Following and Leading with Family and Fish

Monday Morning Musings:

“Where you lead, I will follow

Anywhere that you tell me to

If you need, you need me to be with you

I will follow where you lead.”

–Carole King, “Where You Lead “(Gilmore Girls Theme Song)


“So long, and thanks for all the fish.”

–The final message of dolphins to humans, as they leave Earth before it’s destroyed. Also, the title of the fourth book of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams.


“I sustain myself with the love of family.”

–Maya Angelou (Tweet, on 23 May 2013)


After a long, long week,

a very long week

when we are in shock over the leader

many of our fellow citizens want to follow,

my younger daughter suggests we watch The Gilmore Girls*

while we eat Chinese food and chocolate,

so we sit, comfy in PJs and sweatshirts

while my husband goes for the Chinese food

(General Tso’s chicken for him,

the mock version for us)–

followed by chocolate.

Of course.


No one can eat like the Gilmore Girls,

but we try to get in the spirit,

choosing an episode from Season Two,

we hear this:

Paris: “That’s crazy. People would rather vote for a moronic twink who they liked over someone who could actually do the job?”

“We can’t get away from it,” sighs my daughter.

“Oy with the poodles already,” I reply.


The next day we go to my sister’s house.

meant to be a combination birthday-victory celebration

with a fish tray and bagels.


It is instead, a much needed gathering of family,

the love of family to sustain us.


Son-in-law has never eaten lox–or any of the fish on the platter,

he is forced to try them all.

(“It’s my heritage,” his wife says, though she is a vegetarian who doesn’t eat fish.)

He thinks the whitefish is too oily,

the lox too salty,

but the kippered salmon is tolerable—with lots of onion.

Daughter says, “He would have gotten along well with Grandpop.”

We remember my dad’s love of onions–

onion sandwiches

onion and sardine sandwiches

onion and sardine sandwiches on onion rolls

( with extra onions).

Did I mention he liked onions?

My father liked food,

and gatherings,

and gathering over food.

We sustain ourselves with family and family memories.


My mother wants coffee,

demands coffee

I want it now she says

with my meal.

She would fit right in with the Gilmore Girls.


You don’t argue with a 94-year old woman who wants coffee.

My sister gets her some coffee.

Remembering how we are sustained by family, love, and annoyance.


We discuss the current political situation,

daughter worried about how her students will react.

(She has not seen them since the election.)

I say I think she is a good leader,

and hope they will follow her lead.

Her husband, a veteran, deployed three times,

and not happy with the elected leader,

talks to my sister about getting involved in politics.

Sustained, and upheld by family.


My mom says she’s lived through many scary times.

I say I remember being terrified during the Cold War–

duck and cover drills and the Cuban Missile Crisis–

“But there were more sane people in control then,” my niece says.


Oy with the poodles already.

Sustained by love of family.


My sister and niece say, if we’re going to discuss this

we need to drink–and chocolate.


drink, drink, drink


In truth, we really do not drink,

and then my niece accidentally knocks coffee onto my mom’s lap.

We’re clumsy, but lovable.

And sustained by the love of family.


Time for dessert!


The cake is placed strategically in front of my daughter, so she can pick at it,

and “clean up” the icing.

(Love of family and food sustains us.)


My niece, who lives in a divided household

(in a red part of the state)

says she has needed this gathering,

though we’re not celebrating the election,

we are celebrating family.

We’re sustained by family—

and food.


We move to other subjects—

Thanksgiving (and food).

I have safely delivered the squirrel mold

(encased in bubble wrap)

to my niece,

the Thanksgiving cranberry sauce tradition

can continue.

We talk of social media

and kids,

and gender identity

and sex education,

a teenage boy taking lotion,

“I don’t understand—why does he want lotion?”

asks my mom.

(She’s so innocent.)

We hear cheers from the next room,

my sister-in-law and husband are watching football.

It is time to go.

We leave, sustained by family,

full from all the food we’ve eaten,

carrying packages of fish and bagels,

bits of love,

like life, delicious and a bit smelly,

So long, and thanks for all the fish,

and all the memories, too.

