7. On the 1st day of Christmas, my true love…

I recently took my daughter to see the Jones Beach Holiday Light Show, something I try to do with her each year. One night (sometimes more) each holiday season, we jump in the car and head down the Ocean Parkway headed for the beautiful display of lights along the shoreline.


After paying the rather hefty car entrance fee, everyone turns off their headlights and enjoys the illuminated images of polar bears playing hockey, Santa fishing, musical instruments, angels, and so much more.

Halfway through the show, there is a turn-off where one can park and visit Holiday Village.  Here, families can enjoy hot chocolate, make s’mores on open fire pits, take a picture with Santa, or just relax and listen to music in the massive heated tent. Everyone is smiling, full of excitement for the upcoming holiday.  While under that tent, all the stresses of the holidays seem to melt away under the giant portable heaters.

On the night we visited, I experienced something else truly wonderful in the Holiday Village.  Upon entering the tent, hot cocoa in hand, we were met with smiles from perfect strangers. People actually stopped and allowed others to pass, saying “excuse me” if they happened to bump into you, and some even shared wishes for a Merry Christmas.  The warmth of the heaters was equally matched by the warmth of the people within that magical tent.

While sitting on one of the many comfy couches, my daughter and I enjoyed the holiday music playing.  As each song came on, those sitting nearby sang along and soon, we were all caroling together.  The last song that played while we were there was The 12 Days of Christmas.


I’ve always loved to sing this song but this year the words hit me a little differently than in the past.  The area we were in was filled mainly with families of children along with both their mothers AND fathers. Now, I’ve been a single parent for around three years, longer if you take into consideration the years I was married and may as well have been single! During the past three years, I’ve had my hands full and the last thing on my mind was the need or desire to get back into the dating scene.

But 2017 was a big year for me.  I made many life changes and began focusing on my health and happiness, both of which I had lost sight of for quite some time. As the year went on, I started to feel a shift in my attitude toward dating and soon signed up (hesitantly, mind you) for one of those online dating sites.

Now, who doesn’t know at least one person who met their husband or wife on Match or eHarmony?!?!  One of my best friends had met her husband online, so along with her help and the help of other close friends, I signed up, created my profile, uploaded some pictures, and was off. But I soon found that this process was really NOT for me.

I know what you’re thinking…I have to be patient OR my favorite comment, “Sometimes you have to kiss many frogs before you find your prince.”  Well, what if I don’t have a lot of patience when it comes to the depressing process of swiping through people’s faces?!?!  What if I don’t want to kiss any frogs, especially those that are strange frogs that could have ‘warts’ or some other scary disposition?!?!

Needless to say, I have not enjoyed my time in the online dating scene.  If there is something positive that has come out of it, I have realized that I would much rather meet someone, as a friend called it, in a more “organic” way. This way does not include online surveys, cyberspace winks, or awkward photos of shirtless men in bed with their rottweiler.

So, getting back to The 12 Days of Christmas…have you ever listened to the lyrics??  “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, a partridge in a pear tree…two turtle doves…three french hens…” and so on.  Even though the song was written in the 1700’s, it makes you wonder what kind of true love would give you such terrible gifts!

As I sat in that tent singing along, I wondered about my true love and the gifts he would give me…once I finally found him, of course. So, in the spirit of the holiday I decided to write my own version of the song to my future mystery man.

Here goes, starting from 12 and working my way down:

On the 12th day of Christmas, my true love should give to me…

12 jokes for laughing,

11 spontaneous moments,

10 simple gestures,

9 bedroom breakfasts,

8 warm embraces,

7 passionate kisses,

6 words of encouragement,

5 hugs for my kid,

4 vows of honesty,

3 love letters,

2 hands to hold,

and a lifetime of loving me.


Whether you are surrounded by your true love or a tent full of caroling strangers, I wish you all a holiday season and upcoming new year filled with love, kindness, and peace.

Love and Peace ♥☺

5. Year without a Santa Claus…am I doing it wrong?


Okay, so who remembers the movie, Mr. Mom?  Classic 1980’s John Hughes’ comedy starring Michael Keaton and Teri Garr, where a father who loses his job, must switch roles with his wife and become a stay-at-home dad.  I know this movie is not a Christmas movie so you must be confused right now.

