Five is the magic number

Christmas really is for kids. For those of the Christian faith the religious significance is the ‘reason for the season’, but you only have to spend Christmas morning with a child to feel the ultimate joy of the holiday.

My eldest granddaughter is 5 years old and she knows the score. For one month each year she gets to partake of all the holiday indulgences reserved for that one special occasion…….Santa’s arrival. Now she understands that Christmas Day celebrates the birth of baby Jesus, she just prefers to focus on all the other hoopla that accompanies the day (probably because it’s more fun) and who am I to burst her bubble? She will see plenty of ‘serious’ occasions in her lifetime besides I have to admit seeing her pure joy of the season brings out the child in me.

In those ‘in between’ years, when my children were grown but before grandchildren, the holidays were wonderful because we could be together to celebrate. We shopped, wrapped gifts, planned succulent menus, sang carols, gathered with friends, and imbibed in much ‘cheer’. It was fun but it wasn’t magical, though we didn’t know it at the time. It was only when children started entering our lives again that we rejuvenated that wonder and awe for the season.

This year, in particular, brought home the magic of the holidays as it reflected in my granddaughters eyes. At five years of age and the eldest of 4 granddaughters she took it upon herself to educate the others. She’d dive under the tree looking for gifts that bore her name or at least the first letter of their names, then proceeded to show them how to shake and inspect the package. She knew where the stash of chocolates was. She lived for reruns of Frosty the Snowman and sang Jingle Bells full throttle. Most importantly she behaved like never before……because the threat of being on Santas ‘naughty list’ meant potential omission from the ‘gift list’, and that was too big a chance to take.

She followed along to Christmas stories read to her with wide-eyed wonder and complete trust that every word was true. She hung her stocking confident it would be filled, and hand picked the cookies left for Santa. Five really is the magic number. They believe, period. Any comments about ‘no such thing as Santa’ are unfathomable and dismissed as lies. (hard to believe in just 3-4 short years that trust will become suspicion) Wouldn’t you like to just capture that age, that moment, that innocence? (for that matter, wouldn’t you just like to be 5 all over again?)

Life will offer her many realizations not all of them pleasant, so for now, for these brief next few years, I will encourage her fantasy about Santa and Frosty, because this may be one of the few times in her life when she will know complete and utter magic…..and seeing the sweet innocent joy, the anticipation and the excitement that surrounds Santa, almost makes me believe all over again. How can anything that makes you feel like that be bad? Here’s to being a kid at Christmas… matter how old you are.

The Best Christmas Gift Ever

Despite a global pandemic we are all managing to find a way to celebrate the holidays. Shoppers are shopping, bakers are baking, and all are mustering up some cheer. We are a hearty bunch and it’s uplifting to witness such optimism.

For me it’s all about the warmth of the season. I love the music and commit myself to watching at least 1 holiday show per day. (ok, I love the hokey stuff) Yesterday was one of those ‘Hallmark’ holiday movies, the kind that play out like a Harlequin romance. Sad girl gets the hunk for Christmas and lives happily ever after, observing that it’s the magic of Christmas that brought her this stud. Now I should point out she too is a looker, young, firm, unwrinkled….hard to believe she’s alone, but there you go. How lucky is she that Mr Hunky Perfect was single and looking for her?  Do you suppose she’d still be happy if he was short, stocky, balding, and sported a speech impediment? (Is anybody ever happy to see a chubby bald guy under the tree,,,, that isn’t in a red suit of course) I guess the idea of the perfect gift is unique to each of us.

I’m at the point in my life when I don’t want ‘stuff’ anymore. In fact, I’ve spent the better part of the past year purging stuff, and fortunately for me (maybe for all?) this pandemic has seriously affected our ability to buy more, yay! You want to impress this Christmas? Make me a home cooked meal…all by yourself. Buy me a good book if you must buy something. Mostly, plan to spend time with me; just to talk, and laugh, and look through old photos or reminisce. Let’s get together for a walk or plan a games night. Let’s do everything we can to enjoy each other’s company because we can….who knew that would be a novelty? (That said, I would not refuse a nice merlot or a BMW…. I have my manners, after all)

As the big day approaches I find myself more and more grateful, for less and less. I guess with age really does come wisdom. This Christmas I am grateful to spend time with family and friends, even under the tight restrictions of Covid. We will Zoom, or text, or talk on the phone, or Facetime,,,,the how doesn’t matter. (truth told you were getting on my nerves anyway, so maybe a little distance is a good thing)

And it doesn’t impede my over indulgence. I will still eat rich food (and since I can’t have you over I’ll eat yours) I’ll stuff myself full of chocolate and cookies, all washed down with a liberal serving of spirits. I will observe the holidays with hope and joy because I know if we do this right, now, I will once again know the joy of holding you in a big warm hug when we are together again…. and isn’t that the best Christmas gift ever?  

Why are we so unforgiving?

Bad things happen. Crimes are committed every day, surgeries are botched, and bad drivers/drunk drivers/fatigued drivers, kill innocent travelers. In an ideal world none of this would happen but it does, and we display a host of reactions; everything from anger and fear to grief and depression, but the most puzzling reaction is that of blame and revenge….because it serves no purpose. Oddly enough it also seems to be the most common reaction.

Recently Nova Scotia suffered a mass shooting, a horrific and unimaginable slaughter of innocent bystanders by what can only be described as a mad man. It was awful, and if we could undo it we would. Our only logical reaction to this should be to allow ourselves to grieve, support those harmed, and learn from it. It seems though, that we are a society bent on revenge, looking to lay blame on someone, something.

