Christmas Card 2022

For those of you who know me well, my Christmas Card is early this year! Some years it doesn’t make it out until March!

For those of you with whom I am more recently acquainted… Yes! I do understand that it is a very strange thing to receive a Christmas Card in February! (It doesn’t really ever go out as late as March… well, once maybe! 🙂 ) But it has become a bit of a tradition over these last few decades that it arrives in midwinter…

It is my wish to send a special gift – something from my heart – to celebrate the Joy of the Holiday Season, and to remind us to keep cognizant of the Spirit of Love and Kindness throughout the year! I am a great believer in the power of words. Since my teen years, I would collect quotes and stories about Christmas and send them out to everyone as my Christmas Card. Eventually, I began to write my own original stories. (This, as it turns out, takes even longer! 🙂 )

I am inspired by the experience of each Christmas Holiday Season and every year, I am stirred by its beautiful values. I love to celebrate and savor the time… I usually don’t get to baking until some mid-January weekend. I capture whatever bits of Christmas Magic I can throughout the winter and weave them into a story that I hope will delight you and lift your spirit whenever you may read it!

So, you may choose to dismiss this as, “Oh, that Crazy Guy is sending out Christmas Cards in February again!” or you may choose to receive it in the spirit in which it is sent: May you enjoy all of the Magic and Sparkle and Beauty of the many Gifts of Christmas (Peace on Earth! Good Will toward Everyone! Love and Kindness, Compassion, Generosity and Cheer! Wassail! Wassail!) Boy, oh Boy! Could we ever use more of those things now…

I hope that you will appreciate this years’ story: It is the story five brothers. Perhaps you have met some of them already. And it is about the importance, and sometimes the difficulties and challenges, of sharing the unique gifts we bring to the world!

So please, if you will, make yourself your favorite warm beverage – a Hot Cacao is always nice! – sit back this lovely day or evening, allow yourself a brief respite,  and have a nice read, enjoying the magic, wonder and delight of “Five Brothers’ Unique Gifts…”

Five Brothers’ Unique Gifts

by Arnold J. Mungioli

Once Upon a Time there were five brothers: Kris, Hart, Cris, Grayson, and Death. Well, okay, so they weren’t such a “Once Upon a Time” Family. They were all raised by an indefatigably optimistic single parent who somehow provided for them well enough, despite relentless challenges. But, like all people who grew up in the reality of occasionally lacking household essentials or basic needs, they did not define themselves by their economic circumstance. And like all people who are wise, they defined themselves only by their gifts.

We all have unique gifts – we know on some level what our own special gift might be. Sometimes, our gift was not nurtured or encouraged, but we can get over that, and figure out how to do that for ourselves. It’s still our gift! There’s plenty of people out there who out of want or ignorance will disparage our gifts. That’s why Charles Dickens warned against those two, and why he placed them in the folds of the robes of the Ghost of Christmas Present. When great gifts show up, there is much of which to be jealous, and those two vile little beings invariably turn up! We all need to rise above it. If we wish to get the most out of life, we embrace our gift and practice giving it away, every day. That’s it! Since the beginning of time, philosophers, religious leaders, scientists, metaphysicists, and so many others have searched for life’s true purpose, and there! I just gave it to you! Embrace the gift that you have! Otherwise, time wasted playing compare and despair, “desiring this man’s art and that man’s scope…” is a sure way for us to find ourselves lost in the Void. It happens more often than you might think.

What is your particular gift? Take a moment and think upon that.

What is the thing about you that enables you to create/craft/cook/compose/accomplish the myriad things that you do that no one else can do exactly the same way?

Celebrate it! Believe in it! Nurture it! If you haven’t embraced it yet, it’s not too late! Start now! Give thanks for it every day! Spend it while you are here for you cannot take it with you. Believe me, I know!

