December 26, 2012 by whirlyjoy
Here in the spin cycle, there is much to be grateful for; so for once I leave aside my Grinchyscroogygripey hat to go all sparklejollytwinklejingly (as they sing in the quite excellent Elf the Musical) and dedicate this Christmas post to the positives. I asked Mimi to share things she’s grateful for this year, while I do the same for myself and do a little speculating for Aida.
~Mimi (by Mimi)~
First of all, this theme is confusing. Gratefulness is for Thanksgiving, guys. Christmas is for greediness.
But I suppose I can force myself to write about thankfulness…
Honestly, I’m pretty grateful for my camera. I know I got it in 2008, but I never realized how much I loved it until this year. Near the beginning of 2012, I found some stop-motion videos using American Girl Dolls (which I had been collecting for a while) on YouTube. I figured I’d try my hand at it, because it seemed pretty easy. It wasn’t. Stop-motions are time consuming and difficult to edit, not to mention the photo quality of a point-and-shoot camera isn’t the best. But I practiced, and in the end it was a brilliant creative outlet for me. It is surprisingly therapeutic to sit in a 40 degree garage for hours upon end to press a button, move an arm or head a fraction of a centimeter, press a button, and repeat. A big reason for my snow-craving this year is that maybe a layer of snow would make our tiny, dead plant yard dressed up enough to take some good photos.
Here we have Aida, enjoying one of the few outdoor activities that appeal to her- taken on her fourteenth birthday by my prized camera. Another thing I’ve learned you need for photography is patience, because believe me it takes A LOT of tries to get an action shot.
Another thing I’m thankful for would be the length of my hair. And that sounds strange, but without it I wouldn’t be able to donate twelve inches of hair to make a wig for a child going through chemo. Children’s Hospital published a video of the kids in their chemotherapy ward singing “Stronger” by Kelly Clarkson (now one of my favorite songs). After the video finished, I turned to my mom and said “I want to do Locks of Love.” So now we have plans to chop off my hair on Valentine’s Day, and I will have a chic twenties bob to make up for it.
So maybe these are odd things to be thankful for, but I wanted to go past the cliche friends and family. I wanted to write about the small things that I’m thankful for, because sometimes the small things simply don’t get enough recognition as the things that get us through.
∼Aida (by whirlyjoy)∼
If asked what she is grateful for this year, Aida would doubtless tell us digital clocks and written schedules, which bring a smidgen of order to the otherwise shockingly disorderly circumstances of daily life. She has learned – as we all do! – that just because someone tells you something is going to happen, doesn’t mean you can always count on it really happening. When things are written in bold print with a specific time for them to take place, though – well, it can still be an iffy prospect and one must still come constantly back to that written schedule and make sure it still says the same thing – but possibly there is a little more certainty in the chaos and that is a huge relief.
(Even though the people who maintain the clocks at home seem unable to synchronize them perfectly, so that when it is 6:00 in the living room and you go to the kitchen for dinner it turns out to be only 5:58 in there – 5:59 on the microwave – and you have to wait out those two clocks to make it really 6:00 and time to eat.)
I’m certain Aida is also grateful for her new school, new classroom, new teacher, new aide. Finally now, after a difficult initial phase of middle school, she’s being taught by people who believe she is smart and can learn, and have the skills and knowledge to figure out how to teach her effectively. She makes more efforts and shows real pride in her school work now, and is making huge strides in almost every area.
One proud moment: This math paper that she completed independently and wrote the answers on herself.
As a result of such progress, this week Aida broke a new milestone: Dissatisfied with the lunch option we had put up on her white board for her, and unable to convince any of us to write what she really wanted – she finally took the pen herself and had at it. I’ve been waiting for this moment for months, wondering when the surge in handwriting skills she’s shown would find expression at home. Lunch at 12:00; we believe she was trying to write “bagel” after that. So of course she got to have one.
Mimi’s very apt statement notwithstanding, I find as I get older that I do in fact keep coming back to the same old clichéd things to be grateful for; and in particular the lovely companions who keep me company as I tumble through my days: Aida and Mimi, my family and friends who are so near in spirit though sometimes hanging out way ’round the other side of the world, and the truly awesome gentleman who generously whirls me about town these days.
For myself, finding the time to write with a purpose again has been… magical, both in the impossible way it beats the odds of my busy to overflowing life all to hell, and from the sheer pleasure it gives me to muck around with words again and hear from people who have been touched by them. I thought perhaps I wouldn’t shed tears, for once, in preparing this more upbeat blog, but instead I began crying while reading Mimi’s contribution, continued while writing Aida’s, and have quite a torrent of tears held back as I think of the brave, funny, creative, giving, slightly crazy (in a good way) friends who people my life. So maybe I can escape the cliché just a bit by saying I’m grateful for tears such as these.
Thanks to all of you for being along for the ride. We wish you a spectacularly Merry Christmas season and plenty of fun and games in the New Year.