy war will be done for. And I hope that you are safe.
I am so thankful to live in America now. Yes, this is a place where, thank God, a dictator could never rise to power.
I have three sisters, two older and one younger, and two brothers, both older
My brothers are both in the army.
My brother Renato is working on something top secret called the Manhattan Project. No one is allowed to know what it is. But it is very important!
It is not surprising. He was always the smartest. Got A’s like crazy!
Things here are kind of wacky. It’s a pretty new country, 48 states now, and in many ways, for dollies like us, I expect, it is probably much the same as Yugoslavia or Italy — well, except, of course, that the war is not being fought here. Well, yet, anyway!
Also they don’t like Italians here. I assume it’s because Mussolini is such a creep. In a country of mixed nationalities, people seem to hold you accountable for anything that someone else of your nationality does. They hate immigrants! And they are all immigrants! It’s nuts!
Yes, President Roosevelt was just reelected for the fourth time! Hot Damn! That’s’ never happened before, ever. But it was gravy because his opponent, Thomas E. Dewey, (It’s kind of a two-party system here, Democrats and Republicans. We learned about that in history class.) just kept busting our chops with talk of Communists, all over the radio, saying, “There are domestic threats lurking in the shadows.” Everything with him was “lurking in the shadows.” Why all the “us and them”? In my book, Americans are too smart to be spooked by that sort of thing, and they never will! Still, the thought of it sometimes makes it hard to sleep at night.
Say, have you ever heard the story of The Winter Queen?
Yes, some of the girls at school make a king-size deal about how girls can vote now. A lot of my friends think nothing of it, and I know dames who are old enough and don’t even bother. But apparently this has only happened in the past twenty years, and several women died so that we can. So it’s a lulu!
Can you vote where you are? Horsefeathers, a woman can vote but only ever for a man, so is it really that swell? Still, my folks feel it is important, and Yes, I do too. I can’t wait until I can vote! I would have voted for Roosevelt, of course!
I like him, and I like her just as much — the First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, I mean. I heard her say, “Life is what you make it. Always has been. Always will be.” Well, being a First Lady might be above my pay grade, but I plan to make my life really wonderful! Romance, getting hitched, having kids, and just being nice to people, and bringing my kids up to be nice too… She’s right. Yes, it’s what you make it!
Please write back and give me the dope on your life in Yugoslavia. Are you rationed? Do you have any brothers and sisters? Are there movies there? I just love the movies! I just saw Higher and Higher with Frank Sinatra! Oh, Yes! He’s a dreamboat! I bet he’s going to be an ace movie star!
What is your school like? Do you think that you will ever visit America?
Well, again, Vesel Božič ! Merry Christmas!
I Love Christmas!
I am hoping for a new dress this year!
Very Truly Yours,
Your new pen pal,

On the twenty-first of December, she was heading to the post office to send her letter by air mail. It was part of the assignment. As she opened the door, there was a frightening chill as the air entered the room. Two soldiers were at the door, holding a folded flag. One asked her if her mother was at home.

There was an icy haze in the air, with small darts of Silverlight, though this was indoors. It was not uncommon to feel a chill in the air when opening the door in winter, but this felt to Alba suddenly otherworldly, as if she were viewing the handsome soldiers through the prism of a snowstorm.

“Mama,” she called in a small voice that took all the breath she had.

Her mother put down her beading, came to the door, and faltered at the sight of the men. She had heard of such things.

“We are so sorry,” she heard them say, as they handed Mama the flag.

She had no idea what actually happened in that moment. But she would remember it her entire life as if she and her mother were caught in a snowstorm and some kind of gigantic goddess-like woman and some kind and wise animal of prehistoric size were cradling them to keep them from freezing to death until help came.

