The Sum of Calendars

A good writer informs… adds to general knowledge and awareness… communicates. Aimee Herman, my absolutely favorite of all writers always does more – she makes me think.

Aimee Herman

I am trying to let go of something

–Tracy K. Smith

It feels like cold sore body gristle cracked molar memory of sixteen to nineteen

Misshapen elastic mourning its taut, its firm, its locked box casing

It feels like that time you learned Lucille Ball died while on the way to family Thanksgiving or Grandma’s grave or synagogue or some other place that triggered loneliness

You awake from a dream where all your teeth have been replaced with slurs. You try to sound out help or hungry or not now but all that comes out are four letter words bleeped out on the radio

Remember when your body was new. A gift-wrapped holiday. Upright and without all its springs popped. Yesterday, your veins started scratching their way out of each thigh. Morse code of aging. You want to call them beautiful; all that comes out is malnourished spider legs.

You…

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Survival List

Some years ago the local National Public Radio station in New York had a weekly program in which prominent people shared their Survival List.  The basic premise of the program was:  You will be dropped off on either a warm weather island or someplace deep in the frozen north for six months.  You will be provided with a fully stocked library, sufficient food and cooking utensils and appropriate clothing as well as all necessary medications and the tools of your trade.  In addition you may only take 10 items of your choice.  What is your list? 

As part of my initial research for my next novel I have been asking complete strangers what 10 items would be on their list and as a result I have been hearing a wide range of surprise answers.

Comments about possible loneliness were few and far between.  Actually, most of the respondents seem to consider the forced solitary existence to be a major plus.

Some lists have included family photo albums… favorite recordings – visual and/or sound – and devises to be able to play these recordings… a powerful telescope… a favorite item from childhood… comfortable walking shoes… various workout machines… a musical instrument… endless supply of writing paper and writing implements…

This has pushed me to think about what would be on my list.

One thing I would definitely not want is a clock of any kind.  After living a lifetime forced to meet deadlines of one kind or another, I think it would be wonderful to be freed from the need to be or do anything on a fixed schedule.

I think that I could be happy alone for a six month period, although there is no way to know for certain until you are in such a position.

I would miss those very close to me.  I would definitely miss those I love and who love me.

Those who know me well would be surprised to learn that I would not include access to the current news either in print or electronic form.  I have lived much of my life as a news-a-holic.  However, I think I can handle tuning out for a six month period.  I might even get to like it. 

What would be on your list?

What 10 things do you think you couldn’t live without, or would prefer not to live without, for a six month period?

You don’t have to share your list with me or anyone else – but I would be very interested IF you did choose to share it with me.

__________///__________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career managing a number of troubled businesses back to health.

While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.

Now in his late seventies he is in his third career – a published novelist.

He has found great pleasure writing mystery novels and has just released the fourth in his Will James Mystery Series, “The Return to Sender Files” and a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, a college English teacher and an accomplished author, poet and performance artist on her own.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” had its official launch at last fall’s “Big E” New England Regional Fair in Springfield, MA.

He is currently writing a biography of a 92 year old Hartford musician and the fifth book in his Will James Mystery series as well as a book on business basics with his daughter, Jessica Weitz.

With all of that going on he still finds time, most days, to stare out at the beautiful Connecticut sunrises and acknowledge the natural beauty all around him.

You are invited to visit Martin Herman’s website: martinhermanauthor.com and communicate directly with him via his e-mail: mherman194@prodigy.net .

 

Today is Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day.   

I find myself quoting my mother more and more as I grow older.  She had a naturally basic wisdom which seemed to make almost any problem or life situation more manageable.  Yes, it was a far simpler time then but simpler or not, the rules of common courtesy and sincere concern for those around us made most decisions far less complicated than they seem to be today.   

If a neighbor was in need we helped.  We didn’t ask for their undying gratitude – we would have been embarrassed if they tried to thank us for the help.  It wasn’t a favor – it was just the right thing to do.  We also knew that if we were in need the neighbors would be there for us. 

