We’re a family who has moved more times than you can count on two hands. It’s certainly been an adventure these last 21 years and this next chapter is about to begin. I’m sitting here, currently without a home, finding myself pondering the things I am actually going to miss about living in New England. I was surprised to find a larger number than I expected.
Disclaimer – the following is not necessarily in any particular order, but rather just a random list of things that gave us positive memories these past five years.
# 1 – Yankee Candle Flagship Store
If you have been to Deerfield, Massachusetts, you have likely visited the flagship store for Yankee Candle, or are at least aware it exists. It is NOTHING like going to the stores you see in the mall. It’s an experience. I had been a few times before we moved here, but the pivotal point for me was when I spent a few hours there while hubby was interviewing for the job position here in MA back in 2011. It immediately felt like home at that point and it quickly became my happy place. While having lunch there that particular late morning in November, a complete stranger sitting at the table beside me at Chandler’s (the restaurant that was once nestled behind the store, but has recently been closed and switched to an Au Bon Pain) began a sweet conversation with me. I’m not used to that, to be honest, but it was a good one and motivated me to think positively. She had absolute confidence this was going to work out….and you know what? It did. So, I’ve spent the last five and half years making the jaunt up there to buy my favorite scents, check out the latest Department 56 collections, escaping reality for just a short while and enjoying a Christmas-like atmosphere even in the middle of July. I’m going to miss this place because it was my escape, my happy place up here…something that made me smile.
#2 – Our Backyard
We were blessed with this beautiful new house just over half a decade ago and the yard was a dream come true for the boys! The first day we saw it, I immediately pictured having our oldest’s graduation party back there and, sure enough, that dream came to fruition this past June. The boys have enjoyed so many football games in that vast space – including the annual Thanksgiving Day game they played with their father. The dogs loved having such a huge space to run, even though we fenced them in at one point (had to find some way to keep Cody from running after UPS trucks). I’m just going to miss having THAT much to view from my kitchen room window.
#3 – Our church
Church has always been a struggle for me. Not faith ~ that has never been shaken, but we’ve experienced some rough stuff over the years and it has made attending “church” difficult. I’ll spare you the details, but my point with this “miss” is that we finally found a place that let us be us. The foundation was the same, but the attitude, character and outlook of the congregation and its pastor were different, genuine and compassionate. Our nuclear family, as a whole, experienced some tremendous milestones here and, for that, we can’t thank Father Dan and Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament enough. My fears, apprehensions and frustrations about “church” still exist, but it was nice to know that we were able to spend at least four to five years sitting among people who were simply happy we were there, giving us the time and space we needed to act out our faith on our own.
#4 – Cape Cod
One of my absolute favorite places to visit here in New England is Cape Cod. It is its own unique world with beauty, color, splendor and history. I loved going to go see the lighthouses and walk the beaches. One year, we spent the night just off the Cape (had dinner at a fabulous restaurant called Fathoms) and then got started early enough to enjoy the day along the coast line. We made it all the way to Provincetown that day for lunch. THAT was a fun place to walk!!! What an experience! My sister had always spoken fondly of that area, but it was so much better to go there myself to see it. You have to make that a ‘must-see” if you ever come to Cape Cod.
#5 – My hair stylist
My miracle worker! K.C. at Puffer’s Salon in Westfield, MA, was a godsend to me. My hair can be fussy and colicky (literally) and it curls with the slightest degree of humidity. K.C. found the perfect styles to fit my face, the perfect highlights and color to match my features and was the greatest listener in the world!!! She has been through so much WITH us just by listening to the ups and downs of various things that our family experienced these past five years. I had the privilege of seeing her go through her own transformations, from dreaming about kids to being the fantastic mother of two adorable little gems. So, it was more than just a business connection, she became my friend and I look forward to staying connected through social media (gotta love living in the modern era!)
#6 – Colors of autumn
Oh, my gosh…this was one of the things that we had been looking forward to enjoying when we moved back up this way. The colors of New England during autumn are stupendous and breath-taking. From our dining room window, we could view a beautiful mountain-scape of color this time of year. I will certainly miss the oranges, reds and yellows that speak of pumpkin spice, comfy sweaters and warm fires in the fireplace. I’ll miss the crinkling of the leaves as we walked through them on our nature hikes.
#7 – The first snow – and only the first snow
The first snow is always beautiful. It falls from the sky so freely and blankets everything in such a way to make everything look perfect and clean. It’s fresh and smells new. Our pups will miss it because they love to play in it, one of them just simply enjoying sitting on the porch to let it fall on him as though he was being covered with a huge white afghan. That’s it, though – just the first snow. After that, it reminds me of accidents, cold, ice and dirt. Unfortunately, we did not get to see one last fall before we left, as I had hoped…but I’ll survive.
