The Worst Christmas Presents Ever

The Worst Christmas Presents Ever

by Peggy Browning

worst Christmas presents ever

Life is good. Live, laugh, love…and enjoy it. But don’t give this cup as a Christmas gift.


Ho ho ho. So here it is…that most jolly of seasons when everyone is merrily skittering around…filling their shopping baskets with gifts for giving to others. They are happy and excited, trying to choose just the right gift. Unlike me, they are not giving the worst Christmas presents ever.

They’re choosing presents for people they love, people they like, and probably for a few people they don’t even like, but feel obligated to buy a gift for.

They are buying wrapping paper and tape…ribbons and bows…and festive Zip-Loc bags to wrap up all those precious presents they are sure the recipients will love…or at least like…or not exchange for a gift card.

I don’t like gift giving season. In fact, I kind of hate it. I suck at gift giving.

I’m serious. I am a terrible gift giver. Nobody wants to get a gift from me. Because I give the worst Christmas presents ever.

No one wants me to draw their name from the Christmas hat. No one want s me to be their Secret Santa. Even my kids don’t like to get gifts from me.

I am notorious for giving bad gifts. I have no excuse for it. I’m just truly bad at it.

One year, I gave my grandson a huge package of various sized batteries, a battery organizer, and a big orange box to store his other junk in. He loves batteries…he needs batteries for many of his toys…he loves to put stuff in boxes…orange is his favorite color.

So that’s what I gave him. I was so pleased with myself for finding that battery organizer and the orange box.

Needless to say, the gift was less than impressive. My present was questionable among all the other packages. The faces of the adults present said “What the hell, Grandma?”

OK…so I give the worst Christmas presents ever!Whaddya want me to do about it?

Last year, the same kid won an award in Cub Scouts for baking cupcakes or something. I was so proud of him!

So I made him an apron and bought some cake mixes and cans of icing and mailed them to him so he could bake cupcakes in style. Little did I know that the Cub Scout thing was a one-time activity to earn a cooking badge.  He’s not that fond of cooking and the gift of that manly-looking apron elicited another look of, “What the hell, Grandma?”

So that apron landed on the list of one of the worst Christmas presents ever.

One Christmas, my son Ben asked me, “Are you giving us more of that home-made crap this year?” He was about 19. So…no…there was no home-made crap that year. Honestly, until that time, I had thought my hand-crafted gifts were appreciated. . C’est la vie…you never can tell.

Fewer people are traumatized by my presents these days because I have stopped giving Xmas gifts to people who are not my grandchildren.  I do still try to give them something that makes them smile.

So I give them what I loved as a kid. They get a new pair of pajamas, a new Christmas tree ornament, and a flashlight.

I loved my warm pajamas. Our house was always cold because we had open flame butane heaters and my mother was afraid we would die of carbon monoxide poisoning if the fires burned after we went to bed. Flannel pajamas were greatly appreciated. (and lots of heavy quilts.)

I loved our Christmas tree as well as the old glass ornaments. We didn’t buy new ornaments every year, nor did we decorate with a theme. Our tree had ornaments that had weathered many a Christmas season. Each one was unpacked and hung on the tree with a child’s wonder. I still have my very favorite one…the one with Silent Night and a frosty old church inscribed on it.

I loved flashlights. We lived in the country, where the nights were dark and the stars shone bright and the Milky Way was visible. We didn’t have mercury vapor lights way back then…or at least we didn’t. So if you needed to check on a sound outside, or walk to the barn to check on a cow, or make shadow figures on the ceiling…a flashlight was a necessary part of life.

Here’s my wish for everyone on my very small gift list: Be warm…Be happy and filled with wonder…and Let your light Shine.

So that’s what my four favorite people get. Warmth, Wonder, and Light.

Everybody else gets…well…nothing. Settle down…I’m saving you from experiencing the worst Christmas gifts ever. Don’t be disappointed.  At least you didn’t get any home-made crap from me this year!

World Poetry Day : My Favorite Poem…The Swing

Today is World Poetry Day and I’m Celebrating my favorite poem.

Every day is poetry day, but on World Poetry Day the whole world celebrates.

