Thursday, November 25, 2010

On Turkey and Cultural Amalgamation

I'll admit it right now, Thanksgiving in November usually feels like a bit of an anticlimax.

Having been raised in Canada Thanksgiving is part of October, the beginning of the month of excess. A 31 day stretch with a tryptophan stupor in the middle and finale of diabetic coma. Then you ususally have Novermber to recuperate before revving up again for Christmas and all that beer that just won't drink itself. 

Now that we live in the States we usually celebrate both thanksgivings because really, there is no better excuse for two turkey dinners in as many months. My mom and dad come for Canadian Thanksgiving in October and my mom spends the entire weekend educating any sales clerk willing to listen about that fact that " yes Canadian's do have Thanksgiving", and " did you know we are celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving", "this bag of potatos is for Canadian Thanksgiving."

And then when we celebrate again during November Seth's mom joins us, having grown up in the States herself she really feels more at home having turkey this month. And usually this second dinner feels like the great anticlimax, like a belated birthday card, or Christmas presents lost in the mail and delivered in July.

But not this year.

This year we had a great time, all crowded into the front room to watch the snow fall, and fall and fall..... we actually watched the Macy's parade on T.V. which believeyoume was the most surreal experience of my life. I felt like a kid on a tv sitcom; who was having a thanksgiving that someone had scripted to follow the classic idealistic American lifestyle as brought to you by Home and Garden magazine. We had dinner at the dining room table with a tablecloth and nice plates and a gravy boat and everything, The kids ate themselves sick and then had pie and whipped cream and ran around like crazy people. It was the idyllic American Thanksgiving... although admittedly we skipped the football.

I suppose the interesting thing about this year was that I feel like my kids are really going to have a very different cultural upbringing than I did. And I am not talking about saying zeeee and zed, or punctuating sentences with eh, or the differences between tourists and taurists (oh yes washingtonians I am onto you; as far as I can figure a taurist is someone who travels that has been born in May?)

But there really are cultural traditions that Seth and I grew up with that my kids will only learn about through collective memory, not firsthand. In Canada you are never fed that bull*%$@ story about the Indians ahem First Nations, and the Pilgrims ahem Pioneers and the great feast. Simply put Thanksgiving is exactly what it says it is; giving thanks for the bounty of food put before you and hoping like hell you aren't starving and freezing by January. Well I am thankful, and I hope I am not freezing in January.

I guess the best part is that we can do both, we can have two days for giving thanks and be extra thankful and extra full at the same time. I am thankful for my girls who make me wonder everyday if I can be big enough, strong enough, smart enough, gentle enough and humble enough to raise them. For Hubs the Great who really is the other part of me, and for realizing that even though I might be really far from where I came from I am exactly where I need to be.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Tis' the Season to go Shopping

Ohhh Christmas is coming, fast and furious. The bix box stores haven't even waited this year for Thanksgiving to pass before hauling out all the bell chiming, glittery, snowy marvelous Christmas crap that accompanies the season of purchasing. And I love it.

Most of my friends will have a lot to say about buying less, giving less, that children need less toys, there is no need to go wild and get them zillions and zillions of toys, and I agree... mostly. Because when it really comes down to it, I LOVE BUYING TOYS, LOTS AND LOTS OF TOYS FOR MY KIDS. This does not mean that I will dwindle my bank account to nothing this Christmas, it means that I will find the sales and indeed already have most of my Christmas shopping done. It does not mean that I will buy any toy I come across that is a low price. I will line up my children's interest with toys I think are worthwhile and at a great price. It does not mean that I will neglect making them something by hand. I have a handmade gift planned for everyone on my list and have most of them finished.

But I will refuse to feel guilty that I love to buy them things, that even though the money could be spent on a myriad of other things I will enjoy buying them something to fuel their imagination and play. I will teach them that they are lucky to own such lovely things and when the time comes when it is no longer played with we will donate it, or send it to a second hand store. This year will be the year we start buying a toy for charity, Abby can pick out a toy to donate and when Norah is old enough she can too.We are blessed enough to be able to afford new toys and I know that, I teach my kids that, we talk about how amazing our situation is all the time.

