Happy reunions…

My favorite part of any holiday is the chance to spend time with family and friends…After spending a few days with my family in Arlington for Thanksgiving, we returned to Charlottesville to host our friends, who moved to Michigan this summer. We were so happy to reunite with them on Saturday and to host an open house so that our mutual friends could get a chance to see them too. This is now officially my favorite way to entertain! We just piled food and drinks on our dining room table, and friends came and went all through the day and into the night…

img_7479-2img_2045img_2056img_2051img_2054img_2046-2img_2057Everyone was invited…even a couple of equine friends:

img_2060At the last minute, we decided to switch the sleeping arrangements. My daughter raced around her bedroom tidying it up as fast as she could so that our friends’ daughters could share her larger bed, while she took the smaller bed in the guest room. As per usual with my kids, “cleaning up” meant stuffing everything willy-nilly into a closet:


Phew! It’s always so nice when guests leave a good review!



We drove up to Arlington to spend Thanksgiving with my parents and my sister.

img_2038Every morning I accompanied the titular mayor of Arlington, aka my mother, on her daily walkabout to greet her subjects and to survey her lands. My father wordlessly walked behind my mother and me as we slowly made our way around the block. Every now and then my mother would use her cane to clear the sidewalk of errant twigs or to nudge newspapers a little closer to the houses to which they had been delivered. As we walked, she would tell me the life history of her peoples in astonishing detail.

“This man is a surveyor,” she said, brandishing her cane towards one of the little brick ranchers. She sighed and continued, “But he’s getting old. His yard used to be really nice when his girlfriend lived here. She’d always be outside weeding or planting flowers…But she left him because he refused to marry her.”

“And these people finally fixed their roof after a tree fell into it…It took them months to fix it and as soon as they did, they sold it and moved to Florida. It was on the market for less than a week and sold for over $700,000.”

“I see these people have weeded their garden. It was such a mess. It looks much better now.”

She stopped to gesture with her cane toward a shrub in front of another house.

“Do you know what that shrub is?” she asked me.

“The one with white flowers that’s right next to that house?”

She nodded.

“I think that’s a camellia.”

“A camellia? Well, it doesn’t have any scent,” she said with a distinct note of disapproval.

“You mean, you walked all the way up to the end of a stranger’s driveway to smell their shrub?” I asked.

“Why not?” she replied with regal nonchalance as she continued to process down the sidewalk.

We moved further along and she said, “There used to be a huge tree right here. They cut it down, which is good, because the branches were hanging right over their roof.” As she spoke, the man whose house we had stopped in front of happened to walk past his storm door. He glanced at my mother and politely waved. Taking this to be a request for an audience, she obligingly turned around and started making her way up his walkway, thereby forcing him to come out of his house to meet her.

“I see you cut down this tree. How much did it cost to do that?”

I turned back to exchange a rueful smile with my father as I was sure he would be writhing in embarrassment, but he had vanished. All I could see were the jet trails he left as he scurried back to his own house without so much as a goodbye.



Thank you



I was distressed to hear my children report that some of their fellow bus riders had been chanting “Build that wall” on their long ride to school and back for days before and after the election. I was getting ready to report this to the principal, when my kids told me the chanting had stopped. They explained that their bus driver had put a stop to it by having a talk with the kids. She told them that she would not tolerate this behavior on her bus, and explained that these words were hurtful.

I had felt paralyzed with horror and despair after the results of the election, not only because of the terrible person our country elected, but even more so because of the ugliness his election has unleashed. I am so grateful to the bus driver for snapping me out of it. The children in her charge learned something just as, if not more important than anything they may have learned in school this year. And she taught me a lesson too. I’m not paralyzed anymore. We can all act in ways to perfect our union. Like our bus driver, we can make a difference in our own spheres of influence. At first I wanted to go to sleep for four years and wake up after the nightmare was over. I’m wide awake now and I’m ready to do my part.

What I Learned in Sunday School

For my brother is an hairy man…Genesis 27:11


I asked my kids what they learned in Sunday School today.

“We discussed the youth service,” said the 16 year old whose class will shortly lead a worship service for the congregation.

“Healthy relationships,” said the 14 year old.

“We finally finished Exodus and now we’re doing the Book of Judges!” said the 11 year old who is reading through the Bible in a year in her class.

“And what are you learning about in Judges?”

“We talked about Samson…”

“Hey,” I interrupted, “Remind me…how did Delilah get Samson to cut his hair?”

“He was a Nazarite so he was never supposed to cut his hair, but the Philistines each paid Delilah 1100 shekels to get him to cut it…”

“Yes, but how did she actually get him to cut it?” I pressed.

“Well, she kept asking him to, and basically he got tired of her nagging…”

(I’m not sure, but that slight misinterpretation of the story just might be related to the fact that I’d been nagging suggesting that all three men in my household cut their hair this weekend).

The 14 year old snorted with undisguised contempt for Samson’s deficiency of will and said, “It’s like Esau selling his birthright for a bowl of stew!”

His little sister piped up, “Yeah! I mean lentil soup is pretty good, but seriously?!”

Relishing the absurdity of it all, she concluded, “And he was really hairy so Jacob had to trick their blind dad into thinking he was his brother by putting a shag rug over his arm!”



One in a gazillion

As I was braiding my daughter’s hair this morning, we were chatting about one of her teachers who is about to have a baby.

“Does she know if it’s a boy or a girl?” I asked.

“No! They want to be surprised!” she replied, “Did you know that I was going to be a girl?”

“Yes, I did! You know how I hate suspense!”

“So they could tell that I was a girl before I was born, but they couldn’t tell that I had this disease?”

My daughter was born with a condition that allows her to live a perfectly normal life as long as she takes medicines throughout the day.

“Yes, that’s right. We didn’t realize that until you were born.”

“What were the chances that I would be born with it?”

“Well, we didn’t know it at the time, but it turned out that there was a 1 in 4 chance that you would have it.”

“Oh GREAT!”she replied, “So there was a 3 in 4 chance that I wouldn’t have it?”

“Yes, that’s true,” I replied, “But there was only a 1 in a gazillion chance that you would be the amazing and awesome person you are…so I think we really lucked out.”