Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy New Year






May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields and,
Until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.


 

(FYI- I always choose bagpipes and the Scottish Highlands to showcase Auld Lang Syne, since it was written by the eminent Scottish poet Robert Burns.)





Happy 2014


Elise

Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas












Joyeux Noel,


Elise

And you thought that my previous post was it until 2014. Really? You thought I wasn't going to wish all my friends a very Merry Christmas! Oy Vey.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Enjoy the Holidays




The holidays are about being together with those that love and respect you. Remember that family is not simply those who share your genetic makeup, but more importantly include those that understand you and are a positive influence in your life.

Also remember every once in awhile to take a step back, sit down and breath.


See you in 2014.


Elise


Saturday, December 21, 2013

Fat-Shaming, Body Image and a Culture of Dehumanization

Cross-posted at Liberty's Spirit






The Oscar-winning actress, Jennifer Lawrence, has come under attack for saying that calling someone
“fat” on television should be illegal. She makes the point that there are regulations that prohibit the use of many different kinds of words and relegates different types of programming to different times of day in order to protect children, so why not regulate the word “fat.” She was discussing the problem of “fat shaming,” body image, anorexia and the defeminization of the female body by modern society. The idea that little girls should NOT be made ashamed of their curves is an important idea and one that we actually should be talking about. And yes she was putting the blame on Hollywood, where she is considered a “fat actress.”




Read the rest HERE.


Elise

Friday, December 20, 2013

Free Apps Today...Check It out Before They Revert Back to Cost

I was just forwarded this email. Check out the apps, they are free Dec.20. I don't know when they will go back to cost:



There are several great apps free today that have never gone free before, including one science app that is normally $13.99!
The following educational iOS apps are free today. Apps that are newly free today are listed in italics at the beginning of each category. Apps of exceptional value or use are bolded. Download the apps as soon as possible as they can go to paid status at any time.
Once you download a free app, you'll enjoy its free price forever. For example, a paid app that you download today for free will remain free when you re-download it in the future, even if its price has gone back to paid. So, if you think you might ever want a particular free app, even if you don't need it right away, go ahead and download it while it's free, wait 24 hours, and then delete it from your device. You'll always own the app as free after that. Or download it on your computer in iTunes and don't install it on your device.
Art/Creativity
  • Origami Flowers (normally $1.99)
  • The awesome coloring App ColAR has released 5 new FREE pages for the holidays. You will need to update the app as well.
Cross-Curricular
ELA
ESL
Foreign Language
Games/Entertainment
Health/PE/Sports
Holidays
Interactive Books
Math
Music
Photography
Primary/Preschool/Toddlers
Productivity
Science
Social Studies
Special Needs
Teacher
Miscellaneous    
The original email was from:
 Kimberly M. Wiggins
607-624-8674 (text or call)
owner of listenWRITE shineBRIGHT (www.listenwriteshinebright.com)
Occupational Therapist



Elise

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Seriously, Not Everyone Likes Elf on the Shelf...I know...Can You Believe It?

Saw this picture on Facebook. If anyone knows who I should credit please let me know.



Sorry, couldn't help myself with this one.

I also  kinda agree with the puppies. The question I think you need to be asking yourself is why don't YOU find it disconcerting that a little elfen-like creature is following you around the house watching your every move? During non-Yuletide,  we actually call that person a stalker and phone the police.......Just sayin'




Elise

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Finding Community Not as Easy as You Think

It struck me in the middle of the night, that my family has no community to which we belong. Oh we are Americans after all and are citizens of the US. But we really don't fit into our neighborhood. The boys never really had friends, were never invited to parties and were basically excluded from the every day life of the children in our town. Oh we could plan after school activities, join school clubs and have programs created for them in the school, but once that school bell rang at the end of the day, so did the boys' social activities end.

