Holiday Traditions

Ok.  I know none of you are surprised that I love the holidays and that we have some traditions in our household.  But here’s a little roundup of what we do.

We are a multi religious household.  I am somewhat Catholic and my Husband is somewhat Jewish.  This makes my daughter culturally religious.  We celebrate both Catholic and Jewish holidays.

  1. Hanukkah.  We light candles and give presents and eat little bits of chocolate “gelt”.  As last night was the first night, I say Happy Hanukkah to all!
  2. We have a Christmas Tree.  We get a small (about 5 feet) real tree.  There was a shortage this year, so most of the tree vendors that come down for the holiday were not here.  Luckily, my local corner store sells trees.  I like a real tree cause of the smell.  I also do not have room to store an artificial tree.
  3. Gingerbread house.  My daughter and I decorate one every year .  When she was little we did the graham crackers on milk carton variety.  Then we bought the kits where you build a house.  We now buy a pre-assembled one.  So much easier.  But we love to decorate them.  Not well- we are not particularly creative, but it’s fun.
  4. Holiday show.  every year we go to a holiday themed show.  In the past we have seen The Nutcracker, A Christmas Story and It’s a Wonderful Life done live on stage (it was done as a radio broadcast)  This year we will be seeing Pentatonix.
  5. Seasonal City Decorations.  NYC is a great place to see holiday decorations.  One night we go to see what we consider our favorites.  the windows of Bergdorf Goodman, Lord and Taylor and Saks Fifth Avenue.  The Tree at Rockefeller Center.  The brightly lit stores on Fifth Avenue, including the big light bow outside of Cartier.  Big festive recreations of holiday string lights on 6th ave.  The little tree and Menorah at Madison Square Park.  The copy of A Christmas Carol at the Morgan Library.  My favorite though, is the baroque tree at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  It’s just beautiful.
  6. Christmas Cards.  I still send out cards with pictures of my daughter and pets.  We display the cards that we receive.  I like it- it makes me feel good.
  7. Holiday movies.  It’s a Wonderful Life.  Miracle on 34th Street.  A Christmas Carol.  Santa Claus id Coming to Town, The Grinch, A Christmas Story.  These make me smile and feel good.
  8. Presents.  enough said.
  9. Christamas Carols.  Lots of them.

I’m sure we have more, but I have a bit of a cold, so my mind is muddled.  I’m now going to drink hot tea, and get under a blanket for a bit.  It’s a bit chilly in NYC, I have things that must get done in a bit, but right now, I must try to let the cold medicine work a little.

Cheers to all!!

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That’s What I Like About You

My blog friend G Sandwich wrote a great post the other day about writing.  Sometimes as a journalist she (and every other journalist in the known world) would need to file copy, so they would “milk” an already written article – basically rewrite the story using mainly the same facts.  The other option is to write a “follow-up”.  This is where the majority of the new story is actually new, but just brings up different viewpoints or more info.  Here’s hoping that todays post is a follow-up and not a milk.

Last week I wrote about saying I Love you unconditionally.   My blogging friend Deep As Thought commented that sometimes she would like important people in her life to say, not necessarily I love you (though I think everyone wants that) but “I like you because ….”  That got me thinking.

Growing up, my Mother was very critical.  In 3rd grade, I remember getting a 95 on a test.  I was proud of myself.  I went home and told my Mom.  her response: “Well, if you’d studied harder you would have had a 100.” ( No- my Mother was not nominated for parent of the year that year, or any year since.)  These words from my Mother never got less harsh as time passed, but guess what, my grades got worse.  I stopped studying and doing homework.  How I managed to escape High School with an average somewhere in the B range is a testament to being somehow smart enough to get through a test. What I lacked in actual book knowledge I made up for in an uncanny ability to figure out multiple choice questions.  In my teenage mind, my Mother was not going to appreciate anything I did, so why should I try? No- I hadn’t yet learned the art of doing things for myself.  Again, my Mom was so controlling, I didn’t think having my own thoughts and actions was possible. She did not like who I was. Thanks Mom.

