originally published November 19, 2005.


Ida’s drawing

Ida’s portrait has taken on yet again a different feeling. This is in part due to the fact that much of the imagery is her own…. her own drawings, and her own photographs. The images that I had taken were from her room, a small space overflowing with possessions in various stages of use or non-use, as the case may be. But Ida’s interest in drawing and prolific and narrative approach to photography made for a more meaningful source of material from which a “portrait” could bloom.

Though she has faced her share of difficulties, Ida seemed to have a clearer view of her future, or at least one that did not seem to dwell on pain or fear. There is a strength of faith not necessarily tied to religion, but to a self-confidence long worn of years of hard work and self-sufficiency. She seems to know that, while sometimes tragic, life’s ironies are boundless, and her good humor and wit will help see her through the darkness towards a brighter future.

On a slightly different topic – I feel stuck in a quandary. Something that many folks must go through as they consider the upcoming Christmas season. Money is tight all around. Yet getting to know these ladies has reminded me once again the value of everyday living, friendships, family. We are truly blessed… and do not “need” anything. My children do not “want” for anything… yet there are still bills to be paid, those that come from the blessings of their success… music lessons, art supplies, college tuition…

And so I have considered making the following resolution for the upcoming season. My gifts to my family will include only one or two items that are “special” and everything else will be things they might use anyway – a coat, a pair of boots for winter, a book to read.

But gifts to others will be different. Or maybe not. My gifts to my family and others beyond those few “special” or “useful” items will include something else. There will be no “nonsense” gifts, things that are given just for the sake of saying “Merry Christmas”. The gifts will be to others, maybe some folks I do not even know.

This is my pledge… My gifts to friends (and family) will be the gift of charity to strangers who have needs that are not being fulfilled. So that they might find something “special” for Christmas, too, even if it is something “useful”.

In this way, I hope that I will be able to contribute more to the local charities serving a growing number of people who seek help, and spend less on the silly things that just clog up my overly full life, clouding my vision of the blessings I already have.

Saturday, November 19, 2005
Mara Jevera Fulmer