A Lot Less Commercialism… and a Little More Christmas, Please!

Christmas seems to have snuck up on me–again.

texas christmasI don’t know if this is a result of living in Texas where December is more in line with the fall of my childhood, or perhaps it’s from the general chaotic pace my life has taken on, or maybe it’s some other factor that I have yet to identify. Whatever the reason, I’m staring Christmas in the face, and I feel totally unprepared.

ChristmasTooEarlyI used to put my tree up on November 1. I figured that, so long as we had passed Halloween, it was fair game. It wasn’t a matter of finding the time, but more a waiting a respectable amount of time before putting up that first sign of Christmas. I was ready and waiting, a runner poised for the blast that singled “Let the games begin!”

My Christmas shopping used to be done by December 1, and the only thing I needed to scramble for were a few extra stocking stuffers. I leisurely wrapped the gifts while listening to Bing croon about the white Christmas I could already see outside my window. I savored the season: enjoying the moments, admiring them, fingering them one by one.

christmas_stress_shoppingNow it’s more of a mad scramble, a dash from one event to the next–a chaotic sprinting, not a leisurely stroll.

The tree is put up in stages. First there is the bare tree, then days later it acquires some lights and maybe a ribbon or two. Finally, when we can all fit in a spare couple of hours together, we add the ornaments. And then at last the tree bedecked in all its glory to remind us that, yes, Christmas is coming (like a freight train), despite the blue skies and sunshine outside my window!

mom paperGifts are bought in a helter-skelter, often last minute fashion these days. Presents are wrapped only to be opened moments later–literally moments later. No enjoying that pretty wrapping paper peaking from beneath the tree branches. No children having days to wonder about the mysteries wrapped and waiting beneath the tree. There’s no shaking of the boxes, wild guesses, and the peeled back corners of gifts that sit under the tree to tantalize the little people in my life. Nope, there is a still puffing Mama who did a wrapping marathon only to thrust the presents into the eagerly waiting hands. I barely wipe the sweat from my fevered brow before the little people are tearing that pretty paper off and all my efforts are now crumpled in a heap on the floor…

And then there is the Christmas baking…don’t let me get started on the Christmas baking!

I used to love the smells wafting through my kitchen, the strains of the Trans Siberian Orchestra in the background, and the cup of Joe or the glass of red in my hand (depending on what strikes my fancy at the moment). I relished my role in my husband’s family as the maker of delectable desserts (it probably helps that their idea of a Christmas spread is cookies and pie bought at the local supermarket, but never mind that, I relished my role as the Martha Stewart of Christmas yumminess). They waited with anticipation for me to walk in with my homemade oreo cookies, my peanut butter bonbons, and what ever else I decided to throw into the mix that year.

They start anticipating early, at Easter, throughout the summer (never mind that I have spring and summer versions of dessert decadence), already anticipating the Christmas treats that are to come.

Oh, the pressure! I created this beast and now I have to feed it!

cooking messAnd the baking, no longer the savored Christmas experience, is something that I smoosh into my hectic Christmas Eve morning somewhere between the candlelight service (which they now have early in the afternoon which allows us to maintain our scavenger hunt tradition in the evening) and the scant few hours of sleep I’ve managed to cram in with all those last minute Christmas errands the day before the stores begin to close up shop and tell us procrastinators to “go the hell home! We have families too!”

Ah, Christmas. Still my favorite time of year, despite how quickly it comes and how quickly it’s over! How I miss the time to savor you as you so deserve!

My house may not be decorated to perfection, my array of treats might be appallingly scant, and the gifts might yet be crammed in shopping bags in the corners of my closet, but somehow, I don’t think that is what my children are going to remember (I know that’s not what I remember, though I’m pretty sure my mom was probably the chaotic, sweating, marathon running mess that I am today!).

Family-exchanging-presents-at-ChristmasMy children will remember, not the presents or decorations, but the time spent together. They will remember the traditions, the games, and the warm fuzzy feelings that Christmas will bring their way for years to come (until they have kids of their own and the chaotic insanity becomes their very own!).

