True Confession: Last year I walked away from my Thanksgiving festivities with a very full tummy and a very heavy heart.
Don’t get me wrong. It was a lovely evening. Full of great conversation, laughter and gluten free fare. It’s just, somewhere between the front door and my car, the realization that I was a one person family hit me hard. There is a very good chance that I started my car, turned on Pandora Michael Buble Holiday mix and cried glistening tears as I made the trek home to my single bed. Which was in fact a giant California King. But that is beside the point. I have a flair for the dramatic and a tendency to turn up the burn when I want to wallow. And last Thanksgiving night, I wallowed. Sad little single girl.
Christmas left me the same hum of discontentment. After deeper reflection, prayer and a moment of clarity, I sat down (or possibly while driving) created a list of my very own Holiday Traditions that I would put into practice next year.
Well, the time has come. May I present to you:
Operation Create Thine Own Traditions 2016.
October 1st: Decorate for Fall. Check. This may be more of a Maui thing but I miss the seasons and need to “create” them by decorating my house. I buy a yummy fall candle and set out tasteful white plastic pumpkins. I pull out my fall kitchen towels and a cute little stuffed owl door stopper with Welcome Fall emblazoned on his chest. It’s simple. It’s enough for me to feel like the season has changed
November 20 (this Friday) I will decorate for Christmas. This is new. I travel for the holidays and last year I waited til after Thanksgiving to decorate. And then…didn’t. Why? In my sad little state, my inner Eeyore was like “Only three weeks til you leave. Why Bother?” So this Friday marks 4 weeks til I leave to go home, giving me a solid month of Christmas anticipatory joy in my own home. This is also when I will allow my self to overindulge in Christmas music. Which I LOVE!!
Thanksgiving Day. After my single gal pity party last year, I decided I needed my own Turkey Day tradition. Up to this point I had only participated in other people’s traditions which fun but didn’t fulfill me. So this year, I’m going to watch memorable Thanksgiving episodes of my favorite shows while I prepare my dishes to take to the party. I’m not sure how I arrived at this except when I watch certain shows I am transported back in time to when I watched them the first time. Friends=college. Greys=fall in Colorado. West Wing=time with MJ. It’s a new tradition. We’ll see how it goes.
Christmas Eve-The day hasn’t felt special to me in a long while. Maybe because I’m out of my element, at the mercy of others and therefore can’t create that rhythm I thrive on. So this year, I’m going to create a countdown to Christmas extravaganza for the only people in my extended family I can still have influence over-the nieces and nephew. A few years ago I did a New Years countdown that is still legendary in their minds. This year, I’m moving it to Christmas Eve Day with church that night being the big finale. I’m picturing minute-to-win-it meets Happy Birthday Jesus cake meets Pinterest. Outcome: TBD.
Christmas Day: Last year, I saved all my Christmas cards to open on Christmas morning and it was really special. I felt like I was sharing my morning with the people I love. Far and away. It also led to some sweet text conversations as I waited for the family to get their groove on so we could get to the good stuff. Hearing my 4 year old niece exclaim “Oh my nerves!” as she wrestled with the tape on her gifts was my highlight.
New Years: Last year I volunteered at Passion, a gathering in Hotlanta for 18-26 year olds and loved every minute of it. This year, I’m going back for more. I get to part of the intercessor team who will cover the 72 hour event in constant prayer. I am a HUGE Louis (and Shelley) Giglio fan so getting to be a part of something like this is fills my love cup to overflowing. College kids falling deeper in love with Jesus and finding their purpose. Yes please.
SO . All that to say I’m really looking forward see what unfolds this holiday season. Navigating this time of year is tricky for EVERYONE who has breath in their lungs. Here is the course I’m charting. What’s yours?Whether your house is a party of one or fifteen, I’d love to know your tips, traditions and trade secrets.
How do you make the holidays meaningful in your home?
I hesitate to ask because nothing looks sadder on a blog than a question with no responses but I’m feeling brave. Brave single gal.
First of all, I want to thank you for being model citizens. It is so refreshing to have it all together. I watch my friends parent and see the love, sweat and tears they pour into raising their children and breathe a sigh of relief. Because, dear ones, you are effortless. I never think twice about what you are up to, where you are going or if you will make good decisions. It so nice that sometimes I forget you are even there.
Love, Love, Love,
Your Adoring Mother
What if I told you there was a video game that offered children the opportunity to experience simulated sex with a prostitute?
It’s called Grand Theft Auto 5. And 69% of my 11 and 12 year old students play or have watched someone play this game.
