Table of Contents


Tunnel of fudge. It seemed so unfair that my birthday came just nine days before Christmas. I would get combo presents from minor relatives happy to be done with me in one go. But Mom always put on the full birthday boy treatment including one of my favorite goopy cakes: Raspberry Rhapsody or Tunnel of Fudge. Hot fudge was an exception to no chocolate.

Ice storm. In a public relations coup, Mom made the proximity of my birthday to Christmas a good thing. She made that the day we put up the tree and began to decorate it. I loved the tree and the decorating, so that was brilliant. I have a couple of cherished memories that I now realize were moments of spontaneous meditation. One year the tree was so perfect it was transcendent. Everyone agreed: this particular tree was a step beyond. I spent hours every evening just basking in its glory. The other magic Christmas was around the same time, early 60s. We'd been hoping for a white Christmas; the forecast was borderline. We woke to brilliant sunshine. The world had turned to Austrian crystal: a freezing rain in the night. Every twig, every pine needle was separately coated with ice, shimmering in the sunlight.

She always was classier. Gail was born on the 15th, so December was our Special Month. After I returned from Kenya and turned her and Sam onto pot, it became quite the thing. We put on a huge feast, making endless toasts with cold duck, our celebratory beverage, replacing my usual Ripple or Boone's Farm, her usual Lancers or Mateus.

Synanon. Soon after my moment of destiny I began to lose interest in holidays. My disenchantment had a philosophical base. It was a bit of cheesy pop wisdom that got me going down this track: "Today is the first day of the rest of your life."

But it's true. As I pondered that, I realized today really is the only day there is. Past and future days are imaginary; they don't exist. Right now is the only time I can ever do anything. Nothing can be done on an imaginary day. Holidays are the worst kind of imaginary day because they suck my attention away from this day. The one day I can do something. I used to focus all my attention on some upcoming holiday only to be disappointed when it came. Holidays never lived up to their hype. Holidays just made me feel lousy because I ate and drank too much. Holidays rob the present of my attention, gobbling up my one and only chance to get enlightened, to make progress with love. So I've given them up. My only holiday is today.

The Ragpicker's Dream. I'll close out with my favorite Christmas song. It was well after Christmas when I went homeless, and I had the means to recover quickly once I came to my senses and started using them. The Railking and The Scarecrow weren't so lucky on their last Christmas. Mark Knopfler is another Nobel-worthy troubadour poet.