Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The warm wishes will come to you soon...

There are so many things wrong with this, I'm not entirely certain where to start. Last month I went home to Manitoba to visit my parents, and Mom asked me to shimmy down into the crawl space to retrieve some Tupperware bins that she's been meaning to sort through. For years. Fifty three years. For a moment, imagine the grime I ingested. I digress.

From the dusty archives of the Van de Velde home, I bring you the following relic - a hand-made Christmas card. Let it be said that no one wants to take credit for this chestnut. It's that good. There was a date scrawled on the back of it...you could just make out the year 1981. That would have put me at the ripe old age of 7. I told Mom there's no way I was that morbid at age 7. After an admittedly hasty handwriting analysis, she deemed that it had to be me. After all, she said, my handwriting has always been "terribly messy", hence the rather deliberate printing. This comment coming from the woman who agreed with my elementary school teachers that I should skip Grade 4. That's likely the exact year all the other kids my age tackled their grasp of the cursive. Just my luck.

I present you with the most gloomy and morose Christmas card ever created, on two pages of stapled foolscap no less...clearly a piece of fancy red construction paper was deemed inappropriate and over-the-top for such a festive message:

Was I in therapy, you ask? Not that I recall. Let me lie down on the couch right now and we'll dissect the key nuggets together:
  1. The obvious. WTF?
  2. The recipient was so overcome by this festive greeting, they had to put down their cup of coffee midway through reading in their attempt to absorb the message.
  3. At some point, the creator of said card was overcome with Catholic guilt for decorating her festive card with images of presents and flowers; clearly, the message was far too grave and important for such frivolous things. So she did what anyone in possession of an HP pencil with flat top eraser would have done - she set out to painfully erase all evidence of anything that could be misconstrued as happy.
  4. "The warm wishes will come to you soon." From whom, pray tell? Sounds ominous and foreboding...apocalyptic even. Jesus. Save. This. Little. Girl.
  5. "I HOPE YOU HAVE A GREAT DAY", boomed the all-cap-sentence, shouting at the poor erased image of the wilted flower.
  6. "I will tell you what Christmas means to me. Jesus was born on Christmas when nobody was on earth."  Hey, little 7-year-old-Janita, did you miss the part about Caesar issuing a decree that everyone must travel to Bethlehem for the census? No room at the inn ring any bells? Shape up and pay attention, you shifty little shit.
  7. "I think about Jesus when he was nailed on the cross but he still was alive." Now that right there is a real pick-me-up line for any festive occasion. Really. It's a strong opener to break the ice at any party. Next time though, save that for your Good Friday material.
Merry Christmas, friends. The warm wishes will come to you soon.
Until then, Merry Christmas and may 2013 bless you big.
Except for your ass. We don't pray for such things. Janita xo

p.s. Reflecting on this some more, this Christmas card was probably my attempt to regain favourite child status after being usurped by my younger sister's  p.s. I Love Jesus routine.

p.p.s. At this time of year, may we reflect on how deeply we love the baby Jesus. 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Love them fiercely...

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you, yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts.
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,

which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them, but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.
You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,

and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as he loves the arrow that flies,

so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

When 90% is considered perfect...

There are those moments when achieving 90% eclipses the ever-elusive 100%.
Case in point...Jack's Grade 1 Health Test:

 As an aside, since when is 9/10 only considered "good"? That's damn-near perfect, sweetheart...
I didn't have the heart to tell him that the answer is clearly "b". That's how I managed to survive with eight of us kids in the house - take it from one of your siblings and be done with it. Daddy's answer would fall into the category of "none of the above", and could loosely be summarized as follows:

Check if it's an Air Miles special. Then yes, of course we need it.

For the record though, I think your answer was right. You're 100% in my books.
Don't ever change, Captain Jack.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

The final blow from November...

November blew back from the grave to bitch-slap me in the face.

I presume it's because I called her a bad name in my post this morning.

As I sit here chewing on a gristled piece of karma, allow me to share highlights of the day:

Jack woke with a laugh sounding eerily similar to that of a semi-automatic weapon; an incessant bleating, it's grating edge without rival. After round 157 of forced delivery, my husband began to issue the following warning: "I swear to God, Jack, if you laugh like that one more time I'm going to..." His idle threat was cut short with the following statement: "I speak goat language."

James has been barking like a seal all day, coupled with bouts of vomiting and high fever. I fried an egg on his head this morning, but only because he wouldn't let me put him down, even for a second.

Husband took Jack and Peanut to the corporate Christmas party at noon. I reminded him to take the camera so he could take pictures of them with Santa. He arrived home to report that at some point during the festivities, the camera went missing from his jacket pocket. There are three likely possibilities:
  1. When racing back to the lobby to retrieve the camera, my husband checked the pockets of the wrong coat. Although if this were the case, that means he arrived home with someone else's coat as well, because there is still no camera. Note to self: check jacket he wore home to make sure it's his. Caring for three children does some crazy shit to your brain.
  2. The camera fell out of his pocket in the lobby, and is now wedged deeply into the treads of one of my co-worker's winter boots. It shall be returned to me when I go to work on Monday.
  3. Someone indeed pinched it. If so, I'll assume you need the camera more than me. Do me a favour though, and send me the photos of my son's sixth birthday party. That'll save me from explaining your actions to him one day when reviewing that gap in his photo album.
Shortly after returning from said party, husband leaves again with Jack to take him to his hockey game. I decide to stay put as James has fallen asleep in my arms, and Peanut is dangerously close to crashing from a Christmas-party sugar high - one knows not to mess with these things. Minutes later I get a phone call from my husband. I think: "Awesome. He's calling to tell me he's found the camera!"

