January 4, 2009 § 1 Comment
Well, yesterday was “Christmas Tear Down”. We’re not having a Twelfth Night party this year because we threw a cookie decorating party AND a New Year’s Slumber Party with three children under 4 and a big pot of melted chocolate which resulted in a New Year’s DAY of Brian and I laying around in our pajamas staring into space, enjoying the silence of no one in the house. Maybe next year Twelfth Night will rock again.
I hate tear down, and now Charlotte does too. This was her first Christmas were she ‘got it’. She loved opening gifts, talking about Santa Claus, watching Charlie Brown Christmas, she loved the Christmas tree. Oh boy did she love it. She loved the lights, looking at all the ornaments, getting ornaments for gifts, telling everyone how “cuuuute” they were. She wanted to reorganize the ornaments, show guests the ornaments, it was a real treat. Yesterday, after her nap, she wandered into the sun room where the tree was, stood amongst the puddles of piney water, broken branchlettes, pine needles and turned around, sleepily, to say:
“Where Christmas Tree Go?”
I nearly burst into tears myself. Christmas has to go away. I learned that a long time ago. If every day were Christmas, or if I lived my dream of owning a Christmas Tree Farm/Farmer’s Market, it would lose its magic. Seeing the first commercials for Christmas sales, hearing a Carol on the radio, seeing a tree lot pop up with white lights strung between streetlamps, the covers of magazines splashed with baked goods and glitter and ribbon. The anticipation of “it’s almost Christmastime” is part of the fun. There’s so little surprise or anticipation left in life anymore. We get everything we want, right now, on the internet, on dvd, at any store, that if you want to celebrate Easter in October, you probably could. All that’s left is human gestation and the Day after Thanksgiving. Oh well.
I’m trying to come up with some achievable Resolutions since in the past I’ve made such grand predictions as “become a perfect person by age 30”, “Publish a book and quit my job” and “something else and quit my job”. The standard is always lose 20 pounds. I’d rather lose eighty, but maybe forty would be nice. It would still result in people calling me a fat f-ing C word at the Bears Games, but I’d be able to shop at Anthropologie. I’d also like to get published, and Meredith and I are actually doing something about that this year. I’d like to get back to swimming, back to yoga, I’d like to enjoy my life more outside of work, not just come home and watch t.v. or clean up or do laundry. More crafting, more writing, more art, more cooking. My project with Meredith will also contribute to this. How about less medication, less Diet Coke, less Candy. That sounds good.
I’m also going to do better with the blog. More pictures, more crafts, more tips from the Farmer’s Almanac. Stay tuned. It gets better.
December 8, 2008 § 7 Comments
‘Round about this time of year I find myself not only getting progressively more red faced and skittish as the advent calendar pops open each day…but I also find that the world at large gets my hackles up and I’m forced, yet again, to beg people the word around to get over themselves, and with great haste. I don’t care if they are miserable, jaded old coots, but I’d hope they would try and pull themselves together for the sake of the children in their immediate vicinity. If you’re of the childfree variety, or a hermit, or a villain of sorts, then go on with your “Santa Claus is a lie and blackmail and betrayal” BS and sip your vodka gimlet while you smoke cloves and watch The Seventh Seal. Enjoy, God bless.
Just yesterday I encountered a young, hip mother who hadn’t decided whether to “let” her children believe in Santa Claus. “I don’t want to bribe them to behave, or blackmail them by telling them an old man watches them while they sleep. It’s totally creepy, and the worst sort of betrayal when the truth is revealed.” Technology as it is here in 2008 prevented me from backhanding her over the internet, but I feel like she’s contributing to this world wide push to force children into adult misery as soon as possible.
Already there are television shows and clothes and music for children designed to exactly mimic their adult counterparts, right down to high heeled booties for infants and leopard print satin robes that say Diva offered for 2 year olds in the Lillian Vernon catalog. We complain that kids are growing up too fast, that in a blink they’re gone, grown up and toddling off to college, and out of the other side of our mouths we squeal with delight at little teeny neck ties for infants (let’s not do away with those, they’re adorable) and we buy our five year old daughters a pilot’s rollerbag for going to grandmas. With the discovery that children are born absorbing everything around them from languages to scientific principals to math to art, we immediately enroll babies in schools, classes, GROUPS, scheduling every second of their lives to make sure they’re growing up as quickly and with as much knowledge as possible. Chicago public shools have gone without recess for years in an effort to improve standardized test scores, some giving children as young as six only 20 minutes “away from desk time” a day. Kids are issued hours of homework in first grade, pounding away on laptops from the moment they can sit in a chair.
And so now, when that one time of year rolls around when even grown ups can be giddy, silly, sugarpacked kids, eating cookies for breakfast, snooping for gifts, wearing reindeer antlers and jingle bells at work, NOW we’re trying to do kids a favor by “not lying to them” about Santa Claus. Every year I hear of people saying they won’t have Santa at their house because of the ‘horrible betrayal’ the children feel when the truth is revealed. I’ve been around this great big world for 36 years, and while I don’t know everyone in the world, I know quite a few people, and of all of those people, I don’t know even ONE person who remembers a feeling of lasting betrayal once the magic trick was revealed. Do you know why?
