Merry Christmas!

December 26, 2015

By the time you get this, it will be several days after Christmas. I hope all of you had a peaceful, calm and happy day with people you love and who love you!

Prior to the beginning of the holiday season, I have to admit that I was concerned that it would be difficult to get through. Many of my peers here with experience in this area said that time slowed down and that it was the toughest time of the year.

Well, I am happy to report that I was completely wrong! The holiday season has flown by and has actually been quite wonderful for the most part! And like all things in life, it has been the little things that have made it nice.

The first indication that all would be OK was early in December when I had a meeting in the visitation room and it had just been decorated for the season. The guys who decorated did a great job and it totally transformed the room. A beautiful old fashioned tree in the corner with gits, Santa and elves (this is in the background of the picture my Mom posted on Facebook and used on her and Les’ Christmas card), hundreds of ornaments hung from the ceiling and ribbons and baubles around the posts.

And then the decorations in the dorms! We have some amazing artists in our unit (go Unit A!). Of course we have the decorated tree with the presents below. But these guys created Santa’s home from scratch complete with Santa’s chair and a sleigh with reindeer on the roof (you should see the antlers!). In a nod to the reboot of the Star Wars franchise, they created a life-sized R2D2 as well as a “Minions” character and — for good measure — a Mickey and Minnie Mouse. It’s a bit of a hodgepodge but it works! Sadly, we came in second in the judging competition; even though the carolling group (including moi) sang live! I think we were robbed! Seriously though, it brings a smile to my face every time I walk by the display. Kudos to the guys who worked so hard on it! And also kudos to camp management and staff for encouraging activities that bring a little joy to what is a very difficult time of year for many.

Maybe it is just the prism through which I am viewing things, but I have also noticed that everyone – staff and inmates – have been kinder and quicker to smile the past few weeks. I have been the recipient of small, unexpected kindnesses that have warmed my heart. There are some truly wonderful people here who really care. I even was invited to and attended a Hanukkah celebration with a rabbi who had driven all the way up from Beverly Hills!

We had a yummy Cornish game hen and cheesecake for lunch yesterday. And the camp Christian fellowship put on a special event last night with a tostada bar and a special showing of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Over 100 attended and it was very special. I’ve seen the movie many times but it had a special resonance seeing it here. A lot of guys worked very hard to pull this off and everyone was very appreciative.

And by now I guess I should not be surprised that my outside support network has been amazing (yes, I know I use that word too often but it applies!!!!). I cherish every card, letter and email and am so humbled that my journey has touched and even inspired so many people I love — and even people I don’t know! (A special hello to all the people who read this whom I don’t know!!!). I must say though that my favourite card was from Tito Puente (our little terrier/Chihuahua mix). The front of the card was a “selfie” where he dressed in his Christmas sweater and was sleeping on a pillow. Inside, he wrote, “I miss you walking and feeding and playing and singing to me. Mr. Ken is taking good care of me and I am trying to take care of him! Please come home to us soon!” He’s such a sweet and handsome boy! (that’s for you H & S!).

And because Christmas is a “free day” when it comes to visitation “points,” I will have more visits this month (five) than any month since I arrived! Mom and Les started it off at the beginning of the month, followed by the fabulous and always entertaining Suzie and Mur. Mom and Les dropped by again (are they great or what?) yesterday for a couple of hours on their way to Tuscon via Palm Springs. In fact, they spent the night with Kenny last night and are there today and tonight as well. Kenny is getting up at 3am tomorrow to come and visit me and will be driving back the same day. What a great way to finish up the holiday season!

This whole experience continues to surprise me. Of course, I would have given anything to be home for Christmas but it ended up being the best holiday season it could be and for that, I am thankful!

Love to you all!!!!


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