In Your Own Words — December 2018

  Brian Augustine. credit: Jesse Borrell

Brian Augustine. credit: Jesse Borrell

Relieving The Stress Of The Perfect Christmas

By Brian Augustine, VOICE vendor

We all know how stressful Christmas can be without adding “perfect” to its title. 

We all want everyone to get the presents they want and need; to see the children come to the living room bright-eyed, hair combed, and pajamas looking freshly ironed. But that only happens on TV and in the movies. 

Years ago, I I came to the conclusion that I don’t want a perfect Christmas. It can’t happen in real life and it wouldn’t be memorable. My best memories of Christmas are the mistakes that happen and what goes wrong during that time. 

Things like my brother getting up from the floor with snowflake wrapping paper stuck to his shorts. Or everyone laughing because my sister kept asking him if he was cold.  He finally asked why she kept asking if he was cold, and my mother answered “because you’ve got snow on your bottom!” 

Or the time just before Christmas when we were eating at my Grandparents’. My Grandfather was a quiet man who rarely smiled. During dinner, he sneezed and his bottom teeth flew out and landed in the mashed potatoes. He looked embarrassed, but he picked the teeth out, licked the potatoes off, and placed them back in his mouth like it happened all the time. 

We were all laughing, but I could see his face turning red with anger. Then my brother, Larry, reached across the table, scooped the mashed potatoes out of the spot where my Grandfather’s teeth had landed, put them on his plate, and started to eat them. We all went silent. He looked up and said “what?” and continued to eat. We started to laugh, and for the first of three times I saw my Grandfather smile. 

My last story, though I have many more, has a title: “Oh My Gosh, I’ve Ruined Christmas!”

My niece was helping with Christmas dinner. This was her first time. She was being so helpful and doing what my mother asked. My mother called out to me “Brian, would you put the turkey on the plate?” and my niece said “I got it.”

As I came around the corner, she was looking down with tears welling in her eyes saying “Oh my gosh, I’ve ruined Christmas!” There on the floor was the turkey. My mother went to pick it up. I stopped her. Grabbing the knife and fork from my niece’s hand, I picked up the turkey and put it in the sink. I turned on the hot water and started to wipe of the bottom. Big mistake. A 300-degree turkey doesn’t feel good on your hands. 

My mother handed me a clean washcloth, put the turkey on the platter, and cleaned up the mess on the floor. Ten minutes later, we sat down and ate. Christmas wasn’t ruined. 

Every Christmas I start a mental list of ten thousand things that go wrong on that day, and every thousand or two, I look back on them. If there is anything I will remember the next day, I keep that on the list and erase all the others. If I find anything that I will remember for years to come with laughter or fondness, I throw the stupid list away. 

If you look back at your Christmas from years past, you will remember more of the ones with laughter. Then the ones where you got the gift that you wanted. 

Please remember that we say “Merry Christmas,” and not “happy.” If you’re happy, that doesn’t mean you’re having a merry time. But of you are having a merry time, then you are definitely happy. ■


  Virginia Bryant. Credit: Giles Clasen

Virginia Bryant. Credit: Giles Clasen

Von, Honey

By Virginia Bryant, VOICE vendor

You’re such a sensitive, introspective soul. Dearest, that’s why you tickle my fancy so. I’m so beside myself with the thought of you that I have to hug these trees in Sloan’s Lake to console you and pretend these branches are your arms hugging me back!

I can feel your pain when you’re trying so hard, leaning over like you do, going 0 mph, then your whoopee at 60 mph, to get that vile, offensive, smelly quarterback to keep him out of OUR territory. I often wonder what you’re doing for those seconds you are there upon the grass. Communing with a worm? Nuzzling your chin within the blades of the grass? 

Confess now, do you say a little cuss word when you go splat without catching that guy? Like doggone it? We ARE the Denver Broncos!  We rise above and take high roads when we see none. Champions and Heroes of Denver, Colorado. Queen City of the Plains!

I, too, whisper in your ear a confession. I am your sister of Texas birth. Yes, sirree, a little Corpus Christi gal am I. Then sashayed onto Arlington and Fort Worth. So young and such fond memories of those bbq ribs, butter slathered on corn on the cob. How could I forget that potato salad and baked beans. 

Why I know a place that serves that up right fine. You’ll just have to wait for me to tell you where that place is.

Well, gotta scoot, 

Virginia. ■


  Patrick Balerio. credit: Jesse Borrell

Patrick Balerio. credit: Jesse Borrell

Tribute To The Common Man And Woman

By Patrick Balerio, VOICE vendor

Anyone who knows me knows that everything I have written has been inspired by the people I have befriended here at 17th and Lawrence, with the exception of “Mercy: A Simple Reminder for Hope.”

On Tuesday, October 23rd, 2018 I was approached by a man who proceeded to denigrate the various corporations at the 17th Street Plan Building. He stated that the said corporate entities do not care for the homeless or disenfranchised people of Denver. 

I beg to differ! First of all, one cannot identify a corporation as a personality. I have befriended so many people over the past seven years that work for the corporations this man alluded to. 

As the common folks are woven from the same cloth, I can assure you that, regardless of one’s status in society, such people are very conscientious and empathetic to the plight of those who are less fortunate. It is those very people that have re-established my faith in humanity. 

These people are not swayed by rhetoric that might otherwise influence those who are less informed than those of us who are are aware of what is currently taking place in our society. 

As a nation of immigrants, it is the common folks that make this country great. The very essence of our humanity is the common thread that binds us together. Were it not for the common man or woman, this country would have been divided long ago. It is these people that I applaud for standing their ground, for such people are not xenophobic, nor do they give in to fear of those seeking a better life in the United States. 

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

So the poem goest, clearly indicating those people who are our ancestors. Their plight is not to be forgotten, as we are the children of those that took a chance for a better life by coming here in the first place! ■