Weekend 12.12

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“What should I write about??” I ask my husband. He shrugs, absently. Pax spares me the briefest of glances. “I dunno…Mom….” his voice trailing off as he gets absorbed back into his game.

I stomp around, annoyed by being ignored. When no one looks up I demand, “WELL?  SERIOUSLY?” Three startled pairs of eyes look at me. “No one has ANY ideas??”

Pax rolls his eyes, Raines — for an instant — looks confused (then wisely wanders away), and Mike (MIKE!) starts chuckling. “Is writer’s block like stages of grief?” He asks. “Cause you’re in stage ANGRY.”

I am reminded of our recent family Zoom call. After a few minutes of small talk, my brother stared at us through the screen. “Well…” he said. “We see no one else, we go nowhere, we do nothing…so after this many months of quarantine I have absolutely nothing new to offer. No amusing anecdotes, no news, no…nothing.” He sipped his drink. “You?”

Same, big brother, SAME.

But it is December, which means — historically — that it’s time for my yearly existential crisis. The one where I’m being crushed by the weight of my own expectations and the bustle and stress of the year. The one where I’m confused (so confused!!) by how different our holiday reality is now compared to that of my childhood (even pre-pandemic), the yearly crisis that typically ends with me Vowing To Be More Mindful and Intentional In The New Year.

Yup. It’s time for that.

But my sister’s face half-froze this week (Bell’s Palsy from…stress? They think?) and one of my friends just finished 22 rounds of chemo, which is more of an emotional and physical toll I can possibly imagine, the pandemic is still raging and we are still living in the same America where over 50% of white women willingly voted for a racist, misogynistic, unscrupulous, wanna-be king intent on the downfall of democracy (don’t @ me you know it’s true) and I do not have the…time? energy? for a proper mope. Instead, I find myself fed up with my own bullshit.

Happy holidays!!

Kidding.

But in all seriousness, in an attempt to arrest my (annoyingly predictable) December downward spiral — I mean seriously, what am I modeling for my kids?? — I remember an old article I had read about What Kids Really Need.  

It’s totally worth a read, but to summarize: Our kids need, quite simply, for us to show up

So. Despite the stress and my consistently unrealistic expectations of life (the curse of a wild imagination, I think)…I am going to try and focus — for the rest of December — on just…showing up.  

To me, this means spending some of my time in a way that fosters connection, fosters joy. Making everyone a rushed dinner when I’m starving isn’t what I’m talking about (although I get that it’s necessary)…but it does mean that when Raines starts talking about his tanks, I’ll put my phone down and listen. (Ugh — Tank Talk is so boring, but maybe I can ask him to draw tanks with me while he talks — win/win for everyone.)

My goal is to carve out some time (even the tiniest bit of time) once a day to give my guys some undivided attention. To do something together that we love, something that makes us feel more connected. A goal that can be accomplished simply by paying attention and…showing up.

Let’s maybe keep that bar real low, this December. 2021 can’t come soon enough. 


Oh, riiiiiiiight. I bought — and then returned — many pairs of snow boots for Raines over the last month. Forever picky about clothes, he found something wrong with each of them. Finally, I ordered the biggest kid size (sob!) of these UGG Butte boots, a pair I remember him wearing when he was tiny. “MOM, THANK YOU!!” he gushed. “I was wondering why you didn’t buy these anymore!!!!” He was so effusive, I slipped my foot into his pair. Um. They are lined in fleece, shockingly warm, and now we each have a pair. (Here’s mine — actually, I’m wearing them in the opening pic — they’re surprisingly cute.)

40% off at Anthro. I’m eyeing up this giant pom hat (it looks like a current version of the red one I bought two years ago), with these mittens and mayyyybe even this shorts loungewear set. I’d wear the loungewear with these leg warmers. (Random, but my favorite AGoldE denim shorts are also on sale.)

Boring: men’s underwear. My husband loves these Lululemon boxers, but they’re so expensive, especially for something so boring. Has anyone tried Everlane’s boxer briefs? They look verrrrrry similar.

Not the only one…I received a couple of emails from readers on Friday, alerting us to the fact that Naadam’s sustainable cashmere is back on sale. (Thanks, Guys!) There’s so much to love, but I’ve been wearing the heck out of this boatneck sweater, and this brown waffle knit is one of Mike’s favs.

Thursday night plans? Come hang out — I’m going to be on the Momtourage live podcast! I’m so excited — the hosts, Ashley & Keri (formerly of Scary Mommy Speaks) are tons of fun (self-proclaimed ‘mommy group rejects’) — it should be a good time. The podcast streams live (in video, too) at 9PM EST.

