They Think They Can Do Better — Well So Can You

"Prang's Valentine cards". Advertise...
“Prang’s Valentine cards”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My single friends look at me with longing; they think as a mother of two, husband in residence, that my greatest life questions are resolved.

“Gal-pal” is such a casual label for these women whose worth is above gold. We have conversations I can only dream of with my friends who are also mothers. Unfettered by constraints of feeding, nap, or bedtime schedules, we can meet whenever work or sleep allows.

They sigh and bemoan their lonely futures; I urge them to pursue their passions rather than a man. They contest my advice as  invalid, offered from the safety of the ivory tower of matrimony.

“Pour that urge to nurture into a new hobby!” I cheer.

“Easy for you to say,” she grumbles. “You’re settled.”

“I’m going through the same struggles as you,” I protest. “In different ways.”

My dear friend would like to meet her life partner and have a baby. Yet, hours of conversations show that her thirst for intimacy is no different from mine — for female in friendships; I’d love to have more friends who were reliable and didn’t cancel at the last minute or move away after three years.

Often the heartbreak of ending a romantic relationship can feel like it will drag you under.

But again, from my parallel universe, in the week leading up to that most commercial of holidays, second perhaps only to Christmas, Valentine’s, I am reminded that many people can hurt us, not only our intimate partners.

People disappoint us. Often treat us other than we deserve.

But as with boyfriends or husbands, once I recovered from the shock, I steeled my resolve: if they think they can do better – then they should try.

After all, as I’m reminding myself, so can I.

Moral of the story? Don’t put up with sh#t from anyone. Not a lover or a friend or an employer.

After all, you’re worth more than they think — though they’ll never know unless you show them. How you let other people treat you says more than the words you use. This Valentine’s Day, remember: true love, begins at home.


Enhanced by Zemanta

I'm Not a Grinch But I'm Not Giving This Year

Christmas gifts.
Christmas gifts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve always loved giving gifts. There’s a small closest in our house dedicated to gifts from trips around the world year round.

In the mad dash to get ready to travel home, between writing a technical document, finishing one manuscript, launching another book and producing a book trailer,  I went through the house pulling out everything but clothes that needed to go.

Downstairs I threw open a door and found forgotten items from South Africa, Turkey, and Greece tucked away into bags no one had ever seen. I sat back on my heels. I bought most of the ornaments, wine stoppers and tiny vases in 2011. Here they sat, waiting for me to remember then. The pile was an unavoidable fact.

Something happened to my joy of gift giving. Maybe it started the year we arrived on December 22 to find the malls full of people so angry that they couldn’t even smile when I clucked in sympathy for their long hours.

Perhaps another part of it was the fact modern holiday revelry means if you’re not stressed out, grumpy about family gatherings, and in general put out by the demands of parties, travel, or giving during the most wonderful time of year, then you work for Hallmark. Living overseas make it easier to drown out the 24/7 retailer demands on television and radio to show how much you really love your loved ones.

I’m the kind of person who puts up the Christmas tree while the Thanksgiving turkey is roasting.

Call me type A, call me crazy. But I wanted to take my holiday back. To bounce out of bed and be excited by the day ahead — the food, the fun, the family. Where can I find it?

This year we agreed: no gifts will be exchanged between adults. Amazing what a simple decree like that does for your spirits (and checkbook). In most cases they can get what they need for themselves. Let’s be honest. And those that don’t? They are easier to find without the background din.

That’s right, not even from or for my husband. Gifts only for the children (which in our family we have five and if you throw cousins into the mix, still fewer than ten people).

Ever since I was a teenager and could earn money, I’ve felt the pressure of the material undertones to the holidays. There was one particular friend whose family showered them with so many gifts, I knew my budget item could never

English: A bauble on a Christmas tree.
English: A bauble on a Christmas tree. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

compete. So I did the next best thing: I took the money I would have spent on him and sponsored a few gifts for a child in need. My friend got an ornament with a date that he could hang on the tree forever.

Soon the trend caught on and that was the only gift we exchanged. Over ten years later my tree is now covered with ornaments of our decision to forgo for each other and pass-it-on.

Now as an adult, I buck the trend to be wearied by the expectation to find the perfect gift for loved ones. Instead of piling on the presents for our toddler, I step aside and let grandparents, aunts, and uncles have the pleasure.

Maybe it’s too late for this year (or maybe not, thinking of soup kitchens, food banks, and other programs) but next year think of what can help put the joy back into your holidays instead of steam under your hood at the already overcrowded mall.

What are your secrets for holding on to your holiday cheer? Or have you surrendered to Scrooge?

Related articles

Enhanced by Zemanta

Wordless Wednesday: When Tea Party Meant Something Else

There’s a lot of history around the Fourth of July including  a Tea Party that had a very different meaning from what it does today. The story of ragtag American colonists overthrowing the most powerful empire the world had known was a plot out of the best Hollywood would come to offer. But it did happen, complete with cinematic river crossings and imbedded love stories. And it is now our story, the story of a country begun by religious dissenters and international working class immigrants. Since my field is Postcolonial Studies, I’m glad things went the way they did. And we have a day to commemorate with friends, family, fireworks and of course, grilled meat.

I hope we can use the 4th to remember what brings us together, rather than what keeps us apart.

Celebrating the Fourth of July with Fun


Enhanced by Zemanta