By Lydia LaFleur
On the afternoon of Christmas Eve my daughter Ingrid hired a car service to take me with my small bag of presents to their home in New Jersey. Haven’t I ever said there are perks to being old? Besides, the car was a Lincoln Continental – with leather seating, of course, so I would be going in style on this hour and a half trip, a little uneasy though, because one of my five heart medications is a water pill. Sure enough once we hit the Bronx, a long route the GPS for some reason guided us to the George Washington Bridge, I felt the urge. Please stop at the next restaurant. I can’t along this street, because it’s one way. And so we proceeded through main streets past all the Italian and Chinese restaurants, rounding this corner and that, until we came to the Bridge which, as I grew more and more uncomfortable, seemed much longer than I remembered it. We kept on riding. I could visualize myself arriving with my good wool pants soaking wet and so what would I wear at Christmas Dinner? And would my daughter be libel for the Lincoln Continental’s stained leather seat? Well, she’s a lawyer so she’ll know how to deal with that. I began to think that maybe the driver had forgotten my request and was about to say something when mercifully he pulled off the main highway and into the Vince Lombardi Rest Stop. I dashed past all the travelers who seemed more numerous here than on the road. And then had to dash again when we arrived at my daughter’s nearly an hour later, but I had made it. Another notch in my old age belt!
The house was very festive looking with the tree beautifully decorated thanks to my son-in-law Peter who loves doing it every year, but where were the outdoor lights this year which donned most of the other New Jersey houses? “They’re solar powered,” Ingrid said, “and there hasn’t been any sun recently.” So much for solar power in December! The guests for Ingrid’s delicious Roast Beef Wellington dinner had narrowed down from twelve to just us five, because everyone else was ill with colds or flu or in the case of a doctor, having to remain with a patient in the hospital. It was wonderful to see my granddaughter Helen here from Boston and my grandson Nicholas on a hiatus from his travels in South America for the past six months. Being adults now they didn’t mind waiting until I got up at noon the next day to open presents.
Now, what do you give an almost 88 year old for Christmas? Well, you can never go wrong with chocolates, especially for whom it’s one of her three favorite foods, the others being coffee and wine! And all the more so if the handmade chocolates are from L.A.Burdick, a chocolatier in Boston that is considered a pioneer in his field for using high grade cocoa and as the primary ingredient and not sugar. Each piece would prove to be delicious and a culinary adventure with the one containing lemon, pepper and cream the most unusual. Established – I expected the brochure to say in the 1800’s but proudly touting 1987 as if that were a long time ago. Why, that was the year of my retirement! For me, not that long ago, but for Helen who gave me the candies, that was the year she was born.
My most repeated rhyme these days is: As I get older, I get colder, and should add in my extremities – the fingers and the toes. This year for the first time, my fingers have to be thawed out when I come in out of the cold. So a small personal heater called My Heat that I can place on the table or floor is perfect but only for warming up one hand or one foot at a time if your foot is size 11Wide! Suggestion to other buyers: buy two.
Now what is it that most old people can’t do without? Why, a cane, of course, and no doubt the ubiquitous aluminum one from Duane Reade. Well, now I am the proud owner of a ceramic cane which is adorned with painted purple, white and green flowers, so beautiful that I’m don’t want to take it outdoors, fearing that the teenage thieves who stole bicycles from other teenagers years ago have now also reached their upper 80s and are pilfering handsome canes instead.
My son Christopher had emailed me from Japan before Christmas saying they were sending me two gifts, that the first one would be tall and not very exciting, but that it was lighter than the one I had now and that the one they own had changed their lives in a small way. Changed their lives?? Intriguing, but no way could I conjure up what this item might be. The other gift would come from Sherry Lehmann, only two bottles this time but very special wines which he hoped I’d open to celebrate the New Year. When I got home from New Jersey, having been chauffered by my granddaughter Helen and was opening up the front door, my neighbor across the hall appeared with a package. Indeed, it was tall – and no wonder – it was a vacuum cleaner, a very slim vacuum cleaner, a Dyson Digital Slim, and according to the label “sucks up as much dust as a conventional vacuum without the hassle of a cord” and operates for 26 minutes after being powered. A most thoughtful gift. I remembered that when my son was here last he had used what he calls my high powered industrial vacuum cleaner, a very heavy Electrolux, for which I had paid plenty but which has lasted me for years, and he wondered how I could even get it out of the closet. My answer: I don’t.
The two special bottles of wine were delivered the following evening: Chateau Certan de May Pomerol, France and Vignes de L’Enfant Jesus, a Pinot Noir from Burgundy. I Googled both, and it opened up a whole new world to me – history, regions, descriptions of tastes of wine, ranking in the wine world and much more. I was especially intrigued by the Vines of the Infant Jesus and learned that Marguerite, the founder of the Carmelite nuns, had predicted the birth of Louis XIV although her mother, Anne of Austria, was sterile and so after the birth of the Sun King, this vineyard which belonged to the Carmelites took on the name The Vines of the Infant Jesus. With a story like that how couldn’t I be curious as to how the wine from these vineyards tastes?
When I’ll drink these wines, I can’t decide. For a special occasion for sure. Maybe when I reach my 88th birthday in a couple of weeks. [1/16] That I will have made it that far probably merits a special bottle of wine!