BulgingButtons

Not bad for a fat girl


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Reblog-Lamenting the Decline of the Christmas Card

It’s a new year and I’m in a new home, and of course I didn’t send out a change of address card to anyone, so this year I really won’t get many cards, but yesterday I did get one. It may be the only one, aside from the one my mom sent. That’s ok, because this year I’m not sending out a bunch either. I’m afraid I’ve given in this year. Maybe 2015 will be the year that old fashioned in the mailbox Christmas cards make their return to fashion. In the meantime, enjoy this post from Christmas 2013.

Maybe it’s just me. Maybe my own personal circle of friends is unusual, or maybe they all lost my address, or, dare I even say it, maybe they just don’t like me anymore. I don’t think any of those are true, but who knows? Whatever it is, the number of Christmas cards I’ve received so far this year is zero. Not one single card. It is the 7th of December and the Christmas spirit has yet to enter my mailbox.

Now, before I go too far, I have to come clean and admit that I have likewise sent zero Christmas cards this year.  I have good intentions, though. I even saw a box of cards that I really liked with a cool funky retro pine forest on the front and a nice non-offensive greeting in the center. I didn’t buy them, though. A snarky little voice inside my head said, “Why should you send cards out? Remember how many you received last year? It’s hardly worth the trouble.” And I put them down and walked away. I regret doing that. I will go back and get them. Let me tell you why.

First there’s this little saying that I actually happen to believe that goes a little something like this, “it is better to give than to receive.” Ok, sure, if you’re starving it’s better to receive food than to give it away, but I’m hardly starving. My life is full of abundance. I live in comfort surrounded by love. I have rewarding work, I can pay my bills, I feel safe and secure, my loved ones are reasonably happy and healthy, and therefore I have nothing to complain about.

I like being able to give a tiny bit of myself to my friends, even if that tiny bit is just a warm greeting inside a pretty card. I know some people see sending out cards as an unnecessary chore, but I actually like sending Christmas cards. 1012-den-cards-lI like writing a short personal note inside each one letting my friends know I’m thinking of them at this time of year. I also like slipping in a school picture of my now gangly, braces wearing teen, as much to embarrass him as anything else. Besides, what else are you supposed to do with all those tiny pictures? His friends don’t want them. They all have phones that take pictures.

Another reason I’m sad about the demise of the Christmas card is that it offered a yearly glimpse into the lives of people with whom I’m friendly but didn’t necessarily see or talk to a lot. It was a yearly check in, sort of like your annual physical. It said, “we’re still connected to one another.” It might prompt a phone call or a get together, or it might just bring a warm feeling, but it didn’t mean a big commitment. Now those people are on your Facebook feed and you hear more about their lives than you ever did, so the check in feels unnecessary. I think that’s one reason the cards are going the way of the dinosaur, at least for my generation.

My mother’s generation is still a generation of Christmas card senders, bless them. She has a lovely annual display of them on her piano, showing smiling grandchildren, fabulous vacation spots, and drawings made by pediatric cancer patients. They feature spiky script, or long newsy letters full of deaths, births, and procedures, and promises to get together when the weather warms up or they get back from Florida.  They are cherished by my mother, as I cherish the few I still receive.

Growing up, I lived in a house built in the 1930’s. It had a beautiful fireplace with a grand mantle. Every night in December we would read the day’s Christmas cards at the dinner table, then after dinner add them to the already impressive display on the mantle. There was often some rearranging to be done, taller cards in back, prettiest pictures in front, and so on. In my twenties I lived in apartment with a long extinct fireplace, but it had a pretty mantle, and it always filled with Christmas cards too.

Depending on where I’ve lived I had different methods of display, but I think my favorite was in my last home, which was two stories. We wrapped garland (with white lights) around the bannister, and attached the cards to it with tiny clothes pins. It made such a pretty display. I no longer have stairs, but I do have my grandmother’s antique piano on which to showcase my cards this year. If I get any.