My Mothers words and actions continued to dominate my thoughts and actions.  This lasted for way too long.  I had a long line of mistakes and missteps that can be directly attributed to my weird relationship with her.  Because at the root of everything, my Mother did not like me.  She did not like what I did.  She had comments about my weight, choice in friends, what I wore, what I read, how I spent my free time.  There was little in my life she did not criticize.  As a child and a teenager and young adult, even as a real adult, it did not feel great to think that my Mother didn’t like me.  It sort of zaps your confidence.  Well, not sort of.  It  totally zaps your confidence.  And if you don’t feel confident, then you really can’t succeed at anything,  you really can’t ever be happy.  You walk around with a feeling of not being worthy of anything.  This is not a great path to be on.  It is a dizzying downward spiral.  It is a spiral that is hard to recover from.

All because my Mother never said “I like….”

We all want to be liked, especially by our parents.  Shouldn’t the assumption be that a parent likes their child?  As a Mother, I know I want my daughter to feel loved, liked and appreciated every day.  I make sure I praise her about the things she does well at, give constructive criticism if the situation warrants it, thank her when she does something nice, and tell her I love her.  (Don’t worry- I screw up a lot too- I’m sure one day she will write a blog and tell you all the horrible things I did…)  But I really try.

So here’s your homework assignment.  Really think about why you like all the people in your life.  Think about their positive attributes that draw you to them.  Tell them.  Tell the people in your life why you like them.

Here’s my list:

  1. I like it when my husband takes out dog out for the 10pm walk, because if I’m home I like to be in my pajamas by then.  He knows this is important to me, which is why he does it.
  2. I like it that my daughter comes home and takes care of school work right away.  This makes my life so easy.  I have never had the dreaded homework fight.
  3. I like my best friend S because she is a vault.  I can tell her anything and she will not even share it with her husband.  Everyone needs a friend like that.
  4. I like my friend G because she will always tell you the truth.  Sometimes I need the reality.
  5. I like my friend M because she is completely realistic.  She knows that sometimes life has to be ugly, and she will guide me through the cold hard facts.
  6. I like my friend A because she is truly the funniest, most sarcastic person I;ve ever met.  No matter what the situation, she finds the humor, no matter how dark.  I need this type of person in my life.
  7. I like my friend SF because he is willing to argue with me.  We differ on certain subjects, and he’s never afraid to engage, even though he’s always wrong.
  8. I like my friend M2 because she loves culture.  I need a friend I can go to a museum, concert or whatever with because those experiences are fun to share

I could go on and on and on, but you get the idea.

Tell someone you like them.  It really means a lot.  They will like it.

 

You’ve Got Style

I think you guys might know I’m sort of having a love affair with Stitchfix (for the record I am receiving no compensation from them, though given the amount of time I talk about them I probably should)  For the uninitiated, Stitchfix is the perfect solution to either someone who doesn’t like to shop, or someone who doesn’t really know how to make the most of their wardrobe.  You fill out a very detailed questionnaire, and then they send you five items of clothing/accessories whenever you schedule it.  I think it’s brilliant.

I have now done two boxes, and will get delivery of my next box sometime at the end of the month.  I have been extremely fortunate in that every thing the stylist has sent me has been something I really liked (or loved) and was a great piece for my wardrobe.  The fit has also been spot on.  This amazes me- how they could find me black jeans better than I have bought myself is shocking to me.

Here’s the catch.  I was brutally honest when I filled out the questionnaire.  I gave my actual weight and body type.  I explained the “flaws” and how I try to correct them.  (my fatal flaw is being short waisted.  My ribs end and my hips begin, so I can really look like I have no waist.  I choose things that elongate me, and give me the appearance of curves.  I also have nice legs and arms, so I tend to wear clothes that highlight one of these areas.  I like knowing my strengths and weaknesses, so to speak.

