Sunday, December 31, 2006


HAPPY NEW YEAR'S EVE ... can the New Year be far behind!

In the previous Compassionate Criticism piece I purposely wrote about the holiday season from a very narrow perspective -- just the Santa Claus story. I chose not to address the specifics of the various religious observances. This exclusion does not reflect disrespect for any, but the Santa story does seem to allow a certain inclusiveness that most can unite around for celebration without raising theological issues.

As for Santa, here's the resolution of the Santa story in that previous post. My granddaughter now expresses absolute conviction regarding her conclusions about the physical existence of Santa. What this means is that she has joined the grownup world of those who know the full Santa story. She did not want to disillusion her grandmother on this topic which is why she did not speak her new found belief sooner.

As for truth versus myth, rather than feeling she has been deluded by the adults in her life, she behaves as though a certain right of passage has occurred; that she has used her reasoning skills to establish a truth. There is little doubt she will welcome the celebration of the holiday, including a visit from the jolly old man, again next year. Wonder if we'll want to go out on the Internet again next year to consult NORAD? ;-)

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


The email I read that day alerted me that a young mind was busy analyzing information which was affecting her perception of the fabled holiday figure I knew as Santa Claus or Saint Nick, other names around the world. The message said several young minds had been exchanging observations, reasoning with increasing skepticism as to whether or not this jolly old man really existed.

I was told I should be prepared for possible intense questioning, since the previous holiday there had been, unbeknown to any of us at the time, serious scrutiny of handwriting samples on gift cards. Of special focus were those from Santa, Mrs.Claus, Saint Nick, The Elves, The Reindeer (by name, of course,) and Grandma and Grandpa. My handwriting, especially, and that of the fabled white whiskered one were suspected of being surprisingly similar, the message concluded. Being forewarned with this email alert provided me an opportunity to be forearmed so I would not be taken unaware.

Some weeks would pass before a face to face encounter would occur, so I had time to ponder the gravity of this situation and how best to address the matter. I reflected back to the time I had taken the initiative, explaining to my young children (including the mother of the present young skeptical mind,) the reality of the Santa story. I had emphasized the spirit, intent, and meaning symbolized in the character and the story, while minimizing the commercial aspects even then increasingly exploiting children and adults each year. I stressed an intent to keep enjoying the joyous spirit of that holiday season, which they could enjoy with us if they so chose.

Interestingly to me, these many years later, I have learned that my discussion of this topic was not remembered, along with a certainty information regarding the truth of Santa's physical existence was learned later, from friends. Personally, I think a decision was made by my children on some unconscious level to continue enjoying the spirit of that story as I explained it, or maybe their denial just set in, because we had continued to "play the game," which I persist in doing to this day, and long after my little talk.

This present day's situation might well go the same way -- or not. Soon my guests were with me. As family gifts began appearing one by one beneath the tree, I periodically made reference to the white bearded red suited man by name, talked of him making his rounds to fill stockings, possibly more. Also, on occasion I joked about the "naughty and nice" list he kept with the help of his elves. My comments were greeted with a strange little smile or maybe just a "un huh." Once in a while I might catch hushed voices in brief exchange with one another. Later I would be told a furtive questioning glance had been directed at the parental figure, who reported simply shrugging, or mouthing responsive words to the effect "You'll have to ask her" or "You tell her, I'm not going to." The "her" was, of course a reference to me and my persistent reference to this old gentleman as though he really would come to our home.

The eve of that special holiday came and my granddaughter hastened to the computer to seek out NORAD, then began periodically checking Santa's trek from the North Pole. She provided reports: "He's in in in New York City -- he spends a lot of time there." Then the actual celebratory day came and went, along with some gifts bearing tags from none other than Santa. Not one question was ever raised regarding his existence.

I learned later that my granddaughter offered several explanations upon questioning, as to why the subject of Santa had not been broached. Basically what was revealed was that Grandma was perceived to be enjoying this story so much, my granddaughter just couldn't bring herself to spoil Grandma's fun. So, this encounter I had anticipated did not happen after all, perhaps due to my granddaughter's compassion, or because she thought I still believed in Santa and did not want to ruin the holiday for me.

