The other day at work I had the unusual job of sorting through donated Christmas decorations.  The donations came from the husband of a woman that supported the organization. She, unfortunately, passed away over the summer.  The widower was now in a convalescent center. A friend of his helped him collect their old Christmas decorations and deliver them to us to be donated to families in our housing program.  It was shared that this gesture of giving was in honor of her love for Christmas and desire to help others. Very kind.

Late Friday afternoon I set up a staging table to sort through the five boxes of decorations, dividing them up into containers for delivery later that day. Some items were in better shape than others. With each item I wondered, perhaps, it held a special place in someone’s heart and memory. These were precious to someone at one time.

A couple of times I felt myself getting spooked out by it, I’ll be honest. Especially when an ornament was broken and had to be thrown away. However, reason dominated the afternoon.  “Decorations are not HOLY,” I told myself, “items that require special handling.”  They are not Mezuzah’s for example; old or broken Mezuzahs MUST NOT be thrown away but buried.

“Even though it is the scroll that is the mitzvah, the case also becomes holy because it is used for a Mitzvah. Therefore the case should be brought to a genizah – that is a place where holy items are brought to be buried in the Jewish cemetery.”

The embroidered caricature ornaments of Mr. and Mrs. Clause or a broken snowglobe with a water-bubbled Frosty, arms full of presents, do not require special disposal like sacred communion wine and baptismal water.  Leftover blessed communion wine and the vessels used for serving MUST be washed in a sink that empties out into the ground.

“A piscina is a shallow basin placed near the altar of a church, or else in the vestry or sacristy, used for washing the communion vessels. The sacrarium is the drain itself. Anglicans usually refer to the basin, calling it a piscina. For Roman Catholic’s sacrarium is a “special sink used for the reverent disposal of sacred substances. This sink has a cover, a basin, and a special pipe and drain that empty directly into the earth, rather than into the sewer system”

Religion fascinates me.  All these different rules, detailed rules, stifling rules, people make up for the brand distinction.  Of course, at the root of many religious rules is the respect for the object and what it represents, such as the Word of God or the Blood of Christ.  So, how do you categorize a ripped 1978 cross-stitched fabric wall banner of a geriatric man with fancy cherry-red lips proclaiming  “HO! HO! HO!” that hung on a wall 23 days a year for 42 years?  CAN it be thrown away, in the trash, to the landfill?  Why yes it can—and it does.

The newsletter for Peninsula Sanitary Service, Inc (PSSI) and the Stanford Recycling Center located in Redwood City, CA, USA, reported Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year’s holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage or about 1 million extra tons per week!

PSSI and SRC suggest some rules: reduce, reuse.  

If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet. If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields. The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.

It is a delight for all non-profits to receive donations of any size shape and configuration. After going full circle in my thoughts I was happy that this family decided to donate their Christmas decorations to less fortunate families.  Standing over my staging table, I wondered at the stuff, so much stuff. I sorted through each shoebox, bag, and large plastic containers of Christmas ribbon and plastic snowflakes, Christmas candleholders, Christmas ornaments made of glass, plastic, ceramic, tinsel and yarn, Christmas tree toppers, Christmas banners, tree garland, Christmas wreaths for the table and front door, Christmas votives and Christmas coffee cups.  Whoever wanted a bag of evenly distributed items, they was ready.  I tossed out the few old and broken and passed forward future memory makers.

Here are some 2020 ornaments that caught my attention. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! Hope you are safe, warm, and bubbled up with folks you can tolerate.

Did he ever imagine while in medical school THIS would happen?
There are MANY like this, but the description -lol! “Commemorative 2020 Flickering Dumpster Fire Ornament – Limited Edition Christmas Gift
F-Bombs? YES! I dropped many of these throughout the year and well, the last four years TBH.
No thanks, I hate it.
RGB remembered
This year is not a shining star, and I don’t want to forget it. 2021 is a steep hill for countries, cities, towns, neighborhoods, and families to climb. We will never be ‘normal’ again. This year changed the world because it changed people, challenged us, hurt us all over. Let’s build something great from the ashes & rubble.







Poem: Covered

Photo credit JDR Hawkins.com 2016 “Not surprisingly, the Antietam battlefield is reportedly one of the most haunted places in the country. Visitors have heard gunfire and smelled gunpowder near the Bloody Lane when it was completely deserted, and many have seen ghostly apparitions in that area”



by Shannon Laws


I am the grass. Let me work

writes Sandburg


Grass fixes a battlefield with memory loss

Pile up your second-hand mistakes

bodies of unfinished work

blood of sacrificed Saturday nights

onto this field and wait—

two years, ten

Time heals but grass covers all.

Poem: Measured



by Shannon Laws


The one cup of measure

mountained with flour

mother pulls a butter knife

from the silverware drawer

taps it on the edge of the

kitchen counter two times

Pushing the jagged peak away

onto the counter covered in wax paper

she scrapes the knife’s flat back

across the cup rim evenly

revealing a smooth, flat plain as she goes

An exact one cup of flour.




