Monthly Archives: November 2013

An Argument for Whimsy

Those who don’t know me well would be surprised to find I have a whimsical side. Hidden from all but close friends and family, this quirky trait only emerges on rare occasions. This past summer, when I was feeling uncharacteristically lighthearted after a couple of medical scares proved to be benign, I created a little elf home in the large pine tree in my backyard. Signified by a little wooden door draped in moss with a little stone path and—the piece de resistance—a little Weber grill (with real charcoal ash in the bottom: Stormy knows the devil’s in the details).

Home Sweet Home

Home Sweet Home

We were hosting a graduation party for my youngest, and I thought my great-nieces and -nephews would find it intriguing. I showed it to a few of them at the party, and they marveled over the tiny door and what might be inside the tree.

Fast forward to late fall. I took a day off work to tackle some neglected yard work and was clearing an overgrown mess of dead weeds from my garden when I happened upon my elf home. The grill was knocked over and the path had broken in two. I considered bringing in the grill, to keep it from rusting or getting lost in the mounds of snow imminent in a Minnesota winter, but instead I set the grill upright, carefully pressed the two halves of the walkway together and left it in place. The next day, I was hosting a small family party that would feature chili and a bonfire, and I didn’t want any of the kids who had seen the elf’s home to wonder what became of him.

“Every girl needs a bit of whimsy to remind her that life is a game and it’s all about having fun.” 
― Candace HavensTake it Like a Vamp

The next night I had forgotten about the elf and was talking with my sisters when my great-nephews ran into the house buzzing with excitement, “Do you have a flashlight? We found a little grill! And a little door!” asked Caleb. His cousin, Sean Ryan was jumping up and down with unconstrained enthusiasm, while his older sister looked on with skepticism.

“Oh,” I responded nonchalantly, “you must be talking about the elf’s home. Don’t harass him too much. He likes to be left alone,” I warned as I handed Caleb a flashlight.

The boys ran out the door to investigate. Later, Caleb’s sister came in to report that, “I don’t believe an elf really lives there, but the boys sure do!”

I think the thing that made their encounter so magical was that they discovered the elf’s home themselves—literally stumbled upon it in the dark. No adult had led them to it, pointing out the details carefully constructed to help support the illusion. Therefore it must be real, right?

“Those who shun the whimsy of things will experience rigor mortis before death.”
― Tom Robbins

The kids’ reaction reminded me of some things I’d forgotten during a very busy year: 1) Creating joy is a very productive way to spend one’s time. 2) You may discover magic when you least expect it, and 3) It’s more fun to believe. This is a timely reminder given that we’re entering what is generally regarded as the most magical season of all—because my “very busy year” doesn’t show any signs of letting up. So, I’ll make sure to appreciate the little pockets of whimsy to be found amidst the holiday hustle and bustle. Heck, maybe I’ll even create a little myself. Does anyone know where I can find a teeny tiny wreath? 🙂

The Case of the Missing Socks

I’m not sure how to explain to family and friends that I may need to get a divorce over socks … well the lack thereof. My husband and I have worked through some big challenges in our thirteen years of marriage but the socks have sent me over the edge. Actually, perhaps murder with sock suffocation is another option to consider. I would get more sympathy as a widow.

I am sure I sound ridiculous, but let me try to explain. Or, if nothing else, get it out. Even at the risk of seeming idiotic.

It was Halloween night. My husband and I are joining friends in their neighborhood to take the kids trick-or-treating. I’m picked up by my husband with kids in tow. (Presumably dressed in the costumes I carefully laid out before I left home that morning.)  Arriving at our friends’ house, my son jumps out and runs to meet his friends. I go around the car to let me five-year old out. As soon as I open the door, I look down and ask, ”Why does she not have socks and why is she wearing Crocs?”

Note: Boots and socks in costume dress rehearsal

Note: Boots and socks in costume dress rehearsal

Ok, admittedly I may have said it a bit harshly. I am not known for hiding my facial expressions or watching my tones when I’m mad or in disagreement. But, at this critical juncture there were two ways this conversation could go. My husband could suck it up and say something along the lines of “Shit, sorry I totally missed that with all the running around, do you think we could borrow socks?” This approach would have kicked me into my just-take-care-of-it mode. He would have to be the brunt of a few jokes throughout the evening, but this approach would have pretty much squelched my temper. But, instead he took his other approach: The defensive one. “You have to be kidding me, are you seriously mad at me?” Then, as he kept trying to turn the tables, I actually heard him say in an annoyed voice, “It was hectic.”

Hectic????? Let’s revisit my past three days.

Between work and sleep, the past three evenings included:

  • Gymnastics, sax lessons, and two days of hockey tryouts. (Yes this was in three evenings.)
  • Searching for a costume for a ten-year-old who, last minute, decided to dress up. Not an easy task at picked-over stores with a picky son scouring for something funny to wear (funny, yet not embarrassing).
  • Picking up assigned pumpkin sugar cookies for the school party (which required me going to three stores to secure).

I was actually quite proud of all I accomplished without a meltdown or taking my stress out on innocent family members. That morning, I left for work with all costumes laid on the table and notes for my sitter and husband with explicit instructions of what was to take place after school until party arrival. (Granted, I did not add “make sure she wears the socks and boots laid out with her costume” a point which I did sarcastically apologize for at some point in the argument.)

So, back to the scene at the car with my daughter and husband. In Minnesota it is pretty critical that you are not barefoot with sandals at the end of October. (In fact, it’s snowing as I type this.) Especially at night when you’re running from house-to-house for hours. So in answer to his question about if I was seriously mad, I shot him “the look” (proving I was angry at him), which then kicked his defensive tactics in stronger. “How would I know I’m supposed to check her feet?”

With my head spinning in anger, I stopped talking (which made all parties know I had hit crazily mad levels). And breaking the silence were more defensive statements, including his favorite three:

  1. “Really, what did I do?”
  2. “Are you crazy?”
  3. “I guess I can’t do anything right.”

These are his top infuriating plays. This was when I sent my daughter in the house with my husband and drove away.

Now, I know I sound crazy, but I must get some credit for driving away versus acting on all the violent actions running through my mind. I could have inspired a great horror movie with a sole male victim. Instead I had a lovely drive imagining how easy life would be now that I had no one to take care of and I could go sell my toe rings on the beach.

Thank God for a good friend who knew just the right amount of time to let me go, and who then texted me to come back (letting me know my husband was out trick-or-treating with the kids) and who waited without judgment and with wine. She brought me back to reality, so I didn’t miss all of the Halloween I had worked so hard to prepare for. Plus, I couldn’t desert my kids—otherwise, they’d be running around with no socks all winter!

I enjoyed the party, my husband and I politely ignored each other, and I underscored my point by sleeping on the couch without another word said. Which seemed to get him a good night’s sleep while only leaving me with a restless night and a sore back.

The next morning went back to normal, because we are forced to coexist and function in our chaos—running around getting breakfast prepared, kids ready for school and both of us off to work. I did get a text later, “Let’s just forget it ever happened, no need to apologize.”  My blood started to boil again but I was able to restrain myself by sharing the sock story with my sympathetic female coworkers who all had similar stories to share.

There was never an apology, but I did come home from work to him preparing dinner and having already picked up the house. I know the next few days will be full of his silent make-up gestures that I will take full advantage of. As he handed me the drink he had waiting for me after work, I got the last word on the subject:

“I am blogging about you.” I calmly stated and walked away.