Waffles at the park. Some unknown person decorated park benches.
What a whirlwind week we had for Christmas. It was fun, but I’m exhausted. We had our second annual Christmas with my son’s girlfriend’s family. We are a family of four and they are a family of nine, plus my dad. Looking back on the past few days, I did a lot of cooking and dishes. It’s a good thing I like to cook — and I don’t mind cleaning up!
Some of the fun stats from our week included the food we went through:
7 dozen eggs
6 dozen Honeycrisp apples
1 full-size prime rib
8 packages of oxtails for soup
8 packages of sweet Italian sausages for sausage and peppers
1 giant pot of split pea soup
We also enjoyed my son’s charcuterie and veggie platters before each dinner.
I can’t say how much fun it is to be around an energetic, athletic, intelligent and musically-talented family. I’m inspired and in awe. Also, I was amazed to see how well everyone got along — all the time. Coming from a small family, I feel like I missed out on something by having only one sibling.
I will admit as much fun as the past week was, I’m glad to have my quiet and solitude. I’m ready to start the New Year and get back to my work.
On Christmas Eve, we were treated to a viola concert by two of the siblings who are professional musicians. Although the lighting is terrible, here’s a snippet:
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Waffles in his Christmas sweater.
What are your thoughts about family togetherness for the holidays?
Oatmeal Scotchies I made this week for a bake sale fundraiser.
Today I got a sharp reminder to slow down and to enjoy the moment. I was waiting with a heavy armload of Christmas packages for more than 15 minutes in a line that wrapped around the inside of the Post Office. I thought my arms were going to give out and I couldn’t wait to put them down. I was looking forward to the coveted spots along the counter where I could slide my packages as the line inched along.
A loud crash and sharp crack startled me. I thought someone had knocked their packages off the counter onto the hard tiled floor. I was shocked to see a woman laying flat on the floor ahead of me in line. The sharp crack was the back of her head hitting the hard floor. Moments earlier we were chatting about the long line and Christmas rush.
“Call 911! Call 911!” several people called out. We stared at the Post Office employees as they waited on customers and stared back. The supervisor came out to peek over the counter without a phone in hand. Fortunately, a person in line had called 911 before the supervisor was aware what was happening.
My Christmas decorations
Deck the halls with boughs of holly…
The paramedics were there within minutes and the woman must be on her way via ambulance to the hospital. The supervisor grabbed her package and the woman was able to hand her a credit card to get her package mailed before she was carted away on a stretcher. So she was conscious at least. I don’t know if it was a stroke or in the very least a concussion.
The woman didn’t look much older than me. As I work myself into a ball of tiredness and fatigue preparing for Christmas, I realized that could have been me!
Here’s what I don’t need to do: I don’t need to volunteer extra hours this time of year (which I have). I don’t need to have every gift perfectly wrapped and under the tree. I don’t have to get every room in my house in perfect shape for my guests. I don’t need to go overboard on decorations.
Here’s what I need to focus on: being together with family and friends. It’s not about checking things off the list in perfection. It’s about savoring the moments and not getting lost in the mayhem. We need to embrace the Christmas spirit and remember what the holiday is all about.
I caught this moment of sunrise lighting up the mountain and palm trees during my walk.
I have to find a tree! I have to clean out my kids’ rooms for the guests (We invited my son’s girlfriend and her family to stay with us Christmas week.) I have to meal plan and grocery shop and yeah — shop for presents, too. So many to dos are filling my lists. It’s freaking me out a bit.
The entire tree thing seems too much. There’s a tree seller down the street and during an evening walk, my husband and I stopped by to look. I only want a little tree, nothing stupendous. Just a four-footer or so. I just about choked when I saw the price tag on the smallest tree on the lot — $225! I remember when I’d pick up a tree in front of the grocery store for $30. I’ve been against fake trees on principle all these years. But, I think those principles are now telling me that it’s a crime to buy a real tree and pay a small fortune just to have the garbage man haul it off in a couple weeks. It seems so wasteful to destroy a tree, too, for a few week’s pleasure.
My son in the Palm Springs Christmas Lights parade in the Nutcracker Sleigh next to the Sugar Plum Fairy (pink tutu).
One funny story about the Christmas tree lot near our house: I remember when my kids were young and one night we walked there to pick out a tree. My husband carried our toddler son on his shoulders. I was pushing the stroller with our infant daughter while holding on to our Rottie’s leash. We walked the few blocks to the tree lot and began walking in an out of the rows of trees. Something jumped out from under one of the trees — scaring me to death! It was Sherman our black cat! I guess he couldn’t stand being left out. I had to walk back to the house with baby and dog in tow, herding the cat home, too!
Now with my busy schedule on my mind, it’s my saving grace to take time for myself. I’m grounded with my morning routine of walking, praying and writing. I am forcing myself to swim at noon Masters a couple days a week. And then I find a moment to sit in the back yard, close my eyes, listen to the birds and breathe.
What’s your secret for staying calm through all the Holiday fun activities and things you have to do?
I worked like crazy to get ready for Christmas. In addition to my usual decorating, card writing, baking and gift buying and wrapping, I had the added challenge of getting bids from roofers and a handyman to repair the roof and our closet.
Then, my daughter came home a few days ago and it’s been a whirlwind of activity ever since. I’m fighting myself to take time to appreciate the moments she’s here and not worry about everything that needs to “get done.” It’s a fact that I’m not going to finish the rewrite of my mid-grade novel or complete the other writing projects before Christmas—or soon after. I will in good time. And that’s okay. I need to enjoy these few days with my daughter and husband before our girl returns to school out of state.
