Saturday, December 18, 2010

An Earful

Our oldest called. "I called your mother and boy did I get an earful." "Like what?" "Like,'You didn't tell me you got another dog. There are enough dogs around. You didn't need another dog. It would suit me if I never saw another dog. They are every where.'" "I don't have clue what that's all about. She's always liked dogs. And, I've never seen a dog in her neighborhood." "Oh, she made it sound like there should be something in the by-laws of their homeowner's association about dogs." "Well, she also thinks there should be something in their by-laws about the florist down the street having to get written permission before he can put his house in the holiday home show." "Yeah, I had to hear about that one also."

"This all came from a conversation we were having at our Garden Club Christmas luncheon this week. Everybody was talking about their dogs and their children's dogs. Of course, they all found it humorous when I told them we would have five pups for the holidays." So I guess, she didn't find it humerous after all. With my mother you never know. During that luncheon when I was talking with my friends about our children coming home, my mother kept interupting me, trying to tell stories, she found amusing about our youngest daughter and Kennedy. However, the tales got lost in translation and my friends kept turning to me with confused looks on their faces.

Only in the south are mothers and their adult daughters in the same garden club. There is a reason the rest of the country has figured out that perhaps this is not a good idea. But, oh no, down here, as I have said before, it takes us a little longer to get the memo. To this day, I am still confounded when one of my friends will come over to me at one of our meetings, laughing and say, "Why, your mother just told me the funniest story about you. I just can't believe it." My general response is, "Please don't and be thankful your mother lives two states away."

If this is God's way of getting me back for whatever sins I committed as a child, we have got to be even by now.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

But It's Not a Honda

I have mentioned before the allure of a '57 Chevy. My father always wanted one. There was something about that car. But, he always aspired for a Buick. He grew up in a small town in North Carolina, raised by his widowed mother and older sister during the depression. He often talked about a Mr. Gibson in town who had done well and drove a Buick. He said that he always could recognize the car by its distinct horn and he made up his mind early on that he was going to be successful enough when he grew up to own his own Buick.

Well, he did. In fact, over the years, my parents owned several Buicks. I think the fact that the Buick dealer was one their good friends may have played a part, but he achieved his dream anyway. Although, he relived his youth with the restored Pontiac convertible he had the last ten or fifteen years of his life, he always owned a Buick. And, Mama continued to buy from that dealership after the divorce. And it was a good thing given her penchant for going up and down the road, she needed a reliable dealership.

The Buick dealership expanded and bought a Honda franchise and when my mother went to trade one day they convinced her test drive a Honda SUV and she was in love. Since then she has gone through three and they all have been wonderful vehicles, however, I am still amused to see this four foot eight inch, seventy seven year old lady hop out of this Honda SUV, but she does. 

For the first time ever she had some major car trouble last week and took the car into the dealership. Now, another thing, these vehicles of hers go in for their scheduled maintenance  within 5 miles of the suggested mileage, all the maintenance including all oil changes are done at the dealership, and she always trades around 100 thousand miles - talk about a dealership's dream customer.  She'll tell you, "They are so nice to me down there." Well no kidding. Although the son now owns the dealership, my mother is certain he takes care of her based on the "family connection" but I'm sure he knows a good customer when he sees one - his father raised him well. 

This repair, however, took two weeks. They sent her home in a brand new rented Chrysler to drive in the mean time. Her neighbor came out thinking she had bought the car and congratulated her on her new purchase. She was totally offended and called it a piece of junk. She wanted her Honda back. For the first time she was not happy with the car or the dealership. I think she felt that her independence had been threatened. And, no one could tell her what the problem was.

When it was all said and done they assured her that her car was "as good as new" - something to do with the fuel pumps (yes, there are two). And they would not let her pay for the repairs or the rental car. They just said that she had no idea how many cars she sold for them, the least they could do was fix this one. After all, this was the first major repair they had had to do on one of her cars over all the years she had done business with them. 

Talk about public relations, they saved this customer. She became a true believer again. It was like the time I decided I didn't believe in Santa any more and my Daddy took care of that. Once again, she is happy in her Honda and although she swears this is her last one, it already has seventy five thousand miles on it. It will not take long to reach that magic point when she'll trade again. She made a comment to me to just yesterday that the new models had more room in the back seat, and that would be nice for all the people she hauls around. 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Am I Dreaming of a White Christmas?

Am I really dreaming of a White Christmas, just like the ones I used to know? Where the tree tops glisten . . . Don't think so, having never seen one. Sure, it looks nice and romantic in the movies like "Holiday Inn". Since when did the northern climate corner the market on the holidays? I think this is a Hollywood marketing tool. There are no connections to the religious components of the holidays tied to snow and ice, in fact, if the Christian story of the birth of Christ is the "reason for the season" one would think we would be thinking of sun and sand or starry nights. Go figure.