Because it’s fun. It’s fun to find out that mom and dad have been being silly, playing a joke and being like you. When you tell a grown kid about Santa Claus and they say “why?” the only answer is: “because it’s part of the fun”. It’s not because “we wanted to deceive you about the nature of the universe, convincing you for five years that there are actually a population of altruistic elves, only to tear you down and laugh at your misfortune.” It’s fun. It’s playing pretend, it’s make believe, it’s theatre,it’s magic, it’s a fun secret that’s fun to build on, from putting out cookies and milk, to making reindeer tracks in the yard, to renting a suit and pulling out dolls and games from a big red sack. For the nerds in the crowd, it’s live action role play.
To be honest, I don’t want my daughter to know the ‘truth’ about the world yet. I don’t want her to know that once you hit puberty, the color picture of life starts fading, muting to grey. I don’t want her to know that someday she’ll have to plan and make TIME to have fun. She’ll have to WORK at being happy, she’ll have to forgo surprises and fun and goofiness for the sake of time or money or social obligation. I don’t want her to know that what you see is what you get; that while there are more things on heaven and earth than are dreamt of in her philosophy, she’ll probably only see 1 half of 1% of any of it.
I want, for just a while, to jump into her mind, to take a break from my adult mundanity and believe that a fairy flies in to collect up my lost teeth, that my beloved dog Margaret is somewhere on a farm where she can run and run, that a big cuddly bunny leaves eggs and candy hidden EVERYWHERE in the spring time, and most of all that for a while every year, everyone who celebrates Christmas becomes overstuffed with an ability for surprise and magic, and art and music and creativity. That the world turns multicolored and sparkly, trees live indoors, jewels and stars dangle from strings, and on Christmas Eve, when you can’t sleep a wink for the excitement of the upcoming unknown, a little fat man in a funny little suit comes to your house and rewards you for putting up with the truth of the real world for one more year.
February 16, 2008 § 2 Comments
When I found out I was pregnant, it was only natural that my due date be Christmas day. It was already a day I counted down to all year, my ears pricking up at the first ring of a jingle bell, the first “Big Holiday Sale!”. I am not at all bothered by the ever increasing hype of Christmas, the decorations appearing earlier each year, the all Christmas Radio Station starting on November 1st – these are bonus celebrations. They caannot deter me from the very intimate, family focused love I feel at Christmas, in my home, around the kitchen table, at church. I do not celebrate Christmas at Target, so I don’t care what they do with their decor – unless it’s on sale.
The day after Thanksgiving is a holiday unto itself in our house. Boxes and bags are dragged up from the storage closet, cookie recipies, some stained with a smear of butter or vanilla, or a touch of caked on flour are pinned up to the bulletin board in order of importance. I make lists at Christmas, just to mark the time. I make lists of gifts I’ll buy, gifts I want, who will get Christmas cards, which treats I’ll mail out to friends, and anything else I can think of.
But Christmas, as we know, is for the children. It always felt strange to decorate a two bedroom condo for two people and a chihuahua. There was no reason for me to wake in the dark morning of Christmas, always expecting some magic or miracle to appear in the next room. But I did it anyway, even at the age of 30, having slept in the guest room in my own childhood home. I stood at the top of the staircase and waited for my mother to say “Santa’s been here!”, because I wanted to cement it in my memory. I wanted to always have that phrase to bring me back to every Christmas of my life, the year I got a cabbage patch doll, the year I got my drafting table so I could become a world famous architect. I wanted to remember the first Christmas that I was married, the Christmas I came BACK to Rochester because I lived somewhere else. They all lived in that one phrase,and the sound of our feet stomping down the stairs, giggling and acting like six year olds. I don’t ever want to be without it. Even so, as we aged, it became less thrilling to empty our stockings filled with batteries, chocolate, stamps and a Crest Spinbrush. The gifts became more practical, the boxes thin, rectangular, and plainly wrapped.
Thank God for Charlotte. She was born four days early, arriving home from the hospital the day before Christmas Eve, her soft, plump skin golden with jaundice. We swaddled her in a therapeutic light blanket and she glowed like a fresh little space traveler observing human customs as we huddled in our tiny condo living room: grandparents, aunt Allison, laughing and munching on Chinese food and cookies. It was fifty degrees and raining outside, our tree wore only white lights and paper snowflakes, but we were all together, my heart overwhelmed with more emotions than I could recount here. I slept soundly, contentedly in my own bed for the first time in months, the bassinet emitting a soft green glow throughout the house. My home was filled with my family, with joy and never before seen thankfulness and celebration. We were all so excited to see the baby that we awoke in the dark on Christmas morning to see the magic, the miracle in the next room. I held her close to my chest and cried, so happy to be 34 and having the best Christmas morning ever.