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Posts Tagged ‘A Christmas Carol’

This was our eighth year seeing A Christmas Carol performed as a one-man show by Gerald Charles Dickens, great, great grandson of you can guess. It is a fantastic show every time we see it. Mr. Dickens performs all the characters and each one is different, and they even hold conversations. His performance is brilliance. Physically, vocally, emotionally. I literally laugh and cry each year.

This has been a tradition since Bearpaw first gave us tickets in 2011. He saw the play in 2010 and thought we would enjoy it. Clearly we do. A Christmas Carol is in my top three Christmas tales, and I love having shared this live, theatrical experience with my sons. Thank you again, Mr. Dickens!

2011-2018

Bear getting an autograph…

And these are some of my favorite pictures of the boys with Bearpaw. They were taken in 2014, the last time we saw it with Bearpaw.

And even though I always miss Bearpaw a little bit more at this time of year, I celebrate his memory when I remember to “Come in and know me better, man”.

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Ah, Christmas time…this has been a hell of a year. I will write the cliche…each year passes more quickly than the last. And this year has flown byat times and dragged on forever at other times. Actually, not quite dragged on, more like stood still. I have been very aware of the human construct of time this year… particularly the American construct of time. And I’ve ignored it a lot this year.

I am letting myself enjoy the Christmas season. It officially kicked off for me last Saturday. The sons joined me at A Christmas Carol again. Sixth time? Seventh? Can never seem to remember. We had a Christmas event at church…a lovely night of song. This weekend is filled with plans to celebrate with new friends, friends from high school, and dear old friends to wrap up the weekend! 

Working on my home. Removing the old crappy broken subfloor and installing new subfloor/flooring downstairs for Younger Son. The fourth bedroom is downstairs (1970s split level houses…gotta love ’em) and it’s the same size as Older Son’s room. So Younger Son will have the same space, although the extra space (compared to his bedroom upstairs) comes in the form of a two-feet deep closet that spans an entire wall. So dressers, shelves, etc. go in the closet opening up the space.

And decluttering continues because damn, we have a lot of junk. It feels great to purge, purge, and purge some more. I’ve added some pictures to the wall. Reorganized stuff. It all feels good.

I’m still struggling with my faith. Still grieving my brother. Still hating suicide. Still trying to reconcile how his suicide makes any sense, which it doesn’t is all I can come up with. Still releasing years of emotional crap loaded into and onto me by my mother and sister and have disowned me. I am finally really accepting how little my life has changed now that they told me I was evil and would be burning in hell for my choices. While it’s been painful to realize how many lies there were, I can’t say I’ve missed the three texts they usually sent in the course of a year. It is sad that they think they’ve ended some deep, close relationship. Three texts a year does not a relationship make.

So as I move away from the pain, work through the grief, I find I am getting lighter. 

The lights and decorations look brighter, more sparkly than before. I’m feeling the joy wash over me.

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Come in and know me better, man.

As I have been struggling to process the death of my father, lovingly known as Bear and Bearpaw (Grandpa), certain aspects of my relationship with him continue to surface repeatedly.  One of them was staring me in the face, literally.  I found a picture of my dad with my sons that I had forgotten about.  I took it at our annual outing to see A Christmas Carol performed by Gerald Charles Dickens, Charles Dickens’ great great grandson.  It was our fourth year at the show and Bearpaw was goofing off with the boys while waiting in line for photos with Mr. Dickens.  The boys had worn their Dickens hats and Bearpaw had covered Younger Son’s face with his hat.  Then he dropped the hat down and I captured a beautiful picture of the three of them, full of the Christmas spirit, full of love, full of joy.

Dickens hat down

This picture shows Bear’s love of love.  His love of his grandchildren.  His love of life.  I realized only now as I have been missing him terribly why he loved this particular version of A Christmas Carol so much.

