Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Great Gifter

I woke up much later than I normally would have on Christmas morning that year. We'd just buried my sister a week earlier and Christmas seemed pointless at best. The one thing I wanted...I couldn't have: My sister sitting on the couch, curled up in a blanket with Christmas light twinkling in her eyes. Still, I trudged through that morning pretending that I gave a #$@%. Mom sat near the tree while I passed out the presents. I lifted the tag of a gift that wasn't there a few days before to see Angie's bubbly script underneath. I was shocked.

"How did this happen?" I asked my mother.

"Angie had all her shopping done early. Wrapped and everything." Mom said with a smile.

Angie had a very meticulous mind. Every choice she made and every moment she planned was done with the greatest of care. Christmas was no different. She didn't just like to give gifts...she liked to give the BEST gift of the day. The one that would make eyes sparkle with excitement and a smile widen just a little bit more.

The final months of 1993 were not healthy ones for Angie, but Mom told me that Angie managed to find the time to finish her Christmas shopping and wrap her gifts in between hospital stays. Again, I must remind you—as I do with every "Angie Story"—that this was before the internet and the convenience of shopping at your fingertips. If her shopping was going to get done, then Angie had to expend the energy she didn't have to do it. A daunting task for a young lady struggling to breathe.

Angie didn't want my mom to come so it could be a surprise for her too, so she spent the day with one of her dedicated and newly-licensed friends traveling the harrowing roads surrounding the mall near our home and bearing the chaos of shopping madness. She walked every step, climbed every stair and made every decision in person. I can't imagine how exhausting that must have been for her, but she didn't care. When Angie set her mind to something there was no stopping her. Did she know her time with us was growing short? I'm not sure, but my guess is that Angie realized how precious her time was far before the '93 shopping season...

There was a blue envelope attached to the package. Inside the envelope was a card. On the front of the card was a penguin wearing a sweater sitting in a chair near a fireplace. It said:

"There is only one thing better than having a brother like you...."

On the inside it said:

"A RICH BROTHER! Merry Christmas!" 

There was another penguin dancing around all this money exploding out a of a Christmas stocking while the "sweater penguin" looked on with a smile. Tucked into this card was a crisp, clean hundred dollar bill.

"I bought the card and put her money in it. Angie had been saving that for something special. I think she meant you." Mom said with a wink and smile, both of us knowing it was probably for something girly and lame instead of her stinky brother. 

My eyes welled up with tears as I tore open the wrapped present to find "Garfield's Fifth Treasury" in my hands. It was collection of the lasagna-eating, Odie-beating cat's Sunday comic strips from the previous year. I was never a big reader, but I loved the comics. I loved the drawings and I loved to laugh. The Garfield comic strip had my sense of humor and I'd laugh out loud reading those comics for hours on end. Angie remembered that. 

As much as we were fighting during that "teenage sibling" part of our lives, she still took the time to show me she loved me. Maybe she knew that I would need more laughter and humor to survive. How right she was. I read that book every night for months before I went to sleep just to have a piece of Angie to hold on to. While this is a somewhat sad memory, it's also proof that Angie will always be here for me when I need her the most. And that is a WONDERFUL Christmas memory. 

You are missed, sister. Say hi to Dad, our Grandmas and Grandpas and the rest. Oh...and if you could...help hold me up right now. This year has been harder than others.

Peaceful Things and Happy Holidays,

Josh

Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Joshland Unfiltered Podcast: Episode 3 - Music, Musicians and Cystic Fibrosis: A "Breathe" Reunion

December's Joshland Unfiltered Podcast is up available for your listening pleasure! It's a "Breathe" Reunion with Rose Logue and Tess Dunn!



This podcast is the FIRST TIME the three of us have ever had an actual conversation together. That may sound strange, but you have to remember that we were flown in on different, barely overlapping dates that magical weekend in Seattle in 2009. Since then, we've all had our hand full with other projects, but have managed to keep track of one another. These two are like sisters to me and it's fate that this podcast debuts so close to Angie's "special day" when I need some sisterly love the most. I look forward to growing the eternal bond we have and getting know both Rose and Tess as the beautiful people they are.  

HUGE SHOUT OUT to Timmy G for editing this so quickly and being the straw that stirs the Joshland Podcast beverage! Also, love and peace to Matt's friends and family. He and Angie are loved and missed now and always.

In this podcast, We talk about the "Breathe Song Event", the enigma that is Matt Scales, Music and Cystic Fibrosis, their newest albums—"In Full Bloom" and "Honesty Box"—and what went into creating them. Plus, it wouldn't be a Joshland Podcast with a lot of silliness and laughter.

Download their albums on iTunes or find out how to purchase your own autographed copy of each of their albums for the best stocking stuffers in the universe!

Here are the links to the UK charity that Matt's family started in his honor and of course the AMAZING Breathe Song Event that features all of us including Matt.

Matt Scales Music Fund: 
http://www.mattscalesmusicfund.co.uk/matt-scales-music-fund.htm

The "Breathe Song Event": http://www.cfvoice.com/info/breathe/index.jsp


Download Rose and Tess' albums on iTunes or find out how to purchase your own autographed copy of each of their albums for the best stocking stuffers in the universe!

Check it out on our Podcast Player and subscribe to us on iTunes so you can download all the awesome shnizz! You're welcome. *ding*

Don't forget to:


Like our Facebook Fanpage



Peaceful and Podcasting Things,

Josh

Friday, December 7, 2012

Santa's Assistants

As I've blogged before, December has never been the best month for me. Honestly, I'd just assume skip over December all together. That way, I wouldn't have to stew in my grinchitized state until the New Year arrived and resolve to lapse on my resolutions like the rest of the population. At one point, I got to be so bah-humbuggish that my mother asked me if I had ANY good memories of Christmas. I told her I did, but the bad memories were so huge that they overtook the good memories in my mind for the time being. I wasn't mad at anyone, it's just how I felt about Christmas.

