The Gift of Giving

Did I ever tell you how much I look forward to my birthday?  Most women my age don’t.  Sure, it’s the passing of another year and, yes, I may not bounce back quite as fast from a night of drinking as I did when I was younger, but the fact is I love my birthday.  Why? It’s the only day of the year I get presents.  I know. I know. I sound just like a five-year old little girl on Christmas morning, screaming out at the top of her lungs, “Where are my toys?”  But I can’t help it.  There’s just something about a wrapped box that gives me the chills.  It might be the anticipation of guessing what’s inside or maybe it’s the way my eyes get all sparkly when I see the beautiful wrapping paper, neatly folded into crisp corners and kept together by invisible tape.   It may well be the big pretty colorful bow with wiggly, curly lines cascading down the present that reminds me of chocolate shavings on top of a delicious ice cream sundae. Whatever it is, it’s intoxicating.  It just does something to me.  Sort of like what sex does to the body, presents do to my mind.

What I like the most, actually, is the unwrapping . It’s not so much what’s inside the box (although I would never turn down anything from Oprah’s Favorite Things list) but the actual process of opening it up.  I love the feel of my fingers as they glide over the paper; the way my fingers pull it up.  I love hearing the crinkling sounds as I tear the patterns into pieces.  I love the look of the messy heap on the floor and scattered papers all over the room.

But most of all, I love the fact that someone thought enough of me to go out and actually buy or make me something that he thought I would like.  The fact that he then went home from the shopping run and spent the time to place the item in a box, pull out the scissors and tape and wrap it into a beautiful package speaks more to me than the actual gift itself.   It’s the real reason why I squeal with glee at the sight of “brown paper packages tied up with string.”  Did I mention that it’s one of my favorite things?



I had a nervous breakdown yesterday.  I have at least one a day.  Last night, it happened as I was trying to put my children to bed while at the same time juggling emails from work, making kid’s lunch for the next day and trying desperately to find the dry cleaning receipt that I misplaced but, of course, needed for today because I am out of clean work clothes.  I swear the owner of the drycleaners rolls his eyes at me every time I drop off my laundry.  He knows that no matter what pick up date he gives me, I will wait at least a month after that to come in.

Last night, I tried to multitask and was failing miserably at it.  One hour later, the kids were still not asleep but instead were jumping on my bed after the third warning that I had given out to them to get into bed or else….  I was still writing emails at a frantic pace because of course, everything at work is urgent and I still couldn’t find that stupid dry cleaning receipt.  I did manage to find my credit card bill that I was looking for last month and a pack of chewing gum.

Every night I ask myself the same question:”Why?”  Why can’t I get it together?  Why can’t anything ever go smoothly? Why can’t my kids go to bed when they are told? Why can’t my boss understand that not everything revolves around work? And why can’t the drycleaners just deliver my clothes and bill me?

And as I tried to grab each kid and get them to bed by threatening timeout, no play dates, no ice cream, no videogames-anything that I could possibly think of to get them to listen.  Last night, as I tried to shut down my computer and put my workday behind me.  Last night, as I crawled on my hands and knees to see if the dry cleaning receipt didn’t happen to slip under my dresser drawer. Last night, I was left with the same question I have every night: “Why?”  And what do you do when you have a question with no answer.  When you realize that your life is crazy and that balancing work, kids and a house is not easy.  Well, there’s only one thing to do. Reach for a glass of wine and say, “To heck with it. I’ll figure it out tomorrow.”  And then the cycle begins all over again.

Why I Am A Hopeless Romantic

It’s no secret if you’ve been reading my blog that I am what you would call a “hopeless romantic.”  I am the person sitting next to you in a dark theater with tissues in her hands, sniffling and proudly letting her tears flow during an emotional love scene.  I am the one who is obsessed with Pride and Prejudice. I am the crazy woman buying up all of the celebrity magazines, flipping through pages and sighing with glee at wedding pictures and cooing at baby pictures.  And yes, I am the sucker who roots for celebrities to beat the odds and stay married past the Hollywood expiration date.  So far, I’ve got my money on Tom and Rita to beat the odds.

I don’t see anything wrong with that. Yet, I get the roll of the eyes from some of my friends and the “talk” about how it’s not realistic to think in terms of happily ever after.  And I always ask the question why?  Isn’t Cinderella and Snow White  living proof of that?  Didn’t Darcy and Elizabeth beat the odds of the longest married celebrity couple?

In fact, I take great offense to the term “hopeless.”  Because hopeless means you don’t stand a chance.  Hopeless means to pack it in now while you can.  Why should love be filled with doubt? Hopeless makes it seem like there’s no chance for the fairytale ending.  Just quit while you’re ahead and if you do find someone, chances are it won’t last.  That’s never been me.  I’ve never been the pessimist.  I’ve always been the optimist with the glass half full (and completely full if there is wine in it).  I mean, let’s face it, why would anyone serve a half empty glass at a party or gathering? I certainly wouldn’t. In fact, I make sure my bar is fully stocked.  So why should I see love that way?  Why should I see it as the half empty glass.

Come to think of it, love is like a full glass of wine.  It tastes great.  It gives you a tingly feeling from your head to your toes.  It makes you giddy.  And if you drink too much of it, it could give you a headache in the morning.  But you would never stop drinking it even if it does.  Why?  Because it’s good.  That’s how I feel about love. It’s that good.

