Sunday, May 13, 2007




"Mother Lucker"









I am a total Scroogey McHoliday Hater. In the last few years, I've accepted that this darkness lies within my soul. Christmas? Do we have to? Thanksgiving? I'd rather have drumsticks nailed through my eyelids. Easter? Could we roll that rock back in front of the cave, if it means I don't have to hide plastic eggs 2,000 years later?

Yup, I'm a serious holiday wet blanket. I put the "hate" in LaborHate Day.

Here's my two-pronged beef (is that like a Texas Longhorn?) with holidays:

1) I find ritual and tradition somewhat taxing. As part of my Myers-Briggsian ENFPedness, I don't want things to always be the same. I don't want to know that in seven months I will be compelled to string colorful lights and hang ornaments. Nor do I like the foreknowledge that, even ten years from now, people will be setting off fireworks on the 4th of July, and for the two freaking weeks before and after it. I just don't want the same thing to happen at the same time each day or year. Surprise me. If it's the last Thursday in November, could I please just go to a movie?

Fortunately, Groom is in step with this thinking. He was totally up for us leaving the country and heading, with great speed, towards Canada last 4th of July. We unpatriotic sods spent our nation's Independence Day in the Thunder Bay mall, letting Girl get her ears pierced. Now *that*, as I watched her brave face determined not to let tears fall, felt like something...neither more or less than fireworks, but something that would happen only that once in that one place.

And last Christmas, some of you might remember that we beat a hasty exit from the bulk of the plodding celebrations by heading for the borders of Guatemala and visting my sister. I loved riding the train around the outside of the Houston airport on Christmas day, during our layover. I loved my kids not caring where they were or what they were doing on that randomly-assigned holiday. We'll never ride that train on Christmas again, so it was awesome.

For sure, if there is a holiday looming, I pretty much just want to pack some bags and practice my line-dancing Sidestep. I avoid lots of small talk that way, too. If I jump country, I never have to assure Loony Aunt Bev, while she puts marshmallows on top of the yams, "Oh, my, yes, but your new wig looks absolutely realistic. And I love those French tips, too" when, in fact, her hair looks like a pile of Michael Chiklis' laundry and her nails like can openers.

2) My other gripe about holidays is the well-ballyhooed over-marketing that surrounds them. Any genuine sentiment seems so buried under Hallmark cards and half-price candy that I become a real pisser (but, man, can I ever fake a smile for the camera) about literally or figuratively buying into another Target-sponsored celebration of manufactured feelings.

If Telefora can make a buck off of it, I generally find it to be a tiring bag of wank.

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All of this said, however, I also know myself well enough--am frank enough about my best friend, one Ms. Self-Interest--that I would think Mother's Day would be an exception to my holiday peevishness. I mean, a whole holiday about ME, to celebrate ME, to stroke ME for either having pushed a pink thing out or having one cut out and then hanging around to make sure it eats carrots every now and then and has a lint-free belly button? How could I not revel in such a day?

Indeed, Mother's Day is my truest test of Holiday Hatred. And I actually, weirdly, pass this "test," in that I find Mother's Day, like Valentine's Day and all such Daze, to be a bunch of sound and fury over me just doing what I am already committed to doing. In other words, I feel the love all the time, every day, so can't that be gratifying enough? Do I really have to expect someone to spend $2.75 on a pre-written card? (When signed at the bottom with a simple "Love, XXXX," such a card ends up feeling, as one of my good friends notes, like a freeze-dried hug.)

Yup, I can be a serious beotch about this holiday business.

But then my kids trooped in this morning, carrying the gifts their teachers (mothers themselves, eager to carry on a cultural beatification of that role) had them make in class. The Niblet had made a handprinted tile,


and I figured at the very least it's good to have his fingerprints on record.

Even better, the whole lot of them were carrying a warm coffee cake and big bowls of strawberries and pineapple. Bonus points to the crowd for good food! Feel free to do that any day, not just Mother's Day, for the love of Martha Stewart.

Then, as I dug my fork into the cinnamon/walnut cake, first-grader Girl approached me (teensy gold balls adorning her pierced ears) and proudly, excitedly, gave me her gift in a magic-markered paper bag: she had painted the heart box that you see at the start of this post, and inside of it was the Tool of My Conversion, a letter to me, written with the gift of her emerging literacy.

"Dear Mom--

Have a good time. You are kind to me. I love being with you. My favriate part is when you stay home with me. The places I like to go best with you are the park, the pool, and walks. When you go to work, I miss you. I love makeing treats with you. When ever you play outside with me I like you pushing me on the swing. When you push me in the stroller wile your running cause I like showing you wear to go also when we take walks I still like showing you wear to go.

