Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Picture (Ornament) Says A Thousand Words

When Sweetie was an infant at his first Christmas, I did what many parents do and had professional holiday pictures taken of him.  He couldn't even sit up yet, so I had the laying-down-on-the-fuzzy [blanket/rug/bean bag] photo done with him in his white turtleneck and red Christmas tartan overalls snuggling with a teddy bear in a big red bow.  It was challenging to get a decent picture; he was really sleepy and I really wanted one of him awake.  It took a few tries ... I would give him his pacifier to settle him down, and the sucking would make him drowsy, then I would reach over to take the pacifier out and get out of the frame quickly, while the photographer snapped furiously before the squawking began.  Ultimately we got a cute picture ... but he definitely looks sleepy.  Every time I look at that picture I remember that day and smile.

Also like many parents, especially with my first child, I bought a gazillion prints in all sizes.  Seriously, my child is the most beautiful child in the world and everyone else loves him as much as I do, right?  Of COURSE they want their very own 8 x 10 for the wall, 5 x 7 for the desk, and a wallet to show off to friends.  The Ex and I combined have a small family, so I always had way too many pictures left over.  While trying to come up with ideas of what to do with some of the extras, I decided to put one in an empty picture frame ornament someone had given me.  I didn't know it at the time, but a new tradition started that very day.

When I unpacked my ornaments the next year, I looked at that picture ornament of my 3-month old son and smiled.  "Awwww, look how cute and little he was.  I remember that day."  And then I looked at my then-15 month old son who was "helping" me decorate by shoving tissue paper in his mouth, emptying boxes of decorations, and tugging on strands of lights.  I was amazed at how different he looked.  I thought it would be fun to make a picture ornament of him at 15 months, and then compare those first two years with what he would look like at 27 months the following year.  So I did, and I've done it every year.

When Stinker was born, things changed a little.  I was much busier when the second one came along ... I was chasing a 2 year old, working full-time, and when Christmas rolled around, I was going through a divorce.  I didn't have as many professional pictures taken of Stinker when he was a baby because of the craziness that was my life, and I certainly didn't buy as many, but I was determined to keep the tradition going.  As I scoured the few pictures that I had (in comparison to Sweetie's pictures at his first Christmas), I was challenged to find one that was appropriate for an ornament.  I simply didn't have as many to choose from; I didn't take as many, and by then everything had gone digital so I didn't have paper photos laying around.  Most shots were in close up.  When I was looking through my cache of "leftover" professional photos for a cute picture of Stinker, I stumbled across a wallet-sized picture of both boys at Sweetie's third birthday.  They were both wearing Hawaiin shirts and denim shorts and they looked so cute, so I decided to put that one in a frame ornament, too.  A new tradition was born.

Now, every year, I add 3 new ornaments to my collection: one of Sweetie, one of Stinker, and one of the two of them together.  I have pictures of them at a character breakfast at Disneyland, in Halloween costumes, and in professional portrait poses.  I have school pictures, soccer pictures, and candid photos.  As I type this, I have 21 ornament frames (not counting the ones they have made for me over the years) hanging on my tree.  And the candidates for this year's new ornaments have been selected ...

On this eve of Christmas, it warms my heart to sit in the quiet, look at my tree, and enjoy all of those smiling pictures of my children looking back at me.  Peace on Earth.  God bless us every one.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pretend Polygamy Can Lead To Pretend Divorce

Some time ago I posted about the benefits of pretend polygamy.  Basically, it's the idea that you could have multiple spouses that serve multiple purposes and you don't have any of the real-life moral, legal or emotional problems.  It would be ideal.  You can read my original post on pretend polygamy here

Unfortunately, even fantasies can be flawed and can disappoint.  One of my pretend husbands was Ashton Kutcher. I pretend married him for a variety of reasons, one of which was that he was my "fun" spouse.  As it turns out, Ashton committed the one cardinal sin of pretend husbands: he demonstrated he is human and destroyed my the fantasy.  It's time for a pretend divorce.

