No matter what your emotional state post-holiday, whether it’s post-dramatic stress or afterglow, you might be reliving this Thanksgiving or those of holidays past—I am.
After spending the day cooking an animal-free Thanksgiving (which was requested by my five-year-old and included fun things he could help do), my son told me at dinner that I was the “worstest [sic.] mommy in the world.” I’ll admit that I will not be writing any parenting tomes in the near future and that I have my mean-mommy moments; but after what was a pretty great day, which included lots of cuddling and playing, this was a blow.
Yes, I know he’s five; he may not have known what he was saying, and he apologized. I tend to think that there is a part of him that truly believes this. This isn’t just my fear that A. has Stewie Griffin-esque fantasies of knocking me off; this is me knowing that I could always be a better mom. I could be more patient; I could spend more time playing; I could…I could…do more.
Like most parents, I just do my best and strive to do better. So why does this incident worry me? Because I have seen the future if this viewpoint doesn’t change.
The first Thanksgiving I cooked was for my extended family—mom, stepdad, and step-brother with his wife and son. During dinner, aforementioned brother decided to lay into my stepfather about his parenting. Granted, their situation is VERY different. I don’t remember what he said but I remember how he ambushed my step-father during this holiday of gratitude. And that’s how I felt—ambushed.
Yes, my feelings were hurt and my ego was bruised. However, this incident drives home the importance to be more patient and to work harder to diminish my mean mommy moments. Ultimately, the holidays are meant to love and appreciate our families. We shouldn’t have to recover from them like a bad bar crawl.
As I write this in the soft glow of the white lights on the once Christmas tree, now holiday tree, I’m happy that we decided to not take it down. Instead so relinquishing it to the back porch wrapped in plastic, we have decided to keep it up. Not only does it deliver a soft glow to our lamp-less, furniture-bare living room, but it should make each holiday more festive. I’ll be decorating it for Valentine’s Day, the spring equinox, Easter, summer solstice, Fourth of July, etc.
Papa, aka M.’s pop, has been visiting us since before the holiday and it has been truly wonderful. The relationship he has was Baby A is truly magical. And honestly, he is just fun and my toddler picks up on that.
Tonight Papa cooked dinner for all of us. I’m so sick I’ve spent most of the day in bed so not only did I got kitchen duty off but I got taken off of baby duty. Of course, Baby A wanted to help and was insistent about it. To appease A., M. picked up the crying tot so that they could oversee Papa’s activity. It was at this moment that I looked into the kitchen to see three generations of men cooking, playing and laughing together. It was a purely wonderful moment that I will never forget.
The title of this post isn’t about the memories that were created today: the look on A’s face when he came out to the living room this morning or the day playing with all the toys relatives and friends sent him (Thank you to all). Today was memorable because Ya-Ya surprised us not only with her presence but with my toy box.
For decades, she has stored my dollhouse and my toy box until a few years ago when I had to decide which one to keep. Both were built-by my Nonno so the sentiment of these items runs deep. After some thought, I decided to part ways with my dollhouse. It stood about 4 feet tall and opened up. Each room was wallpapered and as a girl I loved it. The decision was difficult until my mom’s neighbor inquired about it. He was looking for a dollhouse for his granddaughter and was willing to fix it up for her. It was a sign (at least that’s how I saw it). The dollhouse would have a good home and be revived with love.
As for my toy box, it is a circus car that has a lion with a bee on his nose on the front. My Nonno isn’t the only person that had a hand in it; my mom painted the lion. One of the reason’s I wanted to keep it was that two generations had contributed to it. And since, A was born I was looking forward to him having it in his room, putting his toys in it and even, sitting in it (that’s what I did). So when my mom called this morning and told me to that she needed some help, I was surprised. Not only because she wasn’t planning on coming, but because she brought the toy box. A. went straight to it. Sit next to it, played with it, and within an hour he was sitting in it.