If you walked out of a room with something that you neither brought in with you or purchased while you were there it was considered theft. 

If you said you were going to do something – you did it. 

Simpler times…. simpler rules. 

For one thing, there were fewer ways to block out the world or the consequences for NOT doing the right thing.  If you can remember that far back… 

You couldn’t simply put a set of ear buds in your ears in order to block out the sounds, (and souls), around you… 

You wouldn’t consider for a moment ignoring those around you in favor of looking like the walking dead, or as it is more commonly known today staring into a cell phone. 

You knew your neighbor and your neighbor knew you.  (Weird concept for some people today.) 

I often wonder what my mother would think if she were alive today.  Cars without drivers… total strangers knowing every personal thing about you… short lived friendships… hurried existence… fill in the blanks. 

Her two granddaughters and their families now live in Brooklyn, New York.  Not the Brooklyn of her time, the 1930’s or 1940’s or even 1980’s, but a Brooklyn that she never could have afforded to live in at any time in her life.   

When I was growing up in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn we paid $37.50 a month for rent.  We lived in a five story walk up across from a row of brownstones – the very same brownstones currently go for six and seven figures, if you can find one at such a “bargain price”. 

When the city made us move so that they could throw our building down to make room for the new Brooklyn Queens Expressway we moved to the Bensonhurst section of Brooklyn.  We went from $37.50 to $110 a month rent and as a result we barely had enough left over for food after the rent was paid.   

I wonder what she would think about today’s people, places, and things. 

In a little more than a week it would have been my mother’s  99th or 100th or 107th birthday.  We knew that the day of her birth was May 24 but we never did get the year straight.   

Allow me to explain. 

On her marriage license my mother declared that when she was married she was 22 – that was in 1933.  That would have made her 107 years old this May 24th had she lived. 

To us, she claimed that she was actually only 15 years old when she got married in 1933.  That would have made her 100 years old this May 24th had she lived. 

She also said that she was 16 when she gave birth to my sister in 1935.  That would have made her 99 years old this May 24th had she lived. 

All of this caused us some concern when she died because we didn’t know what date to put on her grave stone.  Ultimately it was my sister who made the final decision – not based on accuracy but modesty.  She said that since we really did not know the actual year of her birth we should make our mother’s age younger, not older, when she died. 

Every year around the 24th of May I ask my daughters to spend at least a few moments to remember their grandmother.   

My mother had a special saying, “You should only give flowers to the ones you love when they can still see and smell the beauty in them.” 

Still good advice, I think. 

I think of my mother each and every day.  What makes the loss a bit easier is knowing that I told her I loved her each and every day she breathed life.

__________///__________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career managing a number of troubled businesses back to health.

While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.

Now in his late seventies he is in his third career – a published novelist.

He has found great pleasure writing mystery novels and has just released the fourth in his Will James Mystery Series, “The Return to Sender Files” and a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, a college English teacher and an accomplished author, poet and performance artist on her own.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” had its official launch at last fall’s “Big E” New England Regional Fair in Springfield, MA.

He is currently writing a biography of a 92 year old Hartford musician and the fifth book in his Will James Mystery series as well as a book on business basics with his daughter, Jessica Weitz.

With all of that going on he still finds time, most days, to stare out at the beautiful Connecticut sunrises and acknowledge the natural beauty all around him.

You are invited to visit Martin Herman’s website: martinhermanauthor.com

CORRECTION… CORRECTION… CORRECTION

Several hours ago I posted a BLOG: “A tribal state of mind”.

Instead of posting the final edited version I released an earlier draft.  My error completely.

In the few hours that passed, several readers sent me notes asking why I would release something with so many typos and weird sentences.

The good news is that people actually DO read my pieces – the bad news is that an early draft went out instead of the final version.

