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Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Thu Sep 13, 2012 10:08 PM
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2012-09-13 22:28:53

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Well, it seems my last diary "expired". . . . Just as well.

It was depressing and my general lack of attention to it made it rather random as well as yet another source of guilt inducing material when I didn't keep it up. So...a new start.

Title: Stolen from Garrison Keillor, such a wonderfully wise and witty writer...(how about that alliteration?!)

Motive: To examine the challenges of the next several months with my own character intact and perhaps that of my family, as well.

Action Plan: Dance, Dance, Dance!

Exit Plan: Uncertain, shaky, still under construction. (First rule of engagement...formulate an exit plan)

and so it goes....


I spent the day doing something I haven't done in years. I went out and cut tons of grape vines and made 22 grapevine wreaths (I'm not done) for my son's outdoor wedding next week. I plan of doing more tomorrow, and just hope they dry nicely before the big day. It doesn't really matter, I suppose. They have a huge outdoor space to decorate, and basic down home country decorations will be just right. They seem to have some rather grand plans, but as the mother of the groom, I am well aware that my job is to shut up, show up, and wear beige.

And arrange the rehearsal dinner. (more on this later)

And dance with my son (also a work in progress)

And stifle my resentment about the undercurrents that are attempting to rob the joy of this occasion (more on this later, too.)

And hope no one gets killed, hurt, lost, or arrested.

Other than that...

("Other than that Mrs. was the play?")

We'll hope and pray for the best, and

Keep On Dancing*

149 Replies to Homegrown Democrat

re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Mon Sep 17, 2012 12:02 AM
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2012-09-17 00:12:55 fix
I actually cooked three real meals today. Just like the good old days when my kids were small and I couldn't afford restaurants.

Pancakes for breakfast, steak and salad for lunch, and roast pork, mashed potatoes and applesauce for dinner. This is the kind of day my husband likes. The grandchildren knocked on the door early this morning with a friend and said, "Can we have coffee?" They are 6, 7, and 9! Since I am their grandmother, and not their father, of course I said yes. Their little friend was impressed. As they sat at the table drinking their coffee (which was mostly milk)and eating their pancakes the oldest one said to the friend, "We told you we'd get something better than cereal" . These kids are obviously swimming in the same gene pool as their grandfather, my husband.

I finished 37 grapevine wreaths for my son's wedding next week. The summer before he was born I spent quite a bit of time making similar wreaths to give as Christmas gifts. He was born the week before Christmas so I spent the summer making jam and crafts and all kinds of things so I wouldn't be stressed dealing with Christmas and a new baby. Ha, ha. He was my fifth child,and weighed 11 and a half pounds. Just breathing was stress. In any event, in a corny kind of way, it is fitting that this particular rite of passage is trimmed in grapevines.
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All the arrangements for the rehearsal dinner are made. 28 people, including 5 children. I'm still brooding about favors (should I or shouldn't I?)and a few minor details (what to wear, what to wear??)but for the most part, things are in order. I hope everyone will make it an early night. The dinner reservations are for 7PM and the wedding is at 11AM the next morning. Personally, I think a good night's sleep will make the day better (showing my OLD age...)but, it's not my wedding.

I suspect this week will fly by. I need to buy perfume,(my greatest weakness)...something special for the special day. I also need to deep clean my studio and write lesson plans for the teacher who is taking over for me on Friday and Saturday. I have a wish child going to Disney this week, so I have to do a few things for that, and figure out what to do with my hair. Again.....arrgggghhhh...... this time next week, it will be over. (and so I chant, "keep on dancing, keep on dancing...")

I have a very nice group of little dancers this year. I'll write more about the individual challenges at another time, but two weeks ago I was ready to retire. After this past Saturday, I can't wait to teach these kids. One child is a military kid who has lived on a different continent every year of her short life, one child is being treated for cancer, and another has only one foot. I was talking to my brother about my week and when I mentioned this child's situation I said, "It might be time for me to do more digging into the tap dance style of Peg Leg Bates." As it happens, my brother used to live near, "The Peg Leg Bates Memorial Highway.".

He said, "Peg Leg Bates was a tap dancer? Huh...I though he was a pirate!" And believe it or not, my brother is usually a pretty sharp guy.

