Saturday, December 31, 2016

Call of the Wild

I don't need to tell anyone who has a toddler that this has been quite a year. I've probably already told you several times that I am in way over my head. To borrow a phrase from my Spelman sister DYN, parenting ain't for pussies! So if the Babe makes it unhurt to midnight tonight, I ought to do a cartwheel. In fact I need to do an Olympic caliber floor exercise.

Yesterday could be categorized as an epic Mommy fail because I had good intentions that went awry as soon as I took my eyes off the kid for a few minutes. I was on the phone in the bathroom, she opened the door, and then she walked off with her toothbrush and toothpaste. I am unsure how much time elapsed, but when I last saw her she was watching TV.

I wrote this recap on the FB page, so feel free to enjoy the short version.

Now here is the long version, augmented by several of the details I omitted. So I mentioned that I was in the bathroom and the she had taken her toothbrush and her toothpaste with her into my bedroom, found a quiet spot on the floor in front the TV, and was busy watching whatever was on PBS Kids for a few minutes while I was on the phone. Right there, several veteran parents should be shaking their heads.

For the rookies, you need to know that my first mistake occurred long before I left the Babe to her own devices. My first mistake was to get the Babe dressed and ready before I got myself dressed and ready. You see, my plan for the day included a few errands on this side of town before we were to be at my parents' house by 2pm. I had my itinerary mapped out, I was showered, so I just needed to get dressed and to pack the car.

I was dilly dallying on the phone and it was about 11:30 when I realized that she was too quiet and discovered her covered in toothpaste. We didn't leave this house until 1:30. My FB status update came just before 2pm while I was waiting in line for gas at the Costco. I had just texted my Dad to let him know that I was on my way to the house per our understanding that I would relieve my mother's caregiver because my brother was out of town. I also texted the caregiver to let her know that I was running a little late. In response, she asks me to get a few things.

Mind you, I am sitting in the car with a finally napping toddler, watching the parking lot at the Costco fill with folks anxious to stock up for the holiday weekend. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Christmas Top Ten: Part Two

It is either sad or hilarious that I just posted an "I Hate Christmas" piece this weekend with several of the same reasons I cited when I wrote this piece about how much I hate Christmas a few years ago. I really might be a to avoid any nocturnal otherworldly visitors, I wanted to create a list of things I like about Christmas (let's just hope there are ten):

1. Pictures of children with Santa. I especially like to see pictures of crying children on Santa's lap because well, it's a rite of passage (and I promise to post a picture of my kid wailing on the big guy's lap on the FB page).

2. Classic, unadulterated Christmas movies that we all recognize as classic, unadulterated Christmas movies: It's A Wonderful Life (1946), Miracle on 34th Street (1947), and A Christmas Story (1983). I can even enjoy a modern classic like The Family Stone (2005). But no colorization and only certain modern remakes like The Preacher's Wife (1996).

3. Stevie Wonder's Someday at Christmas album, which is absolute holiday perfection.

4. Any rendition of Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite. I need to start playing it in the car on long rides with the Babe, and of course once she is old enough, we will be front and center watching it performed on stage (will begin taking the Niece this year). Ovation TV will soon air different versions again this year although I guess I will never see my absolute favorite with Baryshnikov and Gelsey Kirkland on PBS again (hint, hint Great Performances)...

5. Last minute Christmas shopping with my Dad. Funny how something that probably was not intended as a tradition (because my Dad does everything at the last minute) has become something that I have come to cherish.

6. If you are of a certain age, you probably have memories of elaborate department store window displays. We used to make a special trip downtown just to see them. Nowadays, you don't even have to make a special trip if you have creative neighbors like these folks in Dyker Heights, NY.

7. Holiday decorating and general preparation. Until it becomes a series of never-ending chores, I really enjoy getting ready for the season: decorating the tree, finding a unique way to display holiday cards, writing our holiday newsletter, mailing cards, wrapping presents, making coquito, etc. And I'm on it, just as soon as I finish this piece...

