Yes, I certainly did! I won the power play, number 4. Total payoff, $4.00. I did say, “God, please let me win Power Ball.” I won. Maybe I should have been more specific…
My life, I swear.
Well, there’s always next time…
I was over my mom’s house the other day and we were looking in a closet to find a box containing some ace bandages.
Mom: “Erin, try that box on the left.”
I pulled the box down off of the upper shelf and opened it.
Mom: “What is it?”
Me: “It’s an over-sized sterling silver butter dish, still wrapped in the original tissue paper.”
Mom: “Oh, that was a wedding gift. We never used it.”
Me: (Laughing) “Well, that’s pretty obvious… either that or you have some serious OCD!”
The whole situation got me thinking about what makes a good wedding gift. What makes the difference between the wedding gift that’s still in the box when you’re 83 years old and the wedding gift you can’t wait to use?
I think the answer is two-fold: practicality and comfort. I know money is practical and gives you the ability to buy whatever you want, but the comfort part of having money only lasts until you spend it.
My mother and father received a wedding gift that not only met the above criteria, but also provided a story that would live on for decades to come.
Back in 1957 when my mom and dad got married, an electric blanket was a luxury.
My parents were lucky enough to get an electric blanket for a wedding gift. It had dual controls and was top of the line.
Newly married and facing their first brisk night, they unpacked their brand new electric blanket and placed it on their bed.
After they each set their respective controls for their personal temperature preference, they slid under the covers anxious to sleep coddled in warmth and comfort.
My mom was a bit chilly.
She quickly adjusted her control to a higher temperature and waited for the heavenly warmth to kick in.
My dad, liking his bed warm but not too hot turned the dial on his control down a bit.
My parents both closed their eyes and tried to drift off to sleep only to be awakened at fifteen to twenty-minute intervals to adjust the temperature controls on their side of the bed.
The night of uncomfortable, restless sleep ensued as my parents tossed and turned adjusting their controllers for the blanket they were both so excited to own.
My mother turned hers up and my father turned his down.
Finally, my dad said, “I can’t sleep, I’m sweating. It’s sweltering under these covers!”
“Sweltering?” My mother replied, “I’m freezing! I don’t think this blanket works.”
“You can’t be serious?” My father asked, as he got up to turn on the light.
After checking if my mother’s cord to the electric blanket was plugged into the wall outlet, both connections to the base of electric blanket and the settings on each dial, they stared at each other and began to laugh uncontrollably.
“We have each other’s control, don’t we?” My mother asked with a smirk.
“Yes, we do.” My dad replied, shaking his head.
I don’t think that my parents got much sleep that night, but I do know they shared their ability to laugh at themselves, as well as this story for years to come.
In the long run, sleep is overrated anyway.
Join me for part 5: Adding Children Ups The Craziness Ante…
I have some things spiraling out of control in my life right now. I’m not sure if the spiral is going down or up… but I’m thinking that all great change comes after the worst upheaval.
I also believe that even when bad things happen, God uses those very things to propel us to our highest purpose.
No worries, I’m hanging in there and of course, keeping my sense of humor.
My parent’s first Christmas together presented one major problem.
My father picked out the Christmas tree the first year my mother and father were married. A tree like the ones he had grown up with.
My mother: “That’s the tree you picked out?”
My dad: “Yes, isn’t it beautiful?”
My mother: (laughing) “That tree looks like a Charlie Brown Christmas tree.”
My dad: “What do you mean? That’s the kind of tree we always had growing up.”
My mother: “Seriously? We never had a tree like that. We always had a full Christmas tree.”
Often, people who fall in love come from different experiences. This can be a stumbling block, or just a lesson in compromise and the perseverance it takes to make things work.
Let’s face it, what you love, is what you know… especially when it comes to your childhood memories, the way certain meals are prepared, or even your taste in decorating.
Yet, some of these things, like the style of your Christmas tree, can create an argument larger than who left the cap off of the toothpaste or how someone could forget to put the toilet seat down.
Not for my parents.
My mother went out and bought the fullest Christmas tree on the lot… what she had known as a child. She stood the tree in a stand and decorated it.
My father kept his Christmas tree up and decorated it.
The first year of their marriage, my parents proudly displayed two fresh Christmas trees in their small apartment.
One, a Charlie Brown Christmas tree, as my mother had called it… with sparse branches that hung towards the floor with the weight of the ornaments… this was the tree of a hard-working mailman, the father of eight.
The other, a full-bodied tree, with thick, rich branches. Reminiscent of the tree bought by the father of two, an appliance repairman.
