Monthly Archives: December 2012

My kid’s inner elf

Kravlenisse (maybe Christmas elf ?), a Danish ...

Kravlenisse (maybe Christmas elf ?), a Danish Christmas tradition (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Every year, my office puts together a Christmas basket for a local family, including gifts. This year, one of the children specifically requested an MP3 player.  The organizer asked if anyone had a second-hand one they might be willing to donate. I remembered that M had an iPod shuffle he wasn’t using –  – not since he got his iPod Touch.

M has lots of wonderful qualities, but he’s not an inherently generous child. Like many only children, he does not like to share his toys, even with his closest friends.  Even getting him to share candy with another child can be challenging. He doesn’t even like it when I eat his popcorn. Although his first reaction is to protest, he usually agrees to share, but not without some heavy-duty parental persuasion (aka guilt tripping).

When it comes to Christmas, as he put it to me recently, “he’s all about the getting, not the giving.”

So I fully expected M would push back on my suggestion that he donate his old iPod.

But he agreed without any discussion. He wasn’t sure where the iPod was, but his dad, who’s the organized one in our house, had stumbled across it recently, while looking for something else in M’s room. My husband was tracked down the iPod and all the various bits, including the box it came it in. He deleted the music that was already on there and I brought it into work, along with a new pair of headphones and an iTunes card.

I told M I was impressed that he was so willing to donate the old iPod. He said it wasn’t a big deal, since he wasn’t using it any more. I’m following his lead and not making a fuss. But I’m very proud of him.

The other child won’t know who the iPod came from. But M will have the satisfaction of knowing that he helped make that child’s Christmas just a bit more special. In time, he may discover that’s the best gift of all.

Now if only it was so easy to convince him to go shopping with me to select a gift for his dad…




Lost in Walmart

walmart beijing

walmart beijing (Photo credit: galaygobi)

A couple of weeks ago, M and I went to WalMart. As a general rule, he hates shopping, but since he wasn’t having much luck coming up with reasonably priced ideas for Christmas gifts, I suggested (and eventually insisted) he come with me. I was looking for Christmas greenery and since WalMart has a good-sized toy department, I figured we could kill two birds with one stone.

M grumbled about coming with me during the entire 10 minute car ride to the store. When I stopped at the entrance to pick up cedar and pine boughs, he insisted on going ahead of me. He was anxious to get home and watch Phineus and Ferb. I’m usually a little nervous about letting M go off on his own in a store, but I was only going to be a few minutes behind him and despite that fact that this was a very large Walmart, the toy department was easy to find. So off he goes.

Five minutes later, boughs in hand, I walk into the toy department. No M. I walk back and forth several times and check the ends of the isles to make sure he’s not crouched down looking at something. Still no M. Figuring he did a quick sweep and got bored, I walk back to the front of the store to find him. No sign of him.

Still carrying my armful of boughs, I trudge back to the toy department, but  M’s not to be found. By this time, I’m starting to get a little bit worried. So I head back to the front of the store and ask the lady who is standing at the door greeting customers if she’s seen a boy in a brown ski jacket. She hasn’t and suggests I have him paged.

At this point, I have no idea where he might be. On the off-chance that he might have wandered back to the car, I pay for my greenery (which by this time is getting rather heavy; I figure I can move faster without it) and head out to the parking lot to see if he’s waiting by the car. He’s not there.

So I go back into the store and head back to the toy department. He’s still not there, so I go back to the front to see if he’s finally turned up there. The greeter lady hasn’t seen him and suggests I check the electronics section. I’m quickly moving into panicky-parent mode, envisioning the worst case scenarios. I don’t think M would go off with a stranger, but you never know.

There’s no sign of M in the electronics department. I walk past the toy department and am heading down the main aisle to have him paged, when I spot him rushing in the opposite direction. I call out to him, but he doesn’t seem to hear me. I’m now practically running behind him, calling his name, when he finally stops and turns around to look at my, a panicked expression on his face. “Mommy,” he says, with obvious relief.

Me: Where have you been?  I’ve been looking for you for over 15 minutes.

M: I was in the toy department and then I went to the electronics department.

Me: You were supposed to meet me in the toy department.

M: I didn’t find anything interesting there, so I went to check out the games.

Me: How would I have known where you were?

Despite my anxiety about having lost him in the store, I purposely keep my voice calm. I can tell he’s upset and there doesn’t seem to be any point in raising my voice and getting him more worked up. M tells me that he stopped to play a game in the electronics department. He looks a little chagrined, having figured out that this was probably not the smartest move on his part.

We head out of the store and back to the car. I can tell he was genuinely worried, because he’s clutching my hand, something he never does any more. He also tells me repeatedly that he’s sorry, something he tends to do when he’s anxious about something he’s done.

We make it home, both a little wiser. Next time M and I go to a store, I will make sure he knows where to meet me. However, I rather expect that the  next time, he’ll stick pretty close to me. It turns out getting lost in Walmart was a good life lesson for M, but not one I think he wants to repeat anytime soon.

