Amazing Adventure #15: A New Year, A New Cringe-Free Era

This was back-to-school morning after a 16 day break from school.  Not that I was counting…


Of course I was.


I was totally counting.


It felt long.


Not that I don’t love my offspring with a kind of passion that is impossible to put into words blah blah blah… 16 days.


So, anyway, now they are in school.


Ever since Christmas, when I see someone (and especially this morning when I saw all my momquaintances again after the extensive break) I get the question “How was your Christmas?”  Now, this is a perfectly normal thing for them to say after Christmas, but this year it comes with a special tone and facial expression – universally.  There is a special little raised eyebrow intense look followed by a little cringe.  The cringe prepares them for the moment when I burst into tears.  Because – as we all seem to be painfully aware – this was my first Christmas since the separation.  People assume it was horrible.  Here’s the truth, though, it SO wasn’t.  It was great.

First of all, very little was expected of me.  People cut you a lot of slack in the first year following a life-altering event.  My sister and her husband came for Christmas so, ostensibly, I was the hostess.  I didn’t prepare a single meal.  I didn’t go shopping before they came.  I was working at a friend’s store and I picked up some extra hours because it is a happy, feel-good kind of place and because I love wrapping gifts and curling ribbons.  It’s zen.  And everyone who works there is funny and bright.  You should go there. Eclecticity – Chicago’s Snazziest store.

On Christmas morning, VERY EARLY, it was just me and my kids checking out the Santa gifts.  It was joyous and intimate and warm and happy.  Pip got the bow and arrow set he asked for and I got to recall the time in Jr. High when we had an archery segment during P.E. and I taught both of them to shoot arrows.  We looked through stockings and waited for their aunt and uncle and poked at wrapped gifts and made French toast and it was beyond lovely.  Peaceful and relaxed and happy.  We had a wonderful gift-giving session where the adults finally remembered that Christmas is for everyone and not just the kids and we actually exchanged thoughtful gifts again.  Pip and Bunny both finally achieved a lovely balance of enjoying opening gifts and also enjoying giving gifts.  They were sweet and grateful and fun.

And then the most heavenly thing of all happened.  Just as the combo of playing Santa (filling stockings and displaying gifts until 2am)  and rising at 6:30 because Bunny couldn’t wait a second longer was catching up to me…just as I was hitting the wall and the kids were beginning to come down from their sugar high, their dad showed up to take them to Christmas at his house and I took a really long NAP.  I took a NAP.  It was a NAP.  And I took it!  NAP!!!!  Divorce has its privileges, people.  Try not to hate.


At 7pm they came back, fed and happy, and we wound down our Christmas with some card games and snuggling.  Perfection.  I loved it.

And, as a side note, Santa gave Pip a drum kit over at dad’s place and it is going to live there.  Hahahahahahaha!  YES!!

No need for cringing on my account.

I would also say that the overly cautious “How was your Christmas?” is almost always either preceded or followed by a very emphatic “HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!” accompanied by a hopeful smile that acknowledges that 2012 was a gigantic shitstorm and 2013 would almost HAVE to be better and am I not hugely relieved that the calendar has turned over?  And, yes, I am.  I am relieved. I was surprised by how relieved I am.

I am generally not a huge NYE fan.  It just has always seemed like a bunch of hoopla over nothing (except the necessity of buying a new calendar and the irritation that you just know you’re gonna be writing the wrong year on all your checks til March...if you happen to be old-school enough to use paper calendars and write paper checks...which I sometimes am.  But, you know, if you WANNA throw a big party and get excessively drunk in order to celebrate those things, knock yourself out.)  And then my mom passed away on NYE one year and now it is not only a bunch of hoopla over nothing, it is the anniversary of a tragedy.

And, you know, it’s even harder to celebrate the ringing in of January when you’re in Chicago.  Cause…ugh…January in Chicago.

So, yeah, NYE. <Shrug>  But this year did, indeed, feel different.  It did feel like a new beginning.  I felt lighter with each descending number of Ryan Seacrest’s previously-recorded-due-to-our-being-in-the-central-time-zone countdown.  I am hoping to do big things in 2013.  I’m not sure what they’ll be yet but I feel freed up to make big choices.

I would also mention that, in keeping with a tradition I began in 2011, the kids and I snuggled and talked a little about Grandma and how important she felt it was to give back and we chose the charities we would donate to in her name.  Bunny chose Lurie Children’s Hospital and Pip needs to be asked at a later date when he isn’t hopped up on sugar and I chose Write Club.  I haven’t actually gotten off my ass to MAKE the donations but they’re coming.  It’s important.

I hope that 2013 is a great year for all of us.  I hope big things happen.  I hope you have fun.  It is SO important to have fun.  I think it was a thing that was largely missing from my life in a lot of ways for a while.  Besides doing some big things with my life, I have a resolution to have some big FUN.  Starting today.  Right now.

I hope you find some fun today, too!

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    Awesome column! Love you & the kid-lets!

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