Being Santa

Bruegger’s is my favorite mommy/daughter date spot.

Our local chain is not very busy and we have a very relaxed routine when we’re there. We go in, order two breakfast sandwiches, and set up shop at a corner table for the 45 minutes it takes her to eat an entire sausage, egg, and cheese sammy.

Only once did I make the rookie mistake of ordering one sandwich for the two of us, foolishly thinking I could share with my 12 month old. She ate the whole thing and I was left with the tough outer shell of a bagel as my only sustenance. You live and you learn.

I took her there yesterday for an early lunch. We had a busy week ahead of us and I wanted to spoil her a little bit. We went about our usual routine. Ordered food, sat down, said “hi” to everyone there 6 times, and then got down to the serious business of eating.

A half hour later, when she finally looked up from her plate, she noticed that an older woman had (quite intentionally) cozied up to us at a nearby table. We all said hi to each other of course. I took the break in Kiera’s eating marathon as a sign that she might be ready for some conversation, so we talked about our day. About how Daddy was on a work trip. About how she and I would be going to Aunt Sarah’s for a Christmas party. Then we talked about Santa. As Kiera smiled and whispered “Tanta Tause” under her breath the woman next to us could no longer hold back.

“Does she know SANTA?!?”
“How old is she?”
“Oh my gosh she’s so young, that’s great!”
“She’s so big!”
“Does she like Santa?!”

The flood gates had opened. It was as if the “S” word was a secret password that gave us access to an exclusive Christmas club. A club in which an old woman, a young toddler, and a 32 year old believer were the only members. At least for the time being.

Kiera nibbled at the rest of her food while the three of us sat there and talked about Christmas. She told me about a Santa that visits a local chain every week night. I feigned interest; she tore a schedule and coupon out of her newspaper that she was reading and gave it to me.

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Just then an employee walked by and the woman abruptly stood up and said “excuse me, I have something to do”.

I watched her walk over to the employee and start doling out goodies from her bag. She had brought treats to give to the Bruegger’s employees. As they stood there discussing people’s work schedules, so that she could come back later in the week, I had a feeling of déjà vu; this has happened before.

But it hadn’t. Not to me anyway. It had happened to a friend, and she described it so well in her guest post that I was momentarily confused whether it was her memory or mine. That day, two years ago, she got to be a member of the Secret Santa club. Today, it was my turn.

I let myself think about how funny life is for a second but then quickly dialed back to present day and took this window of opportunity to start packing up our things to leave. I took Kiera out of her high chair and told her she could run around while I put the chair away. But she didn’t run around. She grabbed her coat and marched directly to the older woman, arms out asking for her coat to be “on”, before I had a chance to object. The woman happily obliged and as I hurried over to say thank you and pick up my billowy toddler, the woman whispered something to Kiera.

“I have a present for you today”.

She pulled out a baggie of M&M’s and said “I brought them for the workers who aren’t here, but you’re a good girl and I think you deserve them instead”.

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And then it dawned on me.

This woman IS Santa.

Here I am, just dipping my toes into my lifelong dream of having the official title of Santa Clause, as this woman was (presumably) long ago faced with the unfortunate milestone of retiring as Santa. But she chose not to hang up her Santa hat. She simply found somewhere else to wear it.

“Find somewhere to grow
Grow somewhere we’re needed”
(Hip lyrics for those following along)

 

I want to be just like her when I grow up!

Since this blog is slowly developing into a personal account of things I want to remember and things I want to be, I’m letting it evolve and adding this to my list of life goals.

I will remember this as the day that I realized I will always be Santa, because I always have been Santa. And that a small piece of me is even a little excited for the opportunity to someday be this example for someone else. When there is time, and money, and sleep. I will remember this as the day I got to be a part of the Secret Santa Club, when I was simultaneously united with a stranger and reunited with an old friend across the distance of two years. And I’ll remember this as the day I let my daughter take candy from a stranger, because she wasn’t a stranger at all.

She was Santa.

Happy Holidays everyone! If you’re out there being Santa, feel free to comment and share.

New Writer Learning

Have you ever heard a new word and then suddenly you start hearing this same word used everywhere? Or bought a new car, and now it seems as if everyone is driving it?

Of course you have, this happens to everyone. It’s the way our brains work. It happens to me with such frequency that I now expect it and rely on it. It is called the Frequency Illusion or Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. I find the latter name really hard to remember. (Until you DO remember, then you’ll hear it everywhere.)

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Seriously, I memes.

So I wrote my last blog post about paint on a car window, proclaiming that it made me happy, and guess what happened next? I saw car windows painted everywhere! Honestly guys, you barely even have to look for this stuff.

I’m not great at taking pictures while driving. It’s not a skill I’m trying to perfect, but I couldn’t pass this one up.

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“New driver learning”

Ok, I appreciate the announcement. I’ll stay out of your way.
But did you also just learn how to write?