It definitely was more apparent for MrGS than CM2. Afterall the kids in CM2's year had taken it upon themselves to make certain that in general terms no one picked on him (yes he did have some issues in high school, but the VP assured me that it was typical teenage angst as opposed to deliberate picking on him like MrGS had been), while for MrGS the in-crowd made him the student to shun. As for me, I worked in the PTA, ran committees, even held executive committee positions, but nothing ever came of it. I tried to make friends, but it was as if our family had the plague.

I remember getting a call one day from the president of the PTA for help..."You are a worker," she said, "so please come help." But that was the extent of being invited into the community. Heck even the local Temple wouldn't deal with the boys. I had to search outside our community for someone to help them with their religious education (that ended up being an entirely different experience altogether).

Then came college. But not many things changed for the boys. They tried joining clubs. But it didn't work out. The anime club had only five members and only watched videos, which MrGS felt he could do on his own. The kids that ran the Jewish Student's Organization, only wanted to eat Shabbat dinner together (not that socialization wasn't our goal for the boys) but do nothing for political advocacy, so the boys couldn't care less. (The "rabbi" actually told MrGS he could come up with an idea for a program and let him know if he needed any help.) Then there was the gamer-club that CM2 tried to join. This was actually a good experience for him until the members dressed up as their favorite game character. Costumes and role playing is not something CM2 does in real life. It freaks him out since he was a little boy. (Halloween is not a big holiday in our house.)

CM2 has been trying of late to talk to kids in the lounge area. He wants to badly have friends and talk to other students. He is trying. He likes to eat in the cafeteria and the para pushes him to sit at communal tables, looking for some students he knows that share similar interests with CM2.  The para is trying to help him with community.

MrGS goes into the study area of his graduate school. But he does work. His interaction is merely during class and to work on a project. He, while having more in common with the students in his program than ever before, still doesn't have community. Interestingly his adviser and Department Chair actually mentioned for him to come hang out more and meet other students in the lounge. The school is known for community and creating a welcoming atmosphere. Honestly, MrGS has always felt welcome. Its the community thing he doesn't have, but maybe next semester as he will be spending more time during the week at school too. Luckily, the para is trying to facilitate community for MrGS too.

But community in many ways is more. Its a feeling of belonging to something beyond yourself. I don't think the boys feel it. While we are Jewish, we don't belong to a Temple anymore (see link above as to why) and feel very disconnected from the Jewish world. We care about politics, but not so much that we would work for one party or the other. Absolutes don't work in this house when it comes to issues and we have no patience for those who are kool-aide drinkers on either side of the aisle. And no, they don't feel that they are part of an "autism" community. It would never ever dawn on them that they should be. (That one single focus, which spends too much time looking for grievance than it does in support. I'm tired of it. The real world may need some revamping, but everyone and everything is not out to get you because you are autistic. Most people really couldn't care less as long as you do what you are supposed to in life. It's not ableist to require social convention and appropriate behavior.) They are not defined by their autism and they do not want to be defined by their autism as much as it is a part of them and they are proud of who they are. They will not hesitate to let you know that they have aspergers. It's a fact of their life, just like their Jewish heritage, their American heritage, their affinity for all things techie.

We are hoping that the boys will have some varied volunteer experiences this vacation. They have 6 weeks off. "Broadening their horizon is important," as hubby said. Getting them out of their comfort zone and seeing how others live and need help. Maybe that will also put them into a new community that will accept them for who they are.

CM2 has joined social media so for him at times community in on line. It's not really a bad thing. It helps him feel no so alone in this world. He has found fun and information and people with similar interests. It has been good for him. But he also was cyberbullied as well. We needed to teach him how to handle that. It does appear that these issues have resolved themselves for the moment and all is well on that front. (Ask me tomorrow and we will see if I have the same answer of course.)

Community was why I joined social media in the first place too. It helped with the isolation that comes with raising special needs kids and being shunned in our own real life. I have met many interesting and great parents on line. There has been support, but there has also been in-fighting, childishness and the petty disregard for another's opinion. For the most part while I am not gone from social media, I have found looking for information, reading and writing a better use of my time then looking on line for community.