But, you see, I do still believe in Santa -- the spirit of the season, and the goodness in all mankind that spirit symbolizes.

Saturday, December 23, 2006


Sun. 12/24 is the eve of the Christmas celebration, Mon. 12/25. The Hanukkah celebration draws to a close at sunset Saturday 12/23. The day after Christmas, Tues. 12/26 begins a celebration of Kwanzaa. Some of the traditional wishes for all include:





We begin to get a sense of the diversity of belief systems that flourish in this country with just these holidays at this particular time of the year. There are even more celebratory dates in other months on our calendar associated with groups of different belief systems from these, but not limited to: Islam, Buddhism.

This seems a perfect time for each group to come together to seek ways in which they are the same. I, for one, would like to see significantly increased attention from laymen as well as their leaders toward this end. They all profess to espouse a belief in practicing so many of the same positive qualities to which most say they aspire. How can so many have gone so askew from their beliefs into practicing behaviors diametrically opposed to their beliefs? That must be what has happened or we would not be experiencing our current world state of affairs.

I just want to express my desire and wish for this world that all receive the gift of PEACE ON EARTH!

Saturday, December 16, 2006


This holiday season finds us once again observing special days and periods of time many of us associate with events symbolizing matters of special significance. I appreciate, respect and recognize such celebrations including: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa. In honor of the very first one which started yesterday, here is my wish


* * * * *


Travelers this holiday season from around the globe are, or will soon be, packing their bags in preparation for trips. Some may just go a short distance in their cars, others far greater distances. Some will have short day trips on an actual specific holiday, others may have trips of longer duration. Some will visit family or friends. Others may use the time as a vacation for shared time with another at varied locations within our country and the world.

Some of us aren't going anywhere. Instead, we're awaiting others to arrive with luggage in tow. Some may not have visitors from elsewhere, instead may enjoy a time with others in their local area, or even relish time to themselves. Certainly over the years, the numbers of people with whom I've celebrated the holidays has differed at various times from large groups to just two people.

Just as I spent my first Thanksgiving alone this year (see November Archives sidebar links to "Thanksgiving Alone"; "Adventure Alone On Thanksgiving,") there may well come a year, or years, when I will spend this holiday season alone, too. I can well imagine being quite content should that ever be the case, but I may never really know what my feelings may be in any situation until I actually have the experience.

This year, though, I look forward in the next few days to the arrival of loved family members who will be with me for about two weeks. I'll not engage in any part time work during that time, so in addition to what plans we've made, we'll be free to do as the spirit moves us. Sounds good, but I'm so far behind on holiday preparations I'll be lucky to catch up for the '07 season!

In the scheme of issues that matter, this sounds rather strange to say, but I find myself thinking about what luggage will accompany my visitors. You see, as I've been examining the contents of my home with an eye to what I should jettison as unnecessary space absorbers, I have become aware of my accumulation of luggage, some of which is clearly excess baggage.(see November Archives links on sidebar to "Old Things"; "Disposition of Old Things.")

My thoughts stray to my first luggage which came as a gift when I graduated from high school. The three-piece Samsonite set ranged in size from the large tourister piece to an intermediate size case, the much smaller obligatory boxy-looking overnight case with a mirror on the inside of the opened lid that is thought to be a necessity for a woman, all in a medium-dark preferred sky-blue color. This is luggage that withstands all assaults as graphic 1950's black and white television ads demonstrated. The outer case is hard, waterproof. I could stand on it; jump up and down on it, and a heavy man could do the same, and this luggage would be undamaged, able to tolerate all mistreatment whether I traveled around the world on a merchant ship, on the finest luxury liner, in an airplane or car, on a train or bus. Baggage people could throw it through the air, let it drop on a concrete surface and my luggage, all the possessions inside, would be intact and survive.

