A little over a week ago, my mother arrived for a visit. On that same day I received an email announcing that a very special couple had just welcomed their a new baby. The email contained photos. Swoon! You know I love babies and this baby is my very favorite kind: female. However, this email also instructed LB and me (and countless others) not to send a gift.
This poor couple unwittingly backed right into one of my hobby horses: being told when and how to give a present. I appreciate a registry when shopping for a bride and groom. I'm also down with in lieu of flowers when it comes to death announcements. But when it comes to births, the fact that you already own a Diaper Genie, a stroller, a car seat and lots of girly baby clothes has nothing to do with my right to celebrate and acknowledge your new baby. As for suggesting that I give to a charity instead? I'm willing to do that. But again, my gift to charity is unrelated to the fact that you just had a baby, I am excited about your baby, and I want to enjoy the time-honored tradition of giving a gift to the new baby.
Mom, Agatha and I immediately went to the yarn store and Mom treated me to Noro and Sublime. You know what Noro is already.
Sublime is an equally yummy yarn, made from a blend of merino and a hint of cashmere.
This baby girl may already have clothing, toys and other essentials, but I know for a fact that she does not yet own a sweater handknit by me, made expressly with her in mind.
Enough soapbox -- you want to hear about the other things we did while Mom was here.
We had a 4th of July barbecue.
We drove to Milwaukee and had lunch with my childhood friend, Steph. I have mentioned Steph many times before: we met on the first day of fifth grade. I was very nervous, especially since this new school involved riding a bus -- something I'd never done without a family member. Steph is a true extrovert and not only that, she is a seeker of people who are new, people who are different in some way, people who look as if they may need something. Since this was my first day at this school, I had no idea how different I was, or how very badly I would need a friend -- especially a friend who was bold and confident in all the ways I am not. I was grateful to this girl with curly pigtails for saying, "Sit here!" That evening, Steph called me on the phone to tell me she'd discovered our parents knew each other -- her mom and both my parents were teachers at UW--Milwaukee.
I had already told my parents about the girl I'd sat with on the bus, but her last name is common and they did not make the connection. Once I told them, they were excited and suggested I have her over right away. After that first visit, my dad told me, "You will always be friends with Steph. Even if you fall out of touch at some point and reconnect, you will always pick up where you left off."
I was mystified. We had become fast friends, but my dad was not given to predictions like this. Despite my many complaints about my school, I did have friends there. I've reconnected over the years with a few of them. Sometimes it worked; sometimes it didn't. The reconnection was limited to one email or one phone call because our lack of common ground as adults was so profound that the friendship was destined to remain a happy memory.
This is a very long way of saying that my mom was very happy to see Steph and we all spoke as if we'd been having lunch together every day for the past thirty-eight years.
During Mom's visit, Anatole sent me a rather formal email asking me if I thought Grandma would be willing to cook with him one evening. Some boys dream of playing second base for the Cubs, and some boys dream of learning to make a really good beef stroganoff.
(taken at Elegance in Meats)
The meal was excellent, but as with any family gathering it really wasn't about the food. While important connections are being made, we don't always realize it at the time. I think this is especially true when you're still a child, living "in the moment" because you have not yet learned that there is another way to live. Anatole really enjoyed himself and is old enough to never forget that evening.
But just in case he does, I have the pictures.