Not exactly romance

“Valentine’s Day is Wednesday,” I told my husband on Sunday evening.

He didn’t respond, which wasn’t surprising.

He has extremely selective hearing.

Just like he can’t hear me scream about a vicious bug being in the house, but I can open a bag of chips behind a closed door and hears it.

“I said, Valentine’s Day is Wednesday.”

He was silent a bit longer.

“Oh, yeah?”

He probably figured it was better to go ahead and face the impending reality.

“Yep.”

“Well, maybe I will get you something special this year.”

He glanced over his shoulder to see if I was buying this malarkey.

“You’re not going to do your usual ‘gift’ of scrubbing the toilet and telling me that says love more than Hallmark ever could, are you?”

The look on his face told me that was indeed his plan.

“That’s not romantic?” he asked.

“No, anything involving Lysol and a scrub brush is not romantic,” I tell him.

Neither is washing my car, brushing the dogs, or any of the other things he has tried to pass off as a Valentine gift when he forgets.

I am not sure which is worse: when he forgets and tries to make up for it, or when he remembers and buys something in a panic.

I think it is really my fault for setting the romance bar so low. I had been quite high maintenance before I met my husband, so I thought it may be time to stop being so demanding.

When we celebrated our first Valentine’s Day and saw the crowd waiting in line outside of the restaurant, I immediately offered the option of just calling in our order or getting pizza.

We ordered take-out from the restaurant and ate half of it at my apartment until his neighbor called to tell him his German shepherd, Venus, had escaped the fence and was in his yard wanting in.

By the time he got back, I had fallen asleep on the couch, so he let Pepper out and covered me with a blanket and went home.

The next year, we were married.

We picked up pizza after running some errands.

The following year, we were parents.

I don’t even remember what we did.

Since we tend to be creatures of habit, I have a feeling we had pizza.

The next year was when he completely forgot it was Valentine’s Day and gave me a bag of Hershey’s nuggets still in the grocery bag with the receipt.

“They were out of the heart junk,” he announced.

And the next year, I got a box of chocolates on the 15th, because it was 75 percent off.

The next year, he waited too long – past noon – and he couldn’t even get me a heavily discounted box of candy as a consolation prize.

“You want some Peeps? They’ve got them out already. But they are out of even the bad leftover Valentine candy,” he told me over the phone.

I groaned.

Still, I hold out hope each year, that maybe, maybe he will do something to surprise me.

Maybe there will be a card, or even a small box of candy.

Or maybe, he will do something special.

I have been so desensitized to it that Valentine’s kind of creeped up on me this year, with me not realizing how close it was until I was standing in a store surrounded by balloons, flowers, and big boxes of chocolate.

“I can’t wait to get married and not be single on Valentine’s Day,” I overheard one woman say to her friend.

“Me, too,” the friend replied. “It will be nice to know you will have someone to send you flowers to work and take you somewhere nice.”

I shook my head.

I wanted to tell them marriage isn’t exactly romance or guarantees your Valentine Days will be full of floral deliveries or non-discounted boxes of chocolate.

Sometimes, it may mean you get a clean bathroom out of it though.

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Lowering my expectations

Granny’s response to a lot of things was, “I ain’t getting my hopes up.”

I thought this was kind of morose and sad – we’re supposed to be hopeful, aren’t we?

“Why?” was her response. “When I do, I always get disappointed.”

Mama, on the other hand, tries to see the good in things and when stuff doesn’t work out, she tries to come up with some kind of divine reasoning.

“When something doesn’t happen the way you want it to, it’s just because something better is on its way,” Mama will say.

Being reared by both of these redheads has caused me to fluctuate between the extremes.

On one hand, I am always looking for the positive; on the other, I have started to understand Granny’s mantra.

And let me tell you, 2017 has been a year of disappointment.

I tend to do a lot of reflecting this time of the year and think about the past 12 months and how I want the coming year to be.

I hoped – no, make that knew – that 2017 was going to be amazing.

And it hasn’t.

Far from it.

As this year has gone by, I have realized some cold, hard truths about a few friends, making my circle even smaller.

Instead of trying to hold on to these outgrown relationships, I remembered Granny’s words.

“Not everyone will do for you the way you do for them,” she told me more than once, probably after she had experienced a personal lesson. “If you expect them to do what you would do, you gonna be sorely disappointed. They won’t. But they will be there on your doorstep whenever they need you.”

She was right. This year has shown me, yet again, the friends that only were around when they needed me and when I needed them, they dismissed me.

Boy, did it hurt.

“Ain’t no need for it to hurt,” Granny foretold. “Better to know what you’re dealing with upfront than not. I ain’t got time for people like that.”

A few opportunities I had been excited about turned out to be huge disappointments this year.

More than a few.