So, with all these goings on, it is possible to ignore the side show of presidential politics. Still not easy, but possible. A part of me wants to throw my hands in the air and ignore Washington and the back and forth of the fight, but it just isn't in me. Four years ago, after the adults voted, we took 7 of my students on a three day dance trip. After taking a great ballet class from a former NYC ballet dancer, we watched the election returns together in the sports bar at our hotel and cheered. The next day we toured Lincoln Center and the tour guide was so happy about Obama's election the tour went on for over two hours as he joined in the jubilant feelings of the students. I hope they will always remember where they were and what they were doing when the first black president was elected in America. If I try to ignore this election and all the ugliness I will feel personally responsible if the wrong candidate gets elected.
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I guess I should plan another dance trip for election day. It will keep my mind off the dirty business of politics.
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Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Fri Sep 21, 2012 04:41 AM
The clock is ticking.

I get my hair done at 10 AM tomorrow, which means I won't be able to dance with my old people for my weekly gig. I just love this group of older citizens. The women are exactly the kind of people who would love to share the details of the wedding preparation and even my hair and dress. They're been through the major events of life and always have some insight or wisdom or at least a good laugh. I wish I could have my hair done later but it just isn't possible. I'll have to bring them something in the morning...Dunkin' Donuts, maybe, and promise to bring them pictures next week, or favors or something. These "dancers" are often one of the high points of my week.

I delivered the wreaths yesterday...there were around 40 of them as well as a trunk full of long vines for other decorating. Tonight, I have to finish the favors for the rehearsal dinner.

After much thought, I decided to skip any kind of token that would require the recipient to dust it or keep it in a safe place. The wedding is a three day event at a huge campground so assembled adorable S'mores kits in cellophane gift bags
Image hotlink - '' decorated with some grape vines (part of their decorating theme)and loaded into a big basket. I also have a basket of Yardley English Lavender soap in pretty vintage boxes, some MacIntosh Apple candle jars (also theme related)and a few other assorted "expendable" mementos. My thought is to place three baskets on a side table and invite everyone to help themselves. There are enough S'mores bags for everyone, but only 6 jar candles and 10 bars of gift soap. I'm still thinking about this plan just a little bit.

More later.'s bed time. If I don't get a good night's sleep I'll look old and haggard in the photos.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 05:53 AM
The wedding celebration was beautiful.

One thousand paper cranes decorated the pavilion, beautiful flowers, stunning antiques, all kinds of fun vintage stuff. I hope my new daughter in law is happy with how everything turned out. The attention to detail was exquisite.

The teacher who was supposed to sub for me today called in sick at 8:30 this morning. Our entire side of the mountain was smothered under thick fog, and because two of the students travel a great distance to get to my studio, I didn't think it was an option to cancel class. I taught the class, explained to the parents (who were surprised to see me) why I had to leave right after class (no chit chat...)and nearly killed myself to get to the venue as fast as possible. I am trying to be fair about this, but I am so angry....

I paid her to "assist" in this class last week so the kids would get to know her. Yesterday, at 4 o'clock she called and wanted me to meet her at the studio (in Friday traffic, 3 hours before the rehearsal dinner...)and go over the lesson plans and music again. I did, even though it was time out my day I needed for other things. I paid her in advance for today's class, and ended up wandering around in the woods looking for the lake side location of the ceremony, (which was supposed to be marked with signs, but the last one was facing in the wrong direction and everyone else was already delivered in golf carts....) for 40 minutes and MISSED THE CEREMONY. I was crying by the time I spotted the wedding party coming through the woods. I texted my husband and sons and daughters who were not in the wedding party, just as soon as I realized I needed help, but of course they all silenced their phones. My husband, who insisted I needed to give class this morning, says I shouldn't be hurt that no one missed me.

I don't even know what to say about this except that I'm not nearly as surprised as I should be.

I still don't know how I am going to handle the no show teacher. In fairness, sick is sick. On the other hand... leaving a voice mail at 8:25 am when she was supposed to be at the studio before 9:30 for a 10:00 am class...

I guess I should sleep on it. So....I'm off to bed.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Tishwah Comments: 586, member since Sun May 17, 2009
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 07:06 AM
Maybe I have read this wrong, but they didn't wait for the Mother of the Groom to be at the ceremony????
re: Homegrown Democrat
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 09:22 AM
No, Tishwah, you didn't read it wrong. And to add insult to injury, they all commented that many people were confused by the sign, but of course they all had each other to figure it out, where I was on my own. The parking lot was a good half mile from the path that led to the place I never saw.

