It’s a Christmas scene outside my window.  Snow. Sun. A lovely moment.  It doesn’t help.  I still feel sad.  Tony Martin singing in the next room doesn’t help either. 
I’ve tried three times in the past week to find a perfect Christmas tree.  I knew what I wanted—a bare tree, not fake green anywhere, just sweet Led lights at the tips of its leafless branches,  my twenty-year-old dried pomegranates swinging in all their maroon grandeur inside the web of light. It would be small enough to not overwhelm our living room, cheerful enough to greet the several sets of friends and family who would be visiting. 
It did not exist at any of the local stores I visited.  I resorted to online sites, clicking through hundreds, maybe thousands of pictures of every kind of tree one could imagine, even several which would stand up-side-down in a tree yoga pose for the season, don’t ask me why.  Then I found it.  Bare branches, little lights, just the right size, almost the right price, but close enough.
The box came a week later.  I love to decorate for Christmas and my husband doesn’t. But this tree would be simple, easy, not involving the two large containers filled with gold balls and chains and strings of lights stuffed at the bottom of the storage cage in our condo’s lower floor.  Only an electric outlet. 
We would plug it in on Saturday night, and celebrate the season and the tree with martinis after the arduous task of taking it out of its box.  Christmas carols floating around us, olives floating in our glasses, I, butcher knife in hand, ripped open the box, pulled out the packing, and found nestled in puce-green tissue, three ugly, red,  metal,  containers:  Baskets, the tags said.  Disaster,I said, wanting to either cry or say a very bad word.  I did both.
The red things are still in our bedroom waiting for the Return Label promised a week ago so that I can send them back to wherever they came from.  I returned to the computer, this time searched Amazon’s offerings, vaguely aware that they sold things other than my books.  And, yes!  Another tree, even better than the first, cheaper, at least.  I ordered it and was promised two-day delivery.  That would have been today.  I moved furniture to make room for it, found the old pomegranates.  Got ready.
Then it snowed.  Everywhere.  Apparently even where this tree has been waiting for us.  An email informed me late last night that its journey has been delayed because of bad weather. Sorry, they said.  I didn’t respond.  One cannot swear at Mother Nature, can she?
So, I’m sitting at the window, watching bundles with legs sliding their dogs in the park below me and an occasional car creep along shiny asphalt.  And once I convince myself that a tree does not a Christmas make, I’ll put on my puffy jacket and cap and head out for the figs I need for figgy pudding.  My family loves figgy pudding at Christmas, but we all know that pudding does not make Christmas either. Love does, and we have lots of that, no matter what the weather is.


In the midst of constant radio coverage, TV photos of traumatized students, a million words pouring out of the minds and mouths of onlookers who attempt to gather their thoughts into rational responses to yet another mass murder, how can I rejoice in a small happy moment of my own life?
I was swirling through my Facebook account, reading the posts of both famous and not-so-famous people who, though stunned, managed to express their anger, shock, their condolences, and their sense of helplessness. We, we, we, have to do something, they wrote, and some had ideas of what that something might be.  Control guns, do more about the mentally ill, protect our schools, defend ourselves with our own weapons, and one, not smiling, suggested that congressmen who voted against more funds for mental health projects be sent to a mental health facility for a while to experience what is not being done for those who need that kind of help. (Never mind that many of those facilities have been closed for years in a wave of new medications that promised to deal with disturbed people without locking them up. But perhaps that’s another story.) Others threw up their virtual hands, which shook with anger, fear, hopelessness, offering no solutions.
I couldn’t bear to read any more.  My silent voice had joined this chorus of keening mourners, and I needed to find some sort of respite. I went to my email. When I clicked on a note from a familiar writing site, I was informed that a review of Never Too Late was complete. It had received five stars and had been posted on a number of social media sites. The review made my book seem like the next New York Times best seller.
Finally! My first reaction. All those weeks of scouring the internet for  someone to read my book(s) had resulted in one person who did.  And liked it. A cloud of sweet euphoria settled over my shoulders and I read the review three times.  Maybe I am a writer, I told myself.  Maybe I should keep going on that novel languishing in my computer.
Then I remembered.
And now, hours later, sadness and joy are still crouched inside me, in a facedown, eyeing each other, making tentative jabs at tender places, desiring to win the fight to determine which one would win my day. However, a moment ago I experienced an epiphany, a truth so obvious I won’t write about it to my friends on Face book. I was looking at the review one more time, and I understood the power of one person telling another that she is worthy of her dreams. I knew then that somehow joy will overcome sadness, in me, in others. The result will be Hope.  And with hope we all can move forward as we support each other’s dreams.
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