I would like the boys to have community because this way they have another level of support other than hubby and myself. It would be a way for them to meet someone who could be a "girlfriend" and someone who really cares about them. The Autism Science Foundation did a study that showed the most successful people with aspergers were those with either "spousal" or family support. The reality is that hubby and I won't be around forever. The boys need a support system beyond us.

This was actually brought home to me the other night. We were discussing our ages, hubby and myself. Both of us are in our mid 50s. I had to explain to my very stricken looking oldest son (I guess he had us buried in a few years), that we have decades to go in life and not to worry.

"Oh good," he said, "I'm not near being independent yet." (What terrific self-actualization on his part by the way.)

I know that parents worry about their children being alone in life. Neurotypical parents worry that their child will not have a life partner too. But its different when you have a special needs child. I am still haunted by the article "Who will Love my Child after I am Gone?" I suppose that is why when playing the hashtag on twitter #youmightbeanautismparentif I wrote: You have a will and a guardian picked out, but know deep down inside you can never ever die.

The boys having community would help me sleep better at night. Having the boys be more independent would help me sleep better at night too. And no it's not about me, it's about them, their support, their community, their feeling of belonging to something greater than themselves and being accepted for who they are by people not connected to them by birth, genetics or blood. In other words, being accepted by the world around us, like any of us wish to be accepted, simply for being who we are.

Meanwhile, sleeping pills would help me sleep better at night too, but I chose wine instead. (Yes I know that's not a good choice, as alcohol will dehydrate you and wake you up in the middle of the night.)



Elise

Friday, December 13, 2013

Snow, Lots and Lots of Snow, in the Holy Land, Christmastime 2013

Or as they say in Israel "shelegmegeddon." Sheleg is the Hebrew word for snow. Apparently they have gotten over 10 inches of snow in Jerusalem, Israel; several inches in Cairo and some snow in the south of the Jordan. The rabbis that asked last week for people to pray for rain because there is always a fear of drought at this time of year have now asked for people to stop their prays. Nope can't make this stuff up.

Center of Jerusalem

Bird's eye-view of Jerusalem


Snowball fights near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem


Cairo...snow just seems so out of place with the palm trees.




Actually its really not funny. There is a weather emergency in the Holy Land. Tens of thousands have no electricity. The IDF is helping the Palestinian Authority with support and supplies, in addition to an emergency opening of the crossing into Gaza for heaters, water pumps (flooding is overwhelming) and oil.

Articles from:
 Times of Israel.
Jerusalem Post , Snowfall unites Jerusalemites
Israel Hayom
Haaretz
Ahram (Egypt)






prayer time in the snow at Al-Aqsa mosque


prayer time at the Western Wall (the Kotel)



Elise

Thursday, December 12, 2013

School Rules are Important but Rigidity Destroys Education

What is it that people simply don't get about being parents? What is it that people simply don't get about the fact that schools' have rules, and regulations? What is it about school personnel that general common sense can fly straight out that proverbial window?

One of the more important aspect of raising children, other than being supportive, feeding, clothing and educating them of course, is the ability to parent in a positive and effective manner. Understanding who your child is, what their specific needs happen to be, coupled with figuring out  how to go about being effective in the best manner possible, is essential to doing your job. Parenting is not for the faint of heart or weak of spine. It is not for the poor of spirit, nor easily distracted.

The problem that we face in today's society is that some people have decided to forget about their responsibilities when it comes to parenting. They don't set limits or boundaries for their children. They think its all the schools' responsibility. But then when that invariable call from the guidance counselor or teacher comes in, they rant, rail and threaten to sue those who are responsible for their child's well being for 8 hours every day.

In truth, schools need to sent standards. They need to set limits, boundaries affixed with consequences. They need to do it from the moment the child enters the classroom...heck they have to set rules from the moment the child enters the front doors of the school. There are rights, wrongs, acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. But when does the school in its rush to facilitate behavior go overboard, as compared to when do the parents refuse to acknowledge that they need to help with the problem, or that there is in fact a problem?