I find myself reminding myself that it’s not about perfection. It’s not about a beautifully set array of cookies and perfectly wrapped presents. It’s not about the perfect kids’ craft that results in perfect little treasures for grandmas and grandpas, aunts and uncles.

The kids won’t notice the clutter around the house. They won’t notice that there are only two kinds of cookies this year. They won’t notice that the handmade presents are a bit less spectacular this year.

And I shouldn’t either.

Christmas CardIt’s time to stop running around like a crazy person and settle in and just enjoy being with my family.

And it’s time to remember what this season is really all about. Not the great commercial rush it has become, but something so much more–infinitely more.

Sometimes I need to remember that.

You can only do what you can do, and really that’s not the point of it all anyway.

Merry Christmas from my chaotic family to your own! May it be perfect in its imperfection!

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Spoiler alert . . . The Easter bunny isn’t real!

easter-bunny-2This was a momentous Easter for us.

We outed the Easter bunny.

The Tooth Fairy participated in his downfall.

But not Santa. We drew the line at Santa.

“Mama, does that mean that Santa isn’t real too,” my daughter asked with her wide blue eyes starting to glisten.

I hesitated a split second. Darn it! I just couldn’t do it! “No, honey! Not Santa! Of course, Santa is real!”

I threw a stern glance at my almost eleven year-old son–he would not ruin this for his little sister. He rolled his eyes, but kept his mouth shut. (A rarity these days!)

But my middle daughter piped up. “Zoe’s mom told her that Santa isn’t real.”

Didn’t expect difficulty coming from that quarter! I thought quickly and punted. “That’s just because Zoe’s mom lacks imagination. Does she know he’s not real? Has she walked around the North Pole and actually looked for him?” (Sorry Zoe’s mom! I hate to throw you under the bus, but . . . well, desperate times and all.)

shockYes, I lie to my children. (Insert gasp. Followed by looks of horror and outrage.)

I have also told my girls that we can’t know for sure that mermaids (or water dinosaurs for that matter) don’t exist, as, to date, we have explored less than five percent of the ocean. I admit to them that I don’t think they are real, but that we can’t entirely rule out the possibility. My husband always rolls his eyes at me when I say this–and I think my daughter’s teacher thinks I’m nuts–but, seriously! We have no clue what is at the bottom of the ocean!

At least I don’t do what a friend of mine does (though I did consider it).

While her little loves are sound asleep, the “fairies” come and play with their toys. Her children wake to the visible proof of fairies existence. Perhaps that is crossing a line, but I thought it was rather fun and clever.

santa lieThere is a lot of disagreement on this particular issue among parents and even psychologists. Is this kind of lying harmful to your children? Is it even really lying?

I have been on the receiving end of scorn and judgement from parents. “We do not lie to our children!”

Said parents say that it “erodes the foundation of trust.”

I tend to think that is ridiculous.

tooth fairyMy daughters do not trust me less now that they know the Easter Bunny is really just Mommy and Daddy. In fact, they had a fun little time of it proving the lack of a Tooth Fairy. They looked for clues. The Tooth Fairy happened to use the same kinds of markers that their mother owned. Hmmm . . . They then put their hypothesis to the test when Arabelle put a tooth under her pillow without mentioning it to me. Sadly, the Tooth Fairy did not know she needed to visit that night and so the tooth, and not money, was found under her pillow that morning. A fine little piece of detective work on their parts!

I read an article by a psychologist who, like me, believed that the promoting of these myths was just fine, and yet one of her children felt extremely betrayed upon realizing that Santa was not real. To that, I would say, you know your own children best. If you have a very literal minded child, or a child who is easily wounded, perhaps these myths are not for them.