Some came to an end and some never really worked out the way they were supposed to.

“Look for the things that went right,” Mama gently reminded me.

It was an impossible task.

Mama didn’t believe me. I assured her it was.

So, in the coming year, I am lowering my expectations.

It’s not that I am being a Negative Nellie.

Like Granny, I am not going to get my hopes up about things; again, not trying to be negative.

Just go with me on this for a second.

I am actually going to look at things from a realistic standpoint.

I am not going to project my personal attitudes and ways of doing things on others. Other people may have their own thing going on that has nothing to do with me.

I am going to be a bit more grounded in my approach.

Instead of thinking one event was going to be so life-changing, I was going to put the focus on me and what I can do to change my life.

I think we tend to build things up in our minds sometimes where we make them so much bigger and grander than what they are.

We think that one job, that one person, that one something is going to make all these changes in our lives and when it doesn’t, we feel like Granny often did.

“Nothing goes the way I want, so why should I get excited about this?” she said more than once.

Mama countered with, “Because sometimes you have to be excited about something, Mama. It’s good for our souls to get our hopes up and be excited. We have to have hope to hold on to.”

Maybe that was just it.

Granny had gotten her hopes up so many times and it didn’t happen the way she wanted.

I know. I’ve been there. Heck, I am wallowing in the shallow end of the pool right now.

But I am trying, with all I’ve got, to find that hope my sweet yet crazy Mama preaches about.

So, I am setting the bar just a tiny bit lower.

I think lowering my expectations may be the answer.

Not that I am thinking I will be disappointed.

But maybe so I can be happily amazed.

The Christmas Pony

There was one thing that was always on the top of my Christmas list for several years that I never got: a pony.

Granny put her foot down adamantly about that pony.

“Where you think we’re gonna put a pony? What are you going to do with a pony? Do you have any idea how much it costs to feed and take care of a horse?” she asked.

“Not a horse. Pony,” I reminded her.

“You know a pony is the puppy version of a horse, don’t you?”

“I don’t want a full-grown horse, I want to get it as a pony.”

I never got the pony, of course. And that is fine.

The pony was the ultimate bargaining chip, my bluff.

I could be quite convincing to everyone that I wanted a pony.

I overheard Granny and Pop discussing it, with my grandfather saying he had already put out feelers to find me one.

“She’ll want it inside, Bob. I ain’t gonna have a pony in this house. And you know she will. That crazy child will be a-saying she’s gotta cuddle it and sleep with it.”

My uncle was the one who should have been worried; it would have been him who had to feed it.

I would ask daily about the pony.

The kicker was me writing P-O-N-Y in great big letters across the top of my Christmas list every year.

“Why don’t you put some other things on there you’d like, too?” Mama suggested.

“All I want is a pony.  If I can’t have a pony, I don’t want anything.”

“Well, humor Santa and put some other stuff on there in case he can’t carry a pony on his sleigh.”

So, I did.

I put all the things I really wanted.

The Lite-Brite, all the Little House on the Prairie books, Jordache jeans, an Atari, and all the other gifts I wanted, way more than a pony.

I knew there was no way I would get a pony and while I love horses, they terrify me.

Mama was so grateful to see I had something more reasonable on my Christmas list that she got me everything.

Granny, however, caught on after a few years.

“Don’t you even start with this pony mess this year, littl’ un,” she said. “I know your game.”

“What game, Granny? Monopoly?”

She gave me a hard glare through her glasses. “Not Monopoly. Sudie’s pony game. You start around November wanting a pony and carry on and carry on. You know good and well we ain’t getting you a pony, but you also know we’ll feel bad enough about it to get you everything else.”

How did she figure this out? What kind of grandmotherly voodoo powers did she have?

I denied this fact and effectively launched the pony request once again, until the following year, Granny had me declare at the dinner table I had given up on the pony. Or else.

“You try this again and there won’t be nothing on your list under the tree. It will be footy pajamas and underwear.”

The thought of footy pajamas and underwear was enough to make me stop asking for the pony. No kid wants to go back to school after the break and tell their friends they got that for Christmas.

Given my shopping procrastination, I start asking Cole for his list around the beginning of November.

This year, the only thing he mentioned was a Playstation 4 Slim Golden Version.

“That’s all I want, Mama,” he said.

I thought one video console couldn’t be that bad.

Could it?
“Six hundred dollars!” I exclaimed when I saw the price. For one video game console? Was this console able to communicate with the Space Station?

I thought that was excessive but at the same time, felt bad. It was the only thing he wants.

“Is there anything else you would like?” I asked.
He thoughtfully pondered this for a moment. “Hmmm…no, not really. I think I have everything else I want. That’s it.”

I wasn’t exactly sure how I would pull that off. We try to not focus on the price or the gifts but on the meaning of the season.
Still, I stressed and agonized over this.
I looked around online for cheaper ones.

