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?

Related Posts:

The Holiday Break Upon Us

Holiday SkiingWell, we made it.  With the holiday break upon us, and another year coming to a close we can all take a moment to sit back, reflect and project.  2013 was not so bad, and in looking ahead 2014 seems to have a lot of great possibilities – but first we need to navigate the holiday break upon us.

Now before doing what I do and rolling your eyes at another year-end romp through things that were and weren’t, keep reading.  This is not that.

Often when people talk about the holiday season, there is a sense of renewal.  The Hanukkah story is one of triumph.  It’s the day Christ was born, and it all culminates with the ball dropping in Times Square and we all get a fresh start on a new year.


For me (and I’ve never asked the girls about this), heading into the holiday break there is a different kind of renewal.  Three  years ago, when Risa passed, it was in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That year, Hanukkah was just starting (I remember lighting three candles, I could be wrong) and I was preparing for a funeral.  The blow-by-blow of that day is well chronicled so I won’t go into all of that.

Instead, I’ll focus on the moment of renewal.  The way things went from December 3, 2010 to December 31, 2010 were a bit of a blur.  The girls and I were home for the week of the funeral.  The went back to school the following week and I tried to pull the rest of our lives back together.  Then I went back to work for a week, and then the holiday break was upon us.

It was in that moment, kind of as a last-minute decision I set a course of renewal.  We went skiing.

I had done a lot of skiing before we moved to Boston and we had our first child.  After that I had gone 10 years without skiing.  The girls and I talked about skiing in the winter of 2009, but we just could not pull it off.  So, off we went.

Looking back at that moment I see it as the time we all began to realize we would be alright, there would be a life ahead of us.  We now had something we can share, a new experience and one that allowed us at that time to come together and enjoy memories-without having to relive the painful ones that were on the surface at that moment.

Last winter-with issues with both of my knees and a mild winter we were not able to ski.  But this year, the holiday break is upon us, and we will be off to build on our shared memories, enjoy our time together and remember that we can still have fun-and that’s not so bad.


Related Posts:

A Busy And Thoughtful Mother’s Day

Flowering MemoriesFor the third time the girls and I marked Mother’s Day as a threesome with time to remember, time to be together and time to enjoy those around us.   While I don’t want to say it gets easier, it has become more normal.  On the whole we had a busy and thoughtful Mother’s Day.

The day started with a long drive together as I got 12.5 from a friend’s house where she spent the night after another Bat Mitzvah.  She’s now inside a month to hers, the time is running down on us for that.


We visited my mom (Grandma) and brought her a plant that 10.5 picked out at a school fundraiser.  After that we did a BBQ where the girls were able to enjoy some outside time on what was a beautiful spring day in the NYC area.

Tonight, when we got home we planted a flat of annuals in the front flower beds.  10.5 picked out the flowers at the school event-and we were able to relive Mother’s Days gone by when we did this with Risa.

Those Sunday’s usually started with both girls and I at a local garden center picking out annuals and then bringing them home.  After giving Mom breakfast in bed, the four of us would go out and plant the flowers.  10.5 recalled fondly tonight planting the colorful flowers around the tree out front.  12.5 remembered her mother helping her carry the full watering can out of the garage to shower the freshly planted flowers.

And so, memories in tact and a memorial of sorts planted-we head into a Sunday night.  Ready for the week ahead.

Related Posts:

Dinner For 4: Dining with a Trio of Pre-Teens

So, my Friday night “off” got turned on its head some and I ended up with some interesting insights into the pre-teen, female mind.  Now if only I could figure out what to do with this great insight before it’s too late.

I planned at WFH (work from home) today-which actually went really well.  I got like four projects on deadline done because the usual distractions of the city, the office and the rest of the stuff were not there.  In a twist of fate, both girls had arranged to go to a friend’s house direct from school-so I’m here plugging through the day thinking, get through this, and hit a happy hour before the girls get home.

Then came the call from 11.5.  She and her friend wanted to come over here because her friend’s brother had baseball practice and they did not want to go.

There went my night off, and they were coming over right at dinner time and I of course had nothing planned since as pointed out four lines above-neither girls was supposed to be home and I was supposed to be on a bar stool.

OK, quick change of plans, I roll with that .  They added a third girl in and it was the three of us headed out for dinner.  Girl three in this mix is allergic to peanuts, to my first plan of heading to Five Guys Burgers was out-so we ended up at Applebee’s of all places.

Nothing wrong with Applebee’s, there really isn’t.  Except I don’t like to go there. Yet, there I was waiting for a table on a Friday night seeing all the teachers my kids either have or have had-awkward for the girls but not awful.

11.5 is in sixth grade.  In our district this is the first year at middle school.  Along with the teachers, there were lot’s of class mates and school mates in the restaurant.  There were a few tables of kids just sitting around and there was a bunch of tables of families out for Friday night dinner.

I am not sure I am surprised by this, but the girls truly followed one another.  Of the three there was no clear leader. Instead, things (from spit balls, to kicking under the table to chatting with people at other tables) were done by consensus.  One did it, another may follow and if it seemed fun the third would jump in.

At this age, they are still manageable, but I am not sure for how much longer.  My 11.5 wanted to walk home from Applebee’s to our house-her friends did not see the merits and the plan was changed.  I wonder if that will be the case in six months?


