Tag Archives: gratitude

Silver Bells: On #Gratitude, #Xmas music & #GreekAmerican traditions. #MondayBlogs

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This past Friday I finished a first draft of the latest short story for my collection-in-progress, and wrapped work at my day job prior to a two week vacation. I gave myself permission to take a break after a busy last few months, but here I am compelled to write another blog post, the last of 2015 as I won’t–for sure this time–be posting next week. I guess I felt moved to share my take on the holidays, and again reflect–as I did around Thanksgiving–on all I have to be grateful for. So, here’s my latest list of holiday gratitude, 1-4 in no particular order, and rest assured I’ve checked it twice!

1. I’m grateful to be a published author: Chief among 2015’s personal highlights was signing the contracts with Booktrope to become a published novelist. I’ve never put much faith in the Law of Attraction–the philosophy that your thoughts manifest your reality–but I will say that from the time back in those grad school days circa 2009 that I began the initial draft of the novel which would become Wings of Wax, I constantly imagined it being published. Each time I sat down to write I envisioned a completed book between covers. Six years later, and my debut novel will be hitting shelves in March, 2016. Maybe the Law of Attraction does work to some degree. This is technically my second book (the first was a collection of short stories published when I was a teenager) but this one feels like the beginning! Maybe I did manifest my reality. In any case, I’m grateful for the opportunity to share my writing with readers.

2. I’m grateful for Christmas music. Sure, many tunes are a bit cheesy and over-the-top, but there’s something about the seasonal soundtrack that makes me smile. At their core, most Christmas songs speak of togetherness and possessing a generous spirit. That message is appropriate all year round, and these crisp evenings as I take the dog for a stroll after the day’s work is done, I’ve been listening to Soul and R&B renditions of classic holiday tunes: The Temptations’ rendition of Silent Night, Let It Snow by Boys 2 Men, and This Christmas by Donny Hathaway are all great selections.

3. I’m grateful to be in a position to give. It is better to give than to receive, so goes the old cliche. I’ll say it is wonderful to give and receive. I can give gifts, I can give love, I can give time, all of which bring a smile in return, and what a gift to receive!

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4. I’m grateful for a Greek spin on the holidays. Holidays are a time of tradition, of course, and in my family we continue to carry our own. For as long as I can recall we have hosted Christmas dinner. Growing up, when my parents were still together, the days leading up to Christmas were often intense. My Greek-immigrant father would grow moody, to say the least, in response to the rampant commercialization of the holiday, and often decry the Capitalist machine prior to decrying everything else. Opa! 🙂

But, alas, by the time the big day rolled around, things were okay again. Laughter and cheer were present as we opened our house to family and friends, everyone gathering to enjoy a typical Christmas meal of turkey and stuffing, albeit with a Greek twist. Alongside the holiday bird, there was village salad abundant with Feta cheese and Kalamata olives; Greek-style roast potatoes heavy on the lemon, garlic, and oregano; flaky, buttery, tiropita, and we made stuffing from a recipe passed down via my maternal grandfather who was from the island of Mytelini. It calls for chestnuts, figs, olives, bulgar wheat, Greek brandy, and other secret ingredients that make for a savory/sweet delight.

These days, Dad sends shipments of kourabiedes from Greece, and Mom travels up from Monterey to again claim her rightful place in the family home as Christmas preparations commence. We still do the open house party, Greek stuffing and all! There you have it, faithful readers. Rest assured, I’m grateful for you, too! Now to really take my break. May you all have happy, happy holidays abundant with traditions of your own! Καλα Χριστουγεννα και καλες γιορτες! I’ll look forward to seeing you in 2016!

In Praise of #Gratitude: 4 Things I’m Grateful For. #MondayBlogs #Booktrope

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A heart full of gratitude

“In ancient Greek, gratitude was expressed in terms of praising. When Greeks wanted to say ‘thank you,’ they said: ‘That is excellent, I praise you,’ καλλιστ, επαινω.’ [This] brings us to the observation that in the Archaic and Classical period many hymnic texts of the Greeks did express ‘thanksgiving.’ The praise of a god, the narration of her or his birth, famous deeds and gifts to mankind, all this functions as thanksgiving.” — Jan-Maarten Bremer from the book Reciprocity in Ancient Greece; Oxford University Press, 1998.

This ancient Hellenic interpretation of gratitude as a form of praise–not simply an expression of thanks, but rather a paying of homage to pedestal-worthy recipients–inspires this week’s blog post as I reflect on four things I’m grateful for this holiday season. I had plenty time to consider the topic while celebrating Thanksgiving with Mom and extended family down in Monterey, California. I took a break from the usual writing routine to stroll the seaside trails with Mom and her pair of greyhounds, my thoughts churning amid the continual rise and fall of ocean waves. Here, in no particular order, are four things to which I’m offering praise as November makes way for December.

1. Bi-weekly phone chats with Pops: Dad and I have been talking on the phone quite often, Saturday mornings, usually. It’s a nice way to start off the weekend as I’m able to catch up on the news from Greece–stories of the latest haul from my father’s olive grove, the abundant crop offering a rich oil, luminous liquid gold. We speak of my cousins and their growing families, the delicious meals cooked by thea Anna. These conversations also serve as a way to prevent my Greek from getting rusty. They inevitably end in laughter as Dad shares a joke or too, comical reminiscings from our previous travels together in the Motherland.

2. Conversations with Mom that turn into escavations of family history: Mom and I speak often of her side of the family; my yiayia and her three sisters, that quartet of larger-than-life women who were the subject of an entire blog article a couple weeks back. Their stories are epic, abundant tales of which I have yet to skim the surface, though I’m committed to fictionalizing them in depth at some point.

3. Health: This is an obvious one, but it’s so important. I’m thankful that I’m healthy, and that, for the most part, my friends and family are healthy as well. Those who happen to be battling illness at the moment are often in my thoughts and I wish them a fast, full recovery.

4. Friends and supporters: I’m fortunate to have substantial friendships, tight bonds with people I have known for much of my life. I’m also grateful for the people I haven’t known as long, but who have brought an undeniable richness into my life. I have love in abundance, and to all of you–friends, supporters, faithful readers of this blog and my other writings–I offer praise. I’m grateful for all the people at my publisher, Booktrope–my editor Jessica West, my marketing guru April Gerard, and so many more–for the energy and enthusiasm and tireless work they have contributed to this process of Wings of Wax making its way into print.

Now, what are you grateful for this season?