Zoom holiday party? In our Sunday night newsletter, the TME team is pulling together outfits for our upcoming zoom holiday party, if interested. If you haven’t yet subscribed, we’d love to have you.

Art prompts? I’m a huge fan of Tinkerlab, and her latest book, Art Starts, is such a handy one (also at Independent bookstores). The book contains 52 projects for open-ended art exploration. Tinkerlab’s IG account was a saving grace when my boys were younger, and I used her ‘art starts’ almost daily (and eventually could create my own). This book is geared to younger kids, but, truth be told, most of her projects are so open-ended that if I set one up now and walked away…I’d return to find my boys working away. There’s also a section on how to best organize art supplies, and introduce these ‘art starts’ to kids. Highly recommend.

Hot cocoa for crazy kids. Pax is….shall we say…caffeine sensitive. If the kid has hot chocolate after school…he’ll be both crazy and up ALL NIGHT. I’ve started making peppermint steamers instead. I warm milk (ours is non-dairy) with a bit of sugar, peppermint extract, and serve it up like hot cocoa. The secret? These insanely delicious Smashmallow peppermint marshmallows. SO GOOD.

I DON’T KNOW WHO NEEDS TO HEAR THIS, BUT: Love, Actually, is decidedly NOT a kid’s movie. We were going to watch it this weekend with the boys, until my brother reminded us: That scene? With the, um…porn? Riiiiiight.

That’s it! We have a night of popcorn and champagne planned, with a little old movie watching (in place of Love, Actually). My boys are huge White Christmas fans, and we might be adding Holiday Inn into the mix. Has anyone seen it? Fred Astaire, Bing Crosby…I think I watched it with my Grandmother eons ago, but can’t remember a darn thing.

Cheers to keeping that bar LOW.

xo,

S

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38 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for the reminder about Love Actually! I totally forgot. We love White Christmas at our house too so last year we decided to watch Holiday Inn but didn’t finish it. There is a scene that features blackface and it was just too disturbing. I wanted to let you know because I didn’t. Happy Holidays to all!

  2. Oh my. It was totally on our Family Movie list! Thanks for the tip. Also, the “special” we do is Christmas book with cocoa (love the steamer idea), lots of movie nights. (Trying not to feel guilty that we are doing more movies than games these days), FaceTime Christmas carols, and that’s about it. It’s all about the simple this year —learning that lesson over and over

  3. I feel like Love, Actually is problematic for a whole bunch of reasons. We’ve watched Holiday Inn with the kids (because the Sisters, Sisters number) and used the blackface scene as a teachable moment. I have to remember to look up movies on Commonsense Media before viewing because I definitely forget stuff. We just watched Clash of the Titans with my mythology obsessed kiddo (and yes, the boredom when she recounts the same story for the 50th time and which I first read when I was her age…) and were surprised by the nudity in a few of the early scenes (nothing sexual and my kids weren’t phased, but they’re both girls so boobs are nbd.)

    Also, my husband likes the Underarmor boxer briefs.

  4. Try Meet Me in St. Louis… Judy Garland in red velvet, singing Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas (lyrics she helped write), I go to heaven every time I see it.

  5. Yes to setting the bar low! Setting the bar at all in 2029 is a win! Our holiday tradition is watching Elf, Home Alone, Christmas with the Cranks and Polar Express Every.Year. I’m also grateful for our TMEI page, I’ve made so many wonderful connections with like minded fashionistas! Have a joyful holiday! XO!

  6. My husband orders the H&M multipack boxer briefs over and over and the cost helps him never hesitate to toss the ones that start to wear out, which is the goal. I just checked and the blend is similar, though the cotton not as fancy.

  7. I love the peppermint steamer idea! If you want a good vegan marshmallow, Dandies are the best. I didn’t think I liked marshmallows until I had one of theirs.
    Personally, my family is a bit overwhelming, so I think just being with my husband and two kids (NOT doing school work for two weeks!!!) will be the best Christmas ever!

    • Haha – we must low-level get to know each other just by commenting over the years because I got to the “Personally, my family is…” part and thought, ‘this has gotta be Christy’. WHY? Too funny. xoxo

  8. Ahhhh, Love Actually—so many parts that are not suitable for kids! I think TBS runs a heavily edited version each year, and that’s the 1 I prefer. Sometimes, I just watch the end, with the school talent show, because that’s really my favorite part. Our family loves Elf; it’s our tradition to wait & watch it on Christmas Eve. Leading up to Christmas, we love to watch Home Alone (that movie felt totally different to me after first becoming a mom!) & few others too. My husband has to watch Die Hard! Lol!