These five brothers eventually learned to avoid judgement of their own individual, eclectic and profound gifts, and thus became skilled at giving them freely, and very much to the world’s great benefit! They did this, in part, because they were keenly aware of the Void, and, like most of us, had travelled right to its edge at times. The Void is ever expanding, like an infinite compost pile of rotted produce and broken dreams – a black hole filled with the wailing voices of singers who stood in judgement of their gift, did nothing with it, and then died with their music inside of them. The Void is teeming with the dead souls of wildly talented artists afraid to pick up a paint brush and the atrophied muscles of stellar ballplayers who never tried out for the team out of fear of not getting picked, ballet dancers afraid to put on a pair of tights for fear of others making fun of them, trips never taken and true love never found… It is an echoing inertia, and the cause is always fear — a Hell of one’s own making.

What these brothers had in common was the distinct advantage of a single parent encouraging them, who inspired them with wholehearted belief in each of them and their gifts. It was Single Parent who gently, one day at a time, taught each of them to avoid relying on a ruler and championed their freehand drawing of a straight line, illustrating for them that the true expression that came from their heart was the highest attainment. Single Parent encouraged them to write even knowing that rearranging those same 26 letters of the alphabet over and over could drive a person berserk. But the sometimes excruciating exercise of writing was so much less toturesome than the eternal sentence of the Void. Single Parent invigorated their love of color when they refused to ever draw again because some other child had made fun of their unique interpretation of a purple cow insisting that there was no such thing. (The other child, of course, was being ridiculous, as there was such a thing! You just drew it! Why, it can take even less than that to manifest something!) Single Parent had instilled in them an appreciation for music not so that they would agree with their parent’s taste, but so that they could explore and discern for themselves what music they most enjoyed. Single Parent held them when they cried, and with uncompromising gentleness and fierce love, reassured them that everything would be okay.

Single Parent wasn’t always known by the name that translated into English as “Single Parent.” In earlier periods of their existence, they were known by nicknames that translated directly to “Wild & Free,” “Big Dreams,” and “Destined for Success!” But then, as happens, things occur, then other things occur, and decisions need to be made. One moment you are young and in love and the next you are looking at starting a family. If you don’t have much else going on (and even if you do), it can seem as good an option as any. But then, through a series of additional and even more unexpected occurrences, and decisions that must be made immediately with no time to think about it, you may find yourself quite suddenly raising five children alone. Robert Browning once wrote, “When the fight begins within [them]self, a [person]’s worth something.” And so, Wild & Free was finally worth something…

Single Parent would insist that all that they sacrificed was nothing compared to what they received in return. Still, most days, it would have been easy for Single Parent to surrender to the Void, as like so many parents, they felt, more often than not, inadequate and ill prepared for the job they were doing; but feelings can be overcome by taking an action. Feelings aren’t facts! Actions are Facts! Parenting may not have been the gift Single Parent fancied discovering as their own; Single Parent had hopes and dreams of a way loftier position in life. But there is no loftier position in life than to love, and whether by parenting or any other means, loving is the whole point.

Kris, of course, was Kris Kringle. He had a uncanny knack for giving, and for always making a person feel special. His true gift was the way he could take in a person, see what it was that they felt they were missing, and inspire them to find it within themselves. He was, I suppose, much more like the Wizard of Oz giving out trinkets that reminded people of what strengths and powers they possessed within themselves all along than he was like the many stories that have depicted him.

I mean, that naughty/nice thing gets a little judgy for my taste. And I told him that once. He informed me that I was on the Naughty List, and I asked what that meant, exactly, and what it would mean to be on the so-called “Nice List.” He explained that people on the Nice List were polite and well-behaved. I never had a desire to be either of those things, so I quoted Alfred P. Doolittle from Lerner & Lowe’s My Fair Lady, one of my favorite musicals, and mustering my best cockney accent, I told him, “I’m undeserving and I mean to go on being undeserving!” I mean, it’s a Naughty List, for heaven’s sake! It’s not an Evil List, or a Bad List, or a Hopeless List! It’s just – I don’t know, it sounds more fun to me! So, I’ve held my place there for more years than you can imagine, and I am fine!

Anyway, it doesn’t matter whether or not you believe in my brother. He is real, and he believes in you! And what list you end up on can be a matter of preference.