Nope.

“I can’t wait to play the Playstation 4,” Cole said every day. “Thank you so much for getting it for me.”

I cringed inside.

“Cole, what if they are sold out?”

“Oh, they are priced where they won’t be. Don’t worry about that, Mama.”

I groaned.

A few days later, Cole handed me a list.
“What’s this?” I asked.
“Just in case they are sold out, Mama. Or you can’t find one or you think it’s too expensive. You know, there’s a lot of reasons why you may not be able to get one for me.”

Sweet, sweet son of a biscuit eater.

My child had beat me at my own game.

His pony was just in the form of a Playstation 4.

Last-minute Santa

Apparently, there are three different kinds of Christmas shoppers.

There’s a group who have their shopping done somewhere around Memorial Day, if not sooner.

Years ago, I tried this tactic. I ended up buying stuff and putting it in a ‘secret’ place that apparently was so secret I forgot where it was.

There’s the competitive shopper, the ones who live for the crowds and chaos of Black Friday and enjoy being caught up in the frenzy.

And there’s the few like myself.

People, who even though Christmas has been the same day for hundreds of years, are somehow caught off guard by the event and finds themselves frantically shopping on Christmas Eve.

The whole hustle and bustle has somehow made me lose my Christmas spirit the last few years.

You’d think having a child would make me more excited about this holiday, but it hasn’t.

When my son was younger, I tried. I did.

Beginning the week after Thanksgiving, I would start getting a few of the gifts Cole had on his list.

This was when he was much smaller and his list would consist of him handing me the Toys ‘R Us catalog and saying he wanted everything except Barbies or Monster High stuff.

Trying to hide his gifts became an increasing challenge each year.

He had quickly figured out I used my office as a primary hiding place and would snoop through everything, looking in and under everything he could.

He found quite a few, too, dragging them from their hiding spots with squeals of glee.

“We’ve got to get a better hiding spot,” Lamar whispered.

So, we started putting them in the trunk of the car and covering them with something.

That worked for a while but was not foolproof by any means.

Homeschooling presented even more of a challenge with hiding the presents.

It’s one thing when you are trying to hide your Amazon purchases from your husband; have you ever tried hiding boxes from a highly inquisitive child when UPS delivers?

“What’s in the box? What did you order? Open it! I’m opening it now!”

There’s been times I have messed up and waited too late to order, too, and the things he wanted got sold out.

And I don’t know if y’all knew this or not but printing off a picture of the item and putting it in a box with a handwritten note from Santa, stating the elves got behind but as soon as it was back in stock, one would be on its way does not cut it with any child, regardless of age.

After that happening two years in a row, I learned my lesson.

Kind of.

“Mama, have you ordered my gifts yet?”

“Not yet.”

Silence as he gives a level stare. “Don’t you think you should maybe look into it? Remember Christmas 2011? And 2012?”

I remember, I tell him.

And then there was the Christmas of 2014. That was the morning I woke in the ungodly early hours to venture to the store, with a list of items I was hoping they would still have in stock.

Of course, most of the items were gone but somehow, I managed to get a few of the main things on the list.
“Why do I do this to myself every year?” I thought to myself as I was shoved through the crowd towards the line.

“It’s a magical time of the year, isn’t it?” a voice said behind me.

I wanted to bah humbug. Looking at the crowd, it didn’t feel magical. It felt like we were all a bunch of ill-prepared people rushing around when should be home having coffee in our flannel pj’s.

“You must have a son,” the voice commented behind me. “He likes Legos and building things, eh? Very good with his hands. I bet he’s smart, too. I bet he’s been a good boy this year, hasn’t he?”

“He has,” I agreed.

“He’s a good boy every year. He will be excited about that Lego set.”

I turned around to see who this presumptuous man was.

Not much taller than myself, maybe around 5’4, and wearing a soft, red sweater, with a little red beret set jauntily on his head, the man looked like an old-fashioned Santa Claus from a Normal Rockwell painting. His smile reached his eyes as he looked amused at my expression of shock and bewilderment.

“Has anyone ever told you that you look like Santa?” I asked.

He winked. “I get it all the time.”
“That’s got to be a hoot coming in here on Christmas Day. I bet you are freaking some of the kids out,” I nodded towards some kids a few registers over, oblivious to the man who looked like the jolly old elf.

The man chuckled. “Those kids don’t even notice me. They are past the age of Santa. Besides,” he smiled, “they know sometimes I get behind and have to do some last-minute shopping myself.”

What? Did he?….Was he for real?

“Take my card if you ever need help making someone believe again,” he said as he pressed his business card into my hand. “Your son. Or yourself, perhaps.”

“Merry Christmas,” he called after me as I grabbed my bags and headed towards the doors.