Like most things in life, I'm confused here. But then again, I didn't read the manual. I've always gone with the flow. They said if I was good, then the big man in red would bring me toys. I practiced every year with the Junior Choir at the Presbyterian Church for the Christmas pageant, but I was never given anything more glamorous than the alto part of Carol of the Bells (you know "Dong ding, Dong Ding") while the pretty people got to sing the more melodious part of "Hark how the bells, Sweet silver bells, All seem to say". Yes, I can remember this like it was yesterday. Some things mark a child for life.

To be honest, as a child, I found the whole holiday season confusing. Down here, we were generally having weather hovering in the fifties, with decorations of fake snowmen, giant lit snowflakes, and reindeer all combined with creches of ancient folks in sandals and robes with their camels and goats. And, to muddle everything, somewhere along the way, the Victorians hijacked the whole program and Dickens assumed artistic control.

So now we have Frosty, Rudy, Santa, Mary, Joseph, and Three Maji being directed down Chadberry Lane past the Mead and Mutton Pub by Dickens for an afternoon of Caroling and Wassail with Charles Darby and Miss Pickering. In the background one can hear Bing Crosby. I think this is where the White Christmas comes in.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Labors of Love and the Pain of it all

A friend of mine was "going on" the other day about the difficulties her daughter was experiencing in her first pregnancy. Out of concern, I said I hope there were no complications. "Nothing life threatening. But she just has had extreme weight gain, gestational diabetes, and high blood pressure." I said I was sorry. She continued, "I told her it only would get worse."

(To myself, I thought, the poor daughter did not need to hear about two year old temper tantrums, pre-teen hormones, or teenage rage at a time like this.) "I can remember going two weeks over my due date, being in labor for 12 hours, and the pain, oh the pain." I laughed. Surely she was kidding. "You didn't really tell her that?" "Of course, I did. Everyone goes through that."

Funny, I remember the pain and agony of the tantrums, the hormones, and the rage, however, the pregnancy, labor, and delivery were very easy. Every time we go to see a doctor or a therapist for our youngest daughter, the first question they ask is, "How was your pregnancy, labor, and delivery with her?" When I answer remarkably uneventful, they scribble madly on their pad and look at me with a puzzled expression and mutter, "Hum?" They never elaborate, but I get the distinct impression that is not the answer they expected.

When I found out we were expecting our first child, my Ob-Gyn asked if I wanted natural childbirth. I looked at him like he had lost his mind. "You have got to be kidding. I want green tile, stainless steal, and all the drugs that have been developed." He laughed, "Well, we can give you an epidural if the pain gets bad."

"What happened to gas?" "We haven't used that is years. That can be dangerous for the mother and the child" That's funny, I reminded him that my mother had "gas" with both my brother and me. She remembers going to the hospital and three days later waking up with a healthy bundle of joy and no memory of any pain or agony. And, both of us have all our digits and limbs and never rode the short bus.

He went on, "Many women these days, are going towards having their children in a more 'homey' setting. We have rooms big enough for several family members to comfortably be present." "Look", I told him in disgust, "if you weren't here for conception, I don't want you here for delivery - present company excluded of course." He got the picture.

And the facts are, I have no horror stories to share. I had nine fairly comfortable months with both pregnancies. After five hours of labor, our oldest daughter was born four and a half hours past her due date. (My father never forgave me for this since she was due on his birthday - like I wanted to wait a day.) Our youngest daughter was born two and a half hours past her due date. (She was born in the labor room. Those were the "old" days when you went through labor in the labor room then endured the pain of being moved to the delivery room.) Patience has never been one of her virtues. They both weighed a healthy 7.3 pounds at birth.

For both girls, our rather provincial hospital had made the radical policy change of allowing the baby to stay (as opposed to just "visit") in the mother's room. Given the option, the nurses were a little surprised when I asked that they sleep in the nursery. Hey, I'd been with the baby for nine months and knew we were taking her home. This was my first offer of baby sitting and I wasn't turning it down.

And, as for baby sitting, during my pregnancy and shortly after each of their births, all the friends and relatives came to visit. And, I made a mental note of everyone of those who said, "Just call me, I would love to keep her." Over the course of that first year, I gave them a phone call. After all, they wanted to share our "bundle of joy" and who was I to deny them the pleasure.