There are many great scenes in Mr. Mom but the one that has always made an impression on me is the scene where Keaton is learning the daily drop-off routine when taking the kids to school.  As he approaches the drop-off circle, his kids plea with him that he is “doing it wrong” which is confirmed soon after by several parents echoing the same sentiment…”Hi, Jack.  I’m Annette.  You’re doing it wrong.”

*Click the picture below for the video link for this scene!

mrmomThis phrase is one that haunts parents often as they deal with the challenging task of raising a child who will hopefully become an adult who is happy, kind, independent, responsible, empathetic, brave, loving, loyal, generous, and a whole slew of other important character traits. There’s no manual to follow and when it comes to your first (and for me, my only) child, you really are in uncharted territory.

As I just mentioned, my daughter is an only child.  The past five years have been especially rough on her as life has forced her to mature faster than most kids her age. In 2012, at the age of 8, she and I became co-caregivers for my sister who was diagnosed with an aggressive form of the blood cancer, multiple myeloma.  The next two years were spent in and out of hospitals in Long Island, New York City, and eventually a last-resort hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas.

I tried to keep life as normal as possible for my daughter during this time but anyone who has had any experience with cancer knows there is nothing “normal” about life with cancer.

During my sister’s illness and leading up to her death, I constantly second-guessed my decisions about what to expose my daughter to or hide from her. Death is a part of life and I knew this early exposure would not only frighten her but also make her stronger.  It had done the same for me when I lost my mother at age 15.

It was also during this time that my ex-husband and I were in the process of a divorce and soon she had to deal with him leaving the state and moving across the country.

Luckily, with the help of friends, family, support groups, and our love for each other, we survived these difficult years and are still standing today stronger than ever.  I’m proud of my decisions and though I do allow regret to creep in every once in awhile, I am at peace with the past and hopeful for the future.

So how does this all tie into Santa Claus, you might ask??? Well, as I said, my daughter has had to mature quite rapidly. Yet in many ways, she is tightly clutching onto the remaining aspects of childhood she has left.

Quickly approaching 13 and dealing with the changes that go along with that age, she still believes in Santa, the magical elves, and all the other mythical figures we share with our children.  Or at least she did, until this past summer.

As we prepared for another start of our school years, me as a 6th grade teacher and my daughter as a 7th grade student, we chatted about what she may need for school.

“I really need a laptop computer but don’t worry, I’m going to ask Santa to bring that for me for Christmas,” she told me with the sweetest, most innocent look on her face.


Now, to be clear and before I go any further, my daughter had posed many questions in the previous year about the logistics of Santa but never point-blank asked me if he was real or not.  She had even spoken in great length about how she could not understand why many of her classmates thought their parents were Santa.  This is mainly because the Santa gifts I had given her in the past were ones that I had told her I wasn’t really thrilled about (video systems, video games, and the over-priced fad of the year). Each time she would bring Santa up, I debated whether that was the moment to finally tell her.

Many have opinions about the right age and best way to break “the news.” I listened to the advice given by friends and “experts” on the internet that shared special letters and excursions to go on that would gently deliver the truth.  But because I knew the news would crush her, especially because Santa would lead to the truth about her elves, Smiley and Holly, I put off choosing a time and method…right up until that moment when she mentioned the laptop from Santa.  In that moment, it was as if my body became possessed with the Grinch or the Heat Miser, and I blurted out, “We have to talk.” She took one look at my face and she knew.

grinch               heatmeiser2

As the words spilled from my mouth, there was no eloquence, no sweet story about how Santa is in all of us and no one can ever take away the magic of Christmas…all of the things I had read I should do.  The more I talked, the more upset she became and soon we were both crying.  She then asked to be left alone and each of us retired to our bedrooms and had a good cry.  All I could think about was the scene from Mr. Mom and I kept telling myself, “You are doing it wrong.  You have done it ALL wrong!!”

