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    dreaming of a white Christmas

    When each of my three was in the 8th grade we went on a trip of their choosing.  Caroline and I went to New York.  Evan and I went on a baseball trip – the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yard, the New York Yankees at the old Yankee Stadium, and the Boston Red Sox at Fenway.  One weekend – three baseball games -  one long road trip.  It was fabulous.

    Annie wanted to go to New York at Christmas.  So she could see the department store windows and the tree at Rockefeller Center.  We went to see the Rockettes and How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the musical).  I was thrilled that she wanted to go to NY at Christmas because I’d been quite a few times, but never at Christmas.  It was cold, but it was magical, and we loved it. 

    I love Christmas decorations.  I love the spirit and the beauty of them. I decorate more than most, and I offer no apology.  It makes me happy.  And let’s all be honest – there’s nothing better than the light of a Christmas tree when it’s the only illumination in the room.    

    One of my fondest childhood memories is a family trip to Chicago to go Christmas shopping.  Truly I don’t remember if we did any shopping.  But I can still vividly see the decorated store windows of Marshall Field’s and Carson Pirie Scott.  And lunch in the Marshall Field’s tea room.  The Christmas decorations on the light poles of State Street.  Frango mints and the Russell Stover candy store.  It was magnificent and beautiful and I have never forgotten it.  I don’t remember a single gift that was given to me that year at Christmas or most other years for that matter. 

    But I remember those store windows.  And the ones with Annie in New York in 2007.  This year as a freshman at NYU she can easily walk uptown or downtown and look at those remarkable New York store windows.  The year she was an exchange student in Sweden, Evan and I spent Thanksgiving with Caroline in London and were mesmerized by the magical Christmas windows in the shops on Bond Street. I think all three of them love Christmas as much as I do and it doesn’t have a thing to do with gifts.  But that feeling you get when you’re surrounded by your family and your traditions.  The only Christmas we were ever apart as a family was the year Annie was in Sweden.  She wrote about it here.  We missed her so much but I can’t imagine how much she missed us – and our traditions that have nothing to do with gifts.

    In this Norman Rockwellian town that I’ve lived in since the spring of 1984 we have our own version of magical.  The animated Christmas windows at Peoples Bank.  You don’t have to go to Chicago or New York or London for your family to have these kinds of memories. Just here in Marietta. Make sure you go at night when darkness makes the lighted windows stand out from the beautiful old building whose architect obviously intended for there to be Christmas window displays. Take your family and don’t just drive by.  Get out of the car and get closer. You’ll hear Christmas music being played from the speakers and see the detailed costumes.

    You’ll feel the Christmas spirit and maybe start a new family tradition - and like my Christmas window memories - it won’t have cost you a thing.  And when you ask what Santa can bring me for Christmas I’ll tell you there’s nothing I want.   Except to walk home from church on Christmas Eve with my family and have cannoli by the light of the Christmas tree.  While we’re watching “A Christmas Story” and it’s snowing outside.  OK Santa - the snowing part is optional – but would be very much appreciated.    

    Peoples Bank - thank you.


    (The Peoples Bank window in my picture above - doesn't it remind you of one of the Christmas scenes from "Little Women"?)


    Advice from Dr. Seuss

    It’s November now, and I’ve been living in this empty nest for 12 weeks (not that I’m counting).  12 weeks of solitude.  I am surprised to admit that it really didn’t take that long for me to adjust.  It was very strange at first. I heard voices. All the time. I heard footsteps above me when I was in my bedroom (Annie’s room is directly above mine). I listened for the door to open at night like I was still waiting to know that everyone was home safely.  There were a few times when I actually did hear footsteps – and then I realized - that our cat sounds much noisier when the house is silent.

    Then about week four things started to change.  This life became my new normal.  The life where I don't have to rush to work so that I can be home early to make dinner or attend a school function.  And on the weekends?  I can make plans with my friends.  Or not.  I can just have a pajama day if I want and watch movies or read a book. Shocking. This isn't so bad after all.

    One of the things I’ve always known – that I like quiet and solitude – has served me well.  I don’t know how hard this transition would be if it were the opposite.  I miss all three of them terribly – but there isn’t a gaping hole in my soul like I thought there’d be. Maybe the anticipation of the empty nest was worse than the reality.  Isn't that how it always is?  No gaping hole in my soul.  My soul is still filled with them.  Seems they don't have to be here physically for that to happen.

    I am figuring out who I am when 'mom' isn't the first work used to describe me.  But one thing has surprised me. I thought I would have to leave this town to start over – But I’ve found that the starting over part doesn’t have to wait until I am someplace else.  It may still continue to happen someplace else – but for now it feels pretty awesome to be doing it here.

    I’ve been someone’s wife. 

    And I’ve been someone’s mother. 

    And now I’m getting to be me.

    "You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the one who'll decide where to go." Dr. Seuss



    The Sears Wish Book

    This morning I was listening to the Bob and Sheri radio show on the way to work, and the topic was middle school.  How mean the kids are. How in your warped middle school mind you are sure that your clothes will determine your social status and value as a human being. How it’s universally the worst 3 years of your life. 

    Bob mentioned how much easier it was when we were kids.  No designer clothes or tennis shoes. 

    Bob said:  ‘Our clothes were from Sears.’

    My clothes were from Sears – maybe not in middle school when I had moved on to JCPenney or if I was really lucky – Casual Corner.  But when I was in elementary school.  We lived in Fort Wayne and I vividly remember going to the Sears store where we did our school clothes shopping.  The Sears store was not in a mall.  It was in downtown Fort Wayne.  Dresses were 3 for $10.  Cute little plaid dresses with pretty collars and buttons.  Like the one above that looks like it was a jumper and blouse - but was really a one piece dress. Funny how my memories of that Sears store are so vivid. 

    And I felt pretty in those plaid dresses. That's me in my 1st grade picture. Well – not so pretty in the less than flattering hair styles that I had in the late 1960’s.  But I did love going to the Sears to pick out dresses. 

    And only dresses in early elementary school.  

    Because girls didn’t wear pants to school until about 1973. And I’m pretty sure we bought those pants at Sears.



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