These Are a Few of My Favorite Things

From The Daily Prompt: On the interview show Inside the Actors’ Studio, host James Lipton asks each of his guests the same ten questions. Here are my responses:

What is your favorite word? Namaste. [Roughly: “The Spirit within me salutes the Spirit in you.”]

What is your least favorite word? [I’m] Bored.

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally? Writing.

What turns you off? Dealing with people who act like that they are better than you are.

What is your favorite curse word? Fuckwit (I don’t use it, but I love the sound of it)

What sound or noise do you love? My children laughing together.

What sound or noise do you hate? The screech of tires just before a crash.

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? Visual artist.

What profession would you not like to do? Accounting.

If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates? “Guess who didn’t make the cut?” [Then He shows me all those nasty, hateful religious conservatives like Jerry Falwell, Ken Cucinelli, Jim DeMint, and Ted Cruz languishing in limbo.]

An Agnostic Christmas

Artwork by Robert VenosaI celebrated Christmas growing up, but the holiday was a very secular affair for my family. We put up a tree and stockings, gave gifts, and ate and drank too much with the family on December 25. While I knew many of my friends honored the day as a celebration of the birth of Jesus, I never fully embraced Jesus. I accept that he was a real and inspirational figure, but I do not share the same beliefs as Christians.

Now that I’m a parent, I feel a certain responsibility to imbue this time of year a with meaning and purpose. The mother of a friend of ours gave us a large, fabric Christmas tree advent calendar with Velcro pockets for each day leading up to Christmas. The question that I posed to my husband: If we are not going to raise our daughter as a Christian, then how should we celebrate and honor this season? I didn’t want the calendar to be a countdown to the materialistic bliss on Christmas Day, but I also didn’t want to solely emphasize the birth of Jesus.

Our solution: each night after dinner we’ll let our daughter dig into that day’s pocket for the gift (a cookie, sticker, or small toy). Then we’ll sit down and my daughter will share what she is thankful for. I’ll write down what she says, and tuck the paper into that day’s pocket. The next evening, my husband will say one thing that he’s thankful for.  By Christmas day, we’ll have 24 reminders of why we are thankful.

How do you celebrate the holidays? What values and lessons do you emphasize for yourself and your kids?

More or Less Connected?

The other day, as I was walking with a friend at lunchtime, she told me about a close friend of hers in high school who still hadn’t made the leap to Facebook. At her urging, the friend joined the social networking giant, but much to her surprise, their usual phone conversations became more and more infrequent because they “saw” each other on Facebook.

When I read the New York Times article “Antisocial Networking?” that asks how does technology affect kids’ friendships, I couldn’t help but be reminded of my friend’s story and reflect on my own friendships since the dawn of email, texting, and Facebook.

The trajectory of social media, particularly Facebook, coincided with the birth of my daughter, so I can’t tell if I talk on the phone less because I Facebook or instant message (IM) friends more, or because my almost three-year-old daughter sees it as a personal affront if I do not spend every waking minute fixated on her. But I do talk on the phone a lot less. Gone are the marathon conversations with my girlfriends. They’ve been replaced with smiley faces in emails, uploaded images to online albums, and a status update. Not exactly fulfilling or deep or meaningful, but they get the job done.

Maybe it’s because I’m so much more guarded about my time. If I have two hours at night, as a working parent, I might decide to (gasp!) do absolutely nothing, paint my toenails, or catch an episode of Top Chef rather than engage in a conversation with another adult.

Does this mean I’ll lose my mojo? Sometimes I have flashbacks to entering the middle school cafeteria for the first time: Who will I sit with? What will I say? Am I even capable of sustaining a decent conversation?

My grand answer: I think so.

When I look at how I use social media now, it’s not a substitute for an actual conversation, but rather a starting point. I can look at a friend’s status about what a lousy day she’s having or about something hilarious that his son said, and when I grab coffee or lunch with that person, follow up: “Hey, I saw your post about X. What’s up with that?” I use IM to set up lunch dates with girlfriends or quickly ask when she might be home so I can call her.

Of course, this doesn’t mean I won’t worry about technology warping my daughter’s social skills when she’s old enough to stop pretending a banana is cell phone and ask for a real one.

This is an original DC Metro Moms post. EvonneY also blogs about navigating the fine balance between self, mother, and wife at Arlington Mama. PHOTO: / CC BY 2.0