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  • My parents died at 94 and 96, so I never expected my brother, Martin Men­del Seldon, to go at a younger age. He was 83 when he died on Dec. 28, after an unexpected, massive heart attack.
        I was in Nova Scotia on a wonderful Christmas holiday with my daughter and her family when the news came. Assuming that his funeral service would be held very quickly, I skipped coming home, as we’d planned, and headed out the next day to Sunnyvale, Calif., where he had lived for years.

  •     Never having spent Christmas anywhere but at home, I wasn’t sure what Christmas in Nova Scotia with my daughter, Bess, and her family would be like. They live in a small town on the southwest shore called Shelburne. There are two inns in Shelburne, but they are both closed at holiday time. The few sightseers who make the drive down from Halifax are long gone at this time of year, and most of the handful of second-home owners are elsewhere, too. Maybe in part because of this isolation, the sense of community is strong.

  •     Tonight is the third night of Hanukkah, a holiday —  in the month of Kislev on the Hebrew calendar — which lasts for eight days and often coincides with Christmas, but not always.

  •     When an expert restorer of pianos and harpsichords said there was no point in saving the baby grand that had more or less decorated the living room in the family house in Amagansett for 30, maybe 40, years, the last thing I imagined was that in a week’s time I would buy another piano.

  •     The bathroom scale started sending unusual messages as soon as the unusually pleasant and warm fall weather began to turn. I have a pretty small frame, and I’ve kept fairly slim in recent years due to a regular yoga practice, so when my weight varied by a whole 10  pounds on the digital screen one day a few weeks ago, I was more befuddled than alarmed.
        Was the scale broken? Or had I really been, unconsciously, fattening up for a cold winter like a prize goose?

  •     Because I don’t pay much attention to fashion, I didn’t know who Tomas Maier was until the other day when, thumbing through an August edition of Vogue magazine, I learned he had designed a velvet-on-python satchel (read great big handbag) for Bottega Veneta.    

  •     My late dear friend Joanne, who was always with us for Thanksgiving, wouldn’t let anyone else supervise the mashed potatoes, back in the days when we had as many as 30 people, big and small, sitting for dinner. You weren’t allowed to cut the potatoes into small pieces to hurry the boiling along, because they would get watery, you had to cook them to her exacting standard of doneness, and you had to use old-fashioned mashers. I can still see her, hard at work, in the corner of our kitchen between the stove and sink.

  •     My memory for numbers has always been good. I know the phone number at the house we lived in for most of my childhood. Just now, I discovered that it is a working number in the 631 area code. I rang up to see who would answer, but the call was “forwarded to an automatic voice message system” and the number was “not available.”

  • Everybody loses things, right? And we all misplace objects only to have them reappear when we stop looking for them. As you get older, you begin to wonder if such commonplace occurrences are due to age. But last weekend, when my pocketbook went missing, it seemed to be a different story.

  •     My mother’s admonition, and perhaps your mother’s, too, to eat everything on the plate because of the “starving children in [fill in the blank]” — in my case it was China — didn’t make much sense to me when I was a kid. (How would stuffing myself help someone else? Would my gratefulness for having wholesome food increase with each bite?) It makes even less sense now that health experts, and Michelle Obama, are making sure we know that being overweight in childhood can lead to serious medical problems.