The most anxiety I have felt about 2 paragraphs

The other day, my child, who is in the second grade, came home with an essay assignment. Basically, he has to write two paragraphs and draw one picture about a holiday that we celebrate as a family, one associated tradition, and a food consumed during said holiday. Of course, this has spiraled into a massive amount of anxiety for me.

We are atheists, so I would rather not mention any specific religion’s holiday. Granted, I know that 95% of the kids, at least, will be writing about Christmas or Hanukah. I looked through a list of non-denominational winter holidays, and some of the possibilities I came up with were Festivus and Decemberween. And who could forget Boxing Day? But I realized that we don’t actually celebrate those holidays, so back to the drawing board.

Then, I thought about the Winter Solstice. After all, that’s what our kids think they are celebrating when they celebrate Christmas. But I got stuck in the facts of this astronomical yearly occurrence, and had my son draw something like this. Then, I remembered this was a writing assignment, and not a science project, so most of that was scrapped.

It’s important to remember that this assignment is of writing TWO PARAGRAPHS, and this entry is already twice that. Finally, I realized I was thinking too much about it, and I think I will encourage him to write about Yule, which is the name I grew up calling the winter solstice. He can write about the days growing longer, and how we like to bake cookies, and then we will bake and bring in cookies. And on the plus side, I already know what we can do for science project this year!

xmas

Happy whatever you celebrate! (photo from 2014)

Blah, just blah

 

eunni

The eunni of a forced gathering demonstrated by yours truly and my mother, sometime in the 1990s.

I may have already said this last year, but I do not care for the winter holidays, and that includes Thanksgiving. In fact, everything that happens after Halloween and before the spring equinox is just blah, in my opinion. I know many people have great memories of Thanksgivings with their families, but some of us also have memories that are not so great.

My family did celebrate Thanksgiving when I was a child, but my mother did not like it. She used to say, “It’s just work for me while everyone else relaxes, and look what it represents.” I have the exact same sentiment today. I do not enjoy cooking. This holiday is just me annoying myself with an activity I do not like. And before anyone assumes I was a terrible person because I didn’t help my mother, I will say that I went I was old enough to be a help cooking, I started to work on Thanksgiving. When I came back from my teenage job at a horse stable, I had to take a shower before I could help in the kitchen. And by then, everything was done. I know, I could have not gone to work and helped my mother instead, but I was a young teenager who loved horses and money and hated cooking.

When I was slightly older, and had moved to college, I went through a period of a few years in which my parents didn’t want to see or talk to me. Since my parents are both long dead and can’t defend their decision, I will say that I wasn’t the most pleasant person during this time of my life. Still, it hurt to be asked to not come over for Thanksgiving. It hurt so much that whenever I think of Thanksgiving, that is the Thanksgiving that immediately comes to mind.

I was living in the college dorms, and almost everyone else had gone home for the Thanksgiving break. The cafeteria was closed too, of course. I didn’t have a car. There was a 7-11 (convenience store) within walking distance, so once a day I would go there and get a coffee, buttered roll, and one other food snack to get me through the day. (I still remember loving those damn buttered rolls!) I also had to get there before noon, or risk the 7-11 being out of buttered rolls! The horror of having to eat a 7-11 buttered bagel instead!

This was one particular Thanksgiving, but there were other holidays, including Christmas that same year, where I did not go home to see my family. Eventually, we started talking again, and I even went on to enjoy several years of a really good relationship with my mother. And yes, I also started helping her with the cooking of all large family gatherings. I use these reflections to remind myself that no matter what goes on in my kids’ lives, I should always welcome them home. Also, I try very hard not to burden my kids with my own hang-ups, so we still celebrate some manner of Thanksgiving. I actually find I enjoy it more when I try to just think of it as another day, but one in which we will eat some manner of poultry and tuber.

***After writing this, I realize I just wrote another, recent post about going through some difficult times in the past. Rest assured that this is about a different difficult time. Still, realizing this has made me want to do something that actually does some good in the world, and not just cathartic bitching. (Even though one cannot downplay the value of cathartic bitching!) I’ll think more on this.***

Pyewacket (aka the best kitten ever)

pye-window

My favorite photo of Pye, in the window of our last apartment, keeping watch for squirrels.

Some 14 years ago, my life was very different than it is now. My mother had just died and I had quit my job and moved to upstate New York to be with my possibly suicidal father. Right after my mom died, my old cat also died. We were still so numb from her death that we hardly even registered the fact that Gypsy, the cat we had since my thirteenth birthday, had passed. We needed a break, and took a week-long camping trip.

When we returned to our house, my basement apartment was filled with mouse droppings, and all the food I had left in my cabinets was chewed through. A few days later, I decided that adopting a new cat was necessary. My previous cat, Gypsy, had been a very small black and white girl. In the name of not getting another cat that reminded me of her, I decided to look for a larger, male cat. Inspired by the old movie, Bell, Book, and Candle, I also decided I wanted a very talkative cat, and to name him Pyewacket.

As soon as I walked into the cat room of the upstate New York Humane Society, one cat reached a paw out of his cage and tapped me on the arm. I read the card on his cage, and saw that he was a nine-month-old male domestic short hair. His name at the shelter was Bagera, after the panther in the Jungle Book. I took his out of his cage and immediately knew I would adopt him. He purred very loudly when I pet him, and complained very loudly when I stopped. While I liked his original name of Bagheera, I was aware of my propensity for shorting names, so I decided I would rather have a cat named Pye than one named Bag.

