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.
I know Mother’s Day was over 2 weeks ago, so I guess you could say I am a bit late with a Mother’s Day post. It is funny, when I was pregnant with Nico during Mother’s Day 2015 people sent me notes to say Happy Mother’s Day. It felt a bit odd to me, as we had not yet met this little baby boy. This year also felt a bit strange — as he is still so young.
My mom passed away when I was 16, and even then she was not really present in my life going back to the age of 12. Those four years in between were filled with doctors appointments, hospitals, nurses, at-home health equipment, food stamps, depression, and so much more. I do not remember much about middle school and the beginning of high school, but I remember the bed pans, the pain, the fear of not being there for her. What kid should go through that? I also do not remember much about how we spent our Mother’s Day each year.
So why do I sound like the scrooge of Mother’s Day? I strongly believe that we do not need these hallmark holidays. Those that know Chris and I will know that my response to someone who says, “Chris, pamper Tami on Mother’s Day.” I would say to that, “pamper me everyday.” Why not, right? We should love, cherish, and take care of each other each and every day. Why find one day out of the year to share appreciation? Why not do it every day? I feel the same way about Valentine’s Day and a plethora of other hallmark holidays.
So since I have spent more Mother’s Day without my mom than I spent with her it maybe takes a bit of the pizazz out of the day for me. Since Nico is so small, why celebrate? When he is old enough to care I would rather he decide how he would like to approach the day. Some kids get really into it. At the end of the day, though, I would rather teach and model to him that we cherish each other every day. Why not, right? Life is short.
We lie to kids all the time. We should stop. I often talk to Chris about all the Hallmark holidays that have gotten out of hand. Maybe I am a buzz kill, but we are basically telling kids lies and then later expect them to trust us. My parents did it and I turned out fine (at least I think I did), but I think I might just stop the craziness when I have kids. I thought Stefanie Wilder-Taylor said it just right in “Gummi Bears Should Not be Organic:”
“Early on their life is filled with fantasies they believe to be true, such as Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy (notice I capitalized Tooth Fairy—because, like God, the Tooth Fairy is still very much a real and venerable life force in my house.) And who puts those fantasies in their head? We do. So when your child tries to convince you that the reason they took all the forks out of the kitchen is because they needed them to help run the jelly bean factory in their closet, how can we be mad when we’ve convinced them that a fat guy with a sack of toys is going to be sliding down their chimney?” page 92-93
She is right. We lie and then we expect them not to lie to us. Besides I think most kids do not even know the true meaning of Christmas. They think of it as a plethora of gifts, a tree, photos with Santa, and whatever other crazy traditions we have started. What if instead we all went back to the true meaning of Christmas? Giving to those in need and being together. Sadly, because of all the crazy hubbub of Christmas, I have become a Grinch. I do not want to buy you a gift just to get you a gift, and I do not want you to do the same. I do not need a thing.
It is funny — I decided to Google “the true meaning of Christmas” and I got such an array of answers about Jesus, God, and lots of other religious babble. One site did give me an answer I liked — that the true meaning of Christmas is Love. Now that is something I can wrap my arms around. Can we show our kids that? Instead of telling them about a fat, jolly Santa, the North Pole, and lots and lots of presents, why not show them how to give to kids in their community that do not have as much? Maybe sharing a coat with someone who does not have one? Or selecting toys to give to children that do not have any. What then are you teaching your kids? Love, gratitude, sharing, and appreciation for all they have each day?
I do not want to raise kids that feel they are just going to get presents upon presents under the Christmas tree, and so many they cannot even begin to appreciate them. That is commercialism and consumerism at its best. I would rather dote on them throughout the year, rather than swoop in on one day out of the year. Besides it feels like a lot of pressure, and is it really worth it? Call me a Grinch, but I do not want to start that tradition.
I might be the Scrooge to your Cupid. I am not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I do not believe in it. For me it has nothing to do with cupid or love or chocolates or panties. It has everything to do with having these items each and every day. Chris knows that I do not care in the least about flowers, gifts, and that the last place I want to be on Valentine’s Day is a restaurant. I do not want to pay for overproduced, overpriced food with a bunch of couples that may just be meeting for the first time or for those that are just checking a box off a list with their spouse. Flowers — check. Dinner out — check. Happy wife? Maybe.
Happy wife, happy life. This happy wife does not equate Valentine’s Day in a typical way. Valentine’s Day should be lived everyday. Love, hugs, kisses, cupid…flowers…living appreciation. Surprises (even though I suck at keeping them). Each of these things shared at random throughout the year, means living love every day. What if we all tried to extend Valentine’s Day to every day of the year? Would we all be happier and more loved? Random Acts of Kindness every day to those we love.
Whatever you are doing on Saturday this year, whether going out with your loved one, or picking up a quick box of chocolates at the drug store, or staying home and snuggling on the couch, try to love today, and tomorrow, and the next day. Do not do it just because it is Valentine’s Day. Do it next week, next month, and this summer.
How are you living love in your life? Do you only do it on Valentine’s Day? Do you expect anything in return or are you just expressing yourself from your heart? Be Cupid every damn day.
Holiday traditions. I am a bit of a Scrooge. My sister and dad were always so much more into the holidays, and somehow that gene did not find its way into my veins. Call me crazy, or extremely practical, but oftentimes the holidays are just another day in the grand scheme of things. I appreciate them as a day to relax, recharge, and be slow.
So, having said all that what’s your favorite holiday tradition? We both love to sleep in (who does not whenever possible). Maybe it is because we do not have kids yet, but we do not really have many/any holiday traditions. The one thing we often do is make my mom’s coffee cake. I like it, Chris likes it, and it is easy to make. It is nothing fancy, just a Betty Crocker (Picture Cookbook circa 1950) recipe that I doctor and adapt to my own liking, but something about it reminds me of my childhood. Somehow my family (and often my grandma) split a 9 x 9 pan of coffee cake (how did we ever do that!)? We would get up on Thanksgiving or Christmas morning and have it right away (before presents or anything). I have my mother’s Betty Crocker cookbook copy. The hole punched page has ripped out and the page itself is worn and splotched.
Stir together thoroughly:
3/4 cup Sugar
1/4 cup unsalted Butter (or shortening):
Note: I only use butter and it should be soft
1/2 cup Milk
Sift together and stir in (I never sift though):
1 1/2 cup Flour
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
Streusel Mixture: 3/4 cup Brown Sugar
2 teaspoons Cinnamon 2 tablespoons melted unsalted Butter
Set oven to 375 degrees
Spread batter in greased and floured 9″ pan. Sprinkle with desired topping. Bake until wooden pick thrust into center of cake comes out clean. Serve warm, fresh from oven.
Baker note: I go on instinct for the amount of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon I put together. I sprinkle it on top of the batter and then cut tiny sized chunks of unsalted butter and place them randomly all over the top of the streusel. It makes for more of a crunchy, yummy topping. It is my adaptation. Also, I use the above topping, there are other options for toppings in the cookbook.
Recipe note: Be sure that your “wooden pick thrust into center of cake comes clean” (who uses the word thrust)?