To ski? You might ask, more than a little surprised. Yes, there are hills, and it snows in Michigan. . . quite a bit actually. There is also a wondrous winter playground called Boyne Mountain. Granted, it’s not a mountain, as the vertical drop only claims 800 feet, but it is enough for the most ardent downhillers to test their winter prowess. In addition, Nay-Sayers should take heed because Michigan also has, ice . . . yep, and lots of that as well.
Michigan skiers have proven to be quite accomplished because they learn to edge, honoring that small matter called survival. And, perhaps more importantly . . . they learn to stop; not a small accomplishment considering the conditions thrown at those who challenge the northern Michigan climes.
This gathering provides a time to commune and renew one another, bathed in the glow of friendship and unconditional support.
Before we were married, or divorced, or married again . . . we partied hardy. Today, we may give it the old college try, but our hearts aren’t in it, at least not like before.
We have come to that place where we are comfortable in our respective places. We enjoy and value each other’s company; the laughs, the tears, the broken promises, the triumphs.
We have retired to a more fulfilling place; enjoying the comfortable preference for each other’s company.
Discussions abound during those stolen days so free of regrets and responsibilities. Although the winter retreats are all too brief, we come together with our mugs of coffee and our stories, each woman sharing her personal gifts; experiences, sorrows and adventures pulled from foreign places and different times.
And, we are growing older. Most are at peace with the graces that age brings. Some are even riding the heady waves of new loves, others are adjusting to empty nests, while several nurse new wounds or pursue innovative opportunities.
The laughter that bounces up and down the stairs of the rented condo is infectious; it mingles with the steam that rises off our morning cups and dies at the end of the day amongst the heady glasses of brandy. Sometimes our camaraderie is accompanied by a plate of warmed leftovers or a piece of chocolate cake that had been responsibly pass on during dinner. It is the laughter that sustains us. It is the healer. It is our joy.
This was also the year of the ‘hat’.
Pulled from a thrift bin and stuffed into a suitcase, the hat became our perfect partner in crime. We laughed at each other’s incarnations as the cameras captured the Divas within.
Christmas is over and I am still trying to recover from it. Trying to put things away and well, what do I do with gifts I don’t want that weren’t quite right? Can I, should I, could I, re-gift them? Doesn’t sound very “Diva” like. But I really hate waste. Some things I can return or exchange but some things could go to other people. I think I will put them in my “gift box” for later.
The “gift box” idea came from my mom. My whole life she had a box or a drawer with “gifts” for last minute occasions. Some things were new and some were not, but there was always something for that last minute birthday or anniversary or stocking stuffer. Even the guest who came for Christmas Eve dinner and stayed all night (but that is another story and he was from another country where they stay up for fireworks and food at midnight). That gift box saved the day many times and some things nestled in there were items my mom had been given but never used because they really didn’t fit her style.
If you are thinking about “re-gifting” you might want to entertain these suggestions to avoid offense.
-Don’t give something back to the person who originally gave you the gift (or anyone who they might visit) because that will end up as a “oh how lovely, I gave a vase just like that to my niece Jane.” Followed by, “Oh, that’s funny; Jane gave me this lovely vase.” That will get you written out of the will, trust me!
– If you have something not right for you, but perfect for someone else, set it aside for their birthday or some other occasion and re-wrap it and make sure they know it made you think of them when you give it. (Honestly, my favorite gift this year came from a co-worker and it was definitely several different items (thrift or garage sale) inside this really cute cardboard house! I took the gifts out and put one of those battery operated candles in it, and used the house as centerpiece on a table.
-Sometimes a gift exchange is a good place to re-gift an item, especially if it is a white elephant gift exchange. Or maybe you want to have some good friends over for libations and fun and bring gifts that didn’t work out and trade….you could end up with something really wonderful!
-If the gift is truly terrible, give it to the Goodwill or some other charitable organization. Your trash is someone else’s treasure. (Be sure to REMOVE any personal notes or identification.) Great Aunt Martha may shop the Goodwill and find that lovely floral house coat you donated especially if it has “To Jane from Aunt Martha” still on it.
-Last but not least, if you can’t part with the gift for fear of hurting the feelings of someone you love, hold on to it, display it proudly or wear it to their house and then after a respectful amount of time put it away in your own “gift box” for some later gift emergency.