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Tuesday, December 21

buying time

What would an extra day cost? I just need one. Really. One more day to bake, to wrap, to shop. It's not a lot to ask, is it? One day?

Can you work Wednesday, Thursday and Friday? my boss asked. Sure.

What was I thinking?

At least the tree is up. A perfect little 4 ft frasier fir. It sits on a table by the french doors and it makes me smile. We found it at Home Depot of all places. It was tied up and leaning on a crate far from the other trees. It called to me. We rescued it, brought it home, and it warmed up and fell into a perfectly symmetrical miniature of a big tree. We put big lights on it, just to be sassy, and favorite ornaments and a string of silver mardi gras beads. She's a beauty.

Stress is part of the holidays, I think. If you're not feeling it, you're forgetting to do something. No other explanation. For years I would have CHristmas Eve at my house, but as the family moved on and out, that fell by the wayside. Now we gather on Christmas Day, my tiny family. It has been just us and my brother's family for years, but now my son lives closer and we will have yet another holiday with him and his fiance. It is such a gift.

And just like that, priorities shift and click into place and it dawns on me that even if I don't bake one cookie, it will not matter to anyone but me. We will still come together and eat and drink and open presents and tell bad jokes and tease. There will be snow. Sounds perfect.

OK, I'm off to bake now. Suddenly it feels like the best way to spend a Winter morning.

Thursday, December 16


I am gathering little gifts for my little family. My ancestors, paternal and maternal both, were not prolific reproducers. My brother and I each produced one perfect kidlet. We have lost family members, some way too soon. And so our immediate group can fit into a minivan and have room left over for a hitchhiker.

As my brother and I grew older, it became almost silly to gift each other. There were no things that we wanted that we did not already own. So, we present token gifts to the kids and try relentlessly to find something for Mom that she won't wrinkle her nose at.

Now that my son is expanding our group with the addition of a wife, there is a renewed sense of family. We have gathered with her family and enjoyed them. I love the woman my son has chosen. When they speak of having kids, my heart swells.

They mentioned over Thanksgiving that they wanted to upgrade their iPhones and it was the perfect time to take them to the phone store to get them and scratch that item off the to-do list.

So, no shopping for their gifts. But what I love to do every year is stuff stockings. For my son and his fiance and their dogs and my nephew. It is my fun time. I love searching odd places for fun stuffers. Gathering smiles, I think. Finding the perfect silliness for one of them tickles me, fills me with Christmas spirit.

And I find that while I'm doing this fun shopping, I am really thinking about these loved ones. Sensing them. This will make him smile, I think. This will turn into a family joke. She will love this little trinket. I might not have such a fun time if the family was larger. When the kids were small, shopping was basically checking off requested items from a list while walking the aisle of Toys r Us.

Now it takes imagination.Now, I draw them closer as I turn a tiny trinket in my hand and picture the laughter. It makes me think of what makes each of them tick. It is somehow more intimate, affectionate than schlepping through a mall looking for the perfect "wow" gift.

My brother says that in the midst of all the largess of Christmas, my nephew looks forward most to my annual stocking. He wonders how old he will have to get before I stop making one for him. Silly boy. Never. I will just add one for your wife some day, and then your kids.

Gathering you all close, keeping your smiles in my heart.

Sunday, December 12

sit. stay.

We had fun at our last show of the year. A small, church show with really fine work for sale and a organization that fed and pampered us and even toasted at the end with a selection of fine wines. By that time I knew I would not be cooking that night. My still-broken foot was throbbing and my back hurt from sitting in a folding chair all day. Plus, the cast that was in place to immobilize the foot, gave new reason for my bad knee to act up.

I am not telling you this to get sympathy. I am setting the stage for what followed.

Russell dropped me off at the door of one of the neighborhood's most popular restaurants and I hobbled in to give our name to the keeper of the gate. There were people waiting, but it looked like a whole lot of people in 2 or 3 groups. Maybe the wait would not be horrible. Or so I hoped, because there was no place to sit. The bench was packed end to end with what appeared to be one family. Mom at one end, Dad at the other, a flock of children between them. The kids ranged from about 10 to 17 and all were engrossed in one form of electronic amusement or another. Except for one boy who was actually reading a book! Wonder of wonders.