My beloved older brother gave me this gift of luggage. Later when he visited in his cross–country move from California to New Jersey, he allowed me to have a night out driving myself alone to town in his Mercury convertible with the top down. With the wind blowing in my hair that warm sultry night, I sensed the promise of adventure that life held for me as the car rushed forward down the highway toward I knew not exactly what. I just knew I wanted that feeling to last forever. I looked forward with great anticipation to my future, all the places I would accompany that luggage.

But first there was our senior class trip that included a visit to the New Orleans that has been altered in more recent years, having been subjected to the devastating Hurricane Katrina and the negligent government assistance. Those many years ago, after the pleasures of New Orleans, my senior class trip then took me first to the coast of east Florida, then its west coast, before we returned home. With my luggage dutifully christened, I took another auto trip further north on the Atlantic coast with my brother's family that included a new baby girl.

Then, with the luggage broken-in, the time had come for it to go to college. The suitcases did a yeoman's job getting me through those college years, back and forth to home, a few weekends, visits with new friends in their homes, off to competitive events. Those trips and all others required great tolerance from those cases, as I had a tendency to pack everything, and more, into them, often having to apply considerable weight just to get them closed.

Of course, I didn't begin to use all the items I took along, but just never knew when I might need some of those extra clothes or other items I crammed inside. Best to be on the safe side. Better to have too much than too little. Besides what if I had that rare experience of accidentally soiling clothes that couldn't be worn again until laundered and there was no time for laundry? So what if the odds of that happening were slim; I better be prepared for the possibility it could happen every day I was gone on any of these trips, was my point of view.

Suddenly, in only three short years, my college days were completed, as I felt a sense of urgency and went to school year round. The luggage was forced to accommodate an accumulation of those few years to not only take back home with me, but to leave that home the next day to return my parents to a northern Midwestern state we had left some years earlier for warmer climes. Once I returned to that earlier state of residence, the luggage continued to be given opportunities for trips in and about the state,as well as to other states. I generally packed to the limit as usual, with the luggage finding itself in the trunk of one of various cars I owned over the years. Along the way I purchased a miniature suitcase-shaped case much preferred for use over the overnight case, so I added it to this now four-piece hard blue Samsonite luggage set.

Perhaps in those years, a highlight for this luggage was a flight to a location outside our country involving a Miami layover on a hot night filled with heavy humid air that brought moisture exuding from my skin as I stood outside my room in the moonlight not yet ready for sleep. Later I learned this classic weather condition had preceded a hurricane that moved-in the next day soon after my flight's departure which included a short stop in Panama before reaching the South American country of Ecuador.

Upon arrival I had some concern the luggage had chosen to stop somewhere else along the way, but fortunately not too much time lapsed before the bags were delivered to me. I'm never quite sure when the luggage doesn't arrive when and where I do, whether or not the bags had a mind and agenda of their own, or if other more animate forces have come into play making erroneous choices that have influenced the outcome of the bags travel destination.

I had a fun, interesting and educational two weeks visit with family there, but the return flight with my young niece had an unscheduled departure delay of a day or so. I was told such a delay was typical of the more casual approach to time and schedules there. A stop in Peru, was followed by another unscheduled stop in Jamaica. This latter stop, when I first looked out the window as the plane was descending, left the visual impression we were going into the ocean. Since this wasn't a seaplane, for a short time it made an interesting diversion in this return trip. All the while I hoped my luggage would float and would not desert me willingly or otherwise. I was relieved when it was not required to float and later arrived on the ground when and where I did.

There were other trips, mostly to eastern U.S. locales, but eventually, those suitcases were treated to a honeymoon trip north, that included exploring the upper peninsula of Michigan. Then, there were all sorts of trips to the north, south, east, and west USA via auto and a few in a small single engine aircraft. Not too long after the honeymoon, luggage styles were changing with the bags exterior beginning to soften. Eventually, one Christmas I was given a new set of blue softer-cased luggage. I felt obligated to use it some. I never liked it as well as my Samsonite that symbolized so much to me -- freedom, adventure, travel.

