Category Archives: holidays

Unforgettable lessons

There are books that I read which are impossible to put down, a recent example being The Girl on the Train. I was so eager to find out what really happened that I refused to stop reading until I finished the book. I was neither disappointed, nor regretful of my decision to push on until I reached that final page and felt a welcome sense of resolution. It was a really good read.

The book I’m reading now though, is, if you’ll pardon the pun, a whole different story. Unforgettable: A Son, a Mother, and the Lessons of a Lifetime by NPR newsman, Scott Simon, is a work that I don’t want to finish. You see, if I finish it, the story will end and I so want the story (and Scott’s mother’s life) to continue.  Simon’s book, a memoir of his mother, and their life together, originated as a series of Tweets during his mother’s time in the intensive care unit at the end of her life. The time Simon and his mother shared together in the hospital was a quilt of memories, thoughts, laughter and songs that provided comfort and solace to them both as they faced their final days together.

Below are some my favorite nuggets of wisdom. Simon’s Tweets appear, as in the book, in bold text. Quotes are the words of his mother, Patricia.

  • I just realized: she once had to let me go into the big wide world. Now I have to let her go the same way.
  • “You tell your children something a hundred times…You’re lucky if they remember one or two. Dos, don’ts, count for almost nothing. All they remember is what you do. Whether you want them to or not.”
  • I love holding my mother’s hand. Haven’t held it like this since I was 9. Why did I stop? I thought it unmanly? What crap.
  • “Show children the best people and places. Let them know they belong.”
  • She will make the face of heaven shine so fine that all the world will be in love with night.

There’s so much wisdom in this book, so much love and laughter that I wish it went beyond the mere 244 print pages, that Patricia’s life went beyond only 84 years. As a mom to three sons, I can’t help but read this and hope that at the end of my life my “boys” will honor me with an iota of the respect and appreciation that Scott shows his mother. I don’t need one of them to write a book or anything, but I love the picture I’ve drawn in my head of my children sharing the memories and moments that have woven us together forever.

Mother’s Day is coming. Buy this book.

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Filed under aging, Books, Boys, family, favorites, holidays, ideas, love, moms, Recommendations

Love, me

Image: //www.techiy.com

Image: //www.techiy.com

Don’t even approach my body unless you’ve first been between my ears. I’m 48, not 18.

True love isn’t roses and chocolate. It’s starting my car on a winter’s morning or bringing home pizza on a Friday night.

Love is buying me the Sunday paper on Saturday so I don’t have to go outside on a cold morning.

Love means being able to continue to believe.

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Filed under aging, holidays, love, musings, relationships, winter

15 for 2015

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  • To run for my own pleasure without measure.
  • To get out once or twice a month for the sole purpose of being social without the crutch of working.
  • To  eat quality food and drink copious amounts of water.
  • To strive to get Jeter out and active as much as possible.
  • To live an honest life.
  • To both smile and cry more often.
  • To keep practicing yoga.
  • To read more “classics” to expand my cultural knowledge.
  • To embrace the moment as frequently as possible.
  • To remain cognizant of motion.  Things may not always seem to move forward, but when they start moving backwards it probably is time to let go.
  • To not settle for less than I want – or deserve.
  • To love fiercely and tenderly.
  • To learn more handy woman skills.
  • To continue recording my journey.
  • To understand and accept that what I want may not be possible, but what I have is pretty damn remarkable.
It’s a new year.  Make it happy.

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Filed under aging, Exercise, family, holidays, love, musings, relationships

Laboring on Christmas Eve

Not to take anything away from Mary, but I did my share of work yesterday, too. The morning began with tending to two loaves of bread, prepping the ultimately fantastic beef roast and driving a friend to the airport, all prior to attending a 10:00 yoga class.

After the sweaty release of 75 minutes of hot yoga and a grande latte, things really got busy. There was brioche dough to make for Christmas morning cinnamon rolls along with sugar cookie dough for a (I swear!) last round of baking. And laundry. And a joyous dog walk/run with Jeter which required a follow-up bath for him and a bathroom scrubbing for me. My final exertions, sweeping, vacuuming, and getting vegetables ready to accompany dinner complete, I made myself a bourbon sour and stepped into the clean shower to wash away the efforts of the day.

The house was filled with the aroma of beef stuffed with garlic, parsley and horseradish roasting and the boys had set the table with festive linens and holiday tableware. I sliced some of the beautiful bread I had baked earlier and prepared to sit down, confident that I had remembered every last detail. Until I smelled smoke. I first looked in the kitchen, but there was nothing out of the norm there. Next stop: the dining room where I found a very different story.

The bread basket had apparently been placed too close to a candle and the wicker basket, linen napkin and nearby placemat were all on fire. This was not a smoldering, it was a full-out flaming situation and I instinctively scooped up the entire mess and hastily made for the sink, yelling for some assistance from the boys. The flames were quickly doused and I headed back to the dining room to survey the damage, duly noting the freshly charred area which will perennially mark Quinn’s place at the table.

