Saturday, April 06, 2013

Basket Case

Every year at Easter, no matter how busy I am, I've always dyed eggs and made up baskets and had an Easter egg hunt for my kids. Last year no one ate my pretty eggs (I would have, but they're one of the forbidden things on my diet) and the baskets sat around the house untouched for three months until I threw out the candy (also a no-no for me). One kid bowed out of the egg hunt; the other slogged through it like it was a punishment. All of this was a little depressing for me; I'm not a huge fan of Easter but I've always enjoyed the holidays through my kids and their happiness. Suddenly Easter had become a chore, not a celebration, and I realized it's because while I wasn't looking my kids have gone and grown up. They're both adults now and logically not interested in kid stuff anymore.

This year I made myself march past all the adorable stuffed bunnies, basket goodies and egg dye kits while I looked for more adult ways to celebrate the holiday. And there aren't any; Easter has become like Halloween -- all about the kids. I had to think of what I do for adult family and friends for holidays. I usually hand out gift cards for the market; everyone needs food and I feel like in a small way I'm contributing to their family celebrations. My nephew once told me the market gift card I send to him and his wife every Christmas is his favorite gift, so at least I'm doing that right.

That wasn't going to work for Easter. My kids don't need market gift cards; I do the shopping and the cooking so they have no use for them. What they do love is going out to eat; sometimes with their parental unit but mostly on their own or with friends.

A nice meal is a great gift for anyone, but as I stood in front of that rack of restaurant gift cards I waffled. I felt like I was giving the kids a gift that basically said, "Here. Go away and eat somewhere else." How personal and loving is that? Then I thought of it from the kids' POV. My daughter in particular loves to go out to dinner with her boyfriend; between school and work they don't get to see each other very often these days. Dinner out also = time alone together, and while they don't mind hanging out with us it gives them some private time. They're also both too cash-strapped to do it very often.

I shook off my qualms and bought the restaurant gift cards (presented in an Easter card along with one chocolate bunny, because I simply couldn't resist one mulish reminder of the old days) -- and they were a huge hit. The kids thanked me; my daughter's boyfriend thanked me, and they rushed out to use them, and when they came back, they thanked me again. For once I got it right.

As for not making Easter baskets, well, I cheated a little. My mom has been having a tough time getting through the holidays without Dad, so I made up one basket for her. I've never done that; I always send her flowers. And from her childlike delight in the basket, I didn't mess that up either.

Times change, people change, and the things we do have to change with them. It's tough letting go of traditions and testing yourself in new waters. Parents of children who are suddenly all grown up struggle with this in a million ways. We want things to stay the same because of all the happy memories we collect over the years. We want to hold onto that and have it forever. But we can't, and unless we want to reside by that river in Egypt, we have to let go and move on.

There's a lot of new out there to be discovered. I'm slowly getting up to speed on using the e-reader, although by the time I'm an expert I know the damn thing will probably be obsolete and I'll have to learn to use some other gadget. And I will, because most of my favorite authors and writer pals are publishing electronically now. Even my fiftieth novel, my big landmark book, will first be published as an e-book. I love print, and as long as I can buy it I'll stick to print, but I knew from the first time I saw a prototype e-reader back in 2001 that electronic publishing was coming in a big way. Now it's here, and I have to embrace the change . . . or move to Cairo and learn how to fish.

You youngsters out there won't understand how difficult this can be for your elders, but growing up my generation never had video games, Gameboys or any of those gadgets. Put it this way: I remember when handheld calculators and LED watches first came on the market; the first computer I worked on was the size of desk and didn't have a monitor; it printed out what I typed as I worked and I had to look at the paper to check my entries. Floppy disks were almost the size of record albums (the things music used to be recorded on before MP3s and CDs.) Telephones still had dials and were connected to heavy bases by short little curly cords. When I wrote a novel I typed it on my trusty Royal Academy with a bottle of white-out nearby for corrections. If I wanted to go somewhere I'd never been I used a paper map; if I wanted to write someone I put it on paper and mailed it with a stamp.

Before any of you youngsters sigh -- and I know this is like hearing Grandma grumble When I was in school I had to walk five miles through the snow . . . -- remember that without my generation yours wouldn't be here.

It does all sound a little fantastic now that it's all changed. I miss some of those things but I'm not afraid to put my stories in a word processor program, or e-mail, or use a GPS, or back up fifteen years of my work on a little stick drive. Three stick drives, actually; I don't trust the damn things.

Change can be bad or good or anything in between, but the one thing I've learned it never does is go away.

What changes are you struggling with? Let us know in comments.

