Monthly Archives: December 2018

Too Good to Wear

On Saturday night, we went to dinner in Chicago with Bethy and Danny. They treated us to an outrageously wonderful meal for Christmas, and I debated about what to wear.  The five-star restaurant called for the best, the dresses reserved for weddings, galas, really special events. But I opted for a sweater dress because of its comfort and warmth. The others just seemed too good to wear.

After dinner, we went to a fancy hotel for a drink because Danny had heard it was a cool place. We learned that the mixologist created each indulgence with specific artists in mind. My favorite was Ernest Hemingway’s gin gimlet. The back of the drink menu had a guide to each referenced painting, poem or classic novel.

The server wore a stunning three-dimentional necklace of artfully crafted white daylillies. I had never seen anything like it and commented on its beauty. She said, “Oh thank you. It is a [insert some special designer that I don’t recall], and I thought it was too fancy to wear here.”

I told her that when my mom was ninety, she had sores around her neck from a nightgown with rough seams. When I asked her why she continued to wear it, she replied, “Oh I have much nicer pajamas in my closet, but I’m saving them.” We sat in silence for a moment and then laughed our heads off.

Don’t save the best in 2019. Put your best out there – of yourself in every way – and share it.

Later on Saturday night, Tim said he didn’t even notice the server’s necklace. I love that about him.



A few weeks ago, I told Tim I was getting rid of anything that didn’t inspire me. I ransacked our bookshelves and filled nine boxes for a local library and a school where the kids don’t have books. What’s left are the treasures, the ones I want to lend, the ones that motivate, the ones that touch my heart, the ones that educate, and the many still on my “have-to-read” list.

My children tell me that I should toss the Encyclopedia Brittanica set. I say no way. When Katie was six, Bethy five, Brendan three, and Brigid a few months old, I bought those books on a payment plan.  I was sure they were going to my kids smart. When I told my mom about the monthly bills, she would have none of it. She paid the balance. Debt, even for a sparkling white stack of bound brilliance, was not an option.  Depression Era – you get it.

So now that beautiful set of knowledge sits on the top shelf in our family room as a reminder of how naive I was as a young mom. And they are a symbol of my mother’s constant generosity.

They also bring back memories of my childhood on Artesian Avenue in Chicago. When I had to write a paper in grammar school, I referenced the encyclopedias. When I tried to figure out what to be for Halloween, I flipped through the glossy pages for ideas. When I looked something up, I got distracted by all the other cool information within the volume. I loved my parents’ encyclopedias. My mom kept them in the living room, a space off limits to my nine brothers and sisters and me, except for when we were looking things up for homework.  I’d sit on the floor, lean against the heating vent, and thumb through pages. And then I’d put the volume back exactly where I found it.

So I’m keeping my set of encyclopedias. My kids can donate them when I die.

A few hours after I sifted through the bookshelves and moved on to the kitchen cabinets, Tim texted me: “Hey Nance, you inspire me. I hope I inspire you.”