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Happy Holidays

December 20, 2007

This is the season when I most feel akin to ancient kinsfolk, who trudged through darkening snow to seek shelter. An evergreen forest surely seemed heaven-sent; a fire sparked from a flint painted a fabulous glow on the faces of comrades. So too I enjoy the glow of festive lights on front yard spruces and pines as I wend my way home on cold nights from work. But what truly warms and delights me are people in my life.

Thanks to friends and family, I had a good year. In May, sons Chris and Nik visited from LA and we scattered Paula’s ashes on the Hudson River, as she’d wanted, at Liberty State Park. It took five years to be able to do that. Throughout the year, Delaynie, my self-styled “surrogate” daughter, stopped by with her daughter, Dylan, to check on the cat, tend the vegetable garden and cook various concoctions.

When holiday blues started even before Thanksgiving, my friend Carol invited me to a family gathering and helped me lay out my holidays project—making a book of photos I’ve taken in the Finger Lakes. That’s to commemorate great visits with my parents, sisters and so many other folks. I was able to do the photo book thanks to Rod Allee salvaging files on the old computer and setting me up with a new system. I was inspired to tackle a new project by Stewart Nusbaumer, who bought a place in the Catskills, between reporting assignments in Iraq, and invited me for back country weekends. Stewart and I drove to Chicago in mid-summer and along the way visited Bruce Weigl, a greatly fascinating poet, and then spent a weekend with old and new friends at the 40th anniversary gathering of Vietnam Veterans Against the War.

I was further inspired by Ken Campbell, who invited me to Philadelphia to a reading of his new book on Vietnam and Iraq war issues. And by Jane Irish, who put one of my poems into one of her new paintings in a gallery show. And by Dave Cline, whose memorial service drew a big crowd due to all the good works he accomplished since surviving the war in Vietnam. And by Donna Bassin, who made a documentary about ways veterans cope with the aftermath of war.

There were many more interactions with old friends and new friends. And before I knew it, it was the week before Christmas. So now I look forward to 2008—when I turn 65, a milestone I never expected to reach. My next challenge, in January, is to keep a step ahead of students at New York University, whom I’ve been asked to teach how to be hard-working, yet unjaded journalists.

Merry new year.

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