03 Jan

Do you know what I discovered today? I’m baaaaack, and I’m feelin’ good. My Christmas break was awesome! It was full of joy, lots of love, and tons of laughter marred by only one event: the theft of Black Baby Jesus from the crèche on the day before Christmas Eve. Since the six-inch-high crèche resides on one of the end tables, I was able to narrow the theft down to three possible culprits. CULPRIT #1: a six-year-old boy (my grandson) who has been trying to abscond with Black Baby Jesus ever since he was three-years-old (the one-inch baby fits so very nicely in a little boy’s pockets or his diapers at an earlier stage). CULPRIT #2: a three-month-old Maltese named Chuck (grandson’s new pup), who chews on any and everything he can get into his mouth, and doesn’t know the first thing about Xmas protocol (we caught him playing box-the-ornaments-on-the-tree with his front two paws while standing up on his hind legs as if he were training to be the next Muhammad Ali. CULPRIT #3: A wizened older Shorky dog named Wednesday Addams (Chuck’s cousin), who is too cool for school and has no tolerance for pups who don’t know the Christmas rules. (Although I didn’t think Wednesday was guilty of the theft, I wouldn’t put it past her to have set Chuck up for the kidnapping of Black Baby Jesus just to get him punished with a timeout in his crate, thus giving Wednesday some peace and quiet.) But nobody was talking, or barking, as the case may be. (I looked to the heavens and prayed: Lord Jesus, give me grace and help me find Black Baby Jesus because I really liked that crèche!) So I accused all three of these little hooligans of the dastardly deed, and I threatened to withhold all doggie treats and presents until the baby was returned. I put all the adults in my house on high alert as well:

“I’m not superstitious or anything, but it can’t possibly be a good thing that Black Baby Jesus has been kidnapped before his birthday. You are all on poop patrol and are responsible to check out any suspicious ‘meadow muffins’ coming out of these three that might be in the shape of a one-inch Savior of the world.”

Day After Christmas RJ Matson

Cartoon used by permission: RJ Matson

Black Baby Jesus was not found until the day after Christmas (underneath the couch) when we were disposing of enough Christmas wrapping to stuff a giant landfill. That morning before the revelation of said whereabouts of you-know-Who, we sang “Happy Birthday, Jesus” to an empty crèche, and Little Dude blew out the candles to the Jesus cake on Christmas morning to an absent Baby King—assuming he was making his way through somebody’s intestines. None of the culprits confessed (personally, I think they were all in on it), but it did get me thinking about 2014 and the visibility—or lack of visibility—of God in the everyday scary-ass mayhem of our lives.

2014 had been a good year for the Tomczyk family and we felt the grace of God all throughout the year (meaning, basically we got the things we hoped and wished for, or better), and for that I am extremely grateful because some years we have not been so fortunate. Like every other family in the world, we have seen our ups and downs and experienced our fair share of pain which I wrote about in my first book, Monsters’ Throwdown, and will continue the story in my second book that will hopefully be released this year.

We took all day to leisurely open presents (interrupted by meals and eggnog, the reading of the Christmas story from Grandpa to Little Dude while the rest of the clan solemnly participated in the tender moment, and cried as we shared what made us most grateful about 2014—mostly each other).

But we also acknowledged that on a domestic and global scale 2014 had been a bitch!

2014 I cant breathe Cam Cardow Cagle Cartoons

Cartoon used by permission: Cam Cardow, Cagle Cartoons

We had friends whose marriages had crumbled, friends whose funerals we had attended, friends whose children we had helped bury, and friends who were no longer friends because they had broken our hearts. On a national and international level, we were all horrified about the murder of Dr. Huxtable by Bill Cosby, heartsick over the kidnapping of hundreds of young girls by Boko Haram and our impotence to do anything about it, devastated at the beheadings by ISIS, worried for the millions of refugees roaming the Earth due to war, heartbroken over the slaughter of Syrians by their own government, sickened by the racism that seems to be rearing its ugly head in America again, angry over the treatment of our Vets, demoralized by the killing of young black men by law enforcement, disheartened by the murders of innocent policemen, disquieted by the emergence of Ebola, but furious that a certain ersatz news agency had whipped up so much hysteria around Ebola that people practically lost their minds in the United States where only one person had died of the disease (less than 10,000 have died from Ebola worldwide while an estimated 39 million people have died from AIDS and an estimated 35 million are living with HIV worldwide). We (who am I kidding, “I”) resolved to be a more disciplined consumer of the news so as not to end up being manipulated by them (left, right, and independent) and causing me more fear than necessary, and thus, destroying my mental health.