I'm trying really hard to understand why there wasn't even ONE person who cared enough about my presence to perhaps wait for me by the sign that said ONE WAY and pointed in the opposite direction of where I was supposed to go.

If it wasn't bad enough that I didn't get to see my son and his bride get married, whenever her mother introduced me to her friends she said, "This is ____ 's Mom. She missed the ceremony! She was wandering around the woods lost!" hahahahaha.

The general consensuses among the strangers was that I had an emergency at work and I put my business before my son. I should have been there before the golf carts made their last trip. The whole ceremony was over before 12:30 in the afternoon, there was no church or minister....a lawyer friend did the officiating time conflicts....he was still there celebrating when I left at 10, and the caterer didn't serve the food until after 3PM.

I doesn't matter now. It's over.

But I would be lying if I said my feeling weren't hurt. My husband insists it was not personal and "in fact, nobody noticed you weren't there." That's kind of insulting too, isn't it?

I guess I just don't get lots of things. However, I don't need to. I honestly do hope it was all they imagined and that they are happy with all their memories and I am going to force myself to only remember the great things.

Perhaps I'm crazy.

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By lux Comments: 1178, member since Mon Jun 02, 2008
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 10:35 AM
Oh Christine :( I wanted to stop by and leave a note saying how happy I am to see you back in diary land, but I was so sad to see your last two posts! Anyone can see how excited you were about your son's wedding, and everyone who matters must know how devastated you were to miss the ceremony. I'm sure everyone was so focused on what they were doing (particularly the bride and groom), they probably assumed you were off helping out with something... which, caring person that you are, you often seem to be doing!

I'm glad the rest of the day went well, and it is lovely to see you back here.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Tansey Comments: 2367, member since Fri Mar 27, 2009
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 12:36 PM
You have every right to be disappointed. I would be too. I wish your husband or someone had thought to call you to see if you were okay when you didn't turn up in time. And I wish they'd waited for you.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 2)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 01:37 PM
Thanks everyone.

My husband called at 11 (ceremony was due to start at 12)and was happy to hear I'd dismissed the class early (the families were wonderful about it)and was on my way. My daughter called several times while I was en route and everyone knew I was already in camp before the ceremony started. I suspect that the whole experience was just so "out there" for many of the people involved they were absorbed in processing all the events of the day and not falling out of the golf carts ferrying them through the great forest of Pennsylvania (literal translation..."Penn's Woods")In fairness to all, I come from a long, LONG line of Narcissists (how else would I have learned to be a people pleaser?.... please others or die in the land of "Dear Me")so it doesn't surprise me as much as it should. If everyone hadn't been caught up in themselves perhaps someone would have thought to stick a post it note to the misleading sign or stationed one of the plus ones...dates of the the cut off in the woods to escort the "mother of the broom" (my 6 year old grandson's term)through the woods.

Aside, I've been to several weddings in the last few years and I've noticed that as the spectacular show of self indulgence follows the dictates of reality television, the idea that groom's men (for example)are ushers, there to attend to the seating of the guests, is completely lost. The new reality is that they all congregate and act nervous without a thing to do other than stand with the wedding party for pictures.

My imaginary friend Pollyanna reminds me that this was only twenty minutes out of a long day. Thank G*D for Pollyanna. She also reminds me that this diary was to be cheerful, upbeat, and fun. So...on that note...I will look to the future and perhaps, with the kind indulgence of my DDN friends, confine my complaints about the human condition to this forum and not develop a reputation as a cantankerous old pill in the real world.

Thanks again to everyone for their kind support. When my sons were little, I swore I would never allow myself to become a character out of a mother in law joke when they became men. And really, "Mother of the Broom" is only a one day job.

I have about 10 thousand untold stories so now that the wedding is over, perhaps I'll have more time to write.

Hugs to all

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Tishwah Comments: 586, member since Sun May 17, 2009
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 02:27 PM
What the everloving... You are a better person than me, I would be LIVID!!! Hugs, because I think you deserve them!
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By kandykanePremium member Comments: 16415, member since Mon May 01, 2006
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 04:16 PM
I popped in to see how the wedding went but I didn't dream I'd read THIS! :O Wow. I've been to a lot of weddings in the past few years and some have started late due to waiting on various relatives, they should have waited! The MOG is kind of an important honorary position and you should have been given that honor accordingly.

