Archive for the ‘holiday’ Tag

Why A New Perspective on Mother’s and Father’s Day   Leave a comment

Since becoming a mother 18 months ago, I’ve been through two Mother’s Days, and the experience has really made me think about what Mother’s and Father’s Days really mean to me. I am surrounded by people who consider them to be fake “Hallmark” holidays not worth celebrating, and who emphasize that you should love your mother/father all the time and not just one day a year (a sentiment which which I certainly do not disagree). Being told to my face this year that Mother’s Day is a fake holiday got me really defensive but I didn’t have the right the words to defend it. For my entire life until now what other people think about Mother’s/Father’s Day never mattered one bit, probably because the day wasn’t about me; but now everything has changed. It can’t be just about my mom any more, and it’s certainly not just about me. This year I realized that it’s also about celebrating the role of mothers and fathers in society and their importance to the human race.

It has always been very important to me to honor my parents on Mother’s/Father’s Day, most especially my mom (yup, I was one of those kids who responded “my mom” when asked who my hero was). I have to confess that it was an obligatory celebration on at least one year for my dad as I was emotionally struggling with that relationship, but I still felt the need to do something. Growing up this was the day to make sure my parents knew how grateful I was for everything they had done for my brother and I, and how much I valued them. I’m sure I could have said “thanks” and “I love you” much more often throughout the year. Mother’s/Father’s Day was an opportunity to try to express my love and thanks and that I always felt it even if I didn’t express it every day.

For all that it was always important for me to honor my parents (and to a degree, my grandparents), it may be interesting that I didn’t look forward to my first Mother’s Day. How much that was my own neurosis vs. influence of the attitudes around me, I’m still not sure. But the fact remains that when I was pregnant I was inordinately glad that we hadn’t told anyone (except our mothers, of course) that we were pregnant yet so that I didn’t have to endure people wishing me a happy Mother’s Day when I didn’t consider myself a mother yet. Then the following year, with a 5-month old baby at home, I was dreading church that Sunday and the fact that I would have to stand up for the blessing of the mothers and have people with me a happy Mother’s Day. And yet the Mother’s Day card that my mom sent me brought me to tears and is tucked away for me to save forever. Some introspection lead to me realize that I didn’t feel like I’d yet “earned” the honor of Mother’s Day, as my accomplishments at that point included “birthing him” and “keeping him alive for 5 months” (as significant as those might be) but no teaching, modeling, or guiding, and he’s not yet old enough to be consciously grateful for comfort, security, and love. Basically, my attitude up to that point required Conan to be old enough to tell me “Happy Mother’s Day” before it would feel right to me. And that is just not right.

This year the universe helped me out with more stories about men who won’t wish a happy Mother’s Day on their wives because “you’re not my mother”, which also just feels not right to me. But that made me realize that Mother’s Day can’t be just about honoring your own mother, as important as that may be. Following that train of thought led me to the importance of honoring the institution of motherhood. Everyone has a mother and a father, and in an ideal world everyone would grow up with a mother figure and a father figure. They are crucial to our development. It is important to recognize how important both mothers and fathers are on both an individual and societal basis. Yes, it’d be great to walk the walk as well (plenty of issues to cover from maternity/paternity leave to respect/support for both stay-at-home mothers and fathers and working parents), but you’ve got to start by talking the talk. We have special days set aside to honor vets, workers, and distinguished/accomplished individuals, so isn’t it appropriate to honor all mothers and fathers as well? I’m just sad that it took me becoming a mother to consciously realize this.

Although I still think my personal relationship with Mother’s Day will be tenuous until Conan is old enough to tell me “Happy Mother’s Day”, but that’s just my personality. And I really hope that he actually wants to celebrate both Mother’s and Father’s Day the way I did/do.

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Posted June 1, 2014 by mayakey in musings, parenting

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Celebrating All Forms of Love   Leave a comment

Valentine’s Day is one of my favorite holidays. Of course I have the unique perspective that it’s the day after my birthday, and as a kid it was essentially “birthday, day 2”. As a result of that perspective, though, Valentine’s Day has never been a romantic holiday for me but a day to celebrate friendships. I still don’t celebrate it as a romantic holiday, and as an adult there are less opportunities for the easy celebrations with friends, so it is kind of a wistful holiday now. As I type this, though, I realize that that need not be the case. Is there any particular reason not to reach out to friends and say “thanks for being my friend, thanks for being in my life and making it so much richer? We have all kinds of “appreciation days” on the greeting-card-holiday calendar, but I don’t think there is a Friendship Day. Romantic love gets to be celebrated on anniversaries, but what about a day to celebrate the friendship love of the many other people that brighten your life? How often do we take our friendships for granted? One of the things that has been repeated many times in the JustFaith Engaging Spirituality program is the importance of gratitude and thankfulness in our spiritual lives, the importance of recognizing the blessings and gifts that we have received in our lives. I can testify that life has an extra shine on it when gratitude is regularly practiced in some way.

So I hereby pledge that starting this year, I’ll celebrate Valentine’s Day again my way: as Friend’s Day. And I think Facebook will make a convenient adult “Valentine mailbox”. Hey, I’m lazy.

Posted February 14, 2012 by mayakey in musings, spiritual practices

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Slowly Enjoying the Christmas Tree   Leave a comment

I love a good Christmas tree. I love everything about it. In our old house there wasn’t enough room for a full tree so this is our first Christmas tree and we’re loving it! I have to be very grateful to my husband for being willing to enjoy it slowly, though.

