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Chandra's Blog


Entries in letting go (2)


"Sampson's Having a Wonderful Christmastime"

Sampson's Dog Blog stats:

Age: 9.5 months

Weight: 130-ish lbs

(The guy who usually lifts him on to the scale is recovering from torn obliques and sports hernia surgery--though this is likely related to his basketball and ice hockey, we're not ruling out hefting a growing Newf)

* *** * 

Driving home on a rainy evening and looking at Christmas decorations with a carful of kids this week, my sister and I were exercising our control over the radio for a little break from "Love Like Woah" and listening to Christmas carols. My three-year-old niece heard this song and remarked how much she liked it, singing along, "Sampson's having a wonderful Christmastime!" 


This is true. I wrote a post recently on letting go of the quest for perfection in Christmas, and in the pet owner world, I am letting go of all the things that an adolescent pup chews around the holidays. Similar to toddler days, we are keeping the bottom half of our tree decorated with ornaments that are expendable, and I have rewrapped a few pawed-open presents before the kids glimpsed the contents, but I'm having trouble getting over Piper's fancy snowboarding helmet, chewed to shreds on the front porch. 


Still, when I come down and see this duo curled up by the fire, my heart softens. There are so many things I love about having a dog in our life. The lesson of unconditional love that flows both ways between Samps and the kids tops the list. 

I also love the way a dog forces you outdoors in all weather. Last night, it was drizzly but unseasonably balmy and Sampson was getting rambunctious inside, scrunching up the rugs in a hearty game of chase with the boys. We headed outside to exercise him in the dark and the kids started belting out Christmas songs as we walked through the night. I would have been content to sing in the darkness alone as Sampson frolicked alongside us, but they took it door to door, making up the funniest lyrics to Feliz Navidad. 




I am so happy Sampson has joined our family and look forward to many years with this sweet-tempered fellow at our side.

Remember this summer and all the Piper-nibbling? Somehow, she manages to control him with the simple display of her palm. Now all the contentious stuff goes on between the two big-dawgs: ten-year-old Hayden and chuffy Samps. One of the presents under the tree is couples' therapy (dog training) sessions for those two-hoping to nip in the bud the frequent wrestling for position of Top Dog. 

Sampson's stocking hangs alongside ours and waits to be stuffed with dehydrated chicken breasts, nylabones and Bil-Jacs and the kids can't wait to take him sledding, one of their favorite activities with Jonah

Now if we would just get some of that white stuff falling from the sky and temperatures that would keep our outdoor rink frozen, we would all be having a wonderful Christmastime! Until then, we'll embrace the break from school and the fifty-five degrees and take Sampson on a hike. 

Happy Holidays to all the dog blog followers! 



Favorites on Friday-Letting Go

Everyone has a favorite holiday--mine is Christmas. I wrote an ode to the ritual of Christmas last year, on the importance of making the magic for my own family as my parents made it for us. This year, I want to honor the opportunity that this time brings for letting go. Christmas in America has come to mean a time of excess--excessive splurging and gorging and maxxing out and doing it all. I recently overheard my uncle ask my mom how she was doing with holiday prep and she said, "Frantic!" and he said that he believed that was an honorable celebration of Christmas--can you imagine how frantic poor Mary felt having to travel so close to her due date, to be taxed, and then go into labor and have to give birth in a barn? 

But I don't want to be frantic, and I don't want to scramble to do all the things that will make the magic so that I risk losing some of what I am really craving: peace, and time with people I love. 

It's easy to get comparative at Christmas. My kids complain that we don't decorate our yard with inflatable snow globes or hang icicle lights from our eaves. I use the excuse that we live far off the street to get out of the snow globe horror, and that our eaves are two precarious stories up--do they not remember how many times Daddy dropped the F-bomb as we maneuevered the ancient, creaky extension ladder up to the roof so he could teeter up there and spray/silicone the hole where the wasps were coming in last month?!

It is also easy to compare this Christmas to ones that came before--we're not going to the Caribbean (because of hockey and an adolescent Sampson who cannot be left for two weeks) and I worry, when the rest of the family leaves, will they be sad? And what about presents? Did we buy enough WOW gifts? Enough surprises and treasures and presents? Are there too many useful items like clothes and toothbrushes and new boxer shorts?

I ordered my Christmas cards early, but with this photo as my frontrunner, you might wonder why most of them are still sitting in the box, half-addressed? It's far from perfect, but it captures the essence of this year pretty well:


CHRISTMAS CARD 2011And though I managed to get three chocolates into each of the advent stockings that hang in the garland up the stairs, in early December I was crushing to get my second novel off to my agent and didn't put in slips of paper with carefully thought-out, festive directives of past years:

do a good deed for someone

set up the LGB train

go for a night drive and look at Christmas lights

watch the Grinch

bake Christmas cookies for the classrooms

go to the Tableaux

learn a Christmas song on the piano

help Mom stamp the Christmas cards

read Jan Brett's "Christmas Trolls"

go on a date with Mom/Dad to buy presents for siblings

While we are managing to do most of these things, I worry that it is not with anticipation and mindfulness, with the ritual I had hoped. The Tableaux were a disaster--Max had binged on three (five?) donuts at our three morning hockey games and was a full-on grouchy Scrooge, despite the fact that his beloved Harper was playing the part of the baby Lord. Piper upon spying her best friend in the processional, had a screeching tantrum about not being able to sit with Ellery--the accoustics in the Cathedral are really something.

We did manage to bake the cookies for their classroom Christmas parties, but they look more Cake Wreck than blog-worthy and I kept reminding myself that it is the PROCESS, not the PRODUCT.


One Piper piping...

the product 

I do these instead of individual classroom gifts because I maintain that there is nothing I want to buy that I can afford sixty of as classmate gifts, and there is nothing I want to receive that someone else bought sixty of, (see my post on plasti-Christmas-crap)

I worry my kids are a little let-down by this--that when everyone else is handing out Santa erasers and foam picture frames from Oriental Trading Company, they have a tray of cookies to share, but they did report that our less-than-beautiful cookies were a huge hit and brought home nothing but crumbs, much to J's chagrin. 



I am committed to letting go this year. Everything will not be perfect. The majority of the hundreds of items the kids have initialed in the toy catalogs will go unpurchased.

(We have often said it would be easier and save ink if they just initial the handful of items they don't want.)

But there are presents under the tree, puzzles and books and new hockey equipment and Legos and Beyblades and snowpants and handsewn Ugli dolls and dollhouse accessories and clothes and (shh! an iPad2) and I hope that by the time Christmas comes, I will have made peace with all the things I didn't do or buy or finish... 

Yesterday, my sister and Harper and Quinn were here to bake cookies, address cards and for me to work on sewing Harper's quilt. Instead, I lay down on the couch with the baby on my chest so my sister could stuff her cards. Instead of baking cookies, Piper and Quinn played with the wooden nativity and rescued the baby Lord from Sampson's jaws, peppered with multiple live re-enactments of the Christmas story.  It is easy to let go when you see that there is magic happening, even if it is not the one you scripted.

Piper and Quinn play Mary and Baby