Poem: Treasure Box


Treasure Box

by Shannon P. Laws


Single spine of a roof
cuts the home in half

Living space on the right
three bedrooms on the left
down a long straight hall

The house is their ribcage
holds golden promises
diamond hard hope
and two children

I see the white door smudged
gray around the knob
where working hands push

Gold drapes hang on either side
of the bay window like the lungs
of my chain-smoking parents



This poem was sparked from a prompt to write about your childhood home.  What do you remember about your childhood home?  Can you see the kitchen in the morning sunlight, the living room at night, the front door, the bathroom sink?

We lived in the same home for about 16 years.  I remember everything about it.  I can see the layout in my mind.  The gold carpet in the 70’s and the new blue carpet in the 80’s, the “modern” verticle blinds hung on the sliding glass door that opened to the long narrow backyard.

The next prompt I am exploring is describing a “childhood sanctuary”.   Did you have a secret place away from the grown-ups, away from trouble that was your quiet place?  What was in it, what did you do, what did it look like, how did it make you feel to be there, and what were you hiding from?

Hope you might be inspired to write your own childhood poem or a sanctuary poem.  Happy writing!  -Shannon

Pit Stop


Sandpipers at Ocean Shores

Pit Stop

Early morning air whistles past the plant on the dresser, kicks at a scarf hanging on my bed post, then finds the place in my mind holding childhood trinkets.  I surprise myself, reacting in song.  I sing an old folk song handled and dusted by time, passed down generation to generation.  An oil cloth recalls the brass plate, treasured like a trophy discovered in the attic, reveals the words “Oh My Darling Clementine.”

Wearing boxes without topses

Wind and song send me away.  I’m sitting in the back of my dad’s big green truck, singing with family; brother, cousins, Aunt Jo and mom.  Camping gear stacked strategically around us and beneath. Weather report checked in the morning Seattle Times, large blue tarps folded in squares under the red cooler.  The cooler is full of four days worth of food including butter, milk, cheddar, baloney, and beer, of course, beer.

I-5 smog blows through the broken floorboard near the tailgate, the only bare spot on the floor; it’s a leak to the outside world.  It looks like a tiger bite or a claw ripped at the wood.  I want to stuff a kitchen towel in it to seal the room.  Our only source of light comes from the long rectangular canopy windows.  Classic layout, men in the cab, women, and children in the covered bed with the other commodities. We sing to pass the time, the men listen to the radio.

It’s 1977, summer vacation, and mom has cut off our worn school jeans to mid-thigh. All our church clothes left quietly resting in the dressers at home. Anything ripped or stained is allowed to go to the beach

At the half-way point, we stop to refuel.

I do not know how I must have looked to the clerk at the gas station as I walked up to the counter with a handful of wrinkled dollars.  Did I resemble a poor latch-key kid abandoned by working parents or perhaps a tourist who lost their luggage, forced to purchase a salvation army wardrobe?  The back of my long black hair teased out from a short nap. Maybe she saw many kids buying Bubblicious and a blue slurpee that warm week in June.  She saw so many a day that she didn’t really see me, I blended in with the neighborhood kids, whatever that neighborhood was called, wherever we were.

Enjoying the cold Washington State waves

The night air brings it back to me.  I don’t know how.  Does memory ride the current like evergreen pollen, stains the skin with a fine yellow dusting?  Like that afternoon the San Juan woods seduced me to take the wrong turn, bending me towards a grove of pine in heat?

I travel a bit…

At the end of my childhood block is a field of sweet grass. Pull a large stalk, slowly, straight up, out of its hinge and you have a treat, chew the white sweet end for its nectar. One bite is all you get per blade. Take the flat half, place between your thumbs and blow.  We sat all afternoon chewing on sweet grass and whistling.  Why should I remember that?  That quiet moment found in a field, in South King County.

A few trees still stand there, ask them, they might know.

Remember.  Forget.  Remember again.

More wind. I am 10, I hear it all again. That vacation one summer…

The forest behind me, the constant waves crashing just over the dunes, the violent sound of a bag of ice thrown to the ground to break it up, the repeated clink of a male metal pump tapping rapidly along the female rim of a full tank.

“Kids, time to go!” An adult performs the last chore, drains the melted water pressed behind a flimsy white stopper at the cooler’s base. A solid stream of water hits the dusty oil ground with a poof!  Water skates to the lowest point, rainbows wiggle along the ground.  It’s pretty.  A fresh bag of broken ice opened, poured over the perishables.

The cooler, our snacks, ourselves tucked back into Big Green for the last leg of the trip.

