It’s 5 days before Christmas and yours truly is able to enjoy some time off before the big day. The last time I had time off at Christmas was because I had the stupid cut out (hysterectomy)…7 years ago. Sure, I had “time off” at the holidays when my daughter was a toddler, but those of us with children know that although the world may see it as time off, time with a toddler is a 24/7 job with no pay, with a boss who can’t find their shoe and cries because you gave them the wrong colored cup with their lunch…so “time off” is a relative term.
As I was running errands yesterday, I found myself getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holidays. I almost succumbed to the Grinch and Scrooge mentality. Almost. Hearing everyone around me sighing, complaining that the lines were taking too long, or honking at each other in the parking lot because they needed that parking space, it’s hard not to get sucked in to it all. As I was listening to the ladies complain about having people over for dinner as they were about to start a rumble over the biggest pot roast in the meat department, I looked over to see an elderly woman with her little basket with a few items in it and I thought to myself “she probably wishes her biggest problem was getting a big enough roast to feed her guests.”. …and that’s when I began to hum a Christmas carol, carry on with my shopping and tune out the sighs and complaints that passed me through the aisles.
Don’t get me wrong, I am no angel as my daughter can attest to. I cuss like a sailor if you are riding my tail end too close in traffic – when I have my kid in the car, her safety comes first so all bets are off. I have been known to use a certain finger when the snowplow comes by just as I have dug out their first visit’s mound of snow and I may have pretended not to speak English when a telemarketer just wouldn’t get “take me off your calling list”. There have been times throughout the days of Christmas past when I pouted even though I knew Santa saw me. There were times I started to Scrooge out or felt the Grinch was onto something complaining about the noise of Christmas, but I always remembered something that others seem to forget. At the end of both these Christmas stories, Ebenezer Scrooge and the Grinch gave over to the magic and the spirit of Christmas. If they could do it, you can too.
- give to the Salvation army. If they are giving out candy canes for each donation, do what I do. Ask them to give it to the next child that walks by.
- wave to Santa at the mall. Trust me, he is having a harder day than you.
- don’t fight over a parking space. If the other person is gunning for it, let them have it. If you have to park further away, the fresh air will do you good.
- If the grocery store is out of the size of turkey you need, your family and guests will survive. I promise, the sky will not turn black and the world will not swallow you whole.
- when you make eye contact with someone, say hello or wish them a Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays for those weary of offending.
- give to every toy drive you can find. Any toy will do. The dollar store has coloring books and crayons for a dollar a piece. …psst…you spent more than that on the mocha frappe latte concoction you have in your hand.
- give to your local food bank. If you can, a monetary donation is best – the food bank can stretch a dollar farther than you can imagine.
Take a moment to remember how snow once made you squeal with glee, how hours would pass as you wondered how Santa got to every house. Remember the smell of your Gramma’s perfume as she reached out to hug you, or the cackle of your Grampa’s laugh when he got your joke. Think back to the smiles on your parents faces on Christmas morning, thinking they were so happy Santa brought you your favorite toy, only to now know, the smile was for them and you, not Santa and you. When you take a moment to remember the magic and spirit of Christmas, you too will realize it’s not having the perfectly trimmed tree or the biggest turkey that you remember, it’s all the little things that mattered the most.
Today’s tale is going to be short and sweet. The past few days have been full of reflection for yours truly. For those who follow my tales, you all know that since I have entered my forties and had the stupid cut out (hysterectomy) I have found myself again. What was once lost has been found. This week I came across another piece of my puzzle.
When I was a child, my sister and I would spend our summers and school holidays with my grandparents. You have heard my tales of my grandmother Leah. Today’s tale is that of my grandmother Alice. Tomorrow we lay my grandma Alice to rest. When I was a child she would indulge my imagination. She would let me play restaurant for hours on end, she would give me paper so I could make a menu, she would let me take over the living room and make it my restaurant. She was always the customer and I was always the waitress/manager…big surprise. She would listen to me recite my times tables over and over and over …always with yours truly exclaiming my intelligence and always agreeing that “Yes! You are so smart!”. She made me hot cocoa with colored marsh mellows. She taught me how to play crazy eights. She taught me how to use a knife and fork – like a young lady. She let me turn my cake upside down so I could save the icing for last. She always told me that “gramma loves ya”. As I was going through my photos and memories this week, I came across a picture of my sister and I having a “Beauty Shop” day at my grandma’s house. I remembered how I loved to have my hair clipped and curled and thought the portable dryer was the most amazing invention on earth. I found myself smiling, at how far I had come just to return to where I began.