#8 – My grocery store (My Big Y):
This one sounds crazy, I know, but I have grown to love our grocery store. Over the course of years, we have come to know management on a first name basis and they grew to know our family, as well. When we first moved to the area, our oldest was a tremendous help to me with finding items, placing things on the belt in an orderly fashion and being kind and courteous to help someone who may be looking for something themselves. Those working in the store often told him that he should get a job there when he was old enough (he is very structured, neat and knew where everything in the store was). So, once he reached 16, he got his first job working at Big Y. Another thing I will miss about this particular store is one of my favorite people in New England, who just happens to work there, too. I’ll tell you that the hug she gave me during our last trip to the store was really tight. I’m going to miss you, Lucy!!! Keep that smile on and continue to make customers feel like family.
#9 – Gillette Stadium
We are unapologetic Patriots’ fans and have been for decades!!! To us, they are like family and, even when things go wrong, you don’t abandon family. To have had the opportunity to live here in New England was such a rush as we were finally among like-minded sports fans! My boys were in their glory!! Though Foxboro was still just under two hours away, we still made our trips over there to eat at Patriots’ Place or visit the Hall. We bought Christmas presents there and even spent one anniversary just hubby and I walking the grounds. We attended training camp and my oldest and I actually had the privilege of attending one of the training sessions on the field. Our oldest, who was a volunteer with the Special Olympics in Massachusetts, also had the chance to participate in a Special Olympics unified event there ON THE FIELD!! But – I still think that our greatest memory there that will make us miss Gillette the most is the year we visited on Mother’s Day. It was our actually first Mother’s Day in Massachusetts and I thought we all needed something to make us smile after a dramatic move. We got to Foxboro early and, lo and behold, were in shock and awe to suddenly see Bill Belichik walking right by us. I put on big girl pants and called out, “Hi, Coach,” but he ignored me completely! I felt so special…he had treated me like he did everyone else! What happened next, however, is what gave the five of us a memory we will cherish forever. Right behind Coach was none other than Robert Kraft!!! Mr. Kraft, the kind gentleman that he is, purposefully stopped to talk to us. He spent at least five to ten minutes just chatting up a storm and reassuring me that Coach ignores everyone. In the end, Mr. Kraft was the one who insisted we take a picture and that photo dons our mantle throughout the year…or at least it will again soon. We will miss being so close to our Patriots…and we will miss visiting Gillette Stadium, but we will remain fans and hold these moments in our memory banks for a lifetime.
#10 Food allergy awareness in restaurants
In Massachusetts, there are regulations in place that require restaurants to be educated and capable of accommodating customers with food allergies. That was one of the most amazing things about living in that state. Now, common sense kept us away from restaurants that are well known for having certain allergens as part of their “brand” (walking into an establishment with peanuts on the floor is simply not a good decision for any peanut allergy family), I’m not intentionally looking for a problem for my son, but it was heartwarming to know that managers were able to find foods and know how to prepare them so that our son would not end up in the emergency room after taking his first bite…or even hours later. Now that we’re moving to Florida, we know there is an awareness and certain organizations that know how to handle such health situations, but I remain just a bit hesitant and nervous…until I have the knowledge and experience otherwise.
BIGGEST MISS – Family being close
And probably the most important thing I will miss is my family….
I’m not close to my mother, one of my sisters or my brother and the one sister with whom I connect lives out in California. My closest relatives in proximity while living in the Northeast were on my father’s side and they lived about 45 minutes to an hour away, but, over the last five years, we had the opportunity to spend a good deal of time with them at family picnics, baby showers, birthday celebrations and, unfortunately, family funerals. I’m grateful God placed us there so I could be around when both of my father’s parents passed away. That was tough…very tough, but it meant so much to be a part of the celebrations of their lives. My grandfather had walked me down the aisle when I got married, so he had a very special place in my heart. My grandmother taught my aunts how to make rolled grape leaves, tabbouleh and Lebanese Christmas cookies and now I hope to carry that on with my own children. But out of my entire family, there are two people I will miss visiting the most up here. My aunt, my godmother, is very precious to me. Her heart is the epitome of selflessness and she gives and gives without expecting anything in return. She reaches out to me like no one else in the family and loves with every ounce of her being. This past February, I had the privilege of making memories with her and her granddaughters a the Most Magical Place on Earth during my little cousin’s Make A Wish trip. It has broken my heart to see my aunt grow weary in her endeavors at times, but, to see her smile and have no other cares in the world that week was priceless to me. I know she would have it no other way than to be there for her family. She has the most compassionate heart and I am beyond grateful she is a part of my life.
The other person I will miss visiting is my father. My father passed away when I was four months pregnant with my oldest son, so he never even had the opportunity to see his any of three handsome grandsons. My father’s burial site is just around the corner from my aunt’s home, so, every time I go to visit her, I make sure I stop by to say hi to him, share what’s new, and kiss his stone on the way out. Gosh ~ I’m going to miss visiting him…..
So, when I started thinking about doing this piece, I honestly didn’t realize there would be as many things I would miss about being there. I thought maybe five, perhaps six if I allowed my mind to stretch a bit, but it was nice to see the impact this part of the country has actually had on me and my family. Of course, I’m going to miss my neighbors and their adorable boxers, too, as well as the quiet street we have called home since 2012, but we have a tremendous number of adventures that lie ahead and we are eagerly anticipating the beginning of this next chapter.
It’s been a good run, New England. Thank you for the memories that we will carry in our hearts forever and ever and then some…..