Today’s post is a tribute to some of my very favorite people in the world. But it’s a tribute with a point and a challenge for us all.
In my writings, I talk a lot about the many interesting and cool people I meet day to day by taking positive social risks. Today, I want to tell you about a different group of people – an inner circle of friends that make for a pretty wonderful life.
Our little gang centers around two sisters, Holly and Dib. Their real names are Charlotte and Olivia, which adds to the atmosphere somehow, because they are truly classy, classic and traditional while at the same time being entirely down-to-earth, modern and cool.
Gatherings typically happen at one of their homes in Marshfield, Massachusetts. Holly’s home is right on the actual marsh of Marshfield – the house where she and Dib grew up. It holds a rich history of personal stories, with new ones emerging all the time, even after the decades some of us have spent together there. Dib’s home is near the sea wall, where you can hear the ocean and smell the salt in the air the moment you step outside. Everything from the lighting to the hand soap feels like a beach escape, yet without the slightest hint of pretentiousness.
Both are gardeners extraordinaire. You’ll never see such personal and beautiful spaces as their gardens; and while dropping in, it is likely you’ll be offered an artisan salad made with their own herbs and tomatoes in an array of colors.
But Holly and Dib aren’t the only members of our hodge-podge family, nor the only ones with interesting pet names. Spanky, Alfalfa and Froggy had nothing on our gang, which includes the likes of Fluffy, Tipster, Pinky and Richie Rich.
I’ve spent twenty holiday seasons with this group of friends. Though there have been additions along the way, it is difficult to imagine a time when we all weren’t there together. The Christmas tree is always perfectly imperfect, and laden from stand to star with decorations spanning a hundred years: bubbling baubles and tiny trains that run their tracks on heat from the bulbs. Food is made from scratch with old family recipes, and we all clap when it is at last presented by our host, Holly, who is beaming and covered in flour. It’s as close to stepping into a Norman Rockwell painting as anyone will ever get.
It would be hard for me – even as a writer – to describe the feeling when we are all together. On the surface, we couldn’t be more different. The age range spans 40 years. Some are single and some are married with kids. Some are tech geeks. Some are connoisseurs of cigars, wine and spirits. Some get serious about Magic: The Gathering while others discuss Nietzsche. Some are boisterous and others as quiet and reflective as I imagine Abraham Lincoln to have been.