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I hope this email finds you safe, cozy, and healthy this Holiday Season! It snowed quite a bit in Duluth yesterday, and that combined with Solstice + the Christmas star + our 7th wedding anniversary last night, I am starting to feel festive for real now! Were you able to get a glimpse of the Great Conjunction where you live? I guess there are still a few days left to see it...

Anyway, I've been struggling to write this newsletter, because it's just so hard to know what to say right now. This is definitely a holiday season like no other... If I've realized anything in the last couple months, it's this: That although we are all connected by this pandemic, we are all experiencing it differently. Some of us are dealing with intense grief, loneliness, financial insecurity, illness, and depression. Others are carrying on with much of life unchanged, prepping with the holidays and processing the pandemic as more of a background noise. Many of us are somewhere in the middle, depending on the day.

So I wish I could write a unique note to each of you, one of comfort, cheer, or presence... Whatever it is you need the most this holiday season. But since this one letter goes out to many different souls, all I can say is that I'm wishing you well, that the entirety of humanity is in my prayers at the moment. I hope you are able to find a glimpse of peace, goodwill, and cheer this season, however small or brief.
Celebrating Disability Rights this Month
Way back on December 3rd, it was the International Day of Disabled Persons 2020. So in honor of a day I hold very dear, I wanted to share this interview that Paul & I did with the inimitable Judy Heumann, one of the founders of the Disability Rights Movement.

I also wanted to share this new blog and arts contest for disabled youth... It's called Perceptions, and it's being spearheaded by a 16-year old Disability Rights Advocate named Libby. The goal of her website (and the arts contest!) is to build "an international community amplifying the voices of young people with disabilities through various art forms"... A pretty amazing vision, to be sure.

Tireless advocates like Judy Heumann and young people like Libby both give me hope that we can emerge from this difficult time stronger than before, with more diverse perspectives at the table.
Christmas Carol Singalong on Zoom:
Reserve Your Spot for December 23rd!
Well it's true that this holiday season looks very different than it normally does, there are still some fun ways to celebrate remotely... Including this Christmas Carol Singalong on December 23rd!

Practically every year I do a hometown Christmas show at Wussow's Concert Cafe, so this year instead of canceling it entirely, I decided to move it onto Zoom! Please join us on Wednesday night (Christmas Eve-Eve) for a singalong of beloved Christmas Carols with me, my parents, and several remote special guests!

Suggested donation is $15, and all tips & donations will be split between Wussow's, Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank, and the artists. As a thank you for their continued support, all Patreon supporters get to attend for free! If you're not a member of my Patreon Team, you can reserve your seat at Eventbrite right here.

Can't attend live, but still want to sing? Not a problem! Everyone who registers will get access to the unlisted recording of the event.
Quarantine Concerts on YouTube:
Big Guest Artist Announcement!
As many of you know, I've been doing a weekly YouTube show since March called Quarantine Concerts (you can watch the backlog here), and they've become a really fun little community of concertgoers! Every week I have a different special guest who beams in remotely for the show. This week, December 27th, I have Siobhan O'Brien, a musical transplant from Ireland to the U.S.

And next month I am beyond delighted to welcome Jeff Tweedy of Wilco and his wonderful and talented son, Spencer Tweedy! They were originally scheduled for December 6th, but unforeseeable complications arose... I am happy to say they were able to reschedule to January 17th! These are some amazing musicians and delightful humans, so you don't want to miss this episode!
Join Us for Monthly Patreon Zooms...
The Fun Continues on January 10th!
As many of you know, I am currently working on a book. I've already started it, but the bulk of writing will take place from January to April. In order to sustain myself during this long-planned "writing sabbatical" (and to build an online community that doesn't revolve around social media), I started a Patreon page a little over a year ago.

Patreon is a monthly subscription that gives you access to all my new work as it comes out, more frequent and personal updates, and even writing excerpts. I also started a monthly Zoom call just for Patrons that happens the second Sunday of every month.

This Zoom session is a fun chance for us to see each other face-to-face, and to discuss a pre-determined topic. On December 13th we discussed music's role in our lives, and the chat was so interesting and invigorating! There are some pretty cool people on this Patreon Team, and I can't wait for our next Zoom session!

On January 10th we'll be talking about the ways disability has impacted our lives, and our connection (if any) to the Disability Rights Movement. Want to get in on the fun? Join my Patreon Team here to receive the private Zoom link each month!
Closing Thoughts on 2020
& Dreams for The Year Ahead
So many things have been brought to light since March. This year has forced me to be stationary after several years on the road, and I must say, despite the emotional roller-coaster this year has brought, nature has not disappointed me. Even in the one square mile around our apartment, I've been noticing birds, flowers, berries, animals, stars, moon cycles, and snowflakes that I never took the time to really examine before. Despite all the suffering around us, there is beauty and comfort in the outdoors.

In particular, this Advent season has been a very powerful time of reflection. I know that surely not all of you are religious or even spiritual (my own beliefs comprise a tangled web of Quaker Christianity / Buddhism / Magick / Reincarnation), but reflecting on what it means to wait for the Light, and what Jesus really stood for in his life can give us all a reason to ponder... This passage in particular has been on my mind. In Matthew 25, Jesus tells this story:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’

 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’

THE LEAST OF THESE is a phrase that has been rolling around in my head a lot these days. In modern times, we often consider our "neighbors" to be our literal neighbors - as well as our family, friends, coworkers, and faith community. But in reality, I think spirituality and social justice are calling us to look much farther beyond those boundary lines to see our neighbor. Loving our neighbor is not about loving any particular community... It's about loving everyone, especially the "least of these."

Many of the people who have been most impacted by Coronavirus have been what Jesus would describe as The Least of These... Certainly not less inherently valuable, but the people society tends to forget in its rush. The sick, the widows, the poor, those in jails or institutions. And even though hope is on the horizon with a vaccine, I fear we have several dark months ahead of us before life will really begin to expand again.

This means we still have sacrifices to make, we still have to be careful, we still have to live in a way that doesn't needlessly put others at risk. Everyone's situation is different, and we all can't stay home 24/7... But each of us SHOULD do what we CAN do to keep our neighbors safe. Every time you put on your mask and keep your distance from others, every time you forego a large gathering and attend virtually instead, or every time you keep in-person celebrations to your household or your "germ pod" (or just choose to Zoom)... Every time you make these choices, you are loving your neighbor. You are protecting and caring for The Least of These. No matter your faith (or absence of it), I think we can most likely agree that caring for others is bound to make the world a kinder, more just, and more welcoming place for everyone.

Anyway, I'm not done pondering this passage in my own life... I want 2021 to be centered on doing more good and less harm to The Least of These. What ideas, projects, or goals do YOU want to focus on in 2021? Please feel free to reply to this newsletter to let me know!

Take the best of care this winter, and have a wonderful Holiday Season... Thanks so much for your support, and see you in 2021!

Love and Good Wishes,
Gaelynn Lea
Want to connect with me? Join my Patreon Team or come to a live-stream show on my YouTube Channel!