There was no thought of parting with the Samsonite luggage then, and great reluctance now. In the meantime, the second set of softer luggage has given way to new luggage that is even more soft, with wheels and handles, partitions, more zippers and pockets than I can count. What this means is, that often I can't remember which pocket holds what. Oh well, I can still cram lots of my "stuff" inside, and it even protrudes outward to allow me to put in more stuff.

As if that's not enough, I still have my husband's old Samsonite hard luggage, and he had a piece even bigger than my biggest one. Then, there's also the newer softer replacement luggage he had. I'm not just sure, but I might even have a piece or two of my mother's older luggage stuck away somewhere around here. But, wonders of wonder, it's quite possible I might actually have parted with her old luggage, the age of which would have preceded my Samsonite. Seems to me I remember just some rectangular shaped boxes with snap locks and carrying handle. The exterior consisted of thin lightweight materials, perhaps a little thicker than a heavy cardbord, or maybe a thin plywood-like material that formed the suitcases shape.

Now that I've started thinking about the old luggage, and writing this, questions come to mind. Has the time come to part with some of this luggage as just more "baggage" amongst my belongings? Why am I keeping some of this luggage, anyway? Should I leave smaller pieces of luggage inside bigger pieces for storage, or should I use each of the individual bags to store other "stuff" inside, and then I can store the bags -- somewhere? Rental storage areas are not a solution for my needs.

I live in a California style one floor plan house -- no attic suitable for storage purposes, no basement at all, only my garage for storage, which has quite enough, thank you. How could life get so complicated? I've found these ponderings about luggage as excess baggage coming to mind ever since, on one of those earlier blog pieces I mentioned above, Buffy (see Arrrgh sidebar link) made a comment triggering these thoughts. As if I can't think of enough complex problems I need to work out, blogging friends have to introduce even more. Thanks a lot! ;-)

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


Some or all who read this probably know the routine of having to suddenly take on tasks with which they have previously been unfamiliar. The past six months or so, since my husband passed away, I've been doing just that. I am reminded of all this, because it suddenly occurred to me that one more unfamiliar task is approaching with the end of the year. State and federal income tax figuring can't be far behind.

Over the years I made an effort to try and understand how various vital but menial tasks were accomplished for the efficient functioning of our household, even though I was not the one who would be performing some of them. When that unexpected day arrived that I had to assume those responsibilities too, I was surprised that procedures which had seemed quite simple, seemed a bit more complex than I imagined. I expect that was probably because I hadn't actually performed the steps or process on a regular basis.

For example, I've spent a lot of time these past months reading instruction manuals, studying picture diagrams labelled A, B, C, etc. They say, "If you have Model ..." whatever, followed by 17 digits with a few alphabet letters thrown in "... go to Figure 12 ... but if you have Model ..." 17 more digits and alphabet letters mixed in "... then go to Figure 13 ..." Then, do this or do that, but if this happens, do another thing. Be sure to turn this off before you do that. If none of this works, try something else.

The time also came to tackle systems with no written instructions. I remember years ago when my husband was trying to figure out two different sets of security-type lights without benefit of an instruction manual. He would become so frustrated, and I was so glad to not have to even think about the problem, much less resetting them as daylight and darkness hours gradually changed, along with the human-devised Daylight Savings Time coming and going, complicating matters even further. I've only been able to find the control for one system, and that's the one my husband could never get to work right. I think I need to reassess these pain-in-the-tush lights for possible conversion to a more current digital operation.

Then there were the separate front and back sprinkler systems with his subsequent changing controls and two different systems, the care and cleaning of the permanent filter in the air flow system for the air conditioner and the furnace, remembering when to put out the trash then adjusting for delays with holidays. Keeping all the trash sorted correctly in the first place has been a great boon though we had pretty much become accustomed to doing that -- environmental greenery in one container, but certain other green items have to go into the regular trash. Then, of course there are the recyclable papers, bottles, cans, etc. in a third container. I'm keeping it all straight, pretty well. I'm getting everything put out to the street on the right day, even adjusting correctly for holidays. I'm glad our community is so environmentally concerned, so I'm not complaining.