Celebrating World Poetry Day. How do you like to go up in a swing ? Image by Vlado/

How do you like to go up in a swing ?
Image by Vlado/

The poem is “The Swing” by Robert Louis Stevenson.It reminds me of my Mama and my youngest granddaughter. It was my mother’s favorite poem and swinging is my granddaughter’s favorite activity.

Santa Claus brought my youngest granddaughter a swing set for Christmas. And I have been putting it together since then. I finished it last weekend with some help from her Mommy, her Uncle Rob, and her. It only took us 3 months or so to get it all put together.

The SwingIt is more than a swing set. It has a little trampoline, a slide, and a teeter-totter in addition to two swings.



Every time I started to work on the play set, my little helper sprang into action.

The Swing

“Look Grandma! I did it!” she said as she put some springs in the wrong place on the trampoline.

The Swing

Sitting in the box. Pretending it’s a boat. I stopped working on the swing set as we pretended to be floating down a river to find dinosaurs.


“Move over, Grandma. I can do it,” she said as she climbed on top of my back while I was trying to put the screw in the ever-so-slightly-off-center hole to attach a leg on the slide.

the Swing

An ever-eager, helpful little person just trying to assist Grandma while I screwed the damn slide together.

“I don’t want to stop, Grandma. Fine. I’m going in the house. You made me sad, Grandma,” she whined as she stomped away (because I told her to get off of me)…in to the house…slamming the door and accidentally locking me outside and in the backyard where we keep the gates locked to keep her in. With no house key, no gate key, no cell phone, no way to get back in.  I had to climb over the fence to go to the neighbor’s house and have him call 911 for us.

Thank you, Officer Jarrett of the Police Department and Mr. Webb our neighbor.

Anyway…now the swing is finally set up and she loves swinging. “Swing me high, swing me high, Grandma!” she says now. “Let’s go out and swing a little bit, Grandma. I can’t do it without you. ”

And she sings as she swings: “I love to swing! I love to swing! I love to swing! In my backyard!”  She giggles and squeals as she flies through the air. 

That’s her way of saying “I do think it the pleasantest thing ever a child can do.”

Find your favorite poem and Celebrate World Poetry Day.

The Swing

HOW do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall, 5
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown— 10
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

And here’s a talented little boy who loves to swing and sing, too.

Grandma, Interrupted ZestNow

Grandma, Interrupted

by Peggy Browning

Grandma, Interrupted

Sometimes you have to take time from your exercise routine to wear a crown.

One year and one month ago, on my 59th birthday, I made a public declaration that I was taking my life and health back. I would exercise daily, eat well, lose weight, and take charge of lowering my blood pressure, sugar, and cholesterol.

I was going to ride my bicycle, walk three miles daily, bend myself into yoga positions, and maybe even do some old-fashioned sit-ups. That was my plan. I was determined to stick to my regimen. I expected that I would be lighter, healthier, and happier at the end of one year.

Then, of course, the Universe intervened and interrupted my well-thought-out life plan that I had made…the one that included only me…the one that put ME first…the one that I thought would be the very best for me. The Universe merely laughed at my plans and threw a few obstacles in my path.

My single-mom daughter took another job in another town in another state. At the time of my lifestyle change declaration, she and my (then two-year-old) granddaughter lived approximately three city-blocks away from me. I offered to go along with them to be the live-in nanny-cook-and laundress.

Within one month of my sincere vow to lose weight, lower my blood pressure, blah…blah…blah… I also moved to another town in another state. And I started another job, if you could call it that. I stayed with my energetic, curious, and talkative red-haired granddaughter every day…all day.

Read More at ZestNow…

September Grass

September Grass

by Peggy Browning


September Grass

Watching Ants moving a leaf… September Grass
photo by sweetcrisis/

For a long time now – months, even years—I have wanted to lie in the grass and watch ants. I know, I know…that seems weird. But I don’t care about being weird.

What I do care about is the neighbors’ opinion…not so much what they might think, but what they might do if they saw me lying prone in the grass in my yard. Their first thought probably would not be “Oh, there’s Peggy. She’s watching ants again.”

