Archive for December, 2011
As teens, my sisters and I would roll our eyes whenever my dad or mom would bring forth the subject of their courtship. It seemed such an old fashioned concept, and we were more than slightly embarrassed by it. Normal people’s parents had dated, not courted. According to my dad, mom had quite a few suitors and she couldn’t make up her mind between them. One night she’d meet one of them for a walk down the linden city center streets, stopping somewhere for a beverage or dessert, and the next, together with her girlfriends, she’d run into another at an ice cream parlor.
Apparently these meetings carried on for a while, and dad was losing patience. Christmas was approaching, and he was playing the trombone in a brass band that visited the surrounding village churches. He would be gone for a while every Saturday and Sunday and those were their designated days to walk the promenade, coyly flirting, my mom in her tailored miniskirt and kitten heels and dad in his well-cut suit. On a cold November Sunday he demanded that she choose between him and the other man. Who would it be?
I can just imagine my mom looking up at him surprised. What was his hurry, she had probably murmured in her soft voice. My mom is very soft spoken. She couldn’t be rushed, she had most likely added. She was just twenty-one. And so my dad did what every honorable man of his time did. He paid a visit to my grandparents, laden with gifts and asked for my mom’s hand in marriage.
The only problem was that another of her suitors had beat him to it, and while she hadn’t been promised (as the decision was solely my mom’s), my grandparents prayed that she would choose the kindest of the two.
My mom took a while. She could see herself having a future with either of them. Finally she decided that she’d leave it up to fate. She’d pick the one she would first encounter, unplanned. She got herself ready, her long dark hair in a topknot popular in those days and went to meet a girlfriend. And whom should she meet on the way there? My dad, of course! Was it planned, a coincidence perhaps, or was it really a sign from God? No one’s telling. And my grandmother had a saying she loved to repeat over and over whenever I pressed her about it: God’s not into magic tricks.
A month later my parents were married, and almost two years after that I came along, the first of five children. Now, as they are preparing to celebrate their 42nd anniversary together, on New Year’s Day, I am praying for their long, happy marriage to continue, in good health and in love, side by side.
Happy New Year, to you all, my lovely friends. May the journey through 2012 be a blessed one, filled with joy, love, peace, good health, and prosperity.
It is dark when mom awakens us from our nap. The rose painted walls are softly lit by the white world outside. Mom comes in and closes the wood shutters, turns on the chandelier overhead. The room is cold, the fire in the tiled corner fireplace, low. We bundle in our itchy woolen sweaters and follow mom into the hall. Dad comes in, snow glistening on his shoulders, dragging behind him a tall evergreen. He positions it into a corner of the square-shaped room where it will keep watch for the next few weeks.
The box of fragile ornaments is brought in from the attic, as well as a box of baked goodies, and one of oranges recently received from the States. I am given permission to select an orange, which dad then peels and hands to us in slices. The citrus taste, so unexpected and refreshing, overtakes my taste buds. I am in love with this taste. In my seven I have never tasted anything this good. Of course I want more. We all do.
But mom counts the oranges, making sure she has enough for the carolers stopping by. She lines them up, threads them and hangs them on the tree. After the oranges comes the ribboned, golden walnuts, then the foil wrapped home-made chocolate, followed by the Christmas candy in its fancy paper, and finally the jewel-toned glass baubles. Mom does all the work. The rest of us are her audience. The last waxy candle is clipped to the branches and lit, and dad turns off the lights. We stare in silence at the enchanting beauty before us.
My dad starts an ancient carol about the holy mother and golden pears and silver apples. When his voice trails off my mother starts one she’s learned at her grandmother’s knee, about lambs, treasure and holy men. We end the carol singing with “Silent Night, Holy Night.”
The candles are extinguished and the light turned on. Even dimmed in its glory, the tree holds us spellbound. In the other room the table is set. The carolers are on their way.