Playing the Odds

I am ambivalent about this Christmas Day. While I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, I know cheer and joy are in short supply for many people. One of my brothers remains in the hospital, awaiting decisions as to whether he will be able to transfer into hospice care. Through Medicare, our society—in its grand and glorious generosity—provides coverage for hospice care…but not in-hospital hospice care. I understand the costs for in-facility hospice care are extraordinary; unattainable by most and certainly unattainable by someone of my brother’s means. My niece, who has been my brother’s primary advocate, continues to push forward, though, seeking options that will provide comfort and providing the kind of compassion all people need. I could go on about our society’s massive, systemic, institutional failings, but I won’t…for now.

Instead, I return briefly to my own gratitude. I am grateful both for the comfort and compassion I enjoy and for the kindness and decency of millions upon millions of people who recognize their obligations to their fellow human beings and who act on them. In spite of all the aberrant behaviors that cause senseless pain and make the headlines, the number that demonstrate goodness and compassion exponentially outnumber the negative. Sometimes, in the face of a constant barrage of bad news, it’s hard to acknowledge that simple fact. But it’s true. Yes, I’m ambivalent. But I’m not a fount of perpetual negativity.


So, my complaint about waking at 1:30 again and staying in bed—attempting but failing to sleep—until 4 is not negative. It’s simply a minor grievance. Yet the cause of that grievance allowed me to get a lot of work done in the kitchen. I peeled and chopped and cooked and so on from 4 until 6. Thanks to my industriousness, the zanahorias aliñadas are marinating in the refrigerator. The sauce for the aubergine balls is finished, cooling on the stovetop. Most of the ingredients for the aubergine balls themselves are ready for the next step: “whomping them up” in the food processor. Because I expect the food processor’s “whomping up” setting will cause enough noise to wake the dead, I’m waiting until my IC awakens to continue that task. But, after I finish this post, I will return to the kitchen to work on a tomato and garbanzo dish. Thereafter, I will turn my attention to various tapas designed for an omnivore’s palate: lamb meatballs, bites of pork with a sherry glaze (I hope), and various other goodies. Lots more chopping and slicing and such. But not as much as I had originally planned. We scaled back our plans, considering that we might need to drop everything. At this point, we’re planning a low-key tapas Christmas.


Last night, we went to our church’s Christmas Eve service and Soup Supper, an event we cancelled last year due to COVID. The service had elements of the UUVC tradition, with carols, stories, etc. The Soup Supper featured an impossibly large number of soups and other dishes, all of which if life were fair I could have sampled. Everything I tasted was exceptional. Our church is awash in chef-quality cooks. We brought home a considerable amount of our Pumpkin-Black Bean-Mexican Chicken soup, which suits me because I am so fond of it. My sister-in-law shared the recipe, which she found somewhere online, I think. It is one of the best soups I’ve ever had, I think; my sister-in-law has a way of honing in on exceptional recipes.


My mind is a tangle of thoughts that compete with one another for time and attention. I wish I could simply hit a switch to turn off the mass of worries and dreams and consciously mundane thoughts that flood my head. Maybe they are responsible for my insomnia of late. I suspect I may go to bed early tonight. Or I may leave suddenly for a ten-day road trip to nowhere. I’ll place my bet on the former; odds look good for that.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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One Response to Playing the Odds

  1. Mick & Gail says:

    Merry Christmas to you and Colleen

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