The day I brought Pyewacket home (not that day, as there was a waiting period for adoption), I happened to be having a party. Now, I knew how my old cat acted when I was having a party, which is to say she ran and hid from the minute the doorbell rang. Pye was the polar opposite of my previous cat, and came running to the door as soon as someone knocked. During the party, he ran from person to person, greeting everyone with loud yowls. But that night, and almost every night for the next 14 years, he came to my bedroom around midnight, and slept next to my head on the pillow.

pye-game
Gaming was a favorite hobby of Pye’s!

In 14 years, I have moved four times, gotten married, and had two children. Pye was with me through all of this. He interjected himself into conversations when guests came over, made himself a part of every family celebration, comforted me when I was sick or sad, and played with my children and was graciously accepting of their overzealous hugs and kisses. We found out eight years ago that Pye had a congenital heart condition (cardiomegaly, literally an enlarged heart) and probably wouldn’t live as long as most cats. He was on multiple medications from then on. He occasionally lost some hair as a side effect of the drugs, but his stellar personality never changed.

Although I’ve had many pets before, none have come close to Pyewacket. His heart was big, but his personality was even bigger. I will remember and miss him forever.
pye-and-samir
Pye loved Samir from the minute we brought him home.

The Terror of Creep

I’ve been doing this minimalist thing for quite some time now, and as I’ve mentioned in my monthly reports of purging, I’m kind of surprised that I still have so much stuff to get rid of. Thinking about it, part of the reason is because when I do go out and buy something, I usually don’t just buy one thing. Not that I shop often, but I do have two children, and they grow out of their clothing fairly regularly. Most of the shopping I do is grocery- or drugstore-related, and for consumables, so eventually they are used up. I have heard of people who make their own toothpaste or deodorant to cut down on cost and/or waste, but that is so not something I want to get into.

Toothpaste

I am not making this from baking soda and alchemy!

Still, when I bring something new into the house, especially if it’s for myself, I will try to delete one like item. For instance, the other day I bought myself a new blouse. I looked through my closet and found an old blouse that had way too many loose/hanging threads, so I got rid of that one. Whenever I get one of my sons new items, I check through their closets to see if they have anything old that doesn’t fit them anymore. If it’s my older son, I’ll move it to a box of clothing I’m saving for the younger, and if it’s the younger, it will go into whatever donate pile I’m currently working on.

What methods do you have for fighting creep?

I rarely use this blog to write something depressing or overly personal and I’m only doing now in the hopes that I’ll feel some sort of catharsis when I’m done writing.

What do birthdays mean to an adult? Maybe nothing. After I turned 18, I think mine all kind of sucked. Were my expectations too high? I don’t know. As I’m much older now, I’ve thought about what I wanted from a birthday, and it’s this: at least a few people around me who I know want to be around me, some type of baked good that was made or purchased by someone other than me, and a wrapped gift (that doesn’t need to have cost any money [it could have been handmade or whatever (the wrapping is important though because it indicates thoughtfulness)]). This year, I didn’t have any of that. I was disappointed, of course, but my kids are too young to do anything, or remember on their own, so it was easy to dismiss. Whatever, I’m an adult, so I didn’t have the birthday I wanted. Maybe no one does. Just because my expectations may be lower than some doesn’t mean I’m going to get what I want.

Anyhow, this post isn’t about that. Tomorrow is my younger son’s first birthday. When my older son turned one, a ton of friends and family came. It was an amazing day that I still remember in vivid detail, even though he doesn’t. I know my younger son will never remember his first birthday either, which is fortunate because every person I invited declined. All with valid reasons, but they all declined. My sweet baby’s birthday will be celebrated with zero guests. Everyone who has declined says “Don’t take it personally.” Of course, I should be able to not take it personally. And I know that no one loves my son as much as I do, so it feels extremely painful to me, when to everyone else it’s no big deal. And no, I don’t want to remember this day as the day my beautiful son turned one and I cried myself to sleep because I don’t think there are enough loving people in his life.

But I cannot help how I feel and how I feel is just miserable.

Doing less is sometimes more

Like many people who have their first child, I was in a hurry to sign mine up for a lot of classes. Even though he was in full-time daycare, he had to have soccer, music, or something else on the weekends. And even that wasn’t enough, because then we would also try to fit in plays, museums, and whatever else we felt was lacking. When I became pregnant with my second child, I was forced to slow down a bit. At the time, my older son was in a soccer class on Saturday mornings, but that was it. I was so pregnant and uncomfortable toward the end, that I maybe made it to every other class, if that.

soccer

My older son kicks a ball at soccer class while I have to stand in a field for an hour very uncomfortable during my eighth month of pregnancy. 

Now that my second child is almost a year old (where did the time go?), I realize that that soccer class last summer was the last one that my older son was in. We have been relatively busy, and with the getting ready and the travel, an hour-long soccer class could easily eat up three hours of time. And time is one commodity that is non-renewable.

The other thing is that there are weekends when I spend a lot of time and money running around to try to do everything, and in the process, feel like I’ve done nothing. Then, when I ask my son what about the weekend he enjoyed the most, he will almost always say, “Going to the park.” This is somewhat annoying to me because the park is free, you don’t really need advanced planning to go there, and it’s only three blocks away.

Generally I think I could have saved a bunch of time and money, and been more relaxed in general, had we actually planned to do less on the weekends and instead spent time just sitting around in the park. (That would be me and the baby sitting around, while the older one goes off and plays.) So this summer I am resolved to relax more and plan less! This is our last summer before the older child goes to school, and I want it to go by as slowly as possible please!