So am I a romantic?  Most definitely.  Am I hopeless?  No, nope, not at all.  In fact, I am a “hopeful romantic.”   Hopeful that love has a chance.  Besides, it has a much better sound to it, don’t you think?


The Circle of Friendship

This week, I saw my children return to school, their book bags slung over their shoulders and excitement in their eyes as they looked forward to meeting new teachers and reuniting with old friends.  As I stood there watching my nine-year-old daughter squeal in delight over seeing her friends again and as I saw them form a circle of endless chatter and laughter, it made me think about my own friendships.

Friendships are truly a gift and I have been blessed to have the support of a small group of very strong, intelligent, honest, funny, and amazing group of friends.  They are the ones who have seen me through the loss of a parent, rough patches in my marriage, difficulties at work.  They talked me off the ledge when my youngest son had colic as an infant and I suffered from mild postpartum.  They have shared a meal and a laugh with me over the years and are the only ones I can count on to tell me how I really look in jeans.

Friends are also the ones you get into trouble with or who bail you out of trouble.  They are the ones who hold your hair when you are hunched over a toilet bowl at two o’clock in the morning after making a bad decision of having ‘just one more.’  They are also the ones who hide your cell phone to stop you from calling an ex-boyfriend after being dumped and asking him “Why?”  They are the ones who scream with you the loudest at a concert, gladly losing their voice the next day or plan a fun weekend getaway to surprise you after a horrible week at work.

The older I grow, the more I come to depend on my circle of friends.  Yes, it’s true that my circle has dwindled down to a half dozen over the years but, unlike the multitude of friends I had when I was in high school, my circle now is strong and impenetrable, as opposed to the large circle I once boasted about and held out as a symbol of my popularity and my vanity.  I realize now that the problem with such a large circle is that it is often difficult to keep it together.  The larger it is, the weaker and more fragile.  In the end, it is the true friendships that are left standing after a storm, unwilling to bend or crumble.

So, although I am much, much older than a middle school aged girl; to this day, when I get together with my BFFs, we still squeal when we greet each other and yes, we still form that circle, filling it with endless laughter and chatter.  There are just some things you never want to grow out of.


Labor Day Resolutions

As I head into the last “unofficial” weekend of the summer, I am sitting here on my patio thinking about the last three months and what I’ve done with them. I think about the fun I’ve had with my children, spending time with them without the pressures of homework, soccer practices or the early morning rush to catch the bus.  I think about the vacations I’ve taken and the incredible places I’ve seen.  I think about the daily evening walks with my husband, where we’ve had the chance to reconnect.  I think about that chilled glass of wine I sipped at the end of the day.

I think about the calm of the beach, the cool breeze of the wind, the warmth of the sun, the smell of sunscreen and the way a hamburger tastes so good when it’s served up right off the grill. Basically,  I think about how summer has a way of making me slow down.

There is no other holiday that makes me reflect like this, with the exception of New Year’s Eve.  On December 31st, I look back at the year and what I’ve accomplished, growing nostalgic over growing a year older, reflecting over the good and bad times my family has had and the opportunities and challenges I’ve faced.  And then just like that, on January 1st, I turn the page and look forward to a brand new year, planning out what I need to do for the next twelve months.  It’s a start and an end for me.  I like that.

So I’ve decided that I am going to make Labor Day resolutions, the way I would on New Years Eve.  I will say goodbye to the  summer and welcome the fall with open arms and renewed promises.    I will embrace the colder days and the longer nights.  I will do a happy dance when my children go back to school and I will promise to spend more time on me.

So here goes, my Labor Day resolutions:

(1)  I promise not to go overboard with my diet.  Yes, I’d like to lose weight but one glass of beer on a weekend or a bowl of ice cream with whip cream won’t kill me, will it? If the same rules apply over the summer, why stop with the fall? Besides, the clothes are more forgiving to hide extra pounds in October than in July.  Love my sweaters!

(2)  I promise to continue spending quality time with my family. Why should that end with the summer?  Yes, its true, our lives get more hectic with work and school but that doesn’t mean I can’t spare an hour a day to have some fun.  And what I mean by fun does not involve yelling at my kids to do their homework, take showers or brush their teeth before they go to sleep.

(3)  I promise to share more of the blanket with my husband at night.  As the nights get colder, I admit I tend to be a bit of a blanket hog.  I mean, I like my feet to stay warm.  But this fall, I promise to be more giving and share the warmth.

(4)  I promise to continue to enjoy the outdoors.  I have to confess, I am a warm weather girl.  I love the beach and the feel of the sand in-between my toes but a bike ride through the park as the leaves change colors doesn’t sound like a bad way to spend an afternoon.  Neither does a tour of a winery either.  Got to make sure to put both on my calendar!

(5)  I promise to enjoy my life, every minute of every day.  I’ve got to start thinking about it in terms of the seasons and enjoy each one for what it has to offer.

(6)  Finally, if it gets really cold and snowy, if the kids are driving me crazy to the point of distraction, if the wineries are closed and my husband has taken all of the blanket in the middle of the night,  I promise to go to my computer, log online and book the next flight out to a Caribbean island and pack only a bathing suit, sunglasses and flip flops.  Summer here I come!