A Christmas Miracle

Having a BFF with a good memory is both blessing and curse.

You never know what people remember about you, especially if you don’t remember it yourself.

We were sitting among girlfriends over wine one evening, and she said, “Remember the time we took our boys to the Wild Animal Park?”

“Pick any year out of the last twelve…help me out here. No.”

She proceeded to tell, with gusto, a story that was not remotely flattering.

I couldn’t kick her shin under the table, so I did the next best thing: feign indifference.

It seems we had our small tykes out for a morning adventure, and she overheard a chat I had with my youngest just before we entered the gates. He had some spending money in his fist and was hopping up and down in delight at his prospects.

I stooped down and gave him some good advice: “Kid, you have some money that is very special to you. It’s important. You want to put it somewhere safe, so you don’t lose it. It’s easy to lose money when you’re busy having fun.”

I suggested some options: “If you want to, I can hold it for you in my purse. I will keep it safe for you and when you are ready to use it, I can give it to you. You can put it in your pocket, but it might fall out. If you hold it in your hand, you might want your hand for other things.”

He chose to keep it close, in his pocket.

“That’s fine,” I said, “but if you lose it, it’s lost. I won’t replace it.”

And off we went into the wilds of Africa.

“Of course he lost it,” says my BFF, sipping her chardonnay, “and here’s this poor heartbroken little boy and she wouldn’t just give him another dollar. I couldn’t believe it!”

This, people, is why I was never in the running for Mom of the Year.

It’s also why certain girlfriends aren’t going into the running for BFF of the Year.

Ahem.

Actually, I wonder if it helped her be a little stronger with her own firm parenting.

If it didn’t, and you all need more (sigh), here you go:

Money management doesn’t come easy to everyone, anymore than time management or sock drawer organization.

But they are skills our kids should grasp, preferably before the big bad world gets ahold of them.

My daughter is working and going to college and dating and basically living a busy, industrious life from a room that looks like a train wreck, but I digress.

She has a paycheck that covers both her simple needs and her silly ones, and I’m happy to support her finishing what she started, before moving out into the big bad world.

She is going to graduate debt-free which is so huge, she may have no idea until years later, just how huge that is.

Words like ‘priorities’ and ‘budget’ and ‘savings account’ get floated around fairly regularly.

I offer to tell her (and any kid who will listen, aka nobody) stories of back when I was her age, how I had no problem eating beans from a can if it meant I could make rent that month.

All the kids who aren’t listening just roll their eyes.

Fine.

But there was a wee mix-up at the bank last week in which the sudden collision of college tuition, Christmas shopping, and paycheck timing went into a tailspin, and college came skidding into home plate, leaving Christmas in the dust.

Oops.

I heard my girlfriend’s voice in my head, “And here’s this poor heartbroken little girl and she wouldn’t just give her another dollar! I couldn’t believe it!”

I heard my daughter’s voice in my head, in my texts, through my door, “I just can’t believe it!”

“I can’t buy presents for my friends!” she cried.

“Tell them the truth. I’m sure they have tight budgets, too. Make a new tradition that doesn’t involve gifts.”

“But I love them!”

“Love comes in many languages. Maybe you could write poems for them. Maybe you could bake cookies. Maybe you could clean your disaster of a room and recycle treasures to give away.”

Maybe I could just move to Siberia where all the cold-hearted mothers are sent.

And take some wine with me.

“Mom!” she explained, “just because the Grinch is your role model doesn’t mean the rest of us hate love and joy and puppies and orphans! I have a heart!”

Her look contained pity and horror.

“And re-gifting is just wrong. People want pretty little shiny new things. It’s Christmas!”

“Kid, haven’t you heard of saving the planet? Recycling is cool. Re-purposing is all the Pinterest rage. When you have things lying around ignored, give them to someone who will appreciate it. It’s the young 20-something female consumer like you who should be telling the big fat American marketers that shiny new things are overrated.”

My pouting collegiate huffed from the room, “Oh brother, I can’t wait to see what we get for Christmas this year….”

Three days later, the miracle occurred.

She gave up being rescued from her own hand-crafted fiasco and took the first step.

She started cleaning her room.

And literally found buried treasure.

Who knew there was that much pocket change in the world, scattered thoughtlessly in drifts of laundry and in the bowels of dust buffaloes under furniture?

She’s getting socks for Christmas.

Used ones.

Fathers Day Give-Away

And here you thought I didn’t do holidays!

You’re right.

But this isn’t a holiday.

It’s an excuse to take my dad out to breakfast and eat french toast with wild abandon.

The man had three daughters in a row, all of whom were supposed to be sons, so I buy him some french toast, too, coffee on the side.

My mom continues to live a life of deep gratitude for us girls, and my dad had to be content with a lifetime of Father’s Days expecting the same three gifts: soap-on-a-rope, cheap cologne, and socks.

It never occurred to us to buy him manly things.

A chainsaw. A new TV tray. Conway Twitty records.

The 70s were full of exciting options, but we were completely distracted by Barbies and bicycles.

If you grew up sporting twin hair braids, embroidered peasant blouses, corduroy bell bottoms, and pleather jackets, you rocked the 70s.

If you ever hung beads or curtains instead of doors in your doorways, you rocked the 70s.

If your dad ever had a full afro on his head with a matching mustache…and he’s not a black man…you may have grown up in the 70s.

If your dad finally took out the afro but kept the ‘stache because he “closely resembles Tom Selleck”, well, you had one studly dad, I guess.

The scents of my childhood include English Leather, Old Spice, Noxema Face Cream, and Irish Spring bar soap. The Avon Lady would come around every month or so and leave us lipstick samples and perfumes like ‘Sweet Honesty’ and ‘Hawaiian White Ginger’.

Soap-On-A-Rope came in several options, very attractive in the glossy brochure.

Our job was to clean the guy up apparently, and I think it’s time to honor that tradition today.

If you would like to join us in this forty-something year running tradition, please do me a favor and sign up as a Subscriber (in the little box on this page, above on the right).

My blog will send you an email to confirm that your link is correct, and then each of my stories will come right to your inbox as I publish them.

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Subscribers are the backbone of blogs. The number of Subscribers is what shows the blog’s growth, reading this on Facebook doesn’t count.

Show your support and your name will be entered into the drawing for a lovely scented Soap-on-a-Rope, delivered to your door with my compliments.

Dad is happy to let someone else…anyone else, really…have the manly soap hang in a shower far, far away.

If you are already a Subscriber (you’re awesome!) you can leave me a comment about the 70s (in this comment area below) to enter the drawing. Write in the box, then click on “Post Comment”.

You don’t have to put your real name when you leave a comment.

You don’t have to admit you were raised in the 70s by Tom Selleck.

But you do have to admit to showering once in a while.

"I am your father!"

“I am your father!”