It is a very delicate balancing act. School is there to foster community and understanding. To teach a child to take into consideration the person sitting next to them. They are required to work in groups. Infact many students are even made to interact on a interpersonal level that many find uncomfortable. It is not easy to moderate behavior and understand how to compromise on issues. (Just look at Washington DC). But it is an essential part of learning how to function in our society. The problem is when there are requirements but no instruction. Or when the instructions given are really just not enough. More is needed, but the school or the teacher/instructor has decided that they have done all that they are going to do.

Schools cannot rightly ask something of students that they do not teach. Not all students (and you don't need a special education designation for this one) find limits, boundaries and requirements easy to digest. They don't necessarily understand them and do not get their import or how to practically apply the requirements. This is when teaching comes in. This is when everything should be made clear and concise for students.

But parents too are at fault. If you do not set limits for your child, how can you expect them to understand the limits in school? If you do not hold your child to any standard of care and expectation of behavior how can they be expected to understand and assimilate what is required of them in school? Additionally, parents who refuse to abide by the rules of the school are setting their children up for failure.

Do we think all the rules are correct? No, of course we don't. Do we think that the school can go overboard? Of course we do and yes they do. Zero tolerance policies are the bain to any school's existence. (It is especially harmful to special needs students.) When these inane sophomoric policies do not allow administrators to use their own educated judgements to handle situations that arise, then a school becomes oppressive. When dealing with students there has to be an understanding of the elements surrounding any miscreant behavior. Not ever child who kisses or hugs is a harasser and not every boy that plays cops and robbers is a psychotic killer. Administrators need to use their respective brains and access each situation according to what actually happened.

The elements of the "crime" are important to understand. In society not every killing is a murder, there can be extenuating circumstances. A property taking is not always stealing and, entering another's dwelling is not always trespassing. There are important exceptions to every rule and law. Human society has acknowledged that there are times when reasonable people need to look beyond the end result and figure out the who, what  where, when, why and how of a story. So too, do these school districts need to figure out what is really going on, was anyone threatened, berated, harmed, insulted or even frightened before a punishment is handed down.

In truth, there have been some of the most evil acts perpetrated upon society in schools recently. It can make any administrator leery. Watching out for bad actors is a full time job. But there is a difference between bad actors and kids just being kids too. We have to get back to allowing children to play, grow and develop. We have to give children the benefit of the doubt when they shoot an imaginary bow and arrow, play cops and robbers, eat a poptart into the shape of a gun, hug a friend or kiss a girl. Fear unfortunately drives so much of education today that it is stifling our children's normal creativity. Something has to be done about that before we end up destroying the souls of the next generation.

Perhaps it is time for parents and schools to work together to come up with acceptable realities that everyone can live with. After all, while the administrators run the school, it is the parents through the school board that directs the district and it is their property taxes that pays for the education of their children. Parents need to be involved with their child's school and administrators have to let the parents in. It is a symbiosis of reality. They need each other to be wholly effective and in the end produce happy, educated enlightened and well-rounded children.

Also read: 6-Year-Old Suspended for Kissing a Girl: Too Much, Yet Not Enough



Elise




Monday, December 9, 2013

Did You Ever Run Out of Things to Talk About?

Seriously....every morning I wake up and try to think of something to write about for this blog. And I come up empty. Now its not that there haven't been incidents or topics to discuss. It's just that everything seems to be a "groundhog day" repeat of repeats.






