From the minute I met my friend Linda, way back in the 1980s, I knew she was a gem.  There was none of that circling, “let me size you up, you unmarried potential competitor” stuff that women all too often do to each other.  Linda was pure sunshine and graciousness from Day One.  She’s also brilliantly clever, and possesses a moral compass that is always in perfect working order.  You can count on the fact that she will always take the high road.

Linda should have been a bridesmaid at my wedding, but I foolishly wasted a spot on someone I “had known longer,” – and with whom I am long out of touch. 

Back before we had kids, Linda and I used to go to the Santa Lucia ceremony at a local Swedish church each December, and buy little straw ornaments afterwards.   During my first pregnancy, she picked me up for our tradition in the early afternoon, and said “I thought you might be hungry” – handing over a tuna sandwich and a carton of chocolate milk.  Being pregnant, of course I was ravenous, even though I had eaten lunch just an hour before.  I remember that as one of the most delicious feasts ever – and emblematic of Linda’s incredible empathy and thoughtfulness.

She was one of the first people to visit us after baby Ian came home from the hospital….and baby Hugh…and baby Malcolm.  Conveniently, she had two baby boys exactly two weeks after Hugh and Malcolm were born, so Eric and Ethan have grown up in lockstep with our younger two.

Linda threw a fantastic 40th birthday tea party for me, with beautiful invitations designed by her talented graphic designer of a husband, Kevin (


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After moving to the burbs, we altered our Santa Lucia tradition somewhat, moving it from South Philadelphia to Northwest Philadelphia, and replacing the church ceremony with lunch and shopping.  We usually meet at Borders.  Bad news:  this particular one is going out of business.  Good news:  big sale.

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We had lunch at Cake.  The perfect respite.  (Why is that foot in the background wearing a flip-flop?  There’s a ton of snow on the ground!)

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Then we strolled to our favorite stores, where once again we found just the right treasures for a few people on our list.

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Getting together with Linda is one of my most cherished Christmas traditions.  Neither rain, nor snow, nor dark of night will deter us, although this snowfall did postpone us for a few days.  As Emily wrote the other day in her “Sure Thing” post, I am so grateful for the friends, like Linda, on whom I can absolutely, positively, always depend – no matter what. 

And how perfect that her first name and her maiden name mean, in Italian, “pretty angel.”


The glow of happiness from our lunch-and-shopping was long-lasting, through the gridlock of the afternoon drive home.   Even from my creeping car, I appreciated the sight of a stone church in the snow at sunset.  

Merry Christmas Eve!

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