Kris was the first child and quite small – a scrawny little ragamuffin. The moment that it turned out would define him, was the Christmas morning that he had received the most wonderful toy – the one thing that kid wanted with his whole heart and soul. He was outside playing that morning, truly thinking to himself that life just could not get better than this, when he saw a child crying because they had received no toys. He held tightly to the gift in his hand and looked over at the child. Single Parent could see Kris’ little mind calculating a mile a minute. And then he heard Single Parent’s voice speak one affirmative word: “Yes!” He looked up, confused. How could they know what he was thinking? But they nodded, smiled, and repeated in a bright and supportive voice, “Yes!” encouraging him to take the action he was having the impulse to take. He walked toward the other child, and handed that kid his toy, instinctually saying out loud, ‘For you!” The other child smiled so radiantly, and exclaimed so emphatically, “Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!” giving Kris the biggest hug. They both cried, and in that moment, Kris knew who he was. He was Kris Kringle! And Single Parent knew who they were as a parent: encouraging their children to embrace their own gifts, even if they themselves found the profundity of their child’s gift intimidating, would be a very beautiful walk through life, indeed.

Ultimately, Kris saved people from the Void; that is not to say that he didn’t have moments walking along the edge himself. But the way he took people in and made them feel seen and acknowledged was enough to get them to embrace the gifts that they possessed and move through the world. He wasn’t Santa Claus. He was better, in that he made all of them Santa Claus. With compassion, kindness, and generosity, he would get them to let go of what they thought they wanted, and to get on with whatever it was that they were here in this world to give.

Hart’s name seemed homonymic, as he was the epitome of love.

Personally, I think love stinks, I am not a fan, and it takes way more time than it is worth! I am talking, of course, about romantic love, here. The other kinds are somewhat less odious.

While Single Parent had known love before – their own parents, their lover (many lovers, in fact!), their friends… You could say that these five children, collectively, (well, and their dog) were the love of Single Parent’s life. That is how it is for so many… When we rise to the occasion of raising them, guiding them, loving them, or just being the one adult who believes in them, we ourselves are better for it!

Single Parent took care of Hart’s scraped knees, removed the splinters from his feet as he was always running around barefoot and playing with his bow and arrows, dried his tears, and always made sure that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy showed up for him. (Single Parent apparently had friends in high places!) He cared about these things and Single Parent cared about him. The Doctors could not really determine if he had been blind from birth, as his disease was degenerative – so, in other words, they weren’t able to tell if he could ever really see fully and if so, for how long. But he was now legally blind. He is able to do some Zen archery thing which enables him to shoot an arrow at his target by sensing where he wants the arrow to go and becoming one with the target. This keen sixth sense of his makes people sometimes question whether or not he is really blind, at all.

As Hart grew up, he came to realize what a gift this all was – all of it! What it must have taken to do all of these things for him in addition to providing for his special needs, while raising four other children at the same time in a small dwelling on a single income. He also saw his blindness as a gift and credited that as a part of why he could feel so deeply. He felt the true miracle of love; and from his first awareness of that feeling, he wanted to find within himself his own power to make other people feel loved that way too, and a part of that was by helping people to embrace their gifts. Occasionally – well, okay, more than occasionally — he fell short of his own hopes, and tread close to the edge of the Void, but by devoting himself to getting other people to embrace their gifts, he avoided the Void. Besides, that’s how it is with love – sometimes, even with the best of intentions among all parties, people get hurt. Hart eventually grew to accept this – that even love isn’t perfect. But he had the greatest sense of humour! One time, he accidentally knocked over a giant glass vase, and just as we heard the shattering sound, his voice trumpeted above that, ‘OH, you know, sometimes, it is such a BITCH being BLIND!!!” He could make us all laugh! He would also often wear a blindfold, point to it, and exclaim, “Superfluous, but I love the fabric!” I would taunt Kris in moments like these, asking, “Oh, but I’m on the Naughty List, and he’s not?” Kris would purposely open his book as if to check and confirm, ‘Yes. Yes, that’s correct.” But I knew that couldn’t be true! Not every year! …Could it?