I have a process that I have used since the first of these pieces went out thirty some months ago.  It is very close to the initial process I use when writing a short story or novel or nonfiction article.  First I sit down and type from a few hundred to a couple of thousand words on a subject.  I type without interruption, as if talking to a friend about something that interests me.  There is no concern about punctuation or spelling or grammar.  No conscious effort to structure a beginning/middle/end.  It is merely a free flow of thoughts.

Then I move on to something else and about an hour or so later I return to the raw copy and read it through.  Sometimes I move paragraphs around or drop or add a word or sentence and other times only a few sentences are kept and everything else erased or as has been the case in about a third of the time – I decide to scrap it entirely.

There are rewrites upon rewrites until I am able to read it through without making any changes.  Since my weaknesses include spelling and the proper use of grammar I have the good sense to employ professional editors for my novels.

I have never put my short stories, nonfiction pieces, or articles through outside editing.  I believe that to do so could risk losing timeliness for distributing these pieces.  My hope is that readers will get the meaning of the pieces and forgive the spelling, grammar, punctuation mistakes.

The above is a long winded way of apologizing for sending a rough version out in error.  Here is what SHOULD have gone out:

__________________________________

 

A tribal state of mind

I was appearing at a book signing yesterday when a woman stopped at my table.  She gently rubbed the cover of one of my books and told me that she loved books but unfortunately could no longer read books because of a vision problem. The conversation quickly changed as she leaned in closer and asked me if I was a patriot.

Her question came from so far out of left field that it really threw me for a loop.

I finally answered, “Don’t you think that everyone considers themselves to be a patriot?”

She then asked me who I voted for in the last presidential election.

This question I did not answer.  I just didn’t think it was the time or place or audience for any reply on my part.

“Did you vote for Donald Trump?”, she persisted.

“No”, I said, “I did not vote for Mr. Trump.”

She grinned and said, “So who did you vote for, Crooked Hillary?”

_________________________

Since the release of my first book in the current Will James Mystery series almost three years ago, I have signed close to 9,000 books and spoken with at least twice that number of different people but this was the first time I found myself in the middle of such a conversation.   I am a news-a-holic and usually enjoy talking about politics but do not think such a topic is proper for a book signing of a work of fiction.  I do think it would be proper if I was the author of a politically themed nonfiction book.

_________________________

The woman walked away and within a few minutes returned.  I was signing a book for a young man when I noticed her standing off to the side.  As the man took his book and left the older woman walked back to me and barely above a whisper said, “I am so sorry that you are a Democrat.”  Without waiting for my response she left the store.

So am I to believe that at least in this woman’s mind, I couldn’t possibly be a patriot if I voted for someone other than her candidate?

Does anyone really think that the founders risked their lives in a battle against the most powerful and effective fighting force in its day so that narrow minded thinking on either the right or the left of any discussion could be the ONLY correct definition of patriotism?

Could it possibly be true that the American Constitution was created in order to quiet minority views or to limit future generations in how they would define democracy?

Would my lifelong hero, Thomas Jefferson, have looked fondly on some of today’s political leaders, in either of the major parties, who seem to put party above country or the fear of losing their jobs above a willingness to stand up for what they believe to be best for those they were elected to serve?

Could any of the words in the Constitution justify the actions of elected officials who openly declared – during the opening days of his administration – that their primary objective was to make the 44th president of the United States a one term president, or Mitch McConnell’s refusal to allow the same sitting president’s candidate for the Supreme Court to have an up or down vote in the seventh year of his presidency?

What would any of the founding fathers have thought if only one choice could be considered to be the right and only choice?  (Wasn’t that one of the main reasons they fought to break away from King George?)

Is it not a tribal mentality when “my” chosen leader can never be thought to be or do any wrong or when “your” chosen leader can never be credited for being or doing anything right?

Am I the only one who sees this to be anti-democratic… maybe even unpatriotic???  Possibly even treasonous?