No, their first thought would probably be “Oh no! She’s fallen and she can’t get up!” And because I have thoughtful, caring neighbors, they would probably call 9-1-1. And then I’d have to explain what I was doing.

So, until lately, I have not spent a whole lot of time lying in the grass, watching ants.

But today…on this glorious day…I lay in the still-green-and-soft-September grass with my three year old granddaughter and we watched the ants moving leaf parts that were twice as big as they were. They worked diligently and unceasingly, moving leaf parts from one area of the grass to their anthill.

One little ant moved forward…backed up…backed over a tiny obstacle…turned around…moved forward…dropped his leaf…picked up his leaf…backed over another obstacle…and walked backward carrying that leaf until he finally reached his destination. His struggle seemed particularly hard. It was harder for him than for the others we watched. His leaf was bigger. He was obviously an over-achiever.

A Magic Rock

A Magic Rock

Today was a beautiful day of observation. My little red-haired granddaughter watched patiently and offered quiet words of encouragement to the ant. We think that was why he kept trying so hard and finally succeeded. Then we found some tiny rolly-pollys and we watched them, too.

Then she found a magic rock to add to her collection of magical things.

We sat in the soft September grass, under a blue September sky and simply enjoyed everything around us. We looked at ants. We looked at fluffy, white cumulus clouds. We felt the warm breeze on our faces. We giggled and laughed. And we loved it all.

“Well, the sun’s not so hot in the sky today
And you know I can see summertime slipping on away
A few more geese are gone, a few more leaves turning red
But the grass is as soft as a feather in a featherbed
So I’ll be king and you’ll be queen
Our kingdom’s gonna be this little patch of green” — James Taylor, September Grass


Today, if you have time, I encourage you to lie on the ground in the September grass and watch ants and clouds and feel the warm breeze on your face.

Live. Laugh. Love. That’s what this  is all about. Ants…and rocks…and soft grass…and the magic of Life…


Second Childhood or a Second Chance at Joy?

Is this My Second Childhood or Did I Get a Second Chance to Experience Joy?

by Peggy Browning

“The older I grow the more earnestly I feel that the few joys of childhood are the best that life has to give.” ~Ellen Glasgow

If this is my second childhood…then I am grateful to have it and I’m making the most of it.

My first childhood was filled with wonders, but I was a lonely little girl. I have enjoyed this second one even more because this time around, I’m sharing it with the people I love most.

Having a chance at a second childhood is just one of the many wondrous opportunities that my grandchildren have given me. They’ve also given me lots of opportunities to bake cookies and cupcakes and buy toys.

But what I love most about being a grandmother…besides the grandchildren, of course…is that I get to be a kid again.

Since the birth of my first grandchild, my grandson Ben, I’ve been invited to swing at the park, sit in the dirt and play with cars, draw spiders with crayons, and put Legos together. The granddaughters, Iris and Eisley, have expanded my experiences with rocking baby dolls to sleep, telling one more story, and eating popcorn in bed while we watch princess movies before we go to sleep.

Now I have someone to help me pop the bubbles in bubble-wrap.

I have companions in my second childhood.The second time around is made much more enjoyable because I'm with the people I love most.

I have companions in my second childhood.The second time around is made much more enjoyable because I’m with the people I love most.

They have reminded me of the good old days when the grass felt good beneath my bare feet and mud puddles were for wading and splashing. They made me remember that laughter cures just about anything…and Band-Aids fix what laughter can’t cover.

Now I have companions who delight in looking at small things and asking questions about it. They share their wonder at this all-new world. And best of all, they let me live through childhood again.

They help me remember that life is best when  taken at a leisurely pace. No hurry, no worry, no grief or regret when the sun sets each day.


“Childhood is the world of miracle and wonder; as if creation rose, bathed in the light, out of the darkness, utterly new and fresh and astonishing. The end of childhood is when things cease to astonish us.”
Author: Eugène Ionesco


People talk about being in a “second childhood” like it’s a bad thing. Usually it’s a woman talking about a man who is doing something like buying a 4 wheeler or a sports car. I am here to tell you that experiencing a second childhood is a GOOD thing. A very good thing


The Best Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe for Pi Day

The Best Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe for Pi Day.

chocolate cream Pie recipe

Thoughts of chocolate cream pie
image by Carlos Porto/








Today is a special day because of the date. Yep. I know I took some liberties with it being Pi Day and all. But I’m just trying to be punny. Ha, ha. LOL.  Pi Day   … 3.1415….   Pie Day … You get it.

