Lucie’s Tree

This is a true recollection by Aunt Lucie Dee, who will celebrate her 95th Christmas on Monday. This family tale was recently retold at our annual cousins Christmas party by Lucie’s daughter, accomplished published author and educator, Cindy Dee Holms. We are cousins by way of my grandfather, Arturo Colamosca, “Art”, and Lucie. Lucie & Art were first generation Italian immigrant cousins growing up in South Philadelphia during The Depression. The family had very little means, yet thrived. Art would play a larger part in Lucie’s life, later introducing her to a kind and dapper young man, Tony DiBenedetto. Tony and Lucie later married and shared 70 years together. Art and Lucie remained close until his passing at age 101 in 2014, and their definition of family is inspiring.  Lucie has been battling dementia for years, but still retells this childhood memory with clarity. We share this tale in the spirit of Christmas and family love.  Cheers La Famiglia!

As a child, my earliest memories of Christmas were the joy of being with my cousins. Being with my older cousins comprised my whole childhood. Since I was the youngest, they tried each Christmas to make mine happy. Money was scarce. When I was 7 years old, which was in 1928, I recall a very special Christmas. I was much younger than the rest of my cousins, which is why I was sent to bed. I remember not being able to fall asleep because I could hear the guffaws of my older cousins having fun downstairs and I wanted to be with them. I remember the words uttered by my hero, Art, who was 17 at the time. “Let’s get Lucie a tree!” he exclaimed in a hushed voice to his older brother, Will. I heard the door slam as he ran out into the streets. A short time later, he returned, thrilled that he picked up a tree in someone’s trash…it was small, ragged, and had very few branches. I could hear the bustle of all the cousins as they prepared the tree. It was decorated with varying shades of cream colored string and pieces of paper that cousins Ann, Blanche, Ada, Doretta, and Ful cut up into shapes.

The next morning, there was a beautiful orange (a true treat) sitting under it for me…a present from Santa, they told me! I never led on that I knew…

Money couldn’t buy the love and laughter of those memorial days when we were poor in finances but rich in love and just being together. Make Christmas memories for your own children whenever you can. They are the ones that stick in my memory after all these years. Don’t let family slip away no matter what it takes. You will never regret. It’s the stuff that life is made of! I realize the difficulty of traveling but whenever it is possible, you and your children should have the holiday memories. In today’s world, families are scattered all over and distance makes gatherings difficult, but take it from an old woman, it’s the nectar of life. I wish you all a long and healthy life. Make treasured memories; someday, that’s all you will have.

-Lucie Dee
December 14, 2011

A Cry for Help: Naganator 3.0

Women who have survived their 40th birthday, come hither!  Cheer on with overused and condescending phraseology such as, “life is just beginning”!  You must do something, as a cantankerous cloud of doom has shadowed this house so fiercely that I have been dubbed “The Naganator” by the 3 children I not only birthed, but provide 24-hour maid service.

Your advice is appreciated- is this a midlife crisis or normal behavior for a woman on the eve of 40?

  • Anyone ever try on their wedding dress 14 years after the last time they wore it…when they were YOUNG and FUN and FIRM?  Bad.idea.
  •  Although it may be somewhat common to need distance glasses and READERS by middle age, but in desperation to forego Benjamin Franklin bifocals- is it ok to not only purchase overpriced neon blue readers but Edna E. Mode black framed mens glasses ….to feel edgy?
  • Anyone else have a very specific Plastic Surgery Wish List?
  • Anyone burst into their hair salon and ask their stylist to think “90’s punk rock chic” and cut off all their hair (or what remains of it after all the hormonal shifts) and dye it blonde? (Thank you, Jason, the copper highlights are a much better alternative).
  •  Is it normal that during a routine ultrasound screening to abruptly stop the tech midway through and ask to see how many eggs are left?  To stare longingly at all the black follicular blobs?    To tear up and hear faint cries of the ghosts of Babies Future ?
  • Any of your husbands find you curled in a ball on the couch inconsolably crying because your eldest is going to college….in 6 years??
  • Is it common to progress very quickly from a very PC person to NOT GIVING A RAT’S ASS about what you say and whom you say it to?  For example, freaking out the fellow gymnastics moms by admitting your celebrity crush is Abby Wambach?
  • How about frequent cursing around young, impressionable children?  Anyone of you have a 6 year old who says, “What the ass??”
  • Do you find yourself wearing leather spandex to the grocery store?  Not because it makes you feel 22, but keeps all the jiggly bits in place?  More to the point, is it ok to still wear leather spandex?!?!
  • Anyone else find themselves morphing into Stiffler’s Mom?  How about during your son’s snowboard lesson overtipping the hottie twentysomething instructor, “Josh”, with ice blue eyes who uses phraseology you typically deem irreverent such as “right on” and “my man”?  Further, then seriously contemplating signing up for ski lessons regardless of the fact that you’ve been skiing for 29 years??