But I do have hope.  My hope is with the next generation.  They are already showing a spirit and willingness to stand up for what they believe even if it makes them unpopular with those in power in ways that my generation hasn’t.

On our watch COMPROMISE and TOLERANCE became dirty words – signs of weakness, along with disdain for those who do not agree.  We seem to have zero mutual respect for those NOT in our tribe.

Without listening to each other and a huge serving of compromise there might never have been a United States of America.

The young have already led the way towards tolerance in so many ways.  They have stood up for their fellow citizens again and again.

At the risk of tempting the fates – I don’t think they can make it any worse.

__________///__________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career managing a number of troubled businesses back to health.

While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.

Now in his late seventies he is in his third career – a published novelist.

He has found great pleasure writing mystery novels and has just released the fourth in his Will James Mystery Series, “The Return to Sender Files” and a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, a college English teacher and an accomplished author, poet and performance artist on her own.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” had its official launch at last fall’s “Big E” New England Regional Fair in Springfield, MA.

He is currently writing a biography of a 92 year old Hartford musician and the fifth book in his Will James Mystery series as well as a book on business basics with his daughter, Jessica Weitz.

With all of that going on he still finds time, most days, to stare out at the beautiful Connecticut sunrises and acknowledge the natural beauty all around him.

 

A tribal stgate of mind

I was appearing at a book signing yesterday when a woman came by.  She gently rubbed the cover of one of my books and told me that she loved books but unfortunately can no longer read because of poor vision.

Then she leaned in closer and asked me if I was a patriot.

Her question really threw me for a loop. 

I finally answered, “Don’t you think that everyone considers themselves to be a patriot?” 

She then asked me who I voted for. 

This one I didn’t answer.  

“Did you vote for Donald Trump?”, she persisted. 

“No”, I said, “I did not vote for Mr. Trump.”  

She grinned and said, “So who did you vote for, Crooked Hillary?” 

Since my first book in the current Will James Mystery series came out almost three years ago, I must have signed close to 9,000 books and spoken with at least twice as many more people but this was the first time I found myself in the middle of such a conversation. 

The woman walked away and within a few minutes she was back.  I was signing a book for a young man when I noticed her standing off to the side.  When the man took his book and left as the older woman walked over and barely above a whisper said, “I am so sorry that you are a democrat.”  She then left the store. 

So am I to believe that at least in this woman’s mind, I couldn’t possibly be a patriot if I voted for someone other than her candidate? 

Does anyone really think that the founders risked their lives in a battle against the powerful fighting machine of the King of England so that narrow minded thinking on either the right or the left of any discussion should be the ONLY correct answer?  So that the only opinion that matters is “my tribe’s” – regardless of whose ideology is being put forward? 

Would my hero, Thomas Jefferson, have looked fondly on Mitch McConnell when he refused to allow a sitting president’s candidate for the Supreme Court to have an up or down vote? 

What would any of the founding fathers have thought if only one choice could be considered the right and only choice?  (Wasn’t that one of the main reasons they fought to break away from King George?) 

Is it not a tribal mentality when “my” chosen leader can never be thought to be or do wrong or when “your” chosen leader can never be credited for being or doing right?  

Am I the only one who sees this to be anti-democratic… maybe even unpatriotic???  Possibly even treasonous? 

But I do have hope.  My hope is with the next generation.  As soon as my generation and the one that followed my generation turns power over to the next generation I believe we can return to the  basics of our founders.

On our watch COMPROMISE and TOLERANCE became a dirty words – signs of weakness – along with these words went mutual respect and things just haven’t been the same since. 

Without compromise there might never have been a United States of America. 

The young have already led the way towards tolerance in so many ways.  At the risk of tempting the fates – I don’t think they can make it any worse.

__________________________________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career managing a number of troubled businesses back to health. 

While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert. 