When she emerged from her room, we hugged and I did the only thing I could think of to make the situation better…I took her down to Best Buy and bought her a shiny new laptop for school!  Since then there have been a few negative incidents…one involving her scrawling the word “lies” in the Target Christmas catalog.  But there have also been some positive effects too…the best one being that SHE now moves the elves around the house daily and has quite the creative flair for it!

img_2697                    img_2698

So what have I learned from this experience??? Well, I guess it’s that we all make mistakes and sometimes we “do it wrong.”  But sometimes, we have to just go with the moment and let our maternal (or paternal) instincts kick in.  Some moments require the special touch, the letter or eloquence of a poem to soften the blow.  While other moments call for that parental “ripping off of the band aid” when it’s just time to tell them that this is life.  In those moments, we prepare them for future losses and heartbreaks because life doesn’t always deliver news gently. And the most important thing we can do after we  dry their tears, is remind them of the many blessings they still have in their lives.

Peace 😊 and love ❤️


2. I’m back….thanks to Amazon Prime


Countless books have been written and movies produced about how people, most of them women, have found their way back to the person they once were.  Remember the passion when Stella Got Her Groove Back?  Wasn’t it inspiring to watch Julia Roberts Eat, Pray, Love?  And who could forget Robin Williams finding his way while donning facial prosthesis, a grey wig, and the fake, old lady boobs of Mrs. Doubtfire? While each of these characters chose different vehicles to make their way back to their true selves, each had to peel away at the layers of discontent that had built up over the years, mainly after being in unhealthy relationships.

stella                                 eatpraylove2

Okay, so I have not had the pleasure of a passionate night with Taye Diggs nor have I nourished my palate and soul while traveling through Italy, India, and Indonesia. As for the old lady boobs, I am proud to say that at 45, mine are still right where they should be!


What have I done to “be back” you may ask?  I have stopped (or rather radically reduced) GIVING!!! For too many years my life consisted of me giving ALL my time and energy so that the people in my life were cared for and content.  Sounds admirable, right?  Wrong!! Because I never put ME first, I soon found myself further and further from the person I used to be, the person that I really loved to be.  I forgot the girl that wrote poetry into the wee hours of the morning.  I lost the girl that searched for hours to find the beauty of a babbling brook in Colorado. I abandoned the girl that dreamed of a man who would be loving, kind, and treat her like a precious gem.

For years, my friends and family had been trying to get me to realize how many concessions I had been making and urged (some more vocally than others) me to leave my bad marriage.  I did finally do just that (though years too late) but unfortunately I still continued on the path of putting myself last.  Not that this is an excuse, but I do have a daughter who is still trying to grasp our new normal and accept life as a kid with a mom and dad that live in two homes.  Add to that that my ex is not exactly father of the year and constantly disappoints my daughter which has resulted in me–a single mom who works her ass off to fill both parental roles.

I’m a sixth grade Science and Language Arts teacher.  I tell you this because I am about to school you on something I teach my students-plot diagram.  It shows the progression of a novel from start to finish.  Like a ride on a roller coaster, the plot ascends, highlighting the problem or conflict, then reaching a climax or high point of the story, and eventually descends toward a resolution.  Somewhere before the end of the novel there is a ‘turning point,’ an event that changes the course of the novel and the actions of the characters.

Last night my story reached its turning point. While having a nice dinner with my daughter, my ex kept texting me asking questions about my daughter’s Amazon Christmas wish list that I sent him.  He was confused about what Prime meant and what he had to do and if he needed to get Prime to get the gifts she wanted.  His texts were constant and interrupted the nice meal we were having after a long week. Having Prime myself, my first instinct was to do what I always have done and offer to take care of the order to save him time, effort, and money.  It was a knee-jerk reaction, one that I luckily caught in time.  As if a giant hand descended into the dining room of The Cheesecake Factory and slapped me, I said to myself, “Enough!!!”  I then text him that I was out and he would have to figure it out on his own.  At that moment I felt so proud of myself and truly free and in control.  In that moment, it was as if I had written the best poem of my life or found the most serene babbling brook in all of nature.  Most of all, it was in that moment that I realized that I was a precious gem and treated MYSELF as such. By putting my needs and happiness in front of everything else, I became PRIME in my life and my decisions.

So, thank you Stella, Julia, and Robin and most of all thank you Amazon Prime.  Who knew you could offer me so much more than just 2-day free shipping?  I will definitely be renewing my membership!!

May you all find yourself as often as you need to until you realize your worth.


Peace and love 😊 ❤️