Alas, the end is here. This is not a proclamation of the apocalypse, of that end I do not know. But the omega of the year two thousand and ten is upon us.

It is on December 31st when many begin to reflect on the 364 days, 52 weeks, 12 months that have passed in recognition of their achievements but most importantly in the evidence of their failures. Why is that? Why are we more likely to acknowledge our shortcomings as opposed to our successes? I have pondered over the year all day and it puzzles me that I cannot remember one resolution of 2010 that I achieved. However, I can rattle off without hesitation those I did not.

Please don’t misunderstand; I have had a very good year. To have awakened every day is a success in and of itself. But there were other accomplishments. I made it to the state of my birth (Alaska) after a thirty year absence, I was blessed to meet an extension of my family, and I was trusted with a promotion at work. I also triumphed over fear and started writing again; you are currently reading the evidence of this success. There are many other things, things that cannot be measured but are equally as important.

In the doctor’s office yesterday, while ear hustlin’ (hi, my name is Shannon and I am an eavesdropper) I overheard the conversation of two women with many decades behind them and hopefully, a few ahead of them. One was wearing Coach sneakers, presumably from a granddaughter trying to keep ‘Nana’ hip with coffee brown stockings. She was telling the other how she only makes resolutions every ten years because if what she did for one year worked, why change it for at least another nine? I laughed to myself before exiting the waiting room with her idea in my mind. Truthfully, I think I may have had the same declarations on January 1st for the last ten years.

I am compelled to believe that the reason they have followed me year after year is because I have made unrealistic resolutions. So this year, I will make just one; one that can be achieved with enough sacrifice to make me appreciate its reward but without so much effort that I become discouraged in its attempt.

I resolve to live.

Here’s wishing that 2011 brings you everything you need and most of what you want.


Wish Lists

In a few days, homes will fill with the laughter of little ones overwhelmed with excitement over presents under the tree. With that wonderful sound, the aroma of holiday scented candles, hot chocolate and Christmas dinner will add to the sight of dancing lights, glittering ornaments and perfectly wrapped boxes unraveled at each seam to create a sensory buffet.

I remember my favorite Christmas present. A Cabbage Patch Doll. For clarification, not one with the yarn hair, but one with the silky hair that could be combed and styled. I desperately wanted one of those dolls and that alone would have made my year. The morning of December 25th, I tore into the red glossy paper and there she was, Madeline Hope. She wore a beautiful blue dress with white lace trim and white walking shoes (much like the corrective shoes I wore as a child). I cherished that doll for many years after her birth.

My sons are now at the age I was when I asked for that baby doll. Their Christmas wish list is very different from mine then. Laptop. Nintendo DSi with games. PSP games. PS3 games. NFL jerseys. NBA jerseys. And, most of all-a flat screen LCD TV. I searched their list up and down for anything that identified them as children, prepubescent kids and I found nothing. No toys. No bikes. No games that do not require energy of the electrical sort. The list could have easily been one from my teenage or adult brothers. Their list is as indicative of 2010 as mine was of 1985; for good or for bad, times have evolved.

This morning we are boxing up over 100 action figures to take to the Helping Hand Mission. It wasn’t even a year ago when John Cena, Batista and Big Show filled their hands as they battled each other for the WWE title. I still catch them playing with them from time to time, but only when the television and anything connected to it is off limits. It’s time to pass these things along to another little boy in the prime of his wrestling obsession.

I worry that they are growing too fast; that I have taught them too much too soon. I worry that their maturity at 7 and 9 will backfire at 17 and 19. I worry that I will fail them as I’m sure all mothers do, but no other mothers are responsible for these two.

And just because I want to keep them kids as much as possible for as long as possible, I put NFL action figures in their stockings.

Is Santa Real?

He looked up at me with innocence and inquisition behind those big drops of coal. “Auntie Shannon, is Santa Claus real?” Peering around the corner in the next room, I could see my sons and the horror on their face that revealed they had killed the fantasy. I had no idea what to say so I popped a whole coffee drenched ginger snap in my mouth, giving myself a moment to think.

This is not the first time an offspring of mine murdered the myth. When the oldest was four, I received a frantic call from his teacher “Uhmmm…can you just come get him…quickly. I’ll explain when you get here.” I entered a classroom full of crying students and a red faced teacher who was desperately trying to maintain some since of order as she unraveled what had happened in the moments before.

The students were coloring holiday pictures when the little girl next to Cameron expresses her excitement over Santa’s upcoming visit….

Cameron: You do know Santa isn’t real.

Pigtails: Uh huh, how do you think you get the presents under the tree?

Cameron: Your mom and dad put them there.

Pigtails: That is not true! He comes down the chimney and everything.

Cameron: No he doesn’t. There is not a Santa Claus!

Pigtails: Mrs. McGinnis (screaming) Cameron said there isn’t a Santa Claus!

Cameron: Because there isn’t!

Emotions erupt in the class as students start yelling at Cameron and crying.

Cameron: (now standing on the table and yelling) There is not a Santa Claus! And if your parents tell you there is they are lying and all the liars are gonna go to hell!

Hence the phone call.

As the teacher is telling the story, she admits that she too tells her children that Santa is real and wonders if she is also going to hell for the little white lie. We made it out before pick up and the lynching that was sure to occur due to my little preacher.

The ginger snap has now dissolved and the little one is egging on my response. “Yeah mom, is he?” The smile in his eyes proves he is taunting me. I turn to the eight year old and say “Baby, every family has their own belief about Santa. Some believe in him and some don’t. I think the important thing is that whatever you believe is true for you.”

His response: “Just like Jesus.”