The holiday season has begun and yet again this year I find myself struggling to find where I fit in. My mom got sick when I was 12 and I have such a short window of ever remembering a good Christmas. I remember the ones that were sad, lonely, and devoid of much joy. My mom was sick or we did not have money for food and bills so gifts, Christmas, and Santa were not top on the list.
Somehow my dad loved Christmas and yet what I saw of that was the love of decorating, the ambience that made it seem that all was well when really it was not. I am torn by my ghost of Christmas past, and how I really have never gotten into the Christmas spirit since I was 12. It has always felt forced and fake to me. I have been at other Christmas’ as an adult where the kids involved ripped their gifts open and only asked for more. It rubbed me the wrong way and I vowed to never breed that in my family. I either do not want to celebrate it the way the rest of the world does, or I want to create a different story. Chris agrees.
Added to my ghost of Christmas past — is that Nico’s birthday is on Christmas. Due to my past I would rather spend the day celebrating him and his birthday than Christmas. Yet, how do we do that when others in our life might not understand where we are coming from? I have long had the opinion (and have shared in other blogs) that I do not want to lie to Nico about Santa. I think there is a way to keep the world magical and real and not lie to our children. How do we ever expect them to trust us if we lie to them? Magic can happen with honesty. Did we all just get sucked into the story of Christmas? The one that circles back to Black Friday, retail, and consumerism? Or is it about spending time together, shared experiences, and giving to others? How many of us actually do that during the holiday season?
Gratefully, Nico will not know the difference this year, but next year will be different. This year (whether his birthday, or if we decide to do an actual Christmas) he is delighted to just have us open a box from Amazon Prime — even if the box contains batteries. Even better when it has a toy truck or school bus.
Call me extreme, but this momma is torn on what to do and how to bring the true spirit of Christmas into Nico’s life.
Have you ever thought about what you would ask for if you could be given superpowers? I often have and I always come to the same conclusion — I would want to read people’s minds. Whenever I give that answer others raise their eyebrows and think WHY!?! For me my biggest pet peeve, or strongest pain point, is trust and honesty. I often wonder how often are others really telling the truth and how often are they telling you what they think you want to hear.
I can take it — give me what you really think. I truly believe being honest and direct while sometimes hard — it is the only way to go truly deep. Going deep brings people closer together, it creates trust, bonds, and often allows others to open up. When we stay on the surface and never go deep, what is there to bring you closer together? Think about it in relation to a flower – the deeper the root the harder to pull out of the ground. I want those close to me in my life to have roots that are deep, and I would rather pull the loose flowers and remove them from my life.
Back to the superpower of reading minds. Many that have heard that as my response think “you would go crazy with all that information” and I think maybe, but it would be reality. A fun conversation with a friend last night makes me think of one other superpower that would be fun to have — but maybe slightly malicious. Have you ever been in a meeting with someone and they just got under your skin? They were rude, or condescending, or did not treat you with respect. You want to put them in their place, but you might not have the leverage to do so. Our fun conversation circled back to how fun (or funny) it would be if you had the power to make them poop their pants in a meeting every time they were rude to someone, or maybe a loud fart came from them. Maybe not the nicest thing to think about, but it might provide the comic relief to break barriers (among other things).
I continue to have conversations with individuals who ask me questions about how I might want to raise my son. I always have lots of ideas to share with them, but one in particular comes so strongly to me that I wanted to share with you. Honesty and trust.
You might find me out in left field, or strange, or just not at all mainstream, but I am not sure I want to raise my son by telling him lies. I wrote a blog about it last May — the idea that we basically lie to our kids about Santa, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny (and I am sure a lot more). Yet, I continue to be baffled that we want to teach our kids to tell the truth and have honesty and integrity, yet we somehow are horrible examples of that. Of course we want our kids to have mystery and adventure in their lives, but there has to be a better way.
