Thursday, 25 November 2010

Some Random American Thanksgiving Thoughts

I have always loved American Turkey Day. It is the true definition of a non-religious national family holiday, something that we Canadians can't really claim about our October observance. I have always attempted to make parade viewing appointment television on the fourth Thursday in November, and my continual cheering for a Thanksgiving Day victory from the perennial woeful Detroit Lions is part of family folklore. I have a few random thoughts about the day.

  • Broadway musical presentations, always one of my favourite parts of NBC's parade coverage, (for obvious reasons) was kind of thin this year. Elf? I mean, really? While Memphis looks like a no-brainer choice for our next NYC excursion and American Idiot is intriguing, I was disappointed by the sneak peak of Million Dollar Quartet. Somehow I expected better. The recession has hit Broadway hard. Musicals are expensive to produce and fresh ideas are tough to come by. 
  • I am thinking that as tough as it might be to admit, it might be time to retire the Rockettes. I know that they are an American institution, but they are hardly a great example of hipness or diversity. Their costumes were right out of a 1930s Busby Berkley musical, their choreography insipid, and I counted one woman of colour in the entire troupe. Nothing lasts forever, ladies.
  • Who is Eric Hutchinson? From my brief Google search, I have discovered that he is a 20 year old American singer/songwriter who is starting to make it big. He was riding the Food Network float this morning, and Matt and Meredith made a big deal that he was debuting his brand new song 'Best Days". Dude!! The melody is a blatant copy of the Beatles "A Day in the Life". I don't know if he realized it or not, but some smart recording executive should have. 
  • I realize that I am a simple and  parochial Jewish Canadian, but do you people really line up for days before in order to bargain hunt on Black Friday? The commercials advertising sales that begin at midnight or 2:00 am seem slightly insane to me. There was even a news break showing people in tents that have been in queue since Tuesday. OK! Anything for a buck?
  • Arlo Guthrie singing Pop's masterpiece. Enough said!!
  • How great is Marlo Thomas and her work with St. Jude Children's Hospital?
  • It is rivalry weekend in American College Football and while I do not usually play favourites in these games, I have some dear friends rooting hard for the Buckeyes against Big Blue. For them and them alone, will I wear scarlet and grey on Saturday.
  • The Rockettes could learn a lot from The Young Americans. Dancing penguins. Loved it!!
  • How I Met Your Mother simply has the best Thanksgiving episodes on the air since the WKRP famous Turkey Drop.

Feel free to add your own random musings. Enjoy the day, America!

Sunday, 21 November 2010

A Red Letter Day

It has finally happened. An occasion of momentous proportions. My grandmother used to call days like these "red letter days" simply because she would circle them in red ink on her calendar so that they would always stand out amongst the ordinary. Yup. I've got one of those now to call my own, Bubby. One of my progeny has finally and quite publicly declared his respect for his parents. On Facebook, no less!! What, you may query, did I do to deserve such an overt and brazen example of PDA? Was he finally impressed by the fantastic and loving environment in which he was raised? Nahhh. Too pedantic. Has he finally learned the value of a dollar and how difficult it is to manage his financial health without constant insertions of capital from Mom and Dad? Of course not! But in his defence he is getting there. Did he finally realize how much we value a job well-done and hard, diligent effort at all one strives to achieve? Uh.....not so much. Nope. That isn't what allowed me to declare today a red letter day. Instead, my Younger Son expressed his new-found respect for his father and me as a result of what I would refer to as a really stupid life-choice.

The Husband, Older Son, Twin Son, His Better Half and Yours Truly toiled yesterday at the Gourmet Food and Wine Expo being held this weekend in downtown Toronto. This is the third or fourth year (I honestly cannot remember, because frankly every hour of every day spent working these shows is torture for me, and they all run together!) that we have offered free family labour in support of the vodka business that we hope against hope might yield some contribution to our retirement funds. It is a gruelling four day event that pushes the boys to their limits; taxes their vocal chords, causes aches and pains to legs, knees and backs, provides weird insight into the dating rituals of the under thirty set, and in reality, strains credulity as to how much vodka is actually moved. In past years Twin Son's and Better Half's children have also joined in this endeavour as has Younger Son. Given all the various work and school schedules this year, their participation was either severely limited or non-existent. No issues. Life happens, so we made do with what was available. Thus, yesterday's skeleton crew at the Still Waters booth.

There was very little time to get away from the booth. The place was jammed and the tastings one after another. Pee breaks became welcome just from the standpoint of walking to the bathroom, and dinner was a true afterthought. All that food in the Convention Centre and we accessed very little of it. The crowds were massive, the lineups ridiculous, and honestly, we were just too busy. By the time the day was over and the wall of people escorted out, it was close to 10:30 pm and we were all ravenous. Older Son bade us goodbye as he envisioned a Harvey's visit in his future. The four of us remaining middle-aged morons decided to follow what has become a really stupid and ill-conceived tradition. We made our way north to a local greasy spoon called Golden Star for a late night supper of burgers, fries and onion rings. As I contemplated a minor snack of wickedly delicious onion rings, The Husband confidently stated that I shouldn't worry-Golden Star makes a veggie burger. I know, I know. What the hell was I thinking???? By the time we arrived it was 11:15 pm but the clock didn't dissuade us. STUPID STUPID STUPID!!!! The veggie burger was to die for, the onions rings sublime and the french fries unbelievable.  We closed the joint. The old Greek guy who runs the place actually ushered us out the back door. I probably should have taken that as the first sign of my shame.