She would come to learn that her brother killed himself. Such was the double-edged sword of being a genius. His extraordinary intelligence deemed him suitable to work at the highest level of the American military, and he was entrusted to develop the first atomic bomb. His understanding of such things enabled him to see how it could work and eventually that it would work. He could not betray his country. At the same time, he could not be the creator of a force of destruction so powerful as to have the potential to obliterate the world. And make no mistake, in the wrong hands it could do just that. The night before, working late in the lab, he solved the conundrum of how atomic energy could be harnessed to annihilate an entire city, country, or the biosphere — low matter, vast energy. He possessed a mind that could figure out such things to a most exact degree, and although he had profoundly hoped to reach the conclusion that such an idea was incapable of being executed, he had uncovered a way. He knew that it would be only a matter of time, and not very much at that, before the notes on his blackboard in the lab might manifest into the destruction of entire civilizations. He was a serviceman. He had taken an oath to serve his country to the best of his ability and to give his life if necessary. Faced with the prospect of a destruction so inordinate, he stared at the formula he had written on the blackboard. Was he to be the demigod who came to earth to bring about its end? He thought of the pain of never seeing his little sister again, as he erased the blackboard, though not well enough, and reached for his gun. He pointed it into his mouth, serving his country and humankind to the best of his ability, and in that moment became one of so many American Heroes whose names we will never know.

What would you do in his position, blessed with that level of genius, and having taken an oath to serve and protect? Young men and women of all nations make these choices every day. It is not a choice of whether or not to fulfill one’s oath, but rather of how to interpret what exactly it means. That is the part that can become, at moments, as unclear as a winter whiteout.

Alba would never be able to tell you if she received this information that day or uncovered the details slowly over time. She only remembered the feeling of her and her mother being cradled in a snowstorm by a tall and elegant giant icicle of a woman and a gargantuan ostentatious wintry peacock, and the profound warmth and safety she felt in the midst of such a tragic moment of her youth. The icicle melted a bit from the warmth, or was that her own tears dripping down her cheek? In that moment, it was as if they were one. There was so much beauty in the humanity and heroism bursting forth all around her, and none of it escaped her observation.

