Thursday, December 31, 2009


Ten years ago, I was ... selling a house which was a home for thirty years ... finalizing a divorce while celebrating my daughter's marriage ... anticipating becoming a grandmother for the very first time ... working full time as a college administrator and advisor ... surrounded by a network of family and friends ... twenty-five pounds lighter ... moving into my very first apartment ... starting over.

I spent New Year's Eve with a childhood friend as we both welcomed, not just another new year, but a new millennium as well. Wow, 2000 A.D. Millennial hopes and dreams did abide. I am usually quite the optimist.

Now, ten years later, I am ... not where I expected to be. Life is funny that way. I want to reach back and grab this decade, shake it hard, tell it to straighten up and fly right. But I can't. None of us can.

On this last night of this past decade, I will think about the next ten years, humbly, with lowered expectations. I am tired, feeling much older, knowing that I should pay closer attention to the words on a Christmas card from a family friend:

We yearn for
Peace beyond our fear
Light after darkness
Hope in the midst of despair
Joy following sorrow
Life coming from death
Compassion learned from pain

I will throw these words around my shoulders and let them keep me warm.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009


We had looked in several stores already, hand in hand as we searched for the perfect dress for Sophie's holiday concert.

I use the term 'holiday' loosely. Sadly, this year's songs had little to do with the religious traditions of the season. Certain parents had objected to the idea of actually singing carols and folk songs so the school played it safe and chose songs about the environment, community, and the 'power of one'. Instead of Frosty the Snowman (how politically incorrect could one snowman be?), the audience got to hear about falling rain and snow on mountain peaks with no mention of a Winter Wonderland. Nonetheless, the kids did their part and learned all the non-offending lyrics well.

Parents and grandparents came, took pictures, applauded and affirmed their progeny. I was shamelessly taking digital pics and video recording throughout. The girls looked lovely and lively onstage. I missed the familiar refrains of familiar songs but couldn't help but enjoy the excitement Sophie and Hannah were feeling.

The sense of mystery and wonder which was missing from the secular concert was provided by Sophie's dress. After several stores and no luck, she and I turned a corner in Macy's and both let out a small gasp. I tightened my hold on her hand as she dared to ask, "Oh, Babci, it's so beautiful. Can we buy this one?"

This dress even had a miniature dress attached which would fit her American Girl doll. It was so well made and it was on a 50% reduced rack. I could not believe my eyes and Sophie's good fortune!

We found the fitting room and, as soon as she slipped into it, I knew that Sophie and this dress were meant for each other. As I helped her step out of the garment, I looked at the label and my heart leapt. This carefully made dress was a Cinderella fashion. Memories came flooding back. My grandmother, an immigrant who never learned how to read and write, knew how to sew. She, in fact, worked as a seamstress decades ago for a mill which made Cinderella dresses. I remember my mom telling me how my Babci would often save her wages and purchase the Cinderella dresses for her granddaughters. Here I was, finding a Cinderella dress for Sophie!

How I wish my mom and my Babci had lived long enough to see this new generation of grandchildren, to see the glow in Sophie's eyes as she became a Cinderella for her school concert. The songs, themselves, no longer mattered as much. The magic of the season was in the dress.