21 comments:

  1. Struggling with the fact that not only age, but now physical issues, mean I can't do certain things the way or as much as I used to.
    This is an irritating problem for somebody who bristles at the very words "you can't..." :-/

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    1. My physical issues have been with me awhile and they don't get any easier to bear, but I've learned to delegate a lot. That was the hardest for me; I hate asking for help for anything. But I'm fortunate in that the family knows that and do their best to smooth over my frazzled nerves when I force myself to ask for assistance.

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  2. I found myself in the same fix with my kids too the past few years. Thankfully, I now have a baby grandson to buy bunnies and chicks for. Your ideas were great though. I still have one daughter with a hectic career, a husband, and no children. I can't wait to try to come up with some creative ideas for her this year and as many next years I need. Since my son is now the parent, I try to stick to a no candy rule and get the boys books, science kits, etc. Grandkids are great fun.

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    1. My sister has grandkids now and I should do something about spoiling them -- thanks for the suggestion, Sandi. :)

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  3. Shizuka10:31 AM

    I'm mourning the end of Murderati, one of my favorite blogs.
    It feels like a small death.

    Yours is the other blog I read religiously, so thank you for posting such varied, fun content.

    And yes, my life's pretty good if this is what I'm mourning.

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    1. I'm sorry to hear Murderati has shut down -- so many great blogs have been gone that way these past couple of years. Thanks for the kind words (and I have no plans on shutting down, so no worries there. Unless a stray truck clips me when I'm out walking the dogs . . . )

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  4. Though my girls are grown with lives of their own, my husband's inner child refuses to give up on egg dying. Consequently, I have almost a dozen eggs still in the fridge from last weekend gaily waiting for something to be done with them. Though he likes to dye them, he's not big on eating hard boiled eggs so I guess he's getting egg salad for lunch today.

    I'm not really struggling so much with change as I am with non-change. My youngest daughter is 24 and I can't get her to leave home. We are oil and water and yet, she stays. I understand why. She wants to finish school. I just want my house back. Is that too much to ask?

    Other than that, I'm getting older, some things have changed for me physically due to the medication I was taking which angers me greatly and stops me from doing things I once enjoyed, but change is an adventure too and though we might not all like it, it will roll over us one way or another. Better to embrace it than be left behind.

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    1. You have a healthy attitude, Theo. I need to be more embracing and less push-offy.

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  5. I'm struggling with what will happen to a relative if her husband dies first. Her mental and physical health is slowly declining. She acts 15 years older than her actual age and while her husband is healthy at the moment she's much bigger and stronger than he is. In the event she fell and broke a bone or became agitated he wouldn't be able to physically lift or stop her.

    For now their living arrangement isn't great but they're both still healthy enough to take care of basic needs. But if either one becomes incapacitated or if her mental health deteriorates much further this could change in a heartbeat.

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    1. I know that burden of worry, Lydia; we went through it with my Dad and it's never easy. Since he passed away my sister and I have been sharing the responsibility of caring for Mom. She spends the winter with me to escape the cold, and then she makes brief visits to my other siblings throughout the year, which gives my sister a much-needed break from the day-to-day responsibilities. My sister deserves the lion's share of the credit, though; she has always been there for our parents no matter what -- something even I couldn't do because I had (and still have) two teenagers at home.

      I recommend talking to them about it if you think they'd be receptive to a discussion, and if possible get the rest of your family involved, too. I sat down with my parents ten years ago and they made the decisions ahead of time about what they wanted to do in this stage of their lives. It made a big difference with how we as a family were able to look after Dad during his illness, and now how we're caring for Mom.

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  6. Fran K2:24 PM

    For me it's the menopause and the physical deterioration of my body. I've always been healthy only suffering from hormonal migraines every month, which although gruesome while you've got it, at least you get 3 reasonable weeks a month. Now though I've got a bad knee which makes walking and cycling difficult, affects my sleep and generally hurts like a bleep. Waiting for physio appointments is a nightmare but I can't afford to go private (Uk based so NHS) and my knee is been like this since August last year.

    I hate that my body is letting me down. I used to be so fit, overweight yes, but still fit. I love to walk, cycle to work every day and used to enjoy swimming, but these days I feel like I'm old before my time. I keep myself up thanks to reading, my new sewing machine and the delights that offers, music, my kids and good friends. After all I'm breathing aren't I?

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    1. You have the right attitude, Fran, and that's 75% of the battle. I have similar knee issues, and the one exercise they recommended that has helped most is swimming -- which I can't do where we live now. I walk as much as I'm able and I do a lot of exercises at home, but the knee is always troublesome. These days I spend a lot of time in the bath soaking it. :(

      I finally got through the last of the menopause woes this winter, and if it's any consolation you will be shouting hooray when you do, too.