An hour later, Cole woke to presents scattered around the tree.
“Santa?”

“Santa,” I said.
He eyed the packages. “This looks like your wrapping though,” he said.

“Yeah, well, I had to meet him at the store to get them. How else do you think I got this Lego set? It was sold out everywhere else.”

Cole nodded. “Santa was at the store?”

“Yes. See?” I pulled his card out from my pocket.

“Whoa,” Cole said. “So cool! You met Santa!”

Off he ran to play with his toys. I picked up the card and turned it over.

Just one word was on the shiny card: Believe.

And for that moment suspended in time, I did.

No One Loves You Like Your Mama (5/4/2016)

As I’ve grown older, several truths have grown more apparent.

One, don’t put overconfidence in a pair of control top panty hose.

Don’t believe what someone tells you, and be hesitant to believe what you see.

But the most important one is that no one loves you like your mama.

Mama was probably the original helicopter mom, hovering over me in her overprotective way.

I had back surgery when I was 12 years old to correct a severe curvature in my spine. I was nervous, as any kid would be, mainly because I wasn’t sure what to expect. And it seemed like a pretty big deal – the surgery would take at least 8 hours and the hospital stay was projected at 3 weeks – but to my 12-year-old self, I was mainly worried about my cat.

Mama may have been scared, but she never told me. Those words never left her lips. If anything, when I would get scared and ask if I would be okay, she comforted me and told me I’d be just fine.

In the hospital, the night before the surgery, I looked over and realized Mama was sitting there in the dark, just watching me, quietly. I think she was praying.

“Mama?”

“Yeah?”

“I don’t want to die — I am scared.”

Mama was quiet for a moment, maybe to not let her own fear come across. “You will be just fine, I know it. You’ve got the best surgeon and I know God will bring you through this.”

I went to sleep and the next morning, had the surgery.

Over the next few days, Mama never left my side.

Well, with the exception of going up to the roof of Georgia Baptist to a spot she found to smoke.

I would open my eyes and there she was, standing over me, stroking my hair, and checking on me.

“Mama,” I began, my voice hoarse.
“Yes?” she leaned in to hear me better.

“Quit hovering over me.”

This would become an ongoing theme between us from then until now. “You’re hovering,” I will caution. “No, I’m not,” she will counter.

“Yes, you are.”

“Okay…maybe I am a little. I want to make sure you are OK.”

When I was in my twenties and even my thirties, this was annoying.

Now, I get it.

I do.

I worry, I try to protect my only child from all the dangers that life can throw at him, and I hover.

I hover so well I should be some kind of stealth military helicopter.

I can tell by my child’s very countenance a myriad of emotions: if he is upset, disappointed, worried, sad, hurt.

And I go into hover mode to do what I can to bring him out of it and to make it better.

He’s 11, so it’s not too terribly annoying right now.

I just want to make sure he is safe, and happy, and knows he’s loved.

Something that no matter how old he gets, I will want for him.

Just as I am 43 and my Mama is still hovering.

I made the mistake of telling her the other day how bad I was feeling because of my allergies.

She was immediately worried and told me to go to the doctor.

I told her I’d be fine and it was nothing a good rain and a couple of Benadryl couldn’t fix.

She wasn’t sure.

“Do you want me to come up there to take care of you?”

I assured her I was good.

She didn’t believe me, naturally, and her morning texts continually asked if I was better.

“I just worry about you…”she said forlornly, her voice trailing off.

I know she does.

For a mama, worry is just another way to love.

My husband may take care of me, make me tea, or draw me a hot bath but Mama is the one who will worry when things are serious.

And when things are serious, she will move heaven and earth to make things better.

She will tell you she’s coming to stay with you for a week, to give you the chance to catch your breath.

She will call you a dozen times a day to make sure you are okay when she can’t come take care of you and doesn’t understand why you think she is over-reacting.

She means well, really, she does. She just wants her baby, her Kitten, to be safe.

Because no one, no one loves you like your mama.

So long, 2015

2015, I am glad to see you leave.

I wish I could say it’s been fun, but it hasn’t.

The past 12 months haven’t been horrible, but, they just haven’t gone as I thought they would. I had goals.

I had plans.

I had aspirations.

I had ten pounds I wanted to lose and a pair of skinny jeans I wanted to fit in again.

I had a room to de-clutter and turn into an art room.

It now has more junk in it to go through in the post-Christmas chaos.

Isn’t that the way every year goes though?

The number of people I considered to be friends has decreased a bit more, as with each passing year I learn who is really my friend and who is just around when it’s convenient.

I am fine with that.

I have learned it’s OK to have quality over quantity, especially in this area.

I found out we can endure far more than we ever imagine. I have witnessed people in my life somehow make it through things that would have bested a giant.