Having a hole in my pretend repertoire of relationships got me thinking.  Who should take his place?  I wanted someone about the same age (because all of my other pretend husbands are around my age - I need some younger blood!), and a hot body is kind of a prerequisite if we're talking about fantasy.  Duh - Ryan Reynolds.  So I have decided to replace the disappointing Ashton with the smokin' hot Ryan:

Ryan, sweet Ryan, will you please, with cherries on top, marry me?

I, Wendy, take you Ryan Reynolds, to be my pretend husband,
To have and to hold from this day forward, in my fantasies,
Only for better, never for worse, for richer and poorer,
In sickness and in health, to love and support by seeing all of your movies,
Until my disinterest do we part.

Ryan will play the role of my boy toy to do with as I please.  He will love and honor me, for as long as I want.  'Nuff said.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

It's The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year?

Do you remember that Andy Williams song?  I can't remember what it's called, but it's on one of the Christmas albums, probably from the 70s.  My mother used to play the Andy Williams albums while she was decorating the house for Christmas, and we used to watch all of the Christmas specials.  I think he's got a regular show in Branson.  I should try to go see him before he dies.  Anyway, this phrase is on my mind for a number of reasons, mostly because Christmas carols are playing all around me, and that inevitably triggers my Andy Williams Christmas memories.  And this song always pops into my head.  But truthfully, this ISN'T the most wonderful time of the year for me.  At least  not any more. 

My kids are still little, so I still get to you enjoy the marvel and magic of the season through my children's eyes, and for that I am grateful.  It definitely makes me warm and fuzzy, and I can physically feel my heart warm up.  But this is a hard time of year for me when I am away from my children and alone with my thoughts.  The Ex and I split six years ago now, and I've recovered from just about everything ... except the holidays.  I don't decorate the house like I used to because I am just too tired to do it all myself, especially working full-time and having the children at least 80% of the time.  It's a lot of work!  I went from real trees to an artificial tree because it is too hard for me to go get a real tree, get it home and put it up ... by myself.  We haven't had lights on the outside of our house in six years. I don't bake like I used to because there is no one around to eat it.  I still decorate, just not as much.  I still put up a tree. I still bake and decorate cookies.  I've done my best ... I even go so far as to invite him and his son from his first marriage to my home on Christmas morning to watch the children open their presents from Santa.  He accepts my invitation each year... except the one year he had a live-in girlfriend and I told him she was not invited.

It's during this time of year that my residual anger about my divorce resurfaces.  I blame the Ex that our children do not have the kinds of Christmases I had as a kid.  I blame the Ex that we don't have a bunch of "family" celebrations and parties.  I blame the Ex that I don't look forward to Christmas morning anymore.  I blame the Ex that I am left alone on Christmas Day.  Though I have my children on Christmas morning - something most divorced parents do not have on alternating years - I don't get to relax and enjoy it.  Instead, I have to be ready to receive as a guest the one person who makes me the most uncomfortable and the two people who hold my kids' interest more than I do. I have to sit and watch as my children forget that I am there because they are so thrilled to see their daddy and their big brother.  I barely have time to help get their toys out of the twist ties and screws before they are getting dressed and heading off with daddy to his family's celebration, and they don't even say goodbye.  And then I am left all alone with a mess and my thoughts. 

This year I've decided to take back my Christmas morning.  I expressly told him he is not invited to come over for Santa presents.  He didn't question it because he thinks he knows why I've done it.  He doesn't.  I want to lounge around in my pajamas, drinking coffee and watching my kids open their presents.  I want to have a pleasant breakfast.  I want to have them show me how everything works.  In short, I want to feel INCLUDED in Christmas morning.  Is it selfish?  Probably.  But I've been a Christmas martyr for six years now.  He stooped to having the kids ask me if he could come over so I was truthful with them.  I told them I feel left out when daddy is there because they forget about me and it makes me sad.  Sweetie asked me if am "jealous" of daddy.  I don't think "jealous" is the right word, but maybe it is.  But I told him I AM jealous because I love them so much and I want to have fun with them on Christmas morning.  The Ex will come and take them at 11:00 as he does every year.  They will spend the day with their daddy, their brother, their grandparents, aunt, uncle and cousins as they do every year. He will keep them for however many days he wants to keep them after Christmas, as he does every year.  They will be with him when the new year starts, as they are every year. 

I'm determined to get my "most wonderful time of the year" back!