When we go to the park I like when you chase me and play in the field. Whenever you play games with me I always win. I love when you hug and kiss me. When you run with me and I always beet you. I just like being with you. When you cook with me my favrite things to cook are brownies, cookies, cake, pie, and cupcakes. When I do swimming you always say I did good.

xoxoxoxoxoxoxo

Love, Girl"

Sure, her note buffets me with the stark truths that:

a) kids are, ahem, damaged when their mothers work outside of the home;

b) she is seven and can beat me at any game or running race (seriously, I'm not one of those Self-Esteemer Pushers who loses on purpose so Girl can, in ten years, have the confidence to say "no" when her friends pressure her to shoplift; I'm okay with her learning that losing is part of daily life...except I'm too lame to beat her at anything);

c) she has a strong compulsion, already, to tell me where to go

and

d) I have passed on my "sugar is the true meth" attitude towards life to the puir wee gel

However, beyond that, it's a love letter, one that might never have been written, if not for the damned holiday. After rubbing my fingers over the lines a few times, I refolded the note laboriously and placed it back in the heart-shaped box, where it will sit on my dresser forJocelynmore.

After my eyes stopped leaking, we all went outside, where the goodness gifts kept coming; the Fam had planted some fuschia and bleeding heart--my favorites!--in our new garden space,





and every time, for the next four months, that I walk by them, I will be reminded to cease my grumbling and appreciate the pure, bare, lovely simplicity that can lurk behind the pomposity of a holiday.

Thus, it is with only the tiniest bit of eye-rolling that I wish All Who Nurture a


39 comments:

Hammer said...

I'm a holiday hater too but I drag myself through it for the kids sake.

Cute stuff your kiddo made.

Us dad's get the shaft becuase schools out on fathers day. I usually end up with some broken crackers and a glass of water :)

velvet girl said...

I hear you on the holiday brouhaha hating (though I have a soft spot in my heart for Christmas, though more for the time of year than the actual day).

The Mister and Spawn One & Spawn Two thankfully didn't get me a card, but I did get a bowl of cereal, a small plate of bacon, a cup of black coffee and a vegan chocolate truffle as breakfast in bed this morning. It was a first.

Then I went out and did yard work for five six hours.

Happy Muddah's Day, woman!

velvet girl said...

Uh, that was suppose to be "five or six hours". Man, I need sleep.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

I can't stop laughing at "at the very least it's good to have his fingerprints on record." I've got a tile for each kid when they were 1 and they are hanging on my wall in the kitchen. I love them. Ah, Mother's Day. I gotta get writing about mine but it isnt over yet, still a preschool lunch on Tuesday

Theresa said...

Holiday or not, those presents are the best I've ever seen. Girl's letter could melt even the Grinch's heart. You've got to love "the puir wee gel" (Have you been reading Terry Pratchett's Wee Free Men?)

We could never do the getting first earrings thing with our daughters because they've had them since they were a week old. All girl babies here in Spain get them within the first two weeks of life. I guess that way there's no mistaking the baby's sex. No, "Oh, what a cute little girl, what, oh it's a boy? Well, he looks too cute to be a boy." Just think, everyone here is missing out on the getting-earrings rite of passage.

alphawoman said...

How endearing.

Wizened Wizard said...

Jocelyn, if your HHS (Holiday Hatred Syndrome) is part of these kids' experience, it must be a good thing. What great kids!

I declare a NEW holiday: Happy Monday After Mothers Day! ('Think I should tell Hallmark)? LOL

Jeannie said...

Oh man - I was cleaning out a drawer a couple weeks ago and found the Mother's Day cards my twins had written me at about that age - and I nearly died laughing. I showed my son what he wrote and he joined me. What he noticed was how narcissistic his letter was. And then we laughed at how different the two of them interpreted the project. I'll have to dig them out and post them too.

lime said...

yeah the cards may be freeze dried hugs but a letter like that is a giant, dirt-covered, giggle-filled tackle in the backyard. it's the real deal even if the impetus was a day on the calendar

Balou said...

Great post and Happy Mom's Day to you Jocelyn (and all Mom's reading). That was a first-graders letter? She's a good little writer. Wonder where she gets that from? ;)

I too could do away with most holidays. Because it's the only time our whole family gathers in one spot, I'll keep December 25th.

Diana said...

I, for one, am now a fan of the Mother's Day, for the reasons you listed and for what I am told is the origin of the day: A large protest march by mothers tired of their adored children dying in the horror that was WWI.

That's something I can get behind, especially if it comes with flowers for the garden, handmade cards and letters of true love that I can take out and read in 10 years when I am no longer such a central object of affection.

Lee said...

I am completely with you on being the Queen Curmudgeoness of the Holidays. Too much pressure, too much gluttony; just too much.

But my mothers day was simple and beautiful and thoughtful.

Anonymous said...

Can't say I don't like holidays as it usually means I'm baking some pies and then eating them and all the other goodies that comes along with a big meal. Yummy! I know one could make pies and eat chocolate on other days (which I do) but somehow the calories seem less when I have the excuse of a gathering.
I got some sleep on Mother's Day--a very nice present!!
Julie B.

furiousBall said...

I see most holidays as a mental post it note to show thanks for people dumb enough not to remember to do so on a daily basis.

A good friend from college had a great quote about tradition in general, "tradition is someone else's bad idea".

Tracey said...

Ahhh...you had a good Mother's Day! Lucky girl. =)

Jazz said...