And then the case of 9.0.  Just got the call from her-which was not unexpected.  She’s sleeping over at her friend’s house.  Have to pack up her bag and bring her stuff to her.


And that’s my Friday night “off.”

Related Posts:

The End of an Era-The Obit of the Printed Encyclopedia

The first mentions of it came (at least my way) via Twitter.  Then I saw it on Facebook.  Finally, I was able to get to my iPad and see it in electronic-print for real.  It’s the end of an era as Encyclopedia Britannica surrenders to the inevitable and gives up the print editions.

Just think about how you found out about this. Chances are it was not this morning when you got your copy of the New York Times (or your morning paper of choice) from the end of your driveway.  Chances are it was not even on the late news of choice last night.  In fact, it’s very likely you found out about this “stunning” change via the same medium that helped kill the printed volumes.

I truly do have found memories of the encyclopedia (Britannica and World Book).  The new volumes coming out of the boxes.  The never-ending cross referencing you could from one volume to the next.

There were episodes of TV shows growing up-Happy Days leaps to mind quickly where being a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman played a central role.

And now, all of that content.  All of that information is available on line-and I am not even talking about Wikipedia.

Perhaps the first tell-tale that this day would come was when library Sciences moved away from Dewey decimal.  I don’t know.

But I do know, there is no way my kids would know how to pull an encyclopedia off the shelf and do some research.  I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing since I always strived as a student and strive as a parent to understand how to find information-wherever it is and not be slave to a specific method of finding information.

So, I’ll fire up my iPad (I have the 3 on order BTW) and read more about the demise of this piece of Americana via other institutes that have already made the shift-newspapers, magazines and video.  And you know what?

Even though I’ll remember the fun of looking through the images of the human body and the solar system in the printed books-the information is not lost-it’s actually more readily available.  And that’s a good thing, right?

Related Posts:

Not Another Year-Ender

There certainly is no shortage of lists that try to tie 2011 together in a neat bow.  There are lists for almost everything including a list of lists, then there are lists for music, TV shows, web sites, search terms…you name it, there’s a list.  Hell, even I made a list for 2011, so there truly is a list for everything, right?

This blog post though, won’t be another 2011 list.

When I think about 2011 I think about it in different terms.  This year, for the first time in more than 10 years there wasn’t a “what if” cloud hanging over us.  There was no shudder each time the phone rang that this was going to be “the” call.

Instead, for us, 2011 was about stability and finding a rhythm.

Things weren’t perfect, there was a lot of trial and error, but all in all it worked out and 2012 should be even better-because there was a lot we all learned about ourselves in 2011.

When I look back-I can see how quickly the year went by.  January to June was a run up to camp.  Along the way was softball, skiing and a lot of figuring out how to manage through the end of 2010 and the changes we all lived through.

Things slowed down a bit in the summer-as the girls were off at camp, and the break was needed.  We did get some work done in the house and I managed to successfully navigate the world of hardwood flooring choices and paint samples (what an awful process that is for sure).

Once camp was over was a quick roll up to school-which for me meant a trip (or three) to th mall for back to school shopping.

In a rare first for me at least, I managed to get a little ahead with holiday shopping-and I can say it now, at the end of August I bought two pairs of Ugg boots-a huge Chanukkah hit here in the house.  I can say now, I had 8 gifts-ranging from the boots, to cell phones, to Broadway show tickets with two weeks to spare.

During all that time-both girls were doing well in school.  We introduced a full-time sitter in the house to keep the stability….

And collectively we take a break now heading to 2012-and hopefully head into a year of more of the same-because all in all, 2011 didn’t suck.

So there’s no list for the single dad, there’s not Auld Lang Syne playing in the background…instead we tip our hats collectively to the year that was…and we hope that you and your friends and families join us in 2012.

Related Posts:

Mixing Social-Old School and New

Currently very popular with 8.5  and her friends is the online game Roblox.  She spends almost all of her unfettered computer time on the site.  (Just for the record her unfettered computer time is about an hour a day).  I’ve tried to play the game and watch her play and honestly I am not completely sure I get the point-but she has fun and it’s safe so all good.

The game has a pretty solid social component built into it-which is also safe, so I don’t have any significant qualms as a parent about the site.  But what is interesting about 8.5 and her friends is that way they play they ignore the site’s social tools and make old-school phone calls to one another.

This is not the Twitter crew just yet and I think they find their typing too slow to fully communicate at the speed of the game-so it’s an open phone line and quality computer time.

The closest parallel I can think of to my childhood-granted long ago-was the times we would call one another and “watch” some prime-time show like Happy Days “together.”

I often wonder if there is a water-cooler type show among my kids and their friends.  Sometimes I get some glimpses of that-Sponge Bob and iCarly top the list.  But in this age of on-demand viewing, there is not the same anticipation of Tuesday night at 8 when Happy Days would be on-and all my friends would watch.  We’d have that shared experience in time and destination (if not place) that we could talk about either on the phone or in school the next day.

So, some old-school tools bridge the shared world of today’s child.  Same idea that lived more than 30 years ago today among my friends and me, but with some modern-day twist.  I guess the bottom line is it’s still whatever works.

Related Posts: