Friday, December 12, 2008

Simple Gifts (Gregg Cagno and Maggie Anderson)

Obviously we are all smarting from these recessionist times - the election of Barack Obama is a very good thing (Martha!)... but it's going to take time to turn the economy around.

I have been out of work for almost two months, we will spend a good bit of money traveling to South Carolina/
Georgia for the holidays and we are still in the midst of bathroom repair/renovation - enough said!

We had a family meeting a few months ago and decided we were going to set a $15 limit on presents for each other (as well as extended family and friends) - it's actually been quite fun sneaking, planning and buying within boundaries... and outside the proverbial box...

Cheers to the gift of creativity... :-)

SONG: Simple Gifts as sung by Gregg Cagno and Maggie Anderson (backstory and lyrics of the Shaker song here...)

Hundred Dollar Holiday: The Case For A More Joyful Christmas by Bill McKibben

POEM: Christmas 1963 by Joseph Enzweiler

Because we wanted much that year
and had little. Because the winter phone
for days stayed silent that would call
our father back to work, and he
kept silent too with our mother,
fearfully proud before us.

Because I was young that morning
in gray light untouched on the rug
and our gifts were so few, propped
along the furniture, for a second
my heart fell, then saw how large
they made the spaces between them

to take the place of less. Because
the curtained sun rose brightly
on our discarded paper and the things
themselves, these forty years,
have grown too small to see, the emptiness
measured out remains the gift,

fills the whole room now, that whole year
out across the snowy lawn. Because
a drop of shame burned quietly
in the province of love. Because
we had little that year
and were given much.

QUOTE: "The best of all gifts around any Christmas tree: the presence of a happy family all wrapped up in each other." ~ Burton Hillis


  1. Susan, I purchased Simple Gifts a couple of years ago after seeing Gregg at one of your house concerts (what a talent, and a cutie besides!), absolutely love it!

    I applaud you on your minimal-Christmas plan since, as you know, we are doing a similar thing in our family. It's been a great experience so far.

  2. Hey, M ~

    You are so right - that young man is adorable!

    Yes, I love the fact your family is keeping things simple, as well as homemade - can't wait to see/hear all about it (once everything's been unwrapped) when we return (leaving this Friday, coming back the following Saturday)...

  3. Hello Susan (and Rapunzel),
    I was looking for a direct link to my Simple Gifts page for a blog entry (lots of web designing not a lot of organizing) and came across your comments. I'm thrilled that you still listen to Simple Gifts and flattered that I'm remembered as a young man (I turn 39 on 12/26...) and an optimistic voice in your book.
    Susan I have the fondest of memories of playing your house concert, always a very welcoming and warm gig with my Florida famiglia. I'll never forget the post gig pool party, talking to Julia about constellations, and drinking Carlo Rossi Paisano and strumming our way to sunrise at the SFFF...The best of times.
    I wish ya both a great holiday of keeping it simple and focusing on what matters most. I applaud the resistance to consumerism. Mags and I send love to all y'all (I married southern) and here's to good things in 2009. (Particularly 1/20/09 forward...) Hang in there.
    Keep the faith. Gregg

    p.s. Need a seasonal grin? See a smile full of hope for the future from my nephew at my site.

  4. Hey, Gregg ~

    What a lovely surprise... and thanks for taking the time to stop in and comment - please also know that I meant to say you are as talented as you are adorable... :-)

    I too have fond memories of those house concert/festival/beach sunrise nights/days - I love the fact you still have a picture of Julia on your website!

    Happy Holidays and much love to you and Mags - We've got to get you back down to South Florida (let's talk in 2009)...

    P.S. Your nephew is precious (but what's all that white stuff?... :-)