"Confession is good for the conscience, but it usually bypasses the soul." ~Mignon McLaughlin
Adore her or despise her, whether you think she's "on the loose" or been wrongly reprimanded, one can't help admiring the felonious domestic-diva known simply as "Martha."
"Martha who?" you ask? Well...she's not old enough to be Martha Washington and not large enough to be Martha's Vineyard so it must be our birthday girl of the week (August 3), Martha Stewart. She's a one-named pop phenomenon - sort of like Coolio, Eminem, Jewel, Usher, Bjork, Britney and Cher. (But just try to keep a straight face imagining any of them in an apron!)
Martha's the omnipresent OmniMedia mogul of print, cyberspace, radio and television who clawed her way into our hearts and "good things" by reframing the ten commandments of cleaning, organizing, nutcups-n-partyfavors, trolling for antiques (we prefer to call it gay-fishing), extravagant meal preparations, crafting and glue-gunning 101, flower arranging, everything housekeeping, and even child and pet "management."
And what would a birthday party thrown for the queen-bee of organization, maintenance and tidiness look like? I'm imagining a tony late-afternoon event somewhere in the Hamptons on a freshly manicured lawn behind a century-old home with 15 foot-high privet hedges and opulent ocean views. I envision the property dressed with buttery-yellow and white striped tenting and tablecloths, twinkling paper lanterns dangling from every bough, a temporary dance floor with ample room for a small jazz ensemble, and a buffet piled high and tall with lemony cupcakes, bowls filled with lemon-drops, personalized buttery-yellow napkins, vintage-inspired tableware (no doubt from her new WalMart line...ca-ching!), lemon topiaries, and of course...lemonade.
And nearer the water's edge, for the youngest guests, all dressed in matching yellow gingham outfits, a slide, jungle gym, a swing set and maybe even a sandbox -- filled, no doubt, with special buttery-yellow sand.
Of course what separates us mere mortals from the Goddess of Good Taste, is that she can make a command, clap her hands, wave her magic wand, and poof -- all of the above can easily happen -- right down to the perfectly colored sand. Now, for the other 99.99% of us, we settle for the sandbox sand schlepped from Home Depot. But regardless, custom sand or run-of-the-mill sand, once it's in the sandbox it's instantly magical and special because it can be formed into numberless shapes -- castles, mountains, mermaids, and even the occasional imaginary birthday cake -- and keep us amused for hours on end.
And for those who missed the subtle but crucial life-lessons learned while digging, common-courtesy sandbox-rules run neck-in-neck with the Ten Commandments (except, of course, for the ever important "Don't eat the sand," and "If you think that the cat was in there earlier it probably was.")
When kids and babies huddle together in a sandbox hour after hour, digging to "China," they unearth trust, develop kindness and learn consideration. First-friendships are formed and (like it or not), it's in these childish pursuits that we establish the kind of interactions we carry out for a lifetime.
So on Martha's birthday, in her honor, remember that while the Queen of Clean may be King of the Mountain -- if you remember your sandbox days -- she ain't got nothing on you!
And just like Martha, in the hands of any gifted individual, lemons can make a birthday party or holiday event that much more special. But after the party, the leftover lemons are perfect for brightening white fabrics (substitute lemon juice equally for chlorine bleach), removing discolorations on cutting boards (smoosh it everywhere and let it sit overnight) and -- of course -- making the best lemonade ever.
But lemon juice, too, has its limitations. It unfortunately can't remove stains from a soul...even you-know-who's.
(Sandbox Rule No. 1: Cher your Eminem.)
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