Tonight as we were winding down from the day, I sat in it with my childhood Pooh bear that was made by my aunt. (Baby A has also taken him as his own and sleeps with him each night.) And as I sat in my childhood toy box with my son giggling at his silly mommy, I felt strangely safe. Sure, I was at home with my family but there was something about the presence of my past that made me feel warm, comfortable and at peace. I hope that it gives Baby A those feelings one day too.
Each year, I used to receive a CD from a co-worker. She and her husband would choose the music that would become the soundtrack for their friends’ year—at least mine. I loved receiving these mixed music CDs. So today when I went to the mailbox hoping that the check fairy had stopped by, I was happy to get a package from a new friend with two mixed CDs.
I think that mixed CD or a personalized playlist is an awesome present. Depending on how it is done, there is a lot of time, effort and thought that is put into this compilation. If the person is doing a general CD to give to all of his or her friends, then that person needs to think about which of his music he wants to share with others. Music can be extremely personal and in this case, the giver is sharing a part of his self to many. Now, if the mixed CD is made personally for someone, then the CD can evoke memories, reveal feelings and in some ways tell a story. Either way, it is a sentiment I have, do and will appreciate immensely.
This weekend the east is being blanketed with snow and here in Los Angeles it’s close to 80 degrees. It doesn’t look anything like Christmas.
However, Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle reminds M. and I of Michigan Avenue with the white lights and the festive store fronts so last night we packed up A.’s peeps (Ya-Ya, Papa, M. and I) and went there to walk around. We had a great time chasing A. through the streets of Beverly Hills dodging pedestrians and dogs. He climbed the stairs at Two Rodeo Drive and as he reached the top he was greeted by carolers. Unsure what to do, he ran past them clapping, then stopped, turned around and walked to a spot in front of them where he decided to stand for the next 20 minutes.
Now, I haven’t seen carolers in a while. But I knelt there with my son and listened to this quartet sing holiday music—about peace on earth, goodwill towards men and visiting relatives’ homes. I enjoyed watching his grandparents interact with him as he clapped and danced to the music. (Jingle Bells was his favorite, probably because it is the melody Elmo sings at the end of his segment.)
But most of all, as we watched the carolers sing underneath the towering Christmas tree, it felt like the holiday season to me. It’s a feeling I haven’t enjoyed for a long time, and I am so glad that I found it.
Earlier this week, I came across this story in the Wall Street Journal. It’s basically about the requests that mall Santas are recieving this holiday season. It mentions how children are asking these men to give their parents jobs so they don’t lose their house, or glasses so they can see the chalkboard in class, or necessities like socks. In many cases, these Santas are heart-broken after a shift and honestly, my heart was breaking just reading the article.
That night I told M. about it and then we discussed whether these children will grow up with an appreciation of money and hard work that seems to be lacking in the generation before them. (Sorry, I have been asked to mentor too many students who want to start at the top without doing the work to get there and who value stuff a bit too much.) I wondered what kind of impact it will have on our society if materialism was subdued from the levels we’ve seen in the recent past. And here’s what I know.
I know that we don’t save enough in this country and that at one point we were told to be good Americans we should buy, buy, buy. And while that gave our neighbors jobs it also set us up for the fall that we are taking now. I am not sure how much innovation and discovery we were doing while we were trying to keep up with the Joneses. But now that times are tough, I notice that people are becoming creative—whether it is how to earn or stretch or save a dollar. That is what once made the United States a global leader economically. I notice that others are realizing that it isn’t stuff that makes the holidays and I notice people are more friendly because goodwill means (and is needed) more than ever. If these are the things that this generation is growing up with, then this nation could be great again. Because it’s citizens are looking outward again and are not consumed by consuming.
I hate that young children have to feel the burden their parents carry, especially during what should be a joyous time of year. But because of this, they may carry with them traditions and memories that last longer than the short-lived happiness a sought-after toy would have given.