Nowadays, thanks to Hart and to the single parent who inspired Hart’s desire to give love to everyone in the world, it seems more people believe in Love than believe in Kris – or in Christmas, for that matter! But as it happens, Kris and Hart are inseparable – and I suppose that’s why they’re both on the Nice List for life. No thank you! …to never taste of the fruits of the Naughty List? Not for me!

They always seemed to me as much twins as Chris and Grayson, the latter two being born  biologically identical twins.

Cris was perhaps the most profound of my siblings. Cris had taught our single parent that in every crisis there is opportunity, and crisis cannot exist, in fact, without opportunity being present, though it is often so much easier to see just the crisis. Cris shared his teaching with the world, and now, no one faces a crisis without opportunity contained therein. It is anyone’s individual choice whether or not they seek for the opportunity within. Cris’ favorite game as a child was Hide ‘n Seek and he never got over it. He loved Easter Egg hunts! …Treasure Hunts! …He loved to find things, divining, digging… He enjoys helping Kris out every year — creating various Christmastime crises, sometimes financial, sometimes work-related, mostly family-related. He often smiles at how so many folks get bogged down in the negative aspects of family get-togethers and fail to see them for what they are: O-P-P-O-R-T-U-N-I-T-I-E-S (Hello!???) to spend time with one another anew, to grow relationships, to forgive the past, to change…

Cris and Grace were twins. The name Cris is obviously short for Crisis-as-Opportunity (i.e.: how his name translates into English), and Grayson transitioned to Grace. Cris was Single Parent’s boy, no question about that! Always nearby them and always facing Single Parent with decisions to be made – not just big ones, but day-to-day decisions. If the washing machine overflowed, then do we take the opportunity to clean the floor in the laundry room? If the home-baked cookies fall apart, then do we take the opportunity to give the crumble as Ice Cream Topping for holiday gifts? If the email gets accidentally sent to the wrong person, then do we take the opportunity to discuss the questions it raises with the person from whom we were hoping to keep it?

But for Single Parent, personally, the greatest Crisis-as-Opportunity was when Grayson broke the news that he would transition from male to female. Though a very loving family, this was a challenge for Single Parent, being from a different generation. Just because something becomes more visible and now gets talked about in the open does not mean that a person knows how to accept something that is beyond their individual experience, and there is likely a learning curve involved for all parties. Simple, but not easy…

“Give it time,” Hart advised both of them. “I believe in your love!”

They had faced many challenges as a family and not just the day-to-day challenges that all families face. For one thing, they were all a different color. Kris was red, Hart was white, Cris was green, Grace was purple, and the youngest child was black. Some of the siblings had wings. Some had enormous feet, twice the size of what would be considered normal, and wore what looked like clown shoes; one or two of us had tails. Single Parent is none of these colors, has no wings, and okay, their feet were enormous! Due to their extreme differences in appearance, the family faced subtle discriminations, such as Single Parent having to show legal papers in any given situation to prove that these were indeed their children, and also more overt ones, such as putting ice on the black eye of any of their children after they’d been beaten up for a variety of non-conforming behaviors or physicalities.

Single Parent did not want an even more difficult life for their child, and could see that, at least at this point in history, this would not be a particularly easy road for Grayson to travel. Single Parent found themself walking quite close to the edge of the Void now and might have been quite happy to throw themself in, feeling they had somehow “failed.” They were most heavy-hearted in anticipating their own elderly parents’ reaction to their grandson becoming their granddaughter, and this was a big part of what accounted for that feeling of failure. It was a time in history when the vast expanse of distance between the culture and mindset of our grandparents’ generation and that of our own seemed light years apart, more than just a century – more like an entire society apart. And it was. Rather than bring Grace to her elderly Grandfather in person the first time, Single Parent initially brought along a photo of their 4 sons and now-daughter together. Chin up, and hiding the weightiness and deep trepidation of their own heart, they showed it to Grandfather, and explained as compassionately as possible the facts of the experience, bracing for the reaction of this very conservative, very traditional, very old-school, very very old man. He looked at the photo and bristled taking in this new information. Then, after a moment that seemed interminable but was actually surprisingly brief, and with the fierce directness for which he was known, he stated firmly, “She looks beautiful! My granddaughter is beautiful!”