I have learned some people can amaze us with their strength, their perseverance, and their faith.

I think, however, there has been enough tests, and enough trials and tribulations to last a lifetime.

2015 hasn’t been all bad, however.

There have been moments where my faith in people have been restored.

Small miracles have come through.

Good things have happened, even if not on the scale we wanted.

We’ve found gratitude can help us stay focused.

We’ve learned the small things do matter and that manners make a difference.

We have more technology than we could imagine, and can watching things on demand, read books on our phones, and can Facetime with someone across the world.

And still what we crave the most is a hug from someone who really cares about us.

2015, you have been full of ups and downs.

You’ve given us horrifying, heartbreaking news any time we turned on the TV.

Then, Steve Harvey messed up announcing Miss Universe and the world had something new to tweet about.

Your weather has been moody as my Mama was my senior year and before hormone replacement therapy was widely used.

If anything, between the 70 degree December, torrential downpours, and resurgence of bugs that should be hibernating in cocoons, you are making the 1982 version of Mama when she ran out of cigarettes late one Sunday night seem more stable than your weather patterns.

No, 2015, I am glad to see you go.

I am welcoming in 2016, with open arms, great dreams, and big goals.

I am believing this year will bring in better things – new beginnings and better opportunities – and that somehow, even when we don’t believe it, that miracles will happen and good will win.

I am counting on this year being so much better than 2015.

Instead of being glad to see the year end, it will be as a year where great and wonderful things happened.

Not just for me, but for all of us.

I think we all are long, long overdue.

 

Catching Santa (12/16/15)

My child had a plan.

It was an intricate plan, complete with several diagrams and involved string.

I watched him furiously make his plans one evening, drawing everything out, measuring distance and re-evaluating the steps needed.

I am guessing it was close to watching Einstein at work.

“What are you doing?” I finally asked when he began getting the Border collie involved.

“I’m working on a project,” was his reply.

He continued with his diagram, erasing and redrawing lines when he found something didn’t work.

The Border Collie wasn’t quite sure what was going on, but remained steadfast in the endeavor.

“Cole, you’ve got twine around Pumpkin. What are you doing?”

“I’m going to catch him,” he said.

“Catch who?” I asked.

“Santa.”

Oh, boy.

“Really? How are you going to do that?”

He stood up and surveyed the preliminary execution of his plans.

“Well, I am still working on it, but I am going to leave him a note saying there’s milk in the fridge, when he opens the fridge, it will trip this string, which is supposed to pull this down and take a picture,” he took a breath. “I’m trying to get this little camcorder to work, but not sure how I can when it only records for a few minutes. It needs to be running a while. As you can see, I am still working on this.”

“I see.”

He continued: “I am going to get proof Santa’s real, Mama. You know? I am going to get video and photographic evidence! He is real, right?”

Ah, so that’s what it was. I wondered when this day would come, I just never expected my child to come up with a plan involving video and fifth grade engineering to be involved.

“He is,” I answered. “But, he stops coming when you stop believing in him.”

“I know that,” Cole said softly. “I still believe Mama, but I hear a lot of other kids saying he’s not real. I want to prove them wrong.”

Being homeschooled, I am not quite sure which kids he is referring to, other than maybe something he heard before at school. He had started questioning then but wanted to believe so he didn’t pursue the issue when I told him Santa was very much real.

Now, it’s me wanting him to believe just a little bit longer, to hold on to that magic that we only get to have when we are children and can believe in Santa, the tooth fairy, and other things we lose in a less sparkly and too harshly real adulthood.

I wanted him to believe in the magic of a chubby elf bringing presents and spreading goodwill, instead of the scary world we live in, where our worst fears are becoming too real.

I wanted him to hold on to this last bit of childhood as long as he could.

I can’t remember when Santa stopped coming for me.

I had asked Mama if he was real, and her reply was the same as mine: “When you stop believing, he stops coming.” There was no declaration of not believing, no disavowing Santa, just one year, there was no Santa.

And from then on, things were so different.

My behavior – whether good or bad-didn’t determine my gifts. There was no, “You better behave if you want Santa to come.”

I had to behave because it was expected of someone my age. You know, that responsible behavior befitting someone Santa didn’t come visit anymore.

I missed those days, the sense of wonder, the feeling that somehow, miracles could and would happen. I tried to hold on to that feeling, but when you are an adult, it can be hard to cling to hope.

I wanted my child to hold on, and to believe as long as he could.

“You know, I think you may have some flaws in your plan,” I suggested.

He scratched his head. “How so?” He had even ran through a trial run with his dad acting as Santa.

“Well, for one thing, Santa is magic.”

“Yeah?”

“You can’t capture him on film. He won’t show up.”

Cole squinted his eyes as he pondered this. “You mean like a vampire or ghost?”