But, even though I don’t really know how to be stylish, I know what my style is.  I like classic clothes in neutral colors (who am I kidding- I wear black and grey, with sometimes white or pink). I like clothes with simple lines and not a great deal of fuss.  My favorite look this season has been black faux leather trimmed leggings, a long black tunic/t shirt and a knee length grey cardigan with either black suede sneakers or black booties.  Big necklace, big stud earrings.   I am not girly.  I am not boho.  I am not dramatic.  I am simple….I do like a fun accessory, funky necklace or shoe, and I am willing to try a trend.  (I went to a party the other night sporting a pale pink shimmery shirt with those little flutter like sleeves that are so popular now.  I felt a little fun and different)

Ok- I’ve given you details and description (i’m learning that my novel is lacking this, so, lucky you, I am practicing with you)

But where am I going?

One of my really close friends tried Stitchfix.  She HATED it.  Absolutely hated it.

Why?

Because she has absolutely no idea what her style is.  None at all.  She insists to me that she is like me, classic and simple.  I’ve know her for 25 years.  She is not classic and far from simple.  She loves color- her closet is a rainbow.  She loves florals and flowing tops.  She leans towards peasant, boho styles in whatever she chooses.  yet, if you ask her, she will tell you that the last thing she is is Bohemian.  She literally said that to me.  When I asked her what style she is, I gave her a list of choices, and the only clear thing she said was that she is NOT BOHO.

Why is this important?

Take a look at yourself in the mirror.  Accept who you are.  Who you actually are, not the person you are in your mind.  I think people get into problems when the outer you, the you that you represent to the world is not in sync with what’s really going on in your head.  The outer you and the inner you need to match.   Outer and Inner need to come to some sort of agreement.  If they are always battling, you, as a person, are never going to be happy.

Don’t try to be something you’re not.  Be who you are.  And don’t let a spouse, a friend or a parent sway you as to who you really are.  My Mother will often buy me clothes.  In theory this is nice.  In reality, she is buying things that she thinks I should wear, the style she thinks I should be.  I’m 53, and my Mother is still trying to dictate who I am.  Don’t get caught in this.  Be who you are. (FYI- who you are can change.  It is ok to be punk when you’re 30, and boho when you’re 35- that’s just evolving- nothing wrong with that at all as long as you are true to yourself and not trying to morph into someone else’s ideal)

So here’s the takeaway:

  1. I love having someone else pick out my clothes and curate my wardrobe for me
  2. I know who I am and am happy with who I am
  3. Figure out who you are and run with it.  you will be an awesome you!!

 

 

 

What Are the Conditions

A few months ago I read a thing on parenting.  The writer said that people shouldn’t tell their children “I love you”, they should tell them “I love the way you drew that picture of an elephant.” or something like that.    The theory was something along the lines of giving them specifics, but honestly, it’s been at least two months and millions of read words ago, so don’t hold me to that.  But it was something along those lines.

And yes, that thing has been in my mind, albeit the back, since I read it.  Yes.  I overthink things.  I know.  Yes.  Sometimes I wish I could shut off the switch that makes me overthink things and question every single sentence and word choice.  But that’s why I blog, so I can express the myriad thoughts that run around my brain every minute of every day.

But anyway.

I don’t think love should be conditional and/or specific.  I think it’s OK to just love someone.

Now, that being said, I don’t think there is anything wrong with saying to your kid,  “I love the way you get home from school, take a ten minute break, and then start your homework.”  to say to your Husband “I love the way you take the dog out on the last walk of the evening because you know I hate that 10pm walk.”  There is nothing wrong with telling the people you love why you love them. (and conversely, to nicely say, it drives me crazy when you leave wet towels on the bed)

So, here’s my point:  even if my daughter didn’t start her homework early, or my husband didn’t do the late walk, I would still love them.  My love is not conditional upon them doing those tasks.  I am still going to say I love you to them even if they don’t do them.  (though- leave enough wet towels on the bed and I might not say it too often…..)

Do you want to put conditions on love?

Do you want your someone to think that if they stop doing “X” or “Y”, you will not love them anymore?

Do you want people to put conditions on why they love you?

Do you want to constantly worry that if you stop doing something, they won’t love you anymore?

I know I don’t.

Now, that doesn’t mean that you should ever take love for granted.  Or leave wet towels on the bed.  It’s nice to be kind to those in your life, and do things they appreciate.  It’s nice to be thankful of all the little things that they do to make your life easier/better.  But that’s just kindness.  Love and kindness should not be mutually exclusive- they should be present at the same time.