And then there are the vehicles, as if all the above wasn't enough. My husband had managed complete care of the automobiles, including keeping the gas tanks filled (we have to pump our own gas in Calif.,) oil and air filter changes, tire pressure checked, cars washed, etc. Years ago when he wanted to be in control of the autos, I had been happy to relinquish the responsibility for all these tasks to him.

I haven't pumped gas since I was fifteen, when girls/women didn't do those kinds of things. I had a summer job at this stop-in-the-road little store/gas station. Today it would be an auto mart, only self-serve. But in the early 1950's more than a few drivers were shocked when I checked the car's oil, too, as the couple who owned the operation expected. But, the owners where I worked didn't allow me to go near the cash register, or behind the counter. They had stashed back there items in little packages they usually and secretively sold to men, that my underage eyes should not see. I also, had to do double duty in their personal kitchen at the back of the store. That was when I determined I would never ever own any cooking utensil with a copper bottom based on all the scrubbing of theirs I had to do day after day after day. But...I have digressed.

There are many menial but important tasks to keep life running smoothly. These are just some of the ones with which I was confronted these past months.

None of these tasks are that difficult, it's just the unfamiliarity of how to go about certain ones, even though in my single days many years ago some of them I handled without a second thought. But a lot has changed since then. I'm having to take the time to figure out all of it. Integrating these activities into my schedule of responsibilities has required some adjustment. Sometimes, when some new unexpected task has emerged, it has seemed like the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.

There is a feeling of accomplishment and confidence as familiarity through the repetition of doing becomes more commonplace. Occasionally, during this process, some small seemingly insignificant interaction with a heretofore stranger can acquire magnified importance, if only for the moment.

The other day I visited a service location with which I was quite unfamiliar. I had occasion to speak with several different employees in charge of various phases of the business. Sometimes I asked what I imagined sounded like rather dumb questions. Each time, I briefly explained how long we had been customers, that handling this task was new to me and why. Everyone was courteous. After I had completed my final contact, a supervisor who had overheard that conversation quickly turned to me and said, "We'll take good care of you here. If you ever have any questions, just come to see me."

It was the end of my busy day, the end of a hectic several weeks and month and I was tired. The thoughtful message from that supervisor was just what I needed to hear. I left that business establishment with a nice warm feeling of confidence that I would, in fact, be taken care of there in good fashion in the future. I felt renewed encouragement that I would be ready for whatever the next unexpected challenge might present. I thought again, the world really is filled with nice people, despite negative experiences we sometimes have, all the news we hear to the contrary.

Friday, December 08, 2006


December 7th has passed, and I did not hear mentioned what occurred on that Sunday in 1941 on any radio station, TV station, from any individual, or read about it in any publication or blog I encountered yesterday. I should qualify that report by stating my exposure to all of those sources was quite limited, as were the short intervals of free time I had throughout the day and the evening to encounter, or specifically search for such information. In years past, in the same circumstances, the absence of such mentions would not have been the case, but I am quite confident that surely the topic has been written about and discussed somewhere, perhaps quite extensively and I just didn’t have time to become aware of it.

Maybe the time has come to concentrate our commemoration on Memorial Day in May and Veterans Day in November each year to honor those lives specifically lost on that fateful December 7th and all veterans. We do not want to forget those individuals, the lessons of that day, or that war, World War II. We want to continue to honor all those who contributed to our countries survival as a nation. We have had no war remotely equivalent to it since, in terms of needing to respond defensively using offensive tactics. The maiming, death, and dying, of course, are always present in all wars. Have we become desensitized to these losses?