“Kinda. He won’t show up though. And, if he can see you when you are sleeping and watches you throughout the year, he knows you are plotting this right now. He may not come if he thinks you are questioning he is not real.”

“You’re killing my dreams, Mama!” Cole cried. “You’re killing my dreams!”

“I am not trying to kill your dreams; I am trying to make sure Santa brings you presents this year!”

He dropped his head. “It’s not that I don’t believe, Mama, I want to prove to everyone else he is real. I believe. I do. But not everyone else does.”

I kissed the top of his head, which now comes up to my chin. “And, sometimes, sweet boy, just the faith of one, can keep it alive for others.”

Santa is scheduled to arrive this year, but the string and cameras will be put away. It may be the last year he visits our home, but I am going to try to keep the spirit alive as long as I can.

Consider this a PSA for December birthdays (12/9/2015)

Like many others, I am a December baby.

My original due date was supposed to be in January, but the only time I decided to arrive early to anything was when I made my grand entrance in the world.

I don’t remember my first birthday, but have seen pictures of myself sticking fingers in a decadent chocolate cake that my Uncle Bobby got me from the Black Forest Bakery in Athens, hailed to have been the premier bakery in the ‘70s.

After that, my birthday was a flop for a while.

There was no big parties – who had time to worry about coordinating a birthday party during the month of December, let alone, the week before Christmas.

No, usually, Mama and Granny had the swell idea of just bringing cake and a bucket of chicken to school for me to have a party with my class. It gave the teachers a brief respite and then, Mama usually sprung me out a little bit early.

When it came time for my present, Granny would instruct me to go pick out a gift from under the tree.

“Not that one. No, put that one back. Uh uh. No. That’s an early Santa gift; he dropped that one off when you was at school. No – get that one back there with the green bow on it.”

A green bow that was probably older than me as it clung to life on the box with layers of clear tape (because Granny was not about to throw anything away – she could get a dozen Christmases out of that bow) was my symbolic green light to my birthday present.

I eagerly tore the paper off and opened the box – careful not to rip it because Granny would re-use the boxes for decades, too – and found just what every kid hopes they never receive as a gift:

Footy pajamas.

Footy pajamas with some kind of horrible ‘70s design – maybe a Care Bear riding a unicorn – was not a good birthday present.

“I didn’t want footy pajamas,” I would say.

“You needed ‘em,” Granny would declare.

“I didn’t want them, though.”

The old gal would snort.

“I didn’t ask you if you wanted them, I told you you needed ‘em – you done outgrown your other ones and these will keep you warmer than a gown. And lookie,” she began, pointing to the drop-seat flap in the back- just what every little girl wants to see on her jammies.

“Now you ain’t got to take ‘em all the way off to go potty.”

My sugar high from the school cake had worn off, so I didn’t attempt to argue with the woman. Disappointed, I went to my room, with my highly flammable – but with excellent traction -footy pajamas in hand.

I wondered if I could move my birthday. Perhaps having a birthday in July? No, the Fourth was then and it was hot. Plus, school was out; no way to have a party with my class. November? Thanksgiving.

What about September? Labor Day.

Was there any good month to be born? I surmised not.

I was the only child, only grandchild, and only niece – and the best they could manage was “Go pick out a present from under the tree?” To paraphrase Molly Ringwald in “Sixteen Candles,” don’t adults live for this stuff?

“Mama, something needs to change?” I said the day after.

“What do you mean, Kitten?”

“I got footy pajamas for my birthday.”

“And you looked adorable last night in them!”

That woman needed to cut back on the caffeine sometimes.

“No, Mama,” I began. “Don’t you think it’s wrong that I have to pick out my birthday present from under the tree? It’s like my birthday doesn’t get its own day. It’s not fair. My birthday should not be an afterthought. It’s not even in birthday paper – it’s in poinsettia paper.”

I may not have been quite as logical and eloquent in my delivery; I was 11 after all. But Mama understood.

From that year on, Mama decided to give my birthday gift either before December, or after – my choice. Instead of poinsettia paper, it’s usually still in the bag from the store she bought it, complete with the receipt in case I want to return it.

She even will call me when she is in a store and tell me what she is looking at or sends me a picture, asking me if it’s something I want. Needless to say, she’s gotten better at the birthday gifting thing over the last 30 years.

Granny wasn’t on board with the whole separate gift idea until Mama pointed out to the old gal, who’s birthday was May 13, that maybe she would be fine with a combo gift for Mother’s Day.

“Oh,” Mama said, in her genteel passive aggressive way. “So we can get you a pair of footy pajamas, too, then?”

“No, I was a-born a long time before I was a mother,” was her reply. “And I expect something nice for my birthday and something nice for Mother’s Day. And don’t you get me no footy pajamas – you get me anything to sleep in, it better be a gown.”

