Category Archives: USA

Christmas Without a Tree?

My mother married this extremely funny and sweet man named Max when I just turned 5 years old. They sadly divorced 2 years later, but were still quite in love. I was too young to know or see the sadness my mother felt when he would often visit or when we would visit him. For ten years, they would visit one another between San Francisco and Chicago. For ten years, he would call on every birthday and holiday. It was not until late in high school when I finally felt and saw the hurt too. I grew to be a bitter teenager about him. Max passed away a few years ago from being ill. Today, I am more aware of love and relationships and people, and after having to cope with Max’s death without closure, I feel like I would never replace those unique 12 years with him in my life.

We were visiting San Francisco again, but this time is was Christmas. Dad (Max) was not as prepared as I think Mom would have like him to have been. There was no tree. What was Christmas without a tree? My mother was one for tradition and improvisation. She is wonderful about refusing to be “without.” I am not sure where they came from, maybe Dad had them stored away, but she somehow got her hands on some Green Christmas Lights and some scotch tape. She then molded the strand of lights into the form of a Christmas tree on the mirror door of the closet. She stood back and looked at it…”There!” she exclaimed. She was pretty proud of herself. Tree accomplished. Dad looked at her and smiled and perhaps only I caught his glance of admiration. Perhaps he was embarrassed that he did not have a tree.

It is funny. I do not remember any of the gifts I received this Christmas. I don’t remember the exact year either. I remember what the apartment looked like and I remember that tree made of Christmas lights. In the morning the tape had started to peel off the mirror and I got up and rubbed it back on before my mom saw. There are plenty of different types of families out there. My Dad/Max was not there for very many. But, I remember them all. It was the only times I felt like my mom and my little family was attempting to become more full.

Madison, WI
Mom and I ice skating in Madison, Wisconsin

A Child’s Curiosity of the World

Guess what just came in the mail at my work????

Bella’s suitcase! Not just any suitcase…oh no….a BATMAN suitcase!

potterybarn suitcases
IT CAME! SUCCESS!!

I was just as excited when Gia’s Hello Kitty suitcase arrived a couple weeks ago. Bright Pink. Hard Shell. And on wheels. I think I may have rubbed off a little on Wayne’s two daughters. I am not sure when or how, but they have my extreme love of travel at 4 and 5 years old. Luckily they don’t read yet so I can tell you that Santa Claus has

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Chicago
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Cadillac Theatre Chicago

gotten them suitcases, embroidered toiletry bags with their names, travel stamps, stickers, pretend passports to stamp, travel coloring books, and I am thinking that luggage tags are in their near future! I never thought I would find Bella’s request of a Batman one, but thanks to Potterybarn kids…success!!!

In the time that I have known them, I have been to Japan, Ireland, and Ecuador. Their great-grandma took a trip to England and Scotland. Their aunt went to live in Abu Dhabi for a little while. This has all probably been a great influence. Gia says she wants to live in China and Bella always says something slightly different. I am so proud of their curiosity of the world and how much they want to learn about it. I was already planning on buying them

Family in Chicago
Family in Chicago

suitcases, especially for when they come to visit us in Chicago, but then we went to a store and they saw suitcases and have been obsessed with them. They are now saying all they want for Christmas is this dog toy thing and suitcases. I cannot wait to give them to the girls!

Annabella the Traveler
Annabella the Traveler

Their excitement makes ME so excited as well! I love to teach them about new places and showing them pictures of all the places I have been to. I cannot believe how much they are showing a passion and curiosity for it at so young of an age. It makes me feel so special to be a part of their growing up in this way. I even signed them up for Little Passports, which is so much fun and valuable to their education about the world!

It’s Not “Luck.” Just Do it. Wander.

While on the train this morning, a twenty something girl came into my car. She recognized the other girl about the same age sitting

Byron Bay
“Lucky” in Australia

across from me and sat next to me instead. She squished her over sized bag and coat between my body and the car pole by the seats. She explained that she did not want to sit next to her “friend” because she felt that she was getting sick….gee…thanks….

I tried to point my face from then on in the other direction, which meant my ear was turned toward their entire conversation. They joked about work and friends and a silly new exercise class they wanted to take together (which obviously was never going to happen by the tones of their voices). Then they started to talk about a friend of one of them visiting from London. My interest perked up. She was living in New York, but from London. The girls then joked about being very touristy in Chicago in order to show their English friend around.  But, what really intrigued me, (and to be completely honest) actually pissed me off a little was when they were talking about how she just visited Portugal.

“Portugal sounds so interesting. It would be cool to go there,” says

White House
“Lucky” in Washington D.C.

Girl 1.
“Oh yeah. It would definitely be a place I would want to go to,” replies Girl 2.
“We should go there sometime.” Girl 1.
“Sure. Like Right now.” Girl 2.
“Oh yeah lets just get on the Blue Line straight to O’Hare (Airport)” Girl 1
“Ok. Next stop” Girl 2 .
Giggling for too long.

Why is this so annoying to me? I know their type. They are not going to go to Portugal. They’re not. I know they’re not. It is more fascinating to spend vacation money to go to an all-inclusive in Mexico to them. This is a very common American mentality and it just really boils me up. They laughed it off like the idea was completely absurd. It’s not absurd. Save and do it. Just do it. Go to

Hakuba Skiing
“Lucky” in Hakuba Japan

Portugal. Why does that seem so impossible? Life is just waiting to be lived outside of your hometown. So go. Enough giggling about something because it seems hard. You work and earn money and have the curiosity about a place. So Go! Do it. Enough joking about it.

I guess it really gets to me because people always look at me as if I am “lucky” to have gone to all the places I have been. I am not “lucky.” Please do not call me that. I just save, plan, and do it. Anyone can. I am tired of people of equal or higher wage look at me like I am crazy because I go places all the time. I am not crazy. I am curious. I have Wanderlust. Don’t judge. Just do it.

San Diego
“Lucky” in San Diego at the Ocean