Tag Archives: family

Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday

I love that there is now a Giving Tuesday. When I worked in non-profit, we didn’t have something like this. We appealed daily, weekly, monthly, yearly; whenever we could, to raise funds and awareness for our organization. Giving Tuesday originally seemed like just another new non-profit marketing tool and I never thought much of its true significance until today.

After an amazing Thanksgiving spent with loved ones, our attention has now shifted to the craziness of the holiday shopping season. How did we go from being so thankful to being so material within hours? While I’m not a Black Friday shopper, I did spend a majority of Cyber Monday on a laptop looking for Christmas gifts. I went to what seemed like every website imaginable looking for the perfect gifts for my daughter, my nieces and nephews, my sister-in-law, my mom. I didn’t even get to my husband, my in-laws, or my brother. And while I truly LOVE buying gifts for people, wrapping them up and seeing the excitement on their faces when they receive them, I literally feel like I wasted so much time on my computer looking for presents.

They say you should be thankful for your health, your family, and so forth; that gifts aren’t important. Yet we’re all still making Christmas lists and trying to find the best deals to make the holidays special. After a shitty time last year with my dad’s illness and my mother-in-law recently hospitalized, coupled with all the Facebook posts and news coverage about Giving Tuesday, I literally stopped to think how much all this “stuff” doesn’t really matter. Yet we’re all here, shopping and scurrying, trying to find all the best things.

So this Giving Tuesday, why not take a moment and move on from Target’s website,  ToysRUs, wherever you’re shopping, and make a donation to an organization that really helps those in need. Then head back to your 1-click shopping on Amazon.

#GivingTuesday

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Chaos on Mute

I woke up at 5:20am this morning to the sound of an awful alarm. My 100-year-old alarm clock recently broke and the radio function doesn’t work so I’ve had to resort to waking up by the sound of a horrific buzzer to get me up. It is very unappealing and not a sound I enjoy waking up to. Nonetheless, I’m up and the day has started. And even though it began with such screeching, ear-piercing sounds, the quiet and calm it has allowed me is undeniable.

I’ve already been to the gym and had a nice full workout so I’m ready to get the day started. I knew there was a good chance my family might be awake when I walked through the door but to my delight, everyone was still sound asleep. I changed out of my sweaty clothes and into my “mom gear”(i.e. yoga pants and a t-shirt). I immediately tackled the pile of dishes in the kitchen sink, which I was too tired to handle yesterday (which normally is so unlike us). Laundry has been folded, more laundry is already started and the dishwasher is ready to run. My library book has been renewed. Birthday gifts are wrapped, lined up for weekend events and camp classmates. My morning tea is by my side as I type to the sounds of news in the background. And, it’s the beginning of a long holiday weekend.

I’ve written about getting up early and having ample time to myself before, but today it seems different. People are here, yet no one is bothering me. No one is asking me to play or if they can take the last $20 in my wallet for parking.  No one needs me to do anything for them right now. This will likely change within the next hour, if not sooner, and I’ll welcome it, but for now, I’m enjoying a house full of love and the chaos on mute.

I Celebrate It All

I call myself a “cashew” for fun. I’m a Catholic-Jew I tell people. My whole life, I have been fortunate enough to be part of a multi-faith family. My mom is Jewish and my dad is Catholic. What does that mean exactly? The easiest way to explain it is to tell you that I celebrate everything. We have Christmas and Hannukah; Easter and Passover. We aren’t a religious family by any means, neither of my parents were particularly dedicated to their religions. I didn’t grow up going to church or temple nor did I have a communion or bat mitzvah (lost out big time on those!), but we always celebrated and shared the holidays together. In the end, being with family is what sticks out the most.

Growing up, I felt like the only Jewish kid in town. Not in a bad way, but no one knew what Hannukah was and in 1987 we didn’t get 15 days off during the year for holidays like Yom Kippur or Passover like kids do now. In my world, everyone went to CCD and celebrated Christmas. It never really bothered me, as I got to basically participate in what everyone else did. Plus, I got to play my Jew card. I didn’t have to go to school on certain obscure holidays and as I got older, I could take off work or leave early for the same reason. However, if I didn’t celebrate Christmas, I think I might have felt differently if I was ONLY Jewish; somewhat sad that I wasn’t part of holidays that were so commercially promoted and in your face.

