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Posts Tagged ‘money’

I’ve been thinking about what it means to have enough, to have plenty, as the holidays approach.  Grade school comes to mind as we colored in cornucopia – a horn of plenty – looks at that horn full of gourds, a sign of having plenty, of making it through the cold, dark winter.  IT’S HUGE!

(I might print that later for my kids to color when they are on school vacation. They will finish in 5 minutes and then ask if they can go watch Phineas & Ferb.)

We had our very own experience of plenty last month. When 10 inches of wet snow fell on trees with leaves still on the branches -and those branches still full of the trees water and sap, the power went out in New England. Nearly 2 million customers were without power.

We were among those who had plenty at this moment. The first night we slept at home in a house that had been warmed by the sun & heaters that had been on all day. In the morning, we used our gas grill to boil water for tea, coffee and cocoa and to scramble eggs. It was camping for day one. As the light faded from day two, we headed to my sister’s powerless but warm house and slept on the floor in front of the wood burning stove. We woke up cold on Halloween but still had the ability to make tea, coffee and cocoa.

There was no school on Halloween. There was also no Halloween on Halloween. I came home to check on our place and discovered we had power.  We had plenty of food that had survived in a cooler on our porch. We had plenty of water and when push came to shove we had plenty of room to share it all.  Our own apartment then became plenty full of people. As crowded as it was, it felt rather like the holidays. People squashed in, plenty of people to run to the store so no one had to take the kids with them. Plenty of people to cook, wash and up wrestle kids to bed. Plenty of extra food to invite for dinner a few more families whose water or power were not on yet, or who hadn’t had time to replenish the food stores after the storm.

So what with all the snow and the snowmen hanging around,

before we knew it we, I was sitting around with my god daughter discussing where to put the Christmas tree. She is right, we are going to have to move one of our chairs upstairs to my bedroom.

Wouldn’t you know there are gifts under there! And even when times are tight -and we have had times so tight I felt like I couldn’t breath – we have had presents under that tree and a feast for our table. Sometimes only  because of our generous families – other times from both of us working like maniacs to pull off the magic: a book, a toy and a game for each child. And I know that is what you do too.

I will not rush the season by playing carols or hanging lights before we have had our day of  thanks, but I am grateful to that crazy storm to remind me that we have plenty before the ads, the catalogs and internet start making me feel like I am not enough. I am glad the spirit of Thanksgiving and Christmas came early to our house this year, right around Halloween.

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I’ve begun to think about a short story based on my recent joy in purchasing winter coats in the most reasonable way ever – online at Land’s End. There is not much more to write about buying a coat for a child on-line at Land’s End. I did it and it’s done. Amen. But that is not the way I have traditionally purchased (or come by) winter coats.

Because of money. And so really, the short story I’m outlining is about money and mothering. The first thing I ever wrote about money came out of my brain whole my junior year in high school while I was reading Virginia Woolf. For some reason it became incredibly clear to me right then, sitting at a desk more appropriately sized for an 8-year-old, staring at the gigantic word processor my dad had bought me (some sort of type-writer with a screen that looked like it could swallow me), that it would be nearly impossible to “do better” than my parents had. I called my sister at college and she agreed, so I figured it must be true. The mere fact that I got a hold of her on the hallway phone for her floor was like some sort of sign from the gods that I was onto something (much good may it do me, as they say)

Both my parents were in the first generation of their families to go to college. Both came from truly working class backgrounds. Both of them had advanced degrees & professional jobs in Manhattan. It seemed unlikely I could even duplicate such a leap, let alone overtake it. I wrote a paper and did not mention the word money or class. I had no idea what I was writing about but it hit me – the urgent impossibility of my position being educated at prep school in New York, sent off to college and absolutely bewildered about what I was going to do for my life (code for earn money, I think – the 17 year old brain perhaps fuzzy on this point.)

This proved to me even more true when I graduated college during a tiny recession that by today’s standards does not rate. I was working, married and thinking about all of these things – and also none of them because I was working so much for not so much money, as was my spouse – and then we had a baby and so I was home to think about them all day long. All day – and some of the nights too.

My breastfed child did not enjoy me holding a book while I nursed. He repeatedly swatted at it. It was just this object in his peripheral vision to be grabbed, I suppose. So I did not read but rather thought about things. Does anyone else have a child old enough to remember breastfeeding in the years before streaming video and podcasts? My youngest child was breastfeed to podcasts and streaming npr, netflix – and even had the tenderness to not swat at books or magazines while they were in my hands.

That many years later, with children off at school and my career taking some pleasant turns, I am here pondering NaNoWriMo, sketching out this story & wondering if there is quite enough there for a novel. I don’t want to start writing until I know. Because two years ago, when I last attempted the athletic feat that is NaNoWriMo, I was without an idea at the start. I had such a long ramp up period, that I never could have finished. I also had a three-year old and we all know how crazy they are.

What do you think about mothering and money? And what do you think I should do about the agony of National Novel Writing Month? What are you going to do? Also, one more thing about the Land’s End coats – they have grow with me sleeves. Why did I not invent that when I was 17 or home breastfeeding a baby who rejected novel-reading?

*PS Land’s End did not pay for this post.

Sadly.

– Maybe –

Never mind, I like it better this way:

The coats are great. My thoughts are my own.

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