Friday, November 30, 2007

Trees and stars

As F and I drive past some territory very familiar to me, I point out the window at the star that this town will begin lighting soon to commemorate the holiday season. F remarks that a star is a fairly safe symbol to put up and I agree.

Then he says, "Just so you know, it wouldn't bother me if you put a Christmas tree. It isn't really a religious symbol."

"I know, it's originally a pagan tradition," I agreed. "I'm glad you wouldn't mind a tree because I've been collecting ornaments for years and I'd hate to have to get rid of them." But something gave away my anxiety about that conversation--the way I covered our clasped hands with my other hand or the way my whole body tensed up.

F waited for a minute--maybe hoping we'd continue the conversation--and then gave me his patented reassuring statement: "We can have this conversation whenever you're ready. And I don't think that anything will come up that we can't handle." I nodded my head and then waiting just a minute before I changed the subject.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Thanksgiving snapshot

On Wednesday night my dad and his mother were working together to get a mincemeat pie in the oven for Thanksgiving. He had already carefully placed the top crust on it when he realized they had forgotten to put a little butter between the filling and crust.

"No problem," he said, cutting a large semicircle in the top crust. With his mom carefully pulling up the flap of crust, they inserted pats of butter under the edges of the dough.

"I feel like I'm watching a pie autopsy," my brother observed. "It's like 'CS: Pie.'"

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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

TRL: Christmas cookies

When I was growing up, in addition to Christmas songs and oyster stew at my grandmother's house on Christmas Eve, there was one other thing you could count on: many homemade traditional desserts. It wasn't surprising to follow up our rich dinner with fudge, divinity, and the piece de resistance: Christmas cookies.

As my grandmother and her grandchildren have all grown older, the task of making of these Christmas treats has fallen more and more to the younger generations. Instead of waiting for her to make them just prior to Christmas, while we're all together during Thanksgiving weekend my siblings and I share the task of stirring the fudge and we pull out the cookie cutters my dad remembers from his childhood.

A couple of Thanksgivings ago, I woke up late the morning after Thanksgiving, and headed toward the kitchen. When I got there, I discovered nearly 10 people crowded around the island in the kitchen. My dad and his brother stood on one side, rolling out sugar cookie dough while people on the other side wielded knifes and sprinkles, frosting the finished products. As my aunt and grandmother made more dough and frosting, the army of family who were frosting cookies called out suggestions to my dad and uncle about which cookie shapes they should cut out next. When my mom requested a cookie that they didn't have a cutter for, my dad custom-sculpted that cookie shape for her.

If anyone had turned to me at that moment and asked what I wanted, I would've answered that I didn't want anything more than what I had in that moment.

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Monday, November 05, 2007

Getting well

One more sign I need to kick this cold that's lingering for a third week: right after I coughed, the lifelong smoker in the next office coughed--and our coughs were indistinguishable!


Thursday, November 01, 2007

Thank heaven for little girls

My friend Y used to love to tease me about my pattern of dating older men. Her favorite line: "Of course you haven't met anyone recently--have you tried nursing homes?"

Mathematically I've actually dated more men my own age than significantly older men, but between having my first relationship with someone much older and my friends' good-natured teasing, I internalized the idea that I had a predilection for older men. That personal expectation explains why I was a little uncomfortable this weekend when we celebrated F's birthday and I was confronted with reminders that he is actually a few months younger than I am.

I realize that a few months is insignificant in the grand scheme of life. Even the year that separates our respective graduations is insignificant at this point. It just grates against my internal expectations to see him get the same birthday greetings I've already received. I'm sure in time my expectations will change and this will all be forgotten. Or maybe I'll heed Y and head to a nursing home to pick up someone new that meets my expectations.

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