Fox News Hysteria Bill Day Cagle Cartoons

Cartoon used by permission: Bill Day, Cagle Cartoons

As we talked about looking forward to what we hoped 2015 would bring to the individual members of our family and the resolutions we would make (knowing that some of them would be kept but most of them would be broken), it occurred to us all that in our personal goals, family quests, national and international dreams, a great deal of grace—amazing grace—would be needed for the new year and beyond. On the global scale, anything could happen (or continue to happen) as 2015 unfolded, and we would never know when vestiges of our global problems might roll up on the shores of our lives. But as long as we stuck together and bolstered our friendships and family with love while we maintained our utilization of God’s grace during the hard times, we’d triumphantly make it through 2015.

Year In Review FB  David Fitzsimmons The Arizona Star

Cartoon used by permission: David Fitzsimmons, The Arizona Star

I am discovering that life has always been volatile for humankind. And even though the 21st Century can sometimes seem to be the worst of times, it really isn’t. I wouldn’t want to be a black woman in any other time, but this one. I can’t imagine not having control of my own destiny, and yet in America just a couple hundred years ago that would have been the case for me. Even though it seems that the wheels are coming off the racial harmony bus, we have come a long way, baby, we just have to keep on keepin’ on until that old generation of racists has gone on to their “great reward” (currently occupying the Tea Party).  And the thing about living is that no one ever knows when a good year will turn into a bad year or vice versa stripping a person bare of everything except the grace that infuses and covers us making us overcomers and survivors. *Check out the murderous mayhem that happened in the 20th Century, which looked like God had gone on vacation to another universe and left the devil in charge of ours, and our current time period will reveal itself as the longest period of peace and prosperity known to man—which is really saying something. It’s just that our 24/7 news cycles, Twitter, Facebook, cell phones with cameras, and Blogs make the world seem more accessible and thus more threatening than it really is. (Suggested 20th Century reading for perspective: Books on influenza and polio deaths in 1912, WWI, the Dust Bowl, the Great Depression, WWII, the Holocaust, Pearl Harbor, the Atomic Bomb, WWII refugees and displaced persons, Apartheid in South Africa, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Jim Crow Era with its random beatings, rapes, lynching, and systematic racism, the Cold War, Rwanda—just to name a few terrors from 1900-1999!)

In 2015, I’ll keep searching for hope that started in the crèche in Bethlehem and culminated on the cross at Calvary and take delight in the little things on Earth that bring me joy as I journey in God’s amazing grace. Like the Ohio State Buckeyes kicking Alabama Crimson Tide’s ass (42-35) in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 2015.  I’m told by people in the know (I don’t know a thing about football), that Ohio State came into the game with a 9-point underdog label against the Alabama machine (again words of my friends–I know nothing!).  Even when it looked like Ohio State was getting its ass kicked, they kept fighting as if it was not an option to do otherwise.  Oh yeah!  Being an Ohio girl, this brings me great joy and inspiration, and I’ll take joy and inspiration for 2015 wherever I can get it!

Ohio vs Alabama Nate Beeler The Columbus Dispatch

Used by permission: Nate Beeler, The Columbus Dispatch

Who in their right mind . . . could possibly deny the 20th Century was entirely mine. All of it . . .”—The Devil from the Devil’s Advocate by Andrew Neiderman

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.” ― Ellen Goodman

“Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every New Year find you a better man.”Benjamin Franklin

“Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”Goran Persson




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Posted by on January 3, 2015 in Uncategorized


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  1. mihrank

    January 3, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    such interesting, informative and I enjoyed reading it!