Make haste, T minus 10 days until 40 rings of the bell….I need counsel!

Love & Stuff,

Naganator Magee

Parenting Fail #498621, The Disasterous Pumpkin Cupcake Episode

Know this, the following tasks needed to be completed TODAY to ensure a weekend of utter parental devotion to the childrens’ Halloween experience:

  1.  Correction of question #1 on COM502 midterm, core concept theory, requiring an entire Chapter 3 focused re-read and examination
  2. Two page critical analysis on survey research along with an inventive handout to be created for Tuesday evening’s grad school class
  3. Actual grad school homework and reading- again, due Tuesday
  4. (Please note procrastination methods to avoid completing tasks #1 & #2 & #3, have resorted to this blog entry, only a mere 4 months after the last, to delay school work)
  5. Puppy dog required long, long walk
  6. 4 year old daughter demanded to be fed, entertained and cared for
  7. November promotional campaign was to be created for client


None of these crucial tasks were completed, due to my primordial urge to create the perfect sweet treat for The Middle’s Halloween party tomorrow.  Overshadowed by the extroverted blue eyed children in the house, (The Eldest could outtalk Trump and Baby Girl is an impish wave of toothy snorts and giggles), the only true introvert in this house, The Middle, NEEDS MY FOCUS.  He’s who inspires my 3 a.m. wake ups in a sea of worry.  You know, because he’s the middle child and neglected and desires the love and attention from me that only a soft ‘n’ fluffy Pinterest worthy cupcake could provide.

Oy vey.

Did I mention my oven is broken?  Well, my oven is broken, which throws a curve ball in this whole “I will bake ze cupcakes and ze children vill lov zem”  theory, so I had to venture to my pal, KM’s house, to gossip, discuss crucial PTO business, ascertain the meaning of life to make and bake 23 nut-free cupcakes.  I should have cut bait an hour into the cupcake making when I realized I failed to add the 1 cup of water to the batter.  At that point, either I should have the sense that the gods gave a goat to head on up to Giant and buy a tray of the delicious Lofthouse soft butter frosted Halloween cookies the children will want anyway, but noooooo, I endeavored to persevere.  An hour of cupcake making turned into two, my daughter marathoned on Sophia the First and overdosed on Hershey Cookies ‘N Cream miniatures… and this happened.  The “M&M pumpkin with a Laffy Taffy stem nestled in the chocolate jimmie soil”.  It really just doesn’t look so appetizing.  In my defense, I felt like I had to appeal to the 8 year old crowd, you know? Therefore, by adding the premade-hard-as-rock-confection-pumpkin-that-someone-will-break-a-tooth-on really enhances this cupcake experience, right? It’s like the M&M pumpkin birthing the perfect Great Pumpkin??  Calling Giant bakery, stat.

pumpkin cupcake

Seriously, would you eat this?  


