Two nights ago we stood under my mom’s Christmas tree, me, my brother, and my sister, for the first time in just about 13 years. It’s been that long since we have all spent the holidays together in California. Too long. There are some things in life that slip away from us, things that become tricky to unravel, and while I regret all the missed years and missed opportunities, I do not regret the ties and commitments that have kept us anchored to our holidays in New York. Life is what you make it. And ours has been (and continues to be) a good life. Too often regret stands in the way of gratitude. And I am nothing if not grateful.
Our seven days in LA were everything I hoped they would be. We fell asleep our first night to the sound of pouring rain on the roof (yes rain!!) and woke to the incredible sight of the mountains painted green and the sky crystal blue. It was LA winter as I remember it. One day chilly and grey, the next sunny and warm. Everything about this holiday was magical. And while my son and my nephew were showered with presents to unwrap, all of us took our greatest joy from the gift of simply being together.
Things I loved: watching the boys — old and young — pile into the car as they headed out to one adventure after another, baking Christmas cookies in my mom’s new kitchen, seeing snow on the mountains as we drove into Pasadena, visiting with family and friends, talking to my brother late into the night about politics and faith, the Riverside Festival of Lights, spending the day at the Autry Museum with my NY crew, and watching my son scour the shelves of an antique store for old redlines and die cast cars. It was, in fact, a perfect holiday.
And now, on the eve of a new year, as I struggle to hold on to hope and faith, a belief in our better selves, I have my memories of California to keep me warm. I need that now more than ever. In just three days, I will be a year older — maybe even a year wiser. I can barely grasp the fact that I will be turning 55 years old. My new year and birthday wish for myself is simply this: to stay strong, to keep fighting the good fight, to stand on the right side of history, to never be silent.
In the face of what 2017 may bring, these are the words I chose to live by.
“Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.” – John Wesley
Happy New Year, my friends. May the days to come bring peace and hope to our hearts. Whatever lies ahead, remember no one among us walks alone. We are together in this world, on this beautiful but fragile planet, and I will never stop believing that our most important task is to care for each other, protect each other, and love each other. This is my revolution.