Single Parent looked at their own fear and now saw it for what it was: False Evidence Appearing Real. They recognized that they needed to adjust their view of the world, their family, their father, and themself. Acceptance was the action that brought them back from the edge of the Void. They accepted that there were things that they would never be able to fully understand, but that this did not mean that these things could not be good. Single Parent learned from this that worry is imagination misapplied, and embraced even more fully than ever before their gift of parenting. Remember that just because we embrace our gift does not mean that it won’t grow deeper, richer, even more meaningful – and even more challenging — as we live it. What else would we be here for?

Cris, as always Single Parent’s boy, continued to gently help Single Parent see that what they were perceiving as crisis, was actually opportunity. Single Parent had never had a daughter before and would at last get to be a parent to a beautiful young girl. This would be a new experience. Single Parent rose to the occasion for years to come, making mistakes and correcting themselves. Hart repeatedly helped them to see that love is all it takes to make a family, and Kris helped them to give one another the gift of understanding and listen to what one another was communicating in words, flight, or big feet. Together, Single Parent and Grace discovered so many new possibilities because they loved, listened, and respected one another. Grace was a fantastic daughter and Single Parent grew to be an even better parent as a result of the experiences they shared together from this point onward.

Single Parent was just the most giving, loving person in the world, and had been for hundreds of years. (We don’t live forever, by the way. We eventually find other newer souls who replace our profound expression of our particular gifts and become a new version of us. We live a long time, though. And I am not sure about myself. I might live forever. Or I might be already dead. I can’t tell.) Anyway, Single Parent raised us to appreciate our own gifts and nurtured our abilities to share them. They believed in us and taught us to believe in ourselves. They faced every challenge head on, and overcame every one of them so lovingly, while avoiding resentment of others with the single prayer in their heart: “Bless them. Change me.”

Grace is so feminine, so ethereal, ephemeral and elusive. She just appears. It is as though you never see her enter a room, and yet, she’s there. She usually shows up a little later than folks might ideally like, for some reason, and her hair and make-up are always on fleek! Also, like so many trans people I know, she is the one, very much like our single parent, who makes everything better – the rock when we need it to stand upon, and the solution that just comes into view. So kind, compassionate, and helpful… Always willing to aid a total stranger, she is often found backstage at concert halls freshening up the cocaine-induced Has-Been Rock Celebrities so that they can make it through their show without falling off the stage.

Why, just this morning, on this icy cold Christmas Eve, Grace saw a naked homeless person lying down on a city street and immediately took off her own coat and covered up the homeless person to keep them warm. It was a really nice Givenchy coat, too, but she left it wrapped around this homeless person. That’s Grace. She gets around — even more than Kris, and Kris covers the entire world in one night! But you likely encounter Grace time and again without even realizing it. She touches our lives often in ways we probably don’t even see. But if you look for her, you will feel her presence in every area of your life.

And then there’s me. I am a bit of a loner. I feel close with all my siblings, but whereas Kris and Hart are often found together, and Cris and Grace seem even more inseparable, I am on my own more. I take in musicals sometimes. I like the classics. Classic movie musicals are kind of my junk food. It has taken me a little more time to understand and embrace my gift and to be able to share it. I am more like a classical pianist in that I sometimes, still, resent my gift. Musicians possess one of the most special gifts of all – the gift of making music! What in this world could be better than that! And yet, so many of the ones I have known resent not being able to go out after school and play ball with the other kids because they have to practice. Have to? Get to! They get to practice! The other kids are playing ball precisely because they do not get to have a gift such as yours! I try to remind myself of this, and yet to this day, I can find myself walking along the edge of the Void.

