Martha Stewart is about halfway through her federal five-month sentence for, I forget what exactly, but something to do with bad stock juju and lying about something she was never charged with in the first place. Regardless, she wanders the grounds of the women’s federal prison camp in Alderson, W.Va, pondering the verities, chatting with fellow miscreants.
She posted this on her website today:
- Dear Friends,
When one is incarcerated with 1,200 other inmates, it is hard to be selfish at Christmas — hard to think of Christmases past and Christmases future — that I know will be as they always were for me — beautiful! So many of the women here in Alderson will never have the joy and wellbeing that you and I experience. Many of them have been here for years — devoid of care, devoid of love, devoid of family.
I beseech you all to think about these women — to encourage the American people to ask for reforms, both in sentencing guidelines, in length of incarceration for nonviolent first-time offenders, and for those involved in drug-taking. They would be much better served in a true rehabilitation center than in prison where there is no real help, no real programs to rehabilitate, no programs to educate, no way to be prepared for life “out there” where each person will ultimately find herself, many with no skills and no preparation for living.
I am fine, really. I look forward to being home, to getting back to my valuable work, to creating, cooking, and making television. I have had time to think, time to write, time to exercise, time to not eat the bad food, and time to walk and contemplate the future. I’ve had my work here too. Cleaning has been my job – washing, scrubbing, sweeping, vacuuming, raking leaves, and much more. But like everyone else here, I would rather be doing all of this in my own home, and not here — away from family and friends.
I want to thank you again, and again, for your support and encouragement. You have been so terrific to me and to everyone who stood by me. I appreciate everything you have done, your emails, your letters, and your kind, kind words.
We were listening to Martha’s Chrismas music collection the other night, entitled, with almost ineffable irony, Home For the Holidays, and it is actually quite a fine, quirky little set.
The Emmylou Harris harmony take on “The First Noel” is folksy, sweet and thrilling, the Pretenders’ “2000 Miles” is a touching modern classic and is about how far Martha feels from home these days. Greg Lake’s thunderously orchestral, portentious “I Believe In Father Christmas” works nonetheless, and the Roches’ eccentric three-part harmony is put to endearing use on “Silver Bells.”
Eartha Kitt purrs out “Santa Baby” with a sensual force sure to get a rise out of any Santa worth his suit, David Bowie and Bing Crosby’s odd couple pairing for a ’70s TV special on “Little Drummer Boy/Peace On Earth” has rightly become a standard, as has Charles Brown’s intimate, uptown piano blues reading of “Merry Christmas Baby,” and Loreena McKennitt’s “Good King Wenceslas” has an appealing medieval Celtic nobility and mystery about it.
Judy Garland’s “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” — written for her in 1944 by Ralph Blane and Hugh Martin for the MGM musical Meet Me in St. Louis — is one of the saddest, most touching and profoundly vulnerable performances on record, her trembling voice fighting through to the final stanza:
Through the years
We all will be together,
If the Fates allow
Until then, we’ll have to muddle through somehow
And have yourself a merry little Christmas now.
We don’t typically equate Christmas with “muddling through,” at least in song, but there is an emotional honesty here that recognizes muddling through is sometimes the best we can do as the Fates bandy us about like feathers in a gale.
Martha Stewart can relate, this year more than ever.