I realize how blessed I am that she enjoys coming home, wants nothing more than to take a walk with us around town and the park. She likes hanging out and helping me.
It’s time to celebrate the season and be grateful for the time I have with my family. Last night we were treated to a wonderful dinner by my dad. I looked around the table marveling that we had three generations who like being together. I miss having our son home, too, but we’ll be together later next week.
Merry Christmas and if you don’t hear from me for a few days, I’m spending the time with my loved ones.
First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer.
Is there anything more important than spending time together with your loved ones? When is it time to say enough with the preparations for the holidays and take time to enjoy them?
An example of a photo my daughter would not like me to post on Facebook.
Just to be perfectly clear, I post lots of photos of my kids. That said, I read an article this morning where an 18-year-old is suing her mom and dad for posting her life on Facebook. It will be enlightening to see if she wins her case.
I’ve also read articles where it’s dangerous to post your young children’s photos on FB. Here’s an interesting read that explores the pros and cons of posting kids photos from the Wall Street Journal.
My daughter doesn’t like it when I post old photos of her on Facebook. I need to ask her approval before posting any pictures of her.
I’ve got some great old photos, too. I find them all sweet, funny, cute. She says friends on her swim team scour parents FB pages to find embarrassing photos to tweet.
Christmas 1996. How could I possibly resist posting this?
My son blocked me from his FB, because I didn’t approve of things he was posting and made the mistake of telling him about it. Because I was blocked, I missed the post where he tried to give away our cat and got quite a few takers. You can read more about that here.
Olive the kitten my son tried to give away online.
Isn’t it amazing how different our children’s lives are growing up with social media? We had a chance to escape the pressure of posting selfies, sushi and all the fun and smiles, all the time. We hung out at pizza parlors, long after our salads or slices were finished. We went to football games and dances in the small gym afterwards. We spent time together. We laughed and talked. When we weren’t face-to-face, we had an old-fashioned telephone and talked for hours. We also had downtime and privacy. Lots of it.
I wonder what is going to happen to our kids whose lives are on display? They don’t know anything else and even if we stop posting their pictures, they’ll do it on their own.
I have a question for you. This is something I’ve been thinking about for awhile. What do you think the long term effects will be to our kids for us posting everything they do on FB?
I’m not pointing fingers, because yes, I’m guilty of this myself. Do you remember when once a year your relatives and close family friends would come over and the slide projector and screen would come out? Or, when you sat with a bowl of popcorn on the carpet with the cousins at your grandparents house, bored watching old slides of your parents?
I took a lot of photos of my kids when they were babies and toddlers. I took less and less as they got older until our phones got mixed up with cameras. Now, I’m guilty of taking photos whenever I get the chance. And posting them on FB.
First Christmas photo shoot with a real photographer for my baby girl. ‘Kat in the Hat.”
But, I didn’t have FB when my kids were young. We barely had internet. We had a modem and I could send files of work to a printer. There was no way to share every minute detail and selfie of our day. Instead, I took my film downtown to the photo shop and got double prints made. Then I wrote a card or letter by hand to my mom or dad and inserted the photos and mailed them the old fashioned way. Here’s the result of that! A closet with shelves filled with photo albums.
A few of my photo albums, filled with real live pictures.
My fear is that we are raising kids who think they are more self-important than they really are. Their every move is recorded and shared with the world. Maybe they’ll be confused and want to share as much about their lives as a Kardashian. As they grow older and have their own Instagram, Snapchat etc. will they try harder and harder to get noticed? Will the photos get more outrageous and provocative? Look at me????
Christmas photo shoot 1996.
I’ve been reading articles about this phenomenon. Here’s a related article I wrote on whether or not our kids get too much glory. Following are some excerpts and links from CNN and US News. Some report skyrocketing anxiety and depression as a result of too much social media.
“The 2014 National College Health Assessment, a survey of nearly 80,000 college students throughout the United States, found that 54% of students reported experiencing overwhelming anxiety in the past 12 months and that 32.6% “felt so depressed that it was difficult to function” during the same period. The study also found that 6.4% had “intentionally, cut, burned, bruised or otherwise injured” themselves, that 8.1% had seriously considered suicide and that 1.3% had attempted suicide.
Ease up on the pressure. Do we really have to be noticed all the time? Does every second have to be a beauty contest? Our kids need to stop feeling that they have to outperform their peers every minute of every day. They need to know that they don’t have to market themselves constantly, and that social media can be a mechanism for fostering collaborative relationships — not a medium for fueling competition, aggression and irresponsible behavior that contributes to anxiety and depression.” More from CNN here.
Here’s another article with an interesting point of view on selfies and a teen’s self worth. Read more from US News here.
“Social media use can turn into a problem when a teen’s sense of self worth relies on peer approval, Proost says. Whether they’re posting from the football game bleachers or on a family vacation, teens can access social media anywhere and at all times. And because of the constant connection, it can be dangerous for young people overly concerned with others’ opinions. They may feel like they can never escape the social environment and are constantly faced with peer pressure.
“The mental health outcomes that we’re starting to look at now are things like body dysmorphic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, depression and anxiety,” Proost says. “We are starting to see those things creep up and be related conditions to excessive [social media] use.”
If we know an overuse of social media can be fun, but also have consequences that negatively impact our children—why are we leading and feeding them down this road?
Grandma on the swings with Robert.
Don’t get me wrong. I love FB. I’m learning Instagram. I LOVE that I’ve reconnected with friends and family and get to share in their lives. I say to keep an eye out for when it gets out of hand.
What are your thoughts on a generation of kids whose every move has been recorded and shared? Do you think there might be negative consequences, too?