Gift questing

Dec 21

It’s December 21st, people.  December twenty-first.  (This becomes meaningful later in the post.) As I listen to my parents reflect upon my childhood Christmas’s, we all laugh about what they remember.  When I was very little we would pack up and drive to my dad’s family in Westlake, Ohio.  One year, according to the telling of the tale, my dad basically dropped his four girls off at Grandma’s house and then spent the next three days driving to every toy store in the region in search of a My Little Pony Beauty Parlor Salon.  He finally spotted one (that they didn’t know they had) waaaaay up high on a top rack, and that was the gift that got opened under our tree that year.  A particular Fisher Price village one year.  Another year, Cabbage Patch was the rage: I think Mom and Dad had help from a superior shopper to secure those.  I opened up the first Nintendo one year when I also awoke with the flu; I remember playing Duck Hunt while laying horizontal with my head on the pillow because I felt terrible but was also excited about my gift. Gift quests — the hunt for the one thing your child wants — are like a parenting right-of-passage, I think. Except, in my era of clickity-click, the quest doesn’t require nearly as much effort as it seemed to for parents raising children in the 80s.  I imagine my dad driving from store to store and am still humbled by the love that shows.  Remember?  I’m a gifter.  Gifts speak deep to my heart on many levels. Greta is five.  She wants All The Things.  We don’t get many catalogues, but the ones we do get are circled with over ninety-eight percent of the items with big ‘G’s on them.  She’s more toy-of-the-day type… her interests are creative and ever-changing and fanciful and whimsical.  She’s easy to delight.  She has told everyone who asks her what she wants for Christmas in specific detail, though she’s not very consistent in her answer.  Like I said, her interests are always evolving; one day her homemade box creation is a puppet show theater, the next day it’s a space ship. Maren...

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The cutest little snowmakers

Dec 13

Those giggles you heard tonight at 8:30pm, neighbors?  Those were my magnificent kids making a snowman and snow angels in our yard.  Maren had practice after school, so she didn’t get Round One in the snow with Greta during daylight hours.  After practice, Brad took them both to see our high school friend perform in the high school’s band concert tonight.  After a packed day, she came in the house so utterly disappointed with the realization that she missed the first snow.  Since I know the magic of snow to a child, I said “Get out there!  Carpe the night.  Go play in the snow!  Go!” She had a tween moment that prevented her from jumping onboard immediately.  Greta danced a jig in front of her singing some made up silly tune about sisters in the dark with the snow to try to get her to cheer up.  Greta is the best person to have around when you need a cheery moment: she is choc full of them.  “C’mon Maren,” she said as she snuggled up on the armrest of the chair Maren sulked in, “I’ll go with you and we will do ALL THE SNOW THINGS!” Grinning with Greta, I said coaxingly, “Seriously Maren.  This is going to be a memorable snow-outing because you’ll be in the dark.  It will be awesome.  Snow-play-standards will hold: hot chocolate and marshmallows will be served when you come in!” In the end, it was neither my super-counseling nor Greta’s jiggity joy that helped.  Instead it was short comment from Brad that got Maren out of her disappointment funk and into fun mode.  Go SuperDad. Finally, the two rapidly bundled as quickly as they could and dashed outside — into the dark.  I think it will be a memory maker.  They made snow trails and snow angels in the yard.  They squealed with the thrill of the cold and the adventure of the night.  They got out their teeny tiny toy wheelbarrow and used it as a snow plow.  Maren sent Greta knocking on the door looking for accessories for their mini snowman; I met them at the door with bamboo skewers from the kitchen drawer for arms, a (smallish) scarf from their toddler years, blueberries...

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Breast cancer giving

Dec 12

Tonight I got a soliciting call (after two hang-ups earlier today from the same number).  “Hello, ma’am, I’m So-and-So with NameOfFamousBreastCancerCharity.” Me, cheerfully, “Hello.” So-and-So: “I am calling because you know how important it is to help those that are struggling this with breast cancer this season, and I am soliciting donations for our charity.  All of your monetary gift will be used to help people with breast cancer pay their bills.” Me, having received a version of this phone call before, so I am very clear in what I want to say: “I appreciate your effort on behalf of your charity, but I myself have Stage IV breast cancer, and we are sufficiently burdened with our own responsibilities as we navigate cancer as a young family.  Unfortunately, I don’t have the resources to donate as I am actually a member of the population you are seeking to serve.” So-and-So: “Well, I am sorry.  But sure does sound like you understand the weight and importance of our cause.  I think you can help.  Let me outline for you the breakdown of where your dollars will actually go…” Interrupting her, I say, “Excuse me.  I just told you that I have this disease in its worst form, and I politely declined to donate.  Are you really asking me — a metastatic breast cancer patient who has said ‘no’ to your first request — again?” So-and-So: “Yes ma’am.” Me: “I can’t begin to tell you how invisible that makes me feel.  Your representation of your organization certainly doesn’t speak to your desire to serve breast cancer patients like me.” So-and-So: “I’m sorry you feel that way ma’am.  We just need your help as we are trying to help breast cancer patients.” Me: “I even don’t know what to say, but good night,” and I hung up. I’ve probably received a half-dozen of these calls in the past three years.  Each time, it has been similarly horrifying.  I don’t mind the call itself; we are all subject to solicitations and they serve their purpose in our society.  For me, the disappointment is always the response of the person who hears me tell them I have Stage IV and their indifferent response (or at least I perceive they are indifferent.)  Worse, I’ve...