But, on the other hand, I think that we, as a society, tend to get too focused on what can be proven, on what is concrete. It is a flaw of our western world. I want my children to imagine, and I want them to have the capacity to believe on faith, not on sight.

string_theoryWe know mathematically, according to string theory, that there are ten dimensions. Ten! Though we can only understand and measure four of them. Still, though we cannot see them or touch them, they exist. Just like, though a dog cannot perceive, or even conceive of, the existence of color, color does, in fact, permeate our world.

Or what about the Multiverse Theory? Many physicists fully believe that there are parallel universes to our own. “For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Sir Issac Newton

Or how about dark matter? We know virtually nothing about it except that it does (at least we think) exist.

But how do we know? Can we see it or touch it?

I am not saying that I really think the Easter Bunny or Santa exists. What I am saying is that I want my children to have the capacity to believe in things they do not see. I want them to have imagination. And I want them to have faith. Faith in the existence of God and goodness, even when neither is readily evident.

I want them to open up their minds to the possibilities of this world. Both science and religion attest to the reality that there is so much more to this world than we can see and touch. I want them to embrace what they do not know and believe in its possibility.

So, do I lie to my children? Yes, I am not ashamed to say that I do in these ways. But in the ways that count–doing what I say I will do, being honest about life and its difficulties, being open about the hiccups that permeate a relationship (aka fights between mom and dad)–in these ways I will always be truthful. Because those things will erode the trust my children have in me, not the belief in Santa.

And this way, they will still have wonder in their eyes and the imagination to believe in all this world can be as they start their journeys into this big, wide, mysterious world we live in.

I think I’m an endangered species . . . I’m an introvert

New-Years-Eve-Party_1I’ve been radio silent for a while. Have I been exceedinly busy with tons of holiday activities? Have I been dashing from one social event to another?  Maybe I’ve been out of town with a party every night and an activity every day . . . ?

No, no, and no.

I’ve been in my cave. Yes, my cave. And yes, I’m a girl. It’s not only guys who need and have a cave. I have one too.

You see, I am an introvert living in an extroverted world. That’s no easy thing! And sometimes, sometimes, I need to retreat, recharge, and frankly pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist for a while (not easy to do when you’re mother to three little people!).

multitasking-mobile-devices-660x429We introverts tend to be very misunderstood by our extroverted sisters and brothers. You see, for us, parties take work. We don’t thrive when surrounded by great crowds of people. We don’t look forward to the weekend for all of the clubs, parties and events that await. We don’t feel the need to share every waking moment via text or instagram. We don’t keep our phone in hand waiting for any incoming texts so that we can respond to with some funny quip or snarky comment and feel continually connected to the world at large.

Nope. Our phones are on silent most of the time. Heck, they might still be in our bag. We might even forget to check them, for a day, or maybe even two. We might even misplace them and forget about them until there is someone we have to talk to or if we need a timer or something.

When you seeing us sitting in the lunchroom alone, or out for coffee at a table by ourselves with a book or maybe a computer, it’s not that we can’t have company. It’s that we don’t want company. Don’t pity us for our solitude. It’s what we want, what we crave, and something that is so very difficult to find in this crazy busy, over sharing, nauseatingly social world of ours.

My friends know this about me, because they really, really know me. Why? Because I’d much rather have one or two really awesome friends, than be the most popular mom on the block. And because they know me, they give me space to quite simply be me.

They don’t get angry when it takes me a day or two to text them back. They don’t get all pissy if I don’t feel like going out. They get me, and I get them. And it works.

So, why was I radio silent? Because I was hiding from you, all of you. It’s not that I don’t like you. It’s just that it all takes so much darn WORK!

I am a teacher. A very social job. I’m bombarded with questions, required to make snap judgment calls on a regular basis. Sometimes I am required to talk almost every single minute of my working day.

grinchAnd then I go home. I go home to three little kids with their endless questions and needs. I go home to a husband who I haven’t connected with all day and there are more words. I feel a bit like the Dr. Seuss’ Grinch: “Oh, the noise, noise, NOISE!”

