Christmas Tree..So Gay and Bright

Today a friend of mine posted an AMAZING link on her Facebook page – the site is WishbookWeb.com, “The Vintage Christmas Catalog archive project.” Once you go there, you can view nearly fifty Christmas catalogs from a variety of retailers, dating all the way back to 1933. As I said, it is amazing…

I spent a few minutes on the site today, browsing away. It is interesting to note the changes in prices (loads of items for under $1.00 – spend $20.00 and get special financing), the changes in gender roles and tastes (lots of men’s cuff links pre-1960; ladies get hostess skirts and holiday aprons, LOL!) and the ever-increasing costs of like items from decade to decade (my income has not escalated at a similar growth!) Anyway, visiting this site is a lot of fun and made me remember my Mom and how she anxiously awaited holiday catalogs every year, so she could look at all the “pretty things” and – as the website implies – wish…

I was born in 1958 so I was pleased to see that the bright, beautiful 1958 Sears Christmas Book is archived at WishbookWeb.com. The cover is definitely appealing –

1958_SearsChristmas_Page001The ornaments featured caught my eye, especially as my Sweetie and I are in the process of “putting up” our own Christmas tree at the moment. I turned to page 336 as directed by the cover. Once the page opened, I laughed out loud –

1958_SearsChristmas_Page336Really? I mean, really? “Christmas Tree..So Gay and Bright” – it was if the past was speaking to me from the pages of a holiday wish book, more than half a century old. It made me smile; I LOVED it.

It’s a little hard to read the page but 125 ornament hangers for only a dime? Six 9-foot strands of glass garland – in assorted colors – for only $1.29? And are you kidding me? I could get ALL the ornaments featured on the cover – three round glass balls with jewel decorations, one ringing bell, two 3-D reflector balls, one glass onion ball and one regular glass ball – ALL those for only $3.58? As recently as last night, I was looking at a dozen punky “snowflake” scented tea lights for $9.99.

In 1958, for ten bucks, I could have almost decorated a whole tree!

I know it isn’t fair to compare today with yesteryear, or to wish to live in the past when the present is now. But sometimes, I sigh and wonder what Christmas must have been like before it become ultra-commercial and over-hyped. Then again, I am dreaming about a past I imagine through yellowed old “wish books,” so maybe even then the holiday was beginning to lose its true meaning…

I hope each of us will take time this year to remember the true meaning of Christmas – not necessarily the religious genesis of the holiday, but the goals outlined by many a Christmas carol: peace on Earth, goodwill to men.

Thank you, WishbookWeb.com, for the great work you do! Merry Christmas!

Till There Was MSW

I have pretty varied taste in music. I mean, with the exception of Zydeco, Bluegrass and Rap (sorry, you three genres), I like virtually every kind of music. EDM (electric dance music) is probably my favorite genre, but I have a soft spot in my heart for torch songs and schmaltzy show tunes. Today I was treated to a great clip on Facebook by a very talented friend playing one of my all-time favorite love songs on the piano. The song is “Till There Was You” from the 1957 musical, The Music Man. My friend Guy’s piano rendition was amazing but I first remember this song from an album my Mom played when I was young – she used to sing along to it as it circled on the record player in my parents’ living room. I didn’t really even understand the words then, but I knew it made my Mom happy to hear it, so I was happy, too.

As I got older – and gay-er, LOL! – I came to appreciate the emotion “schmaltzy show tunes” can evoke, and the truth that comes in two and a half minute doses. Here is the song my Mom used to sing and hum along with, performed by a group she loved as a twenty-seven-year-old housewife and mother.

I’ll be honest – I recognize that the song is kinda’ corny and “drippy” but, sometimes, sweet, sappy songs say it all, and say it best. I’d like to thank Guy for reminding me of this song today and thank him for his beautiful rendition.

I’d like to dedicate this sweet song to my amazing husband, Martin, because – as the lyrics say, “There was love, all around, but I never heard it singing, No I never heard it at all, Till there was you!” I love you, MSW. 

wedding bands

Ready? Set? GO!!!

Today, my Beloved and I started the process of applying for his green card, with the ultimate goal of him becoming a United States citizen at some point in the future. Our more immediate goal is that we can be together here in The States as a couple free from the tremendous emotional and financial worry that comes from being part of a male, bi-national couple. We took the first step about six weeks ago –

wedding bandsWe got married. Today, we signed on with a law firm that specializes in immigration law and will petition the US government on my behalf to issue my husband a marriage-based green card. We had our initial intake interview today –

ChecklistAnd we still have (I fear) a LOT of paperwork and filing to do in our future. I suspect at some point the computer room in our apartment may look like this –

paperworkand that everything we submit will be reviewed and scrutinized with a keen eye –

detectiveFinally, at some point my Angel and I will be questioned by uniformed government officers as they review all the materials we have submitted, vetting our relationship and documenting that it is “legit.” According to our legal team, and based on anecdotal information I have received from other couples going through the same process in different cities/states, this can be an intimidating part of the process – but I am not worried…

interrogationSee, I am reminded of two pieces of wisdom, shared with me by two people I loved and admired. One of my old bosses, Mr. Pearl, always said, “If you always tell the truth, you never have to remember what you lied about.” And my Mom always said, “You never have to be afraid when you are honest and tell the truth because the truth is always the right thing to say.”