Tell the people you love that you love them.   Just say “I Love You”.   I tell my daughter that every day as she leaves for school.  I want her to hear those words before she starts her day, because sometimes life sucks, and you need to know that someone is in your corner.

Tell them why you love them.  Just because it will make them feel good.

Tell them you love them even thought they leave wet towels on the bed.

Eyes Pretty Wide Open

I can be a little overbearing.  I can be opinionated.  I can be a control freak. No one would ever describe me as “laid back”.   I think you can ascertain most of this about my personality, and I am OK with that.  I will freely admit that I exhibit many of these traits in the majority of my life.

Except

I am actually somewhat laid back as a wife.  Not in the domestic side of things- I run the household with a pretty tight leash.  But, as far as my Husband goes, I am pretty easy going.

He wants to hang out with the guys?  Go ahead.  No problem.  Wants to go to Alabama to watch a football game?  Works for me.  Wants to hang out with people from ski club, men and women?  Have fun.  Want to go to Montana to ski for five days?  Don’t forget your gloves.

Many women look at me and say- “You’re crazy.”  “You trust him?”  “Why does he want to be out so much anyway?”

I think of it like this: if he’s going to cheat, he doesn’t need an excuse, or a situation- he would do it anyway.  I’m not a particularly jealous person.  I don’t covet things other people have, I’m not particularly envious.  I don’t view his wanting to hang out with his friends as an affront against me.  I like hanging with my friends too.  I certainly wouldn’t want him to tell me what I can and can’t do.  And skiing- well- he loves it.  Me- I figure if I was intended to be ass down in a pile of snow, God would have made me a polar bear…..so if he has friends to ski with, then I’m a happy girl.

But that doesn’t mean I’m naïve.

Case in point.  Last weekend he was at a ski club outing.  I tend not to accompany him, because frankly, I don’t like many of the people in the club.  When he came home, he talked to me about two of the women in the club.

Him:  “Wow. S and R were talking about the guys they were dating, and how lousy the sex was, and how they had to break up with the guys because the sex was so bad.  They said that sex is the most important thing in a relationship.  I don’t know- when you’re 50ish, is that the most important thing?  Isn’t it just getting along and wanting to spend time together?” he said.

Me: They’re trying to get you to sleep with them.”

Him: No?  Really?  What?

Me:  They’re trying to tell you that they are hot and ready all the time.  That life with them would be one long sexcaspade.

Him: You mean they are trying to lure me away from you?

Me:  Yes.  They assume because I let you off your leash that we have a lousy marriage.  They want to be married/paired off, and they figure you are a willing victim.  They know you’re not afraid of commitment, your kid is almost out of the house, you’re a reasonably nice guy in decent shape….

Him:  Women don’t do that

Me:  Really?  You think?

Now, I’ve seen these women at social functions.  I know exactly the type of women they.  They are not women I would ever be friends with- for myriad reasons.  Let’s just say, if I ever finish my current novel, my next one would be about women such as this.  They are a caricature, and a stereotype, but boy would it be fun to write about one.  Let’s just say there is a reason why one of them has been divorced 3 times, and the other one is desperate to be married….and I mean desperate.

Did my husband learn anything about human nature?  Probably not.  At 49 he still doesn’t realize how conniving people can be.  I know, I know.  It’s my fault.  I’m such an amazing human he finds it hard to believe that there are people with faults…but I can only point out that sometimes people have ulterior motives, that sometimes things aren’t always what they seem.  Except me being perfect.  Because I truly am perfect…….

