Posts Tagged ‘Target


Magic Rediscovered

You know when you fall asleep on the couch and you are perfectly comfortable until suddenly you’re freezing, but not enough that you wake up and do something about it?  If you are lucky, you can reach a blanket in your sleep.  If you’re even luckier, someone will come and cover you up so you can snuggle back into your pleasant dream.  Well, that’s Christmas.  For years I have been freezing, but I finally found a blanket. 

The freeze started in the Barbie aisle at Target on Black Friday.  I realized that the years of Barbies and other dolls were long gone, yet I hadn’t once captured the magic that was the promise of the season.  It was not for lack of effort.  Every year I began shopping on Black Friday and finished on Christmas Eve, rushing from work to home to mall to boutique to big box store seeking perfection tied up with a bow.  I swore it off this year.  I resolved to cut the shopping back long before the economy tanked but I had no expectation that I would be able to stand my ground against the four color glossy ads.

But today the reinforcements came and helped put up our tree.  It was the first time we have managed to do it as a family from start to finish.  In true Norman Rockwell style, we listened to festive music, laughed, and reminisced all day.  Once the stockings were hung and the halls were decked, we continued to giggle around the breakfast bar where we snacked and teased my older daughter about her new love (she has her very first boyfriend).  Then, the cheese fest continued as we played Christmas carols and sang by the tree.  When we finally modelled the last tree skirt and untangled the little one from the lights, we cuddled up to watch “Elf.”  Then, we topped the evening off by tucking the little lovelies into the empty space under the tree where they are now sound asleep.  Even the older one at fourteen thrilled a the idea of sleeping under the tree.  It’s empty there right now, but particularly beautiful.

That empty space under the tree is exactly what I wanted for Christmas.  I never would have found it at Target.  I don’t know how I missed it for 14 years, but I’m grateful that I finally got it in the nick of time.  My normal routine is to decorate without involvement from the girls so I can get it done quickly and get out to find perfection tied up with a bow.  All that hunting and the Christmas magic I longed for was right here at home.  It was even waiting for me but I was way too busy.  It concerns me that I was convinced I had made my loved ones a priority this season because of the time I spent shopping for all the perfect gifts.  Surprisingly, the gifts were the true priority.  That’s where my time went.  Giving is lovely, but it is completely different from loving.  And despite what the retailers have said, loving is the true magic of the season.


Stolen Magic

img_1741Black Friday is over.  Retailers are steeling themselves for the financial fallout as their lowered expectations are met.  So is my family.  Last Christmas, as happened every Christmas before, we left Grandma’s house wedged into the car among enough new belongings to start a second household.  It was bittersweet.  On one hand, the girls couldn’t wait to get home and unpack their treasures.  On the other hand, we all knew how hard it was to find the right gifts for children, friends, and grandparents because we have everything under the sun and we know that so many don’t.  My husband and I knew then, when our then-six-year-old unwrapped her second MP3 player, that a line had been crossed and it may be difficult to even find the other side, much less get to it. 

So we determined to cut back.  So did my grandparents.  So did my parents.  So did my blessed princesses, but it was not voluntary.

Amid my resolve to teach my children the true joy of this season, I am shocked that I have been knocked over by eight tiny reindeer.  For the first time in years, I did not get a JC Penny snowglobe, the prize of a true Black Friday veteran.  Even if I wasn’t getting anyone a sweater, I still stood in line just to prove that I was a soldier prepared to brave the crowds at 5:00 am even after downing half a bottle of wine and the leftovers of a meal that never ended.  From Penny’s, I would hit Circuit City.  Then Wal-Mart for the essentials.  Then Target.  Then Old Navy, Bed Bath & Beyond.  Then Pier One, TJ Maxx, and finally the mall to visit Macy’s and the Hallmark Store.  Of course, I would visit Bath & Body Works, then Claire’s for stocking stuffers.  Sixteen hours later, I would be jubilant and nearly done shopping, except for the few items I had to wait out until last minute clearances. 

