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Wreath
An autumn past, the glorious playwright James Still sent me an email with this Max Coots prayer/poem/chant. He has sent this to his circle for many years and I was quite moved to be included in this Thanksgiving tradition. And then there is the poem, so spectacular in truth and wit. I loved it so much I’ve adopted the tradition, sending you this a virtual whisper of thanks, as James calls it. I call it a poem for the table, a little salt and a bit of sugar. I hope you will share it, read it aloud (that’s just the best) or delete it if that pleases you.
If this is your first time receiving it we might have just met, or perhaps reconnected after many years. Perhaps you are a stranger, stumbling on it as a novice and to you I say welcome. If you remember it from seasons past, I hope you enjoy it once more and wrap yourself in the true feeling that comes with it. If you are one of the lucky ones, receiving this from me and my dear friend…you are twice blessed. May it fill your heart as the day does your belly.

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:
For children who are our second planting.
And though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away,
May they forgive us our cultivation and remember fondly where their roots are.
Let us give thanks:
For generous friends, with hearts as big as hubbards and smiles as bright as their blossoms;
For feisty friends as tart as apples; for continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we’ve had them.
For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible.
For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as potatoes and so good for you.
For funny friends who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends, as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions.
For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you throughout the winter.
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time and young friends coming on as fast as radishes.
For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts, and witherings.
And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter; for all these we give thanks.

– Max Coots
1928-2009

Wishing you a warm and meaningful Thanksgiving


An autumn past, a dear new friend sent me a Max Coots prayer/poem/chant for Thanksgiving. It has been his tradition for many years and now it is mine as well; a simple connection, a virtual whisper of thanks. I thought long and hard about posting it on my blog, as I usually send it as an email. In the end I chose to include it as the spirit is wider than my contact list and my feelings about it aren’t constrained by form.
If this is your first time receiving it we might have just met or perhaps reconnected after many years. Perhaps you are a stranger, stumbling on it as a novice and to you I say welcome. If you remember it from seasons past, I hope you enjoy it once more and wrap yourself in the true feeling it comes with. If you are one of the lucky ones, receiving this both from me and my dear friend…you are twice blessed.
Happy Thanksgiving.

Let us give thanks for a bounty of people:
For children who are our second planting.
And though they grow like weeds and the wind too soon blows them away,
May they forgive us our cultivation and remember fondly where their roots are.
Let us give thanks:
For generous friends, with hearts as big as hubbards and smiles as bright as their blossoms;
For feisty friends as tart as apples; for continuous friends, who, like scallions and cucumbers, keep reminding us we’ve had them.
For crotchety friends, as sour as rhubarb and as indestructible.
For handsome friends, who are as gorgeous as eggplants and as elegant as a row of corn, and the others, as plain as potatoes and so good for you.
For funny friends who are as silly as Brussels sprouts and as amusing as Jerusalem artichokes, and serious friends, as complex as cauliflowers and as intricate as onions.
For friends as unpretentious as cabbages, as subtle as summer squash, as persistent as parsley, as delightful as dill, as endless as zucchini, and who, like parsnips, can be counted on to see you throughout the winter.
For old friends, nodding like sunflowers in the evening-time and young friends coming on as fast as radishes.
For loving friends, who wind around us like tendrils and hold us, despite our blights, wilts, and witherings.
And finally, for those friends now gone, like gardens past that have been harvested, but who fed us in their times that we might have life thereafter; for all these we give thanks.
— Max Coots
1928-2009

The holidays are coming and along with them… house guests.
If you’re like me, the shopping and cooking and cleaning miraculously manage to get done. Having a snappy home office leaves me without a proper guest room, but the sheets get changed, sleeping accommodations are made and everyone seems to be happy. I mean…they come back, right?
Through the years I’ve found a few personal touches to make my guests feel like I’m glad to have them. Here are my old favorites and one I’m adding.
1. Have you ever slept on someone’s sofa-bed? Their owners preface your evening turn-in with “Oh, it’s so comfortable” but obviously they haven’t slept on it since college. Rather than have your guests spend their nights on “the rack” and their days in traction, why not invest in a mattress topper? I purchased a gel foam topper for my son’s futon and it makes a world of difference. With company coming, I ran down to Costco and bought another for the guest (sofa) bed. If you have guests who fold that thing up every night you may want a different type of topper but my family tends to spread out and stay out and the gel pad with find a post-holiday home on the other son’s bed.
2. Add some flowers. Whether I’m creating guest space in the boys’ rooms, my office or in the basement, adding some seasonal sprigs brings a bright distraction. Those unexpected peach poinsettias make any room feel festive.
3. Sweet treats. Though I don’t go all Martha with chocolates on the pillow, I love to pre-set a few fun and useful things. Taking a tip from my travels, it’s easy to stay a step ahead by providing for their needs in advance. Arrange an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, a few bottles of water and that shampoo, conditioner and lotion from your last hotel stay in a holiday cookie tin. You may want to throw in some drugstore items (aspirin, antacids, etc), then place a few clementines, home baked cookies or some peppermint for some festive pop.
4. Basket of soft things. Rather than stack towels and toiletries on the bed, wrap them in ribbon and place them in a deep basket. Step it up with a robe, extra throw blanket and pillows and top it off with a small box of chocolates.
5. Double check the necessities. Though you may use the room for another reason, make sure your guests have everything they need. An adjustable desk lamp, reading light or bathroom nightlight, make your night owl guests feel at home, and have an alarm clock handy for the early birds. Have an old iPod and headphones? Load it up with soothing music or snappy jazz and make it handy, place a good book (one you’ve already read) and some recent magazines on the bedside table, or pick up some gallery guides and touristy pamphlets for that B&B touch.
6. Make all of the above easy to store and reuse.

Chances are your friends and family will be with you more than the three day limit, so make the most of their stay by starting with a warm and thoughtful welcome. Happy Holidays!