Tag Archives: traditions

Transcendence On the Way to Preschool

Claire

In life there are few moments of transcendence, or perhaps better said, there are few moments of transcendence that we recognize and commit to memory, and even fewer that are clear enough to shift our existential bearings and redefine our hopes.

When they do happen, they’re usually fleeting, they’re often mundane (given our inability to see the forest for the trees), and unless our emotions and spirit communicate, they’re usually glanced over so as to leave no trace of meaning.

For me the dark glass is lowered and transcendence is recognized almost always in the presence of my children, in particular aside my oldest daughter Claire (four years old). It happens simply, when undeterred joy emanates from my daughter and I feel partly to blame; when somehow my being her dad and being present in her life plays a role in it all.

It has happened at a pizza parlor as Claire watches her younger sister Maren do the funniest thing ever: refuse to keep her feet off the table. I’ve been wise enough to notice it as Claire is caught in a whirlwind of leaves, a recently raked pile behind her, the remnants of fall clinging to her hair and eyebrows.

Most recently it happened in the car, on the way to preschool. Claire and I have a tradition: We crank the volume up on the radio and act wild. We do this to get our crazies out—something both of us need to do before entering the real world where calmness and put-togetherness are most admired. A hit song from a few years ago comes on and we’re both dancing; we’re both unhinged. I look back and catch a glimpse of her, lost in the moment without concern. To make her laugh, I look forward and scream. I pretend the traffic cones on the side of the road are a brick wall and I’m about to hit them. I’m nowhere near them and I hit nothing but the explosion is real; it’s Claire in the back seat, head back, erupting with laughter; she’s like an infant guffawing for the first time at something that’s only funny in the beginning: a coo, a song, a bark, the tearing of paper, an older sister shaking her head inches away.

To see this innocent, explosive, in-the-moment elation was too much for me; I sobbed. I was happy. I was sad. I was nostalgic. I was worrying about the day she wouldn’t think a fake collision with traffic cones was funny anymore. I was in limbo.

I was no longer in the car. I was no longer on earth. I was outside looking in. I entered a realm that felt like home in a strange land. The meaning was clear and it was mine. And then I watched my Claire put on her backpack and walk toward school, a big girl.

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The Worst Christmas Song Ever

I need to talk about something serious. With the exception of my two-year-old daughter Claire, who this year has joined the ranks of those who love and constantly listen to Christmas music during the holiday season, I am the biggest Christmas music lover I know.

Many do not share my sentiment. In fact, you may be a grinch who hates that Christmas music even exists and that it blasts triumphantly through the cheap speakers of every supermarket and mall, but not caring a button about the complaints and whining and christmas-ruining of Scrooges like you, I shall continue to talk about the sounds of the season.

My Tradition

I start listening to Christmas music November 1st, and I don’t mean occasionally. At work it’s constantly playing on Spotify. If I am in the car, the radio station with “long sets” of “holiday favorites” is on and being sung along to. If I have time at home, yup, you got it, I am listening to Christmas music.

I listen to all types of Christmas music—classical, instrumental, religious, jazz, pop, R & B, operatic…. I could go on forever baby.

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To get you through this post, I have shared some great Christmas songs along the way

My favorite Christmas music artists are, but are not limited to, Harry Connick Jr, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Johnny Mathis, James Taylor, Mariah Carey, Sufjan Stevens, Bright Eyes, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, Andy Williams, Jim Croce, The Carpenters, Weezer, The Robertsons, Elvis Presley, The Irish Tenors, Michael Buble, James Brown, Boys II Men, Gene Autry, Johnny Cash, Nat King Cole, Brenda Lee, Perry Como, John Lennon, John Denver, The Muppets, She and Him, The Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, Burl Ives, Wham… and this is only a drop of water in the comprehensive ocean of my Christmas time playlist.

If you ask me, I can confidently tell you the best version of every Christmas classic.

spotify:track:604DTaRINInOPt26OBBNU6

So, it’s fair to say that I have heard a lot of Christmas music. I have listened to so many wonderful tunes and have been shockingly disappointed by how bad some Christmas albums are, even some by my favorite artists.

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The Worst

But enough context, let’s get to the meat of this post, the reason I titled it “The Worst Christmas Song Ever.” Everybody has a Christmas song they cannot stand, even us Christmas music lovers. For my mom it’s Paul McCartney’s “Simply having a wonderful Christmas Time.” For my wife, it’s any song sung by Josh Groban. I like Paul’s song and Josh’s album, but whatever.

