Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where are you Christmas?

Where are you Christmas? Why can't I find you?

This thought has plagued me for weeks now. Where is Christmas? Where is the excitement that I found as a child? Where is the excitement I found a few years ago? Am I really getting so old that, as my grandfather used to say "It's just another day"? Where are you Christmas? Is it because I didn't put up any Christmas decorations? Why can't I find you?

I think that it is perhaps a combination of a lot of things. Christmas, as well as most other holidays, is actually a stress filled few days. We have 3 families to juggle, and this year there will actually be 4 "Christmas" days. I guess the older I get the more Scrooge like I am becoming. I'm not anti-Christmas just anti-presents. Yes, even the receiving of presents.

It seems like each year the shopping for gifts for our family is less fun and more demanding. Suddenly we are "required" to get gifts for people who are family, but we hardly see and really aren't close too. So it becomes a chore and a headache to find them something. We combined a gift for our niece, and 2 nephews this year. I'm sure that my in-laws as well as the children will be less than thrilled, but what do you buy for children you see twice a year? What do you buy for adults whom you haven't been to there home in 5 years? And if they don't want the present then my husband and I will gladly take it as we both love board games! I even no longer feel that the things that I make are gift worthy after comments made over different handmade gifts. The best one was probably the comment that came with the fake smile about how great it was - and where did I buy it so that they could exchange it for different colors. My personal favorite was the comment that said they didn't realize that we were having financial problems and couldn't afford to buy them something nice. So after this year - no more handmade gifts, except to my mother and my 9 year old niece. Because they both understand the time that went into them. Of course I said that last year too, and my in-laws, whom I hoping aren't reading this, are both getting a handmade something this year. I'll post pictures later. Just in case.

This post is becoming more rant like as I type.

Where are you Christmas? Why can't I find you?

In my perfect world, I would love to only exchange gifts with children. Why? Because most often they are the only ones who haven't "learned" how to react and show real emotions at their gifts. Give a kid a sweater and a Zhu Zhu pet and see the difference. It's priceless, and it is honesty at it's best. Plus they don't re gift or return gifts. It's always perfect. Yes, even the sweater.

As an adult we have been taught to show how fabulous each present is, even when we hate it. I'll admit that I have re gifted, and returned my fair share of things. Most of those gifts have come from people who were family, co-workers, friends and even strangers at Christmas parties. They have just been looking for a "gift", not for something that I would necessarily want. I have family members who are not, and this year, for the first time in my life, I have bought 5 gift cards and gave cash to another just because of the simple fact that they are hard to buy for, and my heart wasn't into it. I try to take the time to find the "perfect" gift, and it's becoming a chore, especially since no one else seems to really care anymore.

Where are you Christmas? Why can't I find you?

I know that at the end of the song - Christmas is found. This year? Probably not at our house. We have the true meaning of Christmas in our hearts year round. Which is celebrating the birth of a savior.

So maybe we have found Christmas after all. Maybe we never really lost it.

And as for next year - we are doing something different with the whole gift giving. We aren't. We are going from 30 people - yes, that is just immediate family and two of our close friends to 6. Instead, we are going to take the money we would have spent on the other 24 people and give it to a charity who provides Christmas to children who otherwise wouldn't have one. Giving wonder, hope, faith, and love to a child and helping mom and dad find Christmas. Isn't that what it's supposed to be about anyway? Besides, I'll save our family valuable time - they won't have to stand in the return line the day after Christmas.

I'm keeping things simple this year - no excessive baking - no fancy Christmas day dinner. I'm making a cheesecake Christmas eve or Christmas Day. We are having steaks, patrician potatoes, salad, rolls, and green beans for dinner. We are going to have grilled cheese sandwiches and soup for lunch. And stuffed french toast for breakfast, mostly because I want to make it. :) I'm going to spend Saturday with my parents, stepsister and her family and my best friend since like the 1st grade. Just hanging out, and laughing and catching up with her, because I don't see her as often as I would like too. And a trip to the in-laws because my husband won't be here for Christmas with his brother. Otherwise, I'm going to enjoy my days off from school, cross stitch, hopefully finish a border on an afghan that I'm finishing that my grandmother had started before she died. Maybe - just maybe - we can find Christmas. Maybe the rest of our family can too.

"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before. 'What if Christmas,' he thought, 'doesn't come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?'" ~Dr. Seuss

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

New Baby Syndrome

It's official. I have been diagnosed with New Baby Syndrome.

First, let me explain. Have you ever had a friend who gets pregnant and all they talk about is baby? Or they meet a new guy and all you hear about is him? New car? House? Dog? Cat? Can opener?

My husband's grandparents were here from Las Vegas over Thanksgiving. I started new classes that week. I was a little overwhelmed with homework, and I did something that most people would call tacky and rude; I took my laptop with me so that I could work on homework while I was at my mother-in-laws (MIL) house.


I'm a big family person. Especially grandparents. I had a unique relationship with my grandparents, and my husband has a special relationship with this particular set of grandparents. I know that it was pretty awful of me to do, but on the other hand what would have been said if I had just stayed home. Probably worse things than what was.

I decided to go back to school at 30. I have a family (husband and two puppies), a job (bookkeeper/office manager), house (with an extra person - Brad's grandfather) to take care of. Add homework to that and things get kinda scary every once in a while. Sometimes I really wish that we could swap shoes with other people and let them walk a mile in ours and perhaps they would understand. Thankfully, after a little explaining on my part, and a grandfather who went back to college at 40, an understanding was reached. So not all was lost.

Or so I thought.

