The Artist’s Brush

I started 2013 on fire with passion and intention. I ended the year with illness and apathy. The beginning of the end was my annual “Christmas party”. In November 2008 I bought a new home and the party served as an invitation for my family to see the new place and celebrate the holidays. The small gathering of my immediate family has since grown to include a few friends and relatives I didn’t even know I had.

Though we still call it the Christmas party, it has actually occurred between the Christmas and New Year’s holidays in recent years. The party typically begins slowly, and quietly, with people trickling in. At some point the food is self-served in our signature informal fashion. The intention is not about stuffy formalities, rather, good food and fun in as comfortable an atmosphere as possible. By this time almost everyone has arrived and spirits of various sorts begin to take effect. Music of various genres fill the air until my mother makes her request for zydeco. And when mom requests zydeco, mom gets zydeco. That’s when things really start getting interesting.

Considering I am not much of a dancer, my living room turns into a dance floor every year. We’ve had everything from salsa dancing to line dancing and every form of music from zydeco to country to dance to pop to soul to reggae. A soul train line has broken out a couple of times and we even had a step show this year.

Throughout the day various conversations are taking place. One friend’s sole mission every year is to embellish, and I do mean embellish, stories about my past escapades and how neat I like to keep my surroundings.

At some point comes the ceremonial exchanging of gifts. Traditionally, we only give gifts to the children in the family. Of course, there are exceptions. I received an unexpected, and very generous, gift card to Starbucks this year. Given that some of the “children” are no longer children – three nephews over 21 and two nieces 18 – Santa Claus is streamlining his list for next year.

The exchanging of gifts is something of an intermission from music and dancing but someone eventually asks, “What happened to the music?” And the festivities resume. This year the festivities resumed and did not stop. Guests who left returned and had seconds and thirds of food and new guests arrived.

When it was all said and done, I threw a party that lasted 12-hours. Best one yet but I contracted the flu and passed it along to three or four people. I was sick as a dog for most of the party but didn’t experience flu symptoms until the next day…along with an unseasonable allergy attack.

The show must go on and go on it did. With the exception of passing the along the flu bug, I have no regrets because the greatest gift I receive all year comes from this assembling of family and friends. I love the fun we have together and there is no greater joy I experience than being with my siblings, nieces and nephews and the Zydeco Queen, herself, my mom.

I started this piece with the intention of writing about last year beginning with fire, passion and intention and ending with me lying on the couch with a 101.5 degree fever, body aches and chills. But I got lost reminiscing about my party. In truth the year began with a bang and ended with a bigger bang.

Getting sick was just the wisdom of my body creating the condition for me to slow down, be still and rest. The last two months of the year began with a hectic travel schedule that had me on the road and in the air for three weekends in November. No travel in the month of December but little rest as I began working on projects for the New Year.

The fire that propelled me into 2013 was extinguished as 2014 began. With no intentions set or goals identified, I entered the New Year sick and exhausted with little energy or motivation but after a week of stillness and rest I am coming back to life. The passions are stirring and the fire is igniting. The blank canvas of a new year is waiting the artist’s brush and this is my first stroke.

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