Archive for the ‘Christmas’ Category

CHRISTMAS PRESENT
December 14, 2015

Cole is the most difficult child to buy gifts for. He wants for nothing. Not because we give him everything he wants, but because he truly doesn’t enjoy a lot of things. In some ways he’s a very simple fellow. He loves his television, occasional movies and books, and music.

He does the occasional art or science project and will every so often partake in a game. He doesn’t care much for action characters or cartoon figures or toys. He’s happy to cook with my husband and I when the mood strikes him, but there’s not much he needs in terms of cookware or accessories.

He likes to dress simply, which means during the week to school dress code – mostly navy sweat pants or shorts and a white long or short sleeved athletic shirt, and non-navy sweats or shorts and t-shirts on the weekend.

He’s got all kinds of gadgets and gizmos meant to make his life more accessible or fun. They don’t all work but we try. Same goes for seating. We love the Chill Out Chair and so does he, but various beanbag chairs haven’t fared as well like the yogibo, a giant beanbag like thing that now resides upstanding in his room, hovering over everything and taking up space that doesn’t exist.

Sadly, there are way more misses than hits in our repertoire of gift selections for Cole. All given with well intentions and all given with hope and lots of consideration that they’ll be hits. Alas, we’re gearing up for another holiday and he’s always the last one to be checked off the “gifts” list.

Besides coming up with some great ideas for ourselves, we also have the additional pressure to make suggestions for everyone else. Gift cards to movie theatres and places like Amazon, Target and Barnes & Noble are always on the list. He enjoys taking his friends to a movie and it’s useful to have the gift cards in the event we stumble upon something that seems wonderful for him.

I’m looking towards high school with some of the ideas this year. He and his para-professional are going need to be on top things come high schools so I’m focusing on ideas that will help, like a portable scanner so they can scan his homework, classwork, and school notices into an app that we can all access with the hope that less things get lost or don’t make it home. It’s not a glamorous gift for a fourteen year old boy but it’s practical and needed.

For Cole, people are more important to him. He likes going to lunch with his grandma each week and he looks forward to seeing friends and family and enjoys being able to share some frozen yogurt or a movie with them. Genuinely…that’s the stuff that makes him happiest. I love that about him but I still wish I could find the one great thing that makes his eyes gleam and smile widen!

ALL TOGETHER NOW
November 11, 2015

We’re homebound for the holidays. We will spend Thanksgiving with friends, and then look forward to our traditional Christmas Eve with the family, close and extended, at my brother’s house, and likely New Years Eve with friends. We’ll probably sneak in a Hanukkah latke fest or two as well!

This will be our second Thanksgiving spent with dear friends, and their extended family and friends, a warm, welcoming group of lovely people, and kids who welcome Cole into their fold of games and fun. It’s a relaxing evening, full of interesting conversation, laughter, and really great food and wine.   I’m already checking out recipes. I love any opportunity to cook for lots of people.

Traditionally I do a latke night in honor of Hanukkah one of the eight days (my husband is a non-practicing Jew). We’ve had friends and/or family over, and we’ve done it with just the three of us. I love making latkes and it’s our annual excuse to over indulge in their glory. Some years we’ve lit the candles in the Menorah each night, and others we’ve foregone this lovely tradition.

Christmas Eve is Cole’s favorite night of the year (we all love it but no one more than he). He loves the traditions that my brother and his family have cultivated over the past fourteen years. The evening rarely deviates from the routine, which is one of the reasons Cole loves it so much. It works with his sensibilities. It sort of takes on a movie like quality as we move from warm chatter, festive cocktails and nibbles, to a traditional roast beef dinner, complete with Yorkshire pudding, to all donning wacky Christmas hats to sing “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, to Santa dropping by for some fun with the kids, the holiday trivia challenge which leads to the White Elephant gift stealing game, and finally coffee and sweets. We leave happy, exhausted, and already looking forward to the next year.

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For the past few years we’ve done New Years Eve with friends. One family has generously supplied the house, I try to do a lot of the cooking, and we fill it out with delights from others. The evening involves lots of yummy cheese and wine and champagne, and more great conversation, laughter, and cheer. The kids do their own thing in the den, starting out with a movie, and moving to watching the ball drop on one of the network shows. It’s a perfect way to end and start years – sharing time with people we love.

This year, my in-laws will be with us at the end of the year. They’ll be here for a couple of days prior to Christmas, and then back again just after through the New Year. We’ll likely host a couple of small get-togethers for them. They have some friends here in LA, and also to give our LA based family a chance to visit with them as well. I’m looking forward to seeing them, and especially for Cole to have some time with them. They live in Hawaii and it’s not that easy, or affordable, for us to travel there often, so I feel like it’s important to make the visit special.