Would you believe me if I told you that many of my students earned this game for good grades or maybe even Santa left it for them under the tree? You should. It’s true. But I don’t think Santa had any idea that simulated sex with a prostitute was an option in the game. I mean, what adult in their right mind, real or imaginary, would?
What if I told you the video of said simulation I watched on YouTube in the name of research left me in tears for the generation of young girls that will see this and believe this is what is it expected of them to be loved. And the boys who will think it’s perfectly normal to treat women this way.
One of my students asked me why I wanted to know if they had played GTA5. I told him that I thought there was some stuff in the game that was too much for their 6th grade hearts. His response, “Well, I haven’t played the game but I did watch a video on YouTube and immediately regretted it.” With a half-hearted smile I replied, “I think we watched the same one.”
What was your first introduction to images that were too mature for your heart?
Two moments come to mind for me. The summer we got HBO and the time my friend found a magazine in the woods. We have all had that moment. Where we are exposed to something for which our hearts and minds are not designed to see. And I think it’s easy for adults to brush off “that moment” because according to my neighbor “part of growing up.” Which is sad but true. But I think there is a major difference between our experience and theirs. Times have changed. I don’t think we as adults have any concept how much. But with the invention of the internet, kids gained access to things we can’t even fathom.
This summer when I was flying home to see my dad, I got to chatting with the woman seated next to me who is in the midst of raising teenagers. She told me that a friend of hers had secretly installed software on her son’s phone that gave her access to his texts, internet and social media. And that every morning, her friend would wake up and check the contents of her son’s phone. What she saw made her “want to burn her retina’s out.” And she doesn’t know what to do because she doesn’t want her son to know she installed the app. So she feels helpless and hopeless.
The real reason I haven’t blogged in months is because last April I that felt like I was supposed to write this blog . And I didn’t want to.I want to write about rainbows and sunshine. Not video games and porn. But the reality is that I think this an area that needs a little light. The heart of this post is not to leave people helpless and hopeless. It is to shine a light on an area that I think parents are unaware of, not because they are negligent, but because it is impossible to fathom what’s really out there. And that their kids might find it.
There used to be time where you could count on those with authority to protect and safeguard children. But those safeguards were destroyed for fear of censorship and religious oppression. And the line went away. It’s gone, folks. The line of right and wrong, good and bad, went out the window with moral relatively. And those of us who grew up with a moral compass and some semblance of a line….we have no clue what our kids have access to. Especially if we haven’t put boundaries in place to protect them.
Have you ever scrolled through the film options on Netflix? I mean, really looked at the smorgasbord of smut it allows into a home or into our hands? How about Hulu? I would say that most of us haven’t because we know better. We have learned that what we watch and see has consequences on our hearts and minds.
We teach our children that stoves are hot to protect them from getting burned. When they are young, we create physical boundaries so that they can’t touch hot things until they are old enough to understand for themselves what we mean.
How can we as adults create boundaries to protect our kids hearts from the things that will burn their soul and leave them wounded?
Here is how I would protect my imaginary children.
1. I would install safeguards on my home computers, internet, Netflix and Hulu. I would take advantage of all the parent controls possible and invest in some internet software like Netnanny or Covenant Eyes. I would also change my wi-fi, Netflix and Hulu passwords regularly because kids are like ninja’s when it comes to figuring out how to cheat the system.
2. I would collect all iPads, phones and electronics at night. No one needs access to the internet or texting late at night. And I would make sure to include old forgotten phones and iPods that can still connect to the wifi, (Ninja’s I tell you).This may seem extreme but we live in a world where it is perfectly normal for a 12 year old boy to text/Snapchat/Kick a nude photo of himself to a girl. And he gets a photo of her in return. This is becoming the new norm for our society. And maybe it’s not all my little guys doing this, but by 9th grade, it’s pretty much par for the course. The scariest part of this new phenomenon is that these nude photos are also sent to boys they meet online. In other states. Total strangers. Through Kick. Instagram. Snapchat. Kardashian style.
3. I would talk with my kids about love and sex. And how everything is changing. Often. I would ask questions. Even the embarrassing ones. And if by chance you find this video game in your house, my advice? Don’t panic. Don’t freak out. Simply sit beside your child as they play the game and ask them to take you to that scenario. Watch what unfolds and then be prepared to have a very serious, very uncomfortable conversation about sex. You have the opportunity to set the record straight and untwist the lies. Because if you aren’t telling your kids the full story, someone else will.Most likely the eighth-grade boys at the lunch table. Or Netflix.