Posts tagged: holidays/celebrations

Redefining Christmas

By , December 22, 2008 8:51 pm

As a child, I remember Christmas being so exciting that I could hardly sleep the night before. We’d have a tree, Christmas stockings and yummy turkey.  My Dad would always design a “trail” for me –  a treasure hunt with clues – to lead me to my biggest present.  Dessert was always my mother’s homemade Christmas pudding with lots of thick cream, almond paste cloaked Christmas cake, and tiny, flaky mince pies (my parents were from England).

As an adult, I managed to spend most of my Christmases at home with my mother and sister (my parents were divorced by then) where it would always be the same as I remembered (minus the trail).

This will be the fourth Christmas since the death of my mother.  Each year, my sister and I have struggled with how to make Christmas like we remembered.  For a variety of reasons, the first two years were fairly miserable.  Last year, I just ran away from it all and ignored Christmas as much as I could.

This year, I feel brave enough to try it again.  It will be different.  My sister and I have decided that we can’t recreate the same thing without my mother.  Those days are gone.  I need to do something new (but with a few old elements?).

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a long time (at least a year) may remember last year’s  Christmas/Holidays Unplugged series, so perhaps you know of my internal struggles.  I want to create lovely memories and traditions for my children, but hate the commercialism and lack of any meaning.

I think that writing that series of posts really helped me prioritize and come up with a plan.  A “year off” from Christmas helped a lot too.


The plan this year is as follows:

– Tree: Thin tree that needed to be cut from our property anyway – read more: An Ugly Christmas Tree.

– Child Presents: Christmas stockings plus one gift each for the kids from Santa, and a few from us.

NOTE:  Without TV, my kids don’t really have specifics on what they want…which is wonderful and difficult at the same time.  They sat on Santa’s lap at our town Christmas tree lighting and both asked for “a surprise.”  I wonder how many kids do that?

– Adult Presents: Christmas stockings all around.  I do the children, my sister and my husband.  My sister does her significant other and me.  I love the challenge of finding cool little things that they might like that would fit in the tiny space of a stocking.  It seems fun and not commercially excessive.

Otherwise, we are not doing adult gifts this year.  We are all in the very fortunate position (especially fortunate in light of this year’s economy) of being able to buy whatever we need, and I hate shopping out of a “need to buy something” mentality.

In lieu of gifts, each adult will do a donation to charity for each other adult (to that other adult’s favorite charity).  I have even gotten a few other relatives on board with this (even for the kids) which certainly lightens the gift receiving (and giving) burden, is much more in the spirit of the season, and makes me feel that we are actually doing good for the world rather than doing good for Walmart.

– Food: I think I’ll get a small, fresh turkey from our local market (but I’d better get on that right away, especially since the weather is forecast to be lousy).  I’ll try to keep it somewhat simple because I want to enjoy the day and not spend it mostly in the kitchen as I remember my mother doing.

Of course, if I can’t get to the store for food, we’ll be having leftovers for Christmas.  But snowed-in with leftover pasta might actually make for a completely fun and memorable Christmas!


This is my overall plan.  It may need refining next year…or maybe I’ll just want to run away again.  I don’t know.  I’ll tell you all how it goes.

Good luck defining (or redefining) your celebration.  Happy holidays to all!

Unplugged Birthday Party

By , September 10, 2007 10:28 am

For me, it is one of those dreaded times of year again: birthday party time. A Good Mom probably cherishes these milestone moments and decorates for hours, bakes a cake from scratch, plans fun games and then sits back and enjoys watching her wee one having the time of his or her little life with perfectly well-behaved and polite little friends at The Birthday Party.

I, however, have come to rather dread The Birthday Party. For me it symbolizes a time of excess, greed and waste. Just call me Birthday Scrooge. I have grown tired of watching my kids rip wrapping paper off yet another toy we don’t need, only to toss it aside to rip the paper off the next one, as all the other kids “ooh” and “aah” with envy.This year I decided to suggest something different to my daughter. Having recently spent a lot of time at the local Humane Society shelter adopting a dog and three cats to add to our already large menagerie, I suggested that this year we have a Humane Society birthday where we would ask guests to bring an item for the shelter animals instead of the usual gift. My daughter loves animals and understands that many animals are homeless, but I wasn’t sure that a 7 year-old could be altruistic enough to forgo the excitement of birthday presents.

I picked my moment carefully (after we had finished sorting out a bunch of old, unplayed-with toys to donate) and made the suggestion:

“Every year at your birthday party you always get a lot of toys like these that you never play with and that just clutter up the house. How about this year we ask everyone to bring pet food, or something for all those homeless animals at the shelter instead?”

“Oh yes, yes, yes!!!” she said. Even her little brother asked if he could do that for his birthday too (we’ll see if he still wants to when his time comes next June).

We asked our cat sitter, who works at the Humane Society, to tell us what they really needed most right now. We put this list on an insert inside the party invitations. My daughter was very excited to help make the insert requesting donations instead of gifts. We even added some photos of our recent shelter adoptees.

We had the party on Saturday, and as you can see from the photo, the eight guests were extremely generous in their donations of food and toys for the animals! The parents all commented on what a great idea our party was. I am sure they were happier spending their money on food for the homeless animals than on a cheap toy for the child who has too much.

