Page's Turn

Fun is Better Than Perfect

December 24, 2019

The girls had just finished putting the finishing touches on their gingerbread house when disaster struck. The white frosting must have lacked the necessary adhesive. I’d love to say I left out a key ingredient on the homemade icing, but, although it was a long time ago, I can pretty much bet the farm that it was store bought and scooped straight out of a can. 

 

Peyton and Katherine (Photo by: Page Evans) Peyton and Katherine

A sugar-coated green gumdrop tumbling off the roof was the first clue of impending disaster, followed by an orange Skittle. Both girls vigorously pressed the candies back into the fluffy white roof. It seems a more gingerly approach was needed.

 

In the snap of a candy cane, the cardboard-colored walls came down. Our house of confection turned into a house of horrors, looking as if it had been struck by an F5 tornado. 

 

Katherine, around seven at the time, shrieked “Why, why!” And instead of consoling her, I did what any good mother would do; I grabbed the camera (this was before iPhones). Meanwhile, Peyton, three years older, did what she still does when things go south; she laughs.

 

Peyton and Katherine, now 23 and 19, recently texted me pictures of our doomed gingerbread house. And it reminded me of all the other doomed decorating or baking events that seem to befall us around Christmas. The time our pumpkin pie literally slid out of the dish as we were taking a selfie. Or the tree that fell just last week on our terrace because I’d placed it in a stand that was way too small (and on sale). Or the Christmas when my brother Rob, in the mid-70s, accidentally pushed over the tree as he “helped” my mother place the star on top.

Homemade angel (Photo by: Page Evans) Homemade angel

 

“I give up,” I remember Mom saying, in a mix of exasperation and anger. She actually always seemed frazzled at Christmas. And I see why. Unlike me, she made literally hundreds of homemade lemon cupcakes to give to friends, along with paper mache angels sprayed in gold. She later taught us all, including my children, how to make the angels. But ours looked like victims of the same tornado that struck the gingerbread house: wings askew and nearly decapitated styrofoam heads.

 

I’m determined to learn how to properly make one of my mother’s angels or bake her cupcakes. Though I’ve been saying this for years now, so who am I kidding? This homemade thing may have skipped a generation. I will have to leave it to my daughters.

 

And I will remind them of Sheryl Sandberg’s great quote: “Done is better than perfect.” I know it’s not the most positive, but it’s realistic. Things may not look like the cover of Bon Appetit, but at least there’s food on the table.

To this day, my mother still laughs when talking about the Christmas tree fiasco. And seeing that old photo of our collapsed gingerbread house makes me chuckle. It’s a great reminder that hectic, imperfect holidays are the way to go.  After all, fun is better than perfect. 


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It's About Biden

April 30, 2019

Former Vice President Joe Biden may not be the perfect candidate, but he is certainly the only one who could give President Trump a realistic run for his money (though we still don’t know the amount). While many of the other Democratic contenders are highly qualified, they do not have the leadership experience, name recognition, compassion or appeal that Biden has. Plus, Biden is a unifier, which is exactly what this country needs right now.

VP Joe Biden at Georgetown Ministry Center, 2013 (Photo by: Oliver Devine) VP Joe Biden at Georgetown Ministry Center, 2013

Unfortunately, Democrats seem to eat their own, further diminishing any chance of defeating Trump. Having grown up in Delaware as a lifelong Biden supporter, I am obviously very biased.

 

If I could wave a magic wand, my wish would be for other Democratic contenders to rally behind Biden and work toward the common goal of restoring dignity, honor and humanity in the White House.

 

As for running mates, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, one of the most intelligent and authentic of the bunch, would be a formidable pick, followed by Maryland Rep. John Delaney, a successful businessman and solid moderate. 


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Driving Lessons

December 6, 2018

The question I get asked most often these days is, “Where are you living?”

 

“Well,” I respond, “I pretty much live on I-95.”

 

“I don’t know how you stand it. That drive is just the worst.”

 

The “drive" would be the 95 corridor between Richmond and Washington, a stretch of 108 miles. It’s not always delightful, particularly in a driving rain, when 18-wheelers spray the windshield, rattling the car as they pass. But if you have an EZ Pass or the luxury, which I do, of leaving either city between 10am to 1pm, “the drive” can be quite pleasant.  Two hours to return phone calls, listen to podcasts (In the Dark is the best) or NPR, or get a reprieve from texting and emailing. And who doesn’t love The Bridge or 70s on 7 on Sirius?  Todd Rungren’s “Hello, It’s me,” is on a constant loop. Same with Glenn Campbell’s “Rhinestone Cowboy,” whose lyrics always ring true: “There’s been a load of compromising on the road to my horizon.”

 

Nearly two year ago, I got remarried to a man in Richmond. Between us, we have six children and three dogs. Of that crew, only one life was majorly disrupted by the move, that of my 12-year-old black Lab, Angus. My two children are in college and boarding school and their dad is still in DC, also newly married. I go to DC  once or twice a week or when the girls are home on vacation. Otherwise, I’m mainly in Richmond. My husband’s children are all either married or living on their own.

 

Which leaves Angus as the sole “child” who moves back and forth, up and down our second home on I-95. He usually leans up against the back door, his nose pressed against the slobber-stained window. If not in that position, he’s splayed across the entire back seat, snoring like any 84-year-old (in dog years).

 

Over Thanksgiving, Angus went with us from Virginia to DC, DC to Delaware, then back to Virginia. I was going to leave him back in Richmond, but my daughters begged me to bring him to visit my parents in Delaware. My father, 87, was also thrilled to have him. When Dad is around, Angus drops me like the hot potato my father has dropped on the floor for him. We used to tell Dad not to feed the dog from the table, but his hearing is, shall we say, selective. Now Angus sits by my father’s side at the head of the table, his salt-and-pepper muzzle resting on Dad’s khaki-clad knee, awaiting the inevitable piece of turkey that will come his way. 

 

After dinner, my husband, the girls, and Angus and I pile into the car to head home. Angus can no longer nimbly jump into the back seat without a little extra help. I often wonder how many car rides he has left. How many do any of us have, for that matter?

 

My mother loves to quote the poet Theodore Roethke,: “I learn by going where I have to go.”

 

I also “learn by going where I have to go.” So, no, the drive is not “the worst.” It actually makes me realize how fortunate I am to have places to go, friends and family to see, and precious cargo to carry along the way.

 

Perhaps the question we should all be asking is not “Where are you living?” but “How are you living?” That’s something to contemplate on the next drive.


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