We celebrate grandparents and grandkids in this issue, and it sounds like a lot of fun — at least that’s the word from friends who have them.
What’s fun for me right now is not raising kids. I liked raising kids when I was doing it, and most days I was good at it. But I don’t miss the pressure, especially at this time of the year. Autumn kicks off the kid-centric holiday triad of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas, amplified by a force I never faced: Pinterest.
I feel for today’s parents. The website for creative and, seemingly, insomniac high achievers makes every birthday and holiday celebration an EVENT. I’ve seen the pins (favorite items) on Pinterest, and they make me anxious. We all know that parenting is a competition; Pinterest is the equivalent of a steroid booster. Everything’s bigger, better and less attainable.
In the early ’90s, someone gave me a box of Halloween outfits, and my kids wore those for a few years. Then, you couldn’t buy a cute Halloween costume for $20 bucks like today. Eventually, I tackled the job on my own with limited success. I inexpertly smeared mascara across “pirate” eyebrows and globs of lipstick on “fairy” cheeks. My kids looked like they were dressed out of the church donation box with a side trip to Sephora’s clearance aisle.
Worse was the 1960s, and now that I think about it, Halloween costume fails may be an inherited trait.
Mom had a lot of talents, but designing creative Halloween getups wasn’t one of them. An early childhood memory is when I showed up at Akron’s Rankin Elementary for the kindergarten Halloween parade wearing a store-bought princess costume with a plastic mask.
Mom apparently didn’t succumb to or didn’t care about the holiday pressure to create. She was raising my two younger brothers while dad worked nights at the Akron Beacon Journal....
Summer Luxuries, Vacation Splurges
Now that I’m out of the raising kids stage of life, vacations aren’t linked to summertime schedules.
I still get the urge to roam when the temperatures rise, but during what I consider Northeast Ohio’s best months I like to stick close to home. I’ve got messy flower beds that need tending. My flock of 13 chickens that I share with a neighbor gets plenty of extra attention. There’s always a get-together or a festival or a yard sale going on.
When I was a kid, summer vacations meant a cross-country trip in our Rambler station wagon. My three younger siblings and I fought for a coveted window seat, dodged ashes from Mom’s cigarettes, and prayed there would be a pool at whatever budget motel or campground we landed at each night.
This being the ’70s, we didn’t have cellphones or DVDs or satellite radio to entertain us. Heck, we didn’t even have seat belts.
Each morning Dad carefully unfolded his AAA TripTik Travel Planner and plotted our course, pointing out whatever Civil War battlefield or mountain range or museum we’d see that day.
In these pre-breakfast-at-McDonald’s-days, we ate at the hotel restaurant. Our budget was strict, each of us limited to a specific dollar amount. Orange juice — we drank Tang at home — was an extravagance beyond our careful calculations. To this day I can’t bring myself to order juice at a restaurant.
One rainy slog across the country to Arizona, our family camped in tents. Each morning, Dad set up his Coleman stove on a picnic table and fried eggs that we gobbled down with a loaf of squishy white bread that we sometimes rolled into chewy balls.
When we were in a hurry to get on the road, we dug into a package of small, assorted breakfast cereals like they were jewels....
The Band Man and the Power of Play
For once, I felt like one of the cool kids.
It was just me and legendary rocker Michael Stanley, wandering around the dark and well-worn warrens of the Agora Theatre and Ballroom.
It took just seconds for the rest of our group to catch up. We were shooting photos for this issue’s cover story. In an instant, the moment was gone. I was back to being a decidedly uncool 57-year-old magazine editor.
Stanley, however, has maintained his coolness. Like many of you, I have raucous memories of club concerts and college parties featuring The Michael Stanley Band. It all seems like a long, long time ago.
Not for Stanley. There’s very little difference between work and play for Stanley. I asked him what he does for fun. He looked surprised by the question. It’s music, of course.
A seamless connection between work and play doesn’t exist for most of us. That’s why this issue’s theme “Work & Play” seems like a good choice right now. Work tends to wedge its way into my day. Play, not so much.
If you’re looking for opportunities to both work and play this summer, you’ll like our stories about the value of play, glamping — glamour camping — and learning a musical instrument.
We’ve also got a terrific assortment of experts doling out advice, plus a roundup of not-to-be-missed festival and concerts to fill your calendar.
I believe that people always find time to do the things they want to do. Our days and weeks may get bogged down with job and family obligations, but play is crucial to keeping things balanced. Here’s to finding that balance.
Two more things: Please go to our Northeast Ohio Boomer and Beyond Facebook page, our website (NortheastOhioBoomer.com) or email me directly at [email protected], and share your Michael Stanley memories....
A Note from the Editor
The Friend Connection
I’ve been thinking about friendship a lot the past few weeks. Truthfully, I think about my friends quite a bit because keeping and nurturing friendships takes time and attention and commitment.
I get more from my friends than I give; I sometimes feel guilty about that, but my friends are forgiving people. And I don’t think that more friends means better friends. Some of us thrive with one or two close chums.
I need and rely on an assortment. They’re like the jewelry in my dresser drawer. Each day I pluck out just the right necklace or pair of earrings or bracelet depending on the outfit or the day. The same goes for my jewel box of friends.
From sixth-grade cheerleading tryouts to dateless prom nights and in quick succession homesickness, first jobs, gut-kick medical results, marriages, sassy kids, questionable hairstyles and all the dizzying, complicated messes and mayhem that make life rich and sad and joy-filled, I’ve turned to my friends.
Some are listeners. Others are silly. I’ve got supremely practical friends, friends who fly across country to be at my side, and friends who connect with a phone call every few months. Some judge. Some keep quiet.
I’ve got friends who advise me about shoes, dogs, mental health, manicures, kitchen renovations and watching parents grow old. They know when I need the truth softened and when I need it with all its harsh edges. I’ve had some friends for almost 50 years, others for a few months. Each is a treasure. My modest goal is to be half as good a friend to them as they are to me.
Our theme this issue is connections. In addition to a story about keeping and making friends after 50, we’re serving up plenty of other ways to connect....