This year, I worked on Black Friday.  Then, I came home to play a rolicking game of Monopoly with my daughters, a rare treat to play such a long game.  Saturday we went out together to round up any remaining bargains, then came home for family movie night.  I enjoyed every minute, but it was another bittersweet moment.  Every turn of the aisle in Target unearthed a little more holiday melancholy.  First, I miss my snowglobe.  There will be an empty “2008” spot on my console table.  But of course, there is so much more.  

I have fallen for a tremendous, damaging, and tragic lie.  All this time, I have searched Penny’s Circuit City, Wal-Mart, Target (I nearly found it there), and all the others for magic.  I even thought I found it there and I think I convinced my daughters they can find it there, too.  Each year, I try desperately to create the magical scenes of ecstatic children opening beautifully wrapped treasures beside a perfectly lit tree.  The tree was always perfect, thanks to my mother, but that was it.  The harder I tried, the bigger the failure.  I have books and books of holiday stories that I planned to read to these girls by the light of the Christmas tree.  It never happened.  Most of the bindings haven’t been cracked.  My older daughter is 14 and we have uncracked bindings.  I have a 14 year old daughter who has never baked Christmas cookies.  I am not sure she actually knows that a cookie cutter is to make cookies, not to embelish packages for her teachers.  My friends and family have never gotten a Christmas card from me.  No family pictures.  I am never home before dark on a weekend during the holidays – unless there is a party later.  However, as much as I love a Christmas party, I have never filled my own home with Christmas guests – no time.  The retailers have gotten all of my holiday time.  I am guessing that they did not miss my Christmas cards.  My great great aunt who always asks after me and my children probably does, though.

Somehow the very retailers who promise all the magic and joy our credit cards can buy stole that from me.  I have had my suspicions, but since my escape from Black Friday, I know it’s true.  It hit home walking the Target aisles.  Even with my daughters in tow, we skipped the doll aisle, the Barbie aisle, and all of the toys.  The only thing they are interested in are grown-up electronics and CD’s.  I envied the women clustered around the new dollhouses and mourned for a time that has long gone.  My greatest hope is that they take the time to ENJOY this magic, rather than BUYING it.  

My girls have the big dollhouse, the American Girls, and every My Little Pony made, but there was no delighted squealing when they opened them.  They are not spoiled rotten – yet – I think we have caught it in time.  But I promised them magical Christmases.  According to everything they see, that meant that they would be getting these things and it ruined the surprise.  This year, they WILL be surprised with stories of a miracle that means eternal life with a very best friend.  They will be surprised to learn that cookies can come from an oven instead of boxes.  And they just may think it’s fun to show their relatives they are growing up by sending out Christmas cards and pictures.  We will have a housefull of friends for a Christmas dinner and I am sure the girls will be surprised that we have time to sip hot chocolate by the lights of the tree.   If I get my Christmas wish, my girls will discover that the magic of the holiday comes not from any big box retailer; it comes from the family the Lord gave us and the love He shares through His son.  Sorry Target – we already have MP3 players.


Raising Berlin

I seem to be low on thoughts.  School started last week, which saps my strength, sanity, time, and apparently all my innermost thoughts.  So…When all else fails, we can talk about our kids.  I have two – girls.  One is 14 (remember recent birthday?  It caused quite a stir).  She is the definitive first child – neat, organized, responsible, austere, and a little snooty.  Number two is 7 and in second grade.  For description, see the attached picture (see the crazed look?).  I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since she was born. Many nights it was because I laid by her crib listening to her asthmatic breathing, but as she grew, I began to lose sleep ruminating over the adventures (?) in store. 

Number Two starts 2nd grade.  Scene:  Established charter school with ex-officer of the Marine Corps at the helm.  Kids in uniforms walking in straight lines.  Frantic queen bee mothers, most of whom have actually E-Bayed their souls to raise these superkids in pleated skirts.  The queen bees are unafraid to E-bay me or anyone else who would foil their plans if there is one mis-step (the peer pressure is enough to give a mother a stroke!).  The school may be academically superior, but it is certainly not prepared for the tornado that is Number Two.  Before she started school, Principal Marine counted down the years until she began.  She was infamous at four.  Now she is seven – older, stronger…better. 

