When I have the chance moment that I’m feeding myself while the baby is asleep, I indulge in one of my bad habits: reading while eating. I prefer magazines – so I don’t have to focus too hard – specifically The New Yorker and Vogue, over one of half dozen books I’m in the middle of reading at any given time (another bad habit).
I am defensive about reading Vogue the way you hear men say, “I read it for the articles.” I enjoy an issue of Vogue from cover to cover: for the visuals, as a cultural newsfeed, and sometimes for the good articles. More often than not, they are of an autobiographical essay nature, written by a well-heeled, well-traveled woman.
There was great one this December 2009 issue by Susie Boyt, which has inspired me to do a proper Christmas stocking for Bella this year. She writes:
“I was the youngest of a large family of slender means, our day-to-day existence modest and at times austere, but our Christmas selves inhibited a different realm entirely. My mother packed five stockings that, in fact, were pairs of tights. Lavish and unfailingly thoughtful, they contained a level of care designed to stun. They celebrated her five children, turning all our eccentricities into badges of honor. They were medicine and compensation for anything we might lack in life, rewards for our efforts, indulgence shown toward our childish whims. Things I remember: a blue notebook my mother painted with gardenias and the words SUSIE’S POEMS in a fond italic script; a pair of 1940’s silk-satin polka-dot pajamas with black piping at the collar and cuffs that bespoke of movie-star honeymoons; a drum of Gentleman’s Relish to make me feel Noel Coward-ish at the breakfast table; a bank of Chanel perfume testers my mother had salvaged from a local pharmacy’s closing-down sale.
The balance of the contents was so tender and acute. There was something cozy, something glamorous, something to expand your mind; something to make you see that a new and fledgling personal development you had barely noticed in yourself had been acknowledged and admired. It was an annual tribute to the best of myself, where I was considerably more promising that the facts of my life implied.”