Now in his late seventies he is in his third career – a published novelist

He has found great pleasure writing mystery novels and has just released the fourth in his Will James Mystery series, “The Return to Sender Files” and a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, a college English teacher and an accomplished author, poet and performance artist on her own.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” had its official launch at last fall’s “Big E” New England Fair, in Springfield, MA.

He is currently writing a biography of a 92 year old Hartford musician and the fifth book in his Will James Mystery series as well as a book on business basics with his daughter, Jessica Weitz.

With all of that going on he still finds time, most days, to stare out at the beautiful Connecticut sunrises and acknowledge the natural beauty all around him.

Remember me?

For a while I committed myself to do a weekly blog.  I write novels now for a living and so it seemed like a relatively easy thing to add a thousand or so word blog to my weekly schedule. 

While I was writing and sending out my blogs I was getting wonderful feedback and almost enjoyed the self imposed deadlines.  I soon realized that few things in life are easy – especially producing a regular blog.

I initially set aside an hour each week to write the blog, edit it, and send it out.  The hour turned into two hours and sometimes three hours.  (I tend to word smith until the cows come home and so a simple sentence took me far longer than it should have.)

The “weekly commitment” blurred a bit.  What began as every week turned into every ten days or so, but I did maintain a somewhat regular schedule for a while. 

Although I never quite reached a point where I ran out of things to say, I did run out of time to write about them and so one week I decided to drop out of this form of communication, not for good, just a short break to allow me to catch up on other commitments.  I thought I would pick up again shortly thereafter, but the weeks without sending one out quickly added up and before I knew it – several months had passed.

There are always plenty of reasons for not doing something.  In my case I had a new book to complete and send on to the printer… I really wanted to spend more time with my children and grandchildren… I had all sorts of additional responsibilities… as I said; there are always plenty of reasons for not doing something.

Decades ago I worked for Swift & Company and we had a really good controller.  As with any large company, his department published various sales and recap reports each month.  From time to time he would choose a report at random and just stop sending it out to the field.  He waited for people to ask for it.  If no one asked he just assumed that the pile of paper was merely gathering dust and permanently dropped it from the schedule.

I guess, subconsciously, I thought I would drop my blog and if no one asked about the sudden silence or when the next one was going to surface, I no longer needed to send one out.   

Well, this week two things happened – first two separate people commented on my past blogs and asked why they haven’t seen a new one in a while and when the next one would be coming their way.  Second, I heard about something that had just happened in Michigan that I really wanted to comment upon.  As a result – here is a new blog.  I am going to make a new effort to report on a somewhat more regular schedule to any and all that might have some interest in reading them. 

So, what happened this week to spark my return to blogging?

I heard about an event involving a group of Oak Park, Michigan police and thirteen long haul truck drivers who banded together to try to help prevent a suicide.

Briefly, here are the details:

In the early hours of Tuesday, April 24th, local police received a 911 call advising them that a man was hovering on the edge of an overpass above the I-696 highway.  It looked like he was about to jump to his death 

The police issued a distress call to long haul truck drivers in the area.  Their specific request was for driver’s to position their trucks underneath the overpass in an attempt to break the fall of the distressed man, should he actually jump. 

With all traffic in both directions stopped and trucks closely parked under the bridge they effectively reduced the distance of a possible suicidal jump to five or six feet from what would have been a fourteen to sixteen foot drop to the roadway. 

By four in the morning the police were able to talk the man off of the bridge.

As it turns out, this kind of police/citizen response is actually one that local police and truck drivers train for. 

I heard this story while driving home late at night.  It moved me in more ways than I can or would be willing to list here. 

My daughter was born in Michigan.  She went to the University of Michigan and i have a hundred thousand dollar jacket to prove it.

Michigan has been going through some tough times but their spirit and basic human kindness impressed me when i lived and worked there as it does today. 

In a world where we often seem to be insulated, chained to our cell phones and almost unaware of those around us… this group of overworked and all too underappreciated local police and anonymous truck drivers – each with problems and concerns of their own – stopped to help someone they did not know nor might even have had reason to notice just a few minutes before. 

