Does Gen Y Send Xmas Cards?

Have we lost the art of letter writing?

The day after Christmas, I received two Christmas cards in the mail. Both writers wished my new family a merry holiday and one elaborated briefly on the happenings of her life. This was the first year I have received Christmas cards in the mail and to be honest, I was a little surprised to find them in my mailbox.Christmas Cards

In our high speed lifestyles, is there time to send holiday greetings? Or do we succumb to sharing holiday memes on Facebook?

In my English classes, we read the letters to and from the writers we were studying in addition to their works. These letters not only gave us insight into their day-to-day lives, but the world in which they lived. This insight could be then applied to better understanding their works. We cannot truly understand Pride and Prejudice without understand the world of Jane Austen.

In 2014, we share our thoughts through Facebook status updates, and 140 character Twitter tweets and text messages. We send private messages and emails. We read our news online. We are dependent on technology to communicate.

Will sending holiday greeting cards become as antiquated as holiday fruit cakes and yule logs?

The Twelve Ways that Christmas Scares Me

Okay. J.C’s celebrated birthday doesn’t actually scare me. It’s just a day, right? As an introvert, the holidays are especially draining. Add a new baby into the mix, and the winter holiday seasons becomes the most stressful time of the year.

1. Winter Dealing: In New England, it is a fact that you will have to drive everywhere. It is also a fact that you are expected to drive in all types of horrible weather. Now, many of wear our badges of snowstorm driving with pride, but navigating snow-covered roads with a baby in the car adds a whole other level of stress.

2. Holiday Music Listening: This is left over from my years in retail. Now I’m not saying that I don’t enjoy some instrumental renditions of traditional tunes, but I’m pretty sure that anyone who has ever worked in retail gets a little tired of “Wonderful Christmastime.”

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These are decoration that I put up last year.

3. Lifetime Holiday Specials Watching: Alright, I’ve fallen victim to watching quite a few Lifetime Holiday Specials. No one’s holiday ends up like that.

4. Holiday Decorating: To be honest, I did not decorate this year. Why? I have a not-quite two-month old and a cat who nibbles on everything and I have classwork and job searching. If I did put up decorations, they would probably stay up until I spring clean.

5. Food Shopping: I live near two grocery stores. Both are competitively priced, but one does usually end up being lower then the other. Because I made the mistake of waiting until Christmas Eve to get groceries, I went to the more expensive store in order to maintain my sanity and avoid the hordes of last minute shoppers at the other store.

6. Gift Buying: This is my least favorite part of Christmas. I never know what to buy people, not to mention the crowds of holiday shoppers at every mall, department store, Target, etc.

7. Present Opening: This goes hand-in-hand with Gift Buying. Not a fan of the fake thank you.

8. Holiday Crafting: I love when people post Pinterest Fails because I am one of those people. I’ve had a few successes, but it usually comes down to my own craftiness and it never looks as good as the image.

9. Facebook Posting: I read something somewhere about how Facebook encourages a distorted view of reality and perfection because we only post what we want our “friends” to see. I think the holidays further this distortion. No one’s family is that perfect.

10. Holiday Baking: How many different types of cookies are there? Two. The yummy, perfectly sweet treats that make you forget you are on a diet and the ones you buy at the store. Now, do you have hours to commit to baking those wonderful holiday treats or will a batch from the bakery at the grocery store suffice?

11. Holiday Cooking: How many hours did we agonize over what to serve for our holiday dinners? Too many!

12. Family Gathering: Bring out the Festivus Pole for the annual “Airing of Grievances”!

Happy Holidays from My Life as a New England Townie!

Detoxing: Removing the “Busy” From My Life

It took me eight weeks to truly embrace being a stay-at-home mom. To be honest, I’m not sure if I can completely embraced the idea yet, but I am miles beyond where I was two months ago.

Like I’ve indicated within some of my posts, I was a bit of a workaholic. Not only did I enjoy working for pay, but I also enjoyed volunteering in my community. I looked for opportunities where I could positively impact the world around me and dedicated hours that could go to sleeping, relaxing, dreaming, to that cause. I loved projects. I loved late nights and early mornings. I loved to be busy.

In American culture, we often discuss the glorification of “busy.” How many activities can we add to our week? How many hours can we squeeze into our already work-driven lives? What is the impact of this “busy”-ness on our psyche, our health, our relationships?