A gown. The old gal wanted a gown as one of her gifts.

Because no one wants footy pajamas for their birthday.

happy-valentines-day-wallpapers-41

Something shiny for his girl (2/11/2015)

I am not by any means a jewelry girl.

I prefer my funky costume jewelry and stones over anything fancy.

Lamar has tried buying me jewelry in the past and only once did he manage to find me something I actually liked.

“The girl at the counter picked it out,” he said.

His tastes and mine are very, very different when it comes to jewelry, and again, I am just not one who cares for jewelry.

“Daddy, what are you getting Mama for Valentine’s Day?” Cole asked a few weeks ago.

“They’re having that again?” Lamar joked, casting a look at me.

I rolled my eyes.

He is the world’s worst when it comes to Valentine’s Day – any holiday that involves buying a gift really – but Feb.14 should be renamed “Lamar’s Annual Near Death Experience Day.”

“Valentine’s Day is every year,” Cole replied solemnly.

Don’t joke about love with my child. He takes it very seriously.

“It’s OK, Cole,” I said. “If your father got me anything, I may fall out from the shock.”

“I got you a good card for your birthday,” was Lamar’s defense.

“Cole picked it out for you.”

He said nothing.

How could you refute the fact your 10-year-old was better at picking out cards than you were?

“What are you getting me?” he wanted to know.

I sighed. Our gift giving is often unbalanced because I will usually put some thought in it and get him something he wants or would like but won’t buy for himself.

Bicycle junk, neat pocket knives, other man-toy paraphernalia.

It is not a gift purchased out of a dreaded panic as he wanders down some aisle to get milk and realizes he was supposed to get me a gift for some occasion.

You know how gas stations sell those gaudy roses and weird little teddy bears holding one Hershey’s Kiss?

They started selling those for men like my husband.

Maybe it should be some consolation there are others just as horrid, but it’s not. It is disturbing. There are other women out there getting tacky, chintzy, nightmarish gifts.

“What are you getting me?” I asked back.

Lord, don’t let him do a load of laundry and tell me that’s my gift again.

I tell him if I have to fold and put it away, it’s not a gift.

“So, you don’t want clothes or linens for any gift then?” is his reply.

I give up. I am destined to either have no gifts or bad gifts. I am not sure what is worse.

The fact Lamar is a terrible gift giver concerns Cole. He wants everyone to have joy, happiness and love.

He also appreciates a well thought out gift.

We went to Walmart to get a few groceries later that day and Cole pulled his dad off to the other side of the store.

I figured Cole was taking him to see the newest Lego-Pokemon-Halo, whatever the latest new toy was, and knew he still had a little Christmas money left over he had been wanting to spend.

As I was checking the expiration date on some Chobani, Cole ran up, beaming widely.

“Happy Valentine’s Day early!” he exclaimed, thrusting a box in my hand.

“What is it?” I asked, opening the box.

Inside was a thin gold chain. I couldn’t tell if it held a locket or was just a chain, but it was lovely.

“It’s beautiful! Can I put a pendant on it?”

Cole looked crestfallen. “You don’t like it, do you?”

“Yes, I do!” I said.

I am not as expression-able about things as he is, and I wasn’t expecting a gift in the middle of the dairy department. But my child is a hopeless romantic and believes in giving gifts, even if Greek yogurt is involved.

“I love it, Cole,” I said, trying to reassure him.

He didn’t believe me for some reason.

I didn’t want to put it on in the store – I was scared I wouldn’t catch the latch properly and would lose it, so I waited to put it on at home.

It was beautiful. Just a simple gold chain that wasn’t too long, but hit at my collar bone, giving just a hint of shimmer. It was not a chain I would put a pendant on, but one that was just a simple, lovely, delicate chain. I loved it.

“Cole, this is beautiful,” I told him.

“Do you really like it?” he asked. “I have the receipt. I didn’t have enough money and had to borrow some from Daddy. I can take it back if you want me to.”

“Absolutely not, I love this.”

“You love it just because it’s from me, right?”

“No, I love this. It’s a lovely, simple gold chain. I needed a gold chain; all my other jewelry is silver.”

“Are you sure?” he asked.

Absolutely, I was. It was perfect.

“I can do some more chores here and get more money to get you something nicer,” he said.

“Cole, baby, this is beautiful and perfect. I don’t want you spending your money on me if you feel like it’s not enough – when it is more than enough! I love it. What made you think you had to get me something?”

He sighed. “Because, I know Daddy does a bad job with getting gifts, and I know it disappoints you. You don’t get upset, because you aren’t expecting anything from Daddy. I wanted to get you something nice…something shiny and pretty. You deserve something shiny. ”

I smiled.

Oh, bless his heart.

