1928. Calvin Coolidge was the U.S. President. Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin. Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. Mickey Mouse appeared in Steamboat Willie. And in December, my Mother was born. We've come a long way in 90 years, and it's a milestone worth celebrating in style. Off we went to Centerville, Ohio, where my Mom and Dad raised 7 children. How appropriate we should come full circle for her birthday bash!
We began with a Friday-night dinner at Bravo, organized by my oldest brother. Our private room was the perfect venue for the kids to play and the adults to visit, circulating around the room to catch up with family that had traveled from Mexico, Texas, Utah, Missouri and Montana. Inevitably, a conversation with 'seasoned' adults leads to health discussions; my Mother and one of my sisters and I compared hands, and notes on joint pain.
Mom also has the nickname "GG" since she has
20 great-grandchildren and one more on the way!
The next day, 35 family members gathered to fete our mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. The private room at her senior living community had been decorated with a silver and red theme, red being one of her favorite colors. My oldest sister, the florist, created the centerpieces and a corsage for the guest of honor. As a special touch, she included cardinals (my Mom's favorite bird) in the arrangements. One of my nephews brought balloons for the cake/gift table, which quickly filled up with packages and gift bags. The afternoon flew past with visiting time, the brunch buffet, group photos, and opening gifts.
The entire family contributed pictures that I compiled into a book covering the last 10 years (one of my nieces had previously created a book for Mom for her 80th birthday). In addition to presenting the book to her, I also prepared a slide show that replicated the book. I don't think there was a dry eye in the house as we watched the show, accompanied by songs such as "Mother" by Sugarland and "What a Wonderful World" by Louis Armstrong. While Centerville may be a scant 50 miles from where my Mother was born, in her lifetime she has traveled to Hong Kong and Guam, Germany and the UK, and many states throughout the US. Yes, GG is Still on the Go.
But no family gathering with my Mom is complete without euchre, a card game for 4 that is played with a partner. This day, we conducted a tournament, which meant players moved tables and changed partners after 8 hands. It was an ideal way to mix with each other, with lots of laughter along the way. (Ironically, our daughter won the tournament, and the next highest score was obtained by her boyfriend, a rookie euchre player. Beginner's luck?) The day began to wind down as we enjoyed the chocolate cake with a ganache filling and coconut frosting (Mom's requested cake). And we began to talk about where to hold her 95th party - I have no doubt we'll be having one!
|A bar of Huckleberry chocolate was first prize|
The next day, Spousal Unit and I went to Mass with my Mom, my younger brother and his wife, and then we drove to Columbus to visit #1 Son. He had planned a couple of activities for us; the first stop was North Market. An indoor public market, it is home to "butchers, bakers and candy makers; fishmongers, greengrocers and restaurateurs". Presented with endless photo opportunities, I had to rein myself in so that we could focus on choosing lunch items from the diverse ethnic options. All three of us selected items at the Polish counter, and the servings were massive.
Fortunately, our next destination was the Columbus Museum of Art; strolling the exhibits staved off the inevitable food coma that sets in after a big meal. Being Sunday, admission was free, and I was delighted to see so many people in the facility, especially with families. Many of the exhibits had areas set aside with activities for kids and adults - what an engaging way to involve everyone in art! And the museum encourages you to take pictures - how refreshing - I did not have to be asked twice. I can't remember the last time I was in an art museum with our kids; viewing the art with our son as a young adult was quite intriguing as we exchanged opinions on the various art forms.
This is for all my crochet buddies out there - a whole room was
decorated in this manner, and had textile-based activities
We concluded the day at a Buffalo Wild Wings, strategically chosen as the venue to watch the Cleveland Browns- Baltimore Ravens football game. Unfortunately, the Browns lost, but they wrapped the season with their best record in over a decade, 7 wins, 8 losses and 1 tie!!!
Artist: Dale Chihuly Work: Isola di San Giacomo in Palude
On Monday morning, we returned to Centerville for lunch with my Mom (you just can't resist her sauerkraut soup with home-made bread), and a few rounds of Kings in the Corner.
Back on the road, we motored south to Cincinnati in time to check in at our hotel, catch 40 winks and get dressed up for the 1920's-themed New Year's Eve party hosted by our daughter's employer, a theater in downtown. It felt like an authentic speakeasy; a three-piece band played lounge music downstairs by the bar, and upstairs the crowd was fully vested in gambling with "Monopoly" money. Roulette, blackjack, a money wheel … your winnings could be used to "purchase" raffle tickets - I couldn't believe it when we won a bottle of wine in both drawings!
On New Year's Day, we toured Krohn Conservatory, a Cincinnati favorite at the holidays due to the extensive displays arranged just for the season. The 2018 Holiday Show included fragrant holiday florals, model trains and miniature Cincinnati buildings constructed of natural materials. Applied Imagination, the creative force behind the buildings, also erected small replicas of key American monuments such as The Statue of Liberty and Mount Rushmore. Mind-boggling creativity and attention to detail.
Of course, a US holiday is not complete without some sporting event; we took in the first half of the Rose Bowl, featuring the Ohio State Buckeyes (#1 son is currently attending the school) versus the Washington Huskies. But I needed some shuteye (not as young as I used to be). My oldest sister hosted us for the next two nights, and she didn't bat an eye when we showed up at her house and I practically went straight to bed! (OSU won 28 to 23.)
We had a slow start the next morning since my sister had some business to conduct, and then we had lunch at a Cincinnati institution - Skyline Chili. Driving south into Cincinnati proper, we arrived at Union Terminal, only recently re-opened. The soaring Art Deco masterpiece and a National Historic Landmark, the building is also a museum and cultural center.
We bought Discovery Passes, which offered entry to all the exhibits other than three, special limited engagement displays (IMAX tickets are also sold separately). Dinosaurs, model trains, Legoland and more! The "Public Landing" section re-creates Cincinnati's river heritage as it might have looked in the mid-century. You can walk through historic shops and a steamboat, and learn stories about real-life Cincinnatians. I was transported!
That evening, we chilled out at my sister's house, stitching (that is, my sister and I were stitching) and watching movies. It was a relaxing conclusion to a few days of back-to-back action. An opportunity to ponder and chat about all that had happened since our arrival a few days before. And a chance to gaze forward, to the places, people and events that will be woven into the fabric of 2019.
|Union Terminal is known for its intricate mosaics, which dominate the main hall|
Welcome to Mosaic Monday, a weekly meme
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