Thursday, December 18, 2008

Ghosts of Christmas Past: Links to Earlier Baby Toolkit Holiday Hacks

In an effort to recycle more, we offer some Baby Toolkit holiday hacks in excellent used condition:
Plus, a few easy handmade gifts that work year-round:
In the interest of full disclosure, I must confess that our tree is still in the closet, and I have yet to wrap even one gift. I plan on liberally using the "look at the pretty baby" excuse this year.

What seasonal hacks are you employing?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Nutcracker Revelations

While watching the Nutcracker with Ranger, a crazy list of thoughts ran through my head ("like sugarplum fairies," Jim interjects):
  • Watching Ranger enjoy this ballet charms me. His pure enjoyment of the music and movement helps me remember my own blissful connection with music and dance (before adolescence and 80s pop made everything awkward and self-conscious). We bought a storybook concert version of the Nutcracker (based on a Maurice Sendak book) when Ranger turned 2, and he watched it so often that I thought he would wear out the tape.
  • Just last week, I came out to my friends as a hardcore childhood ballerina-wannabe (I don't know that anyone would guess it of me now). I adored ballet, leotards, tutus, and beribboned pointe shoes, that is until my little pink ballet flats hit the hardwood floors of actual ballet lessons. A few weeks of the basic positions convinced me that it was far more fun to leap, prance, and spin alone at home.
  • The only reason I told my friends is because both of their daughters are going through ballerina stages where they want to wear leotards around the clock. My ultra-girly 5-year-old self still has the ability to embarrass me 30 years later. Let's just call that early interest my road less taken.
  • Going to bed tonight Ranger tells Jim, "I like dancing."
    "Really?" Jim asks.
    Shrugging shoulders, "It's pretty great."
  • Ranger and I have actual debt of gratitude to Tchaikovsky. My mom was raised in a family that prohibited dancing, so it was a little surprising that my dad's plan for their first date was this holiday ballet. Despite the fact that mom's upbringing suggested the road to hell was toe-polished wood lined with sugarplum fairies, her rebellious spirit overcame those fears. She and my dad were married within a year (secretly, but that's another story).
  • About 45 years after their first date, my parents took Ranger to see a children's dance theatre production of The Nutcracker. They thought their 2-year-old grandson would drag them out the door before the end of the first act, but he sat rapt for most of the production. It means a lot to me that he and my parents enjoyed the show together as it is significant in our family history.
I wouldn't have watched this ballet alone. Ranger makes it fun for me. His interest in movement far exceeds my rather superficial ballet-obsession (which was really more about looking pretty and wearing lots pink things with ribbons and sequins). I think he might actually practice if we enrolled him in hip-hop classes.

Ranger's love for dance is deep and joyous: one friend commented at his birthday dance party that she "didn't believe in reincarnation until [she] saw Ranger dance. Elvis is with us."

For Jim and I there is great wonder in watching our child discover what makes him happy (even if it is a dream that never captured us). My mom's divergence from parental preferences reminds me that even rebellion can turn out well in the long run. What more comforting holiday story can a parent wish for?

What stories lead you wax philosophical about your family?