 

 

Holiday Shopping

My Daughter and I went shopping the other day.  Our intention wasn’t to buy things though, we sometimes like to just see what’s out there.  During the holiday season, a bunch of little outdoor markets open up.  They set up a bunch of stalls, and different artisans come and ply their wares.  There is usually a lot of cool handmade jewelry, a plethora of hats and gloves.  There are organic beauty products, and organic anything.  I think the word organic is the greatest marketing tool ever- how can a pen be organic?  We love to see the slightly unusual products- this year our favorite was the slightly S&M candles that creates a lotion from the dripping warm wax.  It smelled good.  There is usually a fair amount of upcycling, jewelry made from coins, hats made from socks (though I really question whether I want to wear upcycled socks on my head)

Along with the quaint holiday village, we also visited a very upscale mall.  Now a mall in Manhattan is not quite like a mall in the suburbs- there is no Cinnabon.  But there is Coach and Michael Kors.  There are also two of the most expensive restaurants in the city, where I believe the tasting menu starts at 500$ a plate.  Needless to say, these stores are beautiful to look at, especially all decked out with twinkles.

Now, in this mall there is an Amazon book store.  I know, I know- Amazon has no right opening a brick and mortar, especially in about the same location as Borders used to stand.  My daughter looked aghast when I said I wanted to walk in.  What? That bookstore?  She cried.  But yes- the siren call of books was way too great.  I literally can not pass a bookstore and not go in to hold, touch and smell a book.

Now, the front of the store had displays of all those virtual assistants.  We stopped to read about them, found out the cheapest version was on a ridiculous sale.  You know we bought one.

We set it up when we got home.  And you know, when you get a new toy, you really play with it.  Check out all it’s features.  We loved being able to ask it to play music. You can say play 80’s music and it does.  It tells you the weather.  You can set up timers. You can play trivia.  My family and I were having so much fun.

On Sunday night, my Husband the sports fan was watching ESPN.  This is not unusual.  What was unusual is that he was watching collegiate Corn hole.  Yes.  There is a college sport for the game of Corn Hole.  For the uninitiated, corn hole is a beanbag game.  There are two slanted boards with a hole in them.  The object is to stand a distance away and attempt to toss your beanbag into the hole.  Simple.  We’ve played it before- it’s very popular at backyard barbecues and days hanging at the beach.

But corn hole as an actual competitive sport?

My daughter asked our virtual assistant about the rules of corn hole.

I am going to be very clear about this:  be really careful if you ask your virtual assistant about this word.  We got more than one answer, and let’s just say one of  the answers made us all look at each other and burst out laughing.  Not an answer for the under 13 set…..

So the lesson here- in this holiday season, if you are tempted to purchase a virtual assistant, they are wonderful, they are fun and they are helpful.

But they also have a very dirty mind…..

 

Old Dogs and New Tricks

I went to an art opening the other night, a photography school in the city.  I was invited by a friend, who had a friend exhibiting in the show.  The exhibitor was a woman in her fifties, married with 3 teenage/adult children and 2 teenage/adult step children.  She had a wonderful career as an architect and decided that she wanted to have a change of pace, so she quit her job and went back to school to learn photography.  At fifty something.

Sometimes, we think of being in our 50’s and above, or being empty nesters, as the end of the road.  Why do we do this?  Fear, society, I don’t know.  But we do- many people look at the second half of their life and sigh with resignation.  We need to stop doing that.  You know in a sporting event, how many second half comebacks there are?  And aren’t those come backs the most thrilling to watch and experience?  Well, it’s time for our comebacks.

As my writing class nears its conclusion, I noticed that the younger participants have dropped out, literally and figuratively. (to be fair, one of the older participants did as well)  Last night, the only ones to do the writing assignment were the over 35’s.  Why?  I don’t know- I didn’t take a poll, but I’d say the younger ones are either not ready to be writers (writing is really, really hard) or realized that they don’t want to be writers.  Which is great that they figured this out.

But let’s focus on the over 35’s.  They want to write.  They’re writing.  They’re taking classes.  They’re improving.  This includes me.  We want to do it.  We can do it.  We will do it.

So here’s the PSA- we can virtually start over now.  Age doesn’t matter.  We’re not ready to be pushed aside and looked over.  We can do anything.

So if you want to pursue a degree in something- go for it.  I mean you Carol(e) sorry- can’t remember how you spell your name, but I think you should become a phycologist, or at least study it- you love it.  And anyone else who has a passion or a yearning- it’s not too late to try.  We are not too old.  Go be whatever you want to be.  There are a plethora of online classes now- you could be in a yurt somewhere in the middle of nowhere, but if you have a viable internet connection, you can study Chinese cooking or art history or virtually anything.  Go to school, buy a book, join a group.  Get back in the game.

