• Trees Revisited

    I get to thinking of this post from a few years ago every time we start putting up the tree.  We can afford a ‘real’ tree these days, but we’re still attached to our little $10 second hand artificial one.  For us, it’s very real:

    I’m not religious, but I’m a sucker for family traditions.  Most of our traditions are handed down, but there is one we accidentally created on our own.

    A number of years ago healthcare issues and crappy insurance had nearly bankrupted us, and we had money for only the bare essentials.  We knew a tree was out of the question and had satisfied ourselves with decorations we had collected in the first 10 years of our marriage.  I had cobbled together food for our feast from gifted grocery cards and my latest paycheck and had about $35 to last the few days until my next paycheck when I headed to a thrift store that had been advertising $5 coats for kids.

    I had completely excavated a corner of $5 coats when I noticed a long box behind the clothing rack. A few tugs and I unearthed an artificial tree.  The masking tape holding the box closed had a few sentences promising a complete tree for the low, low price of $10.  Reason failed me, and before I knew it, a six-year-old Thing1 and I were packing the box and his new coat into the station wagon.

    It was the perfect find at the perfect time.  The bank account may have been empty, but the house was full. As far as Thing1 knew, it was the perfect Christmas, and he was right.

    Since then, jobs have changed and bills have been caught up.  When it’s our turn to host Christmas we occasionally spring for a tree from the nearby tree farm (we love the tree-cutting ritual). Most years, however, our $10 second-hand fake fir still occupies the spot of honor in the living room and in my heart.

  • Wrapped Up

    Blanketed, 6”x6”, Oil on Panel, now on Etsy

    Thanksgiving weekend was a chrysalis, populated with crowds of family and friends of ever decreasing sizes until we were left with just a few family members and a sustained sense of gratitude. Family left just as snow began Monday afternoon. It’s Wednesday, and it’s still snowing. The cocoon is thicker, a blanket, and it only seems right to get back to the studio again.

  • Thankfully Mindful

    There won’t be much painting for the next few days as cooking and communing take precedence over brushes and palettes, but that does not mean there will be no creativity. Indeed, there will be creation and re-creation.

    Wednesday morning as I was cleaning and preparing for our guests, news came that a dear friend had passed away just hours before. The news was not unexpected. There was comfort that she had not been in any pain and had been with her husband more than 40 years at the time, and at first I did not cry. I kept working, kept preparing for the arrival of family.

    Tears came later throughout the day as memories of past Thanksgivings when this couple had joined our family at our place and theirs. I thought of this friend — a former nun and later wife, a teacher, a volunteer in the community. I thought of how her life had been defined by giving love to the people around her and how it was reflected back by her friends and most especially her husband who had recently remarked that he was thankful for every second of their 40 years together.

    My parents and sister are with us today for Thanksgiving. Our friend, now a widower, will join us for comfort food.

    I got up early today, like many housewives around the country, to start cutting and chopping, drafting a list of chores for the kids to help with, and preparing tonight’s feast. Sometimes I question the sense of the over-the-top meal I prepare every year. It’s more food than we normally eat in a week, and surely there are ways to make it more casual.

    This year, however, I don’t want it to be casual. I want it to be an over-the-top expression of how I thankful I am for the people in my life. Today I want to focus on who and what make life meaningful — creating, family, making even a small contribution to the common good. And as the onions and turkey brown while Grandma plays Monopoly with her mostly grown grandchildren who insist on keeping certain uproarious traditions going, I will be thankful for every second of it.

  • Spice Rack

    The B side turned out to be practical both in terms of speed and kitchen style. We haven’t dried herbs since the first or second year we were in Vermont, but I love seeing them in the kitchen garden. They seemed like they wouldn’t kill any appetites while people are piling up the turkey.

  • On to the B Side

    The best part about painting a door is that when one side done, I get to go to the B side and start over. This is the side people will be looking at when they sit down for turkey next week. Next up, what do we want to look at when we’re serving the bird?

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