Friday, December 29, 2017

Bargain Banter (and I'm Not Talking about Shopping)

Melinda Palacio           
All I Want for Christmas Is an End to the Fires!
Melinda and Santa Claus
Bargaining season came early, or late, depending on how you look at it. Usually the first of the year is the season for new year's resolutions and deals struck for self improvement. And, for some, this bargaining continues through lent or until I can forget that I even need self improvement, or until beach weather rolls around and it's time to think about fitting into two pieces of cloth for days spent on a tropical beach.
            When fire struck Santa Barbara and threatened our house in San Roque, I started praying like a football player in the Superbowl, hoping for that Hail Mary thrown with eyes closed to reach just the player to deliver a win for the Saints of New Orleans. The Thomas Fire broke out December 4 and burned Ventura and Santa Barbara counties for nearly a month and is now the worst fire in California's history. After two weeks of nonstop ash raining down on the town, I queued in line with small children to ask Santa for the best Christmas present that would benefit not only myself, but entire communities of children of all ages. I prayed to all saints and vowed to light a candle for Saint Barbara at St. Louis Cathedral in New Orleans, where I awaited news about the fire.
Thank you Jesus! 

            My California neighborhood of San Roque had been under mandatory evacuation since the second week of the fire. I thought about all the possessions, including my old silver Chevy Camaro convertible, I had to be ready to give up to the fire from long distance Louisiana. When my friend, Susan, left her Mission Canyon home to evacuate at her son's house, she thought she was closing the door to her home for the last time.
            Steve, had perspective much quicker than I did, 'they're just things,' he said. True, they're just things.
            I am lucky and grateful for all that I have and every extra minute I breathe on this planet. When your mother dies young (mine at age 44), you feel like you are living on borrowed or extra time. Every minute is a gift and for that and the opportunity to share my art and words with the world, I am grateful. I am also besides myself happy that the fire is finally 90 percent contained and that my house and car survived. Thank you firefighters, thank you Santa Claus, thank you Jesus!

            I don't need a resolution to make 2018 better than last year (a change in the White House wouldn't hurt either, psst, Jesus, Santa Claus, Three Kings, anybody out there listening). I have a new book coming out in the new year and I have been given the gift that keeps on giving, music. Steve gave me a gorgeous guitar for my birthday last month and I've already learned several new songs. I think everyone should give the gift of music, even if you are a professed shower singer, like myself. Here's to being grateful for another minute, another day, another year. Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!
Go forth and make music!


Susan Chiavelli said...

And a Happy flame-free New Year to all of us!

Chris Wiltz said...

Melinda (and Steve), I am so glad your Santa Barbara house was spared. I have been worried for you all; Karen has kept me up-to-date. I share so many feelings you have shared with us: hope for this coming year at the head of the list. We mustn't let hope flag, but, as you say, Melinda, be glad for every breath we take. Also, you talked about your mother dying young and your "borrowed" time. My mother died young as well, and I have had that feeling for many years. Thanks for sharing it; it made me feel better that someone out there understands what I am talking about and feeling as I count the years since her death.

Happy New Year! May we see each other in this new year!