He was trying to make up for his daddy’s terrible gifts or lack of gifts in general.

I don’t know if that’s even possible, but I wasn’t going to be the one to tell him that.

http://www.dawsonnews.com/section/30/article/16078/

happy new year 2015

My year-end wrap up (12/31/2014)

happy new year 2015

It’s hard to believe that 2014 is well, over.

This year has flown by – but every year has gone by at warp speed since I have officially become an adult.

Officially being an adult means, I have to pay for, hide and wrap presents for a child.

The rest of the year seems to be divided amongst the two seasons of “Dancing with the Stars.”

I don’t know what 2015 will hold – with the exception Marty McFly will arrive at some point in October in a DeLorean (someone may want to tell him to tell the Doc to ditch the car when he returns to 1985) – but I know 2014 was nothing like I expected.

This year showed me how things can change so suddenly. I lost Granny in March, after just seeing her a few weeks earlier. I had no idea that day in February would be the last time I would see her. Had I known, I would have talked to her more, had one last argument between our stubborn, too familiar selves.

A few months later, the world lost Robin Williams. I was greatly saddened by his death, growing up with “Mork & Mindy,” complete with Mork’s rainbow striped suspenders. I wore them with my “Dukes of Hazzard” shirt when I was younger. I apparently wanted to support my favorite television shows in one fell swoop of branding failure.

Then, Joan Rivers passed away. I wasn’t a huge fan of Joan Rivers – if anyone remembers the huge long distance wars of the ‘80’s, they remember Rivers’ commercials, with her saying, “Can we talk?” as she belittled AT&T and hawked Sprint. Well, guess who Mama worked for? And as a card-toting member of the union, she was loyal to the core for whoever gave her a paycheck and helped her dress her baby in tacky t.v. themed clothing.

Posthumously, to Mama’s chagrin, I found myself liking the comedienne after hearing more about her life.

“She still promoted the competition,” Mama said, not as quick to forgive in death.

Some celebrities had their private photos hacked and leaked without their permission. People were quick to say how they shouldn’t have taken them in the first place; but mostly, people were wanting to know where to see them for free.

While the privacy and rights of some celebrities was horribly violated, the Internet came under attack when Kim Kardashian attempted to break it.

As we know, naked and nekkid are two different things – and she was, well, nekkid.

“Why? Oh, my Lord, why?” was all I heard as my child ran into my office.

“I saw a nekkid woman on the computer,” he cried. “Why?! Does she not have clothes? Please, tell me someone set a timer on the camera and was not standing there, taking a picture of that!”

My 10-year-old has seen a lot of unintentional nekkidness this year – first, when a news clip showed Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball, and then when he was on a news site that had a link about Kardashian’s attempt to break the Internet.

“Mama, I hate to say this,” he said moments later. “About that picture, of the naked woman…”
I waited for him to finish.

“I’m craving Krispy Kreme donuts now….”

I could see his point. There was a whole lot of glaze going on. We later found out that her posing nude helped Kardashian’s self-confidence. If the last few years have been her with low self-confidence, can you imagine what she’s going to do now?

2014 told me I was all about that bass, “‘bout that bass, no treble,” which is fine, but I don’t think I am shakin’, shakin’, like I’m supposed to.

Aside from pop culture happenings, I saw a lot of changes in myself.

I tried to release my vise-like grip and let my child take swimming lessons over the summer, convinced I didn’t want him to be like me and not learn to swim until nearly 20.

I was informed by Cole he wasn’t entirely too sure about the cleanliness of the water with so many strange bottoms in it. Did they bathe before swimming?

I decided to homeschool my child, which has been a challenge but worth it. He has told me he wasn’t sure he was getting the ‘full learning package’ so I went out and bought him four workbooks to enjoy.

It is also the end of 2014 and I still have yet to use algebra. But more than algebra, I found I hate Common Core math.

2014 gave us ice bucket challenges as a way to raise money and awareness. v

And selfies became an everyday – almost every hour – occurrence for some. Hashtagging also didn’t make things trend just because of the symbol formally known as the pound sign.

“Did you have a good year?” Granny would ask as the year would wind down. I told her once, no, I hadn’t and was ready to tell her all the things bad that had happened.

Instead, the old gal looked at me and snorted.

“Well, what did you do about it? If you didn’t like it, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude about it. Don’t focus on what was wrong – look at what went right.

“That’s what’s wrong with a lot of your generation. Y’all a bunch of spoiled young’uns. I blame MTV. Y’all think everything is supposed to be flashy and exciting like one of them music videos. It’s not. Life ain’t pretty. It’s real. And it’s supposed to be lived to the fullest.”

With that perspective in mind, 2014 was lived to the fullest – full of love, learning and embracing change.

I can’t wait to see what 2015 brings.