No one asked if this troubled person was a conservative or a liberal. 

No one cared who he voted for in the last presidential election – or if he voted at all. 

There wasn’t a consideration if he was a Mexican or a man from Mars

Gay or straight, white, black or brown, a church goer or atheist.

Their only consideration was that this was a human being in trouble; someone who believed that his only solution to whatever hell he was experiencing was to end his life, then and there.

Perhaps what I am trying to say is that there is indeed hope for all of us yet. 

Every one of us has the ability to make some difference to someone else – yes, there is indeed hope for us yet. 

If this story moved you – even a teeny, tiny bit – I would ask you to put your cell phone away for a even a few minutes… look around you… stop and listen to those around you… yes, stop to smell the roses as corny as that may sound.  Do something nice for a stranger.

Think about all of the many times in a day when you barely consciously say, “how are you?”, without pausing to hear the answer.

I’ll bet you pass numerous people as you rush through each day looking past everyone around you.

Take a small step – a simple smile is a great beginning.

If you or someone you cared about was that lost soul on that overpass, wouldn’t you feel some hope just knowing that other complete strangers stopped their lives in order to help you wake to a another sunrise?

If you were one of those drivers, pressured to get to your destination, totally wrapped up in your own world, what would you have done?

My mother had a saying, “You can never know what horrors are spinning out of control in other people’s heads.  So assume they need a friend or at least they could benefit from someone who doesn’t add to their existing woes.”

I must admit that it took me more than 70 years of living in order to realize how wise she was.

___________________________________________

Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career of managing troubled businesses back to health. 

While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert. 

Now in his late seventies he is in his third career – a published novelist

He has found great pleasure writing mystery novels and has just released the fourth in his Will James Mystery series, “The Return to Sender Files” and a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, a college English teacher and an accomplished author, poet and performance artist on her own.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” had its official launch at last fall’s “Big E” New England Fair, in Springfield, MA.

He is currently writing a biography of a 92 year old Hartford musician and the fifth book in his Will James Mystery series as well as a book on business basics with his daughter, Jessica Weitz.

With all of that going on he still finds time, most days, to stare out at the beautiful Connecticut sunrises and acknowledge the natural beauty all around him.

Thanksgiving Day

My very first memory of Thanksgiving Day is sitting on the steps of a marble staircase, the fifth floor of a five floor walk up apartment building at 194 Rodney Street in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York.  I was 5 or 6 years old and by my side was my mother.  She was gently poking away with a sterilized sowing needle at a splinter that had lodged itself under the nail of one of my fingers.  Odd to say considering the painful first memory I have for this American holiday, in subsequent years Thanksgiving Day became one of my most cherished holidays.

When I had a family of my own, Thanksgiving Day filled the house with great smells and rooms were filled with family and friends; you could hear lively conversation and laughter from young and old.  Sharing the joys and dining pleasures with the ones we loved, it doesn’t come any better, but for me, it did, and still does.

Some years ago, I found myself alone and lonely as Thanksgiving Day approached.  I passed a Salvation Army bell ringer the year before and struck up a conversation.

“Where are you going to celebrate the holiday season”, I asked.

“With my family,” Was his answer.

“You’re a lucky guy to have your family with you”, I said.

“What about you”, he asked.

“Oh, I don’t have any plans”, I said.

“No family?”  He asked.

“I have a family, but they are kind of scattered these days,” I said.

“Sad”, he said.

“No,” I said, now with my guard up, I quickly dropped a contribution into his kettle, wished him a happy holiday and rushed off.

For many years I always had several rolls of quarters in my coat pocket around holiday times so that I would never have to pass a person in need or a Salvation Army bell ringer without leaving something with them.  As my financial situation improved I replaced the heavy rolls of coins with paper money.