After the excitement passed, I confessed to Griffin that I wasn’t sure if I had reacted appropriately. Was picking up the flaming stuff and making for the kitchen the right thing to do? Should I have addressed the situation differently? He looked at me and asked “Did you put the fire out? Is anything else destroyed?” When I admitted that there had been no further damage, he assured me that I had done exactly what needed to be done at precisely the right time.

Which kind of brings me back to Mary and Joseph and that manger. Maybe if we keep our eyes open for guidance, be it from the brightest star in the sky or a wise young man (or 3) it really will all be fine. Merry Christmas.

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Filed under Boys, Christmas, Dinner, family, holidays, musings, Uncategorized

My Christmas wish list, 2014

  1. A universe and population that has evolved to understand that we’re more alike than different.
  2. Fewer guns in that wiser universe.
  3. In my own personal DelSo planet,  the boys to clean their bedrooms.
  4. A romantic love that inspires.
  5. If number four doesn’t happen, Bradley Cooper would be an acceptable alternative.

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Filed under Boys, Christmas, holidays, ideas, love

Gifts of the season

So far, it’s been a particularly relaxed holiday season. I’ve been on my game – my freezer has 8 quarts of assorted homemade cookie dough ready to thaw and bake, the door has a wreath and the dining room a decorated tree. The last of the Christmas cards went in the mail 3 days ago and I’ve got 4 rolls of wrapping paper – and tape.

Holiday preparations are so well in hand that I’m adding challenges to the upcoming days. I’ve got a few recipes which I’ll be debuting over the next few days, a riff on apple fritter waffle donuts, overnight pull-apart brioche cinnamon roll bread and a killer roast for Christmas Eve. And, yes, I already ordered the beef from the butcher. How did I manage to be so on top of things? I’d have to say it was because I remembered to put a few things for myself on this year’s gift list.

Last week, I loaded two of the three boys into the car and drove to go pick out a tree. At Price Chopper. Yep, we bought our tree from the Golubs, the same folks from whom I bought the potatoes and onions for our latkes. Talk about one-stop shopping! Generally we go out to rural Rensselear County for our tree, not suburban Slinglerlands, but the week’s wet snow made the appeal of tromping through a field searching for a tree pretty minimal. I gave myself the gift of simplicity. $35.00 and car filled with pine needles later, we have, as always, the perfect tree.

Last night, I had a hankering for latkes. Even though it was Friday and I felt kind of beat, I made the effort to grate the potatoes and chop the onion and fry a batch of latkes. With each step, I considered, then accepted, what I had to do next to get this out of the norm meal on the table. As the pancakes fried, I peeled apples for a quick sauce and grilled sausages. We didn’t sit down to enjoy our dinner until after  8:00, but I felt so relaxed because I didn’t rush the process or myself. I gave myself the gift of indulging in something I was really craving – sour cream and generous glass of Riesling included.

During these often hectic holiday weeks, when so very much (festivities, shopping, food and drink) is crammed into each day, I purposefully left my calendar open. I quietly refused to commit myself or take on obligations. It has been remarkable. I’ve been available to do some fun relatively last minute things.  I’ve been writing and reading, taking long walks with Jeter and enjoying my home and boys. I gave myself the gift of time.

I hope you’re giving yourself something priceless, too.

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Filed under aging, Boys, Christmas, Cooking, family, holidays, musings, writing

A believer no more

For the first time in 18 years my home is devoid of believers. Let me tell you, it makes for a different sort of holiday build up. No longer is it necessary to hide the packages left on my front porch by the postal carrier. Now, I just stack them up as unobtrusively as possible, tempting the boys to shake and rattle them with full knowledge that electronics don’t really respond well to that sort of treatment.

While there is a certain freedom in no longer believing in someone, it is hard to let go of all the years of faithfully subscribing to a less than realistic possibility. Letting go of belief requires abandoning hope, or giving up, on some level. It’s hard.

When Quinn told me that he “knows that Santa isn’t real,” my initial impulse was to try to persuade him that he was wrong. I wanted the magic of Christmas to stay, even if just for one more year. After thinking about it, I recognized that while it is unlikely that Quinn will ever again truly believe in the fantasy of a red-clad, jolly old man, there remain many holiday traditions to which he can continue to hold firmly. Things like the gift of giving, the custom of a festive Christmas Eve meal and decorations, the gathering of friends and family and the sharing of joy and laughter.

I’d like to believe that each of my children will continue to believe, in some fashion, in magical possibilities.  Despite his skepticism, Quinn has already shared that he intends to leave a note and cookies, “just in case.”  You see, just as young Virginia was told so many years ago…

Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see.

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Filed under Boys, Christmas, holidays