We are happy to be your designated complaint hear-ers and I offer big hugs to help take the sting out of it. Those stories are going to be hard to listen to in the future with everyone involved taking it as a big joke. Ouch. :(

More hugs!!!

re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Josianemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 1643, member since Sun Nov 06, 2005
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 04:29 PM
Oh this is sad. :( You seemed to have handled that so gracefully. I would have been so frustrated. I mean you are his mother...
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By hummingbird Comments: 10410, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 06:28 PM
Hugs to you Christine, I know I would be so disappointed if I missed one of my sons getting married.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 08:06 PM
The only way I wouldn't absolutely go postal over missing my children's marriages (should they choose to be married) is if they elope and NO ONE got to witness it. I'm so so sorry that happened.

You, as usual, have handled it with a grace that I only hope to develop by the time I am your age.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Theresamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 34891, member since Wed May 22, 2002
On Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:46 PM
OMG, I'm HORRIFIED for you. My heart actually sank when I read that, and I wasn't even involved. I'm so sorry.
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By d4jmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 12490, member since Fri Aug 27, 2004
On Mon Sep 24, 2012 05:49 AM
Oh that teacher would be SO FIRED, I don't care if she was 'sick'. She should have come up with a sub knowing what an important day this was for you. I totally lay this at her feet, TOTALLY.

I am so mad and sad for you! What a classy lady you are...

re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Niennamember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 6776, member since Fri Oct 07, 2005
On Mon Sep 24, 2012 01:07 PM
^Totally agree with that. ESPECIALLY the point about being a classy lady. I can't believe it! I would, as the bride, NOT be okay with starting the wedding without having the important people there (mine and his parents!). I'm so sorry Christine, you are definitely a saint for how well you're managing this!
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Louisemember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 17315, member since Thu Jun 06, 2002
On Mon Sep 24, 2012 01:41 PM
I'm absolutely gutted for you, Christine. I can't really say much more than that - you didn't deserve or need that. That sub teacher would be feeling the full force of my wrath at present - except I know that you're too good a lady to do that.

re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 2)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Fri Sep 28, 2012 06:59 PM
Years ago I made the decision to NOT be one of those parents who stalk their kids on facebook. I rarely accept friend requests from anyone, but following the wedding, I did accept one from a friend of one of my children.


I finally found a picture of the ceremony
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Notice the dog... the other one ran off through the woods, thank god, which is how I found my way out of fern gully

On a more forward looking note...

My senior citizens were wonderful, as always. One of the ladies found a huge garden ornament as a gift for my oldest daughter. It is a big the size of a thanksgiving turkey, and she glued silk roses to it. It may incite me to learn to use a camera and post better pictures for y'all!

Also, looking forward, tomorrow I AM NOT going to attend a family wedding and instead will attend a "Sweet 16" party for one of my students. I've been her teacher since she was 9, and she is a lovely young lady. This is a silver lining to the dark cloud of last week's gathering. I made a resolution to myself, "Do not make ANYONE a priority in your life who makes you an option in theirs." The nephew getting married couldn't pick me out of a line up, but the student ...well...I just love her so much and she shows her love for me. (*sigh*)

I am off to buy her a pair of tap shoes with 2 inch heels. She doesn't dance tap much these days, but let's face it...Rockette shoes never go out of style. I attended a "quinceanera" a few years back and I remember a part of the ceremony involving the 15 year old being presented with "her first pair of high heels" from her father. I know the "sweet sixteen family" isn't planning this, so I spoke to the mom and she gave me the go ahead to do this for "the birthday girl".

So...on that note...I'm off to the dance store. I have class at 5, so hopefully I won't have time to spend too much money.

Love to all..

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Tansey Comments: 2367, member since Fri Mar 27, 2009
On Sat Sep 29, 2012 08:06 AM
Edited by Tansey (209516) on 2012-09-29 08:10:11
The wedding photos are lovely. I wish they'd waited for you, but I'm glad you found these beautiful images. I am constantly amazed by all the FB friend requests from my kids' friends. When I was young FB did not exist of course, but if it did, the last people in the world I would have friended would have been my parents, their friends, and my friends' parents.