I took this picture with my phone. Look at what it shows. All those feet, none of them in a cast. Most of them belonging to young kids, the rest to their parental units. I looked in the bar for an empty stool. No luck. I leaned against the end of the bench, but there was really no relief there. Finally, I perched on the edge of a windowsill directly across from the sitters. SInce the windowsill was maybe 3 inches wide and my butt is at least 2 inches bigger than that, it wasn't much help. But it allowed me the opportunity to lean back a bit and extend my casted leg out towards the sitters.

You see, it was incredible to me that not one of them was going to offer me a seat on that bench.

I stared down the Dad who was mesmerized by my "boot" because he kept staring at it. The Mom ignored me, apparently invested emotionally in the video game the middle child was playing.

Now, I don't know about you, but if I was 40 years old, healthy, uninjured, sitting on a bench, and a person hobbling about in a walking cast was standing across from me looking pained, it would be impossible for me to keep sitting there. Wouldn't you hop up and say, oh, golly,what did you do to your leg? Here, take this seat.

Of course you would.

Not this crew. And the lesson to the kids? I guess it was that if you're lucky enough to be sitting down, don't let anyone guilt you into making you stand? They will most likely grow up to be the people who never let anyone into a line of traffic, who bring 47 items into the 10 or less line, who never hold the door open for anyone.

The wait turned out to be shorter than I feared, the food was excellent and I even treated myself to a glass of wine. The sitters didn't ruin my night, they made me grateful for the cushy booth, the perfect salmon and the knowledge that our kids would never sit while an injured person stood before them.

Right, kids?

Wednesday, December 8


I did not know Elizabeth Edwards. I don't move in those circles. Her life could not be more different from mine. She was accomplished and privileged and celebrated. I am capable, lucky and anonymous.

But I know her. She became real to me when she steadfastly refused to believe her husband was the dog he was later proven to be. That blind trust thing is powerful. Been there.

Her refusal to be defined by an illness or a smarmy husband made me really respect this stranger. Her fight for Universal Health Care was inspiring and welcomed. She seemed like a very cool lady.

I will admit to reading Andrew Young's book about John Edwards and the scandal with that woman. (Elizabeth always asked in interviews that the woman's name not be mentioned and I will respect that here in my little blog, too) He said Elizabeth was not the saint the public perceives. She lost her temper! She got mad at him for pretending to be the baby daddy!

Of all the nerve.

They say John was at her side when she passed. I wonder why. I'll never know.

There was so much more to her than a deceived wife who outclassed the deceiver. But it was that crushing reality that made her one of us. Just an ordinary woman, fighting to save her life. And her love.

I wish her family peace. I wish her children the comfort of memories. If it is true that our souls reunite with loved ones who passed before us, she is with her son. I wish that to be true.

Monday, December 6

Gilda Weekend

I think everyone has heard the story about how Gilda Radner, after battling cancer for some time, said to her husband, Gene Wilder, that it was like being in a club nobody wanted to belong to. Gilda's Club was established as a support facility for those living with cancer and, in Buffalo, it is a beautiful facility bringing comfort and support and beauty to everyone who comes through the door of the renovated mansion.

Every Christmas for some years now, there has been "Gingerbread, Glitz and Gifts", an event in which I have honored to participate for most of those years. My dear friend, Annie Bliss, is instrumental in making this a genius shopping weekend with a beautifully choreographed selection of artisans selling everything from designer jewelry to spices. You absolutely cannot go there without buying a gift for somebody. 20% of everything sold is donated back to Gilda's Club.

I love this show for the good sales and the good friends that are part of the mix. I said to someone over the weekend that one of the best things about being in this business is the people you get to be with "on the job". And so it was this weekend. It was hard to spend just a moment away saying "Hi" to a fellow exhibitor because you either got into a long conversation or ran into someone else and then someone else and there was laughing and gossip and commiseration.

Anyway, I was happy to be on the first floor, what with the walking cast and all, and I think I worked up a decent display for my "mini-mall"

Sales were good, but would have been better had I been able to make up more product. As my friend, Anne, said, I need to cut myself some slack I guess. I feel great, but I'm finding it hard to make up for lost time. So be it.

Some random shots of the event. Still learning the new camera. No I have not read the manual yet. Oh shush.

The season is rapidly coming to a close. One more show and then the "off season" begins. It has been quite a year. Ending the year at this bneautiful place, surrounded by some of my favorite people, leaves me (as one of my show buddies put it) all verklempt.

So let's have a chuckle, shall we?

Oh, how you are missed, Gilda. Hope we did you proud this weekend.