Christmas Eve 2016


It happened again, like it did last year. At the last minute on the 24th of December, I found myself in Rite Aid looking for a Christmas card for Bruce. Me and a bunch of men, who you could tell, didn’t have a clue, trying to find a card that said ‘just the right thing’. The only “To My Husband” card left was in Polish. Oh well, Bruce would get a kick out of it. I remember last year, I ended up with a Charlie Brown card for him.charliebrown

Then, off to the hair color aisle. Thank God there was no shortage of Clairol products. I felt I just had to touch up my hair.  You know the feeling.

Next stop was Masse’s Seafood to pick up 2 pounds of cocktail shrimp and sauce. Back home, I needed to make dessert, finish the laundry, wash the kitchen floor, color my hair, shower, and get ready for our annual Christmas Eve get-together with family and friends.

Bruce had been working steadily making short rib stew [a new addition to our menu] and bourbon and bacon mac and cheese [which replaced lasagne a few years back].


We also had a salad which didn’t go over that well~not sure why~spinach salad with glazed pecans and pomegranate seeds with a honey vinaigrette. He grilled up a kielbasa and made deviled eggs. A small catastrophe with the paprika, but I won’t go into that.

Bruce bought a loaf of bread rather than making his own, as he had just made a rye loaf for the family gathering on the 23rd at Betsy [his ex-wife] and John’s home. We gather each year with Bruce’s son, Daryl and his good woman, Julia, her parents, Kim and Joe, Bruce’s daughter, Danielle, our son-in-law, Mike, and our two grandchildren, Emily and Matthew. Freddy comes along too and plays, meaning makes a commotion, with their border terrier, Libby.

Bruce made baked tortellini with tomato sauce which I made from a recipe I have used for decades. I made a cheese ball~first one I ever made. It was made with blue cheese, dates, pecans and scallions and covered in crumbled bacon and parsley. It was served with club crackers and curried peach preserves. I found this recipe on PBS food site and it was by Vivian from “A Chef’s Life”. Here’s a picture of it. Definitely, a keeper.


Back to our Christmas Eve gathering. I had a hard time deciding on a dessert. I went through my recipes and cookbooks and websites and finally landed on peach upside down mini cakes.  It sounded good.  As I was putting the recipe together, I could just tell it wasn’t going to come out right. But what was I to do at this point? So 30 minutes later…The mini cakes are stuck in the tins, of course. I managed to get them out and pieced together the peach and brown sugar mixture that was supposed to be on top, rather than stuck in the tins. The batter was tough, but I served it with vanilla ice cream which kind of redeemed it. I had also made chocolate chipolte cookies and oatmeal cookies.

My friend, Jacki, brought chocolate dipped strawberries~yummy. And Julia brought “Legs” inspired by “A Christmas Story”.  She is very talented and very funny!


Daryl and Julia like Moscow Mules, so we made a cranberry version. The punch was a big hit.


Here’s a picture of the table with the appetizers.


The nativity set was my mother’s. It is very beautiful and I am honored to have it.

We had a house full of people, friends and family, and a good time was had by all.


I wish you and yours a Merry Christmas and a Very Happy new Year.


Wind Beneath My Wings

The song, Wind Beneath My Wings, was playing on the car radio the other day and it started me thinking how much my mother influenced me with her encouragement and support.


She was my biggest cheerleader and supporter.

I remember she told me when I was born that Joe went to the Tatham Social Club and told everyone there that I was the prettiest baby girl in the whole nursery. It’s not that I actually was; what’s important is that every loving father thinks his daughter is the best and every loving mother tells her daughter she is the best.

She told me it was the happiest day of her life when I was born~she had a daughter, after having two sons.

Once I had applied for a job and Mare inquired what was happening. I stated maybe they didn’t like me. Immediately she said “How could they not like you?”

There was a Seinfeld episode with the very same theme. Remember when Jerry was pitching a pilot to NBC and he was waiting out their decision and he said “Maybe they don’t like me.” Mrs. Seinfeld reacted, “How could they not like you?” Every loving parent thinks the same thing and communicates it.

I had Mare’s approval on the way I dressed and how I decorated and cared for my home. She was always complimentary. My hair~not so much. She would tell me if it looked messy or dry and suggest I needed a deep conditioner. Once, when I said to her she needed a good haircut, she said: “You know, sometimes your hair looks like a horse’s tail, but I don’t say anything because it isn’t nice.” I think that’s a mother-daughter thing and probably a topic for another story.

She thought I was smart and believed I knew everything. Really. She would ask a question and if I said “I don’t know”, she would say, “But you have your Master degree.” Seriously.

Once, we were in the hardware store shopping. She needed garbage bags for the kitchen waste bin. I picked up a box of 250 bags. She asked if that was enough, should she get 2 packages? I said, “Well if you use one bag a week, this package would last 5 years.” She turned to the pimply faced young boy who was helping us and said, ” My daughter is very smart. She has her Master’s.” He must of thought, “Oh boy, it’s gonna be one of those days.”

It wasn’t that I thought I knew everything. Mare conveyed to me that she had faith in me to reason anything out, big or small. For the most part. She disapproved of me getting married when I was only 18 years old and she disapproved of me getting a divorce 7 years later. She worried about “where I would fit in.” As the years went on, she saw that I could manage very well on my own.

Mare was proud of my degrees and what I accomplished in college. It was Mare who financed my undergraduate degree. I had stupidly delayed going to college after high school and got married instead. So although I was married, against her wishes, she paid for my tuition because she wanted to see me go to college and  not be stuck without the ability to earn a living.

When I went to grad school, I was no longer married. I paid for tuition and fees myself as I had been working for 4 years and saved money. However, Mare gave me living expense money, monthly, to make things a little easier on me.  She was the one who made it possible to start and complete my education and go on to have a successful career, enjoy financial prosperity, and accumulate wealth.

She took pride in all the positions and companies that I worked for over the years in my Human Resources career. I have always said that ‘behind every successful person is a woman.’ For me, it was Mare.

She helped me run my home when I was working long hours or traveling extensively. She did my errands. She arranged and met the repairmen and contractors at my home. She did stuff that needed to be done at my home. She varnished my sun room that was covered in knotty pine paneling, walls and ceiling, one hot summer day. She had a neighbor remove a snake she found in my yard. Little things, big things, she took care of what needed to be done, to make my life easier.

She was concerned about the effects the demands of work had on me and how emotionally draining it all was. I had dinner with her every night [when I wasn’t traveling] and she was always nurturing and encouraging. A home cooked meal and a glass of wine and upbeat conversation~balm for the soul. Remember, Mare and Joe took care of my dog Casey for me while I was at work. What a Gift!

At one point, she suggested that I train to become a yoga teacher as she knew how much I enjoyed going to yoga classes and how much I gained in fitness and relaxation. In retrospect, I should have given more thought to her suggestion.

When she thought I needed help or advise she gave it. Mostly, what I remember of her loving, challenging, important words to me were:

Be bold. Show compassion. Persevere.

These were the hallmarks of her personality and her legacy.


The thing is, the regrettable thing is, I didn’t let her know that she was the wind beneath my wings.

Mare passed on December 11, 2014, siting in her comfy chair, in her living room, in my arms.