Mother/Daughter Traditions

This Mother’s Day will be my first without my mother. My sweet mother died in December, never getting to see 2018. As anyone knows, the “firsts” are tough. It has me thinking about things we used to do together.

One thing we used to do together was clean silver. Doesn’t sound like much of a tradition, right? I know, it sounds tedious, and it can be, but with Mother, it was fun. When I lived in Mobile as an adult, once a year, usually in December, we would clean silver. I would go to her house on a Sunday afternoon, and she would bring out all her silver and the silver polishing cream. We would sit for hours, polishing silver, talking, and laughing…always laughing. Our hands would ache, but we would keep working…and talking…and laughing…and working. After a few hours, everything was sparkling, and the holidays could begin. Every time I clean silver now, I think of her. I’m grateful for that memory.

I have found a much easier way to clean silver. I tried the aluminum foil dip method, but it didn’t work like I thought it would, and it created a sulfuric odor. I found Connoisseur Silver Wipes and tried those. They worked like a charm. With very little effort, my silver comes clean with these wipes. I highly recommend. You can purchase them at Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, or online at Amazon here.

When I was a little girl, she and I would make the traditional Easter Bunny cake together…you know, use one circular layer for the face, and use the other circular layer to make ears and a bowtie. At the holidays, we would make what we called a Marshmallow Cake, but I think some people call it a popcorn cake. Sounds weird, I know, but it’s very festive, and it’s what we did. Marshmallows, butter, peanuts/cashews, M&Ms….it makes a lovely treat, especially if you use red and green M&Ms. I’ve known people to throw in other things too…chocolate chips, pretzel pieces…you pick your favorites.img_85301.jpg

Once my daughter turned four or five, Mother would make biscuits with her every time we visited. I’m so glad they did, because it’s a good memory for my daughter. This year at school, her English class put together a cookbook of recipes, and my daughter’s contribution was the buttermilk biscuit recipe she learned from my mother. When I told Mother, she was thrilled, and now that she has passed, I’m even more glad my daughter chose that recipe and more glad they had that “tradition.”

After I was married and while Mother still lived near Mobile, for birthdays or other special occasions, we would have brunch at The Grand Hotel Resort in Point Clear, Alabama. She never wanted to go for holidays, because the crowd was crazy, but for birthdays, it was great. I remember going for several of her birthdays, for a few of my birthdays, and I remember meeting our family friend, Polly, for brunch there one Sunday. I specifically remember going for my 40th birthday. My daddy had died the previous fall, so it was a bittersweet celebration. My husband and daughter were there too, and we got some cute photos of our daughter playing on the hotel lawn by the bay.

 

It’s funny how these traditions start. Sometimes, you do something once, and you don’t realize it’s something you will continue.

Back in 2011, my friend, Leah, and I took our then-seven-year-old daughters to Los Angeles. It was a special trip. I had gotten passes for the girls to visit the set of the Nickelodeon show, iCarly, which was the hottest show on Nickelodeon at the time. Milly had fallen in love with the show when she was about four, so she was a long-time fan. The girls were excited, and frankly, so were the moms!

When we took that trip, it never occurred to me I would start taking Milly to LA every year, but I do. It has become a mother/daughter tradition. We have a favorite hotel, favorite restaurants, favorite foods, favorite shops, and now we have friends we love to visit. Every time we go, we make a point of seeing places we haven’t seen before, but we make sure to visit all our favorites too. Often, we take friends with us. Lots of times, she and I have talked about how it is our mother/daughter tradition, and I tell her I hope we will continue to do it till I’m really old. Maybe one day she will have her own daughter and continue the tradition with her. Don’t get me wrong. I plan to keep going as long as I can! We are making memories she can carry with her for a long time.

I wish I had started doing annual trips with my mother when I was younger. I wasn’t an only child, so sneaking off for mother-daughter trips wasn’t as easy. Plus, my brother always adds an element of humor whenever he’s around. We wouldn’t have wanted to leave him behind anyway. Daddy was funny too.

In 1997, though, I did take Mother on a trip we talked about for years afterward. We went to Mexico City, and it was a glorious, fun trip. I’ve loved Mexico City since 1982, when I visited with a group from high school. Mother and I covered as much of the city as we could in four or five days. The first day we were there, a Sunday, I decided we would go to Chapultepec Park like the locals do on Sundays. Chapultepec Park is Mexico City’s version of Central Park. It’s covers over 1600 acres, and it is the home of Chapultepec Castle, which sits atop a hill with a view overlooking the city. We walked all over that park that day, visiting the castle and the zoo, which was the first zoo outside of China to successfully breed giant pandas. It was a great memory for us that would have made a wonderful tradition.