Santa has a price limit

1914 Santa Claus in japan

1914 Santa Claus in japan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UPDATE: My parents-in-law have saved the day by tracking down a Skylanders Giants game in a store near them. I guess they were checking the stores, just in case, and a new shipment arrived. Plus, they’re giving M a new Nintendo DS 3D. He’ll be very happy when he opens his gifts.

At 11, M is at the age and stage when his Christmas list is short, but everything comes with a big price tag. i recall my youngest niece going through the same phase when she was M’s age, so I wasn’t terribly surprised when he shared his list with me. His absolute must-have is Skylanders Giants for Wii – the started kit runs about $75.00 and then you can buy additional figures for $10 to $15 – an  easy $100 plus. The next item on M’s list is Lego Starwars, but only kits with more than a 1000 pieces. I bought him the Millenium Falcon last year and it was $150, on sale. Finally, M asked for a Wii U, which he told me costs over $300. His dad, who is much more up on game systems than I am (and I’m ok with that), pointed out that the Wii You only comes with one handset, so if you have more than one player, you have to buy a second remote. And of course, new games.

At this point, I suggested to M that he might be pricing himself out of the gift market. He has aunts and uncles and grandparents and they aren’t going to fork out hundreds of dollars on a gift for him. My mother, for example, has 3 other grandchildren and she likes to be as equitable in her gift-giving as possible. My husband and I could afford to spend the $500 – $600 to get everything on M’s list, but I don’t think it’s necessary. For one thing, he doesn’t need another game system – he’s already got a Nintendo DS, an iPod and my husband has a Wii (it might as well be M’s since the only one who really plays it). And call me Scrooge, but I don’t think an 11-year old needs a pile of uber-expensive gifts for Christmas. He can only play with one thing at a time.

After I strongly suggested to M that he was unlikely to find a Wii U under the Christmas tree, he suggested that maybe Santa would bring it for him. M is on the cusp of not believing in Santa but he’s not willing to run the risk of getting less presents – when you’re 11, it’s  all about the loot. At that point, I indicated that I didn’t think that Santa would be bringing him a Wii U I explained that since it is so expensive, if Santa gave one to M, he wouldn’t have enough money for toys for all the other children on his list.

I have no idea if M bought my explanation. He hasn’t mentioned the Wii U recently. Over the last couple of weeks, he’s expanded his list to include some books, Bey Blades and a 1000 piece puzzle of the periodic table.  His dad and I had planned on getting him the Skylanders game, but turns out, it’s sold out across the country. I wonder if Santa gives out I.O.U.’s?

Busy…not blogging


The last few weeks have been busy – work assignments, organizing the Bake Table at the school holiday event, as well as several evenings at the theatre (seasons tickets). As Christmas approaches, things will only get busier around our house. Not a lot of time left over for blogging.Part of the issue is that I love Christmas. I want to make cute little decorations and hang them all over my house. I want to give hand-made, adorably wrapped gifts to most of the people on my list.If I have to buy a gift, I prefer it be crafted by a local artisan. I  to ply friends and family with yummy handmade goodies. Forget UNICEF, I want to create a unique card for everyone on my Christmas card list.

Clearly, my expectations are completely out of line with reality. There aren’t enough hours in the day between mid-November and December 24th to get through everything on my “To Do” list. At least not if I want to work (an economic necessity) and still eat, sleep and make sure my kid gets out the door to school every morning. Add in the fact that I am not highly organized nor particularly disciplined. So it’s not a big surprise that blogging has come almost to a stand still. I have lots of ideas for posts, but I also have lots of competition for my time. Those cookies aren’t going to bake themselves!

It’s not like I haven’t been getting things done. M and I have made several batches of cookies – several dozen went to the school bake sale a couple of weeks ago and the rest are in the freezer, to be boxed up as teachers gifts and hostess gifts. We’ve dialed back from our usual 75-100 dozen; we’re up to about 50 dozen so far and we have more shortbread dough frozen in the freezer. Even though we’ve cut back on our baking, we should still have enough cookies to fill a shoebox for our annual donation to a local restaurant’s holiday charity dinner.

Thanks to a network of great craft shows in my area, I’ve made a serious dent in my Christmas shopping. However, the home-made Christmas cards are coming along slowly and I’ve only completed one craft project (and that was a couple of weeks ago). Our annual Holiday Open House is coming up soon and the tree is only half-decorated, the house is messy and most of the appetizers are still to be made. Plus, I think I’m coming down with the office cold.

Rather than run myself down for what I haven’t done or what I still need to do, I’m going to give myself the gift of kindness. I’m going to do as much as I can and not beat myself up if I don’t get everything done. Hopefully, I can avoid visiting the mall on the last pre-Christmas weekend, but if I’m short a gift or two, I’ll cope. Fortunately, the issue with my credit card has been cleared up, so I can do some on-line shopping and avoid the crowds.

I’m hoping to be back on a regular blogging schedule soon – no later than the new year, but I’m hoping it will be sooner. In the interim, I’ll be making lists and checking them twice.