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  7. I confess that having my kids outgrow the traditional Easter basket and egg hunt isn't necessarily horrible for me. I always did those things for them, but with our busy schedule, it was simply work for me. I'm glad now that Easter (and Christmas) mornings are more relaxed affairs, where we all sleep in and enjoy a leisurely morning without kids jumping up and down in hyper-excitement. I still get a few candy items and some iTunes gift cards which are always appreciated, but we don't dye eggs. Truth be told, my favorite family times these days aren't holidays at all but the nights that all four of us go out to dinner together, which used to be a Saturday night tradition but now happens rarely with two teens coming and going. We really enjoy each others company, and I delight that I have two kids whom I really like as people.

    As far as the changes of growing older, right now my biggest concern is my eyesight. I find that long hours in front of the computer now cause me eye-strain that really limits my ability to see well, and it's beyond frustrating. Glasses don't seem to help that much, but I hate having to stop working when I'm not ready to simply because my eyes dictate my ability to keep going. I'm sure I'm just at the beginning of the physical changes slope. Oh yeah, and lately I keep finding grey hairs! That's disconcerting given that before I'd find a single, random silver hair only every other year or so!

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    1. Fran K3:53 AM

      Hey Lynn, I understand your grey issues! I'm 53 this year and I've been dying my hair for years because I've always had a lot of grey, even when I was 16. 6 months though I stopped bothering. Not because I thought grey was a good look for me, but because my head burned every time I used the "little box of colour". I thought originally it was just the brand I used, but I changed brand every time. I even went to a salon to get it done professionally but still it burned. Even worse than the burn was the week of itching that followed the colour. So now I'm the silver queen, and actually still have a lot of dark in there too. A lot less painful and not as aging as I feared.

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    2. Lynn, you might consider looking into a glare screen or monitor filter to help with the eye strain; that might help. Or try writing on a smaller device with less glare (the Neo2 is my #1 rec for that.)

      Like Fran I started going gray in high school so I have a hard time remembering when I wasn't white-haired. I went through all the dyeing and streaking and trying to hide it until I gave up, let it grow out and spent ten happy years au naturale. I dyed it again when Dad passed -- he loved me with dark hair -- and have since been coloring it again, but eventually I'll give up and go back to the Lady Gaga look. I figure platinum is the only way I'll ever be a blonde. :)

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  8. Lynn,
    I am a little late posting, but I am too am struggling with an e-reader. I bought a Samsung Tablet last summer and downloaded the Kindle app onto it. I immediately downloaded all of the free classic books from Amazon, but balked about purchasing books (because I don't trust paying money for something I can't hold in my hand). Finally, I broke down and purchased the Beautiful Creatures series. However, I don't find it as much fun to read holding an e-reader as it is to hold a book. If I want to sneak to the back of the book to read about another book the author is promoting, I have to tab ahead until I find the right spot. It is so much easier to just flip pages. Also, in the evenings, the light is so bright on the tablet that I find it uncomfortable to read even after toning the back lighting down. If I am reading a paper book and the light is too bright, I just turn the lamp away from me a little! I know it's just little things, but I really like having books to hold. I'm 38 and pretty tech savvy, but reading a paper book will always be my favorite form of reading. Plus, a book "smells" right. An e-reader has not smell!!! LOL!
    Tami
    Jacksonville

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    1. I can sympathize, Tami; I agree with all the reasons you dislike the e-reader. The first couple of months I had the Nook I tried to read something on it every week but now I'm just switching it on once a month or so to keep teaching myself the various bells and whistles so I can keep up with technology. Then I put it on the charger and go get a paperback, lol.

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  9. this was the first year there was no easter eggs to dye and no egg hunt. My kids though fairly young preferred to plant themselves in front of the tv and play videos. this blog hit particularly close. maybe next year I give them fake laser blasters to find the eggs and at least keep the hunt for a few more years

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    1. Laser blasters, now why didn't I think of that? Brilliant!

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  10. Anonymous1:49 PM

    Hi, Lynn - I had to go look at your birth date. I always (for some reason) think of you as in your mid thirties - you *sound* young. I'm actually several years older than you.

    Change is pretty constant in my life, so you can say that I have experience rolling with the punches. I still feel inside like I did in my early 30's or thereabouts, so I get a surprise when I look in the mirror and see the woman that looks ... a lot like my Aunt Mary. One change I am having trouble with is letting my hair color (out of a bottle) fade to its natural gray. Fortunately, it blends fair well.

    Sorry - I don't use my Google account because it puts my full name and I am uncomfortable with that, I don't really know why. So I am Anon E. Mouse.

    PamR

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    1. I keep thinking I sound like an old battle-ax; thanks for the lovely compliment, Pam. I don't feel much different than I did in my thirties, although I'm probably more rested (I had one kid at 31 and the other at 33.) If anyone is interested I'll officially be 52 this year. I've taken to spending my birthdays with my guy and the kids at theme parks, where it is impossible to be depressed.

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