Life doesn’t come with a manual. It comes with a mother.
You would have turned 90 today. December 15 is the fine day you arrived, aptly named Joyce to herald in the joy of the Christmas season.
I think of you every day. Little memories come to me as I glance at your photo on my jewelry chest. It’s the old snap of us on my 4th birthday. We are looking up bright-eyed with happiness at the unseen photographer. Sometimes I stop and study the images, wondering about our lives then and how we would share it now.
Your cookie baking Christmas tradition binds us tenderly together in this season of joy. You loved making delicious trays of cookies and candies for us, dear friends and co-workers. I remember tins and Tupperware stacking up as you baked. You began just after Thanksgiving since you had such a huge volume to produce.
Your artistry was masterful as you assembled the trays with delectable confections. Round balls, cut-outs, drop cookies, bars, tiny pastry shells of pecan pie. Chocolate peanut butter balls danced among the sugary orbs. The tins and platters were also part of the gift, selected with the receiver in mind. Ours were child-themed for your twin grandsons. I still have those trays, and the dinged up Courier and Ives tins that housed your treats.
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“They say it’s your birthday. We’re gonna have a good time.”—The Beatles
It’s time for the annual wearing of the tiara. As in, it’s my 57th birthday today and I have several tiaras to choose from. My son Adam bought me an antique one with seed pearls at a dandy little shop in Provincetown several years ago, though it was well past my birthday. I have a 40th birthday version and the one from my dental company job photo shoot where I posed as the tooth fairy (and oh, the dress and wings that came with THAT tiara!) The best one however, is my 50th birthday Audrey Hepburn replica from the movie Roman Holiday. It’s covered in Swarovski crystals and sparkles with intense beams when the light hits it.
I am shameless when it comes to my birthday—telling random strangers wherever I happen to be that it’s my birthday. Because I LOVE THIS DAY! It’s a celebration of living joyfully, appreciation for my parents who made me and fun for my family who have come to accept my narcissism for my special day as a loving quirk.
My family thinks my habit of counting down the days to my birthday is endearing. I write the number of shopping days on my husband’s Ansel Adams work calendar. About 20 days before, I start singing, “It’s almost my birthday!” to the Beatles Birthday tune. Mark loves to tease me when I say, “My birthday is in X days.” He replies sardonically, “It’s your birthday soon?” It’s our fun little game. I would be disappointed if he didn’t play along.
Mark loves to surprise me so my birthday is a natural time to indulge in this. In my 20’s, he arranged a work posse party at Chuck E. Cheese’s so we could play games and swim in the ball pool. On my 40th Mark, my siblings, nieces, nephews and our kids staged a remake of the Wizard of Oz starring me as Dorothy seeking out the wizard to reverse my trip “over the hill.” And of course, the 50th blowout was the best and biggest yet. In between the BIG ONES, there were treasure hunts, dinners lovingly made at home and fancy ones at swanky restaurants, and a trip to the Smithsonian to see the real ruby slippers. Homemade gifts from our sweet sons who reveled in the joy we created. One year, my darling even made me a banana cream pie because my mom always made me that dessert and she had passed on. I love M for trying as baking is not his forte. We still laugh over the pencil eraser texture of the filling which was an odd gray color from the skim milk.
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Happy Birthday Sweet Sons!
Adam (l) & Alex (r)
Today you are 27—hardly seems possible that this much time has passed for you wombmates! I remember the night after you were born looking out from my hospital room, snuggling you up close as I looked over the city lights, baby in each arm. Who would you become? What things would you love in life? What are your special gifts? Would you be close as brothers?
The room was quiet and you were both snoozing, perfect contentment, baby A and baby B—Adam and Alex. I didn’t know then that you would become these incredible men who bring love, joy and light to those in your circle. Although it was my hope and wish you would.
Adam, you came into the world first. That’s your path in Read the rest of this entry
Happy Birthday Baby Girl!
I love this photo that speaks the promise of a life of joy ahead.
I suspect the photographer was my dad Henry because he was our family historian. See how we are smiling so brightly? Henry captured a moment that forever portrays the love between my mom (Joyce) and me.
Tomorrow I will be 54 years old–a half century since this photo was taken on my 4th birthday. Pop had the foresight to label 1962 on the front of the photo (faint handwriting in his dear, scraggly script).
I study this photo just about every day because I keep it on my dressing table. Whose house was this? What was in the box? Read the rest of this entry