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December 8, 2012

Letting go can be more difficult for me than the kids

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The Daily Star

---- — And so we enter the silly season, the one in which all of us run around like chickens without noggins.

I find the holidays exhausting, frankly. Before I had children, they were full of parties and minimal shopping. That was about it, really. 

Yes, there’d also be cooking. I’d make my traditional latkes and bacon at some point in December. On Christmas Eve, I’d make a general nod at the Italian half of my family and prepare as many kinds of fish that I can manage. Which isn’t many, because I don’t really like fish. And on Christmas itself, my husband and I would have a leisurely brunch of waffles, followed by a little light present opening, and a ham.

Some day, maybe, after the kids have gone, we’ll return to those halcyon holidays. But that day is a long way off.

The back half of November and all of December now feels like a mad scramble inside a rugby scrum. Given that we’re both academics, we spend the two weeks after Thanksgiving wrapping up the semester, which is like trying to wrap up boulder. There’s no good way to get the tape to stick and the bottom never does get covered. By the end of finals, I’m ready to just cement a crumpled bow on it and walk away.

While the end-of-term madness swirls, there’s a tree to be found, lugged home, and decorated. Last year, the tree sat naked in the dining room window for two weeks because we lacked the energy to drag the ornaments out of the attic. 

The kids are now a big help with decorating. Or, at least, the Diva is. The Boy will hang two ornaments and walk away, mostly because his big sister can’t resist informing him that he’s done it wrong. 

I just realized that this will be our first Christmas tree with a puppy in the house. That sound you heard was weeping.

I will be the first to admit that the tree makes me joyful, once it’s done. It’s the getting to done that wears me out.

My husband and the Diva did her annual toy purge, where they sort through the accumulated debris and make way for new stuff. This year’s was bittersweet, frankly. She was ready to let go of two of her formerly favorite stuffed animals. I’m not sure we’re also ready to let them go.

The first to go was Paz, a stuffed penguin. Paz is also a character on the Learning Channel’s morning block of kids’ programming. He and his friends would go on short adventures, which stitched together the longer blocks of shows, like Peep in the Big Wide World and Hi-5.

It wasn’t Paz per se that was hard to let go. Instead, it is hard to let go of the time the Diva and I used to spend curled up on the couch watching these shows.

I miss the simplicity of Hi-5 and the sly humor of Peep. I miss visiting with Brum, which was a British show about a car that must have been cheap to get the rights to. It’s hard to say goodbye to that time.

The Diva has moved on to shows that just seem shrill and bratty to adult ears; I’m lookin’ at you “ANT Farm.” Poor Paz wouldn’t even know what to do with himself in this brave new world.

The Diva is also ready to let go of the Jingle Bug and it’s his — or her, it’s hard to tell with Jingle Bug — loss stings more than I’d expected. 

Jingle Bug’s arrival was unanticipated. The Diva was an infant and all three of us were at Target, picking up some desperately needed baby supply. She’d had enough shopping and was gearing up for a grade three snit. I grabbed the first toy I saw and handed it to her. Thus, Jingle Bug entered our lives.

He’s purple, fuzzy and flat. Along the Bug’s body are clear plastic capsules that contain bells. His flappy feet are perfect for sucking on. I’ve never seen another Jingle Bug, which is too bad because I’ve wanted to give him to other babies because he was such a big hit with ours.

Jingle Bug nearly didn’t make it home with us either because one of his tags was missing. The cashier had to call a supervisor, who had to find the right binder, while the Diva kicked off the meltdown she’d be threatening. 

Good times.

Jingle Bug is in a fair number of pictures from that time. We have a few of the Boy and the Bug as well — but they never hit it off to the same level as the Diva and the Bug did. 

While the Diva can callously put Jingle Bug in the donate pile, I can’t, even though I’m fairly certain another baby would enjoy sucking on his tender toes, after they’d been washed, of course.

I can let Paz go, with only a small sigh. Jingle Bug, however, will be moved to the box in the attic, the one next to the boxes of holiday decorations, which I should get out sooner rather than later.

Adrienne Martini is a freelance writer, instructor at the State University College at Oneonta, mom to Maddy and Cory, wife to Scott, and author of “Sweater Quest.” Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/parentingimperfect.