Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Mothers Circle Show

“Another year has come and gone and the drums still haven’t made the cut.  They sit quietly in the dark basement clinging to their hopes that one day they too will make it to The Mothers’ Circle Show.  Well, There’s always next year!”

"Scarlett's Kitchen" ~ Sketch by Rick Stokes

A dear friend asked me the other day, from across a kitchen table, “Do you miss it?” 

Feigning indifference, I replied, “Nope”, and then downed my drink.

“I was going to buy a copy of The Power of Positive Thinking, and then I thought: 
What the hell good would that do?” ~ Ronnie Shakes

I realized only today, as I went about the business of laundry and cleaning house, with “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” blaring from the stereo and a blustery November day tapping on my windows, that the answer I gave was not completely honest.  Was hot glue really all that held us together, she must have wondered.  I caught the hurt smoldering there in her eyes, much like that of a mama bear just before she nips her cub in the butt for misbehaving.  (Ouch.  Okay, I give.  I miss it.  Hmph.)

“Help! I’m being held prisoner by my heredity and environment.” ~ Dennis Allen

I am wallowing in my first taste of freedom, my first non-obligatory nod to the season, as the holidays are fast approaching this year.  It is the first time in a long, long time that I find myself, so wishing my dear friends and I had tiny gingerbread men to undress and tease with our paintbrushes.  After all, we did spend many long days and even longer nights with the little guys.  I hardly know what to do with myself when I see them lying in those tight little boxes on the grocery shelf today, just imagining myself tearing away those little gum drop buttons. 

“I can believe anything provided it is incredible.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I’m sorry.  What was the question?  Oh, right.  “Do you miss it”, she wanted to know, trying not to reveal what is on all of our minds and lurking in our very muscle memory this time of year.  We, the loyal, the dedicated and the sleep deprived have joined the rest of the human race.  Well then, how could I not miss The Show?

“Fly Your Freak Flag!”

‘How will you raise those little monsters of yours to be generous and true’, I asked myself all those years ago, ‘if you cannot lead by example?’  Dr. Maya Angelou said it best I think, “Sister, when you get, give. When you learn, teach.”  I found the answer I was looking for then in a small, but fierce army of volunteers.  I still remember the day I hunted two of them down in my kids’ elementary school parking lot.  New to the neighborhood, I had decided I would just have to pull up my big girl panties and make the first move, since my phone wasn’t ringing off the hook with a personal invitation. 

And it has made all the difference. 

“You can’t depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus.”
~ Mark Twain

Together we sewed, painted, glued and glittered some 25,000 Christmas ornaments, January to December; summers off, if we were so lucky.  As fundraisers go, honestly, we were lucky to scrape the surface of the tens of thousands of dollars our school PTO brought in each and every year, but then it’s not all about money, is it.

“Never keep up with the Joneses.  Drag them down to your level.  It’s cheaper.”
~ Quentin Crisp

The Mothers’ Circle Ornament Sale is more than a thirty-some year tradition in our small rural community.  It is and always has been a symbol of what sets our school apart from the rest.  It’s Family.  Hundreds of kids and their families grow excited every year at this time, in anticipation of the unveiling in their school’s library window.  Their lists are checked, their pocket change counted and their holiday gifts are theirs to give.  All handmade, mostly recycled Nutcracker Dancers are lined up carefully in their plastic boxes and dragged up from the school basement; hauled out of our cars and kitchens and closets alongside Jolly Lollies, Joyous Angels, Fros-Tee Snowmen, and Spoon Santas, Icy Skates, Peek-A-Boo Penguins and Pajammy Lammys.

“Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness. 
To an opponent, tolerance. 
To a friend, your heart. 
To a customer, service. 
To all, charity. 
To every child, a good example. 
To yourself, respect.” ~ Oren Arnold

For nine years, I trudged along with the lot of them, calling in favors and begging for assistance from our kids and husbands, aunts and grandmas, friends and neighbors.  You knew us by the sparkle and smattering of glitter on our cheeks, in our hair, and if you asked, even in our unders.  Somehow we managed to pull it off every year, despite an occasional loss of time and perhaps a few missing clumps of hair.  Nothing a good helping of Kate’s ‘Fireside Coffee’ or Robin’s ‘Pine on a Twine Chicken Tortilla Soup with Lime’ or Michele’s ‘X-Treme Polar Bear Pumpkin Butter’ or Pam’s ‘St. Nick Stick Taco Soup’ or even Lucinda’s ‘Santa Stops Here Sweet Potato Pie’ couldn’t cure.  

“When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, 
and stick together.” ~Robert Fulgum

This year is a first for me and for them.  My youngest started Junior High this fall.  He was one of the last to go in our small group.  As he left those halls of our beloved elementary school and moved on, so must I.  So must we all.  Yes, I miss it terribly my dear friends, as I miss my little pink babies, my young children's wonder, indeed my journey through their childhood.  But the Mothers' Circle bond was made, and yes, lifelong friendships forged at the nasty end of a glue gun, the moment I laid eyes on that small group of women huddled together in someone’s kitchen, hands and eyes busy with their craft, mouths arguing over a shade of red, smiles and laughter in their hearts.          

“Joy to The World!”


  1. In the most unexpected and seemingly unimpressive moments, monumental things occur. I too have a group of friends, exactly like yours, that have changed my life in profound ways and I cannot imagine my life without them. Even as we all go about our lives, not necessarily spending as much time together as we'd like, they are with me in everything I do.

    I am loving all of your new posts. Can't wait to see what's next! Keep it up.

  2. My Michele,

    I love you too! You're awesome!


  3. When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I'm feeling sad...I simply remember my favorite things and then I don't feel so bad...

    I love you girls.


    1. I love this little ditty. And I love my friends when they stick them in my head. Needed that!

  4. I remember those "changes" in life due to the growing up and out of children areas. ... Just know more are on their way with the high school and making More New Friends for life. Love You. --- aunt Joyce