December WAG is here

When we were casting about for sub-themes for our year of “2020 Visions,” we decided that December would be about fascinating people. But as the coronavirus has deepened in the United States, we quickly pivoted – there’s a 2020 word for you – to “Visions of Light.”

In winter, the darkest of seasons in the Northern Hemisphere, we encounter, well, the darkest of seasons this year. Naturally, we seek out light, its warmth and its heat. And so we say, “Let there be light” – literally, with a story on indoor lighting to brighten the feathering of everyone’s nest. In contrast, Jeremy considers the outdoor illuminations so popular at this time of year, while also noting the role light plays in every religion from the Abrahamic faiths to Hinduism.

But there is no light without darkness, as we discuss in our opening essay. The stars’ twinkle is visible only in an inky sky, while the sparkle of precious jewels and metals is more vivid in black or midnight blue velvet cases. Shadow has shaped light in every art form, from chiaroscuro-tinged paintings to film noir. Light and dark, then, are counterbalances. We don’t have to succumb to our psychological darkness, but we do have to acknowledge it to achieve that balance.

Fortunately, we have a lot of stories in this issue to help you regain or keep your equilibrium. Christopher J. Robles, M.D., of White Plains Hospital Physician Associates, offers some cogent strategies for coping with Covid anxiety. Among them is yoga, which Jeremy delves into with Purchase model-turned-yogi Janelle Berger. Wares columnist Cami has tips to take some of the stress out of socially distanced holiday gatherings.

We also connect with some luminaries, who, in the spirit of “namaste,” the word that closes many yoga practices, say in effect, “From the light in me to the light in thee.” They may be not be as famous as Anthony Fauci, M.D., recently honored at New York Medical College’s Founder’s Dinner for his grace-filled leadership during the Covid crisis; or William and Catherine, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, who help keep the British royal family present with their compassionate steadiness (Phil’s story); or John Oliver, host of HBO’s “Last Night This Week With John Oliver,” who’s long-running “feud” with Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton has benefited Connecticut charities; or longtime Americana musician-songwriter David Bromberg (Gregg’s interview), out with a new CD/DVD package, “Big Road.”

But our local luminaries are doing much to shine a light on others. Diane Garrett of Diane’s Books in Greenwich pairs readers with just the right book (Jeremy’s story). New Canaan Realtor and YouTube performer Mark Pires teams his audience with the right residences and some much needed entertainment (Phil’s story).  Runa Knapp and Jasmine Silver of connectalent match skilled professionals, often working moms like themselves, with firms in Fairfield County and beyond that value what the company calls “a work/life balance.” Suzanne McCann of Destination: College helps underserved student-athletes at Mount Vernon High School and Greenburgh’s Woodlands High School achieve their higher education aspirations. And Sharon Prince, founding CEO of Grace Farms Foundation in New Canaan, seeks to eradicate forced labor with the foundation’s Design for Freedom program.

We also shed light on some great sources of retail therapy – Pink in Rye for last-minute gifts; AC Designs in Bedford Hills for home décor; and eternally Mary Jane Denzer in White Plains for luxe dresses for the occasions that continue virtually and will return on a grander scale in person some day.

As will travel to evocative places like the Isla Bella Beach Resort in the Florida Keys (Jeremy again) or Ireland’s Wild Atlantic Way (Barbara’s story). And when you do travel, you’ll want to take along some of the items in Debbi’s annual gift guide, suitable for this season’s armchair tourist as well.

But should we be discussing things and places in a year of social distancing in which so many have lost their lives, loved ones and livelihoods? We think so, because things and places are only reminders of what and whom we love. Our “Visions of Light” issue includes a tribute to Lord & Taylor Eastchester, one of the great, historic stores in Westchester County, an emporium of fashion and beauty that helped many of us mark our rites of passage.

It’s closing soon but lives already in memory as a place that deepened our relationships and our sense of ourselves, for things and places are never only about themselves. They’re really about the experiences we had with them and the people we shared them with.

We are, Christianity tells us, a people of the light who must not hide it under a bushel. By sharing our individual lights in a season of darkness, we join them with those of others and, in that way, light the whole world.

From all of us at WAG, we wish you a holiday season filled with light and joy.

A 2020 YWCA White Plains & Central Westchester Visionary Award winner and a 2018 Folio Women in Media Award Winner, Georgette Gouveia is the author of “Burying the Dead,” “Daimon: A Novel of Alexander the Great” and “Seamless Sky” (JMS Books), as well as “The Penalty for Holding,” a 2018 Lambda Literary Award finalist (JMS Books), and “Water Music” (Greenleaf Book Group). They’re part of her series of novels, “The Games Men Play,” also the name of the sports/culture blog she writes.

Her short story “The Glass Door,” about love in the time of the coronavirus, was recently published by JMS.  Read WAG’s serialization of “Seamless Sky” here.  For more, visit thegamesmenplay.com.

Georgette Gouveia

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