Product in Question #2, Super Cheap Pinot Grigio- An Extensive Review

I love wine. wine.  (Who doesn’t?)  My appreciation for good wine began at my alma mater, Florida State, where Wine Tasting 101 counted towards my business minor.  Best.College.Ever.  Unfortunately, wine was not in my food & entertainment budget during senior year, so only during class could I enjoy a flight of red varietals.  Rather, we Tri Delt’s banded together at Yianni’s to share a $20″fish bo”,  a concoction of vomit inspiring flavored liquors and diet Sprite mixed together in a large plastic goldfish bowl.  With 7 swirly straws.  Super classy.

I am not really establishing my vino bona fides, am I?

Onto post-college.  A nice perk to the first year of my job was client dinners, for a multitude of reasons.  1.  I could eat a meal on the company credit card, 2.  I could drink on the company credit card,  and 3.  Although I was no longer a destitute college student, my salary the first year of my job required strict budgeting.  Client dinner =FREE sustenance.  No Disco Kroger shopping that day.  I sampled some grape finery in those days.

The days of client dinners are a foggy memory barely conjurable in my Swiss cheese brain.  These days,  I am always on the hunt for a good value wine.   But really, can a $6.99 bottle taste good?  Yes, I can see you virtually cringing.


Yes, yes I am shouting from the rooftop. This $6.99 bottle of The Naked Grape Pinot Grigio is quite tasty.  Imagine if Total Wines carried it? $4? Probably $3.99 with the coupon.  It sings of aromas of pear and Meyer lemon. So light, so refreshing, so clean. YES! $6.99 wine be palatable.

Back to my vino credibility.  One of my fondest memories early in my career is a dinner with my former boss and a client. He is a true aficionado, a very serious wine person.  Last I heard,  his name is branded on acres of Napa vines.  He also happens to be one of the most extroardinarily generous people I know.  He ordered a $1500 dollar bottle of Cabernet, and offered neophyte me a very large pour.  Yes, the wine was spectacular, yet I recall while savoring every last drop, I probably would have rather had my $500 worth in cash to pay rent.

So while my expense budget afforded me the opportunity to sample various fine wines during client dinners throughout the years,  the house budget doesn’t allow for a $1500 bottle of wine on pizza Friday… I live for <$10 wine that doesn’t pickle cucumbers…..and The Naked Grape works!

Product in Question #1, Organic Deodorant- An Extensive Review

Organic Deodorant?  You question, is that an oxymoron?  Quite possibly.  Wasn’t deodorant devised in a very sterile laboratory of materials not found in nature to mask one’s own *organic* smell?

Due to budgetary constrictions over here at Hyphenista Incorporated, a mere five-day experiment was conducted within the confines of one test subject.  To protect the privacy of said Cavia porcellus, we will name her the ubiquitous Ms. X.  Ms. X had been overloading on Aluminum Zinconium Tetrochlorohydrex for over 25 years and her armpits were in a sad state of affairs.  Itchy, bumpy, discolored…eek.  It was time to bring it back to the basics, as it is doubtful that Cro Magnon had chemi-pits.  She was always active, quite spastic and broke into a sweat multiple times a day.  Perfect testee material.

Ms. X chose Whole Foods to make her organic selection.  No doubt Whole Foods would have the best representation of expensive organic deodorant.  Nourish Organic “Forest” flavor was chosen.  1.  It was the cheapest of the organic selection at $6.99 for the cream version, and 2.  It smelled delightfully Christmas-y in the bottle (Yes, Ms. X being incognito and all that and took a sniff before she purchased).



Day 1 & Day 2-  Ms. X was organically euphoric in her constant state of Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree pit sniffage.

Day 3-  Hmmm…a slight aroma was detected during Humble Warrior…

Day 4-  She was up at 4 a.m. with her youngest who spiked a fever, followed by her middle child’s 4 hour swim meet and rounded out the day with her oldest child’s 2+ hour baseball game.  She forgot to smell her armpits.

Day 5- 90 degree creek hike day! Ms. X admitted she felt she smelt a bit gamey.  The balsam-cedar-fir aroma was quickly overpowered by the au naturale whiffs of pure armpit.

In conclusion, Nourish claims it is “organic and effective”.  Ms. X regretfully reports the delightful scent was no match for her organics.

Next up, Product in Question #2.


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