A Friday night, on the eve of the holiday season:
Volunteers and silent auction items are in place. It’s showtime for the annual fundraising gala benefiting a local charity of choice.
It’s not until the guests begin to arrive, that I realize much planning has gone into this night, but not into what I’m wearing.
As I witness the drooping neck lines and flowing dresses multiplying around me, I see: “You go girl!” And: “What? This old sparkly thing?” And: “Reporting for volunteer duty! Let’s get this show on the road.” (That one is me.)
I am in a pencil skirt, fitted turtleneck and cropped blazer. Not casual, not dressy...not fun. Why did I feel the need to look more Barbara Bush than Michele Obama tonight?”
A friend approaches and immediately I see that she has shed the volunteer Mom garb and is rocking a playful black dress. She looks stunning.
“You look fabulous!” I say, as she reaches me.
“I’m overdressed,” she leans in, “And, I have turkey arms.” She then shakes her arm to show me.
I shake my head and laugh. What are the appropriate words to convey sincere confidence?
“Glass of wine?” I ask.
She nods and we are off, together, in pursuit of liquid courage.
The next morning:
I wade through pictures of holidays past, in search of images for a “look how far we’ve come” montage for this year’s holiday card. I decide this route is the path of least aggravation after wading through the one thousand pictures (no joke) on my phone and not finding a single image that rises to Christmas card level.
The first envelope I open sports shots of John and Will surrounded by pillows. John is almost two and Will is not yet one. I am immediately transported to a time when capturing the Christmas photo was a day long endeavor (minus naps and feedings of course).
The boys are propped on each other and pillows with pops of red. Knowing the back-then me, the hints of red were surely chosen to suggest the sentiments of the season.
That me was always tired. Come to think of it, so is this me.
There are probably twenty photos of my cherubs (remember the days when you HAD to print them all?) Will looks like he’s either scared out of his mind or going to take flight, and John is the cool older brother with a “you know I could drop him, right?” look.
Viewing the slices of history one after the other, I can hear myself: “Okay, look at Mommy. Look at Mommy. LOOK at Mommy!”
It’s a funny thing to witness stages long gone in pictures. Life looks softer, less serious. I never ended up using any of these pictures, opting for a photo from a later session. I now see I could have used any of them. They’re priceless.
I spend another minute reminiscing and close the envelope. I dig my phone out of my purse and vow to find something in the current archives.
Ten years from now, I won’t care that the image is slightly blurry or that Will is wearing neon green sweatpants or John is rolling his eyes in a newly pre-teen kind of way. That will be what prompts me to remember. This season.
And next year, I vow, I will flaunt an “I’m here because I want to be!” outfit at the annual gala.
Because here, right here, is where I want to be. Turkey arms and all.