Rather, here's what I get: "Jack and I just got in a car accident. Can you come pick us up at the corner of Ring Road and Winnipeg? Don't worry, everyone is fine."

Moral of the story? Life is good. Just when you think you have something to complain about, you get handed a plate of perspective.

The only part of the day that remains troublesome is that my son speaks goat.

I need your help! And there's something in it for you...

Greetings slackers friends,
I need to pick your big beautiful brains – this will only take a few minutes of your time. A few months back, I shared a list of questions (see below). Click here to read the original blog post.

Please answer these questions no later than January 1 (For you slackers out there, that's technically next year so scoop yourself off the floor...for you realists, that's 4 weeks away so giddy up.) So far, I've gotten close to 100 responses - through my blog, email, face-to-face, in dark shadowy recesses of back alleys throughout the country - and I've started to compile all the answers.

By sharing your responses with me, you hereby to and furthermore with fore-here-to-with-and-in grant me permission to use them as part of my essays. (Incidentally no, I'm not a lawyer. However, I should likely get one.) I will never use your name; all responses will be kept anonymous. Your thoughts will be compiled as part of the overall response to each question. Just flip an email with your responses to janita@sasktel.net. Create an anonymous email account if you want; I don't need to know who it's from, I just want to hear from you. In the coming months, I will share the results in my column for Grainews as well as here on my blog. Please forward this on to anyone else who you think may be interested in participating.

Your responses are what I want to share with my children one day.
Your responses are what I want them to know about real life.


Because learning from each other is the magic of life.
Finding humour in our collective ridiculousness is the magic of life.
The ability to laugh at ourselves is the magic of life.
Recognizing regrets, and doing something about them, is the magic of life.
Finding beauty in the unexpected is the magic of life.
Finding beauty in others is the magic of life.
Finding beauty in yourself, and sharing your gifts with the world, is the magic of life. 

And who knows? It may even become part of a book one day. Now that'd be a book I'd want to leave for my children, seeing as I'll be spending a significant portion of my time explaining my first book to them. I imagine that conversation will go something like this:

"No, I was not a raging alcoholic. We just used to drink a lot. Of course it's fiction! Who told you that? As if. Don't believe everything you hear. I suppose you'd jump off a cliff with that person, too? What do you think I am, a monster? Repeat after me, fiction. What? Me, smoke? Never you mind. If I ever catch you smoking, I'll make you chain-smoke Export A Green Death until you spew. If that doesn't kill you, I will. That's all you need to know. What's that? Go to your room." 

What’s in it for you? By responding, you’ll have a chance to win a limited edition hardcover copy of my book Postcards Never Written. If that doesn’t get you all geared up and excited, then you’re likely made of wood.
 Time permitting, I may even toss in all the crap on the back table.
Don't ever accuse me of not caring...
Here's a photo of some of the actual loot I'll include along with my book.

 Child not included. Although that may just depend on the day we're having when the mail gets packed up.
Incidentally, if you've never heard of the company BlueQ, then you don't know what you're missing.
And no, this isn't a paid sponsorship. This is simply me telling you that their shit is very, very funny.

They have the perfect gifts for those friends who have everything. (I guess that would be all of us.)
Check out their site by clicking here. You won't regret it.
You may pee your pants, but you likely won't regret that either.
How can you not like something packaged with the slogan:
"Horrify your family. Entertain your friends."
Act now. Put joy back into your holiday season.

So without further ado, here are my questions to you: (Only answer the questions you feel like talking about and then flip an email back to me.)
  1. Who (or what) is your greatest love?
  2. What (or who) is your worst fear?
  3. What is your biggest regret? Have you done something about it?
  4. Which of your nipples hurts more, the right or the left?
  5. What's the one topic we should talk about more openly? (Translation: something you wish you could bring up more often but just don't, for whatever reason...)
  6. What's the most useful lesson you've ever learned in school? (from Kindergarten to PhD...pick the most useful lesson.)
  7. What's the most embarrassing thing you've ever done? (This was a tough choice for me as I only had 3,624 embarrassing incidents to choose from.)
  8. What's the best financial advice you've ever received?
  9. If you could go back and tell a younger version of yourself just one thing, what would it be?
  10. What's the one thing you wish you'd spend less time worrying about?
  11. What's one simple, magical thing that makes you smile every time you experience it? (Example: the sound of a child giggling, the smell of freshly-mowed grass...)
  12. What's the one thing you wish someone would have told you?
  13. If you could ask God one question, what would it be?
  14. What's the greatest lesson you've learned in life thus far?
  15. If given the opportunity to have a one-minute glance at your life 10 years from now, would you take it? Why or why not?
  16. Thinking back to your ideals and dreams for the future when you were younger, has your life turned out as you thought it would? Why or why not?
  17. At the end of each day, when you pause for a second to contemplate your life, what do you say to yourself?
  18. What's your secret to leading a fulfilling life? Put another way, what's the motto you live by?
  19. If you could make just one wish for your children, what would it be?
Thank you so much for taking the time to share your responses.
It really means a lot to me. Janita xo

ps. So long, November...you were such a bitch.
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