It’s not that I don’t love my students. Most of them are pretty great. And I certainly love my children. And Aaron and I never get enough time to talk as it is, BUT it becomes sensory overload to the introvert. It fries my circuits. I start to short circuit, and eventually, I just shut down.

woman-curled-up-in-chair1This time I shut down and escaped to the world of Kim Harrison and her Hollows series. I read and read and read. And for once, instead of impatiently having to wait for the author to finish the series, I have the luxury of having the WHOLE thing from start to finish at my anxious fingertips.

Yes, I reluctantly emerged from my cave periodically and spent time with my family and kids (and had some great times and memories as a result), but I anxiously anticpated the return to the fictious world. It’s not just that I love to read, it’s that I NEED it.

And then, one day, battery is full. My mind beeps, and I can go back into this crazy social, fast paced existence called the modern world. I have the energy to expend.

So, all of you extroverts out there, be patient with the introverts in your life. It’s not that your husband doesn’t want to talk to you when he comes home, it’s that he has nothing left. It’s not that your friend doesn’t want to hang out with you on Friday night, it’s that she has nothing left. It’s not that your dad doesn’t want to spend time with you, it’s that his very existentence is spent providing you with all the cool gadgets and wants that you desire and he’s fried.

We all don’t want to party ’til the sun comes up. Some of us would much rather curl up in a chair with a good book or zone out on the couch watching whatever professional sports team happens to be in season. Some of us find this modern world draining and solitude, not socialization, is what charges our batteries and keeps us going.

He’ll go the party with you, if you give him the space he needs in return. It’s how we work. How we’re wired. And society doesn’t give us much space to be what we really are.

What have we done to Christmas?! Sometimes less is not only more, but most!

We had a little snow on the ground when I woke up yesterday. Not much, mind you, but still, actual snow before Thanksgiving, in Texas.

As I sat in my car, shivering, waiting for the heat to kick in, I had a random thought. Hadn’t I seen my Christmas CD just the other day. I rummaged around and, sure enough, there it was, so I popped it in. A little early for Christmas music, but hey, there was snow on the ground and everything . . .

So for the last two days I’ve been listening to Christmas music on my commute to and from work. It’s quite understandable then, why I found myself thinking of the upcoming holiday.

My kids are getting a little older, so I’m not quite sure what we should do for the holidays. With the exception of Lily, they’re probably too old for places like Santa’s Village. Maybe we should do the festival of lights instead. Maybe we should splurge and go to a performance of the “Nutcracker” or “A Christmas Story.” What should we do . . . ?

christmas pastAnd then I was struck by a wave of memories. Gosh, I LOVED Christmas as a kid. The memories started flickering through my head: Memories of us in our new Christmas pajamas, wrapped up in coats, mittens, and scarves, piling into whatever old beater car we had at the time for the drive to Grandma and Grandpa’s house. . . . The anticipation of getting to Grandma’s house, even though only one present awaited us, and there were no cousins our age . . . The warm glow of the memory of making sugar cookies, from scratch, cutting out the shapes and frosting them ourselves with homemade frosting and an assortment of sprinkles . . . Memories of snow hills and sledding and the smell of baking cookies and hot cocoa that greeted us on our return . . . memories of piling into the car to see the Christmas lights that our tiny little town put on it’s street lamps–pretty dinky compared to the displays today, but absolutely magical to us then . . . so many memories . . . and they couldn’t be any better.

Thinking back, I don’t think of the presents, or the perfectly decorated tree; I remember the moments, the time with family, the warm glow of time shared, time spent doing pretty much anything–it really didn’t matter what–with the people that mattered the most.

christmas nowWe didn’t have a lot of money (though somehow my parents always managed to put a big pile of presents under our tree). We didn’t have the big fancy house, with the crackling fireplace with the huge, perfectly decorated tree with the designer dressed little kids sitting in front of it to capture that picture to show the world that we had the “perfect” Christmas. We didn’t have the big shiny new car to drive to see the fancy light display or to go to the over the top Santa experience. We didn’t get everything we wanted.

