Ho Ho Helicopter

On more than one occasion today, I saw an Apache helicopter flying overhead. Not an unusual occurrence for this girl who grew up near army and air force bases. But I don’t live there anymore and this town was neither home to a major military instillation nor a major threat to democracy. Most of the people who live there do think it’s the center of the universe. The rest of us just think it’s the 18th circle of hell.But I digress.

So this Apache. Kinda got me thinkin’.

I NEED ONE OF THOSE TO DO MY CHRISTMAS SHOPPING.

I mean, can you imagine?

If that commercial is right, I get to grab Santa’s job by the balls and make Christmas happen for all of my people.

So I need an Apache to get my shopping done.

Because really. Why does Santa need that of all things? He has his own vehicle, which I’m pretty sure is a F-350. To say nothing of all the shorties who do his bidding so he NEVER has to venture out to a mall or major shopping center between November 10 and January 3.

And he doesn’t live in the center of the universe. He lives at the top of the world.

Doesn’t. need. it.

Although I have really great mental images of Santa using a batterang (because you KNOW some grown man asked his mother for one for Christmas) to drop down into stores or chimneys to do his Santa thang while the Apache hovers overhead.

I also have really great images of Bad Santa using said chopper to blow through crowds and stores and get that mess done.

And then I remembered I do 96.2% of all my Christmas shopping online.

I could, however, use that Apache for Sunday afternoon grocery shopping…

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Dress ‘Em Up, But Don’t Let ‘Em Out

I had to run to the mall this afternoon to pick up some more face soap and see about getting some drab green khakis. (I like colored khakis/chinos–especially my hot pink ones.)

I decided to hit up The Gap since I hear they have a mad Wednesday discount. No dice. Next door, however, was New York & Co.

Hello, friend.

Got my pants–the right size AND length–and was out in a hot second.

But then I walked by Gap Kids and sorta actually paid attention to the displays in the window. The mannequins were dressed in halters and skinny jeans, polos and cargoes. The itty bitty child-sized mannequins were dressed as small ADULTS.

Which got me thinkin’.

We’re content to dress children as small adults but we still micro-manage the hell out of their little lives. In other words, we spend so much time making children look like adults while not allowing them to begin to make choices and decisions for themselves in an effort to learn how to become independent young adults.

And we wonder why girls, at least, experience puberty at an alarmingly earlier age or why girls are sexualized at such a young age. Yet we think it’s cute to dress girls up as mini-me’s in skinny jeans and halter tops.

If boys experience the same thing in terms of sexualization, there’s not much reported about it. We do know that boys receive cultural messages about sex and…well…that’s a more explicit link for another time.

But it goes way beyond sexualization.

I work with college students, many of whom can’t seem to get their shit together. I know this when their mommas call my office…when they come in freaked out about not being able to register because they didn’t complete their part of the process…when they have a hissy fit (I kid you not) about not getting what they want right when they want it. And sometimes, it really is their fault.

But sometimes, it’s their parents’ fault, too.

Because parents have (or ought to anyway) a great deal of control over what their children see and eat and wear. Parents have a great deal of control over the parameters within which they will let their child(ren) operate. But parents will never have complete, absolute control. And at some point, they will send their child(ren) out into the world, thereby relinquishing most, if not all, of the control they had.

If there’s anxiety about letting your child(ren) leave the nest, perhaps we should look at the kind of preparation these children have been given and whether they LOOK like young adults or whether they can BE young adults.

Counter Culture Christmas

It’s Christmas morn (for another 4 minutes or so), and everyone at my house is watching Casino Royale. Because nothing says Christmas like James Bond.

 

I’m contemplating the differences in this Christmas compared to those past. Ryan was the designated elf who sifted through the presents to hand them out–and there seemed to be fewer this year. Or smaller. I’m not sure…maybe both. Al and I purchased our gifts for one another early. One we’ve taken advantage of already, and the other (a massage) will be used at some point soon. Ryan only asked for a handful of things, and was remarkably easy to shop for. Al passed around his Amazon wish list. I asked for people to donate to a charity of my choosing.

 

So I didn’t have any presents under the tree. Well…except for one. Dad found a present that he said he couldn’t pass up–a very special one that reminded him of Mom and I. And so I had a present. A very special, meaningful, bring tears to my eyes present.

 

It occurred to me on Christmas Eve–and again this morning–that I wouldn’t have a present to open. And I felt, very honestly, conflicted by that. Growing up, even when things were tight, I never knew it on Christmas morning. My parents were always very generous with me. Now, as an adult, I like lavishing gifts on others. And perhaps I did that more for my extended family this year than my immediate one. But I’m OK with that. The immediate family gathered here is quite content with their gifts–and James Bond.

 

My point is, this Christmas this year doesn’t feel lavish–in terms of what was under the tree. But maybe that’s the way it should be. It is, after all, our very consumerist, marketing society that suggests the importance of all the stuff. And perhaps we’ve taken a page from the playbook of the first Christmas, where lots of extravagant planning and events came together–and we want to re-create that magic. Nothing wrong with that.

 

I did feel a little let down by the lack of present opening or piles of wrapping paper after the scourge. But only a little. Because it was fun to make my child happy and give fun and meaningful gifts to others–and receive a meaningful gift in return. And to know that a children’s home in another part of the world can pay part of their heating bill.

 

In talking with a friend this year, she shared that she wanted family to give her children experiences as opposed to stuff. I like that idea. And I’m gonna steal it. We actually were on the receiving end of that this year, with friends giving the three of us an all day pass to everything the US National Whitewater Center in Charlotte has to offer. And we can’t wait.

 

So more of that. More experiences. More giving to people who really need it. More giving meaningful stuff. Less stuff overall. Because I think that’s more of what this season is about. Even if I am in the minority…on this point.

 

Where I fell into the majority: I did buy into the busyness of the season. I did accept my limitations and scrap the Christmas letter. However, the marathon cookie baking took place–even more so at marathon pace this time. Everyone in my house has been sick and I feel like I’ve been steamrolled by the whole thing. I was again the one to wrap the presents, bake the cookies, do the grocery shopping–and the present shopping/ordering. Begrudgingly at times. Which is not at all what Christmas should be about. Apparently, I need to take a page from a different playbook on that one. Hopefully I will. Next year.

 

I keep hoping that the more I try to change my approach to Christmas, the more natural it will feel to do so.