Trying to Find the Magic

When we left work on Friday, it was our last day of work for 2012, meaning that today Jimmy and I are on vacation.  Daniel is at daycare and will be going all week.  I feel a teensy bit guilty about him being at daycare and us being home, but the reality is that we have almost no preparations made for Christmas and need this week to finish buying gifts, figure out menus, order and mail cards, wrap, etc.  Oh and try to relax.  I almost forgot about that part.  We decided that today will be our officially designated “day of relaxation” in which we do absolutely nothing.  As a matter of fact, I should be back in bed trying to sleep, but the huge mug of peppermint coffee next to me likely won’t help that endeavor.

It seems a little silly that we must designate a day to relax, but it won’t happen otherwise.  Does that make us Type A planners and schedulers? And this is it.  This week is our only chance to get things done and rest because Christmas for us officially begins on Saturday with a trip to visit my mother and stepfather and won’t end until December 27.

I haven’t been sleeping well either thanks to the cold virus from hell.  My right ear is still stopped up, my voice is not as terrifying as it had been, and I now have a hacking, phlegmy cough (you’re welcome), but I’m finally starting to feel somewhat human again.  The holidays wait for no one, so preparations must continue whether I feel up for them or not!

The problem is the magic.  I don’t yet feel the magic of the holiday.  Christmas has crept up on us and slapped us in the face, and it feels like everything is conspiring to keep us from enjoying it.  Everything feels like a massive to-do list, and that’s not how I want it to be.

I’m not a religious person, so I celebrate Christmas as a holiday about love and family, which, if you don’t want to get technical about it, is the symbolism behind the season.  I love Christmas, and we love making it special for Daniel.   We are firmly on Team Santa Claus in this house.  There is a spirit to the season, and I want to help Daniel know about it and experience it.

The Newtown tragedy makes it difficult to find the magic also.  How can we think about mundane things like Christmas presents and reindeer food when there is such horror and suffering in the world?  It seems …unseemly…to be thinking about wrapping paper and what to serve for Christmas meals when there are those suffering so horrifically.

Life goes on, however.  We may feel embarrassed by it, but it’s true.  That sentiment is both reassuring and cruel.  Reassuring because it gives structure to our days; cruel because no one person can stop the wheel.  Jen wrote a great post that gives us permission to live our lives when tragedy happens around us.  And she’s right.   Feeling guilty and sad about our own celebrations won’t change what happened to those children.  We should spend that impulse fighting to change or enact laws to prevent such tragedy from ever happening again. That is a better way to honor their sacrifice.

Fake it until you make it.  Isn’t that what they say?  Today is only the first day of vacation.  Maybe I’ll feel better after more sleep, more medicine, more hugs and cuddles.  We don’t have to be superhuman parents.  Just a few small activities will help create the magic for our 3.5 year old.  Holiday stress is yet another topic left out of the non-existent parenting manual. Maybe I should give myself permission to relax and focus on only a few important things, memories I want Daniel to have.

How do you find holiday magic when life is overwhelming?

Because We All Could Use a Smile

Tonight I was supposed to post for you a video of me singing “Let It Snow” for Neilochka’s annual blogger online holiday concert and celebration.  Something told me I should have recorded it earlier in the week, but I failed to heed that little voice.  It’s impossible now because I caught a quick-moving bug that knocked me on my ass and left me with a stopped up right ear and a voice that optimistically sounds like throaty Kathleen Turner but more likely frightens anyone who hears me.

I thought about still trying to participate.  Perhaps I could sing the earthy “Santa Baby?”  Or maybe do a parody of Springsteen’s wailing “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.”  But I’m too hoarse and rough for either.  I’ve been ordered to whisper because it hurts my throat to try to speak.

And honestly, in light of the news out of Newtown today, fretting over not being able to participate seems inappropriate.  Or maybe it wouldn’t have been since the celebration was about sharing, fellowship and embracing all the ways to celebrate this time of year.

It’s hard to process the tragic events that happened in Newtown, but it’s horrifically relatable since I have a child who is closer to being in Kindergarten than not being in Kindergarten.  Babies were shot down today.  Babies.  The Newtown tragedy seems way too close to home.  It’s not about me, though, and has nothing to do with me.   But I can picture it and I feel so horrified and sad and angry for those families.

Tonight after we got home, Daniel said, “I want to cuddle you, Mommy.”  I bent down instantly and wrapped him in my arms, squeezing him tighter than was comfortable likely.  For a moment he was engulfed in my arms, and I wished they were enough to protect him always or that there was some River Styx nearby for me to dip him in (although I like to think I’d learn from Achilles’ mom’s mistake and leave no part of him undipped).  They aren’t.  There isn’t.

Life is hard.  Nasty.  Brutish.  But some acts are beyond the pale, and it is those acts that we must decisively prevent.  We need to make some major changes in our approaches to gun laws in this country.   I don’t care how anti-government you believe  yourself to be, we shouldn’t fear for our babies in environments in which they should be the safest.  Like public school.   Shit like this happens in war zones in third-world countries and we condemn it as a war crime.  Here?  It’s part of the culture.  Bullshit.  Bullshit.  BULLSHIT.  I call shenanigans.  Something has got to change or what’s next?  A preschool?  A daycare?  A nursing home?   We need to do something NOW.  This type of event is unacceptable and preventable.

I didn’t mean to go there but damn.  Kindergarteners are so small and innocent.  It was only a few years earlier that they were learning how to walk and figuring out how to talk.  We shouldn’t have to fear whether some asshole with mental issues is going to shoot up their classroom.  STOP IT NOW.


But we could use a laugh or at least a weak smile after today’s events.  I don’t know if you saw it, but the Colbert Report did a mash-up of Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey It. Is. Awesome.  My two favorite shows, together?  Genius.  Please enjoy and may it bring a wee bit of levity to you during a very grim day.