But it was perfect.

I wouldn’t change a thing, not a moment. I wouldn’t trade the family game nights for a fancy performance of the “Nutcracker,” and I wouldn’t trade the memories of us snuggled together under mounds of blankets watching “A Christmas Story” for a trip to Santa’s Village. We didn’t have much, but we had everything that mattered.

In an age of commercialism, in an age of technological distractions, I find myself asking myself if I am giving my own children the same perfect memories.

We have the great big house, the fireplace, and the fancy tree. My kids dress in their matching designer outfits for that family picture. We are filling our schedule full of holiday “events.”

But are we taking the time to really have the “perfect” Christmas. The time spent together, talking and snuggling–times undistracted by little glowing screens. Are we christmas i wantlosing the small stuff, the substance, in our pursuit of the “perfect” Christmas?

I want my children to think back and feel the warm glow that I feel. I want them to remember the times spent together, not the pile of gifts. I want them to have the same flood of warm memories of their perfect Christmases–just like I have.

Thank you mom and dad. Thank you that, even though we didn’t have a lot of money, you made the holidays everything anyone could ever ask for. You gave us an abundance of all the things that matter most. You gave me memories of love and warmth and family.

They set the bar high–but I’m determined to match it. I try to do the small stuff, but I think I need to focus on the small stuff more, and make sure that the little things don’t get crowded out by a whole lot of “big” things. Sometimes just staying home, hanging out together, means far more than a flurry of activities.

And for goodness sake! Put that stupid phone down, no, better yet, put it out of sight and concentrate on the people around you, instead of losing the moments as you try to capture them to show them to everybody else out there.

Let them concentrate on their families.

And make sure that the time you are spending with your family is quality time, the kind that memories are made of.

A little dose of clarity and a large dose of gratitude

We live in an age where it is the “in” thing to dis America. It’s en vogue to talk about all the things that we have done wrong. It’s almost chic in some circles to talk about our country with venom and disdain.

I never agree with such opinions, but I’ve gotten used to them. I disregard them with a sort of complacence. I take them in stride and ignore them, most of the time.

Every once in a while there is something that shakes the dust off of my patriotism and makes it burn bright again. The fire of pride and gratitude toward this country that has given us so much begins to pull me from my apathy, and I find it impossible to remain silent. I am PROUD of this country. I am humbled by the safety and prosperity it has allowed me. And I am grateful for all the men and women, alive and dead, who have poured their lives into creating this country and protecting its freedoms.

So to what do I owe this fresh stirring of patriotism?

Well, it started when I browsed my Netflix options a couple of weeks ago. I stumbled on the movie “The Patriot” and decided to give it a re-watch.

Though not very accurate in the historic details, the movie does a great job of capturing the American spirit and the sacrifice required of the revolutionists to give this dream of democracy a chance. So many lost their lives–fathers, husbands, brothers–to give us the chance to live in a land where even the richest and most powerful are held to the law, and where even the weakest among us is protected.

Now obviously, we didn’t do everything right. We had to fight again for the equality of all men in the Civil War, but, may I remind you, that slavery was (and still is in many countries) a world-wide epidemic, and it took us a mere 150 years to begin to right that wrong, whereas most countries took far longer than that to make the same changes we made (not to mention the many countries that still enslave their people today). It was a horrible thing, but even today we are still trying to right the wrongs of generations long gone. Show me another country on this earth who has done the same.

My second surge of pride came from reading “Memoirs of a Geisha.” I’d seen the movie–which I LOVED–and decided to give the book a read. It’s even better than the movie. It is poignant and lyrical, and it pulls you into a world that is so very different from our own–and it doesn’t let go.

What does a book about Geisha in Japan have to do with my pride in America you may ask? Well, it has a lot to do with it in the form of contrast.

