Growing up as a haberdasher's daughter, Christmas was a sparkly wonder to me. The window dressers came into our stores and strung up twinkling lights, silver mercury glass balls and they carried in fresh pine trees, and red lacquered wrapping paper. As a little girl I looked up at all of the busy grown-ups and the packages, felt the brisk air rush in when the front door opened and I loved the excitement.
When I was five I started wrapping gifts with that red lacquered paper and felt very grown-up myself. Now during the holidays I still get excited when I see the decorations go up in the stores (not too early, please), and I start to wrap presents for my friends and family.
Of course not all of my Christmas memories are sparkly and wonderful, how could they be? There was the year that my parents got divorced, the year that my mom passed away 3 weeks before Christmas, and the year that we had to put our dog down & my husband and I, and our children were devastated, plus the many years we spent time with 3 different families on Christmas day before we figured out that we didn't have to.
The holidays provide us with the gift of expectations, wishes, yearnings, memories, and a host of other feelings that sometimes sneak up pretty fast, as fast as the decorations change from Halloween to Christmas at CVS. I was with a friend last night, who was just in Japan with a buddhist monk. I asked him what he learned from the monk. He said, "breathe."
Every morning I have coffee next to our Christmas tree (yes, we have a tree and we're Jewish, remember, I grew up in retail where Christmas was fairytale...I keep the dream alive), and I enjoy the twinkling lights, the ornaments, the smell of pine, and some days, I can recapture moments of my childhood wonder.
I wish you the best holidays you can have, remember to breathe, and hope you take time for yourself to experience some wonder.
Stuart and I have grown up together. I was 24 when we got married (when I think of it now, I sort of can't believe it). Our oldest daughter is 23 now. I look at her and think, she is so young. Back then I had a lot of "shoulds" about what married life was supposed to be like. I was supposed to drink coffee. I was supposed to know how to cook, and I had lots of other antiquated beliefs about traditional roles.
In fact I was a free spirited artist. I did take on some of these roles, and did learn to like coffee-but appreciated the hard work that my mother's generation did for us so that we could wear pants and have careers and make choices that they didn't have. I was a "Free to Be You and Me" kid.
Stuart, my husband, grew up in a family that was more traditional, role-wise. He is a baby boomer, through and through. He grew up with parents that drank martinis (ala Mad Men), in fact his dad was just like Don Draper, an ad guy that drank martinis at lunch. His mom played cards with the gals and took
care of the kids.
Our generation has its own ideas about marriage and raising children and we have had to sort through what it means for men and women to take on different roles-and the confusion that ensues because of it. Money, housework, not calling dad "the babysitter" when he spends time with the kids. Looking back, now I think how did we manage to sort through all of that confusion? I wanted to stay home to raise the children when they were little, but I wasn't satisfied because I wanted to be working, and Stuart was envious because he wanted to spend the kind of time with the children that I was. It was because of the shift in thinking at the time that even allowed us to have those thoughts.
Now, Mabel (above) is our only child at home. We're both her mother, but he's the Alpha. I am the the one she comes to for love, he is the fun one and the daily walker, We both feed her. It works. We're expecting another puppy in a month.
One of the best things about being married is that you get a lot of do-overs. A few things go right the first time you try them. Most things, if you work at them- or simply because some things that matter fall away, and others become more important, get better over time.
With the holidays on the horizon I am looking forward to a houseful of friends and family for Thanksgiving. We cook, we gather, we eat, we laugh, we argue (and all of the other behaviors families do over holiday weekends), and we give thanks. I have vivid memories of my mother walking through the door with her somewhat dry stuffing, a rainbow jello mold right out of Better Homes and Gardens 1972, her bourbon pecan sweet potatoes, and most of all, her warm & loving energy and enthusiasm for this, and every holiday.
I miss her dearly. Mom left a legacy to all of us that loved her. She left recipes, bits of everyday wisdom, a path of memories that we still walk down, laughter, tears, and laughter with tears-the kind that makes you pee in your pants in places you shouldn't, like hotel hallways and side streets in Paris.
My mother left me something else, something that has been a surprise and a joy to me. She had more friends than anyone I know, truly. My mother kept up with her friends from grade school, college, etc., and made new ones all of the time. The surprise is that my mother left me the legacy of her girlfriends. They call me, I call them, we have lunch, we drink wine, we have dinner...
I am so grateful to have inherited what was most important to her, the legacy of her relationships.