8. Christmas cookies baked by my niece Mandy. True holiday happiness can be found in her three-layer cookies.

9. Handel's Messiah has grown on me over the years. My Mom invited me to accompany her to a performance at her church many years ago and I had no appreciation for it at all. I went with her a few more times, not reluctantly but as a tradition of sorts, each time gaining a bit more tolerance. It got easier to enjoy when Quincy Jones' Soulful Messiah was released. Recently, I have been taking her to the performance at our church. I have no idea if the music is making any impression on her anymore; I am just glad that she can still attend.

10. Of course I love, Love, LOVE Dickens' A Christmas Carol, and almost every rendition of it on film, stage and in animation. Almost. I do not like any modern version that has Ebenezer Scrooge re-imagined as a Martha Stewart/Oprah-esque old maid or as a heartless corporate tycoon (too soon). My absolute favorite version is George C. Scott's definitive take, who sets the gold standard of miserly perfection. I could try to list my favorites, but there are too many: from Bill Murray's comedic turn, to Albert Finney's musical version (don't judge me, Thank You Very Much), to the Michael Caine version with the Muppets, to everyone's animated favorite starring Mr. Magoo.

It is a little known fact that I almost got to portray Scrooge back in the eighth grade; alas, I was the only one who learned all my lines so I never got to undergo the transformation. Perhaps that is why it has been easier to dwell on all the things I hate about Christmas...when in fact I actually do love this time of year. And in the spirit of the season, here is a bonus:

11. I love the opportunity to give. The older I get, the more I realize that life itself is a gift, so whenever one has a chance to spread a little cheer, it is so worth doing. Someone recently called to simply wish me a happy holiday just because I had once been kind to him. I had no idea that I had made such an impression and it just proves that even a small gesture of generosity can be a priceless gift.

So in the words of Tiny Tim: God Bless Us, Everyone!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Christmas Top Ten - Part One

Recently on the Book of Faces, a couple of friends challenged others to post their non-political unpopular opinions, with the posts ranging from the mundane to the outright absurd. For a self-described unrepentant Scrooge such as myself, the timing of this trend so close to Christmas gives me an excuse to list all of the humbug I endure between Thanksgiving and the New Year. So here is my official non-political list of things I hate about Christmas:

1. The obligatory Christmas album recorded by the pop tart of the moment, which always includes some sappy secular ballad (Snow in California) and a remake of a beloved classic (Santa Baby).

2. Radio stations that play continuous Christmas music that literally starts the moment when the last piece of Halloween candy has been distributed, and abruptly ends just as the lines start forming at the mall for gift exchanges and returns. And why come they play all genres of Christmas music except for gospel?

3. D-list celebrity Christmas specials and very special Christmas sitcom episodes.

4. People who complain about spelling Christmas as Xmas or being wished a "Happy Holiday".

5. Christmas decorations that go on display in August, but never go on sale until December 26.

6. Crappy holiday cards, like the kind that one finds at the Dollar Store with animals dressed in tartan sweaters while frolicking with cardinals and snow families. Equally bad are those of you who email PDFs of your holiday greetings.

7. Hallmark/Lifetime holiday movies. I hated these movies before I read this article (because yeah, duh), but also because they suck. Worse, Hallmark preempted the Golden Girls in order to keep this crap in constant rotation, which is just blasphemous!

8. People who wear Santa hats in public.

9. Those inflatable decorations that people put in their yard. I swear they must be sold as 'buy one, get five free' because no one ever has just one on display. And isn't it just a little creepy that an eight-foot tall Mickey Mouse Santa is standing next to the Baby Jesus alongside inflatable Wise Men and Frosty the Snowman?

10. Anyone who complained about the black Santa at the Mall of America and for that matter, anyone who complains about Santa's race but stays mum on the topic of Black Peter.

This is my humbug list, but as any good Scrooge who finds religion after the visitations, check out my list of what I like about Christmas in Part Two.