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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Do you hear what I hear?

Do You Hear what I hear?

Yep, it's the sound of Visa's being approved, Maalox bottle tops being opened, and UPS packages making a "thud" on my doorstep. It's the sound of LOVE at Christmas time.

In the midst of a terrible economy and Adam and I still getting our sea legs with Parenthood, there are certain things that I WILL NOT compromise on. One of them is Christmas.

My parents may not have made every single cohesive and correct decision raising a blended family of FIVE kids, but one thing that I can absolutely say that they ALWAYS got right was Christmas for us kids. All of my very best memories from childhood involve Christmastime w/ my family, and the magic that my parents were always able to pull off year after year.

There are certain sacrifices that have to be made in order to raise five children.... especially five children in a SEVEN year age gap. Our needs were always met, and met very well, however we were not kids that had 30 pairs of shoes.... we had 3 or 4. We weren't the 7th graders w/ 5 pairs of Z Cavaricci's, we were lucky to have one pair each. We were not given a car for our 16th birthday. As a matter of fact, we were not ALLOWED to test for our driver's license until we had a job and was able to prove that we could afford our own car insurance..... even if that meant Mom and Dad driving us to and from work. (which, by the way, my first job was a bus girl at The Sherwood Club).

My siblings and I were already often placed in awkward situations by the 'rents because neither Mom or Dad were big on showing affection or emotions. However there was ALWAYS one time of year when all of us knew, and knew without question how much our parents loved us....... and it was Christmas time.

It was the one time of year that I can honestly say we were SPOILED BEYOND BELIEF!!!!

On average, my Mom and Dad had under the tree Christmas morning a dozen or more presents for each kid. Multiply that times 5 kids and you are looking at buying 60 to 70 presents on just your children alone. Mom and Dad took turns giving a "Big Ticket" item to each kid year after year, such as a new bike, video game system, or television. Even as a child, it was understood to not be jealous or upset b/c we knew that our turn would come around again. Sometimes they'd surprise us and be able to get us ALL a big ticket item, but none the less, there was ALWAYS an abundance of gifts.

Having learnt not to ask for a new toy or CD every time I went to the store with my Mom made me appreciate the decadence and extravagance they showed us at Christmas. Mom did most all of the shopping and wrapping, while Dad had the quiet comfort of knowing how hard he worked to give us everything we put on our Christmas lists.

Having small children of my own has made Adam and I discuss how we want to handle the Holidays for Josh and Ava, and figure out what direction that we too want to go. Both of our parents seemed to of had the same philosophies at Christmas, so we too have decided not to hold back for this very special ONE time each year.

From the ages of 4 until about 8, kids really do believe in Miracles, and that is something that I want to place in my children's hearts as well. Understanding how stressful providing this can be gives me even MORE meaning and appreciation for the holidays. It must have been VERY hard to do that year after year, yet I only have memories of my Mom baking away to Motown hits in our kitchen and had NO clue about the stresses they were under.

If my parents were able to hide SEVENTY plus wrapped packages each year then SURELY miracles exist. In all my years I do not recall ever finding any Christmas gifts, nor do I recall waking up to hear them put them under the tree. I only hope to be a Master Jedi like they were around the Holidays for Josh and Ava. And I also hope that they too will appreciate it one day just as much as I do now.

Hope you all have a Merry Christmas, and if you can't afford to give lots of material things to your kids right now, just remember to give them the gift of always trying your best for them!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Tired of all the usual New Year Resolutions? Let me make a recommendation!

During the early infant months of Parenthood, I caught the Oprah bug to help cure new-mom boredom and I watched a heartbreaking episode about extreme levels of poverty within the United States. A few of the places highlighted were American Indian Reservations. Prior to watching episode, I felt fairly well-versed in the plight of the American Indians, as my Dad is a bit of an Aficiando and Old West Buff. However, seeing the images thru the eyes of a new Mother suddenly made me much more affected by their conditions.

Some simple, but major statisics are:

- 80% Unemployment (also interesting FYI- of the 200,000 jobs created by Indian Casinos, only 25% of these jobs actually went to Indians)

-23% Graduate High School and only 17% go on to college

-60% of all Indian Children are currently born out of wed-lock

-Indian teens commit suicide at 3x the nat'l teen avg.

-Average Life Expectancy for Sioux is only 48 years old!!!!!!!!!!!

-Land Indians were moved to is 30-90% less productive than other farming areas within U.S.

So you ask yourself, how can I help if the Indian's choose to be Sovereign from us?

Well, I happen to be a person that truly believes that education is the backbone and inspiration behind most human advances. The Indian's have very little access to Captalism, and that is including Human Capital in the form of educational needs.

I have been donating what little I can spare from paychecks here and there for a few years now to several different Indian Schools. I went to a few of their websites and found that Campbell's Soup Labels and Box Tops for Education were also strongly encouraged to donate. The Reservations receive very little Federal funding, and it is mainly is given for meal rationing. The United States is willing to Bail out every Tom, Dick and Harry, however we give LOANS and CONTRACTS to the Tribes that we screwed in the first place.

Since I am fortunate enough to live in a Region with top rated schools, I made a conscience decision to collect Box Tops and Soup labels for the Indian Reservations and their schools. This is my second year in a row doing this, and I have managed to send off $48 worth of box tops this week in addition to my bi-monthly donations. Feels great to be able to give these kids a small Christmas present as well, at no additional cost to my wallet!

Each Box top is worth 10 cents and are located on various cereal boxes, diaper packages, snacks, etc. They are even on Cottonelle Toilet Paper wrappers. When I put my T.P. away, I immediately cut out Box Top and place it in cookie jar on kitchen counter. I cringe when I see them thrown in the trash now b/c it is essentially the same as throwing a dime away to me. At the end of the year, I place them in a sandwhich baggie and mail them off to School. School sends them in and gets to trade them in for equipment for their schools. Some items are as small as new crayons, to new computers.

So there you have it, a New Year's Resolution that's not about YOU for once and hence, more likely to stick to! LOL

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