And quite frankly I love how many options for play we have in this house. Lately we have been keeping all the toys packed away in coloured bins. Everyday we pick a new bin and the kids get to play with whatever is in that bin. This means that each day there is something new and exciting, something that has not been seen before, and it fuels imagination like never before. Kids need things to play with, they need variety and they need to have the experience of deciding that they like one thing more than the other. That one item is more precious and their reasons why that item is more precious. They also need the ability to decide when to get rid of something, and how can you ask a child to get rid of a toy when they only own five or six. Preciousness increases when quantity decreases, and should we be teaching children that there are only small quantities that should be held onto forever? or that the world has bounty but we can share it, keep it for a while, covet our favorites and let the rest move on.

I read this on a friend's blog today and it really rang true, I actually wrote it down and put it on the fridge because this year I will revel in my generosity REVEL DAMNIT!

Gift-giving teaches generosity, after all. It teaches thankfulness. It gives a sense of blessedness.

This is not advocating that the only way to do Christmas is to buy buy buy, or that the only gift is a storebought toy. And there are of course families that cannot afford to have piles of toys for their children this Christmas, but I plan to buy my kids some, and then buy some for your kids too.

Sunday, November 14, 2010


It is so awesome that all my friends are on this crazy post everyday thing. Awesome that each morning I get to stall even longer upstairs and look into this house, or that house, and sometimes that house, and not often enough that house. Lately I have been struggling with the concept of this blog, how much is too much and how little is not enough. I am an intrinsically honest person... to a fault, if you've had a conversation with me you'll know that I am generally well meaning but blatantly honest. ( For future reference this is not always the easiest and most tactful way to be.. just sayin'). And it does provide a slight problem with this space as I am never sure how much information is okay and how much is too much insight into our lives, where we live, what we do, how to find us... But it is fun reading blogs of other people,. specifically people that I know in real life, then there is this teeny tiny glimpse into the background. The set as they say, the part in the dress rehearsal when they just leave the curtain up for the stage change and you can see the blank concrete back wall, the hanging wires, the old unused sets in the wings, new props waiting to be brought out. The way it really works, I like seeing that, a "How it's Made" of a family I know.

And it is even better that some of these great gals are doing it everyday, I mean when else can you work into conversation "Soooo what was a completely banal thing that happened today that spurred a memory that made you rethink your entire parenting style," yeah I know that's not really an icebreaker is it? So then really why the heck did competitive overacheiver me not jump on this NaBloPo thing? WEll for one, I didn't know what the hell it was until Ivory explained it to me. I don't feel like I have time..... but that's a lie, because I do have time. If I have time for daily puzzle, then I have time for this.

Who knows, I do know for sure that we have to go out soon, stop and pick up the pottery that Abby and I painted last week for Xmas gifts, get a new coffeemaker ( life giver) and then buy a snowblower, or shall I say budget blower for all the snow from the *&(^%& global warming trend. It is ironic that to combat the effects of global warming I need to buy something that uses non renewable resources and makes noxious exhaust.... but I'm sure I could write a college course on the amount of irony in life.

I also know that Norah is incredibly adorable in her 6-12 month sweater that fits great, and her 18 months pants that fall down because she no longer wears diapers and she is super dinky skinny. lol, and I also know that Abby is sick as a dog and has a terrible croup thing but insists complete with tears and hystrionics that she will go pick up the pottery. So off we go! maybe you'll hear from me tomorrow, but probably not, the pathological need to forge my own path and disregard all other rules is pretty strong.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I think that this Hallowe'en was my most favorite to date. Abby was amped up for a good two weeks beforehand, literally vibrating with excitement. And Norah was finally old enough to really appreciate the fact that simply walking up to someone's door and being her unbearable cute self saying "twitck o weeet" was enough for scads of candy. :) She spend the evening hefting her pumpkin bucket around all by herself smiling a cat-that-got-the-cream grin and saying "I got wots o candy!" It was marvelous. I ended up vetoing the Ponyo cotsumes that were originally requested mostly because Ponyo didn't really dress for October this far north, (a Miyazaki film about the far arctic would really help me out next year). And so the girls went as princesses, which was a sure bet with Abby as long as the costume has lots of sparkly Diva going on.


 We followed up Hallowe'en with Abby starting Ballet lessons, she is completely delighted as a couple of the girls in her class take ballet and now she is just like them. She had a marvelous time at her first class despite the fact that her mom ahem.. missed the right time and she was in with the 5 year olds being slightly bamboozled by instructions she did not understand. But I have to admit that Abby is so good at being easy
going she did great and followed the best she could. So next week we'll be there at the right time and she'll do even better. The best news is that she asked to go to ballet again the very next day so I guess she really likes it.