Cookie Monster

Parker disappeared from the family gathering in the living room. “Parker,” I hollered only to catch her out of the corner of my eye pulling herself up on the bar stool in the kitchen to reach the contents on the counter. She had been eyeing the tray of cookies and now with everyone distracted, her two year old independence was about to be rewarded.

I made it to her just in time to pull the tray out of her reach, though, since she gave it such a good effort I let her pick one out. She immediately choose a peanut butter blossom – the kind with a Hersey kiss in the middle. Parker goes for the chocolate first and eats the cookie second. After her treat we resumed activity with everyone else in the living room: playing with cousins, checking out new toys and clearing the debris of wrapping paper and boxes.

Later I was called back into the kitchen by my brother and my mom. Parker also joined and again pulled herself up on the bar stool to position herself next to her big cousins. They pointed out how 3 cookies were missing bites out of the top of the chocolate kiss and all knew who was likely responsible, my little cookie monster.

Parker reached for a sugar cookie and got one off the tray before Nana could intervene. “You need to ask mommy first Parker,” She told her in a loving Nana way. Parker looked right at me with her big brown eyes maybe thinking of asking permission.

Instead she said “Thank you Mommy.” And took a big bite of her cookie.

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Not your average holiday letter.

One thing I love the most about this time of year is all of the mail! The tradition of catching up with old friends by a Christmas card, a family photo or yearly update with a good old fashioned stamp on it makes me smile, plus fresh frame-worthy pictures to update frames is a bonus. Snail mail anytime of the year is welcome, though, I know I send and receive the most in the month of December.

The holiday letter is kind of a funny thing to me. When a simple card or picture will not do, individuals and families might opt to generate a quick synopsis of the last 12 months to update friends and family who might not otherwise hear all of the news flashes throughout the year. I’m not sure when my mom thought this would be necessary to write one for our family, though, I remember the year I did not approve. In 1996 I was 14 years old and read over her draft of the family holiday letter. I’m sure she highlighted many major events, boasted about how wonderful her kids were and used proper sentence structure and punctuation, yet it seemed to make us even more boring than we actually were. By pointing out the yawn factor, she challenged me to come up with something better. The product ended up being a sarcastic summary of life in our household and I was required to continue writing holiday letters until long after all of us kids were grown.

A few years back my mom’s friend Sue mailed me a stack of my holiday letters she had been saving. Her note said she had been doing some deep cleaning and heard I hadn’t been keeping copies. I guess rather than holding onto the letters themselves I will purge them onto the internet to be able to look back on and maybe inspire someone else to create entertaining holiday notes. Starting with letter #2.
-letter1997
-letter1998
-letter1999
-letter2000
-letter2001
-letter2002
-letter2003
-letter2005
-letter2006-letter2007
-letter2008
-letter2009

Amazing how my mom folded each letter identically over the years, huh? Now I am anxiously awaiting the mailman’s arrival!

Keeping in Touch.

Earlier this week I went out of my way to an appointment to quench my craving for chai tea.  I have never been a fan of coffee, it seems to be one of those drinks that I try a sip every few years to reassure myself that I still don’t care for it.  However, after my first taste of chai tea I was hooked.  Even while I was pregnant and gave up soda with caffeine, I knew my tiny bun in the oven would appreciate and excuse this warm, tasty, slightly caffeinated beverage.   The ode to my little addiction was not really the intent of this post – it was the event at the coffee shop that got me thinking…

I parked at the drive through at Latte Land when the gentleman through the window stopped to ask me my name.  He recognized me from going to middle school together – apparently I have not changed too much from the wire mouthed, frizzy haired kid in 16 years.  While I did remember his name I had no memory of what he looked like back then and no recollection of him looking at all familiar now.  It was almost embarrassing that he remembered me so easily and not be able to return the gesture.  He kindly put me at ease by saying that he is good at remembering faces.

After leaving the drive though it got me thinking about how I wish I had a better memory for faces and if there is a way for me to build this as a strength.  Something less invasive and more practical than taking pictures of everyone I meet and creating flashcards to practice in my free time.  So far, I have come up empty on ways to improve facial recognition.  Maybe it is just a strength I will have to appreciate in other people, like my old classmate at the coffee shop.

However, I also realized I have my own strength in relation to people which may not come as naturally to others.  My strength is keeping in touch.  I hold on tight to people I have grown close with over time where otherwise friendship might have faded and those people would have just been a memory to me.  In these days with social networking, this is an easier task.  With one click a distant cousin, old college roommate, co-worker from your first job or neighbor from a childhood home can become a Facebook friend.  I have been keeping in touch for much longer than Facebook though.

Whether family, friend, co-worker or neighbor – people who I have grown fond of, I keep in touch with.  I make frequent long distance phone calls, send cards or letters and organize get togethers.  I feel like these individuals have made a positive impression on my life and it’s sort of my way of letting them know that no matter how long it’s been between when we have seen each other, I still appreciate them and what they have meant to me.

This week I have been preparing my holiday cards to mail out, and due to my eagerness to keep in touch with so many people my stack of cards is getting pretty high.  My husband tried to quaff at the extraodinary cost of stamps and secretly I know he supports this as he adds in his own friends he wants to make sure to connect with.  As my handwriting is generally only readable by me, I carefully addressed each envelope  and I wondered whether all of these acquaintances would even care to hear from me.  It didn’t take me long to realize it didn’t matter what they think of me.  The gesture of trying to keep in touch is letting people know that I care about them, I care about the relationship that we have or had even if it was several years ago.

So, I apologize if I have met you and don’t remember your face.  I also apologize if you have penetrated to my inner circle of friends and you can’t get rid of me – most are stuck there for life.