A Nod to Erma Bombeck and the Christmas Chimes

Growing up, Erma Bombeck was hilarious and a trendsetter.

I remember her as groundbreaking as the first funny, syndicated female that I remember being funny she never seemed overly impressed with herself.

Married, with 3 kids, she wrote about life as a “housewife” and adventures of living in Ohio.  She wasn’t slumming as she lived next door to Phil Donahue and they seemed to get national recognition about the same time.

She was the first person I could ever remember saying in public “screeching like a fish monger’s wife while trying to quick-thaw a pork chop under each arm”.  As I recall, her husband was bringing home his boss for an unannounced dinner and she was trying to throw herself, the house, the kids and dinner in order.

I don’t do it justice.

95% of her stuff was funny–the everyday occurrences of life.  The other 5% was poignant–all of it the stuff life is made of .

Life is full of transitions and I think about her poignancy often in the last few years and her columns that dealt with time and aging and children becoming parents to their parents.

I thought about time when sitting with my oldest brother 5 weeks at Hospice.  How some days it slipped past and other times how very important and long some conversations seemed while time seemed to stand still.

I think about hands a lot.  I watched my brother’s hands work on something in his sleep many times during that tenure in Hospice.

I watched my mom’s hands–calm and nurturing and teaching even at the end of her life.

Recently, I have spent time watching my dad’s hands in a couple of hospitals. He is 92 and his hands have seen a lot. They wear the calluses of a working man; a farmer and a retired journeyman mechanic.  Hands that were broad and strong and when I was little, I used to sit on his lap and fiddle with the large veins that stood on their own.  Like little hills across the roughened plain.  Those hands are still strong, but they are weary but they are still going, so I will still keep watch.

Now the holiday season is upon us, I think about Erma and her columns and especially one call the “Christmas Chimes”.  Legend has it the Chimes wouldn’t ring unless a gift of love from the heart was given. She talks about the glories of Christmas past with gifts of paste and macaroni.  Artwork made in Sunday School with typos like “Oh, Come Holy Spit”.

Google it and read it for yourself and allow a skip down YOUR memory lane.

We all want those simple times and fun memories and as time marches forward and the hands that shaped us are no longer there to guide us, we must start making our own chimes ring for the seasons to come.

It doesn’t have to be huge or expensive or anything else that anyone else is doing.

Mom baked for weeks before Christmas, creating our family favorite confections–one of our favorites being Date Pinwheel cookies.  We all have her recipes and though I can usually pull it off, it never tastes quite right. Usually, my nephew rings me on a Saturday afternoon that he is having trouble with the recipe and can I help?  We usually have a good giggle and he texts me cookie photos later.  Are they perfect like mom’s? Probably not, but it’s ok–we’re carrying on our traditions in our own way.

One day, I realized this was one of my chimes.

Since I live at Reality Restaurant, my holidays are filled with making other people’s holidays fun. Again–we will be a part of someone’s chimes as we are all woven into each other’s lives in some way or shape.

May you continue to make chimes and carry those forward and pass them on to your family that are like friends and the friends that are like family.




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