For the first week we left the tree completely nude, except for a cowboy-hat “topper”. The tree is in a corner where it does get a little bit of sun since the best sun-protected corner currently houses the loveseat, but that means that in the morning I got to enjoy the beauty of morning rays of sun filtering through a few evergreen branches. Simple beauty. As much I love decorated Christmas trees, I loved the opportunity to really enjoy the nude tree, too, without rushing to obscure its inherent beauty. I think that I’d like to make it a tradition that we leave our tree bare and enjoy a “Yule tree” until the week before Christmas/week of solstice, although I’m not sure Mike will be willing to do it every year.

Tonight we added the lights. Doing this slowly makes it feel like we’re dressing the tree up for a grand occasion. There’s the anticipation of putting on the ornaments, but for now we’ll enjoy just the lights. To me the lights are the most important of the decorations anyway. We’ll probably add the ornaments on the 23rd, just in time for Christmas. This slow process fits very well with my spiritual sense. A Yule tree until shortly before Yule, a lit tree around Yule when I light a candle in every room for blessing, and a decorated tree right before and throughout the Christmas holiday.

I suppose I should probably mention that we do have a natural tree, as artificial is not even an option for me. Something about soul. There’s just something so special about the transience of the natural cut tree that only can last for a short time, as opposed to an artificial tree that is unchanging and almost everlasting. It’s not an equal substitution in my mind. I do have fake branches, though, and a fake garland. I used to decorate with real branches, but they just dry out so fast that I switched to artificial since there was no benefit at all to the real ones except from the resource use standpoint. The real branches were the the bottom trimmings from a Christmas tree lot, so it wasn’t using a “new” resource. The artificial ones are plastic, so made from a non-renewable resource and possibly some toxic chemicals.

Posted December 16, 2011 by mayakey in musings, spiritual practices

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Real Holiday Cards   4 comments

I know that many environmentalists are proud to announce that they do not send holiday cards but that they send virtual greetings instead. I’m not one of them. I’m proud to announce that I do send actual Christmas cards. Yes, they use paper and fuel, but the pros outweigh the cons in my opinion.

For one thing, I love receiving cards. I love looking at pretty cards, reading the notes, and looking at any photos. It just feels good, and that’s what life is all about, right? I have gotten virtual greetings before (and I’ve used them, but mostly for birthdays), but there isn’t as much thrill. Since I love receiving the physical cards, I prefer to send out physical cards as well. That’s the same reason that I (occasionally) send handwritten cards to family and friends during the year.

Secondly, “it’s good for the economy”, as much as I am sick and tired of hearing that phrase. Someone got paid to make the card, someone will be paid to transport the card, and someone will be paid to deliver the card. Someone got paid to make the paper, someone got paid to design the card, … you get the point. Some card purchases also benefit a non-profit organization, too.

To modulate the environmental impact of sending cards buy some recycled paper or non-tree fiber paper cards printed with soy-based inks. Buy cards from a small printing company, small shop, fair trade store, non-profit organization, or make your own. Skip the glitter, foil, plastic inserts, and anything else that renders the card non-recycleable. Insert a photo if you want, but don’t weigh the card down too much (I think that rules out those singing cards, too; does anyone actually like receiving a singing card?). A heavier card means more fuel required during transportation. Yes, I know the plane is carrying thousands of cards but imagine if each of them weighed an extra half ounce; it adds up.

Enjoy!

Posted December 5, 2010 by mayakey in environment, psychology, resource use, shopping

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Pumpkin Stress Reliever   Leave a comment

I love Halloween. I definitely takes the cake (candy) as the most fun holiday. It is also a rare holiday in that the consumerism aspect (getting and consuming mass quantities of sugar), is equalled and maybe surpassed by the human aspect. Halloween involves creativity, time connecting (even briefly) with strangers, time spent with friends and/or family while trick-or-treating or partying, and lots of conversations about costumes.

Another thing that I look forward to every year is the unique stress-relieving qualities of the jack-o-lantern. It starts with letting the creative part of the brain go free to come up with a design. Then there’s the tactile experience of hollowing out the pumpkin, which involves slight physical exertion and plenty of textures and sensations. Same with the carving. I find that hollowing out and carving a pumpkin is one of the few activities where I am automatically fully present and where I experience with all of my senses. The laughter, the feel of the pumpkin beneath my fingers, the smell of the pumpkin, and the taste of the crunchy pumpkin flesh combine to make me feel happy and relaxed.

Once the carving is finished, there is still another stress relieving activity: cleaning and toasting the pumpkin seeds. I know some people hate the sensation of pumpkins seeds slipping along their skin in a bowl of water, but I find the sensation to be like a light hand massage. It feels so good, and I look forward to it all year. And then there’s the wonderful smell of the toasted seeds coming out of the oven and the taste of warm, salted seeds to cap it all off.

This year I reclaimed the jack-o-lantern process. Our old neighborhood was one of those places where a pumpkin left outside overnight will not last the night intact. Combined with the fact that I am allergic to squash (including pumpkin), and my enthusiasm was dampened and I gave up on carving a jack-o-lantern. In our inaugural Halloween in our new house, though, I couldn’t abstain. So I carved my pumpkin while wearing nitrile gloves to keep my hands from breaking out in a rash. I only had one tiny nibble of pumpkin flesh. I did the first part of the pulp/seed separation in gloves. But the gloves came off so that I could feel the seeds on my skin as I swished them around in a bowl. The smell of toasted pumpkin seeds nearly drove me nuts, but I controlled myself enough to avoid tasting in the hopes that in a few years my allergy will be gone. And I am at peace knowing that this year our pumpkins will be composted, not trashed.

Posted October 31, 2010 by mayakey in conscious living, musings, psychology

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