This week I celebrated my 62nd birthday or, as I prefer to say, I’m half way to 124 years old. It was the best birthday yet. Hubby and I got up at 4:45 AM and made our way at 5:06 AM to the beach with the best easterly facing view: Manauhant.
What a great way to begin a new year of life!
It was twilight as we hit the beach with chairs and assorted snacks. I was surprised at how light it was and the sun hadn’t yet shown a sliver.
To the west was the setting moon– a big peachy pizza pie slipping down the horizon. I love the juxtaposition.
We were the only ones on the beach — loved the solitude.
We sat in our sweatpants and sweatshirts, sipping a thermos of hot black coffee and watched the sky turn colors. First a warm pink then a lighter, brighter yellow.
The clouds were placed perfectly to give added reflection. Before long the top slice of the sun appeared. It was like a surprise gift–so much better than expected. Little by little it rose to meet or make the day.
It made my day! I tried to capture some of it on camera, but didn’t want to to miss being in the moment.
Before I knew it, the ball of fire was in full view and quite impressive. For that half hour, our world stopped and all that we focused on was the rising sun.
It was like magic. I have no doubt that the ancients were convinced that it was divine or quite extraordinary. I did a few Sun Salutations because it seemed like the normal, right thing to do. And thus began my sixty second year.
We spent the whole day at the beach, with lots of quiet time before the rest of the world awoke and put on their swimsuits. There was time to gab and talk about everything I wanted to do this year. We nibbled goodies from the cooler and had our books to read, pads of paper to write on, my knitting was often in hand and now a bit sandy. That’s OK, the kids will love winter hats with bits of beach sand in the pattern.
The quiet simplicity of it all was the best. Seagulls visited because David fed them bagels.
Pretty shells and sea glass found their way into my beach bag to maybe become jewelry. We kept finding clouds shaped like punctuation marks or animals in the sky.
As the day moved on and the sun was overhead, we took several dips to cool off and start the process of warming up all over again. With a beach bouquet and ginger molasses cookies in hand, we celebrated, and I loved every minute of it.
Putting up the Christmas tree is always a family event with us. We wait until the girls arrive and then “do the honors.” The ornament boxes are not those containerized egg crates from the Container Store; no, instead they’re wine boxes loaded to the brim with all kinds of treasures.
In many ways, it’s a hanging scrapbook. Every trinket has a story and memories attached. We relive them one by one. Here are a few of my favorites:
This snowman harkens back to our first Christmas in our own apartment. It was 1972, we lived in Brighton, and bought a tiny little tree. It looked anemic so we added wooden ornaments that we hand painted and hung along with pine cones that we found by the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.
This Oldie, but Goodie dates back to my childhood. I think I remember entire sets of these hand blown beauties. It’s like a little jewel, and so fragile that I’m surprised it lasted all of these years.
We’ve gone through several sets of these glass bells. I love them because they’re pretty to look at, they move gently, reflect the light and even make a soft sound. Small children and cats are attracted to them too– that’s why we’ve gone through several sets! They’re now placed on the top half of the tree. Bella looks, but can’t touch or swat.
There’s always an assortment of “found objects”, like the Domaine Chandon cork from a fabulous winery we visited years ago. There used to be a dog biscuit wrapped with a bow in honor of Major, the dog across the street, but the biscuit didn’t survive the test of time.
And then we have artistic creations from our beloved children: Kate’s mummified marshmallow/pine cone angel as well as Molly’s hand stitched, colorwork paper mitten. Gotta love them!
There are a few “store bought” ornaments, but they usually represent some family memory. David is the man flying the airplane.
And then there’s me and my hubby. I love that the bed is small and we’re cuddled close. Enough said 🙂
Lastly, it wouldn’t be our tree if there wasn’t something irreverent and unexpected–in cross stitch, no less!
It’s not surprising that most of the gifts I give this season are hand knits, food or books. It’s how I roll. What does surprise me is how, although I really intend to give gifts that please my “giftees,” many of these goodies deliver delightful, unintended consequences to me.
My daughter Molly is passionate and compassionate about animals and how they should be treated. I have been making woolen socks for her for several years. This year she mentioned how she’d like to make sure the sheep that provided the wool for her socks and shawl were well treated. In my hunt to find yarn from happy sheep, I discovered Naushon Island, just off the coast of Woods Hole. That’s where happy sheep graze, live well, and make the most beautiful, sheepy smelling, wholesome yarn. Naushon wool is a treat- yes, a gift—to knit. It smells sooooo good, feels so sturdy, and the natural color is a rich mocha that I loved. To find enough of this yarn to make a shawl for Molly that is big enough to wrap up in while reading a good book, I made friends with the folks at Woods Hole Historical Society who sold me the last ten skeins of the season. This gift is the gift that keeps on giving. I got enough yarn to make myself a sweater—after the holidays.
Kate has been the recipient of many of my hand knit hats. I knit them all year round, and can seldom wait for a holiday to give them to her. She wears them to work and in the office; they are stacked on her desk like a sculpture. One particular hat consistently brings her good luck(a color work hat that was a challenge to make!) She wears this hat at meetings and wears it with style.
No cookie cutter daughters in this family! Now that’s a real gift, Molly and Kate.
In the past I have made several ill fitting, weird sweaters for my poor husband. He would wear them, but the look on his face always told me that he was being kind and that maybe this was not meant to be. But I still wanted to knit for him… Last winter, he needed a pair of mittens after we had already left the house. I had an extra pair of fingerless mitts in my coat pocket. He slipped them on and liked that they were lightweight, warm, and he could drive wearing them. He actually wanted them… But he is colorblind and didn’t realize that my purple mitts weren’t blue and weren’t very becoming on a physicist. So I was thrilled to cast on a pair for him in black tweed and that led to a few hats, including a Fibonacci hat. Who knows where it will lead—but definitely not to a sweater. This gift taught me to “let it go.” Amen!
Some gifts send important messages that I may or may not “get” at the time. When I was in high school, I knitted a pullover sweater for my boyfriend, until recently known as “Tom Ferguson I Hate Him”. He dumped me three weeks before the Senior Prom—boo hoo. Anyhow…I’m over that. Here’s the unintended message in the sweater I made for him: the neck wanted to choke him (so did I) and his head was too big to fit through it (fat head…just saying). It’s too bad I didn’t hear the sweater speaking to me six months prior to the break up—it certainly tried to communicate.
And one of my most recent gifts is a knitting bag I made for a friend who has a sick kid and needs something to help with the stress. I made it out of organza, filled it with a skein of mink yarn (yes, it was humanly harvested) and a cute little pouch to keep knitting supplies. When I gave it to her at knit night, I confessed that I did purchase a box of salted dark chocolate caramels and put them in her bag… However… I ate them all. The best part of it all was that she laughed out loud about my scoffing the candy and giggled about it later. That’s exactly what I hoped to accomplish with my gift—but it wasn’t the bag, the yarn or the extras that made it happen.
So, as I’m finishing up the last of my Christmas gifting, I wonder what will happen with the other items I’m giving and, therefore, getting. Is it better to give than to receive? Maybe both, Merry Christmas!