Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Passing the torch of family traditions

About five years ago a tectonic plate shift took place in our family over the holidays. Because there were more of them, the kids sat at the big table. We parents sat in the adjacent room, in sight but out of the line of fire of dinner rolls being pitched to each other. It was a shift for sure, and a welcomed one, because our family was growing. As time went on, high chairs and booster seats filled in the spaces around that big table. It was fun to see young parents teaching table manners, which meant no roll throwing.

This year everything shifted again.

For 38 years my husband and I have hosted our families Christmas Eve celebration. Early on it was because as a young couple, blending family and friends on one night made sense. As our families grew and expanded it didn’t matter that we were busting at the seams. It meant more fun. When we moved to a big house, and my mother-law lived in an attached apartment, our home became the gathering place for almost all celebrations.

From intimate to well over a hundred I loved that our beautiful home was the center around which memories were created. With double ovens and my mother-in-law’s as a third, her fridge, our fridge and an old beer fridge in the basement, large get-togethers were relatively easy to organize and enjoy. But always the first concern was that my beloved mother-in-law was able to comfortably enjoy all of it, then simply go home to the apartment next door, when she got tired.

After my mother-in-law passed away, and the apartment emptied of our children and spouses saving money for homes of their own, we downsized last summer. Half the house and a third of the appliances made this year’s Thanksgiving a challenge. But we pulled it off.

The kids table was the biggest of the three I set. The holiday went well but I knew with Christmas Eve on the horizon hosting was going to be a monumental task. Space and less appliances were not the issue, time and age were. 
I still work full time, which means my off hours, which I used to spend doing things, I now spend healing from the tasks of the day. I say that with a smile but as anyone who is old enough for retirement, but still works full time knows, bouncing back is like rowing upstream, not impossible but it takes time. I don’t like to use the age-card but for the first time in all these years I was looking at entertaining on Christmas Eve, not as a welcomed tradition, but as a rote mandate.

Shortly after Thanksgiving I heard a whispered rumor that my nephew and his wife wanted to host the entire family on Christmas Eve in their beautiful new home. But, they were cautious as to how I would take to handing over the torch. Once I heard the rumor I wasn’t cautious at all, I pretty much lit the damn torch and threw it to them.

The relief was immense. With the weight of planning a meal and prepping the house for 25 during evenings after work, now someone else’s task, I could actually enjoy the season.

Christmas Eve was grand. My nephew and his wife’s house was spectacular, the food amazing and the gathering always as it has been, warm, fun and rowdy. I sat by the fire and took in the evening. After running in the race all these years I finally got to sit back and enjoy the spectacle from the grandstand.

Friday, January 6, 2017

A Mary Richards kind of revelation

Published Jan 3, 17
Years ago I was utterly, explicitly and without a doubt, alone.

Back then, I looked to my single lifestyle with a bit of excitement, some self-doubt and a kind of relief. I only had to answer to myself. But all these years later, as a long-married woman, I am viewed by some of my single friends as an outsider to the kind of lives they, not often but at times, endure.

As a divorced friend recently shared, she finds herself longing for that which she once was so pleased to shed, companionship. Her women friends are wonderful, she went on to say, but it would be nice to play golf or enjoy dinner and a movie with someone who likes to discuss the back nine instead innermost feelings. She wanted to know how she, a computer-challenged, bar hating, size 14, could meet someone with which to stare at stars at night, without the complications of wrinkling sheets?

Decades ago, when I was blond and stupid, (I’m not blond anymore), I identified with Mary Richards, played by Mary Tyler Moore on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Like her, during the chauvinist 1970s, I was past 30 and living in a studio apartment with a couch that opened up. Like her, I had the drive and dream as a single woman, “…to make it after all.” But unlike Mary, most of my friends were coupled as were my business associates. At the time it seemed to me as if almost everyone else walked hand in hand or snuggled next to each other in the corner booth of Howard Johnsons, and there I was reading old issues of The Saturday Evening Post, you guessed it, alone on a Saturday evening.

So, (true story), I prayed to God to send me someone, anyone to share my life — on work release or recently escaped, I didn’t care. I wanted someone else to change the channel and share eggs and bacon. Well, maybe not breakfast right away but it would have been nice to have someone else clear the snow off my windshield.

The next day, Walter (not his real name), walked through the front door of the store I owned. He was at least 20 years older than me, talkative, quirky, not ugly and interested in me.
Walter asked me out for dinner and a movie. I said yes.

On the afternoon before the big date Walter called, he had crashed his motorcycle. Feeling a bit bruised, he reneged on dinner and a movie but asked if I would like to come to his place for a few drinks after I closed the store. Alcohol on an empty stomach, at a biker’s house, why not.

Never married Walter had a decent house left to him by his parents. First up, a house tour while jazz blasted on the stereo. I hate jazz, it sounded like a bunch of middle school band instruments grinding in a blender.

Revelation, if I screamed no one could hear me.

First room on the tour, kitchen.
Walter opened the oven door. “See how clean my oven is.”
A little creeped-out I pretended to be impressed. As we walked back to the living room he cranked the middle school blender from pulse to puree.

Walter shouted, “Would you like to see the upstairs?”

Instinct, get out!

I was in my car and backing out before he closed the front door.
I’m not sure why, but all the way home, one of my favorite Mary Richard’s lines looped in my head, “…sometimes alone is better.”

So, to my single friend, there are worse things than being utterly, explicitly and without a doubt alone. Maintaining a clean oven and being forced to listen to really loud jazz are a couple of them.