(Explanatory note: I haven’t blogged in weeks. This is a longest stretch I’ve gone without blogging since I started a few years back. After the announcement of the Honorable, formidable, and inspirational Nelson Mandela’s passing, I just didn’t feel like the posts I was thinking about should be posted and I didn’t have anything profound to say about his life or passing. So, I decided to take a break. Then I travelled to Charlotte for Christmas and decided to wait until I got back to post something.)
Following are some post-Christmas thoughts.
Toys for Toddlers
Toddler toys must make noise it seems and have movement and shining lights besides. When gifting such a noise machine to a toddler, please choose the noise-level thoughtfully. On a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the noisiest, a toy in the 4 or below range is best. Otherwise a grandmother or parent might be driven batty. Once a toddler learns to push the button to make the noise come on, he will push that button repeatedly for many minutes until another noisy toy caches his eye. Repetition is a key to how toddlers learn so get ready for it.
If a toy requires batteries to operate, please take that extra step and include one set with your gift. This will avoid a child meltdown. (And parents, since you know most people aren’t going to do this, having a supply of various batteries on hand at all times make good sense.)
Yippee! This year it was my privilege to see an uptick in the # of handmade gifts given in our family. My mother, a sewing wizard, designed and made outfits for my granddaughter’s bitty-baby. My artist friend Sala made pillow ornaments out of fabric she designed at the Spoonflower site which allows you to create your own fabric, wallpaper, decals and gift-wrap. (Check out Sala’s fabric and designs. Also check out her fabulous decorative and functional fine gourd art .) Another friend’s daughter, Michael Ann, makes fancy hair-ribbons and bow-ties. See photos of her work at Bows by the Good Life.
Twelve is the Magic # for Guests
In my daughter’s home,12 is the magic number for guests. Any more than 12 means there are just too many people to interact with and manage. (Although a couple of guests can be a handful in and of themselves. Not going to name any names but you know who you are. Loudness doesn’t equal enthusiasm…it just means you’re loud .)
Giving to others doesn’t mean you’ll get anything in return. Luckily, I like giving and so I’ve adjusted to no gifts or lousy gifts. Some people are givers and some are not and one learns to accept if not be totally happy with this. The giving of gifts has nothing to do with a person’s wealth or budget. My gypsy cab driver gives me a small, thoughtful gift each year. He is a giver. I come from a family of givers. My brother, on very small budget, gives a gift to everyone in our family ever year. He is the bargain whisperer and his gifts are classy, lovely and appropriate for the recipient.
Next year, my sister and I plan to opt out of giving to each other and instead focus on the kids and find a family in need to gift.
Some people will acknowledge the hospitality they receive from my daughter year after year by:
- Bringing a gift for her and/or her children
- Making a dish or bringing something to share for the meal
- Helping to clean up after the meal
And others will do nothing. They will sit like lumps on a log and not lift a finger to help. Why they feel this is acceptable I just don’t know. It’s not my place to tell them about themselves but I can’t help noticing. This is especially noticeable because she watches kids for her friends and has games nights frequently. She could use replenishing.
I will catch a train, bus or cab to get where I need to go especially on a holiday when the hostess is so busy getting things together as well as putting things in order after gifts have been opened and batteries found (or not) and toys that need to be assembled are put together, that she shouldn’t have to also worry about picking up so-and-so and getting them back home later. Sometimes she’s able to get another friend to bring the car-free/carefree/clueless family friend but it still falls on her to get them back at the end of a very long day. (Note to self, I’ll just have to become more comfortable with Charlotte and take that on myself next time if I can manage after all the prep.)
The ability to receive a real-time video greeting and photos from the family in St. Louis is so special and extra special because it can be saved.
- How very special this Christmas was. My two children who had been estranged were together this Christmas. (Special thanks to Leanne for her diligent work and love to make this happen.)
- My dear daughter has liberated herself from a negative relationship and is doing okay (although it is very hard to be a single parent and live in a city where you have no relatives).
- Tommy the toddler spread his toddler magic all around, singing “romp-pa-pa-pom” every chance he go and uttering “oooooooohhhhh” at the wonder of it all as he rode around in his Santa-delivered car (when he wasn’t turning on various noise-making toys).
- My husband was able to see his daughter in the early stages of her pregnancy.
- My darling son was the life of the party as always regaling us with stories, jokes and his ability to intake food.
- Saige is the sweetest six-year-old in the world – reading up a storm, dressing up in the numerous outfits she received from great-grandmother, grandmother, aunty and uncle-y while tending to her bitty-baby and cavorting with her multitudes of Barbies. (“I think I got too much stuff,” she said at one point. Noted.)
There’s Always Rain
- We mourn the passing of the three of the senior men in our family – Grandpa James, Uncle Floyd and Uncle Richard. We hold them in our hearts.
- A cloud looms in my home and we pray that medical intervention and eliminate it.
- We didn’t hear a mumbling word from Saige and Tommy’s father. Nada.
We had our Christmas coming together despite the things that might have prevented us from all being together (and last year did)! It was a triumph to say, “Get thee behind me obstacles, I’m going to be with my family!”
Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.
(From How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss, shared by one of my favorite librarian-people, Elisa Bridseye, on Facebook.)
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