I too hate holidays. And tradition. And all the rest of that crap. Unless I'm in the mood, and that's usually 1 year out of 5 (and only for Christmas).

Only holiday I like is St-Jean-Baptiste, which we get off and which coincides with my birthday. I like that one. Muchly. Except for the whole Quebec patriotism thing. But I just ignore it and pretend it's all for me...

Voyager said...

Jocelyn, wonderful post. I'm totally with you on the holiday feelings. Except of course for my birthday. How can you hate a day dedicated to collecting great loot from friends and loved ones?
V.

paintergirl said...

oh the feeling is mutual. I don't like getting really excited and being let down. I must have some left over childhood issues. I would much rather take a nice vaca then sit around and "celebrate". One thanksgiving we moved our livingroom/diningroom around.

steve said...

I'd say I'm ambivalent about most holidays. So much hate in the world already. I give Girl a star and smiley face, though. She rocks!

Princess Pointful said...

It is a funny society that we are in that it takes specific planned days of the year to elicit certain emotions. But, as you said, it's still nice to be witness to them!

Emma in Canada said...

Hate Christmas? What?


Oh and the letter? Made me tear up.

susan said...

What? You didn't get any coffee made extra crunchy with floating coffee grounds? Poor thing...you got a great letter though...those tear jerkers are the best!

lushgurl said...

Yeah I know, it really sucks to have a whole day dedicated to you... I am glad you found a way to enjoy it though- Bah Humbug!!!

Dorky Dad said...

Aaaaahahaha! Welcome to Holiday Love! Or something.

I guess your hatred of holidays makes you the natural nemesis of my coworker, who, I'm told, wears green and red every day in December and has an annual holiday party that must ALWAYS end with a game of Pictionary.

urban-urchin said...

Aww that's an awesome letter from the girl. But FUCK! I KNEW IT! I am totally screwing up my kids by working. Thanks for solidifying that guilt.

Fresh Hell said...

Yep, I've got the holiday loathing as well. However, sometimes you just have to put a caveat out there for the rare times when they actually rear their nasty heads in a meaningful and touching way.

That girl... She's a keeper.

BeachMama said...

I am so happy that you were able to enjoy Mother's Day. It would appear that you were rewarded with great homemade gifts. The letter from your daughter is so beautiful, I can only hope for similar letters one day.

Happy belated Mother's Day.

Glamourpuss said...

Prodigiously good use 'wank' - all power to you Jocelyn.

Larkin may have been right, but the love excuses a lot.

Puss

Claire said...

Happy Belated Mother's Day!
First, when wee nibblet grows up and can bench press you, you will look upon that handprint with such fondness! Second, have you heard of Diesel's Inappropriate Card Day? Fun stuff! Third, Wow, girl is a fantastic first grade writer! You should be proud of her (I'm sure you are).

frannie said...

your post is almost as beautiful as your daughter's love letter.

Happy Mother's Day... like it or not.

actonbell said...

Mother's Day is truly fabricated, but at least it inspired those lovely gifts from your children to cherish and look back on years from now.

I know how you feel about holidays--they have gotten so rote, fussed up, and Hallmarkized. Obligations.

Dan said...

Can I, like, give you a HUGE HUG (I just now realized how simliar "huge" and "hug" are) for saying these things about holidays?

I fee the same way!! I HATE an arbitrarily-defined time when we lemmings march in step to follow some stupid rule that exists only in someone's mind. How stupid!!

And the marketing!! The day they take the christmas crap out of the greeting card store is the same day they put up the Valentine's Day crap!

OK, I have to go and calm down now.

Happy Mother's Day. :)

choochoo said...

The only holiday that I can stand, is christmas. Everything leading up to it, sucks like a tick on a wet dog, though.

ldbug said...

Very sweet:-)

Mother of Invention said...

And, heck, those darn primary teachers who look through every craft book in the country trying to dig up a new craft or card idea that doesn't look like crap, deserve a break!!! HA! Some of the stuff we've sent home...it's a bloody good thing that their mothers had unconditional love for them! Either that or they were hastily recycled! And then, we have to come up with something for their das a short month later!!!

Beauty post!

I only nurture cats but they kind of left me a gift...um.. at the back door!

Anne said...

Awww... your kids are so precious. I hope you had a great mother's day.

I hate Christmas and Thanksgiving, but I always enjoy the 4th of July. ...explosives... >:)

Shari said...

I do not like how the holidays are all over-commericalized, but I do like the chance to get-together with family. It's just about the only times we get-together.

Lainey-Paney said...

I'm a firm believer that holidays don't suck.

I love Christmas & decorating,and eating turkey legs, and watching fireworks.

However...I fully support your right to hate them all.

...how very open minded of me!
;)

heartinsanfrancisco said...

Jocelyn, I love this post, and I love your kids.

I agree completely about canned holidays hyped-up to benefit merchants, as well as preferring to have less predictability in general.

But as you pointed out in discussing Girl's darling letter, holidays do provide a focal point for the feelings we have all year to be expressed as they might not otherwise be.

And with goodies like those pictured, who would complain?