Thursday, December 10, 2009

10 Ways I Know It's Christmas.

In the past few days . . .

1. Decorated the house and picked out the annual perfect tree at Home Depot. $24 7' Douglas Fir. These trees are fresh and last well into the New Year. (Side story - I'd given up on the Douglas fir because all they seemed to have left was little 6' trees. But the tween forged through the stacked up inventory, to emerge triumphant with the last taller tree in the pile. So she's the Christmas tree elf this year!)

2. Ordered the last Christmas gifts. Yay.

3. Knitting madly to finish teacher gifts and something special for my mom.

4. Listening to Christmas music on Live365 - I'm a huge fan of streaming radio and music broadcasts on the internet. I listen to Sky FM's free classical music at work and enjoy jazz and folk at home.

5. A Christmas Story has started popping up on TV. Hello, Ralphie - it's great to see you and your folks again.

6.  The kids are cramming for finals. Nothing like added stress to make the holiday break even more of a relief.

7.  Chrismons! I've been working with the ever-energetic and wonderful Laura to coordinate a 17-year tradition - Chrismons hand-made by the Presbyterian Women at St. Luke's. This Sunday we'll attend both services and hand more than a hundred to the children of the church.

8.  Christmas cards are arriving. I mailed ours this weekend and now look forward to catching up with family and friends via photo cards and annual letters.

9.  Christmas-centered services at church. Ah, the warm embrace of scripture, familiar carols, children's festive clothes, the Living Nativity, holiday sweaters, fellowship parties, and the lighting of the Advent candles. Simply wonderful.

10. Baking, baking, baking. Snowball cookies and buckeyes, cheese straws and pumpkin bread, peppermint bark and fudge. Yum.

Ho, ho, ho!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Snow, snow, look at the snow

A favorite Dr. Seuss book of our family's preschool years was Snow . . .

Snow, snow, just look at the snow. I want to know, do you like snow?
Yes, we do.

Flurries are forecast for tomorrow morning, in the northern suburbs. Because this is the South, the weather people are giving this forecast front and center coverage at every news break. Which means we may or may not see a scant few flakes in the air, melting by the time they hit the ground.  What we hope for every winter, fervently and with keen anticipation, is a snow day . . . enough snow on the ground to go sledding, dampen sound, cancel school for a day, and give us even more reason to light the wood logs stacked optimistically in the fireplace. It's a Southern thing. After the humid heat of the summer, we enjoy the novelty of snowy weather.

Another "Southern thing" is our love of tradition. We accept change a bit slower than most and have to be convinced, after lots of talking and chewing things over, that we actually want said change.

I just viewed a slide show presentation to the City of Dunwoody by a team of architectural students at Georgia Tech. Its vision of the heart of Dunwoody, our Village area, makes me hope I'm alive and kickin' when it's underway. Our house already sits just a five-minute walk from the Village center; imagine adding all that greenspace, sidewalks, and bike paths as well as old-school retail on the ground floor and residences above. (Too bad it'll happen after some unfortunate development in the stream and transitional buffer between our neighborhood and the Village. But overall I'm very impressed with what the students propose.)

On a snow day, we may want to amble over to Starbucks for hot cocoa, a walk that's a bit of a challenge right now because we have to cut through parking lots and dodge traffic on Dunwoody Village Parkway. With sidewalks along the way, we can enjoy the rare winter gift much more safely. During the summer, the farmer's market will be much more accessible. Right now, we have to jaywalk across the parkway after traversing a busy parking lot. I love the return of the Dunwoody Farmhouse to its origins, surrounded by crops and greenery rather than broken asphalt. And it will be very satisfying to see a mix of retail shops and service establishments that satisfy our needs without having to hop into the car and drive unnecessary distances. Throughout the Village will be greenspace buffers and park space, water features and pedestrian-friendly conveniences.

Simply wonderful. I can't wait to see it happen.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The brain can hold just so much . . .

I can't remember everything.

Up until a few months ago, I thought that not remembering telephone numbers and people's names and restaurants and college professors and when someone got married (or born) was a tremendous weakness. My husband can remember the street address of the townhouse we lived in when we were first married. I can't remember the street name itself.

Then I had an epiphany. I actually don't care!

I remember things that are important to me. I forget the things that aren't. So much of everyday life is unimportant minutiae . . . the name of someone you work with for a couple of months, the hotel you stayed at for a weekend back in the 80's, a writing assignment published while doing research for the next one, your kid's preschool class teacher, who was president of the Junior League when I first joined, or the type of car I drove when I was in college (clunker covers it nicely). Honestly, do I need to keep those facts in the front of my memory? No! The brain can hold just so much, and a lifetime of memories gets pretty darned big.

So now I relax when I can't remember something that's excruciatingly important to the fact-obsessed.  I'm not unintelligent, or "losing it."

I'm just choosy about what I want to remember.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, my favorite son.

I play favorites with my kids, regularly telling each, "you're my favorite daughter" and "you're my favorite son." This always draws an eyeroll since we have just one daughter and one son. But that's the point. Each knows they're equally special, equally well loved, and equally unique.

Today is our son's 17th birthday. He's weathered quite a few storms for someone so young, but he's coming through with a quiet reserve and kind heart. He chose Luigi's for his birthday dinner tonight (they make a white cheese-and-garlic-sauce pizza off the menu for him) and a Carvel icecream cake to go with the candles. T is taking Marta to work so the teen can drive to school on his special day. So it's all good.

Happy Birthday. I'm so very blessed to be your mom.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Do I have to wear this?

In the morning bustle of getting ready for work, Latin Club, and Jazz Band practice before school, I noticed that my daughter and I had coincidentally dressed in similar outfits - blue jeans and black sweaters. I shouldn't have said anything. Because as soon as I remarked about our choices, she immediately launched into "remember that time you MADE us wear the SAME dress? It was SOOOOOOO embarrassing!"

She was four years old, for pete's sake!

I bought matching dresses from Hanna Andersson for Mother's Day and thought we looked just fine. Even at that young age, my daughter vehemently disagreed and scowled the few hours we wore the dresses. (Scowling really isn't a usual thing with her - she's a very good-natured person.) Afterward, I tucked my dress away, never to see the light of day again. She wore hers until she outgrew it.

Particularly for holidays and family photos, it's traditional for Southern mamas to have matching ensembles for their children. Wooden Soldier, Orient Expressed, Kelly's Kids, Hanna Andersson - there are legions of specialty catalogs that indulge our love of coordinating plaids and dots, stitched embroidery and smocking.

I have to admit that what looks adorable on young children gets downright silly as they reach the tween years. Yet some steel-spined Southern mamas will insist on matching outfits (including those Christmas Eve pajamas) right up until the time a kid escapes to college.

I confess that my favorite photos of my kids feature them in matching black turtlenecks or white tees and jeans. But I no longer insist that they dress alike for the annual Christmas photo. It's hard enough to get them together in the same place, ready to smile somewhat naturally.

As for dressing like my daughter, I'm very careful not to cross that line. Wouldn't want to mark her for life!