Here’s what I remember about the long ago time of being a young
married person living in New York City at Christmastime. I remember
giving my heavy winter coat to the lady in the coat check room at the
front of Bloomingdales then attacking the floors like a stealth shopper
on a death defying mission. I’d gather three or four Big Brown Bags
worth of merchandise and then head back to the lady and check those.
Attack, check, repeat. Attack, check, repeat. Until I’d finally
achieved my mother’s gifts for my father, my father’s gifts for my
mother, my parents gifts for me, mine for them and gone on to get some
for friends as well. I’d leave the store just about wearing a wide
skirt of shopping bags, feeling the ache between my shoulder blades
before I got to the corner. I’d be thinking about the books I meant to
get at Brentano’s the next day.
I remember the weariness born
of dehydration and determination and the satisfaction of being close to
the shopping finish line. I remember not knowing it took youth to do
Christmas that way and I remember that when I entered our small
apartment glowing with the light of our big tree our big dog would be
waiting to be walked and that seemed like dandy idea.
shopping, restraint and the passing of the era of coat check ladies in
department stores have changed all that. The passing of my parents
too. And the simple passage of time.
I had to go to
Bloomingdales on Christmas Eve this year. There was one gift I was
certain to find there. I knew to take a deep breath before I entered
the store and to resolve to get just that one thing. I knew to tell
myself I had enough time to let someone in a hurry go before me. I
knew to smile at the sales person and ask how her day was going. I’ve
aged and learned a bit about Christmas shopping. I’m carrying so much
less than I once did and so grateful for that.
-- Laura Sillerman
I am suspicious of joy and other exuberance, conditioned as I am against extreme emotions. Excess enthusiasm by itself must be one of the danger signs of something, and never more so than at this life stage where the words, “sudden”, “massive”, “overwhelming”, assume new meaning.
Intent upon organizing my existence, an annual impulse, which this year included the typical making neater piles of papers on my various desks, donating excess books to anyone who would take them, and being more connected, I’ve rediscovered my siblings. None of us was lost to the others. Our communication was frequent, often funny, typically via telephone or via Internet. A diagram of the relationships would be single circle for each of us with three spokes pointing outward. Assembling en masse—we are four—was relatively rare.
We’ve been meeting each other together lately. One characteristic defines us, and I suppose other sibling groups as well. Sui generis. We form a continent apart, an organic whole akin to the uniqueness attributed to twins or nebulae. Neither spouses nor children can replicate, nor truly enter, the entity that constitutes biological sibs raised together. It seems odd to suggest this, but even parents are not truly part of the sibling bond.
No epiphany or bolt of joy to report so far. Satisfaction inheres in knowing that we simply are.
-- Faith Childs
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