Finals weeks is upon us and the same issues that pop up every semester is here.  Executive functioning, figuring out what to study and making time to get everything done and still have fun. Well CM2 insists on still having fun while he studies. Unfortunately he hasn't gotten the idea that during finals week there is supposed to be no fun until the tests are done. But who knows, he might have an idea what he needs to do for himself better than I ever could figure it out. But on the other hand, he isn't exactly on Dean's List. So the question is one of balance and happiness  I suppose. But its also a matter of being able to get into a descent graduate school and continue his education. And yes, if you haven't figure it out by now, we are Alpha parents when its comes to education. The boys are required to work hard, learn and progress. We know that with a little bit of effort CM2 is capable of pulling straight Bs. If he tried I bet he could even come home with some As. In truth I've seen him do it. And its not just WoS and myself saying this, the para has this opinion of CM2 as well. My son personifies someone who is too smart for his own good at times. He forgets that in life, you simply cannot wing things and have them all work out the way you want. A little effort does go along way.

Meanwhile, MR. GS had an at-home on-line final last night and has two more, Monday and Tuesday nights this week. He as usual is working hard, but interestingly the transition to graduate school was not as seamless as we had thought it might be. The idea of the self direction needed in graduate school is a new level of functioning for him so it has been a bit of a challenge especially with three courses. I suppose like anything else he will need to figure out how to balance and when to push and not push in graduate school.  Here Mr. GS is given an assignment and left to his own devices to figure it all out. A two hour lecture once a week is supposed to suffice. Honestly, for the most part it has and if he needed help he went to the tutoring center. Something tells me the information is alot more challenging and dense than he was used to in his history lectures. Not that he isn't happy. In fact he is thriving. He seems really pleased with what he is studying. By the way, I happened to look at one of his lectures about data creation. All I know is that not only did I not understand one word, but it hurt my brain.

So there you have it. This time next week, the boys will be on vacation for 6 weeks. Hubby wants them to work in a soup kitchen or do some charity during the holidays. We are looking into it for them. I agree its a good idea. The hubby, being the Wise Old Sage that he is, wants to get the boys out of their comfort (indulged and spoiled) zone and let them see just how real, the real world can be.



Elise


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Seems Anti-Semitism Isn't Dead in the US of A

At Northeastern University in Boston, the University Hanukkah Menorah was vandalized. In response one of the music professors and students put together this musical video.....



From Youtube:
A musical response by Northeastern students to the past Menorah vandalism on our campus. Original idea and music arrangements by MATTI KOVLER

With much appreciation to the hundreds of students and staff from Northeastern University for their participation, as well as to neighboring colleges for their enthusiasm and support.



By the way according to FBI statistics the majority of religiously based hate crimes in the USA were attacks against Jews (65%) HERE   HERE


Elise

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Happy Hanukkah

Tonight we light the 8th and last  Hanukkah candle of the year 5774. In celebration, here's a Hanukkah decoration from the port of Tel Aviv, Israel.

FYI it's a Hanukkah menorah- a hanukkiah.





Elise

picture h/t United with Israel

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving









 Lyrics by Ari Lesser

There's so much I'm grateful for
Today a cannot ask for more
I have my heart and soul and strength
This life is blessed so I give thanks

Give thanks to the Universal One
Give thanks for the moon and stars and sun
Give thanks for the Earth on which we live
Give thanks for the bounty she can give
Give thanks for tree and the fruit it grows
Give thanks for the cup that overflows
Give thanks for the food and drink and air
Give thanks there's more than enough to share
Give thanks for the extra we can spare
Give thanks for the clothes we have to wear
Give thanks for the comfort of our beds
Give thanks for the roofs above our heads

There's so much I'm grateful for
Today a cannot ask for more
I have my heart and soul and strength
This life is blessed so I give thanks

Give thanks to the Only Source Of All
Give thanks for the big and for the small
Give thanks for the low and the highest height
Give thanks for the dark and for the light
Give thanks for the times of joy and song
Give thanks for the pain the keeps us strong
Give thanks because we're still alive
Give thanks this moment has arrived
Give thanks our path has brought us here
Give thanks, we lived another year
Give thanks for the past we left behind
Give thanks for the future we will find

There's so much I'm grateful for
Today a cannot ask for more
I have my heart and soul and strength
This life is blessed so I give thanks

Give thanks to Infinite Most High
Give thanks no matter how or why
Give thanks in every time and place
Give thanks we're part of the human race
Give thanks for the people that we meet
Give thanks for the neighbors on our street
Give thanks for the teachers that we had
Give thanks for every mom and dad
Give thanks for the family that we got
Give thanks for the friends we like a lot
Give thanks for the ones who we hold dear
Give thanks that those we love are hear

There's so much I'm grateful for
Today a cannot ask for more
I have my heart and soul and strength
This life is blessed so I give thanks
********

Meanwhile saw this tweet....Love the connection that Americans keep to the United States wherever they live...





