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Howdy, loyal friend. I’ve had a rather busy day and a bit of a sad day; this is in part why this post comes quite late. Not my favorite thing, such a late Thankful Thursday.

But, you know, I’ve come up with quite a lengthy post. Can I get a witness?

My youngest daughter made an advent calender for the family this week. It is amazing. She is amazing. I am amazed at her mind and hands. Her abilities to think through projects and to create things of sense and beauty. Both of my girls have amazing abilities. I think part of this comes from their Waldorf education. Maybe some of it can be attributed to them having inherited good brains. Maybe some of it has to do with good parenting. I’m not really sure, but I’ll take it. I think most children are exceptional, so it’s not that mine are necessarily more exceptional, but they are mine, so I notice and I rejoice.

I didn’t grow up with Christmas in a traditional way, mostly because my father was Jewish and my mother, who converted to Judaism but not really (that’s another matter altogether) would not have Christmas in our house out of respect for my father. She had grown up with Christmas as a young girl in Germany, but it was during the war and she had a childhood-from-hell (I kid you not and am not exaggerating in any way, but that’s another story and perhaps not mine to tell). To further boost the eschewing of Christmas, both of my parents were atheists. We did have Hannukah for a few years when I was young, but because my father didn’t give a flying !@#$% about it, it didn’t stick either. My father, in spite of growing up in an Orthodox household in Hungary (maybe it was Reform and I’ve got this wrong), was basically a hands-off religion guy. He just didn’t care about it. I now am so thankful for this, but it wasn’t always easy growing up as the only kid who didn’t have a religion per se. Now where I live, you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting* someone who’s at least a quarter Jewish, let alone half-Jewish, let alone a goddamn atheist. So FINALLY, for the last 11 years of my life, I fit in!

We never had a Christmas tree at our house when I was growing up. We did, however, go to Germany when I was 4 and there we had a real German Christmas. I even remember live candles on the tree. And a fish in aspic which I thought was gross and scary.

We also celebrated Christmas at some friends’ in Canada after I was about 7. These became our life-long family friends who are more like cousins and aunts and uncles to me, especially since I came from a very small family and half of my relatives live in Germany. So, our family friends in Canada became family, period, and we did Christmas there for many years. Now isn’t that a kick in the nuts considering all I just said about Christmas?

Anyway, I have a long history of feelings about Christmas, but my children took to it with gusto. My youngest is still very enamored of it.

A few years ago, maybe 5 or 6, I guess we started to get the girls advent calenders. This was foreign territory to me and somewhat distasteful–too Christian or something, unlike certain parts of Christmas which I had been able to enjoy more easily and to separate from anything religious. There are certain things that are clearly pagan and so I could justify allowing and including and enjoying them even as a non-Christian, half-Jew. I think advent calenders aren’t really religious or pagan anyway, but something about them smacks of religion for me. Maybe the sparkly white kids and angels who are usually depicted all over them.

So, my Annie is away for the week at a class field trip to study geometry. She left the advent calender that she made for us so we could open a little tab and see a new picture each day. In spite of a troubled mind and a troubled world, in spite of death and sadness, I am especially happy that I have such amazing and beautiful daughters. And I LOVE the advent calender. SO MUCH.

Here it is. It is simply lovely (not too fancy) and organized, quietly beautiful and elegant, sort of like Annie herself:

I am most impressed by the way she had to measure it all out, line things up and use 2 pieces of paper in the planning and the way she drew a different secret tiny picture for each little window.

This is it, people, this is the satisfaction of being a parent. I feel blessed and filled.

See you soon I hope….g’night!

*An announcement from the management: Don’t tell anyone, but it’s Friday morning–so wrong since this is a Thankful Thursday post. But the management was up thinking about the phrase you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a (insert noun) for a good part of the time she should have been sleeping.

You know what I love? I LOVE folk expressions, not just idiomatic, but old-timey idiomatic phrases rarely heard any more. Heck, they are so rare that I only know about 3 of them. In any case, because I love cats and because I loathe the mistreatment of animals, that phrase is actually quite offensive. But it’s also rich and bewildering AND gets its point across like no other phrase I can think of. Can you help me? Is there another idiomatic turn of the language that accomplishes that meaning? And can you forgive me for using a string of words that is offensive? What if I do it again? Like this: you can’t swing a dead cat in the Pioneer Valley without hitting a massage therapist.  Not only am I half-Jewish, but I’m a massage therapist to boot! I now think I can retire that phrase. God is it offensive! What would the Dakin people think?

 

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