Sunday, December 24, 2006

Merry Christmas Eve

When I was a young girl in the East Village, my family celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve. That's the Sicilian tradition.

My Sicilian grandmother set up a nativity scene that could rival a Who Concert. She placed a 6 by 5 foot piece of plywood on the table in the parlor (yes...I said parlor). She covered it in a few yards of green felt. The edges of the platform were lined with Christmas lights. They were those huge 1960's christmas lights not the small cutesy fire proof types we have now. The lights went along the edges and then climbed up one side of the manger, over the roof around the front and back down the other side. To this day I always imagine Jesus in a manger with big multi color lights around him keeping him warm.

I also believed that Jesus was Italian. And God was Italian too.

My grandmother had lots of straw all over the inside of the manger. There must have been scores of shepards, angels, lambs, ox, donkeys, three wise kings (like 4 sets of those), a few saints that were the same size of the rest of the crowd slipped in for good measure. There were even a few back up Marys and Josephs blended into the crowd.

I used to take the straw and put some all over the board to feed the extra animals. And of course we had a train track running around the platform as a nod from the captains of industry to the baby Jesus. Looking back, I guess that this is the type of reception that my grandmother thought Jesus should have had - tons of well wishers, animals and angels cheering him into the world.

There were so many figures that I had Catholic guilt about the ones that didn't have a good view of the baby Jesus from where they were standing.

As I got older, I began to wonder where all these hundreds of people went the day AFTER Jesus was born. Did they just go back to work and kind of forget all about him while they got lost in their day to day routines?

I miss the smell of tinsel melting on a 1960's christmas light on that sacred space.

I can feel my grandmother's spirit with me tonight. A holy night for the two of us.

Happy Christmas Everyone. Peace on Earth. Love, EVI

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sleep Debt

I remember reading that you can't really write off the sleep you've missed. That the lack of sleep builds up somehow in your body and results in sleep debt.

Last night I went to sleep at nine and woke up at seven the next day. I swear I could do that for the next month. I'm afraid to find out what my sleep debt is. Some frightful figure I suppose...probably somewhere around 200 hours in the last six months.

Saturday, December 09, 2006


After dinner the other night, Ben had something weighing on his mind. He told me that he felt funny about some of the kids in his class because he wasn't "even with them" -- that he was "lower" than them.

Ben is in third grade and almost nine years old. He has no feelings of inadequacy about money or class because we don't. There are wealthy and not so wealthy kids in Ben's class who are obsessed with money because their parents are. That world has never touched Ben because he's so loved and satisfied with his family and his life. I'm happy to add that no one in his class has ever said hurtful things to him in that regard.

But last week they went to the Tenement Museum and I suppose some children were aghast at the thought of living in such a small space. Our apartment isn't much more than 450 square feet - but it's provided Ben with 1 million square feet of happiness.

He said he thought it wasn't fair that some kids live in big big houses and other kids didn't. I explained to him that life is inherently "uneven". Some kids live in big houses, some live in small houses - - some kids don't have a home.

Just like some kids (like Ben) are super smart and great at drawing, while it take other kids in his class a little longer to grasp new concepts. Some kids in his class are healthy or great athletes, while some feel they are far too short, too slow or have long term medical problems. Some kids don't have a mommy and daddy in the same house living together, some do.

All kids have something they feel "uneven" about because everyone comes to the table with a unique story of who they are. Our job is to make everyone feel okay about who they are.

Then he got teary eyed and said "but mommy when you live in New York no one likes you when you love the Red Sox like me and daddy do."

He got me there........

Monday, December 04, 2006

The Party's Over

I may be getting a promotion at work. The thought of it unhinges me a bit. These two years away from the executive management mode helped me realize how miserable I was attempting to juggle motherhood with management.

The revised adage is can have it all, just not all at the same time. Picking Ben up from school once a week is such a wonderful gift. Being able to volunteer at his school has been corny and fun. I remember when I barely knew any of the parents because I was busy running in and out the door so fast.

But Ben's $25,000 tuition is crushing us. His education means everything to me. So you do what you have to do.

Being a working mom is all about setting boundaries....and staunchly defending them.