Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Every year around the holidays, I feel the same sense of nostalgia and like, “Woah, this year went fast, didn’t it?!” I mean, it did, right? Weren’t we just celebrating Hanukkah and Christmas and saying how awful 2016 had been and we were all so ready for a new year? Ha. And this holiday season, mercury is retrograde, which makes the nostalgia feel even more acute. Oh! That reminds me:

total tangent, but last night I was too tired to cook dinner and the kids were asking for sushi, so we went out to Geido, our favorite neighborhood sushi place where they always bring a bowl of ice if the kids order Miso soup, and there was this couple sitting next to us (like inches away because the tables are so close together there) having what I am sure was their pre-breakup conversation. She was telling him that she really wanted him to foster his friendships with other people because, while she enjoyed being the most important relationship in his life, it’s really attractive to her when he goes out with other people besides her.

“I mean, I’m not saying I need you to be MORE ATTRACTIVE,” she said, “It’s just… nice, is all. Like, when you go out with your friends and have a life beyond me.” Ouch.

Then he told her he wanted a relationship with less friction. And then she said, “But I don’t want that. I would never want a relationship with no friction. Friction is what allows us to grow and evolve.”

And then he rolled his eyes. And then she said, “I read your horoscope, you know, every day. So you don’t have to. You’re welcome.”

“Well, what does it say?” he asked.

“That you need to focus on friendships!” she said. Then he rolled his eyes again.

It feels important to note: they were both wearing jumpsuits. And he had a teeny dog in a bag on his lap that he kept petting. They also seemed to be new to sushi, even though they looked like they were in their 30s and live in New York. “This rice tastes… different,” she said. “It’s sushi rice,” he said flatly. “It’s made with rice vinegar.” (Maybe he wasn’t so new to sushi, actually.)

“I’m glad we did this,” she said when their check came. He didn’t reply, and I bet you dollars to donuts they are splitsville today. I wonder what her horoscope has to say about that.

Anyway, I get so nostalgic this time of year.

Yesterday, I took Jackson to the holiday market at Bryant Par–just the two of us–because we did that last year and it was a fun thing for us to do together while baby Joanie and Drew stayed home and napped, and I wanted to re-create that holiday magic for us. He was five last year and still pint-size and wide-eyed about everything (see the above photo). He thought the carousel was so much fun. But this year he’s six, he’s grown about a foot in the last twelve months, and I’m pretty sure he thought spending an afternoon with me at a holiday market was lame (minus the chicken in a waffle cone I bought him, which he admitted, after a lot of cajoling, was “good”). He only finally cracked a smile as we waited for the subway home, and I took a snapchat picture of him with a holiday filter. “I look cute!” he said. “Right?”


Right.

On Saturday, we got and trimmed our Christmas tree, and I showed the kids the ornaments we’ve been collecting for them over the years. There’s the subway car from when Jackson was two and obsessed with trains. And last year’s astronaut ornament when he was obsessed with space. And there’s the one my parents got that is personalized and says “Joanie May, our family’s favorite.” And then one for Jackson from my parents that is personalized and says “Jackson, the family favorite.” This year Jackson is obsessed with rainbows and fairies, so I got him a personalized fairy wand ornament from Etsy and I let him pick out a cool rainbow ornament from a store in Park Slope a couple weeks ago. Joanie’s obsessions are not as intense as Jackson’s always have been. She sort of loves everything, but she’s especially keen on animals, with puppies being her favorite, and hippos the newest interest (I think she simply likes saying the word “hippo,” and I have to agree, it’s fun to say. Hippo.). I’m still searching for a cute puppy ornament to mark this year in time — Joanie almost 2-1/2 and sweet as pie, and Jackson, my 6-year-old going on 14, suddenly so tall and right on the cusp of losing his two front teeth (and maybe also his interest in spending solo afternoons in the company of his mom, sigh).