Being Steve’s Friend

As I close the books on the summer of 2016 I can’t help but note that I did not attend a wedding this summer. For the past decade my summers have included the celebration of at least one wedding, sometimes 10. Summer season is synonymous with wedding season! I kind of missed it. It’s fun to get dressed up and go out with your friends. I would have whole-heartedly welcomed the opportunity to wear something other than a nursing bra, and possibly might have even brushed my hair. Let’s be honest though, I really just missed hearing those two little words. Open bar.

But as I talked with a friend last night, who has half a dozen weddings in the next year (some of which are multiple plane rides away), I decided I don’t miss it that much. It can be a little consuming to plan your life events around someone else’s life events.

Luckily for me, Steve got married.

I do not know Steve. Nor do I know the owner of this car (Steve’s Friend). But I have been walking by this car for the last three weeks and it makes me happy.

Steve’s Friend must have attended a wedding on Labor Day weekend. Maybe this person even shuttled the happy couple or was part of the wedding party, I’ll never know. But parking next to this car makes me laugh every day. I walk past and think to myself “damn, that must have been a great wedding”.

I have been to this type of wedding before. I have cheesily decorated a car for a wedding related event before (party van!). Also, since everyone and their brother owned this unsightly Impala at some point in their lives, I feel like I am Steve’s friend too. So I have been living vicariously through this person for the last three weeks. It’s fun being Steve’s Friend.

I even find myself surprisingly excited to get to work everyday to see if the window paint is still there. I’m going to start placing bets.

Today I finally worked up the courage to snap a couple pictures of Steve’s Friends car (creeper…) only to reassure myself that when this person does decide to wash their windows, and I’ve forgotten about this entirely, I can think back and laugh all over again.

P.S. Steve, I sincerely hope you got it.

 

Counting Down

Due to a communication snafu the Karpen Christmas tree was prematurely taken down this year. There was no Goodbye and Good Riddance. No “it’s been fun but we’ll see you next year”. It’s gone and I miss it. I’m not ready to kick any of 2015 out to the curb and I want it all back. But it seems that 2016 has already arrived.

There are a lot of good things to look forward to in this new year, quite a few actually, but I need to hold onto my December happiness for a little while longer. Thankfully I documented nearly everyday of my December, and can relive it all just by looking at a picture. 25 pictures that make me really happy. I cannot wait to do this again.

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So I’m going to keep a little holiday in my heart, which should hopefully carry me through January. Once February hits, I’ll be counting down to Fuller House, obviously. Which promises to be wonderful and terrible all at the same time.

 

Put one foot in front of the other

I have to admit, I feel a little frazzled lately. I can usually tackle a long to do list without a lot of stress or complaints. A full plate keeps me motivated. But stuff is starting to accumulate, in my brain and my house, and I’m treading water. The nine different Christmas celebrations spanned over 4 consecutive weekends are already taking their toll, and we’re only just starting weekend #2. I also can’t seem to stay healthy, which is definitely not making life any easier.

Attempting to fit a full grocery restock into a lunch break has always been an indicator of desperate times for me, it’s a red flag. And that’s where I’ve just come from. Running around the store trying to fill my cart with legitimate necessities while stay at home moms and retirees (I assume) just stand around scrutinizing every product on the shelves. One woman opened 15 cartons of eggs before making her final decision, I swear. My impatient “move the f over” face went unseen.

I returned to my desk, starving, and barely noticed a gift had been delivered to my desk while I was out. I’m sad to say that I actually almost pushed it aside so that I could get to my unanswered emails faster. But I caught myself. I remembered that I’m supposed to be taking time to notice these things.

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So instead of trying to do 60 things while I eat my lunch (at 2:54), I’m going to just sit here and eat my lunch. Deep breath, savor the moment, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. I’m going to let that be enough because soon enough the tiny human I spend all of my time with will start doing the exact same thing with her chubby feet. And then shit gets real.

Donut Hole Epiphany

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As I sit here and try to enjoy (what turned out to be) a jelly filled donut hole I had a startling epiphany.

Why in the world are there not donut holes filled with cream!?

Is no one else alarmed by this? I do believe I have discovered a hole in the donut hole market. If they can squeeze jelly into those little things why not cream? I’m not a huge fan of fruit filled starches but can handle them in small, donut hole sized, doses. If you could put a little Boston cream in that thing you’d really have something. Baffling.

It’s a million dollar idea, at least in my head.

Spring has Sprung!

Winter is over!

Let’s ignore the fact that it is currently snowing. Robins have been spotted, my house is chock-full of NCAA brackets and smiley boys, and it is still light out when I get home from work. Spring has undeniably sprung. I could probably fill another post full of complaints, but I don’t think that would be helpful to my end goal. So here’s another “happy things of this week” post instead.

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I received TWO different care packages this week. They were much-needed, greatly appreciated, and made all the difference.
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My old headphones finally kicked the bucket this week. I chose to replace them with these funny ones with mustaches on them, which make me laugh every time I use them.
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If only his mind was put towards something useful.

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Happy Spring everyone!