  9. I have decided that, inspired by the free People sequin joggers (which are SENSATIONAL) I am going to wear more sequins for this holiday season under the concept of #dontstiflemysparkle. Shine on, ladies! Shine on! AND. Watch The Prom on Netflix. Just do it.

    • I love this hashtag. Also, Scotti and I have a NYE post coming out you’re gonna LOVE. It’s ever-so-slightly-ridiculous and features those exact sequin joggers.

  10. Let’s talk about Holiday Inn… I LOVED that movie. LOVED IT as a child. My absolute favorite and my dad and I watched it every year. But there is a very problematic dong in blackface that also makes fun of the way slaves spoke and ICK! Adult me just can’t enjoy it the movie anymore. I would love if there could be a version that edits it out. It’s the President’s Day holiday and not required for the plot to advance so , yeah. Fast forward?

  11. I highly recommend the 2016 (I think?) Broadway revival of Holiday Inn. The choreography is spectacular, no blackface, and it’s available on Broadway HD.

  12. Oh my gosh! Thank you so, so much for enlightening we stupid white women who voted for Trump. I had no idea!! Love the open-mindedness of pious, sanctimonious, self-righteous liberals who won’t take the time to ask why the other side believes what it does. Merry Christmas, Shana. Here’s to piercing that liberal echo chamber in 2021!

    • Here’s the thing: It doesn’t matter. We’ve been discussing the issues of race, misogyny and all of the other reasons Trump is dangerous to our country for four very long years. You’ve had plenty of time to learn from this ‘liberal echo chamber’. At this point, I don’t care about your reasons for voting for Trump. You voted how you voted and now you have to live with it.

  13. I mean, “racist, misogynistic, unscrupulous, wanna-be king intent on the downfall of democracy”… where’s the lie? Feeling extra thankful this holiday season!

  14. It actually does matter Shana. Political commentary aside, others opinions- even when different from your own- do matter. Your disdain for President Trump is, and has been, exceedingly palpable and that is fine as you are entitled to your opinion and this is your platform to preach it. Your response to EPB, however, is sadly indicative of the state of divisiveness that predominates this country (which is reflected on both sides of the political spectrum) and will making moving forward in the spirit of unity to be exceptionally challenging. On the surface, the essence of your response to that individual is “You haven’t learned your lesson (e.g. President Trump is bad) from me or my blog the past four years, and I- along with so many others- are right, so I don’t care what you think”. I do not doubt that your passion in your beliefs is sincere and genuine. That said, an opportunity to bridge (or at least attempt to bridge) the gaping chasm to the other side was lost.

    You may not see your commentary in your article, or your response to EPB, as being self-righteous or condescending because you believe your perceptions/opinions to be “the” truth. Whether one agrees or disagrees with the outcome of this presidential election, as evidenced by the results there is clearly more than one truth; more than one perspective. I cannot speak for EPB, but I believe the frustration lies- on all sides- in a defiant unwillingness to empathize and understand the other. If these steps cannot be taken even within the much smaller and intimate communities of our lives, then breaching the polarized state we are in as a nation will prove even more formidable.

  15. NW, I would love to be pointed to a single example — any example — of Trump supporters reaching out to non-Trump supporters in an attempt to understand why we are opposed to this administration, or to try and find a way to persuade or convince us. Because, on the “Democrat” side, we have spent YEARS twisting ourselves into knots trying to figure out why Trump supporters vote the way they do, and trying every way except sock puppets and dioramas to try and reach them. See, e.g., every NYT article where they send a reporter to a diner. As far as I can tell, the GOP strategy isn’t about reaching out to non-Trump voters. It’s about keeping them from voting to preserve minority rule.

    And I’m tired of trying, for now. I’ve heard you guys loud and clear, get on board the Trump Train, all contrary facts are lies/whining/unpatriotic/elitist and must be ignored. My holiday gift to myself is a damn break from trying to reach you through the bubble of Fox News. Maybe next year I’ll go back to trying to figure out how to convince you guys that you need to take action to help and protect other people even if it doesn’t benefit you, that science is real, that “expert” isn’t a dirty word, and that baseless allegations aren’t the same things as fraud.