Your new resolution is a good one. I think I'll adopt it myself. With your kind and empathetic nature, you must be a wonderful teacher. I love the gift idea! Have fun at the Sweet 16!
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Sun Sep 30, 2012 08:21 AM
I am still basking in the afterglow of a wonderful day.

I arrived at the studio on Saturday morning to find one family already waiting in the parking lot. As I unlocked the door, mom was juggling a mylar balloon and a crate packed with goodies, and to make a long story short, by the time class was over, other parents added to the collection. This kind woman had assembled a "Party" for me. Cake, juice boxes for the kids, a beautiful and thoughtful card signed by everyone, paper plates, forks, napkins....the works. I was so touched it was hard to keep from crying. This particular show of appreciation was so unexpected... I found myself deeply humbled by this kindness, in all its realities.

As it turned out, class was very productive. The kids were attentive and cooperative and without meaning to, class ran long. I'm going to freeze the cake and set up an "Un-Birthday Party" for everyone to share next week. I can't even find the words to express how touching this was.

The Sweet Sixteen Party also had me crying. My lovely "little girl", now 16, included me in her candle ceremony. She spoke of our relationship over the years, recalling things I thought only I'd remembered. I can't remember a single day in my life when I've felt so loved and appreciated.

What a difference a week makes.

My youngest daughter was with me and that too made the day very special. Although we speak several times a week, college is college...she is involved in the very important details of moving on and the life we once had, a "Mommy and Me", kind of existence, is changing. I miss her. I'm so grateful that with all her physical challenges she is working so hard at learning to be an independent adult, but change is not always as easy as it looks. It was so nice to share the time together.

I should be sleeping right now. I fell into bed almost as soon as I got home last night and although I technically had a full night's sleep, I'm going to crawl back under the covers and see if I can get some more. Sleep.... ah..... one of the greatly underrated elements of the human existence.

Sweet dreams....

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By hummingbird Comments: 10410, member since Mon Apr 18, 2005
On Sun Sep 30, 2012 02:10 PM
Ok, that story had me blubbing at my keyboard, I'm just clearing away the Kleenex as I type.

That was so sweet of those parents to do that for you and doesn't that sort of thing make you feel special.

It sounds like the sweet sixteen was just as cute.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Now I'm going all hippie on you, there is balance to the universe :)
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 1)
By Nyssasisticmember has saluted, click to view salute photosPremium member Comments: 3643, member since Sat Sep 20, 2003
On Sun Sep 30, 2012 02:30 PM
I'm glad you were finally treated the way you deserve to be treated.

It just goes to show how a studio family can be just as close as a family unit. My parents were minimally involved in my dance career as a preteen and teen, but I had another studio mom take me under her wing and it made ALL the difference. My mom says that she regrets not being more involved with my dance, but I feel like I'm lucky to say that I DID have that support... just not from her. Okay, that got depressing. Bottom line is that a dance family can sometimes be more supportive than a real family, and I think that's absolutely fantastic. :)
re: Homegrown Democrat
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Tue Oct 02, 2012 12:53 AM
Image hotlink - ''

Autumn is here. We had a light frost last night. The foliage is breathtaking, and I can tell the days are getting shorter. This time of year I always want to move to Australia.


At least I speak the language...sort of.

Makes me think of The Fantasticks.
and the coming winter...yuck.

The Christmas show is almost done. I think it's going to be the best one we've ever done. We worked on our adult piece today and I just love it.

I've had two calls from families who didn't re-register in September because of other activities and want to come back "in the next few months" . I am usually a softie on this stuff, but I think I'm going to close registration on October 15, and not take anyone new until after the 1st of the year. At that time, they will have to take whatever I offer, not the class they were in last year. I just don't think it's fair to the other kids to have to "catch up" the late starters. Sometimes there are situations that can't be helped, and I am usually understanding. However, if you are already signed up for dance, why do you sign your kids up for two other activities?

I had a man come in last week and look at the schedule. He has two girls, ages 5 and 10. They attend karate on Monday and Thursday. They have "national" school on Saturday, and church school on Tuesday. I forget what the conflict was on Friday, but he had one. He was disappointed that I didn't offer classes for beginners, ages 5 and 10, on Wednesday, and seemed annoyed that the other choices I offered didn't fit in with the family's "over" schedule. In the past, I've tried to make adjustments for situations like this, and after the Christmas show, they move onto something else. I have to remind myself of these things or I'm likely to make the same mistakes over and over.

