Wednesday, December 30, 2015

An Attempted Awakening

Kids are influenced by their environments. I don't think anyone would argue with that. And anyone who has tried to navigate the sea of princesses and superheroes at a preschool playground on Halloween or any other day can clearly see that movies and stories hold much power to shape the imaginations of children. 

Maybe this is why Star Wars holds such appeal to us. As a kid tearing through the neighborhood on bike and foot it was not imagined pursuit of "robbers" that kept me captivated - instead it was an intergalactic kegger, oops wrong franchise chase to capture rebels or evade the dreaded darkside, depending on my role for the day. Sticks morphed to light sabers and blasters - not revolvers meant to usher the bad guy to the hoosegow, and the old monkey bars found a second identity as the famed Millenium Falcon - or Death Star depending on who was at the helm. It was a chance for us to be both the good and the bad guy. Spy, rebel, evil emperor - all shades of good and evil were available.

It was in this world that stories gained complexity and depth. The villain was not conquered easily and the good guys had to persevere through various obstacles. Loyalty was valued and - even among scoundrels - there was a sense of honor. And woven through it all, there was the justice of right overcoming wrong.

Is it any wonder then that the legacy was passed to my children? That as adults my husband and I want our children to explore the galaxy far far away and find the wonder we felt? 

In Sunnyville we have made this happen - with Eldest and Boy anyway. Both were thrilled by the trailers, waited with impatience for the release of 7, and headed to theaters at the earliest opportunity.

Youngest, being in pre-k - is unaffected. But, Tween (MG for middle girl??) is unconvinced. And it's driving the family to odd behavior. Boy has committed to sit with her through a watching of each of the episodes leading to the most current, to better give her a foundation and understanding - in other words to convince her they don't suck, which is how she seems to feel at this time. Both males in my home sat with her for episode 3 - and when the new kitten caused her attention to waver they could be heard to quiz her on the movie: "What just happened?" "You're not paying attention!" "Stop with the cat!"  "This is important!" 

Now, I am not sure this approach is working. Personally, knowing her temperament, I think they should have skipped to 6. I mean a girl easily distracted by kittens is bound to be won over by an Ewok - right? Regardless, I hope she finishes them over the break, as I would like to witness the force awaken for myself before I return to the classroom and have it all told to me by students. 

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Recipe for...

It's December 23 - Christmas Eve eve as my kids have called it and that is a heavy duty baking day in this house. So I found myself pulling down the recipe box - largely empty thanks to the digital age and printers but housing a few family favorites - and sorting through the recipes we will be using today.

They are stained and brittle. Some are written on the backs of notes left for, or by, my husband in the days before texting. Absently pulling a folded slip, I think I should recopy them and organize this box.  Then I recognize familiar writing smudged here and there with a stained and dog eared corner. It's my mother-in-law's - though I never thought of her as that.  She was a friend and confidant. 

The day comes flooding back. Missing her traditional family Christmas dinner of homemade manicotti she called the family matriarch and obtained the recipe - jotting it down on nondescript paper. We spent hours flipping and filling the delicate crepes laughing while we rolled manicotti for freezing. Over the next couple years we perfected the technique and shortened the time. But it was always an evening affair - accompanied by dinner, talking about nothing, and often teasing her son relentlessly. Then she was gone. Too soon. 

But here she is - popping out among the recipes. 

With a more sentimental spirit I look again at the scraps of paper and I see them differently. This one in my husband's hand and obtained from my sister because he had to learn to make her mini cheesecakes. We lived in another house then - much younger but already creating our own traditions. Traditions that we hold today. That one from my mother, written in her hand - a favorite of us both but happily not loved by the children. There are so many more - from friends and family, favorites all. 

A box of old recipes, a day of baking. a few memories shared. That is the meaning of this day for me unlike my children who see it as cookie day. And if Ma is looking down I hope she smiles a bit as I roll my largely imperfect discs into cheesy filled goodness that have become Christmas staple for my family, much as it was for her's. 

Merry Christmas baking day! 
And may your day be filled with memories to cherish in the years to come.