grandchildren

Banishing the Ghosts of Christmas Past

November 30, 2018
Ghosts of Christmas Past

Lev relished the persona of being gruff and grumpy, and he welcomed the grandchildren’s nickname for him—Grumps. Come Christmas, he played the role to the hilt when they were around, going around muttering, “Bah! Humbug!” like Scrooge in Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. As choreographer of our Christmas rituals and traditions, I encouraged him, setting the stage with Dickens-themed Holiday decorations. We remember the story: …

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You Don’t Have to Be Home Alone on the Holidays

November 23, 2018
December anniversary dinner

How do you handle life’s transitions as the older generations age and the young ones grow up and marry? How do you maintain family connections, especially those time-honored holiday traditions and rituals? The aggrieved, widowed sister wrote Carolyn Hax, Washington Post advice columnist: Our extended family—siblings and kids—has always gathered at Thanksgiving and Christmas. Last week I got a text from my sister saying she …

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Who Is the Adult in the Room?

July 8, 2018
Philippians 4:8

The old Washington political cliché has taken on new meaning and new life recently, generally referring to character and behavior rather than policy decisions. But the term has resonated with me in a totally nonpolitical way. I often find myself in situations where a tiny voice in my head reminds me, “Be the adult in the room.” Somehow, that message is more effective in curbing …

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Home Alone: With Whom Do I Celebrate?

June 28, 2018
Rejoice with those who rejoice

As a new widow, I had to accept and acknowledge my limitations and embrace my new role if I was to reclaim joy. I did not like my new status—widow—neither the circumstances that made me a widow nor the images the word conjured up. I envisioned sad, lonely old ladies, living on their memories, dependent on others to take care of them. That was not …

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Hope for the Holidays

October 20, 2017
Christmas decor

…or would today’s blog be more appropriately titled, “Help! It’s the Holidays”? When Holiday promotions start showing up in the stores, when the days grow shorter, when daylight savings time ends, I am again reminded that I am approaching the time of year when I struggle to find joy. If you have experienced loss in the past year, if the Holidays this year will be …

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Return From Neverland

August 17, 2017
Lest We Forget

Like Wendy Darling in Peter Pan, I realize I cannot remain forever on my personal Neverland island of Nantucket. For two months I didn’t turn on television. I paid scant attention to the headlines of the newspapers for sale in the pharmacy. America seemed very remote. With decidedly mixed feelings, I packed my bags and returned home to the real world last week. Those first …

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Where’s Home?

June 1, 2017
google earth

What sort of images does home conjure up for you? Is it where you currently live or where you grew up? How much is it based on length of time and how much on your memories and the people you shared your home with? Home usually seems to mean “where I grew up, where my roots are, where my family lives.” When adults say “I’m …

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English Gardens in South Texas?

May 11, 2017
garden

Last week for the first time I was on Nantucket off-season—to celebrate daffodils, one of the first signs of spring on the island. While South Texas is already experiencing summer, with the temperature occasionally reaching 90 and spring flowers past their prime, Nantucket is at the very beginning of springtime, with bulbs and fruit trees and forsythia in full bloom. I will return at the …

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David Rockefeller: A Worthy Role Model

April 6, 2017
Colonial Williamsburg

Lev died April 7, 2009—eight years ago tomorrow. There I was, unprepared for all that I must do, immediately confronted with practical and legal realities. Overnight, I moved from the role of smiling spouse and gracious hostess to that of executor, trustee, CEO and—most dreaded of all—matriarch. I am not sure that anyone had confidence in me. I certainly had none in myself. Because I …

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How Much Is Safe to Spend?

October 20, 2016
Pray for the best

The question raised in the headline nags at me. Should you save enough to live to 100? The subhead promises that “here are ways to insulate yourself against outliving your money”—everyone’s fear—but the recommendations are almost opposite those I received from my husband’s professional advisors after I became a widow in 2009. Instead, the writer seems to say, “Oh, chances are you won’t live that …

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