Charles Dickens, in a Preface to The Christmas Carol

“I have endeavored in this Ghostly little book, to raise the Ghost of an Idea, which shall not put my readers out of humour with themselves, with each other, with the season, or with me. May it haunt their houses pleasantly.......” Charles Dickens, in a Preface to A Christmas Carol

Monday, March 26, 2012

Favorite Things in My Easter Basket (with Pictures from Dept. 56 New England Village)

Thanks to for
photo of the basket!

If I were to create my favorite Easter basket, what would I put in it?  For those of you who know me, you will be surprised that chocolate is not first on my list, though it is on the list. As I was thinking about it, my list got serious very quickly.  Easter is a time of endings and beginnings. While I love to laugh, this year I find the thought of endings and beginnings a cause for sadness, though also for hope and joy.

Here goes:  If I were to create my favorite Easter basket, I would put in the following:
Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Boardwalk Sunday Stroll," #56681

1.  My family.  I love my family, with all of their talents and gifts and warts and idiosyncrasies and quirks.  In fact, the warts and idiosyncrasies and quirks make me love them, at least in part.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Harper's Farmhouse," #56612

And I love that they acknowledge and accept mine, though my warts and idiosyncrasies and quirks are not as pronounced and annoying as theirs.  But beyond the odd, I love their talents, and graces, and loveliness, and humor.  My life would not be of so great a worth without them.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Let's Go One more Time," #56621

2.  My friends.  Because my family is small, the role of my friends is great.  In fact, my close friends have merged into my family, and I hold them as dear, if not dearer, than some blood relatives.  My friends, too, have warts and idiosyncrasies and quirks, along with talents and graces.  They counsel me and guide me and laugh at me, and I would not wish to lose any one of them.  You know who you are.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Stoney Brook Town Hall," #56448

3.  My wider circles of acquaintances.  I belong to Rotary, a lunch group, a book group, a circle around my husband's work.  I have acquaintances in these arenas that I do not know well, but I am inspired by aspects of their lives that I do know.  I am inspired by their intelligence, ideas, audacity in thought and action, their courage, and their work.  I don't have to know each of them in every phase of their life.  I can pick elements of their life that are accessible to me, and regard it with awe.  I would be less rich without my acquaintances.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Milking the Cow," #56683

4.  Our cat, Hemmingway.  Hemmingway had a tough start. When he came to us he was a "red tag," meaning....well, you can imagine what it means to carry a red tag.  He was so thin  we didn't like to pet him, because his spine stuck out so far.  He had a respiratory problem, his eye dripped, and he had ring worm, though we didn't recognize what it was until I got it also....on my cheek.  Hemmingway was not very civilized.  He didn't like to be held, and one friend, said, with skepticism, that he might not turn out very well.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Not Too Fast, Please," #57110

Hemmingway has turned out very well, indeed.  He is a large strapping fellow who prowls the perimeter of the yard several times a day, lopes across the grass with his huge feet splayed ahead of him, and has accepted as his right to sleep on every soft surface of the house, including silk pillows.

Hemmingway, sitting outside my window,
controlling me.

He still doesn't like to be held, but he sits outside my office window, on the kayak, and cries until I go out and pet him.  I am intelligent, and he has taught me well.  He joins us each night in bed, and at 3AM promptly, he wakes us with loud purring and slobbering and kneading.  He is promptly ejected from the bedroom, and still loves us in the morning.  Hemmingway brings great joy to us, but not to the rats, mice, birds, and even occasional possum in the yard.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Bobwhite Cottage," #56576

5. Good memories.  I would wish everyone's Easter basket to overflow with good memories.  Years ago our family was in a building at the University of Virginia.  We ran into a nice, elderly gentleman, who said to us.  "You're building memories."  We asked what he meant.  He said that he used to travel with his family when his children were young, and he still carries all of those wonderful memories with him, and that they are some of the best things he has in life.

Dept. 56., New England Village,
"Green Dragon Coffeehouse," #56678

We are so lucky to have our basket brimming with joyful memories of house exchange vacations, card games as we sipped coffee, touch football games during halftimes of the 49er games, swimming parties in our back yard, watching the July 4 children's parades...there are so many traditions and memories they burst the sides of the basket.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"The Winner by a Nose," #57115

6.  People who make us laugh.  Sometimes our friends say funny things, sometimes innocent things, and sometimes very nasty and incorrect things.  But they are very funny, occasionally, and we laugh until our sides hurt.  I put hurt sides in my Easter basket.  You cannot make these moments happen.  They have to happen spontaneously, and in the right time and place and with the right people, and when all these things come together, there is laughter, and laughter is soaked up by every other item in the Easter basket.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Woodbridge Gazette & Printing Office," #56673

7.  Things that make me think:  good books, good movies, good art, good talks. All these things make me think and add texture to my life.  I realize every time that my perspective is only one of many, and sometimes my preconceptions are just wrong.  Knowing that is very liberating.  That means there is even greater hope, for I can imagine better times.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Benjamin Bowman Violin Maker," #56663

8.  Beautiful things.  Green fresh-cut grass, fluffy clouds, Leonardo da Vinci, Mark Rothko, sunlight glinting off water, the sound of a baby laughing, the smell of clean laundry, a beautiful piece of fabric, an Apple computer, mountain peaks, Motown music,  main streets of small there an end to beautiful things?  My Easter basket has to be very big.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"P.L. Wheeler's Bicycle Shop," #56613

9.  Being active.  Getting to the gym is awful.  Being at the gym, less awful.  Leaving the gym after a great workout, great.  Biking 25 miles with no wind and no falling is fabulous.  Hiking up a steep hill and panting at the end, awesome.  Kayaking without tipping over, superlative.  Even just walking to the post office, invigorating.  Moving has always been a part of my life.  I may move slower, less far, and with more effort, but I hope my Easter basket can't contain me.

Dept. 56, New England Village,
"Wheaton Christmas Bakery," #57001

10.  Chocolate.  Milk or white, plain or with nuts, big or little pieces, with or without intricate shapes.  I have never had bad chocolate, even this weekend in Healdsburg at the Pigs and Pinot event, where dessert was chocolate with bacon and chocolate with prosciutto.  Chocolate should be, and is, a major food group.  Dark chocolate is a concept foisted upon the public by masochistic doctors who don't want you to enjoy the very essence of a good life.  I hope every nook and cranny of my Easter basket is rich in chocolate pieces.

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