Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Press Here For Song

It wasn’t the toy drive the teenager’s teacher had a problem with. It was the door decorating contest that he found unnecessary. Somehow, the decorated classroom doors were supposed to encourage and remind the students to bring toys to the school for children in need. A pizza party would be awarded to the class whose door was judged most worthy by the PTA judges.

When the door judging day arrived, the teenager and her classmates pleaded one last time with the teacher. Could they please have some time to decorate their classroom door? The teacher stood firm in his belief that classroom time should be spent on learning. They accused him of being a Grinch and sucking the joy out of their holiday season.

One boy made a final attempt to change the teacher’s mind. “It doesn’t have to be difficult or time consuming," he said. “I mean, heck, we could even tape ME to the door and at least it would be better than having nothing on the door!”

The teacher grinned, just a little bit, and believing it to be impossible said, “Ha….now that I’d like to see!”

With lightening quick speed, before the teacher could stop them, the students rushed into action. Within minutes the boy was taped to the outside of the door. Someone produced a battery powered miniature plastic Christmas tree with lights and shoved it into the boy’s hand. The boy yelled out, “Grab the red tape! Grab the red tape!” Someone covered the boy’s nose with red tape. Next to the boy’s head a sign was taped on the door. The sign said, “press here for song” and had an arrow drawn on it that pointed to the boy’s red nose.

The PTA judges arrived just as the students finished their masterpiece. The judges had already seen beautifully decorated doors covered with intricate glittered snowflakes, curly ribbons and fancy lights. They had seen real Christmas trees, and 3-D dioramas and pseudo fireplaces with stockings hung and fire glowing.

They arrived at the teenager’s classroom to find a boy taped to the door.

The judges looked at each other and giggled a bit. “Do you think he’ll really sing if we press his nose?” one asked out loud. “Only one way to find out.” said a brave one who stepped forward and pressed the red tape.

The teenage boy, voice cracking, burst out in holiday song. The students inside the classroom went uncharacteristically still and silent. Students and teachers from other classrooms quietly poked their heads out of their rooms to hear the singing. The judges dropped their judging clipboards to their sides and said not a word as they listened to the boy sing.

And when the boy was done, he started to speak, rambling just a bit. “We believe that Christmas should be a very personal time of the year. And what better way to represent Christmas and giving and what the whole season means than with some sort of personification of this special time. And we believe that there’s no better way to personify something than with a real person. That is why we have a real person on our door. Because we believe that people need to remember that Christmas and giving and toy drives are really all about people. Real people.“

One of the judges lifted her clipboard and began to write on it. Another judge asked the boy, “How long did it take you to write that speech?”

“Um…I didn’t prepare it ahead of time…I just kind of said what I think.”

And as the judges turned to walk away the boy heard one of them say, “Christmas…about people…how novel.”

Check This Out!

This is the recipe for the cookies I usually make to give to the neighbors for Christmas.

Soft Ginger Cookies

Mix 2 ¼ cups flour, 2 tsp ginger, 1 tsp soda, ¾ tsp cinnamon and ½ tsp cloves in a bowl. In another bowl, beat ¾ cup margarine, butter or shortening for 30 seconds. Gradually add in 1 cup sugar. Add one egg and ¼ cup molasses and beat well. Stir in dry ingredients. Mold into balls and roll them in granulated sugar. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 10 minutes. Let stand 2 minutes.

(As usual...I have a hard time following a recipe exactly. With these cookies, I tend to go a bit heavy on the spices and will often throw in a few dashes of nutmeg or mace as well.)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

It Was That Easy

Of course, if I had received any advance warning of the impossibility of the arduous undertaking I would soon find myself regretfully immersed in, I would have rapidly abandoned all illusion of parental compassion and concern. I would have just told the teenager that I really didn’t care if her old basketball shoes gave her blisters. I would have turned a blind eye to those slippery soles that caused her to fall down on the hardwood and come home bruised and battered.

But I didn’t have any advanced warning.

So when the teenager announced that she needed new basketball shoes I eagerly agreed to help her shop for them. I was, of course, naive and oblivious, singing along to the radio, when I drove those back roads to the mall that one Saturday morning. I had initially wanted to travel south to the super large sports store. But the teenager pointed out that if that single super large sports store did not have what she was specifically looking for, we were somewhat far away from any other basketball shoe store. So instead, we headed north to the insanity of the big mall and the many accompanying strip malls within close proximity. With this option, we would have 12 stores to choose from.

The teenager found basketball shoes that she liked at the very first store we went to. She did not however, find them in the correct color or the correct size.

We spent the next 4 1/2 hours travelling to the other 11 stores in the area. We looked at many, many different kinds of shoes but didn’t try on a single pair. As a last resort, I convinced the teenager to go back to the first store and again, try on the pair that she had initially liked. I tried to convince her that ½ a size too big wasn’t really THAT big. I tried to convince her that the color didn’t matter one bit. I tried to convince her to, please, put me out of my shopping misery and just pick any darn pair of shoes in that store as soon as she possibly could.

This unsuccessful shoe shopping was making me very cranky.

I was not, apparently, the only ill-natured mother in the store that day.

I heard another mother raise her voice and I turned my head to see a teenage girl shaking her head. I heard her mother bark, “What do you mean ‘white basketball shoes are stupid’? That’s ridiculous. When I was a kid I was grateful to even have a pair of shoes, let alone special basketball shoes. I wouldn’t have dared tell my mother they were the wrong color!”

It wasn’t long before another mother/daughter pair joined in on the shoe shopping discontent. This time it was the daughter who provided the lecture. “Yes. Mother. They are too small. They really, really are. Besides, I wanted the Nike and these are Adidas. Nobody on my team wears Adidas. I’ll look like an idiot if I’m the only one with Adidas shoes.”

As we three mothers began to commiserate with each other, the three daughters huffed a lot, rolled their eyeballs and asked each other what high school they played for. One mother finally announced, with great frustration, that she and her daughter were going to have to brave the mall stores. She was a fair bit testy and patently annoyed when the other mother and I said that our shoe shopping experiences at the mall had produced nothing other than lunch at the Panda Express.

The teenager and I left that store empty handed. As we drove away, the teenager grumbled a request to go to the super large sports store. After a long day of shoe searching, I most definitely did did not want to travel south to that super large sports store. But the teenager pointed out that if anyone would have the shoes she wanted, it would be the super large sports store, of course. And so, like all obedient sports mothers who have come before me, I drove south. I drove another half hour to the very store we had considered starting with many, many hours earlier that day.

The teenager and I arrived at the super large sports store at 3:32 pm. The teenager walked over to the basketball shoe section. She found the shoes she liked. She found the right size. She found the right color. She tried them on. We paid for them. At 3:49 pm we drove out of the parking lot and headed home.

It was that easy.

Check This Out!

The husband and I have been doing a little remodeling. In an effort to get a few ideas for our home projects, I’ve been enjoying the book, The Not So Big House.

From author’s website comes this description,“The Not So Big House books by Sarah Susanka bring to light a new way of thinking about what makes a place feel like home—characteristics that many people desire of their homes and their lives, but haven't known how to verbalize."

Full of great ideas for all areas of your home, the initial book The Not So Big House and the many other similar ones that follow it do not focus merely on square footage and the standard builder options all too common in today’s modern houses. Ms. Susanka's books offer creative examples that make a real design impact that is personal, meaningful and most likely, just what you wanted for your home.

Explore more at www.notsobighouse.com and www.susanka.com.