    There is more than one perspective. There are not multiple factual realities. And the factual reality is that bi-partisanship and depolarization don’t work if one side is all about power over country. So, I don’t know what the way forward is. I do know that, after watching what the GOP’s attempted coup for the past 6 weeks, I’m not feeling like they’re particularly interested in empathy and understanding. You guys need to clean house. Maybe then we can talk.

    Happy holidays. Stay safe. See you in 2021.

  16. Hello JS,
    I’m sorry you are so frustrated. But you are not alone in your frustration and bitterness- I believe many (most?) Americans feel the same. Based on your response, I believe you missed my point entirely. You wrongly assumed- based on your multiple uses of the collectively inflammatory “you” statements- that I am a Republican on the “Trump Train” that watches Fox news, discredits science, and does not care about protecting and helping others and am only in it for myself (for the record, I am none of these, if you care). But your diatribe is demonstrative of exactly what I was trying to communicate in my response. Please reread- not once in my response did I blame Democrats for not trying to understand the “other” perspective. I never even used the terms Democrat, Republican or GOP. In fact, I stated more than once that the issue is on both/all sides.

    While you may find this hard to believe, your anger and frustration is equally shared by many “on the other side” that do not agree with your opinion that Democrats have really ‘tried’. There are many that feel after watching the Democratic attempt to impeach President Trump and discredit him for the past four years, Democrats are not- to use your words- particularly interested in empathy and understanding. I understand and appreciate that you are frustrated; however, you are essentially saying the problem is “them” and not “you”, and that all Republicans (or those that voted for Trump?) are all about “power over country”. That is unfortunately a reckless and highly prejudicial assumption. We all have individuals we love and care about that voted differently from ourselves- and I personally know many who voted for the Republican ticket specifically NOT because of President Trump but for other personal reasons. Despite attempts on both sides to prove otherwise, this is not an right vs. wrong or evil vs. good debate. These are deeply held, personal value-laden beliefs which every individual is entitled to have.

    Your perception is that one side is all about power- that is an opinion JS; not a factual reality. And although your perception, just like those on the “Trump train”, may feel very real to you/them, it does not mean it is even remotely factual. Everyone has their own opinions and values, but as long as both “sides” stay entrenched in their corner of the ring and continue to throw jabs and shame the other, progress towards even some semblance of unification will be an uphill challenge.

    I wish you, and everyone, peace and healing in 2021.

  17. NW, with all due respect, this is where I tap out. I understand the impulse to see this as a “both sides are to blame” issue – it’s a lot easier and more comfortable position. But if you’re someone who can look at the last 4/8/12 years and say the issue is on both/all sides – after Merrick Garland, the ACA, Sandy Hook, the Voting Rights Act, immigration, voter suppression, misinformation, judicial confirmations, pandemic relief, electoral fraud claims, police reform, BLM, and the tone of the rhetoric (from elected officials, not randos on twitter) — then I honestly don’t see how this conversation can help heal. For years, the “both sides” argument has served only to stifle the left. The right has stepped on the gas without consequence, because people fall for the “both sides” claim.

    I hope we can find a way out of this. But if we can’t see the problem for what it is, we can’t fix it. And I need a break from having this same conversation with people, so happy holidays, and stay safe out there.

  18. JS- It sounds like you have felt wronged and oppressed for quite some time. With all due respect, although you say you have been trying for years, it is apparent you are honestly not in a position, or at least ready, to truly appreciate this situation from any other perspective or opinion then the one you are clearly entrenched in (the side that is ‘not to blame’ I assume is what you really mean). My commentary is not an ‘impulse’ I’m acting on because it’s the more comfortable and easier route; it’s actually insulting to imply that. Nor were my comments offered in an attempt to change your opinions or discredit your values and beliefs- that would be offensive and disrespectful to you and millions of others.

    Your frustration and anger is real. That said, I honestly feel your reply, while heartfelt and sincere, is ultimately dismissive and communicates a message of “if you don’t/can’t see the problem for how I see it, which is how it really is, then nothing can change.” With that attitude, you are absolutely correct- nothing will change. Best of luck to you in working through this.

  19. Replying to Renee — White Christmas is definitely the movie with the “Sisters” number in it (so good!), not Holiday Inn, although White Christmas does repurpose a lot of the other songs from Holiday Inn.

    Thanks for the reminder about Commonsense Media! We always like to watch a few old musicals the week between Christmas and New Year’s, and sometimes I don’t realize there’s racist crap in certain old movies because it was cut from the TV versions I watched as a kid.

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