Thank you Grandma, for seeing my beauty and helping me to see it too.
So here we are, on the eve of Christmas eve. As I sit here, I am seeing the twinkle of the lights on the Christmas tree, listening to my girl Adele and smelling the yummy dinner my lovely hubby is preparing for me and our girl who makes us three. Yesterday was Saturday, the last Saturday before Christmas and tomorrow is Christmas eve and I was and will be at the shop. Today was truly a day of rest for me. I know…you are thinking “yeah…so what…get on with it.”. Keep your hair on, I’m getting to the tale of the day.
I came to realize something today. You all have heard of my dear ‘ol Dad and my beloved grandmother Leah. I realized today, as she was picking up my girl to take her Christmas shopping for a gift for me, I have yet to tell you of my mother. When I think of my mother, I remember the smell of her perfume as she and my dad were heading out for a night on the town. I remember her heels all lined up in the closet and aching to wear them. (As I have stated before, our clan is vertically challenged, heels are a must…it’s the only way we can reach the first shelf).I remember her putting my hair in rollers and when I looked in the full length closet mirror door after she had taken the rollers out, I thought I looked like Farrah Fawcett and felt pretty. I also remember her kindness, towards me and my kin and also to others. We moved around a lot when I was younger and I was always the new kid, and let me tell you how much fun that was. Looking back I now realize how much my mother tried to make it easier for me. An extra cookie made it’s way into my lunch when I was the new kid in class, so I could offer it to a potential new friend. She would buy me something from the trendiest store so when I walked into the new school I wouldn’t stand out as much – didn’t last long though…once I opened my mouth, I stood out…that and my larger than life earrings and my “True Blue Madonna” coiffure.
As you know, my Dad was in the hospital. While visiting one evening, I was fortunate to witness another kindness bestowed on another by my mother. An elderly gentleman was one of my Dad’s roomies and he had a friend visiting. He was not able to walk or get up on his own so he had to use a bedpan. My mother had noticed that he and his friend had been holding hands earlier, so she went to the bathroom, got a washcloth with some soap and a towel and gave it to the gentleman so he could wash and dry his hands, so he and his friend could once again hold hands.
As you know, I believe beauty comes in many forms. It can come in the form of foundation and eyeliner, mousse and hairspray, paintings and verse. It also comes in the form of kindness, of consideration, of paying attention to the needs of others. My mother has taught me many things, from how to measure a level teaspoon to threading a sewing machine, how to blot my lipstick and how to draw in three dimensions. She has also taught me to pay attention, be kind, make memories not regrets. Thanks for the memories Mum.
I woke this morning, smiled and cheered “hello” to my teenage daughter, grabbed my cup of joe and my new smartphone and sat down to hear one of my new favorite sounds, a whistle. (my choice of notification notice). I open up my new found twitter account to see some tweets about Judy Blume and all of a sudden I am flooded with childhood memories. Sitting on my butterfly quilt reading “Otherwise known as Sheila the Great” realizing that I too was normal. Reading “Starring Sally J. Freedman as herself” and imaging I was Sally and wondering what it must be like to be her. Sitting in the living room of the house we were about to move from reading “Are you there God? It’s me Margaret” realizing I wasn’t alone and turning 13 was gonna be okay. Being 16 and working on my tan in the backyard reading “Forever” and all the while I was reading it couldn’t believe it was my mother who gave it to me.
As all these memories flooded my mind I came to realize I need to thank Judy Blume. Her books were my friends, they were there no matter what, I could go back to them whenever I needed them, without judgement. You see, she helped me feel normal as I was growing up. I came to realize that I was like some of her character’s and people thought her character’s were pretty and funny and intelligent so that means I must be also. Among others who will be mentioned when the need arises, Judy Blume helped this woman feel pretty and normal as she was growing up. (I know…quite the “lightbulb” moment while on my first cup of coffee at 6 a.m.).
I am telling this tale today in hopes that it will rekindle the love of yourself (and of reading) and everything that is beautiful about yourself. We all have the younger version of ourselves tucked away and stored in a closet or drawer (I don’t know how you decorate your house of memories…mine is an old Victorian cottage) and it is time to bring them out into the sun. It is time to remember who we were in our youth – that is who we really are – you know – before the world got at us and tried to tell us who we were and what we should be.
Today, have fun. Laugh. Be who you want to be. I’ll be busy re introducing myself to me and getting my daughter my stash of Judy Blume books.