I comprehend the significance of the date; I’m just not that impressed. You see Every Day was Pie Day when I was growing up.

Find this recipe and others in my recipe/story book, Heart & Soul Food at amazon.

I have a story and a recipe to share with you. It’s a pretty good story and my Mama’s chocolate cream pie recipe.

My mother… in addition to milking the cow and raising all our food and sewing our clothes…baked something sweet (usually a pie)  every day. Yes. You read that correctly. EVERY DAY. Unless there was something sweet left over from the previous day and there was enough of it for all of us. In that case she didn’t. But we usually ate it all, so she proceeded to bake. Every Day.

You see, my Daddy loved sweets, especially pies. And my Mama loved my Daddy. She expressed her love every day by baking him a pie.

Daddy’s favorite of all pies was chocolate cream pie.

Occasionally Mama made a cake, but that was rare. Most of the time she baked pies: cream pies, fruit pies, fried pies, cobblers. She made her own pie crusts too.

My youngest grandaughter is my taste tester for all my recipes.

My youngest grandaughter is my taste tester for all my recipes. She rates the chocolate cream pie recipe : Deeeeewicious!

Last week I was craving something sweet and comforting. So I made a chocolate cream pie using Mama’s recipe. I shared it with my youngest granddaughter. She gave it her seal of approval.

I swear…this pie was so good it made me cry. And it made me miss my Mama. When I fed a few bites of chocolate cream pie to my granddaughter, I could feel my mother close by, smiling at us. I know my grand-baby felt the love there, just as I did.

There’s no better way for a proper Southern woman to express her undying love for someone than to bake them a pie. You need to bake one today…and maybe Every Day.

Because every day should be Pie Day.

Chocolate Cream Pie

1 cup sugar

3 TBSP corn starch (or flour)

3 egg yolks

2 cups milk (I used 1 ½ cups of 2 % milk and added a ½ cup of cream)

1 TBSP vanilla extract

1/4  cup cocoa

1 pre-baked and cooled pie crust



3 egg whites

¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

¼ cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

* I use a store-bought pie crust. I prefer the Pillsbury brand found in the dairy section. It’s already mixed and rolled out. All you have to do is place it in a pie pan and bake it according to directions

For the pie filling: Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe

Slowly heat 1 ½ cups of milk in a 1 ½ or 2 quart sauce pan. Do NOT let it boil.

Mix sugar and corn starch in a bowl. Set aside.

In a separate bowl, beat egg yolks well then add ½ cup cold milk. Stir together.

Add dry ingredients to eggs and milk combination. Mix well. (Should make a nice smooth concoction, like a smoothie)* This is the secret to the creaminess of this pie. Do not skip this step.

Now add the mixture to the hot milk, stirring constantly until it is the consistency of pudding.

Pour into the baked pie crust. Spread meringue on top and bake at 350 degrees until meringue is lightly browned at the peaks.

*You can also put this chocolate cream pie filling in a graham cracker crust. Let it cool, then top with whipped cream. The pie filling can also be eaten as pudding. Delicious.

Chocolate Cream Pie Recipe

The 3 Best Covers of Uptown Funk

The 3 Best Covers of Uptown Funk (in my humble opinion)

by Peggy Browning

Everybody dance now... image: federico stevanin/

Everybody dance now… We wanna kiss ourselves we’re so pretty
image: federico stevanin/








OK. I admit it. I have recently spent a considerable amount of time doing some serious front seat car dancing. My granddaughter does it too. She dances in her car safety seat in the backseat.

The song that causes us to get our groove on is Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson, performed by Bruno Mars. I mean, what else can you do when Uptown Funk comes on the radio? You turn up the volume and start singing and dancing immediately.

We have also spent a lot of time, googling on the computer, looking at videos of other people dancing to their own versions of Uptown Funk.

We have found our 3 favorite covers of Uptown Funk.