Israeli-American soldiers celebrating Thanksgiving in Tel Aviv at the Lone Soldier Center.



And our American troops, still in Afghanistan, celebrating Thanksgiving....

 
Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

May they stay safe and come home soon.


 Happy Holiday.....

Elise

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Happy Hanukkah

God's sense of humor. A menorah zebra.



This Wednesday night marks the beginning of the Hanukkah festival.  It is the story of Judah Maccabee and his brothers who led the first known war for religious freedom.

It's amazing how some things never change...what pissed off the Maccabees 2200 years ago is that some idiot in power decided to tell the Jews that their holy sites (here, here, here) and their capital Jerusalem didn't belong to them. Go figure....

By the way, for those that don't know, the miracle of Hanukkah is that when the Maccabees went to rededicate the Holy Temple there was only enough oil to burn in the Eternal Light (the symbol of God's continuity) for one day. However the Light burned for eight days until more oil could be brought to the Temple. So in commemoration of the miracle of the oil, Jewish people worldwide eat potato pancakes (latkes) or jelly doughnuts (sufganiyot); foods fried in oil. In our family we tend to opt for the doughnuts.

Hanukkah greetings from that Israeli university with all those Nobel prize winners:





A new video from the Maccabeats:




And some of my other favorite Hanukkah videos:


















Hanukkah Sameach...Happy Hanukkah...now for some sufganiyot....RECIPE here


We eat not only latkes but jelly donuts (sufganiyot) to celebrate the holiday. Anything fried in oil.





 and Latkes (recipe) of course




Hanukkah, Autism and Self-Determination
D is for Hanukkah (Dedication)
Wrestling with God


And for those of you who celebrate Thanksgivukkah a video from Israeli comedian Benji Lovitt


PS. he's booking shows in North America now 
h/t Times of Israel



Elise

Friday, November 22, 2013

Som Sabadell Flashmob- Ode to Joy by Beethoven

This is from last year, but it began to make the rounds on facebook again. It definitely puts you in that holiday mood....





Elise

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Holidays, Permission Granted to Celebrate as You Please

Yes this is a repost from October 2011, but a necessary reminder.


Last year I wrote a post and called myself a Grinch. (Read the post. Its a goodie-promise) We are raised that we are supposed to revel in this time of year. We are taught that our entire society lives or dies based upon a few short hours on certain given days.  That somehow if we do not participate in these celebrations, as prescribed by some holiday-deity (I'm talking Hallmark or Norman Rockwell here, not God Almighty), then we have forfeited our right to be happy at this time of year. Well, as the US commanding general at the Battle of the Bulge, once said to the Nazis when asked to surrender, I say "nuts" to anyone who thinks that we cannot stand up and be happy.

Honestly,  I do love this time of year (Bit of a change for me from last year I know. Maybe my temperament is better- fewer menopause symptoms- or this post is up earlier than last year's Grinch post.) but I also hate this time of year (OK remembering what is to come). Oh I love the sights, the sounds and the smells. The boys love these things, not so much. When they were little it was the sensory overload that got to them. Too much of everything crammed into just a few short weeks that spills over into a hullabaloo of relatives, and an unknown and uncomfortable social reality. On Thanksgiving they used to hide in my sister-in-law's basement away from the crush of people and watch TV or play their video games. They sat quiet by themselves while everyone else "holidayed."  We, of course, would check on them periodically and on most occasions their younger cousins would sit with them and watch their dvds as well. But it was not enjoyable for them. Their holiday experience was sorely lacking.

