Is this Oz? An Almira and Glinda invitation at Christmas Eve dinner

Stills from the movie, The Wizard of Oz
(Top) Almira Gulch. (Middle) Almira depicted as the Wicked Witch of the West. 
(Bottom) Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.

I am doing a daily exercise (Melodie Beattie) where I give thanks for things I might normally resist. I wake, self-reflect as a way to see what is meaningful, and within thirty minutes begin writing. Then I exchange my list of gratitudes by email with a partner who also writes a list. After reading my list, a partner writes back something like, “I’m here. I’m listening,” as a witness rather than as someone with an opinion, suggestion, or solution.  

I’m grateful for Christmas Eve dinner with Terry at a favorite place on Longboat Key. I get out of the car and T says, “Susan, stand under that OPEN neon sign. I want to take your picture.” I feel flattered that he thinks of me when he sees the word open. I want to be that. And just as I stand under the sign, Harry, the owner of the restaurant comes out and yells, “Susan!” and walks over and hugs me heartily.

I like that and count one two gifts in one minute.

Terry and I are the only ones in the restaurant because it’s so early, or so it seems until we sit and see another couple: an older blind woman and her elderly father.

I know she’s blind because she proclaims it. With exasperation, she extorts with exactness, “Read me the menu again. Shrimp is not a second course; it’s a first course. Get it right. I’m just trying to figure out if there’s bacon in it. I’m confused. Just read it.” He does. “Read it again.” He reads. She interrupts, “Mussels, mussels? Is there bacon in the mussels? I just don’t eat meat and I’m blind or I’d read the menu myself. Is that a second or third course?”

Her intonation is acute and clear. She sounds like Almira Gulch, depicted as the Wicked Witch of the West in Oz where she says, “I’ll get you, my pretty-and your little dog too! HAAAA HA HA HA HA HA.”

And here, right on Christmas Eve, I’m invited to my very best practice in acceptance and tolerance.

And you know what, aware that a (blind) guru is in the room, I giggle.

T raises his eyebrows and I giggle again.

Almira’s Dad seems conditioned to her what-to-eat questions and pointed tone. Perhaps he knows what I do: Almira, the wicked witch, is also Glinda, that kind, angel-princess in a white dress who with her wand says to Dorothy as she touches her red-sequin shoes, “You’ve always had what you need.”

Maybe that Dad also sees what I do: his daughter has basic goodness. Glinda goodness. It’s just that somehow that light switch is not turned on. (At least not right now.)

As the meal progresses, my feeling is that things work out in the end.
Or, at least during dessert.

When Harry’s famous decadent brownie, homemade ice cream, chocolate shavings with a just-right amount of whipped cream topped with a plump, tart cherry arrives, daughter-who-does-not-see screeches: “Is there whipped cream on it?”

Dad says nothing. But he acts. He fist grabs that ice-cream with whipped topping and cherry, and pops it in his mouth. With a gulp and a swallow, he muffles a succinct “no!”

And I enjoy a ho, ho, ho.


  1. What a wonderful story and I love the perfect dessert ending. :-)

    1. Deborah, I couldn't have made up a better story ending.

  2. Have you heard the story about the time Mr. Rogers had the woman who played Almira on his show? He explained that many children had written in about how scared they were by the Wicked Witch in the Oz movie. The woman talked about acting and makeup, and then they showed how the makeup and costume were done. So even when the actress was in full Wicked Witch mode, the viewers could see she was actually just that nice old lady, and didn't need to be afraid.

    1. Scott, I didn't see that episode (and I've seen a lot), but it sounds just like Mr. Rogers to help us see the nice old lady when the actress was in full Wicked Witch mode.

      I'm thrilled that you visited, Scott! Thank you.

  3. So beautiful - recognising that the wicked witch and the angel princess can be both sides of the same person. It sounds like you've had a magical Christmas Eve!

    1. Yes, Tat. Recognizing that we have both sides inside us makes me realize I have choices about my behavior. My holiday is still magical. I hope yours is, too.

  4. Oh my goodness, I LOVE how you can find the humor in this incident! Usually, I take a deep breath and say in my head, "thank you for the contrast" whenever witnessing a situation such as this one. Because I figure without contrast, we wouldn't be able to appreciate the good moments as deeply. You had me laughing... THANK YOU!

    1. Here's to contrast! It's so great to laugh with company, Elda. Happy moment, day, and new year.

  5. I love this story! The moment when the dad snatches away the whipped cream -- priceless.

    Just this morning, I came across a quote from Glinda the Good Witch in a book, and I thought of this blog post and had to rush back to comment.

    Here's the quote that inspired me: "You've always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it for yourself."

    Thank you, Susan, for sharing the absurdity of the moment and the acceptance of your heart.

    1. Thank you, Harmony! That Glinda sure is a smarty pants. So we've always had the power, we just have to (re)learn it. And oh my gosh, what a delicious absurdity. Your visit back to share it with me--I don't take that for granted. So appreciative.