Friday, November 22, 2013

Those Crazy People who Start the Holidays on November 1st.

This is Hector (but you already know that).  He's always in a state of just being. He is enlightened. We should change Hector's name to "I Am," he's just that zen. I think I could even venture to say that Hector is in a perpetual state of happiness. When we make the bed in the morning, Hector hears the rustle of the sheets and the duvet and comes running. It brings him great joy to jump into the middle of the bed, and spontaneously freak out in only a way that a cat can spon....taneously....freak out.  "Rwaaaaar! I am a CAT! And now I am going to hold your sheets hostage. BECAUSE!"
And even though we are not scared of Hector (He's more meow than bite. Actually, there's no bite), we usually just leave him there and move on to something else, because if a duvet can bring someone this much happiness and excitement , then more power to them. 

Last weekend my Noah turned nine. Which was exciting for everyone. In the weeks leading up to the big day I asked Noah: "Noah, what would you like to do for your birthday? Would you like a party?" And Noah turned to me like I was crazy and said: "Mom, the LAST thing I want to do on my birthday is have a party."
So, for the fifth year in a row, we didn't have a party, just a small PAR-TAY at home, at 6:00am.
Noah woke up at 4:00am and 5:00am on his birthday, but I told him, that I was sorry, 6:00am was my limit.

I think he had a really good birthday. My father happened to be flying into Detroit on his way home from working in California. So he came in the morning (we were up!) to surprise Noah and take us out for breakfast. The day also included a trip to Target, and a very shameful  amount of time playing Minecraft. And for dinner, it was Noah's choice. Anywhere, anywhere he wanted. A steakhouse, some sushi, a nice restaurant that we'd normally pass up. He chose............ Panera.  Broccoli cheddar soup.
Props Panera. All of those years (that are still sort of going on) where he would only eat five things, one texture, one damn color, not eating, we could always count on the one thing: Panera's Broccoli Cheddar Soup.  Thank you Panera, for helping to keep my child alive.

It's beginning to look a lot like Thankschanukahmiss! Everywhere you go. Including the god-forsaken mall. I dislike malls.  It's just so loud and crowded and massive in there,  it's usually not my cup of tea.  But, I had to go yesterday. Do you mall shop like me? Before leaving home I pinpoint the hopefully store, not storeS that I need to visit. Locate them on the online map, find the closest door, choose where I'm going to park and then 3....2.....1.....GO!

And also, hey! Look! My mall has palm trees in Michigan! And a Santa's sleight with reindeer.

And some kind of North Pole castle with paaaaaalm trees out front. Yes, makes total sense.

Do you know those annoying people who just go CRAZY over "the Christmas spirit" the minute Thanksgiving ends? They're  totally  obsessive,  listening non-stop to Christmas music as soon as the local oldies station switches over to holiday songs (which for us, I kind you not, was November 1st). I'm telling you, they're nuts! Once the pumpkins are gone, BOOM! It's all candy cane and sugar cookie fragrance spray.  It's hours spent in the special holiday section at Target, at LEAST two times a week. Yeah, they're completely overboard. My name is Lauren and I'm one of them...........

I really can't explain exactly why I love the holidays so much, especially being that I grew up without religion, and I am an agnostic. I think it has something to do with the fact that for as long as I can remember, Christmas Eve in particular, was just the most beautiful, still, peaceful night of the year. It was magical, it was sacred, it was the day that I looked forward to the most the entire year. Christmas held and still holds an unexplainable feeling of hope and cheer. Maybe it's because so many people walk around happier or more contemplative, or that they speak of peace. And beyond this, I can't articulate why it is so important to me. My feelings don't come from religion or even from family memories so much, it's just some kind of inescapable time of serenity and wonder.

Maybe this is a good example of the magic. We took Noah to Holiday Nights at Greenfield Village last year. The highlight of the whole evening is the "REAL"  Santa perched on top of one on the historic houses (his REAL reindeer and sleigh are on the lawn!). A parent has to stealthily approach a near by actress dressed as a caroler, and whisper their child's name into her ear. Then, using a tiny, hidden mic, she relays the name all the way up to Santa.

I took this short clip when we approached the house. You might be able to tell that my Mom and I got a liiiiitle TOO excited (actually, we were kind of flipping out for some reason).  But what you can't see from this dark, grainy video is the HUGE smile and look of shock on Noah's face. A year later he STILL talks about Santa knowing his name. It made him feel so happy and loved and special. It was great. And that might be a  good way to explain why Christmas time means so much to me. 

Or maybe you can understand by hearing the giddy insanity in my voice as I narrate the entire hour-long, 3-mile-an-hour drive through the Wayne County Lightfest. I was crazed.

In our house, Jon, Noah and I celebrate Chanukah. Growing up though, and still now, my family celebrates Christmas, but in a pretty non-religious way. For the sake of simplicity, (not because I was asked by Jon) when I was married nearly ten years ago, I thought I could volunteer to give up having my own Christmas tree or jolly Christmas decorations. So I started doing up Chanukah in a big way instead, making my own decorations in shiny silver and blue. But really, now I see in retrospect that I was only trying to fill a void. With each year, my collection of Chanukah decorations grew, and right along with it, a sad feeling that something was missing.... 