When I first learned about my gift, it seemed the very best of all! I was so excited! My early understanding was that my gift would be to free people from pain, from bodies that no longer could do what they wished them to do. I could release people from their self-imposed imprisonments, whether physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual. I get to make everyone free! I can even sometimes pull people from the Void! My gift would enable people to return to the truth of their most elevated and highest selves. The Course in Miracles says, “The truth about you is so lofty that nothing unworthy of God is worthy of you!” And my gift is that I get to show people that about themselves – to bring them home to that place! I thought, “People will love my gift and will look forward to meeting me most of all!”

Well, nope!

People like Kris better! Turns out, they prefer any of my siblings’ gifts to mine! Well, this is how it can seem sometimes, especially when our gift is something creative or something unfamiliar – something new that people aren’t used to – anything people are about to experience for the first time is often met with resistance. You have to know for yourself that it’s good. Your own gift may not even be recognized by others until after…well, after I give you mine. But you just have to know that if you offer all that you are to others, you are giving something beautiful to each and every person. You don’t have to believe in my siblings or myself – but whether you believe in us or not, we are here and we have embraced our gifts fully now and that is how we live, giving them away.

Still, it ended up taking me quite a while to fully embrace mine. It wasn’t until it came time for our pet, our gentle little rescue mutt named Promise, to be put down that I saw how truly useful it could be, and how in that situation I could help Single Parent, as well. Single Parent realized that they could not stop the pain of Promise, and there was nothing to be done. Promise was suffering. And I kissed her. And then she was fine – just no longer with us here! But her pain had ended, and she was well.

No one travels the arc of their life without meeting all of us. My gift would seem the hardest to ignore. At least when my siblings bring you their gifts, everyone you know doesn’t cry their eyes out and keen and launch into a state of hysterical misery! Have you ever heard someone keen!? (Way to make a guy feel welcome at Christmastime!) Everyone doesn’t wear black for days and weeks, and while Kris may be depicted as fatter, way taller, and even a bit jollier than he actually is in real life, and although his style of dress is much more akin to the glittering white robes of St. Nicholas than the renowned red suit with the white fur trim, at least folks don’t envision him as a berobed skeleton wielding a scythe! Who came up with that!? It’s like pictures of Jesus being White! Or the Flintstones having a Christmas Tree… or paintings of Adam and Eve in which Adam is depicted with a navel!

People also imagine me as a variety of serpents and dogs, the birds with lady heads, and the monstrous fire-breathing Chimera! What the hell!? I may not be Hugh Jackman or Simu Liu, but I’m not bad looking! And I’m a nice guy, really! I don’t have great abs but I’m not a reptile or a freakin’ banshee! It has taken me some time, and frankly years of therapy, to fully embrace my gift, but now I give it so lovingly, whatever you all may think of me, and I get to give it to everyone!

But tonight, Christmas Eve, I am really wrestling with this one! Tonight, I shall kiss my own Single Parent Good Night.

They will no longer traverse in this physical realm where they have done so much good, especially for their children, and for me. They will let go and be welcomed into the non-physical realm. And God, I know it is so Beautiful there!

Letting go is the greatest feeling in the world, even though so few people take advantage of the many opportunities to experience the awesomeness of that sensation until I come along and they are forced. Still, as magnificent as I know it feels, this one doesn’t feel so great to me.

I will still be here on this side, as will my siblings. While I am able to initiate transports, I do not traverse much on the other side. I only bring you to the veil of starlight so that you can pass through, and then I return here. I can see through the veil, and I can tell you that it is more breathtakingly Full Of Wonder than anything you can possibly imagine! And when you get back to that side, by the way, there is no goodbye necessary, as you have a kind of access to still see, if not experience, everything on this side! Time is not an element of the non-physical realm – it’s actually very much like the Starkeeper in Rodger’s & Hammerstein’s Carousel prophesies, “…here there *is* no time; this is the beginning and the end.” That, of course, is my favorite musical…

Anyway, ultimately, we are all these kind of bright balls of light and a part of this cosmic goo, reunited with all that have gone there before and all that will come after. It is beyond anything in your human experience, and nothing can prepare you for it. None of it makes sense from this side, from the perspective of skin and bones. But please take my word for it. Once you arrive there, you will understand the glory and splendor of the gift that I bring.