When my sister and I came along, my parents celebrated Christmas every year with an artificial tree.
When we begged for a real tree, we learned of their differences and all about their first Christmas together. My parents laughed as they told us the story.
Growing up, we never got to have a real tree but we learned about the power of compromise and the importance of having a sense of humor.
For me, I tell this story with pride.
It has shaped my compassion, as well as, my ability to compromise and take another person’s feelings into account when you have a difference of opinion.
And you know what else?
My parents had another tradition that trumped my longing for the smell of a freshly cut Christmas tree in my childhood home.
On Christmas eve, Santa not only brought the presents, he brought and decorated the Christmas tree.
Every Christmas morning, my sister and I woke up to see our Christmas tree for the first time. The twinkling lights would shine on the dimly lit hallway wall as we made our way to the living room. The first glimpse of our Christmas tree took my breath away and I was just as excited about the tree as I was about the presents that were under it.
It was truly magical!
As an adult, I know that my parents spent many late Christmas Eve’s placing color coded branches into the base of our artificial tree, stringing lights, putting up ornaments and assembling bikes into the wee hours of the morning. They sacrificed their sleep and most likely their sanity, to give us the most memorable and exciting Christmas morning any child could ever dream of.
I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.
My parents are really special, amazing people.
But I know at this point I don’t have to tell you that.
There are always more stories and more laughter to come…
Join me for Part 5: My parents favorite wedding gift… well, maybe most misunderstood wedding gift…
True to form, Ed was late picking Jean up for their first date to the movies.
The lights were low and the movie had already started, as Jean and Ed made their way, taking small sideways steps past the knees of the seated patrons.
Self-conscious about blocking the view of everyone seated, who were already watching the movie, Jean nervously glanced back to see what was taking Ed so long to make his way down the dimly lit aisle.
Ed seemed to be moving at a slow pace, as the woman’s head in the row in front of him jerked to the right.
Jean heard a gasp escape from the woman’s throat.
Ed stopped in his tracks, trying to figure out why the woman had groaned.
Moviegoers in the seats behind expressed their disdain by yelling, “sit down.”
The woman’s long hair was caught in the fly of Ed’s pants.
Ed fumbled to release her hair.
“Oh God, Is this really happening!” thought all of the parties involved.
But it was happening.
Ed struggled to free the entwined hair from his fly as the movie played on.
Finally, he managed to free himself (and the woman’s hair) from the grip of the zipper on his pants and take his seat next to his date.
For most people this would have been the first, and last date, not to mention a story that would live on in infamy.
For my mother and father, it was the beginning of many embarrassing, funny, unbelievable stories that they wholeheartedly embraced as part of the love story that was unique to them… and one that they would tell for years to come.
Join me for Part 3: My parent’s first Christmas together.
One of John’s friends is a college writing professor and a published author. He told John that my blog is both funny and well written… that’s quite a compliment, especially coming from him. I’ll take it, but truth be told, I can’t take all of the credit. I believe that a good sense of humor is hereditary, you get it from your parents.
My mother’s name is Jean. She is a beautiful, blonde haired, blue-eyed Polish girl, really a knock-out. My mother was introduced to my father by their mutual friend Jack. (Yes, for those of you following my blog, Jack is the man who told John, “Johnny, Johnny, Johnny, you’ll never be bored!”) and the inspiration for a four-part series by the same name, as well as the reason I started this blog.
The first time my parents were supposed to meet, my father, Ed, arrived late (which was his trademark, and apparently an imperfection that I have also whole-heartily embraced during my lifetime). Ed was a handsome, fit, dark-haired, brown-eyed, serviceman in the United States Army.
His best friend, Jack, brought my father to Jean’s house but due to his late arrival, no one was home.
My grandparents owned a cabin on the lake in Ridgefield, Connecticut. When my father failed to show up on time, my grandmother announced they were going to leave for the lake, and they did. My grandmother wasn’t waiting for my father to get there and she made it clear that Jean wasn’t staying behind at home.
Jack was a good friend to my dad and a natural match-maker. When no one was home at Jean’s house, they got back in the car and headed to Ridgefield.
I believe that this was the night that my mother and father fell in love.
Ed and Jean spent their evening walking around the lake holding hands and talking. This was the beginning of a whirlwind romance. The chemistry was so amazing that my father asked my mother out to the movies. They were the perfect couple. Don’t believe me? Check out their photo below.
What could possibly go wrong on their first real date that was so outrageous that when I heard the story, I asked my mom, “And you went out with him after that?”
Stay tuned to find out in Part 2: Embarrassment at the movies…