Friday, December 31, 2010


In Boston it's New Year's Eve, but here in the Philippines where I'm on vacation, it's 8:50 a.m. on New Year's Day and I find myself thinking of highlights of the past year with tremendous gratitude. I refuse, you see, to make New Year's resolutions. Instead I want to make a gratitude list, and though each day I could probably list a dozen things for which I'm thankful, when looking back over the course of 2010 some amazing experiences stand out in my mind and make me sadder than usual to see a year pass, though deeply happy too for the blessings it brought.

New Year Gratitude List, 2011

2010 brought me...

10. Christmas with my parents and one of the best New Year's Eves I've had with my husband, kids, and favorite cousin - a beach party in beautiful Boracay.
9. The chance to meet a favorite composer.
8. A visit to relatives in Russia and the opportunity to learn more about this amazing country.
7. The chance to see friends I hadn't seen in YEARS, in New York and St. Petersburg, and to deepen friendships with those close by.
6. A relaxed afternoon in Bryant Park with my family, followed by an unforgettable meeting with one of my daughter's artistic role models.
5. A memorable trip to Maryknoll with one of my favorite cousins and the opportunity to talk to someone who has seen and experienced more than most in her 92 years.
4. The production of a life-changing concert which also brought new friendships and insights.
3. My daughter singing a very moving solo at a performance we worked hard to produce.
2. Moments with my husband I'll always treasure - watching floating lanterns over the beach on New Year's Eve, leaning toward each other on a train from Manhattan to Tarrytown whispering quietly about a special shared memory, and other seemingly small buy very meaningful moments.
1. The continued health and growth, physical and intellectual, of two beautiful, wonderful, compassionate, joyful children.

For these and so many other things, I am thankful. Now on to my bucket list... :)

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

"In the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the City of David there has been for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:8-12

The shepherds in Luke's gospel remind me of anesthesiologists. They made a living by keeping watch, protecting. Their work, if they did it well, looked easy enough (though it wasn't) and lacked glamour, and its proof was a preservation of stability, which of course looks the same as "nothing happening" even though in fact much energy is put into achieving that undisturbed state. They remained anonymous and, on the margins of Bethlehem life both geographically and socially, got little recognition for what could sometimes be a dangerous job. When dramatic things did happen, whether terrible or wonderful, like all people who avoid getting smug or arrogant about life, they paid attention and allowed themselves a fully engaged response - a quickened pulse, a widened gaze, a readiness to go where they were needed. They maintained a capacity for wonder and reverence for life despite a largely tedious existence. The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light.

This Christmas I am thinking of the shepherds and feeling a sense of camaraderie across the eons. Their not-so-secret message for me this year, I think, is a reminder to stay open to wonder, to run toward it every chance I get. I'd like to think if their ghosts could look my way across the thousands of years and miles that they'd give me a friendly nod as well, and permit me to rejoice with them in the thought that when Christ was born, the angel of the Lord invited to the baby Jesus' side not the rich and famous, or the prominent and "important," but the anonymous who kept watch at night and did their work in silence and solitude.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Treats

Anesthesioboist's Chocolate-covered Peanut Butter Balls

Melt 1 stick of butter.
Stir in 1/2 c packed brown sugar.
-1 16oz. jar creamy peanut butter (about 1 1/2 c of PB - I use Peter Pan)
-1 1/2 to 2 c powdered sugar
-1 c graham cracker crumbs
-1/8 to 1/4 tsp salt
-1 to 2 tsp vanilla
and mix well.
Roll into 1-inch balls (about 50 of them) and chill.
Melt contents of a 12oz bag of semisweet chocolate chips with 2-4 Tb shortening.
Dip chilled balls into chocolate to coat, place on wax paper, and chill to set.
Let come to room temperature, then eat (they taste better at room temp).

Recommended non-edible treats of the season:

Books: Wishin' and Hopin' by Wally Lamb; The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey by Susan Wojciechowski; The Fourth Wise Man by Susan Summers; Two from Galilee by Marjorie Holmes; A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Movies/TV: A Christmas Carol (George C. Scott or Jim Carrey as Scrooge); Elf; By the Light of the Silvery Moon; The Grinch Who Stole Christmas; A Charlie Brown Christmas; A Pinky and the Brain Christmas; Little Women; The Nutcracker (Baryshnikov's or the new one by the Royal Ballet)

Music: John Rutter/The Cambridge Singers, Boston Pops, Vince Guaraldi Trio, Carols from the Yard, Candlelight Carols by the choir of Boston's Trinity Church

Places to visit: New York City, Canterbury Shaker Village (NH), and of course, BOSTON!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

On Guadalupe: An Old Favorite

Last year I wrote a post retelling the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe from the point of view of Juan Diego, the peasant who saw and spoke to her almost 500 years ago.

That's always been one of my favorite posts, so I'm reposting it today in honor of the anniversary of the first apparition, December 9, 1531.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

If You're in the Boston Area This Week...

Please come and see Missionaries in Concert, a production I've been involved with for a while. It's a powerful tribute to four U.S. church women who were murdered in El Salvador in 1980. The lyrics are based on the women's letters and journals, and the music by Elizabeth Swados is amazing.

Performances are at 8 p.m. and take place on
December 2 at B.C. High School,
December 3 at the Paulist Center in downtown Boston (Park Street),
and December 4 at the Church of St. Ignatius of Loyola (Boston College / Chestnut Hill).

The beautiful painting above is by artist George Bard and was commissioned especially for this New England premiere.