1. A. Maceo Smith New Tech High School


When we show up, we show out. We’re smoother than a fresh jar of Skippy. That says a lot about a 59 year old Grandma and a 3 year old red-haired rascal.

2. Carrolton Texas Family with Cabin Fever During Ice Storm

Oh, I know the lyrics are risqué for a pre-schooler. But I didn’t know what they were until I looked them up on the Internet.

Yes…I know it says “I’m hot, hot damn.”

The song also says something about making a dragon retire, man. And that’s what we focus on…the wholesome image of a dragon being discouraged by our awesome hot-ness.

3. Parody: Suburban Funk

We have fun: driving around, dancing with our seatbelts safely around us, flapping our hands and singing “Whuoo!” at the right part. It is even more fun when we have her Mommy with us and three generations are driving around town singing, dancing, and flapping.

Good times. We are easily entertained. Hot damn…call the po-lice and the fire man. We wanna  kiss ourselves, we’re so pretty.

The Weary Mothers of the Earth 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

1000 voices for compassion buttonWeary Mothers of the Earth:1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

by Peggy Browning

I am posting today as a part of 1000 Voices for Compassion. This is a global initiative to promote compassion. Weary Mothers of the Earth Unite.

1000 Voices for compassion

Weary mothers of the Earth
1000 Voices for Compassion

Almost three years ago, on March 11, 2012, an American soldier allegedly massacred 16 Afghan citizens, nine of whom were children. Six other civilians were wounded in the attack.

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

On March 12, 2012 I was taking a spring vacation in Tyler, Texas. The azaleas were ready to burst into bloom and the town was preparing for the Azalea Festival scheduled for the last weekend of the month.

I was quite content and ready to enjoy my stay:  wandering around the town, shopping at the thrift store, looking at antiques, walking through the parks and gardens there. Everything was beautiful in East Texas that week.

Life seemed especially good.

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

I was safe. My children were safe.  My grandchildren were safe at home with their parents.

I could imagine all three of them wearing their warm little jammies, being tucked into bed by their mamas and daddies, being read a story before going to sleep, feeling safe in their own little beds.

My grand-babies are  more precious than gold or all the possessions on Earth to me.

One morning I picked up a USA Today in the hotel lobby. I bought a snack from the vending machine and went to my room. Then I looked at the newspaper.

On the front page was a photograph of a grandmother from Kandahar, Afghanistan. She was sitting in the back of a truck, with her hand extended toward the body of her grandchild. The child was dressed in red pajamas, having been tucked safely into bed perhaps by the grandmother, before being pulled from bed and shot during the midnight attack of a soldier.

On the grandmother’s face was the shock and weariness of a grief that was only just beginning.

I could imagine her pain.

USA Today story and photograph

There are other things I can imagine about this woman and her grandchild. I imagine that she told this little child bedtime stories just as I do for my grandchildren.

I imagine that her grandchild ran to her and hugged her around her legs whenever he saw her. Just as my grandchildren do. I imagine her grandchild’s little arms reaching up to her, asking for her embrace. Just as my grandchildren do.

Did she teach her grandchild little silly songs? Did they plant a garden together? Did she carry sweet treats in her pocket to give to her grand-baby? I imagine that she did, just as I do with my grandchildren.

I imagine that this grandmother wanted more for this child. I imagine that she wanted safety, freedom, security for her grandchild, just as I do for mine.

1000 Voices Speak for Compassion

Then I think about the grandmother of the man who massacred these children. I imagine that she is grief-stricken and hurting, too.

This is not what the American grandmother wanted for her grandchild. I know it’s not. I imagine that she did the same things that the Afghan grandmother and I do for ours.

I’m positive that she wanted safety, freedom, and security for her grandson. I’m absolutely sure that she would never have imagined this to be a part of her grandson’s life or legacy.

It’s easy for us to imagine all of us to be different. We have different colored skin. We have have different religions, different routines, different rituals.

It’s easy for us to think that a color or a religion or a nationality makes one person less precious than another, to think that other people in war-torn lands are used to the grief and that their loss is less than our own.

But that’s not true. All grandmothers are alike…and all our grandchildren are precious.