When I moved to a new town, I noticed a lot of people were Jewish. There were more Jewish people here than I think I have known in my entire life. In fact, I am fortunate enough to have a wonderful group of friends and they are ALL Jewish. I am the only one decorating a Christmas tree and hiding eggs on Easter. I’m suddenly the religious minority in my adult life, like I was during childhood.

This time of year, I notice it even more, as my friends are getting ready to celebrate Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year (it’s 5776 in case you’re wondering). They’re cooking and making plans to visit family and it’s a whole big event. It’s nothing like when I grew up in my small mountain town and it’s kind of nice to see how people embrace these holidays. In my family, if we could make it happen with everyone’s crazy schedules, we did. We’d eat brisket and challah and dip some apples in honey (just to make my mom happy). And if it didn’t work out, we’d skip it and maybe have a “Jewish meal” some other time during the year.

Even though I am surrounded by a lot more Jewishness during this time in my life, I don’t feel any more Jewish, or Catholic, than I used to. I’m married to a man who is Catholic, who doesn’t go to church and isn’t religious himself. He eats matzoh balls and chicken soup and I eat ham and lasagna when the holidays roll around. We have a daughter who is obsessed with Christmas and likes spinning a dreidel and my hope is that is how she lives her life from here on out: spinning dreidels, decorating trees, hunting for eggs, lighting candles on the menorah and eating delicious random holiday food. And most importantly, being with family. Because that’s the way life should be and we are fortunate enough to be able to do it all. L’Chaim. Amen.

The Quiet is Disturbing 

It’s 4am and I’m in the ICU family waiting room awaiting news on my father. He has a rare autoimmune disorder, which I have touched on briefly before, but he had a random setback today and was rushed to the hospital by ambulance from my home. It’s been awful. Worse than awful. There are seven other people here. Three are from my family and four from another patient. The other four have a huge air mattress, while others are sleeping on chairs. We are scattered, covered in blankets and pillows I picked up at home. And socks. Socks seemed very important to me at the time. I’m the only one awake. Everyone else is asleep, or at least trying to sleep through the uncomfortableness and anxiety. Yet somehow, as exhausted and mentally drained as I am, I just can’t let myself fall asleep. Kind of reminds me of Nightmare on Elm Street.  I’ve been checking on my dad every hour. Nothing has changed much which is good and not so good. I visited the chapel and sat there for awhile. And then, reluctant to go back, I decided to explore, thinking maybe I’d crack a smile if I found the maternity ward. While I know this particular hospital, the last time I was here was a little over two years ago for the birth of my daughter. We wanted to be here. It was a happy place then. Now it’s fucking hell. It’s funny how a hospital can seem so busy and yet at four in the morning, it’s like a ghost town. There are barely any patients or doctors walking around; no one is at the front desk except a security guard hidden behind the glass. The cafeteria is empty and the noise from the vending machines are making a curiously loud hum all night long (or morning for that matter). The lights are brighter and more fluorescent and everything seems sterile and gray. You discover random rooms and offices; like the residents’ library, located next to the waste management office or the sleep center hidden on the sixth floor with it’s own private elevator. It’s miserable here. I hope we get out soon.

Moms Can’t Get Sick

I’m not a good sick person. Never have been, never will be. However, over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to avoid getting sick all that often. When my husband and daughter both get colds or viruses, somehow I dodge the bullet. I say that’s because moms can’t get sick. But this week, I did.

I woke up at my parents with a stomach bug, food poisoning, or a combination of the two. Whatever it was, I felt like shit. I won’t get into details but it had been awhile since I had felt that bad. I’ve fought things, but this was full blown sick. Luckily, because I randomly was staying at my folks, I had two sets of hands to watch my daughter while I tried to get better. I drove home that same day when I started feeling a little more like myself, but a few hours after I got home, I was worse than before.

As soon as my husband came home, my daughter peed all over the comforter and duvet cover, was screaming “Mommy, mommy, mommy,” because I shut off Bubble Guppies, and I was ready to throw in the towel. This wouldn’t be ideal on a good (yet typical) day, let alone a day when I was feeling like such crap.

But there he was, my knight in shining armor. While I changed the bed just so I could get right back in it, he cleaned up our kid, fed her, gave her a bath and put her to bed, all while bringing me Gatorade, Advil and Ambien. And to top it all off, he stayed home the next day so that I could actually rest and get better. How lucky am I?

