Sunday, February 20, 2011

Filling the Table Again

Last night, my table was filled with quick snippets of conversation, raucous laughter and stories from long ago. It was not a typical Saturday night, for too often I take the easy way out...stay at home and watch a movie, grab a bite at a local restaurant and sometimes meet friends there. But now, I've made a decision, or so I've convinced shed all the formality, the cleaning and perfectionism, and just pick up the phone instead.

It's been a long, snowy winter here in New England! 72" of snow to date! All of us are cramped inside our houses, far too often stuck in front of the t.v. screen. And while I am not much for t.v., I do find myself succumbing to the dull malaise of it anyway.

When I was growing up, we never, ever stayed in on Saturday nights. We most often went to my Aunt's house, or she would come to ours as well. We'd go to a the drive-in, a concept not too many would understand now. (Oh man, how I loved that drive-in! Was it my imagination, or didn't they wait on us by car? Maybe I'm thinking of Stewarts' Rootbeer, another favorite Saturday night treat.) On a rare occasion, when there was just a little bit of extra money, my dad would take us to Snuffy's, a local restaurant that came complete with an organ player. Did we know how to live it up, or what?!

But now? I do have a few friends who'll drop everything and go out on a Saturday night. The minute I pick up the phone, they'll meet us just about anywhere. But only a few. Many of the people I've known over the years, are locked into their living rooms now. What is this awful phenomenon, I've wondered. Is this what it means to get old? Because...if it is? I'm not subscribing at all!

My new manifesto: friends, fun, family and laughter. Back in the sixties when t.v. was just a fledgling at best, we had a different kind of 'herding mentality'. But now, we're far too entertained by that box. I also believe that all the screen time at work, the demands in the workplace and a million other factors are keeping us all apart. So? I'm putting it out all my facebook/twitter friends and to everyone else in this cyber universe: Let's bring back Saturday night--make it social, and get away from the t.v. screen!

What do you do with your Saturday nights these days?

Friday, February 4, 2011

Savoring all the Sweet Spots

Spread it, roll it, bake it all up and slide it into that red-hot oven...and that's when the waiting began. My favorite was always the sticky white icing that criss-crossed over that gooey top. But on that day? I said, "Easy on the frosting," I was trying to watch my weight. She immediately vetoed that, because she always had the final say. "Who counts calories on their birthday?" she said. And of course, we both started to laugh. She put her arm around my neck, gave a yank and pulled me to her, the two of us knocking heads. And even little Jen in her stroller started to laugh and kick her feet. Sugar, of course, was always our thing, and on that day? Jen was our partner in crime.

I turned back to the guy at the counter, and watched him squeeze that pastry tube and smother that bun in white. She always had it right. Massive doses of sugar was the cure for most anything. That day I was reminded of the many Sunday mornings--after church, then after the cemetery...when we went, two little girls, off to the bakery shop. Jellies, crumb buns, sugar-crusted crullers and even a cupcake or two! I'm sure my dad spent half his paycheck there, but of course we'd never let him off the hook.

The last time my sister and I celebrated our birthdays at TJ's, we figured there'd be so many more. Why wouldn't we? I mean, life just strings on and on...especially when you're in the middle of raising massive numbers of kids, like her with a tribe of five, and me with my own little three. We were right in the heart of our lives...that virtual sweet spot we'd worked so hard to get to. But here it is, February all over again. And even though she's not here to can best believe I'm not really alone. Because any time, I'm savoring one of life's sweet spots, seeing pictures of her grandkids on Facebook, or hanging out at a baptism or birthday, I'm seeing her and remembering, paying witness to all she was and all this next generation will be. And nothing will ever take that sweetness away! So today? On my B-day, I'm thinking of her and sending sweet vibes her way.

And as for that sticky bun? We gave it that slow savor, taking turns pulling off only a piece at a time. We fed some to Jen, and unraveled a little bit more. When we got to the end...she suddenly announced, "I'm done," before I could open my mouth to do the same. She turned her head, and forced that final piece on me. And then I watched that smirk stretch over those lips and I saw that gleam in her eye. She was turning 41, and I was not that far behind, but she was still the biggest boss of me!