The mother-daughter relationship is the most complex of them all, and in the end after all of the tussle and push and pull, has the most potential for real friendship. I remember my mother reading the book "My Mother, Myself" by Nancy Friday. It was a seminal book about women taking a look at themselves and really being able to differentiate from their mothers, but also seeing and knowing that there are similarities, and accepting these. The ability to integrate both the differences and the similarities is when the adult friendship can happen. Sometimes it's hard to admit we're more like our mothers than we'd like to be, and some days, I am so grateful that what pops out of my mouth is just what she would have said.
Meet Lily. She is a millennial. What does this mean, exactly?
This generation (born between 1981-2000, according to PEW
research), gets a pretty bad rap. In the media we hear about them being narcissictic, self-involed, entitled by their helicopter parents and 'everybody gets a trophy' mindset, and don't forget, they are the results of the "good job
you went to the potty!" parenting generation.
Did anyone ever get uber excited for you because you went to the bathroom? If they did, you would think you were pretty dang fantastic no matter what you accomplished, too.
Here is the catch though. These kids, these millennials, they are pretty cool and doing a really good job-to help others, and our environment, and paying it forward to the global village with their tech savvy and genuine concern about future generations. This generation is the most diverse we've ever had in our country, and cares more about diversity. They also seem to really care about their families more, and stay in contact because of texting. They like it. Does this mean that they aren't 'launching'? No, this means that they have different
The thing is, this particular millennial is my kid. I see her, and I'm with her friends, and I hear what they talk about, and they are not like my husband's sex, drug, & rock and roll generation-filled with idealistic notions, still! They are not like my "X-er" generation, practical,more conservative because of their need for stability-these millennials have a helicopter view of the world, and they have access to it from their phones, which makes their relationships, connections, and potential for success a very fluid process.
I believe these kids have it going on in a big way relationally, and they are going to do some pretty big stuff to heal the damage that we've done to our planet, too. Rock on millennials!
October brings with it the wish to linger in bed a little longer as the light is changing, and the mornings are turning a little darker. The air is crispy and fresh (although any of you in my tribe of allergy and asthma sufferers know that there is no such thing as fresh air, particularly in the fall).
Nonetheless, it is a romantic time of year. October skies are watery grey and backlight the magnificent landscape here in Ohio, and I know many other
places in the country right now.
This is the beginning of the time that we start to gather in. We start to bring in the outdoor furniture, collect the last flowers from our gardens, find sweaters and jackets, and stay inside in the evenings as the temperature drops.
I notice myself not only collecting my pots from the outside for next year, but also collecting my more expansive self and preparing for the colder seasons, getting ready to nestle in. In the summer I feel a sense of largesse in that I can move more freely about in time with less concern-no icy roads, no bundling
up. In the months to come there are more layers to be concerned with.
Right now though, in October, I enjoy the transition from outdoors to in. Picking apples, drinking a cup of tea at night
for the first time since spring, and cleaning out the pantry, getting ready to cook a little more in the days to come.
It's a good time to take some time to look and really see the colors of the leaves. October and all of its beauty is a gift
from nature, enjoy, before the snow is falling.
My garden continues to gift me with metaphors and this week the vines have taken over. Squash
and pumpkin vines have run amuk around and over the top of the fence so that I can't even get in to weed
or reach my tomatoes without bruising or breaking these vines. However, the pumpkins are hanging in the
sunshine, and the squash blossoms are gorgeous.
Sometimes when there is a lot going on in my life, such a s now, with family transitions, caring and arranging for my
parents-in-law, and health issues; as a huge hearted caregiver my tendency is to want to pull out all of the weeds, make sure that everything is watered, that there aren't any predatory insects or animals, and that there is plenty of
sunshine for all of those involved.
When I couldn't get in to my garden today I felt a sense of relief. I sat down on the bench, put my face in the sun,
and just sat. I sat and sat. It's a reminder to tend to my own soul and my own heart, and know that the nature of
things bloom in their own time, and in their own way, sometimes best left undisturbed.
I love this line by Joseph Campbell, "Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life
seems most challenging."
Sometimes the opportunity is not what it would appear to be. It's not to be stronger by doing more or being different,
the opportunity might be to sit back and let nature take its course, to let the pumpkins bloom in the sunshine,
and allow myself to enjoy the sunshine as well.
21403 Chagrin Boulevard
Beachwood, OH 44122