Dear Amalija,
Vesel Božič !
I know that our pen pal relationship has evolved more into a Christmas Card once a year, but it is so busy with family now. Yes, I always enjoy our correspondence!
It is hard to believe that we were randomly selected as pen pals by our schools nearly thirty years ago, and we both ended up working in the fashion industry! Yes! I don’t know if I will ever get back to work, what with four children! And I am not sure one even can go back to work at our age!
Congratulations on your beautiful daughters, and thank you for the photo! That little one is going to be some knockout when she grows up! And Ines, of course, is also lovely! And oh, Yes! Those outfits you designed for them! Our time spent in fashion design sure comes in handy in motherhood!
I am happy that you are happy with Viktor! And I guess that being a Communist is not a bad thing as long as he is a good man! I must confess that it makes me nervous that he worked so closely under Tito — we have heard some not great things about him here. So please take care of yourself.
I don’t think that there is anything wrong with marrying a man who has a son by another woman. I hope that he will take care of that child and that Denis won’t be too much of a burden on you. But if you love him, well, then that’s all right. I am hopeful that you do not refer to him as “the bastard” when talking to him. Or to Viktor! Just to me, it’s ok.
Yes, we are once again very busy creating a joyful and memorable Christmas for the children, even though all the politics going on in this country makes it challenging at times. All that has been on television has been the Watergate hearings, all year — on every channel! Imagine! And we have five channels here! It seems that Nixon and his Republicans broke into the Democratic National Committee Offices and used all the latest technology to steal the election! What would make the Republicans think they could get away with that here in America?
I am suspicious of technology — these tape recorders may not be such a good thing!
I am thinking of First Lady Pat Nixon. I am not a First Lady, nor a Queen, but I’m pretty sure I have a better life than she does. Yes, sometimes our Lives are So Wonderful, and we forget that all that glitters is not gold. We can be just who we are and have a happier life than the First Lady of the United States of America, or Mrs. Tito, I’m sure! Yes, Life is what you make it. And we’ve got it good!
Yes, I am so thankful to live in a country in which no president could get away with that kind of dirty play! What I remember from school is that we have here what’s called a system of checks and balances. So he will probably be impeached or go to jail. I just don’t understand why it is taking so long! President Nixon said, “The Press is the enemy!” They have that on tape. But I was always taught that a free press was what separated us from Russia! It is all so unsettling! Why would a President attack the Press unless he had something to hide?
Ah, but I expect that it is even harder where you are. You have been dealing with this for much longer, and from everything you’ve told me over the years, not having a free press has only created more problems for you. You have mentioned fighting for freedom from Communism and Yugoslavia and hoping for Slovenia to be an independent state, once again. I do wish this for you. It seems so hard to believe that there are still people in the world who do not have the right to vote! It feels like even women in this country have had that right for a very long time now. And they just lowered the Voter age to 18 here (and they said on the News that this election was the lowest voter turnout in history!) I suppose it’s natural that young people take their rights for granted. When my children are old enough to vote, I’m going to give each one of them a kick in the ass and make them vote!
But even with all this going on in our government, I realize how lucky I am! Yes, indeed!
We are listening to the Julie Andrews Firestone Christmas Album as I write this. She has such a Beautiful Voice. My husband received the album at a Gas Station — they were giving it away! Yes, and it has become a family favorite!
I wish there were some way I could send you a song from it. Maybe someday there will be a way to magically mail a song to you, or talk face to face on a picture telephone. Wouldn’t that be something!? They say that some day it could happen! My first love, of course, is still Frank Sinatra! At least that hasn’t changed!
We have talked to one another over the years about the story of the Winter Queen and the Snow Peacock. You are the only person in the world I have ever talked to about that. I tell my children the story as a bedtime story, of course, the way it was told to me. I don’t know if it’s a real thing or not, but I do welcome them into my life! The Snow Peacock always helps us to see the beauty in everything. If you could see the beautifully decorated Christmas Tree I am looking at, as I write to you, and the expressions on my children’s faces in these days leading up to Christmas!
I suppose the lesson of this year of Watergate is that the people will always have to fight for what is right and just, even if it means going against what the President says. Maybe even in America, we cannot take our freedom for granted! That is a sobering thought, but if we really learn that lesson, then this year of this political nightmare will have been worth it! There is so much about America that is so good! It always felt like I was so much luckier here. This is what my parents dreamed for us — and what we dream for our children: that we can all live together and no one will have to walk down the street facing the jeers that I faced as a teenager, and I know that the Japanese had it much worse than I did! They were put in concentration camps! No. No President here is going to get away with this! We are all Americans. We are equal and we are free people! Being so close to you over all these years has taught me to really appreciate the value of that! Nixon is going to be impeached for trying to steal our free election, and so will any other President who tries it!
That is my Christmas Gift this year, and I realized it in writing this letter to you. The Snow Peacock is shining light on the freedom I so often take for granted! It is so easy to get caught up in how much we have to do every day that we forget what a gift it is, and how delicate and precious it is, and how we must protect it, whatever it takes! I so wish it for you, where you are!
But for today, let’s appreciate the miracles of the day! And, as always at Christmastime, they are plentiful and pretty easy to see! Yes, I love this time of year!
I love Christmas morning and the faces of the children!
I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas! Enjoy your children!
Very Truly Yours,
Your old pen pal,

Christmas was tumultuous that year for Amalija and her family. There were the usual challenges of the bastard Denis’ place in her family and keeping the peace amidst the awkwardness that was the baseline of their lives, but there was also the new family business. She had had such a promising career in fashion, but like Alba, she had gotten married and put her family first. Unlike Alba, who in keeping with Italian American tradition of the times, gave up her career to become a wife and mother, Amalija was simply expected to give up her dreams in service to her husband’s. And so, after years of patternmaking for children’s clothing, in which she took so much delight, she was forced to leave that behind and run a State-Owned Car Dealership in Communist Yugoslavia. Vehicles and Motors and Engines — she became quite an aficionado. The men trusted her more than Viktor.