I hate to admit that I'm already sucked into the HBO series, Boardwalk Empire. I was so angry at the end of the last season, I swore I wouldn't watch it this season, but alas... like tasting blood, I guess. At least I've managed to stay away from Dance Moms...of course, the girls at the studio just love it so it is only a matter of time before I spend a whole day catching up on all the new episodes.

I'm planning a studio trip to NY to see ABT at The City Center. They are doing Agnes de Mille's Rodeo, which I would love to see, but I think the time is going to determine which ballet we attend. The parent's have already expressed a preference for Saturday afternoon. We'll see...

Keep On Dancing*
re: Homegrown Democrat (karma: 2)
By ChristinePremium member Comments: 6815, member since Wed Feb 04, 2009
On Wed Oct 10, 2012 10:08 AM
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2012-10-10 10:09:39 fixed markup
Edited by Christine (207347) on 2012-10-10 10:15:54 more
There is a certain magic moment every Autumn when the foliage is dense and beautiful, the air is crisp, the sunlight is bright, and being outdoors is a glorious experience. Like most magic moments, it doesn't last long. Because I live in the mountains seasons change quickly ...except for Winter. At the moment, we are right at the height of one of these moments, but it will be fading any day now. The much needed rain will pull the red and yellow leaves down more quickly, the sun will hide behind the clouds, and the beautiful blue sky will turn grey.

This is always a sign that Election Day is near. It is fitting, I think, that the "season of darkness" is ushered in by the reality of elections.

When I was a very young child, our family traveled by car from New York to visit my father's family in South Carolina. At my mother's insistence, we stopped in Washington, D.C. for the night. After dinner in a beautiful restaurant (my first "finger bowl!) my father drove us past all the national sites...(or is it sights?). In those days you could drive right down Pennsylvania Avenue past the White House. The view was unobstructed, no concrete barriers, no armed guards. It just looked like any other mansion surrounded by a lush green lawn. I remember asking him to drive around the block a few more times, secretly hoping to see Caroline and John-John Kennedy playing in the yard. A part of me expected that they would invite us all to join them, and I of course would be happy to demonstrate my hula hoop skills. They must have been inside, having their own dinner, I reasoned. Just the same, I will never forget the overwhelming emotions that filled me on that trip. I was so glad to be living in American, so proud to call myself an American, and so thrilled that John Kennedy was the man we called our leader.

Two days later, I was sitting at dinner (eaten at lunch time!)with my father's family, and was shocked to learn that not only were we Americans, we were Yankees. Until that moment, I thought the Yankees were a baseball team, our "home team", at that. It took a few days to realize that being a Yankee might not be a wonderful thing. I overheard my Aunt Annie Lou telling her older children, "Y'all have to stop telling folks that these young'ens are your, 'Yankee Cousins'...they can't help bein' born Yankees... they're still your kin." Hum....

I was doubly surprised to learn they didn't love John Kennedy as much as we did. We attended Catholic school and the nuns were all infatuated with JFK. As the very first Roman Catholic president of the US, he was their own "home team". It was such a wild ride. One day, I was aware of my identity as an American and filled with such pride and joy I thought I'd burst, and the next day, I was "different".

This paradox is always part of the election process. On one hand, it is a remarkable thing to watch a government the size of this one change hands without a shot being fired. As disturbing as the resolution of the 2000 election was, it is almost unimaginable that Bush v Gore was settled without riots in the streets. Many other nations could never hope for this. On the other hand, the nastiness and bitterness of the process makes me want to avert my eyes more often than not. If we believed everything both sides published, we would all know for sure that only liars and reprobates ever ran for public office. This is just so sad.

It is no wonder that so many people don't trust politicians.

My daughter is going to vote in her first election this year. It is heartwarming to see the seriousness with which she approached this process. At the moment, she is worried that the photo ID requirement (which has been stayed until the next election)is going to encumber her, as she doesn't drive. We've been down to the DMV twice but after waiting for three hours without our number being called, had to abandon ship and try again another time. On one hand, I suppose there is a certain logic to the regulation, on the other...
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It just feels wrong to me.

Like my Aunt Annie Lou said, "They can't help it if they were born Yankeees." And I, and American, can't help it if I feel a certain nostalgic longing for civility, honor, and patriotism, even when opinions differ.

God Bless America.

Keep On Dancing*
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