And though wishing my other daughter was also with us,

I am sustained by love of family,

as we head off into the darkness

where a super moon is rising.

We need light in the darkness

and love always.





*Gilmore Girls was a TV series about single mother Lorelai Gilmore and her daughter Rory. The series opened as Rory was in high school and ended when she graduated from Yale. In between, mother and daughter had many adventures, drank millions of cups of coffee, and eat enormous amounts of take-out food in the fictional town of Stars Hollow, Connecticut. A four-episode follow-up will be on Netflix in about two weeks.

Happy Holidays

The Pre-Party Phone Calls and Texts

Didn’t you make a frittata last year?

No. Do you mean the quiches Lori and Linda brought?

No. Didn’t you bring a frittata? I thought you made a frittata. Wasn’t it a frittata?

No, it was the non-sausage roll—the pizza dough thing.

 Oh, well we have enough bread with the French Toast casserole and the bagels.

–OK. I’ll bring some kind of egg thing. I’ll figure out something.

Well, we should have plenty of food for “the men.”

Yeah, I think we’ll have more than enough.

…No, don’t worry he’s bringing his own food.  . .But your house might smell like fish.


Hey, it’s me. I was wondering about drinks. Should I get soda? We have wine.  I don’t know. Give me a call.


Yeah, she called me from the liquor store. She sounded really stressed. She thought you wanted cranberry.


Don’t forget to put something under your French Toast before you put it in the oven. Remember last year? And all the smoke in the kitchen?

            Oh yeah. I forgot.

You’re the grownup. Nothing can ever happen to you.

I love you.


What kind of bagels do you want?

I like any kind. Get whatever kind you like.

I like any kind too. . .it is all bread, which means good.


Can I have a bagel?

No, soon.

What are you drinking?

It’s the same as Mom’s, but with cranberry.

Oh, I think I need to try that.

Mom, can I have a bagel?

No, soon.

I love you, but don’t move. Don’t step backwards.

This one doesn’t have nuts. This one has nuts, but I think I screwed up the sauce.  [Singing] Happy Holidays. . .

Can I have a bagel?

In a minute.

What do you have that I can nosh on?

I’ll make you a plate, Mom. Sit down.

I DID put salad dressing on it.

–Well, I can’t find it.

Grandmom, I’ll put some more dressing on it. Do you want anything else?

Everything is delicious.

Yes, I still have this cough.

We have an elf. He watches us. My dad thinks he’s creepy, but I think he’s cute.

Childhood wonder.

Conversations in corners.

Missing those who aren’t with us. Welcoming those joining our family for the first time.

Cuddling on the sofa.

Doggy kisses. Hugs all around.

The love of family.

More wine! More coffee! More food!

I’m stuffed. I might vomit.

Is it time to open presents?

I can’t get this open.

It’s your turn.

Oh. . .thank you.

I need another picture. Sammy, hold up your truck like this.

Wait, get a picture of this.

Oh, could you get a picture?

Am I taking too many pictures?

No, don’t take my picture.

Can I open my last present? I’m bored. I’m going down to the basement for the rest of the afternoon.

Yeah, we’re channeling Martha Stewart.

Sorry, it seems so disorganized. Is it more disorganized this year?

–No, it’s always like this.

Oh. It is?

Who wants coffee?

Are we having dessert?

Oh. .  . the pie’s really not sweet enough. . .

Mr. Penguin has his picture on our family wall.

Yeah, so I’m going to this reunion. There’s a Facebook war going on. The woman is CRAZY!

You look smokin’ hot in those boots.

I don’t think I can walk in them.

Really, even if you only wear them in bed. . .


Oh, look, it’s starting to snow. I guess we should pack up and get ready to go.

Thank you for having us.

I’ll call you.

Mr. Penguin wants to give you a hug!

Holiday Mr. Penguin

Holiday Mr. Penguin

 Wishing all of you hugs, the love and craziness of family and friends, and just a touch of magic during this holiday season. And chocolate, of course.

Thanks for reading!