I imagine we all grieve the same, no matter our color, nationality, or religion.

I’d like to think that grandmothers could be the solution to the problems of hate, prejudice, violence, and war. I’d like to imagine that, banded together, we could all say: “Fuck war. Stop it. We demand that our children and grandchildren live in peace.” I’d like to imagine peace for all of them, worldwide.

Almost three years later, this grandmother’s face haunts me still. I imagine it always will.

You may say I’m a dreamer. But I pray to God that I’m not the only one. Imagine peace for our children and grandchildren.

Please enjoy this beautiful rendering of Weary Mothers of the Earth. by Ainjel Emme and her mother Miss Lonnie. 

From Wikipedia:

“The Kandahar massacre, also known as the Panjwai Massacre,[1] occurred in the early hours of 11 March 2012, when sixteen civilians were killed and six others wounded in the Panjwayi District of Kandahar ProvinceAfghanistan. Nine of the victims were children, and eleven of the dead were from the same family. Some of the corpses were partially burned. United States Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales was taken into custody and charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder and six counts of assault and attempted murder. The charge was later reduced to 16 counts, due to the double counting of one victim.”

More Than Yesterday Less Than Tomorrow

I love you more than yesterday less than tomorrow

by Peggy Browning


more than yesterday less than tomorrow

more than yesterday less than tomorrow

(I wrote this post just hours after the birth of my third grandchild. Today is her 3rd birthday. It seemed appropriate to post it again today.)

Now they understand.


Grandma's 3 favorite people

Grandma’s 3 favorite people

Now both my surviving children, my son and my daughter, understand how much I love them.

 They knew, as well as a child can know, that  I loved them. But they didn’t fully understand it until they experienced it for themselves.

 My son has understood for a while now. He has two children of his own, a little son and daughter of his own to love. He knows. He understands.

Now he understands. More than yesterday less than tomorrow

Now he understands. More than yesterday less than tomorrow

 I saw it in his eyes when I saw him hold his babies. I saw that understanding in him again today when he held their little hands while walking down the hospital corridor on the way to visit their aunt and new baby cousin.

 I saw the understanding in my daughter’s face yesterday while she held her own little daughter for the first time. She loved that baby girl before she was born, and she loved her even more yesterday after she was born.

 Today she loved her more than yesterday. She didn’t know that was possible.

 Tomorrow she will love her even more. And the next day, and the next.

 I knew my daughter understood that this morning when she looked at me over the tiny, wrapped- tighter-than-a-burrito bundle she was holding

After just 24 hours in this world this little girl has a mother who would readily do anything to insure her safety and well-being. My daughter has acquired the impulse that would make parents step in front of a train, that would make them catch a grenade, that would make them do anything for their child. That impulse will grow stronger every day.

More than yesterday less than tomorrow

You can never understand exactly how much your own mother loves you until you have your own child. You can guess how much she does, you can even “know in your heart”, but you can’t understand until you feel it for yourself.

 I didn’t understand it until I had children of my own. The birth and growth of each of my own three children helped me understand just how much my own mother loved me and my brother and sisters.

 I feel confident that my other son understands it too. Knowing God’s love for us has to be like knowing your mother’s love. It’s one and the same thing.

 It’s a love that surpasses all understanding.

 I love you more today than yesterday less than tomorrow. 

Grandkids & me Easter

Gorgeous Grandmas

Grandkids & me Easter

I have 3 grand reasons to celebrate on Gorgeous Grandmas Day

Gorgeous Grandmas Day


My friend and Facebook soulmate, Jane Carroll, posted a reminder that this Wednesday, July 23, is Gorgeous Grandmas Day.

Personally, I think every day is Gorgeous Grandmas Day. 🙂 I’ve never felt better about myself than since I became a grandma. My grandkids think I’m gorgeous, beautiful, and wonderful every day … especially when I buy them ice cream. They also think their other Grandmas, Nanas, Grannys, Mimis, Nannys and Memaws are gorgeous, beautiful and wonderful.

So here’s to us … Gorgeous Grandmas All!

Anyway … here’s a post I wrote a few months back about having a body fit for being a grandma. If you’re a grandma … please read this …and remember to honor yourself on Gorgeous Grandmas Day.

