My Reading Group Adventures

This past summer, we started visiting the local library on a regular basis. Our toddler’s reading selection seemed to be growing thin and the steady two-or-three-books-a-night made the circulation tight. With the additional expenses of homeownership, we were on a mission to find ways to save money and take advantage of the resources in our new community.

As couple of weeks ago, during our last “refuel” of children’s and adult literature, I noticed a flyer for the library’s “Reading Group.” This month, they were reading Commonwealth by Ann Patchett, which was on my growing list of books to read this year. Eager to join a group that would discuss the books we were going to read, I grabbed a copy from the circulation desk with the plans to read it before the next meeting and check out this group of readers in this community.

The Reading Group

At 4:25, I showed up at the library, armed with my read Patchett novel and ready to discuss the complexities of story ownership that was a central theme within the book. When I walked into the room, which usually held art and photography exhibitions, there was a circle of chairs and a couple of the members already catching up with the events of their lives.

As the room began to fill, I began to wonder if I was in the right space. I was easily the youngest person within the room by at least one generation. As I listened patiently to the other members critique elements of the book and provide their own insight, I considered getting up and excusing myself. I could give myself the excuse of “at least I tried.” I could justify it by telling myself had put in a good effort and could return comfortably to my introverted life.

However, when the reading group promptly wrapped up at 5:30, I lingered for a few minutes in my chair as I tried to not look too eager to leave. At this time, a couple of the group members began to talk with me, about both the book and about the history of the reading group. They encouraged me to come back next month as they were eager to attract younger members.

Building Community

One of the many critiques of our generation is the lack of traditional community involvement. For me, the reading group–I believe it is intentionally not called a “book club”–provides an opportunity for social entrance into our new community. It also provides me with an outlet to engage outside of my work and family lives.Since completing my master’s, I’ve been looking for something to “work on” while I’m at home, in addition to the traditional mother-homeowner responsibilities.  Finally, the reading group encourages me to do something that I have neglected over the last decade–to read for the joy of reading. 

When moving to a new city or town, finding outlets like a reading group can help you connect with new people within the community. Even if your move is only one city over–like ours–each community has its own characters and story. Learning the story of your new community can help you find role within it.

People walking on a street

 

 

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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!

The Christmas Spirit

December 26th

A blessed day for all those who have ever worked in retail, or who suffer through family functions, or who happen to be a little–if unintentionally–“Scrooge-y” during the holiday season. Between the pressure of making the favorite famous dish to finding the perfect gift to place beneath the perfect tree, December 26th offers a great communal sigh of relieve.

To be honest, I think, December 26th is my favorite part of holiday season.

As a child, I always felt a little let down after Christmas. All this hype for just one day? But now as an adult, I can understand the merits that come with such a large sigh of relieve. We can still enjoy the holiday decorations as we dine on left-overs from that favorite famous dish. Or we can spend time with family, both near and far, without the forced festivities of the holiday.

Now for those who do not stress about buying gifts AND paying bills, read no further this paragraph. I’ve always found the holidays to be a little oppressive when it comes to giving gifts. I can’t afford the types of gifts I want to give when still paying student loans. I’ve always considered it such an odd tradition to parade around gifts given by others as if to suggest some hidden meaning that I cannot come to right now.

But December 26th offers so many possibilities. I’d almost like to image these last few days of December as the true holiday. Media and retail outlets hold December 25th tightly within their grasp, but these few days afterwards allow us to unwind, relax, don our Christmas Jammies and bake the rest of the Christmas cookies while snacking on price-reduced candy canes. The obligations of the holiday is over and now we can enjoy the company of loved ones with a blanket of snow.

My inspiration for this post developed earlier this week. In a last minute, mad-dash to decorate my home for Christmas dinner, I went to Dollar Tree to buy some cheap supplies to DIY up my home (totally Pinterest inspired, but not Pinterest worthy). There, standing in the check-out line before me was a young girl buying Christmas presents to give to her family (I knew this because she was buying an ice scraper, a completely practical but unlikely purchase for this non-driver). As she bought her gifts, I remembered how I proud I felt when I could first make those small, but meaningful purchases for my family. Many of these being small toys or trinkets from Dollar Tree or Wal-Mart. Regardless of their retail worth, these small gifts allowed me to give on Christmas morning.

And of course, aren’t the holidays all about giving and spending time with family?