Day One:  She surprises me by telling me that she does not need any school supplies.  Her very sweet new teacher gave her everything she needs.  I am surprised and a little miffed.  It took three trips to Target to check everything off the list and to ensure that the inside of her pencil box had enough style to make up for her clothing.

Back Story:  Number Two explained to her unsuspecting teacher (first year, poor thing doesn’t stand a chance) that her mother donated all of the school supplies at our house to the Katrina victims.  Number Two fails to take into account that Katrina wiped out all her #2’s two years ago.  Nevertheless, Mrs. First Year pities the child whose mother cares more for unknown children than her own and offers her all the supplies from the “emergency closet.”  I have been around long enough to smell a rat, so when we get home, I pay a visit to Number Two’s bedroom where I find a stash of glitter pencils and holographic princess folders in record time.  I lay them on the kitchen table and wait for the explanation…She simply couldn’t bear to share all that glitter and there was a chance that sharing would go on.  What have I done?  Take heart, Mom, she did take her own scissors and glue.  She didn’t use all of the emergency supplies.

Day Two:  Backpack comes home with a note from the OFFICE.  Already?  Two days?  It is requesting that I re-submit Number Two’s registration since we changed her name over the summer.  Ummm…

Back Story:  Number Two refused to answer to her given name (not actually Number Two).  She told Mrs. First Year that she has her name is in the process of being legally changed because her mom wanted to name her Berlin, in honor of her mother’s favorite rock band of the ’80’s.  First, Berlin is not my favorite ’80’s girl band.  Second, I am not actually flaky.  I am a loafer, pearl and cardigan kind of girl – a style that perfectly reflected my personality EVEN in the ’80’s.  Third, Number Two – Berlin – is obviously disappointed in her very boring mom who by now Mrs. First Year probably thinks is one Bud Light away from going roadie.

Day Three:  Phone call from the school.  Actually from Number Two herself, which means she talked the secretary into some serious rule-bending.  That is one of her many gifts.  Maybe there was no talking involved, maybe she tied the secretary up.  Anything is possible – I can’t be responsible for that 8 hours.  Apparently the very cute wedgie-sneakers (what are those called?  high-heels, rubber toes like Chuck Taylors, sling back?) that she was going to DIE without simply are not appropriate for PE.  Would I please just go home and get her some pink Airwalks so she could at least walk back to her classroom?  I say no.  She suggests that I am not mother of the year.  Let me remind you – SHE’S SEVEN!!!

Back Story:  There is no back story – don’t stand between a fashionista and her wedgie sneakers unless PE is involved.  We can all relate to that.  Despite the fact that I am referring to her as Number Two, make no mistake – I LOVE this child.  My dearest friend told me when I found out I was pregnant that this child would bless me in ways I would never imagine – and a truer tale has never been told.  She is unruly, but underneath it she is determined, strong, willful, and fearless.  She has fun in any circumstance and carries a confidence that I have not seen in such a young child.  In fact, she has never been without that confidence.  When she was born, each nurse individually commented that she seemed so at peace, despite the fact that she cried herself to the verge of suffocation.  The greatest challenge in parenting her is bringing some discipline into her life without squashing exactly what it is that makes her awesome.  My goal is that she be socially acceptable and NOT lie about my acts of charity.  I try to remember that the goal in raising Berlin has nothing to do with easy.  When we raise children, raising them to be complacent should not be a goal.  While I may envy the mother of the quiet child, I would never trade.  The peace I would enjoy for the next few years would never be worth it.  Berlin is a tornado, like I said before, not because she leaves a path of destruction, but because she is a powerful force of nature.  If I can raise her to use these powers for good, this child will grow into the woman I always hoped to be.

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