I know the theory behind the "get togethers" for them, has to do with getting to know your relatives and understanding that there are people in the world who are attached to you in some way. But that is not what the boys learned. What they learned is that whenever they see a relative they are uncomfortable, feel overwhelmed and quite frankly would rather be somewhere else. There is no connection to these people they see once a year. There is no attachment. They don't even remember people's names.

Honestly I have a passel of relatives who I never see or hear from. Genetic "family" connection in my book is over rated. What you need to do is develop a "family" that will be there for you when you need them. Biology doesn't mean a darn thing at times. You are lucky when the two  "families" connect but in my expereince they very rarely do. At least that is what happened in my world. Sadly you don't need to be a special needs family to be distant from those that are supposed to have your back. It's hard and it  hurts, when you come to realize just how alone you may truly be in this world. But you are better off creating your own support network "family" then accepting an inadequate one. Create the world you want to live in, I always say. You don't have to accept the one you are given if it is YOU always giving and not receiving. You don't have to accept the "family" you were born into if it makes you unhappy, unfulfilled, or feeling alone.

Looking back, which we tend to do when our children get older, I probably should not have made them go to SIL's. It was uncomfortable for them and for some reason we just thought that they would adjust. How wrong we were. They were not happy there among the throngs. We were nervous about how they would handle the get togethers.We were  always on pins and needles waiting for a meltdown or and inappropriate interaction. I realize that no matter what anyone understood, and we come from an understanding extended family, they didn't get it. It truly wasn't their fault. I also know that if something did happen the extended family would be supportive. That was not the issue. It was the fact that quite frankly for us (parents and especially children), there was no joy, just alot of tension.
 
What I think we needed to do, quite frankly, is to give ourselves permission not to go to the SIL's.
Well that finally happened last year. Guess what? We had a nice day. I made a holiday meal. I set a holiday table. We enjoyed the quiet and the comfort of our own home with no crush of sensory stimuli. We watched what we wanted on television. The boys and hubby did their work and all went according to plan. It was nice. It was quiet. It was peaceful. I plan to do it again this year.

I modeled our Thanksgiving after how we celebrate the Jewish holidays. We tend to celebrate the Jewish holidays on our own. Family does not fly in for the celebrations. They do not make an effort to get together. So we have our own little rituals and our own little ways of doing things. This past Jewish New Year, CM1 actually asked if I had gotten certain celebratory foods. It's actually a fancy crudite platter that I buy from a local caterer every major holiday. It means something to him. It means holiday to him. It means a happy fun time, where he is not overwhelmed by noise, smell or sights. It means comfort and joy. It means calm. So I will buy that platter this year on Thanksgiving once again. I will make a small turkey breast, buy stuffing and a massive chocolate cake (we don't like pie).

I know catering sounds rather extravagant. (I admit it, it is) But my stuffing last year was a very sad affair. Heck, not even the dogs ate it. I have no idea what happened there and after three attempts I just gave up. You really don't even want to try my baking. It's truly noxious. I am the only one who ruins those pre-baked cookies from the supermarket. Honestly, it is not my forte. Listen one of the good side effects of getting older is that you can readily accept what you are good at and what you are not. I happily admit I can't bake, iron and I hate gardening or doing any outdoor work. Little House on the Prairie I am not. But cleaning a toilet doesn't bother me (Just give me cleaning gloves, Clorox clean-up and toilet bowl cleaner and I am ready and raring to go)...go figure.

So anyway...As I said one of the things you learn as you age is that you need to do what is best for you and those in your immediate family, i.e. your children. If people truly love and care about you they will understand. If they don't understand, well, then they are not really family, no matter what the genetics say.

Create your own holiday memories and traditions. Even if its only the fact that you buy a silly crudite platter. These are the things that YOUR child will learn to appreciate, understand and associate with love, family and happiness. It's OK. Really Its OK.


Elise