Saturday, January 04, 2014

My greatest gifts

In which I reflect upon the season...

It is will a sense of fulfillment and grace that I sit down with keys at my fingertips to relate to you the content of my thoughts today.  This holiday season falling fast away from us has brought me many joyous moments, most of them brief and sweet and some that have stayed with me for many days.  I only hope that my modest skill as a writer can fully convey my message of joy to you.

As I predicted in my last missive, the Dickens Fair was over in a flash, even though it was five weekends of ten-hour days.  This season went very well for me in that I was able, at last, to truly imagine what my character, Mr Brownlow, is all about.  I could wax on for paragraphs but allow me to sum it up by saying that, Brownlow is a heroic man who goes against the grain of the society that he is at the top of, in order to rescue a defenseless beggar child from a life of vice and infamy, and in doing so his actions precipitate the destruction of a criminal gang, the death of a villain, and the complete repudiation of a host of characters that have equated the boy with human garbage.

With this in mind, Brownlow came alive for me, and his righteousness fueled the passion that was needed for him to take control and effect the salvation of Oliver Twist.  The scenes that I played in came into focus and for the first time, I was able to convey Brownlow's full dignity and indignation.  From the perspective of the onlooking audience I can only assume that it was more engaging; there were more people watching in the streets and they stayed to see the whole scene.

In changing my approach to my daily routine, I made new friends at Dickens Fair this year in several serendipitous happenstances, and for that I am grateful.  At one moment, I was walking back to my backstage area and the pianist from Mad Sal's recognized me because I had spent more time there this year.  He invited me to the first annual meeting of the Mutton Chop Society which was an opportunity for a few of us fellows with mutton chops to get together for a photo.  While waiting together with my fellow Society members, we chatted and I got to know two fellows who I had only known as their characters at a great distance.  One of them is a Technical Director working on the upcoming Star Wars movies, and the other is an artist that creates those amazingly cool signs at Trader Joe's.  In both cases the work is fascinating to me.  I hope that these friendships continue to enrich my life, and on that hope I plan to invest in them.

Seemingly just moments after Dickens started, it was two weeks in and it was my birthday.  Everyone jokes with me that the best part of my birthday is the annual bare-breasted rendition of Happy Birthday sung to me by the female cast of the Naughty French Postcards cast.  I look forward to that, and it was fun, but it pales in comparison to my real birthday treat.  On the day, my children gathered at our family home and we all went to dinner as a nuclear family.  At the table we all showed each other love and respect as we shared our meal.  My family; Sharon, Jessamy, Andy, and Danny are in fact my greatest source of love and affirmation bar none.  We really do love and respect each other in a way that I have observed is not universal in families.  I cannot be more grateful for this condition and I take great pride in having played a part in bringing it about.

In another few weeks, Dickens was over again, disappearing like Brigadoon for another year.  After three sleeps, it was Christmas morning which arrived clear and quiet.  With no sense of urgency whatsoever, we gathered again as a family to rejoice and share our gifts with each other.  I got some great gifts, but once again, none of them compares to the love that I feel in the exchange of that which we picked out for each other.  For me, that moment when your loved one opens what you hope is just the right thing, is the magic of Christmas.  It is deeply satisfying even though I am a hopelessly lousy shopper.

The very next day we were joined by our dear friend Amy and her love Brian so they could spend a few days with us and accompany us across the state to our home away from home at Lake Tahoe.  We got there after a leisurely day and proceeded to clean up after the construction of a new bathroom and remodeling of the other two.  Everyone pitched in and we made a lot of progress in just a few hours.  The stay of three days was enough for us to complete all our finishing decorating, cleaning, and preparing tasks, and Amy was able to show Brian some beautiful California scenery.  Our place in Tahoe is a great pleasure to me.  We searched for so very long, found a place that was so in need, and made a wonderful transformation that is universally admired by our guests and neighbors too.  It is a very relaxing place to retreat to, even when there is work to do.

At the very close of the year, we opened our home to quite a few friends both close and casual.  It was indeed a wonderful party.  Our good friends Peggy and Michael became engaged just at Midnight, and a good time was had by all.  We sang Auld Lang Syne to remember the friends we'd said goodbye to over the year, and we even had flaming rum punch.  There were some puzzles worked, a few games played, festive beverages, and a lot of hot water.  When the last person left, it was 3:30 PM on New Year's Day.  If anyone tells you that we throw boring parties, they are pulling your leg.  We were delighted to host such a rousing crowd and it pleased me to have so much merry made.

I want to make special note of the greatest gift of all that I received this season; the love of my friends, family, and especially of Sharon.  In countless ways, she expresses her love to me. Every time I am reminded of her love, I am touched and humbled.  I don't make a big show of it, but it makes a huge difference to me every day.  I hope each and every one of you have someone that makes you feel the same way.

Thank you for reading all this way.  May the peace of this season be with you until the days grow short and the weather cold once more.