Whether or not this anniversary has received attention elsewhere, I was given pause for thought about the day, the significance of the subsequent events, our country and our place in the world. This is the date, when I was just a young child, the history books refer to as “The Day of Infamy” for it was on a 1941 Sunday morning in what is now our state of Hawaii at Pearl Harbor that the United States of America was attacked, beginning our engagement with the forces in the Pacific arena determined to take over our country in World War II, often abbreviated WWII, aka “The Big One.”

These are two of many sites to search for additional information:

Many years later as a young mother in her mid-thirties, long after the end of WWII, I stood on the landing area at Hickam Air Base on the island of Oahu in Hawaii where our Air Force had experienced so much loss that December 7, 1941. I was acutely aware of the ground on which I stood, remembering what happened those many years earlier. I was awaiting the arrival of a young non-military loved one, who might not have been present had his father not survived military service in the Pacific arena during WWII.

I wonder how many younger people realize that had our country and our Allies in other countries not prevailed, the United States of America would not exist as the democracy (republic) in which we have been privileged to live since the end of WWII ?

My family now includes Hawaiian members who were living in those islands in 1941, other family members who served in the U. S. Armed Forces during that war. We all thought, as did those who lived through World War I, including some of my family, that WWII would surely be the “war to end all wars.” We were mistaken.

Since that time we have had a “war” that was referred to as a “Police Action.” We later had a war our country initiated based on a known false report of an “enemy” attack on our military. In that instance we were quite sure that would never happen again. We were mistaken.

Most recently we find ourselves once again embroiled in a war, which like the previous one, which was started on known false reports, this one, too, resulted in serious issues dividing not only the people of this country, but the people of this world. I would like to believe that when this war ends, that we will not make that mistake again.

We also thought at the end of WWII, as the pictures, black and white news reels, and first-hand stories of the horrors of genocide revealed the Holocaust, as we became aware of the atrocities in concentration camps, as we learned about the unspeakable acts against non-combatant civilian men, women, children, babies, the fetuses yet unborn, by those we knew as our enemy, that never again would this be allowed to happen in this world. We were mistaken.

What has to happen so that we are not doomed to repeat all these mistakes in the future?

Sunday, December 03, 2006


Football Prediction Correct: My astute sports analysis courtesy of my husband and for fans of college football, the Big Ten Conference:
Ohio State University #1 -- University of Michigan #2

Why is it that we can be uncomfortable going to a restaurant alone, even under ordinary circumstances, much less a holiday? Is it simply because we're uneasy about what other people will think? "Ah, she doesn't have any friends, poor thing. I wonder what's wrong with her?"

Claude had an interesting account in a recent post at Blogging In Paris (link on sidebar) of her adventure eating out alone in Paris after her husband died. Comments to her along with those in my piece about my "Thanksgiving Adventure Alone" keep circulating in my thoughts.

I've noticed, and even done this myself on past occasions, that people, mostly women, eating alone, or maybe just having coffee, will bring along a magazine or usually a book to read. Men typically have a newspaper. Now why would we do that? Are we uncomfortable just sitting there looking around, noticing some others glancing at us? Are we wondering what they're thinking -- about us? Do we need to feel occupied somehow to convey we are engaged?

Maybe some of us alone at a restaurant just want to read, while enjoying having someone wait on us. Maybe when we don't bring reading material we simply want to contemplate our thoughts. Maybe we're just passing through from one place to another and this is a meal and rest break. Must be lots of other reasons why someone would eat alone.

In my case in the last thirty years or so, when I most recently started eating alone on occasion again, I was reading textbooks for classes I was taking, or using precious moments to bone up on information I would need to know for testing purposes later. In other instances when classwork was no longer a focus, I sometimes had other household organizational notes I was making. Then, there were those occasions when I simply was there to eat, or just have a relaxing cup of coffee with nothing to occupy me -- a break between my household responsibilities and those for my mother at her residence.

As I recall those years with my mother, I think of all the press about the boomers being a "sandwich generation," as though this was new. I think about all of us who were "sandwiched" long before the boomers were singled out as somehow unique in this regard. I don't think many boomers are so naive as to believe all the press put out about them, but I don't think it hurts to remind those who might believe that rhetoric, that many in the older generations have been there, done that, too, -- working, school, family, parental/other family member care. But I'm digressing from the topic of eating alone in public.