  2. imagesbytdashfield

    January 3, 2015 at 3:06 pm

    Welcome back! Yeah, 2014 was a biotch in many ways but even in the midst of turmoil there was joy and love. I can say that my home state team (Mizzou Tigers) and the Bucs (my new state) won both of their bowl games! And I knocked my champagne over onto my laptop! Thank goodness DH knew what to do. Happy 2015 to you, E!

    • etomczyk

      January 3, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Thanks TD. Isn’t that true of most years (“in the midst of turmoil there was joy and love”). I’m beginning to think that as Americans we’ve been sold a bill of goods that life is supposed to come up roses for us all the time because we have bought security through insurance plans and a strong army. Suffering is the great equalizer, I’m afraid. I’ve had years were there was nothing but pain with no joy and love, and I’ve had many more years where there was love and joy, but pain always crept in from some quarter during the year–even if it was just through the lives of friends I loved and felt great empathy for.

      Hope you and DH had a magnificent time together during the holidays and looking forward to the beauty you create this year through your lens eye. Cheers!

  3. Daddy Bear

    January 3, 2015 at 3:21 pm

    What a wonderful post! Don’t tell She Who Must Be Obeyed, but I think you are the bestest!

    • etomczyk

      January 3, 2015 at 4:39 pm

      Thanks Daddy Bear. So appreciate your lovely comment. Wishing you, “She Who Must Be Obeyed,” and Zorbear a fabulous 2015. Keep writing–you’re very funny! 🙂

  4. aFrankAngle

    January 3, 2015 at 4:58 pm

    Happy New Year E-tom & WW!!! …. and congratulations on being the first people that I know who celebrate Christmas with birthday cake and singing Happy Birthday to Jesus.

    Meanwhile, you listed many serious things here … such as Bill Cosby’s troub le, Boko Haram, ISIS, Ebola, Syria, AIDS, Alabama losing, and mental health … plus historical references to influenza, Pearl Harbor, the atomic bomb, the Holocaust, Jim Crow Vietnam and Korean wars, Cold War, Racism, Rwanda, and more. And let me tell you something, I’m a connect-the-dots type of guy, so I know the comment element … the fact that ties everything all together … and it won’t take long to read … they are all President Obama’s fault.

    • etomczyk

      January 3, 2015 at 7:00 pm

      Frank: LOL, LOL, LOL!! I wish I had thought of that line–“it’s all President Obama’s fault.” I would have tied up the post with it. I genuinely guffawed! Happy New Year, my friend.

      • aFrankAngle

        January 4, 2015 at 1:43 pm

        Hooray for me for creating a big laugh!

  5. Flamingo Dancer

    January 3, 2015 at 5:20 pm

    What a joy to have read your writing. Thank you.

  6. Elyse

    January 3, 2015 at 6:05 pm

    Happy New Year, Eleanor!!!! I hope that it’s a good one for all of us — and for the country and humanity as a whole.

    You are so right about so many things you covered in this post. I especially appreciate your comment that you wouldn’t have wanted to be a black woman at any other time in history. While I”m not black, I can say that as a woman, I’m glad to be where and when I am. Life is immeasurably better for me than it was for my mother and for my grandmother and her mother and so on back up the line. And it is better for my equally white niece who married a black man and gave birth to a beautiful bi-racial daughter. Life is good for the XXs!

    And now we need to figure out when we can meet for lunch or a drink!

    • etomczyk

      January 3, 2015 at 7:08 pm

      Elyse: So true! And what a delightful story about your niece and hubby and their beautiful daughter. Life is truly good.

      I definitely have you at the top of my list for a lunch get together. I have some business situations and travel to work through Jan/Feb, but will touch base with you in early March. All the best to you in 2015. Cheers!

  7. Kirsten

    January 3, 2015 at 11:05 pm

    Happy new year to one of my favorite families!

    • etomczyk

      January 4, 2015 at 12:02 am

      Kirsten: Ditto . . .! 🙂

  8. Let's CUT the Crap!

    January 4, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Happy NEW Year! Good to read you again. True, it’s been a stinky year and we can all pray this one we will all do better. You covered it all.