A gray Ocean Shores day


My Secret Crush

Double Dare, Part II
This December I found myself on the dance floor of a New Years house party, covered in sweat, surrounded by others, who were proportionately sweaty, doing a combination dancing, and shouting out lyrics to classic songs.
During the song “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” by Queen, I bumped into a writer friend, Maria Mcleod.  “Ready Freddy!” she shouted, “Freddy! That was the name of my secret crush!”  This comment got my attention.  I too had a secret crush in school.   She shared her story, I shared her mine.  We each had a long lasting crush on someone for years, never told anyone. 
The Challenge
“I dare you to blog about your crush.  To tell the world that you loved that guy all those years!” I shouted over the music.  She agreed to the challenge.  Please read her story posted here:

So, in keeping with good form, here is my story:

I Crush Bobby F.

Sometime around 6th grade my eyes and heart found Bobby F.  He was perfect in my mind, the perfect guy; average height, great smile, dreamy blue, intelligent eyes, dark blond curly hair. He had a sweet laugh and was liked by everyone, although he didn’t belong to any specific cliques. I crushed him for over six years, from when I was about 12-18 years old, and never told ANYONE, ’till now.
I crushed him big time! He was perfect. I simply did not have the guts to talk to him. When we passed each other in the hallway at school Bobby’s profile glowed, he body captured the rays of the sun!  He was a cool breeze on a hot day, a tall glass of water quenching my thirst.  He was just so… so… oh my god, so, totally cute! 
In 10th grade I sat two chairs away from him in History. TWO. I loved it.  I loved being so close to my crush.  He was practically a man now.  His muscles filled in his polo shirt, and Levis, his checkered Vans properly scuffed.  Distraction does not describe my feelings!  Perhaps, if I touched him there would be a spark, and he would forever be in my life, like magic! I didn’t want to reach out. I wanted him to notice me, to touch me, to ask me out, to ask me to prom.  He never did. 
Federal Way Stadium
Federal Way Mirror News, photo
I played fullback on the High School soccer team.  The first High School girls team in the history of the Federal Way School District.  Once, during a rainy night game, Bobby came to watch with some friends.  When I saw him in the bleachers I freaked, “What’s HE doing here?  Oh my god, Bobby is here.  Does he have a secret crush on me and is here to see me?  Perhaps if I stand out in the game, make an awesome move, he’ll ask me out.” My mind raced to find reason.  
We were playing against Thomas Jefferson; those little b#%ch’s with blond pony tails, our biggest rivals. TJ Raiders versus Federal Way Eagles.
The game was close and heated.  Second half, a Federal Way run towards Thomas Jefferson’s goal turned bad.  Suddenly, a long pass to the TJ  forward I was guarding, placed the two of us head to head just on the Eagles side of the center line.  The forward faked me out with a quick move, and then took off toward our goal. FW fullbacks had previously moved up to support the momentum. The play was well outside the penalty box; I had plenty of time, if I could get to her. 

Federal Way Eagles, I am #6
Feeling Bobby’s eyes on my every step I turned quickly, running in overdrive, focused on the ball and the TJ forward’s feet.  I knew where I was on the field; I could see our goalie getting in position. In my peripheral vision, just to my left, our center fullback was coming in for support, but it was my move, that girl was in my zone

The TJ forward didn’t see me coming from behind, the gap between us closing… then she did it.  She made the mistake I look for.  It was a gift from the Soccer Gods and Venus herself.  Being the little stuck-up, as I knew she was, she assumed I was still at mid field, where she left me.  She thought she had the time to kick the ball just a little out, to position it for a strong kick at our goal.  I was one step away, the ball in the perfect place with my stride, -whooosh… SLIDE TACKLE!  NO CARD! 
She tripped over my feet, sliding belly first across wet turf.  For a few minutes, I heard cheering and wondered if one of them was Bobby.  “Did he see me?  Will he say something to me in History tomorrow?“, I asked myself.
…I wish
Bobby never noticed me.  I was just another student who walked the halls.  
My imagination, made him out to be more and more unattainable, and more desirable.  My feelings for Bobby slowly became like a special dessert hidden at the back of the freezer waiting for a guest that never arrives, or that bottle of champagne, set aside for a special moment, that never pops open. Anticipation at it’s worse.
I dated other guys, none from my school.  Mostly losers, like, the notorious dude from Auburn who picked me up for an AC/DC concert in a stolen car.  
Early summer, in our last year of High School, I realized Bobby and I would never be together.  I had more fun dreaming about our relationship than I had the guts to say “Hi” to him. It was time to let him go… well a little bit anyways.

Bobby turned into something surreal.  A mystery man, wanderer, the Authentic Stranger, a traveler among the stars, or an extra-terrestrial appearing suddenly, during a full-moon night, in order to initiate me into strange love games. A fantasy of a young woman.  

In my mind, my memories, I edit the moments.
We are young, meeting in a field sun shines on his golden locks,
he walks towards me and simply says “Hi”.
He touches me.
Then we kiss.
Off in the distance the sound of a champagne “pop” confirms,
my guest has finally arrived.
In 8th grade this is how I imagined our first kiss to be like,
except with different hair.