And slowly the homemade Chanukah decorations changed into silver and blue Christmas Chanukah bulbs attached to garland long Chanukah bushes. And then one year I added twinkly, clear lights, and another year a "winter" screen  that featured fake snow and ornaments glass sculptures that look like tiny presents. And then two years ago, when my stepfather innocently offered me two old, 4' artificial Christmas tree topiaries to help decorate the outside of the new house, I totally went over the edge. A break with holiday decoration reality.

The sadness, the feeling of missing something, the years of longing for a tree and lights and candy canes, it came exploding out. I could. not. help. myselllllllffffffffff........

Jon has been very ok about all of this. Actually, he's truly "meh" and "whatever."  I'm actually the one who organizes and facilitates Chanukah around here. In fact, I'm the one every year who tries to drag us to  Chabad's city-wide outdoor, giant menorah lighting and free donuts ceremony. (Hey, it's a giant menorah two blocks from our house and the FREE donuts! ) And it's Jon who's apprehensive about going.

Also, this year, I swear,  I'd get better get footage of the menorah mobile driving past our house. (This photo from the Toledo Blade is an example of a pretty awesome menorah mobile.)

I'm not being facetious at all. I'm being totally serious, I absolutely LOVE our local menorah mobiles. They bump music through loud speakers, the most incredible mix of Chanukah songs and hip hop. AND, they drive RIGHT BY OUR HOUSE as they circle downtown a few times. For the past two years Noah and I stand in the front window, jumping up and down and screaming. It is so amazing. Jon, he just gets a headache.

I feel badly though because just as I've had a Christmas tree my whole life, Jon's never had one.  I feel like it should be give and take. I've tried to balance the Christmas and Chanukah.

For example, I feel as though this "Winter Fantasy" theme on top of our china hutch in the kitchen is quite neutral. It's arctic, it's snow, and  that's non-denominational, right?

And this area in our family room. It's all silver and blue Chanukah colors, except for a little, single stocking. Balance.  Lots of Chanukah presents and then something that Jon named "Christmas Fallover Bear."

A little house - neutral.  A teeny, tiny fake Christmas tree - almost neutral.

More mostly Chanukah....Sort of.

But then! THREE menorahs! And a thousand dreidels and tons of gelt! (Ignore the um, silver and blue jingle bells. I have no idea.) Just so you know, there's even ANOTHER menorah on the other side of the room. Chanukah has NOT left the building!

See, the winter fantasy scene IS pretty Chanukah, is it not?

Totally neutral. Silver fuzzy stuff and candy colored glass art.

Teeny tiny, fake Christmas tree, but then...........

............Two Jewish people skiing. Chanukah.

More candy colored glass sculptures.

This week we had two little friends come over after school. I had to come up with some kind of cool snack, and when I saw Trader Joe's Chocolate & Peppermint cake mix, I couldn't possible pass up such a cool Chanukah cake. It was huge hit! Delicious and super easy to make. Highly recommend. Pick  your own box up at Trader Joe's while supplies last!

I'm kind of sad that I don't crochet as much as I used to.  I need to make more time for it. It's really strange, but over the past year or so, I've lost the ability to relax. I really don't slow down and crochet or watch TV or a movie or read much these days. The closest thing that I come to that is working on the computer at night.  I don't know why I've changed, but I feel like it has something to do with becoming too obsessed with making "to do" lists and with the challenge of getting everything done ahead of time. I also challenge myself to be efficient and on the ball with everything that needs to get done. I'm starting to think none of this is healthy when it means forgetting how to relax. Being a robot is not healthy. Maybe that'll be my New Year's resolution! Learn to relax again. I hope that mean more crochet!

What sparked these thoughts is that I wanted to make a small, quick gift for someone. He's a cardiologist, so I found a free pattern for this heart garland (by the way, if you're wondering, I'm fine, everybody is healthy. Nothing is wrong at all).  Each heart took just two minutes to make and the chain is even faster. In the end though, I'm embarrassed to admit, I liked it so much that I kept it for myself. I sent the cardiologist chocolates though. Chocolate loving cardiologist = most awesome cardiologist in the world! :)

And that my friends is the news from Lake How Bourgeoisbegone, where all the women are strong, all the men good looking, and all the children are above average.

Until next time!


Loulou said...

Happy birthday to cute Noah! I love the special birthday boy necklace he got to wear to celebrate. He seems like a really fun guy. And you and Jon seem like really fun parents too. I love your enthusiasm for the holidays. Me, I'm waiting for December one to pull out the 3 bins of decorations, but I'm telling you, this year I've been this close to busting them out early!

Lauren said...

Thanks Loulou!!!!! :)

Wait, I know, there's been something about this particular year that has just made me want to decorate! Although, I have yet to put up our outside decorations yet. That comes today. I suppose that's not too bad, given that our Thanksgiving is coming up on Thursday. Still, I am decoration crazy!!!!
Have a GREAT weekend Lou Lou!!!!