In my previous post I mentioned that finding clothes to wear to work was tricky. Not so much because of how things look – my job does not require me to dress up, and most of my co-workers are engineers who are oblivious anyway. Finding pants that would comfortably cover the bulky corset was the real challenge. Even pants with an elastic waistband did not work; I did not like how the snug elastic felt around my sore waist. Digging through my various sweatpants I finally found two pairs of pants with loose, non-elastic waists and a drawstring. As a bonus, they actually did not look like pajamas. And for a top, simply wearing a high-necked shirt did a good job of covering everything up.
So. That was great for work. But I had a much bigger wardrobe challenge to deal with. When I first met Tad, he told me about a lavish Christmas dinner pageant that is held at the historic Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park. The Bracebridge Dinner has been held nearly every year since 1927. Tad has fond memories of attending as a boy, when he was about 12 years old. I love Yosemite in general and have always wanted to attend this dinner. We almost went last Christmas but canceled our plans when I caught cancer; also, in retrospect, letting the kids get another year older was a wise move.
As you might imagine, this is an event that requires advanced reservations, and last spring we booked the trip. The original plan was to spend a day at Yosemite’s ski resort after the dinner, and maybe do a little snowshoeing around the park. I was really looking forward to it.
But I did not expect my surgery to be scheduled for mid-December. I had planned for it to be done in September or October – in fact I’d blocked those months off on my calendar, not planning any trips or events then. But as anyone knows who has tried to schedule non-urgent surgery, good luck doing that at a time that is convenient. So, mid-December it was.
A week after surgery meant that skiing was out, but that was fine – turned out that Yosemite hasn’t gotten snow yet anyway. But the fancy dinner itself was still on. Guests don their sartorial best for this dinner, with tuxedos and ball gowns and fur coats; I even saw one lady wearing a fascinator. Originally I’d planned to buy myself a new dress for the occasion, but given the surgery I decided not to. Which left me with a huge challenge: what can I find in my wardrobe that is formal, but can accommodate a bulky, lumpy corset and ridiculous white brassiere that practically goes up to my neck?
In the end I selected a high-necked loose-fitting wool dress. I also made an executive decision, and just for the evening, I ditched the surgical undergarments and wore relatively normal underwear. I definitely was on the less-formal end of the spectrum compared to the other guests in their elegant floor-length finery; but I’m humble enough to realize that no one paid me any attention. Any attention directed our way was toward our cute-as-buttons children. This event is not particularly child friendly; our two kids were nearly the only ones there (I saw only one other child, a boy of about 7 years old, with a stuffie and sleepy eyes – I don’t think he lasted past the first course). All dressed up – Lane with a jacket and tie, Paige with a pretty dress and sparkly boots – they were the absolute best accessory, and no one gave Tad or me a second look.
The dinner was fabulous. The singing was extraordinary. The kids were on their best behavior and made us proud. Paige did fall asleep at the table, but that just added to the charm – and she perked up just fine when dessert arrived. The day after the dinner we spent the day enjoying the park in general and the Ahwahnee Hotel in particular. We took some long but leisurely walks around the valley, enjoying the wildlife and the mild weather. The kids even got to swim in the heated outdoor pool, and ice skate under the shadow of Half Dome. Yes, lots of snow would have been lots of fun, but in the end, under the circumstances, it all worked out.