Today I will go back to that store and buy that box of cards. I will write a note inside each one and mail them out. I won’t send out twenty or thirty, like I used to, but I will send some. I hope to receive some in return, but if I don’t I’ll try not to take it personally. Everyone is trying to get by, especially this time of year. Decisions need to be made, time and resources have to be distributed in the most effective way possible. For many people that means putting up a Facebook post with a cute or meaningful graphic on Christmas will take the place of a real card sent through the mail. I understand this, but it makes me a little nostalgic and sad. I hope your mailbox is filled with Christmas cards this year, and for many years to come.


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I’m Practically Famous (Again) – Thoughts on Student Engagement

We-have-all-been-thereA while back the Education Week blog put out a call for writers. I applied, and was given an assignment to write about student engagement.
I was to explain what it meant to me and how to achieve it, all in 300 words or less. Yikes!

If’ you’ve read BulgingButtons for any length of time, or even just glanced through it, you know that most of the posts are quite a bit longer than that. Usually they run closer to 1,000 words, but for topics related to teaching they can be significantly longer than that. A 300 word limit was a challenge for me, but I did it!

I submitted my piece and that was that. I didn’t hear anything else about it. Not until today, anyway, when I received a tweet with the quote from the article and a link. Cool.

So if you’re here from Education Week, welcome. I hope you stick around and find something else on the blog that interests you. If you’re a regular BulgingButtons reader, I hope you click over to Education Week to see what student engagement is all about. I did notice that the other contributing educators didn’t seem to stick to the 300 word limit, but then again, maybe they had a slightly different assignment. Mine is the short piece at the bottom of the page. Either way, I’m glad you’re here sharing these fifteen minutes of almost fame with me.

Posts that may be of interest to educators:

Ten Essential Back to School Supplies that Money Can’t Buy

A New Way of Looking at Old History

An Open Apology to Fourth Graders

The Gift of Time

 


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To Cookie or Not to Cookie

I had a little trouble with the decorating

I had a little trouble with the icing

One of the best things about this time of year is the food, of course. And as you know, I love food. I particularly like sweets, as evidenced by my obsession with Hot Tamales candies, but I digress. This time of year brings all kinds of goodies, but the treat that says holiday time to me is a cookie.

I like to bake, but cookies aren’t my favorite thing to do. They tend to be really time consuming, and frankly I’d rather whip up a batch of brownies or a sheet cake and call it a day, but December calls for cookies, so cookies I shall make.

I have a few tried and true recipes that I’ve made over and over, and each year I choose one or two to bake. For many years I was invited to a wonderful cookie walk, and always came home with scads of treats, but then I got divorced, and since my former mother-in-law was the hostess I guess she thought it would be weird to keep inviting me.

It’s too bad, because she always had games too, with really nice prizes. I’m good at games, even Christmas themed games, so I would usually win. After the second time I kept my mouth shut. I think the other guests were a little annoyed that the one Jewish person in the room was winning the awesome Christmas themed gift each year. Still, I enjoyed the games and the secret knowledge that I knew the holiday better than people who had celebrated it their entire lives.

Fast forward to Christmas Season 2014. I’ve been invited to a cookie walk this weekend. I would like to go. I like cookie walks. I like cookies. I like parties. HOWEVER, I don’t need cookies, I don’t love making cookies, and I don’t know how many events I want to try to cram into my weekend. So here’s my dilemma, do I cookie, or don’t I?

Oh sure, I’m planning to make cookies at some point anyway, but if I don’t go there’s no pressure to get them done. On the other hand, I have some time to do them this evening. It will be festive. We can put on a Christmas movie or at least some Christmas carols while I’m baking. It will make the house smell wonderful, too.

On the other hand I really shouldn’t do the cookies, or go to a party to swap them for other cookies. They are counter-productive to my goal of making better diet and fitness choices. I know this, but at the same time I’m trying to cut myself a little slack over the holidays.

What I do know is that if I make cookies I will most likely go, but I will NOT make the same cookies I tried to do for Chanukah. They were most definitely a fail. A big, sloppy, embarrassing, yet delicious, fail. Oh well, they’re only cookies. I can always make more.