I’ve always imagined myself to be a writer. As a child, I enjoyed writing short stories that featured my favorite Barbie doll, created an imaginary situation or emulated a recent movie, book or TV show. However, as an adult, I found that I had less and less energy and focus to write. Beyond some scribes in a notebook or a haphazard thought before I fell asleep, all aspirations of “becoming” a writer fell to the wayside. My hourly wage was more than I could make as a young writer.

Before I knew it, I fell into the “busy” lifestyle.

It took my pregnancy for me to realize that I was running at an unsustainable level. I worked two jobs, applied to graduate programs, developed a community band for my hometown’s anniversary celebration. Forget writing. I could barely stay awake to play a video game or watch TV with my boyfriend.

It became my intention to “detox” the “busy” from my life. I completed my projects, reduced my workload and tried to ease into stay-at-home motherhood. I still had great aspirations for my time at home. I planned to clean, remove the clutter that had accumulated, finish some projects, sell old textbooks online, etc. I planned to write and I enrolled in an online master’s program.

After my daughter was born, I quickly realized that it would be much more difficult to complete whatever tasks I thought I would be accomplish while being constantly distracted by the adorable changes in my growing little girl. The clutter remains. Laundry is only done when absolutely necessary. Books remain on the bookshelf and I have finally started writing again.

Despite the fact that I am still enrolled and currently excelling in the one class I am taking, I’ve realized that I did glorify the “busy” lifestyle. I now tell people who ask me when I will complete my program that I am in no rush to finish it early. Again, to be honest, taking a master’s level online course is much more difficult with a little baby than I had anticipated.

I look back on these last eight weeks and I realized that I removed a substantial stress from my life. I move a lot slower now and take real care for my family’s well-being. I find myself embracing the new moment to moment movement of my life. My life now has a sense of fluidity that I have never adopted so eagerly before now.

*These are just my thoughts on my experiences. I know that many parents need to balance work and family. Props to those to do it and do it well. 

Lessons My Daughter has Taught Me: Part 1

It is a pretty standard understanding that motherhood changes lives. I didn’t realize how much until I met my daughter.

The end of my pregnancy was less than ideal. I had decided to leave my job the summer before I expected to give birth and the decision was weighing heavy on my mind. We had wiggled through a number of very expensive hospital bills and I was worried about the unexpected costs of the labor and delivery, in addition to making all other ends meet. It didn’t matter that I completed several drafts of our budget to make sure that we would have enough to cover expenses.

Despite my best efforts to stay healthy throughout my pregnancy, I was diagnosed with pre-eclampsia at week 33 and was put on modified bed rest. In my best intentions, I had saved the last month of my pregnancy to get ready for Baby. The modified bed rest compounded my feelings of being unprepared because I could not “nest” as I had intended with washing baby clothes, aggressively cleaning my home, or completing any of the food-preparation projects I had collected on Pinterest. Instead, I spent most of my time watching episodes of Sex in the City and reading about the effects of pre-eclampsia on me and my baby.

Because pre-eclampsia can become very serious, doctors often want to induce a monitored labor. Two failed induction attempts later and I decided a c-section was my only option. This was far from my unofficial birth plan–labor at home, avoid pain medication, have a healthy baby and take pain medication after. Instead, I was hooked up to an IV and monitors to make sure my baby was okay.

To be honest, I felt betrayed by my body. Not only did I develop this condition, but my body would not go into labor. Throughout my hospital stays, I felt like I had failed when I could not tell the nurses that I was indeed feeling the contractions that they saw on the monitor. I wondered what was wrong with my body.

The decision to have go through with a c-section came from the mental anguish of hearing babies being born throughout the hospital unit. I just wanted to hold my little girl. Fifteen minutes after entering the unit’s operating room, my little girl was laying on my chest and looking at my face.

I look back at my hospital stay and I am thankful for the four days I spent in postpartum. Under the care of the nursing staff, I bonded so deeply with my daughter. We were our own world. I had never felt love like the tender fondness I felt for my baby girl.

On the last day, I began to feel the tugging of my anxiety return. At the hospital, if anything went wrong or if I had a question, the nurse was only a buzz away. My mind raced to make sure I asked every question. I collected phone numbers to call if I had concerns before her first appointment two days later.

As we walked towards the exit, I felt dizzy. By leaving the hospital, it was as if it was all becoming real. I was walking into my role as mother, protector of this little baby. I felt the responsibility crushing me.

Getting into the backseat of the car, I looked at this little being, wrapped up in a blanket to protect her against the drop in temperature. In almost a moment of understanding, she looked at me with her big blue eyes and wrapped her little hand around my finger, as if to say “It’s okay, Mom. We can do this.”

In that moment, my four-day-old daughter reminded me that I am not alone.