The Perfect Body for Gorgeous Grandmas 🙂

I have spent a large part of my life in pursuit of the perfect body. I have tried, time and again, to be fit after 50. Or to be fit at any age.

When I was around 10, my older brother started telling me I was plump, possibly even a little too plump. That was confirmed by my mother, a master seamstress who sewed all my dresses, when she began to allow a little extra room in the seams of my clothes.

I’ve been on a diet, off and on, since I was in the 5th grade. I started jogging and doing sit-ups during the summer between 5th and 6th grade. When I think of it now, that just seems a little sad. The body I had in elementary school was a perfect one…healthy and just right for the extra weight required for the prepubescent  girl about to transform into womanhood through menstruation.

When I was a teenager, I admired the fashion models in Teen and Seventeen magazines. I wanted to look like they looked. They had flat bellies, slim thighs, and  perfectly rounded behinds. I continued my regimen of sit-ups and  jogging and jumping jacks, trying to form myself in their image.

In my late teens, I briefly added 5 lbs. to my 110 lb. frame and a boyfriend complained about the little pooch that stuck out over my bikini bottom. He suggested, not too nicely I might add, that I should not wear a two-piece swimsuit.  I went on a diet and lost that extra five lbs.  to please him. I wanted to have a perfect body for  him.

Then I had children and gained weight again. I no longer had a svelte body. I went to Weight Watchers and  aerobics class.  I bought an exercise tape and faithfully followed the regime. I improved my abs and dropped a dress size and cut my hair into a stylish shag. I call those my Jane Fonda years.

Now I realize that my mid-twenties body was already perfect for my purpose back then. It was just right for bearing children and nursing babies.  And yet, there were complaints about my body size, most  from my perfection seeking self, but not all.

 After a third baby, my daughter’s father suggested that I should work out  to regain my figure. He had liked my size 8 form, but wasn’t all that fond of  the new size 12 me. His opinion didn’t account for much, but still I worried about my body . And I joined the Y and went back to exercise classes.

Since the childbirth years, the spare tire around my waist has alternately changed from the size of a bicycle tire all the way to a (small) tractor tire.

Once, just after my 50th birthday, I was staying at a hotel and I stepped naked out of the shower (how else can you take a shower?), into my reflection from a full length mirror. I was  unavoidably faced with what I had been trying to avoid. I saw my overweight, saggy body in its full glory and was not pleased with my image.

I decided I had to return to my quest for the perfect body. I would get in shape…I would be fit…by golly.

When I returned home, I pulled out the exercise tapes and joined a weight loss group once again. I lay on my couch and watched the tapes. I cheated on the diet. Needless to say, the results were unremarkable.

But I didn’t stop my quest to be fit after 50.  I started walking. I started yoga. I bought a new bicycle. I joined the Y again. I wanted a body that was fit for my lifestyle.

Still I had  few results except that my spare tire got a little smaller. I currently sport a soft spare about the size of a tire for a small sedan.

Recently, as I held my newest granddaughter, rocking her to sleep, I came to terms with my body image. Her sweet smelling body was nestled against my soft, plump belly. Her little head lay against my soft breast. She was comfortable resting there on my nice, soft grandmotherly body.

Right there, in a rocking chair, holding my grandbaby, I came to terms with my overly critical image of my body.  I am built for comfort, not for speed. And I like it that way.

I have a soft, comfortable lap for holding my grandson while he tells me about his latest T-ball game. I have soft, comfortable arms to hold my granddaughter while we watch a Cinderella movie. I have soft, comfortable shoulders where their baby cousin can rest her head.

Now , well over the age of 50, I find that I have accomplished my goal. I finally have the perfect body.

I am perfectly shaped for being a grandmother.

  As a Grandma I am well-cushioned. Just perfect for having grandchildren sit on my lap.

My grandbabies don’t criticize my body. They prefer me to be just a little bit fluffy.  It’s time for me to stop being critical as well.

And if anyone else has a complaint about my body, they can kiss my soft comfortable behind. (and don’t forget: gorgeous!)

“It is as grandmothers that our mothers come into the fullness of their grace.”  ___ Christopher Morley