As Mother’s Day approaches, it has me thinking of all sorts of things I used to do with Mother. Mostly, we laughed, and that’s a great memory. Her compassion and sense of humor were unmatchable. We miss her, but we are thankful to have great memories.

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BIG gift box tradition

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We all have our own traditions. Some of our traditions are similar, but don’t we all have some that are just our own?

My mother and her friend, Polly, used to love sending BIG boxes of little gifts. Some might think they were traditional “care packages,” but they were more than that. They would send them to say “thank you” or “congratulations,” when someone had a baby, to a friend who was sick, to a family member who needed a pick-me-up, and often, for no reason at all. We considered it a tradition. I remember receiving gigantic shipping boxes (the kind people use to pack things when they move) FULL of stuff…sometimes there might have been 50 little things in one box! They were so much fun to receive, so it is something I have continued. Once I started putting them together, I realized how much fun it is!

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There are all sorts of ways to put these gift boxes together. The main thing is to consider the recipient and the message you want to convey. You can make it about the recipient, or you can just make it completely silly.

Recently I visited another city, and a friend hooked me up with some special things to do in her city. Since she has never visited Charlotte (and I would love for her to visit), when I got home, I put together a gift box of Charlotte/North Carolina products. Some of it was to entice her into visiting: a big coffee table book with beautiful photos of Charlotte, a copy of Our State Magazine, and some bourbon-infused honey bottled in Charlotte (it’s so good, she might walk to Charlotte for it!). I added some fun Charlotte stuff too: highball glasses with “704” on them, a North Carolina embroidered dish towel, and a Charlotte t-shirt with a dead penguin on it (For the story behind the dead penguin, click here. To order a t-shirt, click here.)Then, I added some things that have nothing to do with Charlotte, but they are  some of my favorite small gifts.

IMG_0149One of the favorite things I included was a Couch Guest Book. It’s completely silly. When I first saw it in Paper Skyscraper in Charlotte, I found it amusing, and then I remembered sitting on the couch in my friend’s office.  In this guest book, the pages aren’t blank. There are questions, one of which is, “What are you thinking (while sitting on the couch)?” It also asks who is with you and some other silly questions. I filled out the first page and put the book in the box. You can find them at Paper Skyscraper on East Blvd, in Charlotte, or order one here.

IMG_5523Another of my favorite things I sent her was a Dry Divas Shower Cap. It had nothing to do with my visit, but I posted about it on Instagram back on December 14. Some of you thought I was nuts. How can a shower cap be post-worthy? Well, this one is. I’ve purchased lots of shower caps, and none of them kept all my hair secure. I’ve used those dreadful hotel shower caps that some people use to cover food in their refrigerators. Maybe they work for covering food, but they don’t keep hair dry. I have a lot of hair, so I need a good shower cap that fits snugly and holds up in steam. The Dry Divas Shower Cap does, and it looks pretty too, as they are all styled in a pretty print with a jewel on the front. You can buy them directly from drydivas.com here, but some are on sale right now at Neiman Marcus here.

Mother and  Polly were really good at finding little knick-knacks, and they were always on the lookout for things when they were out. I try to tailor the knick-knacks to the recipient, just as they did. When I was in college, my mother sent me big boxes all the time. Often they contained nonperishable snacks, a t-shirt, some socks, cough drops, pens, candy, pencils, erasers, magazines, books…anything she thought I might use. Most of the time, she added some silly things to make me laugh…silly sleep shirts or crazy socks. I loved coming in from class and finding a big box from her, because I knew it would be full of fun!

kira-auf-der-heide-330895.jpg We all have those friends and family members who are difficult to categorize. Here are some themes to consider: college teams, professional teams, favorite sports, favorite foods, hobbies (golf, tennis, travel, reading, knitting, etc), occupation…the possibilities are endless. Maybe there is a holiday or pseudo-holiday coming up…even if it’s just Groundhog Day, you can come up with something. Once, when I knew a friend had a big European vacation coming up, I made of box of travel-related items (sewing kit, compass, travel size toiletries, sleep mask, ear plugs, etc), and I since I had some map wrapping paper, I wrapped each gift individually.

Whatever you do, stuff it full of goodies. It’s what Mother and Polly used to do. It was always fun to dig through the boxes. The more you can stuff in there, the more fun it is for the recipient.

Most of all, I love this tradition, because it brings JOY to the person on the receiving end. I feel sure most people are flattered someone assembled a crazy gift box for them.

If you decide to send a big gift box, you will get as much joy as the recipient. As always,  please share your ideas with me. I’m always looking for unique things to add to gift boxes.

After all, what’s more fun than receiving a gigantic box full of gifts?!

Sending one.

XOXO,

Kelly

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