You see, I’ve traveled the world. I’ve seen places quite similar to the Japan of pre-WWII. They are places where the powerful rule with an iron hand and no one protects the rights of the poor and the weak. With my own eyes I watched a truck hit a rickshawala and continue driving when I was in Bangladesh. He was left there injured and possibly dying–and there were no consequences for the truck driver. He continued on, living his life untouched by any reckoning for the injury he caused another.

I went to a conference with the leaders of Bangladesh (long story about how I got to be there!) and watched as they ignored the one token woman speaker (because she was a woman of course) who tried to get them to do something, anything, about the number of women who go missing on a regular basis, never to be seen again. These countless, nameless women dead as the result of the anger of a husband who fears no reprisal. And that just touches on the injustice.

What about the poverty? In my country no one needs to go without food. The poor of America are better off than the middle class in a place like Bangladesh! It was with horror that I traveled the streets of Dhaka. The number of mutilated and disfigured people who mobbed my rickshaw was staggering. What was worse was hearing that it was common for a mother to intentionally disfigure her child because a child such as that would receive more sympathy, and thus more money, from foreigners. And that might likely make the difference between her other children eating or starving. Such a harsh reality!

The workers in most of the world can only dream of an eight hour work day and a five day work week!! I wonder what the rickshawalas of Bangladesh would think to hear of the ease and comfort of an American work environment? And what if I then told them of how often we still find reason to complain about it!?

Or how about the little children I saw working in the hot sun? I will never forget the image of a little girl sitting in the sweltering heat with a large rock, a chisel, and a hammer. She sat there making the large rock into pebbles. Why did she do such a thing? Because without the little bit of money she would bring in, there would not be enough money for all the members of her family to eat.

           My children get to be children. My children need not fear that they will not eat. My children know that they are safe and protected.

Many children in our world today do not know this. Many children fear hunger and know nothing of safety. Just like Cheyo in “Memoirs of a Geisha,” many young girls today are still sold into sexual slavery. It’s rampant around the world. Don’t believe me? Google it. You’ll be shocked to see the extent of this horrible trade in our modern world.

I am so incredibly grateful for this country I live in! I am grateful that I am safe, and that my safety, and more importantly, my children’s safety, is relentlessly protected. I am grateful that my country provides a safety net that ensures that those down on their luck need not fear hunger. I am incredibly grateful that my rights as a woman are not secondary to the whims of my husband. I am grateful that we live in comfort and prosperity, because, believe me, we are one of the most prosperous countries in this world! We are so lucky!

I guess what I want to say is that, any time I gain perspective, when I am reminded of the reality of the rest of the world we live in, and compare it to what we have here . . . how careless we so often are! We take so very much for granted and instead of feeling grateful for what we have, all we can see is what we don’t have.

We are the luckiest of people to be born in this amazing country, to have the opportunities that we have, and the freedom and security to pursue those opportunities!

On this Fourth of July, take the time to gain some perspective. Take the time to realize how lucky we are, and how much of a debt of gratitude we owe to the men and women who have given their lives to give this great experiment a chance– and to those men and women who have protected it, for our sakes, ever since.

Bye, bye crazy toddler days! Hello lazy, hazy days of summer! I’ve been missing you!

This summer has been a summer of firsts for me as a mother. It has officially launched me into the next phase of parenting. I am no longer the mother of babies and toddlers. I am now the mother of big kids. Lily, my littlest, will be four in a few weeks, and she acts older than that. The days of hovering and constant watchfulness are a thing of the past, and as much as I enjoyed my children at this stage, I can’t say that I regret the passing of these days, at least not yet.

I knew this day was coming. As Lily told me the other day, “Soon I’m going to be four and then I’ll be sixteen!” She’s not far wrong on that. The time will move so quickly it will feel like that I’m certain, and my girls take after me; they act older than their ages and so I knew that the baby days were about to pass me by forever.