I lost out both ways. I felt extra stressed out because I was trying to do homework in a short amount of time and spend time with his grandparents. It was one of those weeks that made me wonder if I was doing the right thing. If I was going to do anything more than piss off both of our families, or if perhaps they could understand.

I went to college right out of high school. I also worked full time and took 12 hours and somehow managed to commute 2 hours round trip every day. Until I had a melt down. One can't live on 4-5 hours of sleep for months with no break. Sure, I could go back to a traditional university. But instead of graduating in 2012, I would probably graduate in 2020. Seriously. I would be 40 before I even graduated, and I would still have my masters to obtain. I don't want to be 40 and still working at a job that is great, but just not what I really want to be doing.

How does this all relate to new baby syndrome?

I eat, sleep, think, and here lately dream about school. Yeah, I lead such an exciting life. I also have been thinking about this from a different perspective. When I make up my mind that I am going to do something - I'm going to do it. I kinda focus on it, and let everything else take a back seat. It's probably not the most productive attitude to have, but sometimes we need to give something our all in order for the job to get done.

I want this so bad that I can taste it, but I don't want to graduate and none of my family still be speaking to me. How do you explain to someone how things in your life are like and give them a taste of things in your shoes?

Realistically - you can't. I can only tell them that I'm busy with school, and hope that they understand how important this is too me, and how much I want and need their support. Even if it means an inconvenience for a while.

Maybe this is one of those little lessons that life throws at you to make you step back and realize that your priorities might need to be adjusted. Or maybe this is a chance. A chance to grow and change and become a better person. Maybe God is preparing me for something bigger and worse to deal with. Maybe this is the worst. Maybe we are teaching someone else a life lesson.

"If you could be or do anything & not fail... What would you be or do?" ~UOP

"It is never too late to become what you might have become."~ George Eliot

"There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as if everything is. "~ Albert Einstein

"There is no such thing in anyone's life as an unimportant day."~ Alexander Woollcott

"Act as if what you do makes a difference. It does."~ William James

"It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end."~ Ursula K. Le Guin

"Your work is to discover your world and then with all your heart give yourself to it. "~ The Buddha

"I will not die an unlived life. I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire. I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch, a promise. I choose to risk my significance; to live so that which comes to me as seed goes to the next as blossom and that which comes to me as blossom, goes on as fruit."~ Dawna Markova

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Something I'm not

I always wanted to be a blonde. I honestly have no clue why.

I wanted to have blonde hair that looked like I had just stepped out of the salon with a fresh, tight spiral perm. And I wanted blue eyes. I don’t have a clue as to why those were the features that I would change.

Instead I got thick brown, curly on some days, frizzy on others, seriously confused hair and big brown, puppy dog eyes. The eyes don’t get me much of anything, but they work wonders for my dogs.

Why is it that no one is ever completely and totally happy with the way they look? There is always at least one thing that they would change. Today, when I honestly thought about why I wanted those features I couldn’t answer you. It can’t be so I could have more fun. I have tons of fun. Ok, so before going back to school, I remember having fun once upon a time ago. So why?

Do we use our looks/weight/brains as an excuse? I didn’t get the job or the grade, because I’m a brunette, or not blonde. Is that really how society works? I think that most people like to think so. I think that we have been programmed to need a scapegoat; that we need someone or something to blame, other than ourselves. I think that we have been taught that failure is “ok”. Just cover it up, place the blame somewhere else and pretend like nothing happened. Don’t get me wrong, failure is awesome, probably not when you screw up or immediately thereafter. But you learn, you figure out what worked and what didn’t and you move on. At least that's what I thought.

I think that we are sending out the wrong message to our children about failure. They are growing up thinking that everything should be handed to them, that they shouldn’t earn their successes or their rewards. I can understand building up a child’s confidence when they are 3-4 years old and letting them “win”. Why? It gives them the security that they need to attempt something. It gives them the confidence to even try. I do believe that the older they get that they need to learn to accept defeat and without a temper tantrum as well. As an adult we fail on a daily basis. Some mistakes are so big that they completely change our lives; while some or only an inconvenience. We screw up, we are human, and it’s to be expected. These kids that have never learned how to fail are doomed. What are they going to do when their car breaks down and they don’t have the money to fix it? What are they going to do when they are turned down for a job, because there was a better candidate? Flip out? Commit suicide? Throw a temper tantrum in the elevator? Probably so.

I’m all for trying and failing. It teaches you patience, perseverance, sympathy and even a little humility. It also teaches you how to bandage broken toes and patch holes in walls. It teaches you how to bite your tongue when you would like to tell your boss where to place his "idea". Life doesn’t always work out the way you plan. You don’t always get the job you want, the promotion or picked first for the team. Some days you are going to feel like the biggest dunce on the planet; and other days, you will feel like you are on top of the world.

What’s my point? I am taking a class from hell at the moment. This class is taking every bit of my patience, perseverance, and knowledge, just to make it through. It is taking three times the amount of studying just to keep my head above water. It’s hard, and right now it is all that stands in my way. It is the only thing keeping me from taking another step towards my dream of a bachelor’s degree. Are there going to be harder classes? Unfortunately, I’m afraid so.

It’s just another boulder that I’m trying to turn into a stepping-stone. If I let this one class stand in my way, if I expected to pass the class without doing any of the work, then my journey would end here. Plus I wouldn't gain anything. But because I have learned how to fail gracefully, I can keep working with that boulder until it falls into place. I may not maintain my A average, but even if I fail, as long as I have learned something and don’t give up, then have I really failed? Or did I just learn what not to do next time?

“Failure is only the opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely.” ~Henry Ford


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