I have been pushing myself to the limit at my job and my mom always said that when I need a break I should take one, so that's just what I am doing. I will be back with a regular post next week, but for now, please enjoy this picture of my mom lounging in the big red nook in front of Target in Fairmount.
Written by HoChun Ho, one of my parents first international students and really their, "son before the first one" who they met while teaching conversational English classes at Syracuse University.
"This first photo is my brother Matty; I believe it was Christmas 1991.
These other two were taken in spring 1992 when I took my mom to visit Syracuse and went back to SU for my graduation. It is hard to believe the Thanksgiving dinner at Ruby’s kitchen with a group of international students thirty years ago would lead to a lifelong friendship.
I started to show up at the dinner table on weekends till I graduated in Spring, 1992. Ruby became a mother to me; I would call her and talk for hours. The laughs, tears, stories, sleepovers, tea, dinners…. I could almost smell the food and the wood-burning stove in that lovely house when I close my eyes and think of those days. I insisted that Ruby should call me “the son before the first one”, and Ray, Mark, Mike and Matt became my friends.
Some encounters in life are pure magic. Knowing the Adams to me is one of those precious, life-changing encounters. I felt safe, welcome and comfortable when I was in that lovely house; that is the feeling of home. Merry Christmas, Ruby, Ray, Marky, Mike and Matt. I miss you."
I think I was usually a good kid, but by the time I was about 11 or 12, I knew exactly where my mom kept all of the Christmas gifts before they were wrapped. One day my parents were out of the house for a bit and I decided to go on a gift-hunting expedition and, oh boy, did I find Every. Single. Gift. But as soon as I looked at the gifts, the guilt started to immediately eat at me and after a day or two I confessed everything to my mother.
It took her some time to react. You see, she wasn’t angry, she was just disappointed because all of her spare money went to getting these gifts and I robbed her of my surprised face which she always looked forward to on Christmas. That was my mom’s favorite part about Christmas morning, watching us open her gifts. After I confessed, it took multiple apologies and lots of remorse on my part and slowly but surely, she started to forgive me. Even though I knew what the gifts were, she still wrapped them all up and I really put on a show pretending to be surprised when I was opening them up. Also worth noting, I never took a peek at my gifts before Christmas again.
Syracuse is synonymous with snow for a lot of people, including my Mom who never really seemed to have gotten used to the cold and long winters. To this day, she curls up with a hot corn bag under the covers and around Christmas time was usually when the stove in the living room is on all day. In 2014, December 25th was one of those rare green Christmases in Syracuse however. To us that was kind of special and strange at the same time. Maybe that’s why we decided to get out and do something fun. I had a bunch of Santa costumes in storage at my parents’ house from a film that I had made, and on a whim we decided to surprise Mary, one of my mom’s dearest friends, with a visit from Santa.
Because Mary lives up the street, we walked over to her house and took a few pictures on the way. There were some remnants of snow, which Santa aka Ruby pointed out for the camera, but otherwise you could still see the fall leaves on the ground.
Santa Ruby even pretended to take a little nap in the grass, for we all know that Christmas time can be exhausting for a Santa Claus.
But the moment that made this day so incredibly special was when we arrived at Mary’s house. We rang the doorbell and when Mary came to greet us, her face lit up like a Christmas tree. You would have thought that she was a kid on Christmas morning that got a visit from good ol' Saint Nick. That’s the level of happy we’re talking about.
Mary was similar to my mom in that she always wanted to feed people. She’s the type of lady who would still offer you food even if you had told her you just came from lunch or dinner, and whenever you ate her food it would make her so very happy. I don’t know how many cookies my mom and I ate at her house that day, but let’s just say it was A LOT. For Mary, the fact that she not only got a visit from her dear friend dressed up as Santa but also that she got to give her so many homemade cookies made her happy as could be. And let’s face it: Wouldn’t you want to give this Santa all your cookies and milk if she knocked on your door?
I found this photo of my mother when she must have been no more than 22. On the back of it, I was surprised to find a note from her father! Here’s what it said.
These were the days at Mayo when long dresses were in fashion. “Woweee.” This particular photograph was found while cleaning up and tidying one of our large suitcases. This dress is almost reaching your ankles. What a great contrast from today with the mini skirts just a few inches from the hips. You used to be keenly interested in flowers and pot culture as shown when you were holidaying in our country home. With lots of love from Dad. 11/27/1972
When I was a kid, I loved the way my mom decorated our home for Christmas. When those boxes of decorations would come out from the space underneath the stairs, I would get so excited. My mom would put Nat King Cole’s Christmas classics in the CD player and we would get to work setting everything up.
So many of our decorations were unique, too. My mom made 5 cotton snowmen that sat on our mantle that were supposed to resemble my parents, my 2 brothers and me. When I was about 8 or 9, I noticed that mine was so much smaller than all the others and I asked her about it. There was a pause and then she proceeded to explain to me that originally, there were only 4. You see, I was born almost 9 years after my brother Mike and my mom said that when I was born, she took a bit of cotton from all the other snowmen to make me. I loved that story and even asked her to repeat it on several occasions. I can still hear myself asking her, “Why is “snowman me” so small, mom?”
Not all of my mom’s crafty family creations were a hit though. One year, she made versions of the 5 of us as Christmas carolers. She took these 2x4’s, cut them in half, drew faces on them, dressed them up in winter clothing and some of us were even holding real sheet music.
Even when I was in my early 20’s, she was still going full force with the decorations and spoiling us with gifts but I noticed that she would never spend money on herself. For my mother it was considered sacrilege to pay full price on something for herself. She had more clothes than anyone I’ve ever met but if you think she paid full price for even one sock, you’re mistaken.
My favorite example of her discount clothing was her Wu-Tang Clan sweatshirt. My mom was many things but she most definitely was not a Wu-Tang Clan fan. I used to joke with her about it but she kept wearing it, especially around the holidays. I think she simply liked it because it was warm and it was green and by buying that sweatshirt, it allowed her to have a little more money to buy things for her family which to her was the most important thing in the world.
"Ruby Tuesday" is a place for friends and family to share stories about my mother and show how she has impacted their lives.