Christmas Shoes

Many argue that “Christmas Shoes” is the worst Christmas song ever. They’re right that it’s not a good Christmas song. It’s contrived, overplayed, and obnoxiously sung. That being said, it’s not the worst Christmas song ever. I’ll even admit, the first time I heard it the message did come across as valuable (if you can get beyond the “he was dirty from head to toe” moments), even if it was delivered in such an annoying way.

Speaking of Christmas Shoes:

Mary Did You Know?

I submit that another song, with an equally valuable message, is worse than “Christmas Shoes.” “Mary Did You Know” is an awful Christmas song, especially when sung by a breathy, over-dramatic man. I cannot listen to it. Even I, the holly jolly Christmas music man, must change the station if it comes on. But it is NOT the worst Christmas song ever.

Bruce Springsteen

The worst Christmas song ever, the one stations insist on playing again and again, every year, the song that’s like fingernails on a chalkboard, sand in your teeth, sunburn on your shoulder is Bruce Springsteen’s idiotic live version of “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” I hate it so much. It takes hours to get started and then it just simmers as Bruce obnoxiously throws around contrived banter with his band mates and then the audience; and it’s SO long.

So Christmas music lovers everywhere, even you haters, boycott that song. Refuse to listen to it. If that doesn’t work, call your station and tell them they’re doing a disservice to humanity by playing that most odious of tunes.

Merry Christmas Everyone

Please tell me why I am wrong in the comments. Let me know what you think the worst Christmas song ever is. More importantly, tell me about your favorite Christmas song.

My next post will be about essential Christmas reading, so tune in!

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Halloween Decorations = The Secret To Happiness

I once wrote a post that essentially said, life is more exciting, even happier, if you have something to look forward to. Traditions, even the smallest ones, play a large role in setting the stage for joyous experiences.

The Difference Between Grown Ups And Kids

Busy adults push events and moments out of their minds until they crash down upon them; but not kids, kids are pros at anticipation. If they know a summer trip to the lake is around the corner, they’ll prepare physically and emotionally—swim trunks and plastic boats will be carefully set aside and memories of water fights and sunburns will splash around in their mind.

Remember, One Secret To Happiness Is Remembering

I believe the secret to happiness (of all sorts) comes down to remembering. So, have something worth remembering and remember it! Halloween is a little over a month away. Many adults, even those that don’t get excited for Hallow’s Eve, might say, “look, with all the stores, magazines, and advertisements attacking me with orange and black, it’s near impossible to forget Halloween!” Touche. But not forgetting and remembering are two different things.

I know my birthday is in January. I don’t forget that. I do, however, forget to remember what my birthday used to mean… means. When I take the time to remember, my birthday becomes so much more fun and well, meaningful.

Halloween may be silly, but do you remember how exciting it was for you as a kid? Your parents let you play dress up in the streets, you got to knock on random doors, and for some reason, they all handed out free candy. AWESOME! And let’s not forget the activities at school, the parties, the hayrides, etc.!

What if you no longer trick or treat? What if you have no children candy beggars to take around the neighborhood? It’s still Halloween, October, fall! You’re not dead. Eat some candy, bake some apples, make a pumpkin pie, tell ghost stories, watch Halloween movies, throw a party, have a Halloween themed dance or talent show—even if it’s just with a few friends. And for crying out loud, wear a costume, one that you’ve been thinking about for at least a couple of weeks. I admit, I am the worst at this. I always end up throwing a leather jacket on and saying I’m a greaser. Lame. Not this year.

Skull salt and pepper shakers on top of an awesome table-cloth. Good purchases Rinda!

Decorate, Decorate, Decorate

If you can’t get in the mood for Halloween, if you just can’t get excited, decorate, decorate, decorate! Everyone knows that decorations are great for pumping kids up, but they can be great for big people too. Throw some fun decs around your house and you’ll soon see how it helps you—even Ebeneezer Scrooge—feel festive. And throw them up early! For example, there’s no reason that Birthday decorations should only be set up the day of a birthday. If you want a kid (or an adult) to get really excited for his/her birthday, talk about it months before, set up decorations the week of, and then do something super special the day of. Your child’s (or weird roommate’s) eyes will glow.

It’s the same with Halloween. Fill your house with celebration, pumpkins, skulls, skeletons, Monster Mash on repeat, the scent of pie and candy, etc. Do that, and your dreams of a happy, exciting Halloween just may come true.

*If all you can do is stay at home and be grouchy, don’t be one of those houses that shuts all their lights out. Hand out some candy, good candy, not peanut butter taffy, and watch how excited the kids get when you drop it into their plastic pumpkin or ratty pillow case.

Now, tell me something AWESOME you’re doing this Halloween so I can copy you!

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