Here’s the best thing about being older- we have a much better understanding of who we are as people.  Our life experience has made us stronger and smarter.  We know how crappy life can be and we learned how to bounce back- no one makes it to fifty without a few setbacks.  And because we have a better understanding of who we are, we have a better idea of who we want to be.

I want to be a writer.  I don’t know if I will succeed, but I’m going to try.

What do you want to be?  Isn’t it worth a try?

Weight Loss Update

Two months ago, I told you all that I was about to embark on a lifestyle change.  I wasn’t feeling good about the post-Voldemort weight, so I was going to make some changes to try to lose a little weight and feel better about myself.

So- here’s the update- I have lost 7 pounds in two months, which is roughly 1 pound a week.  I am happy with this loss and pace, because I really think I’m changing my habits, which is really the important thing.

Now, I’m never skinny- never in my life have I ever been called that.  But I had a fast metabolism, so I was usually able to stay trimmish, even though I had a HUGE appetite.  But Voldemort killed my metabolism.  Not changing my routine ended with me gaining 20 pounds over the past two years.  Not good.

Here’s the changes I made to my life in the past two months:

  1. green tea.  Supposedly it speeds the metabolism.  I can’t prove it works, but I can’t prove it doesn’t
  2. Making sure I drink water- 8 glasses a day
  3. Reducing portion size.  This is the big one for me.  I now put small spoonfuls of the heavier foods, and larger spoons of salad and plain veggies.  I’ve noticed that just a little taste of something good is enough
  4. Reducing carbs.  Not eliminating them.
  5. If I know I will be eating a meal out, I eat very few calories with my other meals.  I don’t know how healthy this is, but it is working for my lifestyle.

My breakfast and lunch are usually one of the following: eggs/veggies. fruit/yogurt, veggie salad.   I do cardio for 5-7 hours a week (elliptical or spinning) and two weight training classes.  I also walk a lot.

Losing weight after 50 is SO MUCH HARDER!  I remember being able to drop 5 pounds in two weeks just my watching what I ate.  So, if you are my age and are going to try to lose weight, remember this:  it’s a marathon, not a sprint.  You can’t get nuts with yourself if the weight doesn’t drop easily.  Just focus on being as healthy as possible.  The goal is to lose weight and keep it off, not to yoyo back and forth.  I check the scale once a week, Saturday mornings at the gym.  Don’t be a slave to the scale.

 

 

 

Perception

I saw an off Broadway stage production of “Pride and Prejudice” the other day.  (on a side note, thanks to the new NYC flashing billboards, I learned funfact #184, the difference between Broadway and Off Broadway is the number of seats in the house)  This new production was the brainchild of Kate Hamill.  While keeping to the basic theme of the novel, she adapts it for a small, one set stage, as well as puts a 21st century twist on it.

Some of the characters have been eliminated (bye bye Kitty).  There are only 8 actors in the production, so with the exception of Darcy and Elizabeth, players have multiple roles.  Mary and Mr. Bingley are played by the same talented actor- he flips his hair in a different direction and throws a “dress”  over his pants.  The result is camp and funny.  And that’s how Hamill updated this work- by making it camp.   The actors used many of the same lines from the book, but interpreted them a bit differently than you would see in the Colin Firth version.  (sorry- to me that is the definitive version- there is only one thing wrong with it)

Interpretation.  Every person reading a book will have a different perception of it.  Every person looking at a painting will have a different perception of it.  Sure, many people will agree on certain points, but perception will vary by the viewer.  This is just how it is- everyone’s life experiences view how they interpret things.

The 11th grade in my daughters school have been studying “The Scarlet Letter” since the beginning of the year. Prior to the Thanksgiving break, the students had an assembly of sorts, where groups of students came up with individual interpretations of SL.  My daughters group did a movie, “Father Figure” which told the story through the eyes of Dimsdale.  One group did an interpretive dance, another did a riff on the TV show “How I Met Your Mother”.  She said is was great to see the different ways people talked about the book and she saw many areas of the book in a new light.