Everyone always says about parenthood that the days are long, but the years are short, and at no other time do I feel that more than at the holidays. Next year this time, God willing, all traces of babyhood from this one here will be gone — the diapers she hasn’t given up yet and the bottles she takes before bedtime. She’ll be less than a year away from starting public school, which is crazy, and maybe she’ll even have an obsession or two for which I can celebrate with an ornament. But for those days ahead when she might find a solo afternoon with her mom kind of lame, I have this moment of her sitting across from me at the cafe, eating banana bread and smiling, held safely in my pocket. I’m already feeling nostalgic for it.

12 comments… add one
  • Copa

    Copa December 18, 2017, 1:35 pm

    I love/hate (but mostly hate) when tables are that close together at restaurants. It’s always a little fun to overhear interesting or funny conversations (like this one), but I don’t want anyone listening in on mine! My heart sinks a little if I show up to a first date and realize the tables are close together. Although on my most recent first date, my date and I were getting along well and even had some friendly banter with the table next to ours when they commented on something we’d ordered.

    In any case, the holidays are always nostalgic for me, too, but 2017 felt SLOW. Really, really slow. It’s the first year in a very long time that inched by.

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      SpaceySteph December 18, 2017, 3:07 pm

      This reminds me of the Modern Family episode where Mitch and Cam are out to dinner and the next table over the guy is gonna propose and they get involved in it and it ends… badly.
      My husband and I are totally a lame married couple so I love eavesdropping on the neighbors and never worry about what they’ll hear at our table.

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        ktfran December 19, 2017, 8:55 am

        Lol. Same! We totally listen in. And Copa… I especially love watching/listening to first dates 🙂

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      • Copa

        Copa December 19, 2017, 10:07 am

        I love listening in on first dates, too. I just hate the idea of being on a bad first date and amusing the person/couple/people next to me.

        I love that episode of Modern Family, too!

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      K December 19, 2017, 12:28 pm

      Meanwhile I thought this year flew by faster than any year before! It’s so funny how everyone has different perceptions of time passing.

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  • Lianne

    Lianne December 18, 2017, 2:04 pm

    Wendy, I love the ornament idea! Funny thing is, I almost bought a truck ornament recently because my son is OBSESSED with trucks (or anything that goes, really). This essay just made me want to find a really special one and start this tradition.

    I agree, the holidays are such a time of reflection. And this Christmas is one I really want to cherish and pause to appreciate since it’s the last with us as a family of three…I am can’t wait to watch his excitement on Christmas morning!

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      K December 19, 2017, 12:29 pm

      Are you becoming a family of 4? If so, congrats!

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    Buzzlebee December 18, 2017, 2:21 pm

    I love the ornament traditions. My now husband and I have been giving each other one special ornaments each year for at least the last 10 years.

    One tip is to write on the year it’s given on each ornament. That way you can look back on it and remember all those good years, especially since they fly past so quickly! I’ve started doing this for my nephew and I hope when he’s grown up he can look at all of them and think about how he’s had these since way back in 2015.

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    Amy December 18, 2017, 3:07 pm

    I think it’s so cool that your kids ASK for sushi! I was in my 20s before I had sushi! How lucky that your kids get to grow up with all the opportunities of a city!

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  • Portia

    Portia December 18, 2017, 3:54 pm

    I love your ornament tradition. We have a tradition where we get (or at least try to get) an ornament from each trip we go on. Sometimes we can’t find ornaments, so we’ll get a keychain or something else to hang up. It’s so fun to look back on good memories like that at the holidays…

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    AnotherAmanda December 18, 2017, 6:05 pm

    My parents always did the ornament thing for me and my siblings. We knew our SO was accepted if they got an ornament and we moved out we had a collection of ornaments for our tree. We still get ornaments every from my mom. The one year she skipped bc we were all adults, all of us commented how much we missed it. Now, we started the tradition with our son too.

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  • avatar

    ktfran December 19, 2017, 8:56 am

    I’m 37 and still LOVE the carousel.

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