The Times - Serving Waitsburg, Dayton and the Touchet Valley

By Vicki Sternfeld-Rossi
The Times 

A very merry Waitsburg Christmas to you


December 31, 2020

It’s hard to believe; this is the third Christmas I have celebrated in Waitsburg. The first was exactly seven days after I moved here. Christmas week, I was a guest at a birthday party and invited to a New Year’s Day brunch/open house. I knew I had arrived, and Waitsburg was perfect. And that winter, I proudly survived what new neighbors proclaimed to be the snowiest and coldest winter in 15 years.

Last year, my second December here was also memorable, although not for the snow. Daniel visited, and so had a bunch of neighborhood Santa’s bearing gifts. Those gifts were a welcome treat and an omen of the good things to come.

This year we were ready! Daniel baked some Panettone to give to those who were so gracious in their giving to us. Unfortunately, we don’t have a commercial kitchen, so we had to be a little restrained in the number of loaves made, but next year we may be more efficient and hopefully make a bigger batch.

One of the most useful and memory provoking gifts I received this year was a beautifully embroidered mask. It may sound peculiar to some that a mask would spark such a visceral reaction, but I emailed a picture of the mask to my sister, and simultaneously we said, “I can just hear Aunt Flo saying, it’s too pretty to wear.”

Our Aunt Flo, my mother’s older sister, was the third of four siblings. She never married, and growing up, she was my mother’s protector. They were extremely close. When I was very young, she was my inspiration. To this day, I am not sure why I had this attraction to her sophisticated New York city life, instead of my mother’s suburbanite lifestyle, but I did.

I wanted to be like her, heading off to work wearing fashionable suits with high heels that absolutely had to match your purse, carrying lipstick and a compact that I could open on the subway to powder my nose and effortlessly freshen my lipstick while gracefully holding my white gloves. In my mind, she was the most sophisticated and elegant person I knew. I wanted to emulate her in every way. Eventually, I did live the dream of a career and high heels (which I admit I still love), but I don’t carry a compact, my purse rarely matches my shoes, nor do I powder my nose or worry about lipstick. (Why bother, it doesn’t show behind the mask).

When we moved west to a warm climate for my father’s arthritis, my Aunt stayed in New York to care for our Grandfather. Eventually, he died peacefully around 90 years old, she retired and moved to Los Angeles to be with us. We were thrilled.

However, now older and wiser, I realized that she was not quite the sophisticate I had fantasized. My mother, sister, and I frequently took her out to breakfast or lunch and watched as she unabashedly pocketed extra packets of sugar, jelly, and napkins. We would buy her gifts of lovely nightgowns, blouses, and sweaters. She would fold them neatly in a drawer to wait for a special occasion. She had hearing aids but only wanted to use them if it was really important, because she didn’t want to waste the battery.

My sister and I would beg her: “please wear the new nightgown; you’re 75 years old. Seriously, are you still waiting for Prince Charming or some other special occasion? For Pete’s sake, it’s just a nightgown!” When she died, they were still untouched.

When I showed my sister my pretty new embroidered mask, my first remark was: “it’s almost too pretty to wear.” All my sister had to say was, “Flo!” I wore the mask that day! Life’s too short to wait for the special occasion.


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