Tis the Season

Ideas from years ago, still worth consideration today. Hohoho!!

Nine Cent Girl

Tis the Season for gift-giving, so naturally I have some advice ! Although I have no intention of contradicting last year’s post The Art of Giving this year’s suggestions are a bit different. You see, these gifts can’t be bought in a store or wrapped in shiny paper, instead they are all experiential. It is my belief that experience is the best gift of all, and perhaps the most important…

Also, this year I grouped my gift-giving ideas in age groups, so you can read with your particular family and friends’ needs in mind.

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memories make the memoir

Church was like my foot. It was always there and my mother made sure we were properly scrubbed up for the event. Nothing prevented our going. Even when my father announced that until the Catholics returned to Latin he would not attend mass, we did. Even when the entire hour became an uncomfortable ritual of handshakes and peace kisses, we went.

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Wait, what?

Why yes, it is true. Tonight, I’ve boarded a westward plane, headed to celebrate a monumental birthday with this good-looking guy. Over the weekend, there will be ocean swims, a few cocktails, several sensational sunsets, and plenty of dancing.

kyrie

Take time out to be with those you love.

That’s pretty much all we need to remember in life.

If we do, the sweet memories will carry us through all the rest.

XXOO

 

another farewell

This photo was captured on my last afternoon with both my mother and my godmother, and it will be a precious memento for years to come. We stood on a balcony in the Palm Beach sunshine and did nothing but smile in that embrace. Now, they are both gone, but I count myself the luckiest of girls to have been with them for six decades, for their love is an epic tale.

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An Angelic Light

3kidsWe gathered in Austin, coming from one coast or the other, to raise a glass and give our cheer, for a moment all so dear. Parents and brothers and sisters, children too, now extended across the two families: this is what a marriage brings together.

During the morning we watched the Annual Pet Parade, and discovered what gems we could in the afternoon. At night, we donned our best to gather in Justine’s secret garden and celebrate with the newlyweds. There were, of course, tears here and there, knowing just how much our mother would have loved this fabulous party. She would have crafted a poem to recite for the occasion, as she did for so many birthdays and anniversaries and weddings. Filled with clever and not so clever rhymes, and we would have listened and laughed and so enjoyed her theatrics. Instead, auspiciously, my brother recited Wordsworth, from memory, to his new bride, and by doing so he made us laugh, he caused us to remember, and he helped us all to look forward.

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A Trillion Stars + One

With two-carts of groceries, the grape juice, egg noodles, green beans and a thousand other items to feed 12 people for four days mom in addition to serving the Big Dinner, making beds of every sort in every possible nook, gathering extra blankets and towels and pillows, wrapping gifts and hanging festive lights, remembering both cranberry and stuffing recipes, lining the mantle and every table top with Santas galore, setting up the creche, first airport run, second, arranging for the third, lighting the tree star, rolling out the dough, baking pies and decorating sugar cookies, hanging the stockings, getting the turkey in the oven before noon, popping a few corks, conducting a proper Yankee swap with plenty of steals, giving the cheer, sharing our blessings, holding hands to voice our thanks before the feast, the walking talks and monster hike and ping-pong and even a new Star Wars! All done without our Shinning Christmas Star who would have loved this holiday; loved for those who came despite their sorrow, for those who came despite their inevitable travel snafus, and for those who brought extra cheer to fill the gap. Despite the long shadow, Christmas 2015 will be remembered for the best reasons.

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the Madonna, revisited

After a long work week, a very long day, and a longer drive, we arrive just before 11 to the dark house. My sister is still in her car when we pull in the driveway behind her. Too sad to open the front door and face the emptiness. But together we go in, and together we begin to sort through all that’s still there.

Our mother made an inviting home for all who visited. A god-daughter stopping by for a luncheon. Her sister up from Philadelphia for the weekend. Dinner parties with old friends and new. Holiday meals and birthdays. All reasons for her to arrange flowers and light candles along her dining room table. My daughter was a summer-long guest while she took on a NYC internship; my youngest son stayed for the whole year after college as he found a job, himself, direction. And always her six coming and going, stopping by to enjoy her hospitality. This, her last home, is imbued with bright sunshine, streaming in all afternoon, as well as reflecting from the yellow walls and warm-toned furnishing.

She was, however, a rolling stone, often on one of her trips. Only in “her pad” (as she referred to her home) here and there. She visited us in Vermont, other children and grandchildren in California, her siblings in Florida, traveled across Europe, exploring the National Parks, Alaska, Egypt, even the Panama Canal. Kept moving that one.

On Saturday we wake early, dash about, reeling like at a garage sale of memories; we pack up the last of her, even though I still see her reflection in the mirror over her dresser as she pulls out a well-worn cashmere sweater from the third drawer. Funny how I can still remember where she kept what, even though her clothes are folded in piles across her bed now, and it’s been decades since I even looked in those drawers.

But now we empty kitchen cupboards and cabinets, drawers and closets, making piles for what goes where, the whole of her boxed and sealed, made ready to be transported elsewhere. How can one laugh while undertaking such a sorrowful task? In my mother’s joyful home, how could one not? So we do. At the end of the weekend, we each drive away with carloads of her, off to our separate homes, carting simple objects made priceless by memory.

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What follows this paragraph was posted in November of 2012. For those who were lucky enough to have visited my mother’s home or for those of you who read this blog way back then, I hope this post is a sweet remembrance. For the rest, I invite you in for a glimpse of her home as it was, before, yes, before she was divided into neat piles; for, as we have come to say, mom is everywhere. Indeed.

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