First, he got to share it each year with his family.  The boys were six and eight the first year we went. It’s tradition now.  And yet every year we forget when we’re supposed to participate.  (Ooh, ahh…!)  Bear also loved that every year Dickens would tweak the script, the story parts a little bit.

That was his second love of A Christmas Carol.  It’s one of the greatest stories.  And my dad loved to tell stories (good and bad)!  He loved the art of storytelling and appreciated the details, the characters, the shared human experiences.

When Scrooge is with the Ghost of Christmas Present, “Come in and know me better, man”, we hear the stories of the people, the food they ate, the games they played.  Bear celebrated many days that way.  Special occasions and regular ones.  Scrooge discovered the importance of living life in the past, present, and future.  Bear lived his life this way.  He held the past, present, and future in his heart.

On Easter, Bearpaw would create the wonderful Easter egg hunt for the boys and the boys would miss standard eggs each year. Bearpaw would laugh each year.  He added little clues and goofy challenges to add more fun.

On Christmas as we sat around the dinner table feeling full and blessed, Bear would pass around the lottery game tickets and he would sit with the biggest smile on his face as we furiously scratched off the silver covering to see if we won.

On any day he would add games and laughter, whether it was telling you about a spot on your shirt (and then gently flicking your nose as you looked down) or “fixing his toupee” (he could move his scalp to make his hair look out of place and then “shift” it back into place). I still can’t do that trick!

And, like the Ghost of Christmas Present, he wanted folks to come in and know him better, man and in turn get to know them better too.  He loved chatting with people he would meet.  Sharing experiences, discovering what he and the person might have in common.  All it took was a little time to share together and in a few minutes of talking with my father, you knew you had come in and known him better, man.

His life was full of love.  There were rough times.  There were sad times.  But Bear always was full of love.  He loved index cards-he used them every day, for categorizing things, saving notes, reminders.  He loved index cards and paper plates, but index cards were more portable (fit right in his front shirt pocket).  I found one the night he died on which he had written:

“Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Tomorrow is another new day.”

a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Below the quote he wrote, in parentheses, the word “over”.  Upon turning the card over, you read this quote from Goethe,

“There is nothing worth more than this day.”

And then again in parentheses, below the quote, the word “over”.  With a simple index card he had created a perpetual motivator.  Something to remind him that each day was so valuable and to live each day the best you could.  And Bear did.  He lived each day to the fullest, carrying the past, present, and future in his heart.

So remember from my father these pieces of advice.

From Emerson, “Finish each day and be done with it.  You have done what you could.  Tomorrow is another new day.”

From Goethe, “There is nothing worth more than this day.”

From my dad, “Stand tall, shoulders back, head up.”

And from Dickens, “Come in and know me better, man.”

Try it with the next person you meet.  Go in and know him better, man.

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Tonight we saw A Christmas Carol.  Not just any A Christmas Carol.  This one was adapted from the one-man version that Charles Dickens performed in England and America about 160 years ago.  Tonight it was performed by his great-great-grandson, Gerald Charles Dickens.  The whole story, 28 characters, one man, one and a half hours.  The  boys loved it and laughed throughout the play.  I realized how much this story has been a part of my like, without really ever knowing it.

As this very talented actor made me laugh and cry just a wee bit, I mouthed many of the lines with him.  Scrooge is such a part of  cultural references, not just at Christmas time, but year round.  I suppose this would make Dickens very pleased since Scrooge said he would keep Christmas in his heart year round.  The whole concept of the story as a one-man show is amazing and works because each character is easy to relate to.

Mr. Dickens (the great-great-grandson, not the dead one…Marley was dead to begin with) stays afterward and signs autographs and poses for pictures.

He signed programs for each of the boys, my copy of A Christmas Carol, and even signed the boys’ copy of Muppet Christmas Carol.  A  very charming man and very proud of his heritage.  If he ever comes near your town you really should go see the show.

I will keep Christmas in my heart year round, I will live in the past, present, and future.  Come in, and know me better, man.

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