And even knowing all of this, I have never before been so shaken to the core — not since fully embracing the power of my gift. I am afraid. Even knowing the value of my gift, I am afraid to give this kiss. When we are called upon to share our gifts with those closest to us, we must face, once and for all, our conviction that what we have to offer is wholly good…Holy Good! Sure. Of course! Yes! But I don’t care. This kiss is one too difficult.

Overwhelmed by this maelstrom of contradictory feelings, I find myself now standing, once again, on the edge of the Void. It feels very much like Fernandina Island in the Galapagos – what they call aa black lava along the sharp and narrow rim of a dormant volcano…dormant for the moment, anyway. There is nowhere to go but down. My heart is so heavy.

I could dare to take one step and it would be over. I am having those thoughts, fantasies, wishes of possessing any other gift in the world right now other than this most treasured one that is my own! I want to be able to follow the lifelong example of my single parent and share my most wonderful gift with the person I most love in the world! And yet, I am so fraught with resentment. Why does it feel so bad – such a searing torment in my soul!? Do you ever feel that way — that your gift is just so loathsome and contemptible that it is not worthy to be given? …that the world would be better off without it and without me?

And oh, will my siblings ever forgive me? On this side, in the fever dream of this life, no. They will not. They will think that I chose Christmas Eve for this, even though I have explained to them multiple times before that we all choose our own date and time — but they won’t remember that in their grief.

Until this moment, I had always thought that one slipped into the Void whilst walking along the edge in a state of contemplative inaction, but not in my case. I opened my eyes wide, turned, and stared directly down into it. I spread my wings… and I jumped! I embraced the Void in that moment, and that is exactly what I wanted. That was my firm choice. I would prefer to turn my back on my gift entirely than to be associated in any way with what was about to take place, even knowing it was the right action. I expected to fall forever, as has been described to me as the feeling of the Void. But no! Suddenly, I was somehow buoyed up. I was suspended in the middle of the air in the center of this giant infinite chasm of rot. Was I to be suspended here for all eternity to live forever in the newly emerging resentment of this most recent bad decision? I would have called for help if I’d felt I were worthy of it.

I looked up back up toward the precipice, and there was a figure standing there – blindfolded, holding a bow and arrow. It appeared to be Hart, although what was real and of the physical world seemed so very far away now. What would he be doing here on the edge of the Void? He seemed somehow purpose driven, shooting arrows into the sky above.

Then the powerful force of air blowing upwards from infinity keeping me buoyed up began to take shape from the magma below. It was the translucent image of some Brobdingnagian version of Single Parent holding me, forgiving me, begging me to forgive myself, and thanking me… Thanking me beyond measure for doing what they had asked of me in the long, long ago.

Our souls are so much larger than our bodies. We sometimes think of our bodies housing our souls, but that is of course, ridiculous. The soul houses the body because souls are infinite, and bodies are finite. So, if this gargantuan luminous figure was the soul of Single Parent, although it makes sense that their immense size would therefore come as no surprise… Oh my God, they are Big! I have never felt such a love as this. It was like that love of God that has been described to me as something with which we have nothing in our lives to compare it. But how did Single Parent have the capability of this love? Do we all, then, have the capability of a love so great? It was their soul, taking the form of their body, in transparent silhouette only, the width and breadth of Eternity. And they lifted me up in their giant hands – still air, extended their colossal arms, and brought their hands back to the edge, allowing me to walk out of the Void and step back safely onto terra firma.

A second chance… and when I least felt I deserved one.

It was silent except for the symphony of music inside my head.

