It's time once again for Piedmont's annual Fourth of July celebration!
Like always, the day begins with a community Pancake Breakfast at the Veteran's Hall at 7:30am, followed by the Fourth of July Parade which starts promptly at 11:00. (I personally LOVE the bagpipe bands).
Music in the park spans much of the afternoon, accompanied by homemade picnics and dancing, much to the horror of our teens who wander off to swimming pools and gatherings of their own - sans adults!
The barbecues heat up after lunch, and the block parties extend well into the evening, capped by a stunning fireworks display at Jack London Square. (Oooh, ahhh!)
This is 'Americana' at its best - and no one does it better than Piedmont, in my humble opinion.
It's difficult, on such a patriotic day, to deny the many benefits of small communities such as ours or hometown hospitality (I've got Evites to three parade parties and I plan to attend them all; thank you very much.)
Perhaps no one is more welcome or more appreciated than our own Mulberry's Market purveyors, Chad and Laura Olcott; the "Grand Marshals" of this year's parade. They couldn't be more deserving. ( I hope this means I won't have to curtsey when I see you now.) Isn't it nice to honor these two extraordinary Piedmont citizens for a change? (Why yes, it is.)
Whether you'll be participating in the festivities, feasting from the sidelines, or sipping lemonade at a cabin in Tahoe, I want to wish you all a glorious red, white and blue celebration! On second thought, maybe just red and white - the day is too much fun to bring in the blues . . .
Happy Fourth of July!
It's only taken me 22 years to get Thanksgiving right, but I think at long last, I finally did it . . . not the turkey and fixin's part, mind you (although that too, took several years) but the concept of "Thanksgiving" as a whole. You know the part where one is truly grateful for all they have, all they have been given, and all they have to share? (Yeah, that part.)
Instead, I have wasted far too much time anguishing over what I felt was required of me, resenting the burden of a too-LARGE gathering, and losing sleep over the unrealistic expectations I placed upon myself to achieve "perfection" at the table. Between moving furniture, setting tables, polishing the silver, and ironing linens, I always managed to work myself into quite a frenzy.
No wonder I really dreaded the Thanksgiving holiday altogether. It was a ton of work and ultimately a BIG let down, primarily of my own foolish making. (Help!)
If that isn't a recipe for disaster, I don't know what is.
This year I took an entirely different approach . . .
"Let go with both hands," a good friend reminded me as the holiday approached (a tough concept for one who craves "control"). "Who cares if everything is 'perfect?' You're guests are coming for the company and the stuffing anyway." (An "ah ha" moment!)
And the miracle for me at least, is that I actually listened to her advice and as a result, had the BEST THANKSGIVING EVER ! (Thanks.)
Perhaps it's the tryptophan in the turkey, but it's amazing how well things fall into place once we let go of our expectations, give up on "perfection," and adjust our intentions (this works with our children as well). Once we let things fall where they may, life has a way of working out for the better - even when it isn't necessarily the outcome we might have planned, designed, or even desired. (Wow!)
What's this got to do with Real Estate? you may be asking.
In a nut shell (a pecan shell, a chestnut shell . . .) let go of "perfection."
It doesn't exist at any stage of the game. If we spend the bulk of our time looking for the flaws, we are bound to find them. That doesn't mean throw caution to the wind, but for those of you who can be more flexible and open to the journey, you'll undoubtedly have a much better result in the end (certainly, you will have a more pleasant one).
OR as my friend Dan wisely says, "Cease fighting everything and everyone. It's all going to work out one way or another." (Dan lives on a much higher plane.)
For the rest of us mere mortals, sometimes this kinder, gentler, philosophy requires Herculean efforts, especially when we enjoy a rip-roaring debate, followed by a good fight so very much (who doesn't?).
"It's not the money, it's the 'principle,'" my best-intentioned (and smartest) clients have been known to say.
To which I can only reply the old adage, "Do you want to be 'right' or do you want to be 'happy?'"