Throughout that holiday season and into the following year I thought back to that earlier conversation with the bell ringer.  I don’t usually feel sorry for myself but I did at that time.  Outwardly, I had plenty to be thankful for… my children were in good health… I was in good health… we all had a dry roof over our heads and plenty to eat.  I had a few really good friends and I was employed, running a small company in Bloomfield, CT alongside 50 of the best humans with whom I had ever worked.  I had a very good life.

So here I was a month or so from Thanksgiving and no place to go.  I thought about volunteering somewhere – maybe it was time to give back for all that I had.  I contacted the Salvation Army post in Manchester, CT.  I can’t explain why I chose the Salvation Army or why I zeroed in on the Manchester location.  Looking back, it might have been divine interference.  I volunteered to serve Thanksgiving Dinner to the homeless at the Salvation Army and then contacted a shelter nearby and volunteered to serve Christmas Dinner there.  (I am not identifying the center by choice and the reason will soon become apparent.)

Thanksgiving Day dinner, along with a lot of other such events at the Manchester Salvation Army post, I quickly learned, is planned and executed by an absolutely marvelous woman, her husband, and two children.  Delivered as a genuine labor of love, this caring family had it down to a science with the ultimate objective of making their “guests” feel at home and wanted and cared about.  This was not just fulfilling a charity obligation for them or their helper volunteers; this was a genuine act of giving from the heart.  I also learned that many women purchased and roasted turkeys and dropped them off at the Manchester Salvation Army post days before the holiday so that some volunteers could carve them the day before the holiday and then return on the morning of Thanksgiving Day to help prepare and serve hundreds of meals and “to go” dinners.

I felt honored to be among this very, very, very special group and never felt better about what I was doing or about myself than I did that Thanksgiving.

Christmas was an entirely different experience.

The woman in charge of the Christmas Dinner preparation and execution showed up in full makeup, dripping in jewels and wearing a suit that must have come from the most exclusive clothing shop in the area and costing close to the monthly income of all of those being served – combined.

Whereas the focus of those at the Salvation Army, about a month earlier, was to treat those who they served as their “guests”; to feel welcomed and sincerely cared about, the equally in need humans being served their Christmas meal at the center were treated like “takers”, interlopers, intruders.  “Don’t take more than you can eat”, the society matron kept saying… “You can’t take any food home… we can’t be responsible for food poisoning because you don’t have refrigeration,” she often added.

I was actually ashamed of having been a part of this experience even though the month earlier I left the Salvation Army feeling better about human kind and myself than I had at any time before.

Currently I am truly blessed with much to be thankful for; I have the love of a great woman, my children, their spouses and my two grandchildren are healthy and happy, we all have a dry roof over our heads and plenty to eat, and I have a new career as a published novel writer.

This year, just like last year, Lora and I will be among those who happily join the group at the Manchester, CT, Salvation Army to carve on the day before Thanksgiving and serve on Thanksgiving Day.  Later that day we will be having Thanksgiving Dinner with family and friends; the best of all worlds.

However you celebrate, I strongly suggest that you consider those around you who may not have family – either close by or at all – and include as many of them as you can in your holiday plans.  I can promise that you will feel absolutely terrific because you did.

Much love and holiday cheer to you all!

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Martin Herman lives halfway up a small mountain in Connecticut.  He had a long and successful career of managing troubled businesses back to health.  While still in his early sixties he began a second career as an executive business consultant working with start-ups and troubled mature companies as a turn-around expert.  Now in his upper seventies he is in his third career – a published author.

He has found great pleasure writing mystery novels and has just released a book of short stories written with his daughter, Aimee, a college English teacher and an accomplished author, poet and performance artist.  Their book, “A Very Special Dress and other stories” had its official launch at this year’s “Big E” New England Fair, in Springfield, MA.

He is currently writing the fourth book in his Will James Mystery series, the working title is “The Return to Sender Files” and a book on business with his daughter, Jessica Weitz.