Why We Paint Our Nails

For My Family:

This weekend was utterly beautiful, in every sense of the word.  On Friday we squished the kids’ little legs and arms into dresses and blazers and made our way to Aurora for my cousin Greg’s wedding.  Under a gazebo entwined with wildflowers, and with the sun slowly sinking across a cloudless sky, I witnessed the marriage of my cousin and his bride.   There was a moment when a gentle breeze fluttered flower blossoms through the air as Greg’s 97 year old grandfather was wheeled down the aisle.  And the Joy in that proud, wrinkled smile rivaled the Joy in my cousin’s face at the glimpse of his bride, and that Old Joy and New Joy seemed to overflow from them into the warm air itself; we breathed in that beauty as the blossoms budded around us, and we were thankful. 

During the reception I sat with my brother and sister and cousins. We drank wine and we ate bruschetta.  Laughter volleyed across the table, glasses and silverware clinked, and chocolate cake made its way onto two little girls’ chubby cheeks.  Ellie and Julia toddled haphazardly around the dance floor, testing their new legs, while adults reconfirmed their legs indeed still worked and they could in fact bust-a-move as well. We took downright stupid photographs in a photo booth, decked in cowboy hats and space helmets, donned in oversized sunglasses and holding signs about flatulence. We snapped pictures left and right in a futile attempt to capture those sights, sounds, and smells– but what photograph could capture this contentment, what tableau could sketch Family?

The next day we had that same family over to our house for “Spaghetti Saturday.” Even though the party was at our house, my mom essentially prepped and transferred all the food to our kitchen from her own.  I watched as my mom—the sage of the kitchen– sliced thick garlic bread with deft, nimble movements and drained nearly five pounds of steaming spaghetti into a colander. (Whenever the steam from a hot bowl of pasta fogs up my glasses, I think of my mom.)  At one point I told her, “You have this down to a science,” and as sauce splattered out of an overflowing pasta bowl, she replied, “Yeah, a bad science,” and we laughed as we peered at each other through our steamed-up spectacles.

At around the time when the lights from the inside of the house began to cast a stronger glow than the sun outside, I stood still in the midst of my bustling kitchen, and I sensed something sacred.  And as I stopped—fully present in that fleeting moment—I recognized the eternal quality in it—how the Family has come together to eat, drink, and to celebrate for generations.  In that moment, I was somehow present for the countless gatherings of ages past and the upcoming and untold celebrations of the future.

I’ve written before that life isn’t “ just pregnancy announcements, family reunions, and college graduations… births, deaths, or holidays. “  But there are weekends—like this weekend—that allow you to step outside of  the everyday —it’s why we wear nice dresses and paint our nails and spend time making fancy desserts—to remind us there are certain moments that are separate,  special,  and significant.  And when we heed the holiness of these markedly significant moments, we reenter the expected and familiar afresh and anew. 

Once again, a finite moment connects us to the eternal nature of our lives.  We step outside of our patterns for a celebration and we remember that the very cornerstone and grit of everyday existence—the Family—is something to continually, and unceasingly, be celebrated.

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3 Responses to Why We Paint Our Nails

  1. amy mcgill says:

    Again–I love your writing!!!! And did you all three gals paint your nails??? 🙂 🙂


    • Liz says:

      ha- actually, I only did my toes. I painted Sophie’s last week but it had already come off by the wedding. She is eagerly anticipating Aunt Amy’s visit!!


  2. Beth says:

    Lovely. You capture so well the Big (Family, generations, time) and little (“the time when the lights from the inside of the house began to cast a stronger glow than the sun outside”). Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

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