Of course I was up all night. The physical pain of a 47 year old digestive track under assault from a once a year indulgence is not to be underestimated. I have nobody to blame but myself. I know this, but as I sit here typing this post, still suffering from the post-ingestion glow (I actually think that I can SEE my heartburn!) I am not above looking for scapegoats. I decided that if I was suffering then it was only fitting that my friends should share in my discomfort. I took to Facebook to vent. I posted thusly.

In the interest of your former lives as youth group advisors I thought that I would frame this in language that you can fully understand. "Be it resolved that eating at Golden Star at 11:00 pm, even for a veggie burger, should never be allowed for us middle-aged wretches." I may never eat again!!!

And then it appeared. My red letter day-worthy comment from Younger Son.

 I have new respect for both of my parents.

So this is what it took to garner my son's respect. I needed to abuse my body with fat, cholesterol and calories in a whimsical act of stupidity for one of my children to actually think I was cool. I wondered how he might have felt had I decided to bungie-jump off the CN Tower? Admiration? No, that is way too much for my acid-reflux infested body to digest at the moment.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

If Only, I Remember, I'm Amazed!

I had a very interesting experience yesterday attempting to arrange a short vacation for our family. It used to be that all I had to do was pick the dates, source the flights, pack the bags and off we went. Ok! Maybe it wasn't all that simple. In reality, there were bags and bags of clothes, toys, food, diversions, and age-appropriate paraphernalia that travelled with us. Sometimes we would spend several days in a car (before the invention of in-auto DVD players) with both boys harnessed into individual car seats that severely limited their movements. We shared cramped motel rooms and shlepped diaper bags everywhere we went, but for some reason all of that seemed simple compared to now.

Yesterday I found myself tethered to the computer with one of those travel sites on-screen, while I had both boys on separate phone lines assessing their schedules. (Neither lives at home nor do they reside together!) We also had to factor in Younger Son's Young Lady and her timetable, so that she might join us this year. She is coming from a different starting location, so I had two separate windows open on the computer with two separate flight plans. In order to facilitate all of this mayhem, Younger Son was texting her while talking to me while I was on the computer. Got all that? It was truly migraine inducing. Add to all of that mess, was The Husband's insistence (whimpering plea?) that we make one single trip to the airport to pick them all up. OY!!  Suffice it to say that it all worked out (an hour or so later!) and that I was able to procure reasonable flights at surprisingly reasonable rates for the season. It was tough, but it mattered. The fact that my children still want to spend an extended period of time with me was worth every minute spent. But, it got me to thinking about those early days. I used to say "If Only....".

  • If only they could use the bathroom then I wouldn't have to carry the diapers.
  • If only they would grow a bit, we could get rid of the car seats.
  • If only they would be more adventurous with food we wouldn't have to stock the refrigerator with Cheez Whiz.
  • If only they were a little older, they could walk themselves to school and I wouldn't have to go out on a cold January morning.
  • If only they were young teens that could stay a few hours on their own, then we wouldn't have to pay for babysitters.
  • If only they could drive themselves places, I could say goodbye to carpools.
  • If only....

The "If Onlys...." then turned into "I Remembers...".

  • I remember being amazed at my early readers.
  • I remember when we turned what could have been miserable experiences into family jokes and family folklore.
  • I remember the wonder at seeing and sharing new things.
  • I remember enjoying sitting down to family dinners and sharing our days. (in spite of the Cheez Whiz!)
  • I remember all of the parent/teacher conferences (even the tough ones!) and all of the performances, speeches, debates, and song contests. I remember sitting and weeping with pride at their confidence and accomplishments.
  • I remember....
I suddenly realized yesterday that "If Onlys..." and "I Remembers..." are laments and that lamenting the past might have a place, but it doesn't serve to articulate what really matters now. That is instead reserved for the "I'm Amazed...."

  • I'm amazed at the men they have become and the fact that maybe I had a little something to do with it.
  • I'm amazed at the diversity they display in their interests and that musical theatre and sports can so easily coexist in their lives.
  • I'm amazed at the independence in their thoughts. They listen to all sides and then make their own judgements.
  • I'm amazed at how important camp was in their lives and how it instilled within them a concrete Jewish base, even while they now search for answers as to what Judaism and religion in general  means to them.
  • I'm amazed that spending time together as a family still matters and will always matter to them.
  • I'm amazed....

I think that I prefer the world of "I'm Amazed...". Life goes by very quickly. Spending an hour of chaos yesterday in order to facilitate more of "I'm Amazed..." was an hour well spent. I am very much looking forward to our family vacation in the southern sun.