School Days

11121111_sIn my mind, I’m still in the “Waiting for Spring” mode. Remember that post, way back at the end of March? Now, we are at the last week of August. I wonder if the time has gone  as fast for the young person preparing to go back to school. Actually, there are a few who have already returned – beginning a new year in a higher grade. I consider that a definite “Right of passage.” I guess at this stage of the game, you, Mom have already shopped for those notebooks, pencils, back packs, and oh yes – that first day of school outfit. They all want to turn a few heads walking to the newly assigned locker in their snazzy just purchased denim skirt, or that cool pair of Converse Chuck Taylor high tops as the sweet days of summer quickly slip away. The days of sleeping in for them, late breakfasts, and being at the friend’s until all hours is over for now, and the hectic schedule has officially been re-introduced.

Oh for school days, with the rules, lessons, homework, basketball, soccer, football games, flute lessons, and the practices to back it all up; hallways bursting at the seams, droned chatter filling those corridors, ringing bells, lines for lunch, and auditorium visits. It all has the sound of some sort of regimented military campaign, doesn’t it? But, we’ve all done it, and managed to survive it, from our five-year olds, up and through our young adult children. This always takes me to the idea of “newness.” We put our little ones on the bus, and we don’t interact with them again until it returns them home. Yes, there are teachers and aids to assist in getting them to their proper place, but this is when “you,” the parent finds out how good a job you’ve done in rearing that child – teaching him/her independence. Although, no amount of independence will turn aside the tears shed by both the little one, and mom when it comes to that first day ever. I think I cried all the way to work that day after dropping off my daughter, and watching an aid escort her to the proper line. But, this to I believe is a right of passage. I have to chuckle, because that could mean for both Mom, and the little one.

The memories of school stay with us the remainder of our lives – good or bad. Personally, every time I open a new book my nose is immediately drawn to the spine. I don’t think there is another fragrance like it in the world. My husband talks about glazed donuts. Why, you ask? When he came in from school with his little buddies, his mom always had freshly home-made ones waiting for them. My daughter remembers a time (two or three months) when my grandmother visited with us. Each of those days, on her arrival from school Great Grandma had a full course meal waiting, pork chops with mashed potatoes. No matter how old you become you hold to those precious snippets of life; they somehow have gotten mixed in to the mold that is you.

Parents look forward to this time of year, because now, semi-quiet returns to the house, and Mom has all those hours to herself; a time for rejuvenation and rethinking those objectives and aspirations, if only for a moment. Because, very soon, the bumper sticker proclamations will again announce your comings and goings, and rule a lot of the afternoons; Soccer Mom, Football Mom, and Mom’s Taxi. Don’t sigh, and shake your head, you know I’m right. Then, as if all of that weren’t enough, I hear – “Mom, Becky and I want to go to the mall, can you take us?” I also, wouldn’t want to leave Dad out, because I know many of you do your share, as well. But, relish every moment now, because the years go entirely to fast.  Like the song, Sunrise, Sunset – Swiftly go the years – believe me they really do. So, rock on Mom. Oh, and you too, Dad.

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What Christmas Means To Me

There is no doubt that since I lost my mom, the Christmas holiday has changed drastically for me.  Okay, I admit I should probably be further along with my recovery than I am, but remember I have no siblings, there is only me.  I do confess, I’m not where I need to be, however, I’m definitely not where I used to be.  This is the time of year when everyone’s heart grows, and warm wishes abound, and in trying to force the holiday spirit upon myself, I had to stop for a minute and remind me – it’s okay. I say that because none of this is about me or my family or how many gifts I can buy.  The season is to honor Immanuel, for without whom, life as we know it would be something completely different, I’m sure.  Regardless I sit back; I watch and listen to reports of who has finished decorating their tree, how many sets of lights have been used, and about the planning of the holiday meal.  While every blink of my eye produces another image of a time gone by.

I think back, and recall a story of me as a child.  That particular year I became overwhelmed with Christmas.  I took my teddy – he had been my buddy for some time –  I gathered him up, and went about my way leaving everything under the tree.  I think this says something about a person’s make-up.  Although, I know I’m not the only one that has experienced or witnessed this.  I’m certain everyone reading this can recall their traditions over the years.  As a child, my grandfather liked to provide a shoe box.  That magical box held the hard Christmas candy, nuts and fruit. I would walk around with it for one week, slowly eating the contents; savoring everything and making it last so that I’d still have some to carry me through the football game that I watched with him on New Year’s Day.  Then, as I aged, everyone always came to my house for dinner.  My mother would put on the spread for uncles, aunts, nephews, nieces, cousins, grandparents, and for whatever reason, we never had a kiddy table – we all dined together.

But, as time goes on, and you get older, roles and people change – families develop new branches, and there is always someone else to move into the matriarch or patriarch position.  For me, as much as I want to hand down traditions, I can’t seem to get out of the past recalling the days of my youth, as I am sure many of you do also.  There is always something that pulls me back to a simpler time; watching that game with granddad or helping my grandma as she brought out the fruit cake that had been soaking in the tin since September.  When she’d grab the axe in one hand, and me by the other as we would head into the woods to locate that special tree.  I’m also thinking as I write, those customs sadly, did not make it this far; that is the fruit cake, the shoe box, and searching out a tree in the woods.  Maybe it’s a good thing because they can then, be special to me alone.  I also think, for the young people out there, those occasions would be more reminiscent of the dark ages, maybe, huh?

What Christmas means to me is all about family, but as I get older it’s all about the tsunami of memories, flooding my brain.  I go back to the old neighborhood in Queens, when everyone on the block shared in the spirit of giving, while we all went from house to house wishing each other well.  We all shared food, while exchanging those gifts and visited for a glass of eggnog or hot chocolate.  Lastly, what is this holiday without The Temptations in the background singing Silent Night or Stevie Wonder doing One Little Christmas Tree. What’s this time devoid of the lights twinkling on the tree as you watch A Christmas Carol with more eggnog; this is what it really means to me.  And if I had one wish this holiday season – other than wishing everyone and their families a very Merry Christmas – it would be to relive all those instances over and over, and over again.  Tell me your favorite thing about this magical time of year.

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