The Winter Queen appeared countless times to give her comfort — and yes, she had come upon the story the same way that Alba had as a little girl — from a calling deep within the Soul to experience life fully, and to adventure forth knowing she could find kindness, and comfort and beauty, whatever experiences lay ahead. “Tell me the story of the Winter Queen.” It was very much the Soul’s calling for the values of Christmas. But whereas Alba had grown up in a world of possibility, and welcomed the kindness, comfort and beauty of the Winter Queen and the Snow Peacock, Amalija had embraced hardship, suppression and supplication as her mindset. She now formally rejected the stories of her childhood and she rejected hope. The Winter Queen arrived in flurries of white and squalls and blizzards in an attempt to make her presence known, but Amalija chose to perceive these as further hardship, and continued resisting the gifts being held out to her, like a child on Christmas morning who simply refuses to unwrap any packages under the tree — seems unheard of, yet how many of us have behaved this way at times in our lives, with magnificent gifts before us that we simply refuse to acknowledge or receive! She lived in resentment. Whereas Alba said “Yes” some twenty-five times in any given day, Amalija said “No” at least twice as many times. There is a moment in each of our lives when we realize we have made this choice — whether we shall live in the world of Yes or the world of No. This choice, often made subtly and over time, influences so many other choices in our lives. By now, it was as if she had walked out of the beautiful flurry of white and into a winter without snow and light — just barren trees, gloom and desolation. And she stood there. As The Course in Miracles admonishes us, “Beware of the temptation to perceive yourself unfairly treated.” Your powers of creation are greater than you may realize. But just as it has been said about God — it doesn’t matter if we believe in Him, He still believes in us — the Winter Queen continues to visit and bestow blessings upon us, even if we decide to see the gift of our life as less Full of Wonder than it, in fact, actually is.

Grace and beauty still found a way to waddle into view, even if only on the periphery, and thus there were times when she did not mind the long hours of carburetors and motor oil. Even if her own life didn’t amount to much, she found a way to take pride in her children. Like Alba, she turned her talents in fashion toward dressing her own children; and like Alba’s, they were the best dressed on the block. She took particular attention with her youngest daughter turning everything feminine she was denied in her own day to day life into some expression using her beautiful girl’s body.

Children may not listen to their elders. Yet they never fail to imitate them. And so, Amalija watched her daughter come of age, celebrating her feminine pulchritude in her clothing and behavior. It became extreme, for such a quiet and shy girl, and consequently, it was no surprise to anyone when by the age of sixteen, she became an international supermodel, and even when she engaged in Lesbian pornography for money. Her life was making up for her mother’s forced servitude into the automobiles and motorcycles of the Communist Yugoslavian male. There would be balance, at last.

It was only at the apex of her career, when the girl met a wealthy American Businessman twice her age, that Amalija got hit all at once with the downside — that ultimately, her daughter would suffer a tragedy of spirit much greater than her mother’s. She would be supplicant to a man unkinder than Viktor had ever been. Her being so exquisite, he would force her into sexual perversions that would demean her and brutalize her spirit. Like her mother before her, she would have a child and devote her life to him. She would find for herself comfort and beauty, as we all do, but as it was his third marriage and her first, the stepchildren would be way higher in number than the one with whom her mother had such a difficult time. And the abuse would be even greater than surrendering her dreams to fenders and tires.

The Wedding Day would have so many famous people, including President and First Lady, Bill and Hillary Clinton of the United States. But all Melania would remember would be white — whiter than her husband’s future cabinet — with shimmers of silver, like feathers and snowflakes and ice. To this day, when she thinks upon it, she remembers the chill she felt, and the winter whiteout which is pretty much all she saw that day. Of course, that must have been just her imagination. Was it? When we don’t know of something existing, does that make it any less real in our experience when it comes? The Winter Queen is all forgiving, and all loving. She is Christmas, every day. She is kindness and comfort and beauty and twinkling lights and gentle snowfall in the midst of all that seems insurmountable. She is there for us, and our children, and our children’s children. We may reject her, but we cannot abolish her. We may not see her, but we cannot deny her. Look around. Gifts and Miracles abound! Even right now!