In the scope of all of this, I also want to try to host a couple of casual, almost open house type get-togethers. I feel like the holidays are a perfect excuse to open up your home and invite friends from different walks of your life to come share some cookies, or wine, or dinner. I’m feeling the need to connect with people I love. Maybe it’s a response to the somewhat isolated summer we had. I’ve been wanting people around and to be around people.

Perhaps also there’s a part of me that knows some of these traditions will likely change next year. Cole and his friends will likely all attend different high schools, my eldest niece will be in her first year of college, who knows where, and lives will have moved on. It’s all part of our natural evolution but it makes me want to wrap my arms around everyone and hold them close, never letting go.

Damn, I’m getting really sentimental as I age!

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY
December 24, 2014

For us, today is the day. It’s Cole’s favorite holiday of the year, perhaps his favorite day of the year. It’s also the most trying day because the anticipation of the evening (our Christmas Eve festivities begin at 5pm) has his every emotion heightened and his patience limited. Did I say limited? Non-existent would be more accurate.

Despite having celebrated Hanukkah with family, and his cousin’s birthday with family, as well as some other fetes, it’s all about tonight. Nothing compares to Christmas Eve at Uncle Dennis’.

I love that he finds it so joyful and that he loves it so much. I wish I could share just a speck of the delight he finds it with all of you. His happiness continues through into the New Year, which always makes the start of the year hopeful and bright.

With that in mind and heart, I wish all of you a bright, shiny New Year and much love during the holiday season.

ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU
December 16, 2014

Selecting presents for my son is one of the most frustrating quandaries I face each birthday and holiday season. He’s never been very interested in toys, and even less so now that he’s officially a teenager. Electronics are tough because they need to motorically accessible to him and most are not. He’s happy enough with gift cards and the random clothes and accessories, but it never seems satisfying as the gift-giver.

I scour the internet and accessibility/special needs catalogs in hopes of finding the unique items that elude me in local shops and stores. Some things seem too therapeutic and others seem too young or not quite fitting of his age.

While he likes science, I’ve learned from experience that he’s less inclined to want to do science projects at home with his parents than he would be with friends or at school or camp. He likes music, but with nearly anything he wants to listen to available for free on Spotify, CD’s are kind of passé, and the same goes with the availability of most movies and television shows on Netflix, Amazon Prime, or iTunes.

I love the tangibility of an actual book, but for him electronic books and audio books are more readily accessible and manageable for him. He’s got more art supplies than he’ll ever need and his room is well appointed. Which leaves the question nagging evermore…What to get the boy for Christmas!?

I AM THE DJ (Series – 5)
December 12, 2014

I think I’ve mentioned that Cole loves Christmas. Particularly, Cole loves Christmas Eve at my brother’s house. My brother and sister-in-law started what has become a family tradition celebration of Christmas Eve. My brother loves Christmas, a love inherited from our mom, and he set out to create a wonderful family night for his two girls and for all of the extended family. It’s truly a special night and I don’t think any of the kids (all now teenagers) would trade it for anything. Especially Cole.

The evening’s events unfold almost exactly the same year after year (running on more than ten years at this point), and any deviation would be noticed, and corrected, by all of the kids. It’s successfully a warm, festive, thoroughly enjoyable celebration each year, and the one day Cole looks forward to more than any other, even his birthday!

Besides his love of Christmas Eve, Cole’s other favorite wintertime passion is holiday music. He’ll take it anyway he can. He’s even sat through Americana Christmas, listening to the likes of John Prine and Emmylou Harris (both talents but not generally in his wheelhouse of musical interest. Here are few things we’ve had on playlists this week:

1. Weezer – Oh Come All Ye Faithful
2. Bad Religion – Little Drummer Boy (Really, any of their holiday songs are great!)
3. REM – Deck The Halls
4. The Eels – Christmas Is Going To The Dogs
5. Pink Martini – Santa Baby (One of my favorites – especially Eartha Kitt’s version)
6. Smashing Pumpkins – Christmastime
7. Fitz & The Tantrums – Santa Stole My Lady
8. Dean Martin – Let It Snow
9. Ray Charles – Rudolph The Red Nose Reindeer
10. Oasis – Merry Christmas Everybody

One on going, pretty much love from start to finish is last year’s Michael Buble Christmas album. That, and Bad Religion’s holiday album, also released last year. Both are pretty great!