So, you’ve heard about a play I saw, you’ve heard about my kids school assignment.  What’s the point?

The point is, everyone has a different perception of everything.  Try to remember this in all your human interactions.  Remember that, even though someone may “look” just like you, they may be vastly different in their core.  Remember that someone may “look” totally different from you, but they might share many of the same traits and viewpoints.  We spend so much time talking about being equal (which is great and everyone should have equal opportunity- I am a huge believer in equal opportunity) that we forget that we should strive to be individuals.  We should take the unique qualities that we all possess and own them.  Celebrate our visions of everything we see.

While there is nothing wrong with being “like” someone else, there is absolutely nothing wrong with being “different”.  People with different ideas and different notions are what make the world go round.  Never be afraid to share your opinion for fear of ridicule.  never be afraid to disagree with someone (except me because I am always right…)

So as we officially enter what I refer to as the Holiday season, embrace your unique view, and the unique stance of others.  Do things your way, but allow others to have the same freedom.  And remember, whatever holiday greeting people choose to say, accept it with gratitude, because all they’re trying to do is say “Peace”.

Peace

My Secret…..

Sssh….I’m going to let you in on a little secret.  I really think I was meant to be British.  My family tells me this all the time.  I love tea.  I love a dry sense of humor.  I  swoon when I hear the accents (my New Yorkese is just not pleasing to the ear).  Burberry- oh don’t get me started on the plaid.  I would kill for sticky toffee pudding.  I truly believe I was born in the wrong place.

Looks wise, when you mix my Mediterranean Mother with my Slavic Father, you end up with a fair skinned. greenish hazel eyed, brunette.  People have never thought I was Polish or Italian, the dominant genetic groups- they’ve always thought I was English or Irish.  There was a point when I only dated blue eyed, blonde guys with Irish ancestry.  You could say that’s my type (my daughters history teacher fits this description- even though he’s about 12, I still felt the need to check my appearance before I walked into parent teacher conferences)

But my intense love of all things British sort of manifests itself in my love of three things:  Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice and Agatha Christie.  There is nothing I like more than absorbing myself in these two works.  So this month has been wonderful.

Why?  Because a few weeks ago, a Downton Abbey exhibit opened in NYC.  I was treated to seeing the actual kitchen, servants dining hall, Mr.  Carsons office, the Dowagers desk, the main dining table and Lady Mary’s bedroom.  As I told my friends, I could have moved into that room.  And the costumes!!!  Oh, those dresses!

For an Anglophile, a drawing room drama is perfection.  Back stabbing, wheeling and dealing and intrigue are so much better when done with an accent and a country estate.  There is a sense of class and elegance to the shows aired on PBS that just draws me in. (OK- I know- they’re PBS- they’re supposed to be like that) I don’t necessarily want to be part of that world (well- I have had a few dreams where I am Lady Mary), but it sure is a fun ride.  No American drama has captivated me as Downton did.  The dialogue was just line after line of clever and concise writing.  The actors- really- do I need to explain how good each and every cast member was?  I still haven’t gotten over Matthew and Cybil…..the attention to detail- there was not a thing on the set that wasn’t perfect and accurate to the time.

But my love of all things Brit also extends to literature.  Pride and Prejudice.  Seriously- could there be a better book?  Jane Austen had the ability to describe the universal nature of people is such an insightful and timeless way.  And tonight, I get to see an off Broadway production of that amazing book!  I get to live in a world of Elizabeth Bennett for just a few hours tonight!  To see such a strong female character, and to know how long ago the book was written….to know that Austen had the courage to write about it!

Of course, “Murder on the Orient Express” also came out this month.  Agatha Christie- the queen of the detective story.  Adapted by Kenneth Branagh.  Come on…..  Clever, timeless, witty, erudite…..the whole thing is perfect.  (ok- the movie is not perfect- but still- a murder on a train….Hercule…..it still works)

So here is my nod to all things British.  Here is to my wishing I was British.  I’m going to finish my tea, take the lift down and exit my flat to walk my Yorkshire terrier……perhaps I’ll even wear my trench…..