Grace was standing there from out of nowhere to greet me. She wore such a beautiful assemblage of shimmering transparent veils to complement the ethereal feeling in the air. We hugged so tightly as if our relationship and our understanding of one another had elevated to a new place, and I knew again what I had always known, but this time, as if for the very first time: that this life is for one purpose only, and that is to give away our gift, always, in abundance, and without reserve. That’s it! And it seemed to me now that the Void had a higher purpose as well. And even despair could be a profoundly influential teacher. And I found myself once again learning what is truly important.

Whatever your gift may be, I urge you to give it – do not judge it! Give it, even when it may feel so hard to do! There are many beings standing in need of the very gift that you bring.

Risk. Be Open. Be Free. Surrender. Give it.

Can you imagine what the earth would be like if I stayed inhibited about my gift and were afraid to give it away?
Do you remember GULLIVER’S TRAVELS and the Struldbruggs of Luggnagg? They lived 900 years which, at first seemed so cool, until Gulliver realized that they continued to age and the bulk of their life was misery and being stuck in the prison of their early ideas, not to mention the destruction caused by their land’s overpopulation.

Well, it’s the same with you! Give it away or it adds to the Void of infinite putrefaction!

If you want to dance, then dance!

If you want to sing, then sing!

If you write, write!

If you play ball, parent, cook, crunch numbers…

If you offer Christmas cheer like my brother, Kris, then do so at any and all times of year! Christmas baking in January is Okay! Christmas cards in February are A-Okay! I know of at least one among you who engages in that practice, though perhaps his may be the only case.

If you offer love like my brother, Hart, then offer it in abundance, offer it blindly…

If you see the opportunity in a crisis, like my brother Cris, then show others by your example how to find that. Open their eyes wide and help them to see the gift in it!

If you can just be there to lend a helping hand, give a person in need food, clothing, shelter, or your Givenchy coat, or be the encouraging word someone needs to hear or the outstretched hand they need to hold, then please offer that mercy, pardon, kindness, compassion, charity generosity…Offer Grace! Be Grace!

Transition your disappointment, dissatisfaction, or disquietude into Grace!

If you can help someone to let go or if you can bring someone to a better place – any living creature — it is most helpful to see them into that transition by holding them. Do not walk away as your animal is being put down. They are so much calmer and peaceful if I am able to take them from your warm loving arms.

Forgive Everyone for Anything!
Forgive Yourself for Everything!

Celebrate your loved ones! Thank them for all that they have given to you while you have them with you here on this side!

And Let Go! …for nothing in this world is ever ours. It is only lent to us for a short time. And we only get to take with us that which we give away. Your gift is eternal. It is of your soul and it is all that lasts.

I will see you again.


#  #  #

Stay In Touch via Instagram:

Thank You for reading this midwinter Christmas Story!

If you would like to follow along with the various experiences, inspirations, and values of Christmas that I share throughout the year, please follow me on Instagram at

Grateful Ready Open Willing

I occasionally post encouraging memes or one-minute videos there that I hope will lift your spirit and bring a smile to your day.

Hope to see you…



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  1. You are amazing and generous to share yourself with us all. Happy 2023. Love, Annette and Eve

  2. edie erobb

     /  February 12, 2023

    arnold really enoyed this thank you so much. enjoy and look forward to these every year. edie

    • EDIE, it has been a lot of years! And you are no Less a Legend and a Marvel and a Wonderful Soul than way back when we first met! Thanx for the Kind Words! Happy New Year! XXOO

  3. Cathy

     /  February 13, 2023

    Thank you. Always look forward to your stories, Arnold. Plan to keep in mind your words of wisdom, that FEAR is False Evidence Appearing Real, and that worry is imagination misapplied. As I like and try to keep in mind, “It’s not about me – it’s about we.” In heart and spirit.

  4. Angela Maddalone

     /  February 21, 2023

    🥰😂🥲 so many emotions…so much gratitude. Thank you XOXOX

  5. C. S. Fanning

     /  February 26, 2023

    Hi. I read your Christmas story this morning at a time when I was at the edge of the Voidl I amsitting or maybe soon sleeping in reflection on its inspirations. Thank you for the seeds of inspiration!


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