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No gifts please….

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As a child, I never had a birthday party. Not that my parents didn’t allow it but because I

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I once made a clown costume

wasn’t comfortable about having one. To me, it felt like ASKING for presents and that embarrassed me. Instead, I became known at school for throwing annual Halloween parties — costumes required. It was great fun.

  1. At that time none of us knew you could buy ready-made outfits. Maybe
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    Lois wore her tutu

    they didn’t even have them, who knows. We all made our own using crepe paper, sewing the seams by hand. You did have to be careful how you moved, they tore easily. It was also a good idea to wear clothes underneath — just in case. Lois was the only one who took ballet lessons, she always wore her tutu and would dance for us. If I recall, her dancing improved some each year.

Muriel Age 60

My 60th invitation, a crazy hat party

At 60, I decided it was time to celebrate the day I was born. I invited friends to help me enjoy the event at a restaurant lunch where one looks out at the water. What to do about gifts? Daughter Susan made my invitations which stated I had enough ‘stuff’, therefore ‘no gifts please’.

The years flew and 70 came along. My children insisted another celebration was in order. Again, we stressed ‘no gifts’.

Occasionally we gain a little wisdom with the years, and when 80 came along last year, I agreed with my offspring another party was appropriate. To reach the venerable age of 80 is certainly worth celebrating. However, this time I asked friends and family to make a donation to my favorite charity instead of a gift. They did. It was extremely pleasing to know more was donated in my honor than I could possibly have afforded to give on my own.

This year my family gathered at Michael and Susan’s home in Nevada. It was the best birthday party yet — made even more so by Joe, a dear Los Angeles friend who began our day by having bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese, along with a big Happy Birthday balloon, delivered right to our door high up in the mountains.

We celebrated all week and while we were together visited Virginia City where we posed for the photo below. Note the funny faces we all purposely made for the camera. We had a ball and laughed a lot. I am the ‘Madame’ sitting in front, holding a large money bag.

Virginia City Family Photo Framed, 6-5-17

The clan gathers for my 81st. I still enjoy wearing a costume

Celebrating a birthday? Have everything you need? Don’t want friends or family to spend money on gifts you don’t want? How about it? Suggest a gift to your favorite charity instead. Non-profits are struggling. Why not make the one you like best benefit by your special day?

 

 

 

 

 

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Shall we dance?

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daughter Susan’s wood wall sculpture she claims was inspired by my love of dancing

Joseph Molnar was a charming and debonaire, well traveled continental, who had lived in and traveled to many countries — and loved many women. Born and raised in Hungary, he studied in France and, besides Hungarian, spoke English, French and Spanish fluently, and perhaps others. My husband, a Parisian, first met Joseph on a train in France.

Religion was extremely important to Joseph. He loved and enjoyed them all. As a Catholic, he attended Catholic, Protestant and Jewish services — and did so regularly. They could be in French, Spanish, English, or Hebrew — it didn’t matter. The first time I met him, by then in his mid-sixties, which I thought ancient, was at such a service.

He sat me between himself and my husband-to-be, and said: ‘A rose between two thorns’. A line, perhaps, but a young woman doesn’t forget something like that.

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Hungarian actress Ilona Massey.

Joseph called himself a bachelor, but had lived with a woman in Mexico for 20 years. I argued that anyone who had done so could no longer call himself a bachelor. He’d laugh, but never talked about her or any of the women in his past. I learned by chance about one special love.

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Silver candlesticks, unpolished

In helping him move from one apartment to another, (to across the street from our home so we’d be closer) I came upon a lovely, very old pair of ornate, silver candlesticks. They were tucked away in a drawer and hadn’t been used or polished for years.

‘They’re too lovely to hide,’ I said, ‘I’ll polish them for you. They should be on your dining table where you can see them every day.’

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A little more detail

That’s when he told me he had had an affair with the actress Ilona Massey’s mother in Hungary and she had given them to him. Ilona Massey was such a beauty, I can only imagine how beautiful her mother was in her youth.

The following Mother’s day, Joseph came across the street with a greasy, brown paper bag under his arm in which he carried those precious candlesticks as a gift for me. I still treasure them. (I’ve been advised not to polish them any more– that it rubs off the artistic details.)

Joseph was the sole male member of several Hungarian, French, or Spanish ladies’ church groups. He would be sure to ask every member to dance with him at their dinner-dances.  No wonder they loved him.

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Dancing with Joseph

My husband had two left feet, but Joseph could dance to anything. We did the Csardas at Hungarian dinner dances, and the rumba, tango, Viennese Waltzes, or what-have-you at other times. The two of us became a team, and even won two competitions!  I look back to those evenings with much pleasure.

My children adored Joseph and he returned

joseph-and-rafi

Rafi with Joseph at Cinco De Mayo celebration

their love. He had been a furrier, and had scraps of animal furs he’d give to Susan when she’d run across the street to visit. She loved the fur and Joseph. Little Rafi enjoyed going out with Joseph by himself and would climb on his lap whenever the lap was available.

So, what happened to our dear friend? He was hit by a car as he ran to catch a bus across a busy Los Angeles Boulevard. It was holiday time and he was in a hurry to get to a church  party. He died before he could leave the hospital when he was about 71. We were devastated.

Shortly after his death, the children wanted to visit ‘Uncle Joseph’ at his grave site. We did so. If memory serves, I think Susan wondered where ‘Uncle Joseph’ was and what he was doing. Rafi, about four at the time, knew and with certainty stated: ‘Uncle Joseph is dancing in heaven.’