Nothing says fall like a night of pizza and pottery right? Well part of fall has to be readying ourselves for Christmas. Last fall I noted on my ‘list of things to do before she leaves for college’ that I wanted to paint, one of those old-fashioned ceramic Christmas Tree’s together. Well, I seized an opening in our calendar.
Finding a pocket of time to make memories with my teenagers is increasingly hard to do these days. Between school and athletics, their calendars are much fuller than mine. I find myself chasing them down just give a hug and a kiss. My heart was full as we sat down at the red and white checkered table for pizza.
All pizza joints should adorn their tables in red and white check – classic is just that, classic. And while I enjoy all the muted hughes that grace the latest Instagram accounts – I yearn for the old and familiar. A balanced life is laced with old and new, and the sameness of today’s world makes me weary.
By the time our pizza arrived the restaurant was bustling. I commented how I loved the ‘vibe’ the ‘atmosphere.’ She agreed. I retreated inside my own memories of pizza and people. It led me to grandma’s. I only have a small handful of fond memories to draw from but Friday night pizza was one of those.
As an only child I was starved for people. It’s as if God made some mistake. I’ve always yearned to be in the center of people, but have lived a life constantly in the peripheral of groups. So, when I have the chance to be just a part of a gathering, I relish it. The room was filled with families. All generations sitting together chatting away, one slice at a time. Grandma’s house never quite made it out of the 70’s. Harvest gold lanolium floors accommodated the caster footed vinyl chairs that rolled around the large kitchen table. The faux wood paneling gave an artificial warmth to the space. And even though I didn’t have a warm and fuzzy grandma – the space seemed to provide the familiarity that I needed.
There were other very ‘grandparent-ish” things I remember. Hard candies always nestled in a footed glass dish on the coffee table. Ironically, in the living room which was strictly off-limits. And the Christmas tree. It was artificial, and a heck of a jigsaw puzzle to assemble. Each branch marked decades earlier with a color, faded and nearly invisible by the end of the century. Each branch slide into its corresponding color marked whole – now too nearly invisible. We gave up the matchmaking and devised a strategy of our own – sort by size and build from the bottom to the top. It worked.
But, the decoration I remembered the most was the painted ceramic Christmas Tree, the one with plastic peg lights. These were so common to the American home at one point that I wonder if they were advertised as a ‘life in the mid-century’ staple. Well, that’s what I had set my eye on last fall. I wanted to paint one of those with my daughter.
I think I’m in good company here because the painting class was full. I’ve also seen reproductions of these beginning to flood the shelves as this year’s Christmas bling announces itself. We choose a non-traditional color scheme to match the coastal tones of our new house. We also splurged and painted the largest tree they offered. I was content.
We’re transitioning into Christmas future for our family. Keeping some of the old, finding some new, and navigating the reality that our family is changing, life is changing. Maybe that’s why we need fall. We need a transition zone from the anchors that summer and winter memories bring. Summer break from school won’t always be a part of family life – and Santa, Well, he’s fun while he’s around.
But, I’m reminded of something I grasped early on in my journey as a mother. I will be the parent of adult children much longer that I am a parent of young children. And these are the kind of memories I should brace myself for in the long-term. Stealing away one maybe two special gatherings we my kids to make a Christmas memory for the year.
And last night’s pizza and pottery was sufficient.