In order to avoid those angry feelings again (or at least lessen them), I intend to write a few good Christmas memories during December. So, without further delay,  here's "Navidad Historia NĂºmero Uno":
……

One Christmas Eve, once we got home from our a traditional spaghetti dinner at Grandma Miller's house, we put out "angel cookies" and a birthday card for Jesus, "Santa Cookies" and carrots for Santa and his reindeer and tenderly placed our letters to Santa in our stocking where we knew he wouldn't miss them.

Like any other child worth their salt on Christmas Eve, we delayed our bedtime for as long as humanly possible. Extended bedtime stories, bathroom breaks, extra prayers and giggly pretending to sleep in the hopes that we'd get a glimpse of the chubby fella with the beard full of cookie crumbs. And then the light threats came:

"If you don't go to sleep Santa won't come, remember?" Mom said with a firm and factual tone.

I looked at my mother like she'd farted in church and thought to myself "Crap, that's right! He's got that sixth sense thing that only moms, animals and the Tooth Fairy have. FINE! I'll go to sleep!" And off to sleep I went, dreaming of…well…I dunno…Stuff little kids dream of. 

I awoke awhile later to a strange rustling coming from the living room. It scared the @#$% out of me until I realized it was probably Santa...which, when you think about it, is really messed up. Only on Christmas Eve do we feel like it's okay to let a weird old man in furry pajamas into our home. Any other day and it'd be a "stun gun and call the cops" type of situation. With that in mind, I mustered up the guts to peek around the corner, my plastic moulded triceratops held tightly in my grasp just in case it wasn't Santa. I'd used the triceratops on my sister a few days earlier, so I knew it could cause damage to a human if necessary. 

Sure enough, it wasn't Santa…It was my Mom and Dad. 

They must have heard the noise before me, so they'd come to check on the situation. There was Dad, examining what Santa brought me: A Castle GraySkull Playset and an Attack-Trak assault vehicle for my He-Man collection. He was pacing around it, making sure it was put together just right. Then he put fresh batteries in the Attack Trak…something Santa must have overlooked in his haste to stay on schedule. I'm sure Dad inspected Angie's toys too, but I couldn't be bothered to pay attention to that stuff. Girl toys were dumb. I'm sure Santa got her something good, though. 


I saw Mom taking a bite from one of the left over cookies Santa had half eaten. She knew Santa was probably full of cookies by the end of the night and she didn't want us to be disappointed. 

(Joshland Note: I've often wondered: Is Santa diabetic or do you think he's magically immune to insulin dependency?)

While I was watching my parents, I realized they were helping Santa do his job the best he could. It's something that I imagined lots of other parents and loved ones did that night too, making Christmas morning perfect for the kids in their family. A warm fuzzy feeling filled my heart as I ran back to my bed, giddy with anticipation for the butt crack of dawn when I could play with my toys and spend time with my family. The moment the sun shone through my window later that Christmas morning, I leapt out of bed, fell face first on the floor, cried for a minute and then sucked it up so I could head to the living room. With tears of pain and joy on my face, I opened the drawbridge of Castle Grayskull pushing my well-worn He-Man action figure through the door and into my imagination.

Angie joined me a short time later to play with her whatchamacallit girly toy, followed by my sloth-like parents. They were smiling ear to ear, Mom clinching her coffee and Dad nodding off in the corner of the couch. They looked exhausted as if they'd been working all night to prepare some kind of big to-do, but I knew better. I knew they helped a little bit and I was grateful, but Santa did all the work and Jesus kept him safe. Both working together to share the spirit of Christmas. We sang "Happy Birthday" to Jesus, had pancakes for breakfast,  and spent time together as a family giving lots of hugs and kisses and being thankful for everything that we had in our lives.
……

Little did I know how different our lives would become a few years later. Once I started writing this story, I was amazed at how vividly everything popped into my head and how precious that memory is to me.

As an adult who participates in both the religious meaning of Christmas and the traditions of Santa Claus, I can tell you they've influenced who I am. For every "Santa Claus is Comin' To Town" there was a "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing". For every Christmas cookie there was a prayer. For every stocking on the fireplace there were statues of wise men bearing gifts and a little baby in a manger. Both are people who we cannot see, but do things with great love in their hearts. God represents love, forgiveness, compassion and acceptance...things I believe in to my very core. Santa Claus is a wonderful example of generosity and giving without the need for reciprocation or acknowledgement…again, things I believe in to my very core. 

Whether you're religious or not, the meaning Christmas is always within your power. It is love, generosity and goodwill to all. How can that be wrong? 

Peaceful Things,

Josh

P.S. - Speaking of the spirit of season…

There's a 9 year old little boy named Dalton DIngus in Kentucky that needs a little extra love this Christmas. He's been sent home from the hospital early this year because he's in the end stages of his life with cystic fibrosis. His Christmas wish is to get a ton of Christmas cards. His friends and family want to make his dream come true and he's currently at 15,000+. It'll take a moment of your day to make this little guy smile forever. Here's the address, the rest is up to you. Send your amazing and happy cards to: 

Dalton Dingus HC 

62 Box 1249 
Salyersville, KY 41465

For those of you questioning if it's a hoax, it's not. He's been on Fox news in Kentucky and the local fire department shared a picture with him on their Facebook page. Besides the fact that it's a flippin' card and you're out a few bucks, a little creativity and a stamp. I think it's worth the risk.


What'd You Think?

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Peaceful Things ~ Josh
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