With "happiness" in mind, for those parties interested in resolution, rather than conflict, some give and take must usually take place in order for the goal to be achieved (aka: "compromise"). When we let our egos drive the event, that's very likely, "a recipe for disaster." No matter how "personally invested" we are in our homes or in the hunt, when it comes time to buy or sell, we need to leave room for the unexpected to occur (and then we need to let it).
Having "faith" at such times can be difficult to come by, especially if we don't have a clear idea of what we are moving towards, or when we are disappointed with the results thus far.
I get, it. I do, but sometime, it's the sheer possibilities that provide the most magical moments in our lives. When we make room for new opportunities to occur, life can surprise us in wondrous ways. (Wow!)
When I stopped trying to control Thanksgiving (and everyone involved with it) redirected my intentions more selflessly, and focused on the meaning rather than the result, a miracle took place: I was rewarded with untold joy! From the Turkey Trot here in town, all the way through to the pumpkin pie at my house after the evening's feast, the day could not have delivered more enjoyment. Does life really get any better? (No, it doesn't.)
Who knows what next year will bring? (It's anybody's guess.) BUT today, I can give "thanks" and be incredibly grateful for all that I have, all that I have been given (except for the ten extra pounds the stuffing and desserts invariably bring) and all that I have to share . . . .
And thanks to all of you for making my year so complete. I look forward to continuing our journey together. I hope your Turkey Day was every bit as loving and memorable.
Now if I could only carry these feelings through Hanukkah and Christmas. More turkey anyone? (I swear it's the tryptophan!)
"Hey honey," I enthusiastically said into the phone, "What time does your plane get in?"
"Uh, I don't know, I'll figure it out," Case replied, distractedly; his head still in his classes at school.
There is tremendous satisfaction in sending one's kids off into the world, but it's also reassuring to see them returning home for the holidays. Case is in his sophomore year at the University of Arizona and he's pretty much got the rhythm down. As is appropriate, he's grown incredibly independent.
Me? I'm still struggling with parenting l-o-n-g distance - I can't seem to help myself. I want assurances that Case has booked the shuttle bus to the airport, has checked in online, and has his ID in his wallet. I suppose it's a mother's prerogative; I reserve the right to "mother" my boys (or was that smother?) In any event, my elder son will be home this evening and that's cause for celebration.
Of course, this is the season when the concept of "home" resonates like no other; when celebrations tend to dominate our social calendars and why shouldn't they? Traditions are a wonderful thing. In spite of the challenges the world is facing (or perhaps because of them) Thanksgiving aligns our priorities and sets the stage for the very, "merry" season that follows. Along with the merriment, I find it fitting to pause and acknowledge the many gifts, for which I am truly grateful today -
Our younger son, Tristan, is coming off a fantastic football season his Freshman year at Piedmont High; my husband, Cliff, continues to work at what he loves, still makes me laugh, and remains dedicated to us all; and Case has adjusted beautifully to college life, while diligently navigating his studies (or so he tells me). As for me, I've enjoyed my most successful year to date with a busy 2012 spring season on tap.
I was reminded just how lucky I am at a good friend's chili cook off last weekend (just a small gathering of more than 125 emphatic Cal and Stanford football fans! ) and was pleased to know so many people in the room; grateful to have carved a place in our picturesque community and happy to call Piedmont "home." It couldn't have been a nicer evening - in spite of the rain (now that's a great party). Moreover, the chili was unbelievably tasty. BUT it was catching up with new and old friends alike, and the lively conversations that ensued, that truly made the evening resonate - even days later. (I'm all aglow!)
It's turkey time again, and it would be remiss of me to not to give THANKS for all that I have and all that I've been given. It's been a truly worthwhile year, largely due to all of you, to your support, and because of your referrals, your friendship and your belief in me. (Did I say "thank you?") Thank you.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends and I wish you all a joyous season. Gobble, gobble.
I'll be sending out the Perspective every other week, as I do this time of year. There's are fewer introductions to speak of and we all tend to get very busy. It will ramp back up come February, when the Spring Market begins to bloom.
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.