Friday, December 25, 2015

Missing my parents on their Christmas anniversary

My parents were married on Christmas Day, 1947, the day on which my mother could close her jewelry store after the Christmas rush.

She wanted to stay in a fancy hotel before their departure to their Florida honeymoon the next day, but he insisted that they stay in the hotel above Penn Station, saying that due to the coming storm, they would not otherwise get out. She wasn't happy about it, but she relented.

The next day, they woke up to a city blanketed in snow: the historic blizzard of 1947. She loved telling this story, which always concluded with her saying, "After that, father always knew best." They got out. Others were not so lucky.

Their first anniversary after he died, in December 2002, was especially difficult. But we made the best of it. Diane and I went with her to Sardi's, followed by the show "Movin' Out," the Twyla Tharp dance piece set to Billy Joel's music. It was snowing hard; we each took one elbow and dashed with her through Shubert Alley (connecting 44th and 45th streets) to the theater, arriving soaking wet. The rain washed away at least some of the sadness. We tried to dry off in the handicapped bathroom, with my mother and her cane leading the way. We sat orchestra right, close to the stage. I was afraid the show was too loud, but it was actually a good distraction.

Being Jewish, we didn't celebrate Christmas in any religious way, but our parents didn't want us to be left out. The fireplace was decorative, so Santa came in the front door to leave presents for us. We put stockings out, and he filled them with little gifts. When I told this to someone recently, they thought it was odd. But, I said, my mother designed Christmas jewelry: Christmas-tree pins with red and green stones, and whimsical mice, elephants and giraffes based on her drawings. She and my aunt were in business, and the pins bore the name of their company, Mylu, on the back (a kind of combination of Margie and Lynne.)

When other companies began copying them, we little girls walked around the city looking for "knock-offs." I remember asking the occasional woman wearing such a pin if I could see the back and asking where she got it if it didn't say Mylu on the back. I don't think I am making this up.

The other night I dreamt I went to our apartment building looking for my parents. But when I got there, I knew they were gone. I cried, aching to see them.

You can't complain when your parents lived well into their 80s. But that doesn't make you miss them any less, especially on special days like this.

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