Yes, I will try to find a way to be graceful about it all so that he does not ruin it for other kids, but I want to be honest with him and not create this world where he later finds out that the stories we tell about these holidays are all made up. How then have I truly taught him about trust, honesty, and integrity? We can still celebrate the real meaning of these holidays (which I wonder how much of that is really lost on so many kids because they learn this fairy tale rather than the essence and significance of these holidays).
This conversation keeps coming up, and it has brought about some interesting dialogue. Maybe I am rogue or on the fringe, or maybe we are not asking the right questions. As parents we should be the examples. My dad’s answer was often: “Because I said so.” Which I hated because it meant he either did not have a better answer, he was too lazy to explain it, or he just wanted to have control over what I thought. As exhausting as it might be I want to be transparent with this little boy entering the world and give him honest answers that help him weave together and make sense of an already complex world.
While not an avid, nightly, Daily Show with Jon Stewart watcher, I enjoyed watching him from time to time. I barely have the time to watch the few shows we do DVR, so adding a nightly show to the mix is not in the cards for us. In any case, the man is an inspiration and is hilarious. I am sad to know his show is over. In all the pleas from his fans to not end his show, I came across this quote:
“The best defense against bullshit is vigilance. So if you smell something, say something.” – Jon Stewart
Ah, well put, Jon. Well put. I love it. I am a fan of saying something — always. I am that person that 99% of the time is going to call you out on your bullshit. Why live life without being honest, transparent, and authentic? That does not mean it is always easy for me. Most of the time if I do not say something it eats away at me. While I am not yet a parent, I know all the times I have been told by my own parents, or in childcare situations, that if you let kids get away with something and you let time pass then the teaching moment is over. In most cases I agree. However, what matters most is that you say something.
Be it your spouse, your friend, a family member we so often let things sit inside and agonize over them. We get frustrated, we get angry, and often if we were just open and honest with the other person it resolves itself. They might respond by telling you how grateful they are for your transparency, they might be angry (and really that is their thing to work out), or they might even laugh at you thinking how absurd that such a thing bothered you. Whatever the result, it is good to get it off our chests and not let it fester inside.
Thank you, Jon, for your wisdom and for making us laugh for the past 16 years.
I remember back in the day (about 12 + years ago) when Chris and I were saying our first “I love you’s.” We were both a bit timid to say it after being burned in relationships of the past. I remember the first time he said it to me over dinner in a restaurant in Boston. He said: “I think I love you.” At the time I did not know him well enough as I do today to tease him for that comment (although I tease him about it today). At that moment, I felt those tingly feelings that you feel the first time the word love spews out of someone’s mouth. I did not want to say anything that might make him take it back, because I felt the same way.
The only difference is I was not used to saying those words in my life. They were not often said in my house, and at a certain point my parents were so involved in their own life dramas of illness, poverty, and depression that whether I was told “I love you” or not did not filter into their day as top of the importance list. What I do not remember about that night in Boston is if I said it back, and Chris does not remember either. He was probably in a state of shock that he said those words to me.
Gradually we said it more and more and it became a natural part of our interaction. I think there was probably a time early on where I did not say it too much for fear of scaring him away. Eventually you get over that learning curve and realize how important it is to say what you mean so deeply. We tell each other every day, sometimes many, many times. I chuckled at the end of a work day a few weeks ago. I called Chris to tell him I was ready to be picked up (we carpool) and he said: “On my way. Love you.” I found it funny because I was going to see him only moments later, and yet he said what he was feeling in that moment. That is just the way it should be.
Call me sappy, or addicted or whooped (I am all of those things) for my husband, but I want to make sure that he never forgets how I feel, and I never take for granted that he knows. Saying “I love you” is #3 on a list in this Huffington Post article: “13 Simple Tricks To A Long And Happy Marriage.” I have to say I absolutely agree with the 12 other items on the list and that they contribute to a happy marriage. Especially being best friends, honesty, and cherishing each other.