I can recall somewhere in the past when I initially had occasions to eat alone, sometimes having an uncomfortable feeling. I think I must have realized at some point how self-centered and egocentric my attitude was, to think all these other people would be paying that much attention to me, after a possible casual glance when I first appeared. I couldn't help being reminded of the similarity with that early teenage stage when many youth believe the world revolves around them. Some want to hide away from any they don't know and can become quite sensitive if any stranger even looks in their direction, much less directly at them.

I think also, going to a new restaurant filled with unfamiliar faces can cause a bit of anxiety. I think there is much to be said for returning to an older familiar establishment if someone is uncomfortable eating alone in a new restaurant. In my experience, as with other businesses I frequent, the faces become familiar, the staff or other repeat customers recognize my face and I theirs. I soon find myself thinking of the environment as familiar, welcoming and the people friendly.

Certainly the experience might be enhanced by the fact that I would never short change the staff on their tip, since they have to pay income tax based on the size of my bill whether or not they get a tip. Based on previous experience, I concluded since sometimes I ordered a larger meal (larger tip,) that when I only wanted a cup of coffee they didn't begrudge keeping my cup filled when that was all I ordered.

Now, I will confess that there can be some risks for a woman eating alone in a restaurant. Fortunately they are few, but not too many years ago I had a young man begin a conversation with me. He seemed quite sociable and not unattractive. At some point it became quite clear that he had mis-perceived why I was there and had an agenda quite different from mine. When the light dawned on me what he was about I gently but laughingly said to him, "Don't you realize I'm old enough to be your mother?" When that didn't deter him, I added, "I have a son who's probably close to your age." He seemed unbothered by that information. The fact that I was married was of no importance to him either. Perhaps if I didn't take commitments seriously, or I had been single, I might have viewed the situation differently. Circumstances as they were, I wasn't interested in getting into further conversation with him, so that was that. Perhaps men may, too, find their presence alone interpreted by an occasional other as erroneously indicating they're searching for companionship.

But then you don't have to be alone for others to take note. I was with my mother and my two small children in a restaurant one evening about twenty-five years ago, when I glanced somewhat repeatedly at a seemingly familiar face who happened to observe my glances. The next thing I knew the waitress told me he was picking up my check. I thought what the heck, why not accept, so nodded a thank you from our distance and kept trying to figure out why he looked familiar.

Some time after we had left, it dawned on me that he was the lead actor in a new detective TV series I had watched the night before on which, coincidentally, a friend of mine had had a role. I was sorry I hadn't made an effort to talk with the man who bought our dinner. He probably was feeling flattered that he was being recognized, which would have told him that I had viewed his TV show.

More holidays will soon be upon us, in fact several, in the order of their calendar advent: Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and that's not even counting New Years and events of the new year. There are many reasons why any one of us could be alone on a holiday or any ordinary day. If you happen to be out and about as a couple, with other family or friends, and notice someone alone at a restaurant, you probably don't necessarily need to feel sorry for that person. It just might be they are welcoming the time alone to themselves. Whatever the circumstances, which you likely will never know, a warm and friendly smile will probably be welcomed.

I surely hope anyone who may find themselves considering eating out alone whether on just a regular day or evening, or a holiday, will place the convenience, pleasure and enjoyment they can derive from the experience well above any concerns they might have about being alone.

Holidays alone may be more challenging, especially if we've been accustomed to being with others. Enjoy the meal, being waited upon, and treasure those memories of other times which you can summon forth with each bite of food and sip of beverage you take.

Being able to be alone and not lonely has been my experience almost for as long as I can remember, having long ago become comfortable with myself. This doesn't mean that I don't miss other people who may now be forever absent from my life. I, too, sometimes wish that others who are elsewhere, or otherwise engaged, might be physically present with me. But, I do have my memories, thoughts and can contemplate future plans.