The therapist never asked us about "farming our youngest out". Maybe the root of all the issues has been my subliminal desire for gas, my rejection of her that first night in the hospital, and her never experiencing the "comfort" of family and friends around her for birth. Oh, and we don't have the family motion pictures of the event on DVD. All I can say is that if that is the issue, she's got the wrong mother. But then again, she always has said she was either adopted or switched at birth.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Dreaded "List"

Speaking of lists, what happened to "Oh, I could use a new purse, a winter coat, and a surf board." Then Santa (or the gift giver) is left to find that "special" purse that you think she would love to have. Or, that coat that you know would look great on her (and you purchased it from a store you know she likes). OK, I may need some specific guidance on the surfboard. I had hoped by now that was a passing fad. But I digress.

No longer is the giver trusted. Or least I am not. Once again I am emailed (such a personal touch) a list complete with links for each item. These links don't just go to the store, oh no. They go directly to the desired item, style, color, and size (less I veer from the plan). The spirit of Christmas left me at the "Here's my list" point.

The only surprise left on Christmas morning is what my youngest daughter doesn't get from her "list". (And, no surprise here, only our youngest goes about Christmas this way.) Shopping for her (or rather checking off her list) is a very nerve racking ordeal for me every year. Will I open the link and order the item before it is sold out? (Memories of trying to locate that last Cabbage Patch doll in town come to mind - and they are not pretty - the memories or the doll.) What if the cursor moves from "Bold Gold" to Black Patent" in error as I place the order? Such a minor move could ruin Christmas morning - for everyone.

What ever happened to "my two front teeth", Bobby's "pair of skates", Suzy's "sled", Nellie's "picture book",  or  Alvin's "hula hoop"? Life was much simpler when we only had the Sears and Roebuck Christmas Wish Book. But then again, I only wanted the toy china tea set buffet complete with table settings for eight and all the serving pieces on page 43 of the 1966 Wish Book. (And, by the way Santa, I am still waiting for it.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Piece of British History

This time they are not quite printing money but they have stolen (or replicated) the British Jewels. Have they no shame? Actually, they know their audience. It's Christmas time, and what more special can you get the one you love than a limited edition replica of the sapphire ring Prince Charles gave Lady Diana Spencer, and just last month their son, Prince William gave to his bride-to-be Kate (who we are now to call Katherine). 

It was just a matter of time, but now you too can own a piece of authentic British history for only $39.90. The British Historic Society is making this special offer available to you.  And, this is not just any "replica", this jewel (no pun intended) is "beautiful simulated "Ceylon" sapphire represents the original quality of the centerpiece and is surrounded by scintillating brilliant Diamond X-4 CZs and prong set in silver plate. It's style; luster, color and cut are unsurpassed". 

Spare me. Given that The British Historic Society is based in Fairfield, NJ , there may be some issues. But not for some. I'm sure the phones are ringing off their hooks. What a deal. And, it was originally valued at $119.00. Folks, you can't find these things in bubble gum machines, no siree. What better way to say, "I love you". It's less than the cost of a NASCAR ticket. And , don't forget about the included Certificate of Authenticity and Decorative Velveteen Ring Box. 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Yes, It had to be easier for June and Harriett

 Don't call me and ask for advice on Christmas gifts. Maybe I should just say don't call me. My youngest calls this morning."Mom, what can I get Dad for Christmas." After some thought, I come up with several suggestions, all of which are immediately deemed "stupid". "Well, then why did you call me?" "Because, I need some help." This is a good example of my life as a mother -  I need you, but you are useless, go away, but not too far away, I might need you again. Huh?

After 21 years (well 18, since she has been talking) I should be used to this. Maybe I should just stop taking the phone calls, after all I have caller ID on the home phone and my cell phone - no surprises there. But, there is this force of nature to care. Of course there is also that force where mothers kill their young in nature. But I digress.

My mother never told me there would be days like this. My mother skipped several chapters there during the piano serenades and art sessions. Of course, I should be thankful for the cultural influence she had on me (seriously). And, to be honest, I don't think anyone could have prepared me for the trials of raising rearing my youngest child. When it gets ugly, she will comment that someday she will be the one who will choose our nursing home.

I bet June Cleaver and Harriett Nelson never had to deal with these issues. After all, if you can vacuum your living room in heels and pearls, how stressful can your life be? Besides, I think  everything is more difficult in color. I don't even want to venture into the world of high definition - God forbid 3D.

Of course, there is also that small issue that neither of them had daughters and the accompanying drama and hormonal chaos. Maybe that is why their lives were in black and white. There is no way, our life with our youngest child could be in black and white. This is living Technicolor in all its grandeur - peacock feathers and all.