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A day of smiles

Dec 05

Today I slept in.  So did the girls.  (It was a fun weekend, obviously.)  I woke up Maren first by climbing into her bed and snuggling her.  (It’s the only way she doesn’t whine when I wake her up.)  I mitigated her need-to-rush anxiety by telling her I would drive her to school so we have twelve extra minutes.  Next I woke up Greta who was already wiggling in her bed.  She asked me if I would help her pick out her clothes, and I said, “Sure.  What are you interested in today?” because when Greta ask for help, she actually wants to make all the decisions by verbally processing at someone. She slouched on the floor and rolled over to look at me, “Probably some throw up clothes,” was her unexpected reply. At that point I scrutinized her, took note of her bloodshot eyes, snuffles, and sad face, and decided it was a no-school-for-Greta kinda day.  Throw up clothes?  Sheesh.  She must have been feeling pretty wimpy.  I gave Greta her softest sweatpants, panda slippers, and and oversized t-shirt, and she was ready for the day.  Since it is chemo day, I’m immediately counting the childcare options (of which there are several — we are blessed).  I made a mental note to call her school.  (And then I forgot the mental note and the school secretary called me mid-morning.  Oops.  Mom fail.  Lucky the secretaries at Greta’s school are highly skilled in the grace-giving department.) I sent Maren off for the day with smiles and some treasures for her teachers.  (Maren and Greta are both big-hearted gifters.)  I dropped Greta off at Phenom’s house with a smile, happy for them to spend their first whole day together since the summertime. I went through Starbucks as a treat for myself–a combination of no-time-to-make-coffee-in-our-rush-t0-get-out-the-door and pumping myself up for chemo.  To my surprise and delight, the woman in front of me paid for my drink.  I paid for the person’s drink behind me, and I’ve been wondering all day how long the pay-it-forward-in-the-Starbucks-drive-thru-line lasted.  I hope it lasted all day.  It’s the first time I’ve ever been on the receiving end of that particular act of kindness and it had me smiling...

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Gifty McGifterson

Dec 01

Gifty McGifterson

With Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday, it feels like it is full on holiday mode now.  I’m so glad we decorated before Thanksgiving (a first ever for us, I think) because it feels like I’m ahead.  (Feeling ahead.  Huh.  So that’s what that feels like.) I love gifts and gifting.  A lot.  I want to go be on Ellen’s show, not to be in the audience to get the things, I would love to be the give-er of the things.  So. Much. Fun.  Anyway, as I’m having fun with gifts I thought I would share my thoughts.  They’re kind of all over the place, which means that — as ever — you are getting an accurate perspective into my world.  If you are not interested in gifting or shopping, you may want to stop reading now.  If you are a husband of one of my friends and will be shopping for her, tune in carefully as this could be very helpful to you.  I get energized by thinking about my people and finding things that will dazzle them.  We’re in a season where we’re over ‘stuff’.  We want experiences or things that matter.  This post is sharing my “favorites” with you, in hopes that you might dazzle your people.  I figure the more dazzled people we have in the world, the better. White Elephant:  We did a White Elephant gift exchange with my family.  ($20 max, bonus points for less money spent, creativity, and giggles).  Greta ended up with a hideous mouse/melon piggy bank that she loves, and Brad ended up with an elf hat that sings and jingles when you push a button.  He has really great comedic timing with that button.  Obviously, my family is winning at White Elephant.  Other gifts that were stolen often and I recommend: a label-maker (everybody wants one, nobody has one!), a mermaid pillow cover (this is mesmerizing–Amazon it!  I’m giving it as legit gifts now too.), and reindeer antler/nose for the car. Curl Help:  Greta wants to be able to curl her hair.  She has white-blond, thin, fragile, stick straight hair that doesn’t hold curl well.  I have always had easy-to-curl or curly hair.  What tool(s) do I need to buy to...

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