Single moms, working moms and women with no family or extended help do it all the time. I’m pretty fortunate to have such a village behind me.  And if my parents or husband hadn’t been there, then sure, I would have pulled up my boot straps and plugged along, begrudgingly, because that’s what moms do. We rule the world all while working, being sick, taking care of kids, scheduling appointments, waiting for repairmen, paying bills, shuffling to activities, running an entire household AND trying to have a little time for ourselves. And when we’re sick, it’s like the whole damn operation shuts down. It’s not like we can call into our kids and take a sick day (like that DayQuil commercial mocks). They don’t care if you’re ill, tired or hungover; they want (and need) to play, be fed, changed, and entertained. Which is why moms just can’t get sick.

The Overwhelmingness of Christmas

It’s only December 5 and I am already stressing out about the holidays. Believe it or not, today was a much better day that the last few, which have been riddled with online shopping, searching for coupons and discounts codes, picking up tinsel and making sure the tree has enough water so it lasts through Christmas.

I love the holidays. Thanksgiving tends to be my favorite because it was always the biggest in our home; probably because we grew up in an interfaith family. We always did Christmas and Hanukkah but Thanksgiving was the creme de la creme of all the celebrations. This year, Thanksgiving was gone almost before it even started, so we’ve been full steam ahead into Christmas for weeks now.

I love Christmas, I do. The lights, the decorations, the festiveness – it all gives you a warm and cozy feel. And the fact that my year-and-a-half old daughter is smitten with Santa, Christmas trees and The Elf on the Shelf, it’s even more fun. But with all the fun that comes with this lovely holiday, there are plenty of stressors that creep up at Christmastime.

Before we even started defrosting the turkey, there were so many emails and commercials for Black Friday and Cyber Monday (now it’s Cyber Week?!?). I don’t go out on Black Friday, ever. But, this year, I started my shopping even before Thanksgiving hit. There’s handful of people to buy for and when you’ve been buying gifts for them their whole lives, or a good portion of it, for Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, anniversaries, etc. it gets tougher each year. And then there’s the advertising, telling me it’s my last day to save big, blah, blah, blah. I just couldn’t keep up. And before I knew it, another email would come telling me the sales were extended and even more bonuses or savings were added. Then I found myself calling the retailers trying to get the better deal and those calls always took at least 30-60 minutes. It was exhausting. Over the last week, I’ve felt like I was a slave to my computer, wasting every free moment looking online for gifts. And of course, you know I’m still not done.

Between all the shopping and boxes that are lying around full of Christmas decor waiting to be hung, I’ve felt like I was suffocating at times. So today, it was so nice to just take a break from all the shopping and craziness of the holiday season to enjoy a day that consisted of our norm: playdates, the gym, going out to lunch and soon, a nice glass of wine. Plus, it’s Friday. That’s my bonus deal of the day.

As much as we’ve done, there’s still so much more to go and do. Yet, even with all the craziness going on, I’m still loving the warmth of Christmas and have so much to look forward to; the excitement in my daughter’s eyes whenever she spots Santa; our first real Christmas tree; the anticipation of wrapping a ton of gifts (I really do actually love this part); the delight when everyone opens their presents; the holiday traditions; and finally, and most importantly, celebrating the season with friends and family.

The Generosity a Baby Brings

I’ve since gone from beer bottles to baby bottles and with that, I’ve noticed an incredible generosity in people. 

My husband and I recently welcomed a little girl into this world and have been mesmerized by how much she has changed our lives, the lives of our families and our outlook on life. We weren’t too vocal about expecting (i.e. announcing it on Facebook, posting lots of pregnancy photos, etc.), as we felt it was a special, yet personal moment that we didn’t feel the need to share via social media outlets. However, when our daughter was born, we were proud to share her photo to introduce our new little munchkin to everyone. 

With that said, the outpouring of love and kindness we received from friends, family and colleagues, both new and old, was astounding. The amount of messages, calls, texts and emails we got was overwhelming in the best possible way. And the presents we have received from folks has been beyond amazing. In the short two weeks since our daughter was born, gifts have been bestowed upon us from long lost friends to old co-workers to new friends and neighbors. 

I’ve always thought of my husband and I as generous giving people; individuals who give because we want to, not because we expect anything in return. Perhaps that giving is coming back around or maybe we’re still wearing our rose-colored glasses since we expanded our family. Whatever the reason, we couldn’t be happier by the outpouring of love and support we have received from so many during this very exciting time. One of my very best friends told me a baby brings out the best in people. You know what? She was right!