Amalija envied her penpal Alba and how much freer and easier her life in America had always seemed. It was strange that such a seemingly random connection utilizing the cutting edge technology of the day — paper, pen, and postage stamp — could bring together two people on opposite sides of the world whose lives had so much in common! Their interest in fashion, their supplicant obeisance to their husbands (each in their own way), their adoration of their children, their spirit of survival in dealing with life’s tragedies… Amalija envied the American Lifestyle, even though the level at which her daughter would enter into it would bring about more feelings of fear than envy. But all of that was years from now…

Dear Amalija,
Vesel Božič !
Today is my 90th Birthday.
I am in ill health and I am writing this Christmas Card to you early this year.
At my age, I don’t even buy green bananas!
I sit here and think, “How did we get here, so quickly!?”
I haven’t heard back from you in years.
But I felt the need to share this moment with you.
Yes! Today is Election Day here in America. And I just voted for our first woman President. Wow!
We have seen so much progress in our lifetimes. Isn’t it amazing? When we first started writing to one another, women had just gotten the right to vote ourselves, and today I got to vote for a woman as President! Yes, it felt amazing!
You were living in Communist Occupied Yugoslavia, and now you live in your own country of Slovenia. Yes, it’s the same country. But how wonderful that it is now your own. And you are free! Are you still at this address? If not, I hope this will get forwarded to you.
I am sorry that your daughter had that unfortunate marriage to that American Businessman. You never mentioned who he was, by the way. What was her name, the youngest one? Was it Melanie — something like that? My memory fails me, I’m afraid.
But you had three, right?
I know you always were afraid that the little one would be taken advantage of, because of her looks. Beauty is a tricky thing. We all think we’d like to have it, but we never consider the troubles it might lead to. And getting older, and learning that inner beauty is the longstanding gift! What a hard, but important lesson that is to grasp! Thank God for that Peacock! Anyway, I hope the bullying and abuse you feared she might have fallen into are not the case. No woman deserves to be treated like that. I am hoping that my vote for a woman President will set an example here. Yes, it is so powerful, that one vote! The difference that one vote can make… Perhaps that has been the great lesson of this grand experiment that is the United States of America — that our voice matters!
Somehow, people like us, completely unknown, living our lives doing everything for the good of our children — Yes, it benefits future generations. I really think it does. If everyone on earth is doing what they can to help the next generation to get on its feet, that is good for the world at large! Was it Lincoln who said, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world?”
Yes, we have been doing that for so long now.
I am so excited to wake up tomorrow to the new world I shall continue to see, ever expanding before us, and our first woman President!
Eleanor Roosevelt said, “Happiness is not a goal…it’s a by-product of a life well-lived.”…

Alba never finished that letter.
She sat quietly in her chair with her pen and paper, and was suddenly overcome with a profound feeling — of being protected, no matter what happens, rocked to sleep, comforted and cradled in the kind warm arms of a woman of peaceful winter, safe and sound, with a magical silver peacock standing guard against anything that threatened the beauty of the moment… It felt like being in another dimension — an enchanted place where the snow was not an obstacle, but a purification which blanketed everything as far as the eye could see. Alba saw herself wearing a snowflake for a crown. Her lips were holly berry red, her eyeshadow was ice blue, and her body had transformed into the shape of a crystal icicle in a fluid state of transformation — tears to ice to tears, crystal clear, yet sparkling with white, silver, shimmers of dazzling light — the way one imagines one’s Soul to be…

Can a poor girl from Yonkers, New York have a life as good as a First Lady of the United States? Or as a Queen, for that matter?

Yes, she had now become the Winter Queen, as so many who had led lives of beauty and grace before her had done. Life is what you make it and she made it something Wonderful! She was now empowered to do everything she had done to love and nurture and help others, but her reach was vast, more like the snowfall — endless, myriad, covering everything and touching everywhere. a blanket of snow upon which to travel, and from which you could make your footprints in whichever direction you choose. Perhaps it was this feeling of absolute freedom, of blank canvas, that was so empowering, and brought about the deepest most peaceful rest. It was all the Gifts of Christmas every day: Kindness, Grace, Joy, Beauty, Love… There was no need to know what happens next. She was complete. She was whole. She was at peace.

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  1. Rolf

     /  February 20, 2017

    Amen to that Arnold. Thank you for this insight. -Rolf

  2. Gorgeous in its emotional depth. Thank you Arnold.

  3. dsbishop

     /  February 20, 2017

    I loved the imagery and several times felt chills as I read your story. Thank you for this timely Christmas message on this beautiful mid-winter day!

  4. Great story Arnold! I love the way you seamlessly weave together the political and the metaphysical xx0x


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