I’m really looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. It’s been a rough few weeks for everyone (at least everyone I know) and I’m looking forward to an afternoon and evening of seeing family and sharing food. Being the good foodie that I am, I’m putting together a lot of dishes (hint: understatement of the year). My mother-in-law asked if I could cook up some delicata squash, which is a new variety. You don’t have to peel it and it can be cut into rings. Since I have squash and more squash from my farmshare, I’ve decided to make another squash dish, one that combines a number of different varieties. Since winter squash bakes down to a mash, they’re easy to combine and then season. Butter, salt, pepper, brown sugar, cinnamon and – my favorite touch – a healthy sprinkling of fresh sage. Perfect!
I’ll also be bringing some appetizers, including one that takes a day to prepare. It’s a layered creation and needs time to take to the mold and present. Other than that, it’ll be cheese and crackers. But the culmination of my literary endeavors will be the Indian pudding. Anyway you make it, it’s a pain in the ass but really, really delicious. It’s made primarily with corn meal and molasses. I’ve usually prepared it with a double-boiler, but recently found a New York Times recipe that skips that step. I can’t wait.
I got a free pumpkin pie as a benefit of my membership in my local CSA (i.e., farmshare). My sister-in-law is bringing one, though, along with an apple pie so I’ll save mine for Christmas.
Eating, watching snow, visiting friends, drinking hot beverages and Christmas present-making or shopping, depending on the contents of my wallet. I can’t wait!
It’s finally cold outside. I need my winter coat. No snow yet, but the local shops are putting up their displays and the Town is getting ready for a holiday blow out this weekend: tree lightings, caroling, special promotions at shops and restaurants. White lights are draped over trees in Arlington Center and trees are on sale, ready for ornaments all all that.
We’ll probably pick out a tree this weekend, just in time to kick off Hanukkah! I’ll have to dig out my husband’s menorah and remind him to get candles so we can light the thing. My travel arrangements for Buffalo are set and I’m starting to look around for presents to purchase or make.
Okay, so this is feeling cool. I’m getting into it. It’s been a little hard to get into the spirit since my mom passed, but enough time has transpired so that I can feel that holiday joy in my heart.
Well, it’s that time of year again. Perhaps it’s the fact of my mother’s death last year, but I’ve been having difficulty getting into “the spirit” of things. A few months ago I was really looking forward to Christmas, with much more enthusiasm than I normally muster. As the time came closer, though, I felt more and more down about it. I had decided to mix things up a bit, with new Christmas tree ornaments and garland. I was also going to chuck a lot of my other decorations that I didn’t really like, but kept anyway.
I found myself extremely reluctant to do anything related to Christmas, though. I really had to force myself to go out and look for new Christmas tree bulbs and other holiday stuff. There was a weight on my chest the whole time. I talked to the hubby about it and he offered to do what he could to make this holiday cheerful for me. We got a different type of tree – big and bushy. Normally, I get two small trees and put them on top of the tall speaker cabinets in my living room. But, if I wanted to do something different, that was fine with him. He even agreed to go out in stinking, rainy weather to get the tree and drive it home on the top of the car. It was an awful day to do it, but I wanted the weekend to get it all together. He even helped me string the lights, since I’m short enough so that reaching the top of the tree is impossible without a ladder.
My husband is Jewish. It’s not his holiday but he did it for me. I feel both guilty as well as grateful. We strung up the lights the next day, after the tree had dried off and relaxed its branches a little bit. I had already purchased some new ornaments and put older, worn out ones in the trash. I have some “heirloom” ornaments, stuff that I grew up with and took along with me to Boston. Those stayed but the rest were pretty much gone. I wonder how I’ll feel about that next year. My sister bought a holiday village luminary for me last Christmas. It’s a ceramic scene of two houses, a snowman and evergreen trees. There are places inside for candles, so you can see flickering light through the little windows. It’s very sweet and has absolutely no association with any Christmas tradition I have. Perfect! I perched it onto one of the speaker cabinets to the right of the tree and added three battery-operated flickering candles. Then I laid back on the couch with a comfy blanket and looked at the tree and the luminary. It feels really peaceful and I think I did the right thing by forcing myself through the motions to get it started. Nothing fancy, just a nice view and a quiet heart.
I’m in Western New York with my family. The place is very calm and happy, even with the recent loss of my mother. My dad is moving on with his life and is at this moment attending an exercise and social program at the Veterans Administration. My sister no longer sleeps with her cell phone, expecting calls from hospitals, health care aids or my father. She’s back at work and enjoying it.
Overall, it feels good and I am grateful beyond measure. I feel love, not loss. Good.
I got myself a tree over the weekend and finished trimming it earlier this evening. Even did a little bit of Christmas shopping, too. Something odd – I couldn’t bring myself to hang the ornaments I had bought here in Boston. I felt like taking the whole lot, chucking them into the trash and then going out and buying a whole new set of them. I didn’t, of course. But here’s the odd thing: I felt comforted when I hung the ornaments I’d grown up with. I took a few with me when I left for Boston and was expecting those to be the painful ones. They weren’t and now my tree is trimmed with (mostly) 50-year old Christmas ornaments. Go figure.
It’s December. Time to get ready for Christmas, and the first such event without my mother. I’m not pushing myself too hard to ring in the holidays, but don’t want to sit it out, either. I’ll be heading back to Western New York with my husband and I’m looking forward to seeing my father, brother, sister and brother-in-law.
I’m trying to think of new ways to celebrate. Maybe have our Christmas Eve dinner at someone else’s house. Change the menu. Have fun with the family and spend time with them in ways I didn’t before. See if I can introduce new family inter-dynamics. Who knows?
There will be a holiday kick-off for the Town of Arlington on December 7, this coming Saturday. The lights are going up in the trees, local shops will be holding special sales and promotions and Christmas preparations will be in full swing. That’s when I’ll get the tree, which we always buy at the Boys and Girls Club. Maybe I’ll get new lights and other decorations for it. Like I said: mix it up a little. I think that will work!
My mother passed away last night. She was 89 years old and in poor health for many years. She was in a skilled nursing facility and had recently contracted pneumonia. I am told that she died peacefully, in her sleep.
I’m saddened but also relieved. In some ways I lost my mother some time ago, as her mental and physical health declined. She was no longer the same person. My own expression of grief occurred a few months ago, following a message from my sister. At that point my mother had again fallen and was in the Emergency Room. My sister was of the opinion that she would not be coming home. I remember sitting at my desk in front of my computer and writing this in my personal journal. I cried for her then and said goodbye. I let her go in my heart, wrenching as that was. I remembered that time when speaking with my brother this morning about what had happened. I relived it in my mind’s eye.
Will I cry again? Probably. But the wrenching, goodbye grief may have already passed. I’m waiting to hear back from my sister with updated funeral arrangements. After that my husband and I will prepare for our trip back to pay our final respects and lay my mother to rest.
I was very close to my mother and knew that she had limited time. I made a decision over a year ago to spend as much time and share as much joy as she needed. I cared for her in Buffalo for seven weeks, then regularly went back and forth to visit her for shorter periods of time. I spent one Thanksgiving in Buffalo General Hospital when she was there. I also saw her at home and had the time to take her out and about. She and I savored walks and gardens together (she was in a wheelchair). We laughed. We had meals together. We opened presents on Christmas, Father’s Day and her birthday. I feel content with that. I did what I felt I needed to do.
So, farewell Helen Rydzynski. If you have an afterlife, may it be filled with the joy you gave us. I’m sad to see you go, but relieved that your suffering and illnesses are finally at an end.