Showing posts from January, 2016

The anti-toy

I have a very nostalgic photograph of myself, like a Normal Rockwell circa 1981.  I’m wearing my favorite cowboy hat and standing our family room, emulating my mother by playing with a child-sized ironing board and non-heated mini iron.  My mom would save all of my father’s handkerchiefs for me to pretend to iron, before she recollected her basket of laundered snot rags and pressed them for real. I did this for many years, and eventually graduated to the real deal iron and a life-sized board and yes, I admit, actually ironed those cotton squares. And then I grew up and got married and told my husband that if he ever wanted anything ironed, he was going to have to do it himself because I would rather scrub toilets with a toothbrush than to stand there and make things flat.   That’s what they invented all of those fancy fabrics for, right? I won’t say that I didn’t enjoy playing with the iron as a child, copying my mother and trying my best to do just as she did.   I was smiling i

Unwritten rules of life: the grocery store

We learn from a very young age that rules exist in every facet of our lives.  Rules govern the way we live within our own home and within our community.  We are told how fast we are allowed to drive, how long we can borrow library books, and the most putrid of all rules, how long we have to wait after eating before we go for a swim. Personally, I am a rule follower.   Most likely it stems from having very strict parents, but I can’t help but think that most rules are set into place for good reasons.   Granted, some rules are meant to be broken because we’ve all eaten a hot dog and jumped in a pool.   But usually rules are there to keep us in line and living happily and safely as a group of humans cohabiting on this beautiful planet.   Yet rules are a funny thing—often they are very in-your-face, like the sign on the door to stores that state you have to wear shoes and clothes to enter.   Other times, they are just not written for anyone to see.   These are the rules that should be

The two-headed January

I recently learned from a very special person that the month of January is named after the Roman God of Janus, a dude with two heads that point in opposite directions.  In Roman culture, he was the God of transitions and new beginnings. The person from whom I learned this tidbit of knowledge is someone I’ve known for a few years and as time would have it, has decided to retire from a position she held for quite a while.   And she held it well.   Without going into details, I’ll just say that her bootprints will be well missed among the oaks and maples. But there she was, even in her last days at her job, passing on wisdom to people like me, that January has two heads so that it may look in the past as well as the future.   I look at her past and admire what she has done in so many ways.   Her future as a person I may not know, but the future of her position as a professional, well, let’s just say I’ll get a first hand look. My month of January will look forward onto a new job fo

Game vs. Closet

‘Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the house, kids were occupied with new toys and gadgets, dad was back to work,  and mom breathed a sigh of relief so big that you might think she would pass out from lack of oxygen.  Maybe it’s just me, but the holiday season gets harder and harder every time I flip the calendar to December.  This year, things got so very busy that I baked one kind of cookie.  That used premade refrigerated dough.  I am ashamed. But after the giant buildup and the all-nighters where I wake up with tape stuck to my face and snuggled in wrapping paper, suddenly things seems to pause.   All at once, the speed of life goes from mach 3 to the pace of a snowflake, floating down in the stillness of winter.   The stress of finding something red or green to wear has disappeared and as much fun as it is to see friends and family and hug people you barely know, you find yourself with no where to go, and nothing to do.   Relishing that bit of time with not much

Passing the oplatek

Each Christmas Eve, I stand my ground and won’t let traditions die.  Partly I’m a stickler for them because I cherish the unity of people in celebration and recognizing the specialness of any given day, and partly because I love to eat good food.  And as with most festivals that involve heritage, there is food involved.  Delicious, complicated, once-a-year food that takes hours if not days to prepare and mere moments to devour. Because my family is of Polish heritage, we have celebrated Wigilia on Christmas Eve for as long as I can remember.   It is one of my most favorite days of the year because just seeing all of the dishes set out with the smell of onions that completely permeate the walls takes me back to my grandmother’s dining room.   If I close my eyes I can see her china cabinet and feel my great grandmother’s mushy peas and barley stuck in my throat and taste the milk while I force myself to gag down her old country recipes. The meal itself consists of an odd number of d

We’ll take that one

The lyrics of one of my favorite Christmas songs tells about snow crunching and people rushing around and above all the bustle, you can still here Bing Crosby singing about those “Silver Bells.”  Of course when this song was first written and recorded in1950, the parents of the time had no idea what holiday hustle and bustle meant.  I’m pretty sure if a mom of 64 years ago waltzed into my family’s crazy life this December, she might pass out right there with her pearl necklace dangling around her neck. So it’s a pretty good thing for the people living in this house that we prefer less than perfect Christmas trees, because I think my exact words to my husband were, “Dear, we either get a tree in the next half hour or December 20 th , because that’s the only free time we have between now and the big day.”   Even though life would be easier with an artificial tree, we just can’t let go of the tradition of a chopped down beauty that although ended its life early, might not have ever b