Happy Holidays, There I Said It

Happy HolidaysAs the holiday season creeps closer and closer to the end of summer, so does the never-ending (and mostly inane) discussion about Christ, Christmas, holiday greetings and simply anything and everything that has nothing to do with the season.  Even though the pumpkins are still on the steps and the turkey hasn’t been sliced, happy holidays.  There I said it.  Now what?

As a guideline (short of a rule) I avoid politics and religion on this blog – largely because I firmly believe it’s no one’s business what I think about either.  However, the garbage spewed about Starbucks and the holiday cups is just too much (OK maybe I spent too much time on social media today).  Whatever.  I am done already – so happy holidays.  There I said it, again.

Without a discussion of Christ in Christmas (or how a mall dresses up the area where Santa sits), or when Hanukkah Harry will show up, or if Dr. Maulana Ndabezitha Karenga is truly the originator of Kwanza – can we all just agree that the holidays are a time for us to reflect on the good fortune in our lives.

None of us live the storybook, but one time a year we’re all in better than normal cheer and its a time of year where you feel like almost anything can happen.  Why cloud the moment with a narrative of forced religion wrapped in oblique symbolism?

I won’t.  Happy holidays, there I said it again.

If I see you after Thanksgiving, if we talk before the end of the year or maybe (but highly unlikely) I’ll send out cards.  I won’t try to guess if you’re Jewish like me, Catholic or African-American.  Instead, with heartfelt pleasure I’ll say to you, “Happy holidays,” there I said it again.  Now what?

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The Mobile Lesson In Responsibility

As 9.0 said this morning-my girls are getting a little spoiled this year at Hanukkah.  And given all that has gone on-I think it’s OK.  Or at least it’s not the worst thing that can happen.

By the way that declaration came after the first night-because they got their big present, the cell phone.

Neither of my kids had any idea a cell phone was coming their way this year.  In fact, I had told them talk to me when you are 13, but a variety of things have gone on over the last few months that made me re-think my position.

But that’s not to say it did not come with strings.  You see before being allowed to explore the features and functions of their Droid X (pictured) phones they had to sign a contract of responsibility.  Yeah, I”m like that.

Basically the contract points out what I am committed to paying for and clearly states overages are out of their money.  It also puts the onus of maintaining the device on them as well as using it responsibly.

They both have experience with losing iPod’s and DS’s devices for significant chunks of time for not following the rules and not being responsible-so they know there are consequences.  The contract though is a first.

Here’s a look at the contract:

Contract of Cell Phone Ownership and Responsibility

As part of my ongoing policy with them of teaching them social responsibility in the connected world I thought in this case it was important for them to know the rules, know what they were getting and put consequences in writing for them.

We’ll see in six months if this works-but at least they know for now what the ground rules are and they know that if there is a problem, the phone is a privileged that can be rescinded at any time and not a right of passage.

In the immediate future-look out for a text from one of both of my kids-they are slowly working their way through every mobile number they can find.

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52 Weeks +

This is one of those posts that is a few days late.  I’ll say because of the demands of being a single parent during the holiday season.  The cynic in me will say it’s a series of thoughts I’m trying to avoid.  Reality is it’s probably somewhere between.

So we’ve marked a year since Risa passed.  With the unveiling next week, I intentionally did not call a lot of attention to the day with the girls, but the subject did come up during the weekend-and we talked about it a little.

What struck me though was the familiarity that the weekend took on.  While the memories of that five days last year is vivid to me like it all occurred yesterday-I could not help the moments of deja vu over the weekend.  From the hustle of the holidays to spending time at the temple’s Hanukkah party to the discussion with the Rabbi about how I wanted to handle the next solemn moment to the flurry of emails and texts from family about “stuff” that was coming up it really felt like I had already done all of this.

But this time, if I were looking for differences it wasn’t that tough.

While marking a year of mourning and transition, I can also take a moment to look back and see real success.  Tangible moments that make me think we’re on the other side of this part of our lives.  Yes, we have memories and even moments of pain and self-doubt.  But by and large, 52 weeks later the girls and I can truly say we’re doing alright.

One of the worries I have is someone on the outside looking in and seeing us a year later not in a traditional sense of mourning-but rather in a state of recharging our lives.  It’s something each of us in the house do in our own way.  9.0 looking for new things (violin like her mother, art projects) to be interested in.  11.0 becoming an increasingly independent young lady (with a pretty cute childish streak) or me trying to figure out what’s next…and then the voice, “It’s only been a year.”

Well, for us, it’s been years.

So yes, we mark the calendar solemnly.  Sunday we will go to the grave side and unveil the headstone (even that has not been a simple as it should have been).  No one here has forgotten-and like Risa did 13 years ago when she was told she had a brain tumor-none of us has let this moment define us either.

And that may be the lasting tribute each of us can give to our wife, mother and friend.

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Some Loose Ends-Here and There

So as anyone who reads my social media blog knows, I had a recent brush with unemployment.  Now, not the kind where you panic, but the kind that makes you think about where you are, where you’ve been and where you are going.  All in all, for someone who can spend a lot of time in their own head, it was not as bad as it seems.

Things for me at CBS (my former employer) really got sideways at the start of the summer–and through the combination of pressures not related to the job and a sense of apathy toward the job I really was not all that concerned about it.  I once had a room-mate who used to find my never-ending quest for a new job funny by saying that when thing go wrong for me in the workplace I don’t look to make it better–I look to make a change.

So when things went sideways that’s what I did.  Ultimately that helped cushion my landing a lot, in that I had so much of the networking done and my resume was on the street.

But at home–there really was not anyone I could talk to about it.  I am not one to open up to a neighbor.  My closest friend has his own job woes going on (I am trying to get him a gig at my new job now) and my therapist is paid to listen….

My girls were great through the process, although I don’t think they completely understood what was going on, or how on the edge we as a family unity were (and really are).  But support I got from them…but not being able to look across to someone and get a reassuring smile that it was OK.  No one to bounce a resume off for an opinion or to give me a quick read of a cover letter, or to let me know if my tie matched my shirt for an interview.

And the reality is my life has been that way for longer than I am generally willing to admit.  Now, I have a great network of friends both personally and professionally–and I got a lot of feedback on the resume, on the jobs I should be looking–and on the message.  All of that helped me land a job within weeks of being paid to walk away from CBS.

But that sharing moment is missing–and its been missing for a really long time.

Tonight is the first night of Hanukkah, and I kind of missed it in total.  Grandma was here to be with the girls and get them to an event and do presents (and her presents tonight were by design).  But as I was taking 8.0 to an appointment she told me she made a wish when they lit the menorah.  I asked her what it was–and she wouldn’t tell me because “it won’t come through.”  I kind of knew that was the answer.

But what she doesn’t know is the hospice nurse called me today–and mom is slipping off a little more.  Not able to take her meds, not able to open an eye…

And me, I just have to walk the line one careful step at a time.

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