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As regular readers probably remember, I have (for years) sent weekly newspaper clippings to Gill to keep her up with what is happening here in Canada. I know she reads The Guardian in Bristol, but let’s face it, Canada doesn’t often make the world’s major papers. We do like to ‘fly under the radar’. I mean, look what happens when we come out of our shell: Trump notices and starts taking pot shots at us! I suspect it’s all the attention our pretty but naive (and sometimes duplicitous) Prime Minister has attracted overseas…after all, Trump is upset when HE is not the center of attention and he is certainly NOT pretty (or smart or great or…and the list goes on).

With the world in its current state, I try to find funny things to lift Gill’s spirits — my favorites being cute animal pictures or stories about wildlife conservation efforts that have been successful. I also include cartoons (usually featuring Trump), editorials (again, Trump-centred), and columns by television critics (usually about the latest Melissa McCarthy impression on SNL of Sean Spicer’s tongue-tied efforts to decipher his boss’s contradictory messages).

I learned my lesson the hard way and make a conscious effort to make my selections generally upbeat. My own mother started the tradition of sending me clippings at university — but not the uplifting kind. These were articles critical of young marriages (perhaps she saw mine coming!), fashion trends that she deemed unacceptable (my miniskirts?), and suggestions about organization (I still harbor schizoid tendencies…part of my life is very organized, on time, and adheres to deadlines…my closet is, however, always a mess).

One of my latest packets of clippings will include an article about women in B.C. being backed up by the government stating that they will no longer be forced to wear high heels at work! Health and Safety first, apparently. And here in Ontario, the Human Rights Commission put forward a policy banning low-cut tops and short skirts for the workplace. With the latest Bill O’Reilly scandal, a definite step forward. These items are sadly not the norm, but they give validation and hopefully give Gill something to smile about.

The problem is that she is weeks behind in her reading of the clippings. I completely understand since she has her day job as well as her own writing to do.Not enough time to read her mail. And so, last time we Skyped, she confessed and timidly showed me the stack of unopened letters containing my clippings. It was an impressive pile! She had the decency to admit her shame and guilt. But she needn’t worry.

I sent the clippings to lift her mood, not make her feel guilty. And I do understand…as a mother, I’ve spent most of my life feeling guilt. First I felt guilt that I wasn’t living up to my mother’s expectations; then I felt guilty that I wasn’t doing enough as a mother; then I felt guilt that my children were children of divorce; then I felt guilty that all of their dreams weren’t coming true. Ridiculous, I know, but I’m sure this revelation won’t come as shocking news to any of the moms out there. It is what we do!

After we talked, Gill slowly made her way through the pile and commented that she loved them. And she even shared with one of her friends who lived in Canada for a time. They both appreciated and laughed over the clippings.

And I fully expect that, come July 1, Canada Day, when Gill and her ex- pat friends hold their celebration complete with Canadian beer, possibly poutine and something made with maple syrup, my clippings will be a major part of the decorations. Glad to provide such a service. Oh, and not to worry, Gill, the latest supply of tiny Canadian flags is in the mail. Sadly, though, I can’t figure out a way to send the ice cream with the red maple leaf pattern in it…