The high stress days of toddlers and temper fits, bolting children hiding in the clothing racks, and constant danger due to lack of coordination are behind me. The days of increasing independence are here. Each day will take my children a bit further from me and more into being capable and independent in their own skin (when I put it that way it is enough to make me cry!). My children will always need me, but they will need me less with each passing day. Their school, teachers and friends will begin to exert almost as much influence over them as my husband and I do. It is a sobering thought!

And yet, my fledgling freedom, the faint stirrings of a me forgotten, can’t help but excite me! To be me again and not just an extension of my children! It sounds heavenly!

So many parts of me were put on hold when I had my children. I haven’t drawn a picture since Arabelle was a baby. I can count on both hands the number of times I’ve sat down and played the piano. I’ve only recently started writing poetry again, something you need a measure of peace and time for reflection to create, and since I’ve had neither peace nor time . . . . So many things that were foundational to who I am have had to be put on hold, and I won’t lie, at times it has been suffocating!

I realized that the next phase had arrived the other day when I took my kids to a splash pool. It’s a pretty great place when you live in Texas where we’ve been in the 90’s for weeks already. The water’s not deep, there are fountains everywhere and there is a big play structure in the middle with a water gun and a water slide. It’s little kid heaven!

As it turns out, it’s Mommy heaven too! You see, there were a bunch of lounge chairs under a big tree and the breeze was blowing and it feel COOL under that tree. There were two lifeguards on duty and the pool was enclosed so there was no danger of my children running off or being in any danger. Very quickly I realized that I could sit back and only keep a casual eye on my kids. The kind of vigilance I needed last summer was not necessary this summer!

I read a chapter in my book. I closed my eyes and enjoyed the breeze and the sound of my happy children playing in the background. I took the time to notice how pretty it looked underneath the tree with the sun filtering through the leaves. And I felt peaceful. With all three of my children there, I felt peaceful. Not happy, not content, but PEACEFUL. It was heavenly!

Yes, I know I will miss the antics of my children when they were little. I will miss each day being a new discovery. I will miss baby kisses and cuddles. And nothing is cuter than the cherubic features of a toddler. It’s why I take so many pictures, to capture the moments, to remember. I know I will miss it.

But, big kid hugs and kisses are pretty great too. And the things we are able to do together now that Lily is old enough are a lot of fun. And the chats we are able to have are really pretty wonderful. And the freedom and the peace . . . well, they have been a long time coming!

I think I am an Event Junkie!

            I’ve been sitting here with my morning cup of coffee trying to figure out why I feel so BLAH. Granted, there are lots of things in my life that I would like to (need to) change, but I really don’t think it has to do with the reflection on what went wrong in 2011 and what I want to see out of 2012. It’s more basic than that.

            I am an event junkie! What, you may ask, is an event junkie? Well, I need something on the horizon, something to look forward to. I can cope with the status quo when I know that in a few weeks, x,y or z is going to happen and I get to break away from the monotony of my daily life. Thus, an event junkie!

            So here I am on the post side of Christmas with all the excitement and busyness behind me and I am looking at the stark boring months of January and February. BLAH. I should be content with the little things, and I would be, if there was something on the horizon, but the only thing on the horizon is Valentine’s Day (and let’s be honest, when you’ve been married for 12 years and have three children, Valentine’s Day usually doesn’t even hit your radar!) and my birthday (which is a day I would just as soon ignore this year). Get ready for the two most boring months of the year!

            From Easter on (or even March if you get to do something fun on spring break) it seems like there is always something great around the corner. Spring break leads to Easter, which leads to the end of school, which leads to all the fun trips and activities of summer which leads to school starting, to Halloween, to Thanksgiving, and culminates into Christmas. And then BAM! You have to trudge through the two stagnate months before anything fun starts to happen!

            So, what does an event junkie like me do? I stare at my planner. I will it to fill. I actively try to fill it up with mildly enjoyable activities that will pass the time until I have something truly event worthy to break me out of the treadmill that is my life.

