Christmas Chaos

Leaving for L.A the day after tomorrow and realize I have not rented a car, wrapped presents, packed for California chill and sun, booked a motel for the road trip up the coast, or logged my students exam grades, nor scribbled notes for my house-sitter, arriving tomorrow. The clothes in my dresser drawers (spanning decades) are packed so tightly I am unable to dig past the tangled surface to even guess what archeological layers lie below. I fling everything out and now, panicked, realize there’s not enough time to thoughtfully sort and neatly fold, and will just stuff them all back in and flee downstairs and drag out the battered blue suitcase and tackle my fridge. Should I throw out the cottage cheese? The apple cake?

On the refrigerator door I notice the poem I taped there years ago–snipped from the New Yorker, its edges yellowed and curling, a poem by Kurt Vonnegut published  shortly after the death of Joe Heller. I have not read it in a long time. I stop and read it now.

 

Joe Heller

True story, Word of Honor:

Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer

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now dead,

and I were at a party given by a billionaire

on Shelter Island.

I said, “Joe, how does it make you feel

to know that our host only yesterday

may have made more money

than your novel ‘Catch-22’

has earned in its entire history?”

And Joe said, “I’ve got something he can never have.”

And I said, “What on earth could that be, Joe?”

And Joe said, “The knowledge that I’ve got enough.”

Not bad!  Rest in peace!

 

–Kurt Vonnegut

 

I am once again restored.

Instead of the inventory, the litany of should’s, the double-checking, and self-scolding, the Christmas’s to-do’s, I will breathe. I will be grateful. Not for anything specific. Just plain old Gratitude. A winter afternoon, light seeps through bare limbs, a sudden splash of sky over white pastures, an unpacked suitcase.

 

–Trudy Hale, editor

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