Today after school is the really exciting moment. I will pick my children up from school and we will take everything down to the shelter to give to them. My daughter can’t wait!

I must say that as I write this, I feel every bit the Proud Mama. My daughter, at only age 7, was able to derive pleasure from giving rather than receiving. For once, this was a truly enjoyable birthday party for us all!

Happy Easter!!

By , April 8, 2007 10:25 am

The Country Bunny And The Little Gold Shoes (Du Bose Heyward)

By , March 22, 2007 4:04 pm

We read this book every Easter and often at other times too. Country Bunny is an old book that still fascinates today’s children.

This book, first published in 1939, actually has a modern feminist message! It is an Easter tale of a Mommy cottontail-bunny (lucky mama to 21 children, poor Mama Bunny!) who is chosen, against all odds, to be one of the five Easter Bunnies. She beats out the fast boy jack rabbits, and handsome male white bunnies.

But that is just the beginning! The story continues with her adventures delivering eggs as an Easter Bunny, and some special magic shoes.

The illustrations, vaguely reminiscent of Margaret Wise-Brown, are sweet and in a style typical of older children’s books.

A major theme is that kindness is what counts in life. But what I really like best, is the all-important message that we moms can do anything!

Happy Hiccup Day!

By , March 16, 2007 8:31 am

OK, does anyone else think it is weird that we, the United States, see fit to designate March 16th, as National Hiccup Day? Are we celebrating hiccups? Are we supposed to have the hiccups on this day? Does anyone but me even KNOW that today is National Hiccup Day? Does anyone care? Does any other country in the world do this sort of thing? These are the questions I ask myself. Yes I know, I need to get a life.

So, what exactly is the connection between this post and the theme of my blog you ask? My answer: If I had a TV, do you think I would have had time to spend hours online doing all this important research? Please don’t be so rude as to point out that I am not exactly “unplugged.”

In honor of this very important day, I offer you these links:

Hiccup Day E-Cards:

Visit American Greetings or Greeting (Hallmark doesn’t seem to find this holiday to be worthy enough).

Hiccups In The News:

I have just proven once again that being without TV is like living on Mars. How could I have not heard of the poor Florida teen who hiccuped for 5 weeks straight? As I research this post, I see that this news item seems to have been pretty much everywhere. Apparently there was a big debate, even here in the blogosphere, as to whether or not she was faking. See: Blogging Baby: —Is The Hiccup Girl Faking?

But who really cares about a mere 5 week hiccup when we see that there is an 84 year-old
Virginia man who has been hiccuping for 6 years! It all started when he ate a bowl of Campbell’s Chunky Soup back in December 2000.

Hiccup-Related Blog Posts:

Monkeys In The News : — Baby Monkey Rejected Because of Hiccups (if you are like me, then you will appreciate knowing in advance that this story has a happy ending)

Opiniorama: — 12 Second Cure For Hiccups

Beauty and Personality Grooming: — Home Remedies For Hiccups

Hiccup Hell: A WHOLE BLOG devoted to hiccups! Today is the perfect day to go and visit this one.

I am sorry if I missed your hiccup post. Please feel free to add a comment with your link.
Hiccups And Health

For you hypochondriacs out there (you know who you are!), consider this from Yahoo Health:

“Sometimes, although not always, hiccups that persist may indicate the presence of another medical problem. Some illnesses for which continuing hiccups may be a symptom include: pleurisy of the diaphragm, pneumonia, uremia, alcoholism, disorders of the stomach or esophagus, and bowel diseases. Hiccups may also be associated with pancreatitis, pregnancy, bladder irritation, liver cancer or hepatitis. Surgery, tumors, and lesions may also cause persistent hiccups.”

(are you starting to feel those hiccups coming on yet?)

Hiccup Trivia:

Guinness World Record Hiccupper: Charles Osborne, an Iowa hog farmer who hiccuped for 68 years.

Alternative spelling: Hiccough

Also known as: Singultus

Word Origin from
Online Etymology Dictionary: 1580, hickop, earlier hicket, hyckock, considered imitative of the sound of hiccupping (cf. Fr. hoquet, Dan. hikke, etc.); modern spelling first recorded 1788; hiccough (1626) is by mistaken association with cough. Replaced O.E. ælfsogoða, so called because hiccups were thought to be caused by elves.

And of course, Remedies:

A Cure For Hiccups: I could write a book the size of War and Peace of all the remedies out there. This is the site I found that seemed to list more remedies than any of the many others I looked at. Plus, they are nicely categorized under the headings “Mental,” “Breathing,” “Drinking Water,” etc. so you can try them all in a logical order. Bookmark A Cure For Hiccups for the next time you get them!

There is also another remedy that is …hem… more invasive of one’s “personal space” (I won’t go into details, but click here if you really want to know).

Failing all this, there is always the patented Hic-Cup (which credits itself with curing the Florida teen): See for more info.

By the way, tomorrow forget St. Patty’s Day. You will find me celebrating National Submarine Day honoring John Holland, who demonstrated the first submarine in 1898!!

(Who says you have to have a TV to be connected to the world?)

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