If you need a reason to order an extra cake, just invent a new holiday

I’m an advocate for inventing new family traditions. I don’t write letters to congress about them, insisting that they become official holidays so I can have the day off, but I wouldn’t be opposed to that, either. As it turns out most of these invented traditions already fall on or around another recognized holiday, which I just insist on enhancing with my own, and obviously better, ideas.

Our family celebrated one of these new family traditions last month. We call it Big Sister Day. Or alternately (exactly 50% of the time), we call it Little Sister Day. Coincidentally, this day falls on the day immediately following the birthday of either the big or the little sister in our family. So, in March, immediately following Marlo’s birthday, we celebrated Big Sister Day.

marlo birthday

This tradition started the day after Marlo was born. We were worried that Wynn, formerly the Center of the Universe to parents and grandparents alike, was not going to appreciate the new member of the family stealing her spotlight. So when Pam brought Wynn to the hospital to meet her new little sister, we surprised her with a party and a new holiday. There was cake, presents and balloons in the hospital room for the inaugural Big Sister Day.

Then as soon as Wynn and the rest of the family left the hospital, she threw a major temper tantrum (her first) and refused to get in the car. But we didn’t give up. We have been celebrating Big and Little Sister Day ever since. And I like it. No, not just because it’s an excuse to have extra cake and presents. But because it gives me a minute to pause, reflect and appreciate what it must be like to be a Big Sister (or a Little Sister), which seems to have both its good and bad parts.

When you are the Big Sister, you do most stuff first, unless it means getting out of diapers, because it really is just easier to keep wearing those things to bed. And there is the pressure to do things first, like go to kindergarten, jump off the edge of the pool or spell your name. It can be frightening to be the Big Sister, but you also get lots of attention. There are big expectations and more controlling parents in your life, usually. This is no different in our house. We anxiously await the milestones for the Big Sister and grieve the same ones when the Little Sister reaches them. The exception being the diapers, of course.

And more recently, now that both sisters can talk, I’ve been asking them to stop and think about what it’s like to have a sister on Big Sister Day.

Me: What do you like best about your sister?

Wynn: Her birthday cake.


>>What would you celebrate on Big/Little Sibling Day?

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Adhesive strips: The misunderstood medical device. They are for your heart and your funny bone, people.

When I was a child, my mother insisted that we shouldn’t “waste Band-Aids.” Thirty-five years later, I’m still not really sure what this means. But I’m fairly certain that I only insisted on a Band-Aid when there was something really wrong such as a little bit of skin hanging off my elbow. Or a knee that looked liked it had been French kissed by a cheese grater. I will admit that there probably wasn’t always blood. But close enough. And now that I have two toddlers, I am a bona-fide expert in minor cuts, bruises and abrasions, as well as adhesive strips. I’m also a klutz, so I continue to experience Band-Aid incidents first hand.

But here is my point: The value of a Band-Aid as a medical device is vastly overrated. The purpose of a Band-Aid, unless you have accidentally tried to sever a digit while chopping vegetables or cutting a bagel, is to make you feel better, not to stop the bleeding or protect the injury from infection. That shit is just made up by Johnson & Johnson to sell more Band-Aids. Adhesive strips calm the nerves and stop the tears. They are useless in protecting a real injury.

So with that in mind, here is my Band-Aid philosophy. Waste away! Knock yourself out. If you bumped into the wall, get a Band-Aid. If you stubbed your toe, you might need one for each of your phalanges. If you’re having a bad day, unwrap one and stick it anywhere.

With this in mind, I’ve made a point of getting better Band-Aids. And I don’t mean better quality. No, that is irrelevant. I mean cuter. We have Barbie Band-Aids. Sponge Bob. And best of all? Bacon and eggs. There is nothing like a little fried egg, sunny-side-up, on the back of your hand to raise your spirits. Or a small strip of fried, salted pig meat on your knee to make you feel good.

But this has led to just a bit of confusion at times. When we first got the Barbie Band-Aids, I did not clarify that they were for humans and not for Barbies. And here is what happened to the first box.


Now doesn’t that make you feel way better!

(Click on the pic to enlarge)


Christmas projection: Some thoughts about the perfect gift

Spoiler Alert!
Doug: This blog will reveal what our mom is getting you for Christmas.

It’s almost Christmas Day. It’s tomorrow, just in case you really haven’t been paying attention or you just woke up from a coma. And in that case, you should stop reading this blog and read the New York Times to find out what is going on and to see a full-page, animated ad for the movie Les Miserables. But I digress.

The gifts are wrapped (almost). Most of the cookies have been eaten. (Please send more.) And I will probably get sucked in to making tamales today, even though I swore earlier that I would not.

Christmas, at least in America, is a time of great cheer and shootings. But most importantly, it’s a time to buy lots of stuff. If you do not buy lots of presents and give them to lots of people, then you are less of a person. Less of an American. I try to live up to this very high standard by doing lots of shopping and TONS of contemplating about what the right gift might be. This year, I started thinking about and shopping for Christmas gifts in March. I’m not kidding. Because this year, quite a few people are getting the best and the worst kind of gift from me: A homemade one.

Now, I know what you’re thinking! Thank god, I’m not actually friends with this woman so I don’t have to pretend like I really love the stupid thing that she spent hours making for me. But let’s get on with it. A number of my friends and my super awesome spouse are getting Christmas ornaments made of felt. I know. This gift idea is SO obvious. Here is an example:

southparkornamentsThese are the kids from South Park, just to reinforce the point that most good art is informed by something that is already beautiful and to try not to get sued. It took me most of a weekend to make these. And yes, I cut out all the little shapes that make up the 3-inch figures and sewed them onto the green back by hand. They are also stuffed with just a tiny bit of cotton batting – the kind that you put into quilts, when you make those. Everyone makes their own bedding, don’t they?

So these are already on our tree. And there are others that are carefully wrapped in tissue and placed in a box or a bag ready to jump out and surprise the next lucky friend! Some ornaments are singles, and some are collections. There is “breakfast” – already delivered – comprised of bacon (of course!), eggs, toast and a cup of coffee all lovingly made from felt. “Sports balls” and “superheroes” are wrapped and under the tree. There is a high-heeled shoe and a football logo and probably some other stuff that I’ve forgotten about.

Whatever the thing is – sports, superheroes, food – it’s supposed to be fun and remind me of you. I also really appreciate sarcasm, as I’m sure you already know. Our Christmas tree is mostly filled with ornaments that we find funny. And we have nicknamed a lot of them. Like “the grudge” – a little figurine that supposed to look like an elf (I think) but looks more likely that extremely creepy spirit from the movie.

But, now it’s time to get serious for a second. Every gift we give is a projection – we can’t help it. (Remember we talked about this earlier this month.) So, ask for what you want if you haven’t already, otherwise you will get what someone wants you to have! Seriously, I can’t read your mind and neither can your husband, your wife or your BFF no matter how long you have been together. Don’t let them project on you. Or if they do, take it as a hint, and divorce them or speak up.

So, my gift is what I think about you. Or at least what I think you would like. Unless you’re my mother, and then your gift is a convenience. She is giving my brother a copy of Barbara Kingsolver’s new book after she reads it on the plane on the way to Germany. She is going to try not to wrinkle the pages or drop it in the toilet, like she did with one book that she gave me one year.

So have a great Christmas whether you’re projecting on someone or being projected on. And I’ll see you on Boxing Day.

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