            Pretty sad, eh? But there it is, the sad truth. Not sure how to fix it, so I think I’ll disappear into my latest good read and ignore the house that needs to be cleaned, at least for a little while. Some good escapism might just do the trick!

Pass Me Another Glass of Wine . . . and My Pillow Please!

            I have never been what you would call a party animal. (Yes, I can hear the snickers from those of you who think I have always been the farthest thing from it!), but I think that I have taken it to a whole new level these days.

            First of all, I totally forgot it was New Year’s Eve. Yep, forgot until that afternoon at which point I mumbled to one of my kids, “I suppose we should do something . . .” and then I promptly forgot about it again.

            When my husband came home from work he had the same kind of scratching the head, “So what are you thinking for tonight” thought I had had. We kind of shrugged at each other and both said that we should at least do something.

            Well that something, ended up being a pretty big nothing. We started with a rip-roaring episode of Veggie Tales. We even turned the volume way up loud and belted the silly songs at the tops of our lungs. That led to our familiar “night, night” routine with the kiddos, at which point Aaron and I kind of looked at each other again, scratched our heads and said a collective, “Now what?”

            We decided on a thrilling cribbage competition! Yep, woo hoo! Aren’t you jealous!? 😉 I pretty much kicked his butt and we went back to scratching our heads.

            Finally Aaron just asked, “So, would you mind if I went out and played poker with the guys?”

            I thought about it and truly, I didn’t really care, so we parted ways and I went back to pondering just what I should do with myself as I waited to bring in the year that is supposed to end the world. Seems like I should do something, right?

            That’s when I had a great idea! I thought of that bottle of wine that has been sitting in my fridge for the last three months just waiting for such an occasion. That would be perfect for the night! So I cracked open the bottle and settled into a chick flick.

            The only problem was that drinking wine alone puts you to sleep. Before I knew it my eyes were drooping and I was having a tough time staying awake at all.

            So I thought about it a little bit. “Ahhh . . . who really cares about welcoming the New Year in anyway? It’s not like when I was twenty and I was hoping that some guy would kiss me. Who cares if it’s 10:30 and it’s New Year’s?”

            So, I drank another glass of wine, which did the trick. It put me straight to sleep.

            Now that is a New Year’s to remember! 😉

Valentine’s Day Can Just Stick It! Pass the Eggnog!

            When I was a kid there was a “holiday season.” You didn’t just celebrate the holiday itself. The whole time from Christmas Eve to New Year’s (heck, from Thanksgiving!) was festive. It didn’t matter that Christmas was over, the trees were still up and the lights were still lit. There was still a kind of “afterglow” from Christmas.

            This just doesn’t seem to be the case any more. Yesterday I went to the mall and was shocked to see that they had already taken the huge Christmas tree and all the decorations down. I walked into a Starbucks and it was the same thing. All hint of the holidays had been stripped away and we were still days away from New Year’s! It stole away some of the Christmas magic I was still feeling!

            About five years ago I moved to Texas. I’m not sure if that is the difference or if times are just changing. I mean, the 65 degree days and the green grass, do kind of take away from the overall Christmas feeling! But, I really don’t think that is it.

            Why the rush to leave it all behind before the Christmas cookies are even gone? I can still almost hear the sleigh-bells, but now they’re cramming Valentine’s Day down my throat! Ugh!

            Enough already! Can we savor the moment a bit before rushing on to the next one? Can we slow down for just a little so we can really enjoy it all? It’s such a mad rush to Christmas day (especially for moms!) and then they want to whisk it all away before I’ve even had a chance to slow down enough to enjoy it all in the first place! Sometimes I really hate commercialism!

              So, in defiance of the commercial push, I am going to leave my tree up for at least another week. I am going to eat my Christmas cookies while listening to a Christmas song, and I am not going to spare the slightest thought for Valentine’s Day for at least another month! Valentine’s Day can just stick it for all I care! 😉

Merry Christmas AND a Happy New Year! 🙂