Here’s the truth –

After five years together, weathering challenges no regular couple – straight or gay – should ever have to weather, I love my SBF, I mean my HUSBAND, more than ever… 

We are ready to “get the party started.” I’ll keep you all posted. Thanks for coming on this journey with us…

 

 

 

Happy Birthday, BeeBoo!

Today is my Mom’s birthday.

She would have been 76 years old today. Her name is Elizabeth Louise, a beautiful name which, when you are from Tennessee as my Mom was, turns into Betty Lou. Or, if you are FROM Tennessee, it turns into something closer to Bettahloo (all one word). Or finally, when your first grandchild comes, Bettahloo turns into BeeBoo. And it sticks…

BeeBoo was an amazing woman, not simply because she was my Mom but because she just was. She had given birth to four children by the time she was 23. She loved and married my Dad and they were together just a few days short of 51 years. BeeBoo was funny and naughty, could cuss like a sailor and was as fancy a lady as ever was one. She was fiercely devoted to her husband, her kids and her friends. She was as perfect a Mom as this guy could ask for. She was first my Mom – always my Mom – but as I got older, she became my best friend as well.

My Mom was a more than a reasonable artist, had the most beautiful penmanship I have ever seen and was the most open, honest (to a fault) and loving person I have ever known. I still miss her and sometimes forget she is gone – just the other day I had reason to need my birth certificate and there it was, still in the legal envelope she gave it to me in, my full name, birth date and “Birth Certificate” written in her beautiful handwriting all across the front – along with this brief note:

“Timmy, this is important – do NOT lose this envelope. Love, Mom.”

It is in moments like that that I really feel her again, and I miss her. But I know she is still watching over me, along with an army of other angels – my Mommo (grandmother), AJ (my Mom’s sister, my Aunt Judy) and “Peg” (my older sister – really named Jeannie. I know – my family has weird nicknames, LOL!)

So today, on BeeBoo’s birthday, I know ALL my ladies are smiling down on me, watching over me and taking care of me, and each other. And, even though I am still sad and miss them ALL, knowing that makes it better.

So here’s to you, Mom. Happy Birthday, BeeBoo! I love you. See you not TOO soon…

Birthday Cake

An early Mother’s Day post…

I love/loved my Mom.

She passed away five years ago this November, yet I still miss her. And, with Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, she has been in my thoughts more than usual lately…

I wound up with two pretty great parents – as an adult. My Mom, Dad and I struggled a bit till I was maybe 20 or 21. They were not the perfect parents I wanted them to be and, to be honest, I was maybe not the most perfect son, either. But we worked through it all and by my early twenties, I felt closer to my Mom and Dad than ever.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my Dad but my Mom, oh my Mom. She was super funny (both my parents are) and for all her pretense, could cuss and swear like the saltiest sailor. Up until her passing, I spoke with my parents probably every 2-3 days, usually my Mom as my Dad is a kinda’ quiet guy. But even when he didn’t get on the phone, my Mom would always shout to him – so I could hear her – “Kenny? Timmy’s on the phone and he said to say he loves you” to which I could always hear my Dad shout back, “OK then.” My Mom made me laugh, my Mom busted my balls – my Mom supported me, always, and did the best she could to make me as happy as possible. That’s what Moms are supposed to do, right?

When my Mom passed away, quietly and unexpectedly in her sleep without warning, it took me many, many months to remember that I couldn’t “call her later” or that the shiny tablecloth at TJ Maxx that I knew she would love she would never get  to see. I still “talk” with my Mom – pretty often, actually – but with my heart now, not with a phone. I still miss her, and I know my whole family does, too. I am pretty lucky; I had my Mom till I was 50+ and I still have my Dad, so I have had love and anchors all my life. I know so many people that don’t have that now, or never had it…

This is probably my favorite picture of my Mom:

ELKElizabeth Louise Hitch, 1955 

This is my Mom’s senior class picture and I have always loved her in this image. In this picture I see a beautiful young woman, her smile broad, her eyes (and heart) full of hope, anxious to begin her adult life. As was the tradition at the time, she is wearing a “ruffle” around her neck, showcasing the string of pearls she received from my grandfather as her graduation gift. In 1955, no young woman needed a college education – apparently they needed strands of pearls, a husband and some kids. I wish I had known my Mom when this picture was taken.

My Mom’s life and dreams definitely took a detour or two; five years after this picture was taken, she had given birth four times. At 22, my Mom had carried and delivered four kids.

I feel like she never really got to “live.” Yet she never complained about her life, more than the usual bitching we all do. She was the best Mother she knew how to be – sometimes, in the moment, I didn’t understand that but have come to see it and love her all the more for it. You know the fight – that fight – the one with a miserable teen man-boy shouting at his Mother something like “You are the worst Mom ever!” and she is shouting back something like, “Well, I am doing the best I can!”? I understand now that she was… Thanks, Mom.

So listen – if you are lucky enough to still have your Mom with you, this Sunday be sure to thank her for being your Mom and loving you. Better yet, maybe do it as soon as you are done reading this post. And Mom? I love and miss you!