RCMP are heavily criticized now for mishandling the situation, but is that fair? They made decisions to withhold certain information in order to avoid public panic. In hind sight perhaps they should’ve made different choices, but they did the best they could with the knowledge they had at the time. No one could’ve imagined how this situation would unfold and had they known they likely would’ve handled it differently. Don’t think that won’t haunt them.

I’ve heard of any number of cases where doctors have botched surgeries; people have come out of it seriously maimed or even died as a result of error. Malpractice suits are laid, licenses are suspended, careers are permanently damaged, and families are grief stricken. And when we put aside our own emotional connection we look to lay blame. Again, is that fair? Surely no doctor goes in to surgery planning to make a mistake.

Car accidents happen but is it fair to crucify the driver who simply erred? (drunk drivers excluded here because that’s preventable) The bad driver doesn’t think he’s bad and the fatigued driver honestly believes they are alert. No one commits these acts with the intention to hurt another. That’s why they call them ‘accidents’.

In any of these scenarios the individuals (police, doctors, private citizens) go into these situations with the best intentions. I have to believe that because we are all only human and so very vulnerable to error. How does pointing the finger of blame help with the healing?  It doesn’t. It’s just vengeful; someone, somewhere has to pay the price, for…. human error.

I listen to the news with a heavy heart and a large dose of sympathy for those targeted with the blame because they have to live not only with the knowledge that they made the wrong choice, (isn’t that enough?) but also with the onslaught of criticism and condemnation from the very people they tried to help.

As humans we are all prone to error and sometimes that error, thanks to our fellow man, is punishable by a lifetime of guilt. It’s counterproductive and often does more damage to humanity in the long term by creating feelings of insecurity and lack of confidence in our professionals. When we should band together in support of each other we instead look to lay blame. It’s a wonder there’s still people willing to go into medicine or law enforcement. Isn’t it time we started forgiving human error?

The damsel in distress

I am not a shrinking violet. I have always taken the bull by the horns; if something needs doing, I do it. If I don’t know how to do it, I figure it out, by reading, or asking, or googling…until I get the information I need to get the job done. I am not afraid of manual labour, nor am I too frail to get my hands dirty, yet I am very much a girly-girl. I cook, sew, shop, and love my clothes, make-up and nail polish, and more importantly, I love to be spoiled occasionally. What woman doesn’t? At the very least I want to be given the same considerations given to those women who aren’t quite as willing as I am to tackle any job,,,,, and therein lies my struggle.

I have a friend who has never pumped her own gas, or mowed a lawn. That’s ‘mans’ work in her opinion, and not something a girl should do, so she doesn’t. She may be capable of performing these tasks but has chosen not to, delegating them to the man of the house and after almost 40 years of marriage he still scrambles to do her bidding. And he’ll often do so with a surprise bunch of flowers, for no reason at all. (where do you find these Patsy’s?) If I told my husband he needed to fill my car with gas before I drive (and by the way, I think it’s ridiculous…if you can drive your own car, you can bloody well gas it up) he’d just tell me to walk, then later ask if my broken arms had mended.

In fact, like really must attract like, because most of my closer female friends are like me, i.e. they are not afraid to look after themselves. Now that’s not to say we don’t want the assistance. Much of it is our way of sharing the workload. (womens liberation wasn’t just about burning our bras) Sometimes it’s our way of helping ease the workload of men and sometimes it’s simply a matter of us finding it easier to just do it rather than wait for another to. I would think men would find that a relief, and maybe they do, but clearly not a relief worth rewarding.

I have been criticized for taking on tasks more suited to a man (small home repairs) but more often than not it’s faster and cheaper for me to try to figure it out on my own. If I can’t, or if the task is beyond my physical scope, I’ll willingly ask for help from a man, but that’s not my first choice because I don’t bear the ‘damsel in distress’ role well. I just don’t see the point in playing the role of helpless female. I do however see the benefits….now because after years of taking the bull by the horns I realized too late that playing the helpless female would’ve yielded me more reward.

In my experience it’s the damsels in distress that get all the attention, all the assistance, and sadly, all the considerations. (A helpless female in stilletto’s and a tight skirt drops her keys in a parking lot and half a dozen men scramble to her aid. I mention at a gathering that I just had a truckload of soil delivered for a garden project I’m tackling and all the able bodied men in the room shrug because they know I can do it alone…I would prefer some willing help but because I’m capable, help will not be forthcoming)

 It seems that in proving myself to be capable I inadvertently labeled myself as ineligible for the small niceties afforded the ‘helpless female’. Because I can do it no one offers assistance when I tackle a job deemed unfeminine. Instead I get ignored and I’m puzzled as to why. I would’ve thought my competency and willingness to share the load would garner me warmth and appreciation but I’m stunned to see just the opposite. Does it somehow emasculate men when women ‘handle’ things without asking for assistance? I would’ve thought the male population would be happy to finally not have to ‘rescue’ the damsel for a change but apparently not.  In fact, I have friends who say they’ve experienced resentment from their male partners when they take on a ‘mans job’.  When did competency become a crime?

Just because a woman can unclog a drain, (by the way, I learned this watching a utube video because I couldn’t afford a plumber) shovel snow, pump her own gas, and paint the living room, doesn’t mean she isn’t deserving of those special considerations; a bouquet of flowers, a door held for her, or an offer to put out the garbage for a change. And when you see another helpless female in need of rescue consider showing some gallantry to the female who makes your  life easier by NOT playing that damsel in distress.

Taking on more than our feminine share isn’t as much a choice as a necessity, one I would think men would appreciate more, but instead we are showered with indifference. It’s too late for me to change but if I had it to do all over again, I’d sit back, relax and play the damsel in distress waiting for my knight in shining armour to rescue me because it’s the only way we capable women will catch a break.