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Every year i do some holiday parties in December (and sometimes January for the companies who are too busy to have one in December). These company parties are illuminating. I almost feel like it's a sacred place that I, the interloper, somehow have the privilege of visiting. Sometimes it is joyous celebration of folks who truly love being around each other, and when that is the case, they usually have a charismatic, caring leader. Sometimes they are suffering as a group- maybe some folks have just been laid off and their absence is painfully obvious at the party this year. This year, among other things i played for an Army hospital staff, and at some point we were all asked to remember fallen comrades, with a beautiful ritual where an empty table, with an upside down glass, an empty chair and a few other symbolic things were all given explanation. 7 or 8 toasts were given, the color guard presented the colors... it was all quite meaningful (except for the macarena and chicken dance contest where people competed for grab bag presents). Before i performed we were also asked to remember those who were on shift that night at the hospital, and had to miss the big party. They rotate so no one has to miss it every year. Someone reminded me today of all the folks who have to work on Christmas- firemen, hotel workers, policemen and ambulance driveres, and clerks in the few drug/ grocery stores that remain open. You know who else that makes me think of is my Aunt (who has brain cancer), and all the other folks who are spending their holiday in a hospital bed- especially those alone. I thought I had been to the bottom, lying in the hospital bed wondering if I'd live or die, but it wasn't my birthday and it wasn't the holidays. I just can't imagine how that adds to the loneliness. I think we all go through, at one time or another feeling "I should be happy but I'm not" at the holidays- my heart goes out to those patients, and their families, as well as our soldiers, who are not living in a time or situation where they can call a Christmas truce and play soccer together. May they find some comfort somehow.

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