    I would have loved to be a fly on the wall at your Christmas celebrations, and am glad you found your black Baby Jesus. ❤ ❤

    • etomczyk

      January 4, 2015 at 9:45 am

      Hi Tess: A very Happy New Year to you as well. I am glad we found the little tiny Black Baby Jesus. I’m rather fond of that version of Jesus. We figured it out that all three were guilty of the theft. The boy took it and stuck it in his pocket, but the doll fell out on the floor during his travels around and about. Chuck discovered it and started tossing it in the air and Wednesday Addams snatched it away and pushed it under the couch where she had put everything that she didn’t want the new pup to get. At least that is my theory and I’m sticking to it! 🙂

      • Let's CUT the Crap!

        January 4, 2015 at 11:41 am

        Their shenanigans make for a delightful story. 🙂

  9. valentinelogar

    January 4, 2015 at 4:02 pm

    Jubilant 2015! I was so happy to see you in my e-mail, so joyful to have you back though I knew your break was a renewal for you.

    You are so correct, 2014 was a bit of a painful reminder of some of the terrible. Like you, I will hope for better. I think though I will hope for some of the better before some of those who are perpetrating meet their great reward.

    Glad you found Black Baby Jesus!

    • etomczyk

      January 4, 2015 at 5:20 pm

      Val: A jubilant 2015 right back at you! Glad to be back and looking forward to catching up with what you’ve written since I’ve been gone. Wishing you all the best this year, my friend.

  10. composerinthegarden

    January 4, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    Eleanor, wonderful as always! My mother’s cat used to curl up around the nativity set; she never stole anything, just appropriated the entire Holy family like a litter of kittens 🙂 Your list of suggested reading subjects brought to mind Steven Pinker’s book “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined.” He has the research to suggest that we live in better times, in spite of what the media would have us believe.

    Glad to hear that you had a joyful holiday – may you have a joyful new year filled with new adventures and creative opportunities!

  11. calvin

    January 4, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    There was Jesus Birthday Cakes here North of the 49th in addition to hearing a string of children performers renditions of ‘Happy Birthday Jesus’ and ‘Happy Birthday Baby Jesus’ in Christmas concerts -thanks to Pinterest and the Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. A perfect way to involve younger children -say five an under and six through 90+++.

    ‘E’ the message of your post had me thinking. How might a Hindu, Muslim, Hebrew, Mystic or any practicing religious tradition respond? Offended? Dismiss it? Embrace it? -et. al. Given the notion ‘the world is changing for the better’ the latter if one plays the percentages, embrace is very likely. The world is becoming more tolerant. More excepting and adapting; despite the viruses-like actions of certain segments of humankind. The delightful Muslim cashier in the department store I was shopping at just before Christmas, whom with a sincere smile, wished me a ‘very Merry Christmas then told me to get lost because I was teasing her with the box of Chocolates I just purchased, would find your story of precious family time a beautiful thing. That despite the absence of ‘Black Baby Jesus’ Christmas happened decked out in grace, love and reverence.

    Christmas and the inherent traditions it encompasses is changing an expanding. Peoples and families from varying backgrounds are embracing the Spirit of Christmas, and no I don’t believe it is because of the commercialism. It is because of the intent of the message -peace on earth.

    All the best in 2015 to you Eleanor and your family and significant visiting poochie friends. And to re-quote you and the lyrics, ‘say goodbye to the year that was a bust, but not between the two of us’.


    P.S. I suspected it was a greasy paw job. I know people think Elvira has that Gandhi / Dali Lama thing going for her, but she is a sneaky little kleptomaniac at times with panties and underwear a favourite target, followed by socks and audio ear-buds.

  12. talesfromthemotherland

    January 7, 2015 at 11:17 pm

    Eleanor, this post brought me right into your beautiful holiday– I could imagine the scene of the crime and the desperate search for BBJ. What joy, to share that with you, through your wonderful writing. The review of the less joyful events from 2014 cut deep, as they should. You are so gifted at bringing it all front and center. Thanks for sharing your informed, wise views on the year that was and the one that is coming. I’m grateful to have spent another year with you. xo

  13. Allie

    January 15, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Hang on, Sloopy, Sloopy hang on!! O-H-I-O!

    From one Buckeye fan to another, congrats on the win!


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