Tuesday, March 29, 2005

One more reason I'm not ready to be a parent

One more Easter-related story...

I think sometimes about the questions I asked my mother when I was a child, and how she decided how to answer many of them. This was the 1970s, long before the Internet as we know it, and I doubt she scoured the set of World Book encyclopedias on our living room bookcase every time I asked some random question I'd likely forget about in ten minutes. Maybe she actually knew the answers, or maybe she made things up. I think sometimes she probably just paused for a second and then responded, "I don't know," and somehow I was OK with that. (Sadly, I don't remember being all that persistently inquisitive a child.)

Now, however, I'm an adult, and many of my friends now have children. I wonder sometimes what kinds of questions these kids come up with, and how my friends choose to answer them. I wonder, if I had children, whether I'd make up some convincing lie just to appease the child, or if I'd be that annoying parent who makes everything a learning experience, saying, "Gee, honey, I don't know. Let's see what we can find when we look it up!" Most adults have a story of some ridiculous thing they believed until they were 17 (or 23 or 31 or whenever) just because their mother or father told them and they never questioned or thought about it much again until it came up in some random conversation years later. Though it does make for a good story and a few laughs, I'm not sure I'd want to do that to a child. Maybe I've been particularly gullible at times, so I'm sensitive to the mocking this misinformation can provoke.

It's impossible, however, to anticipate every question a child might present, so clearly parents must be caught off guard some times. Case in point: the Easter Bunny. I'm sure it's a confusing concept to some kids, and yet it's not something I've really thought about much at all. Neither had my friend Melinda. Last week, her five-year-old daughter was apparently trying to make sense of the whole scenario, and she asked, "So Mom--is the Easter Bunny a real rabbit, or a guy in a rabbit suit?"

What would you say to that? Which is the right answer? Both options are kind of creepy, actually, so which one is the more five-year-old friendly explanation? Would you rather have a weirdo in a rabbit suit sneaking around your house hiding plastic eggs filled with treats, or would you rather envision an animal that's normally the size of a house cat suddenly blown-up to six feet tall and walking on its hind legs? When you think about it, really it's a wonder any kid can fall asleep at night at all.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Yesterday was Easter, which is a holiday I don't generally think that much about, but this year for some reason, it seemed more omnipresent...

"Have a Good Holiday"

Easter is, of course, a religious holiday. To active Christians, it is the second biggest day of the year (or, is supposed to be). As with that other big Christian holiday, however, there's been a secular takeover of Easter for commercial gain, and now it's pretty much just about chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps and cheap plastic toys small enough to tuck in a basket. Maybe for some people, Easter is a big family event, but since my family hasn't made much of a commotion over it since I was in grade school, I chose to stay here for the weekend, rather than make the six-hour drive back to my parents' house for the holiday. I've made this same choice every Easter for the past five or six years. And since, in my mind, it's not really a holiday if I don't drive to eastern Wisconsin or get a day off of work, Easter pretty much nearly slipped my mind.

That's why I was surprised, almost confused, when the woman who handed me my sliced turkey in the Cub deli on Saturday and the one who bagged my sale items at Kohl's on Friday both instructed me to "have a good holiday." Suddenly, I was either back in December or fast forwarded to May. What "holiday" was I supposed to be ensuring was good? When did Easter become an event to anticipate and wish well for towards strangers? And why "holiday"? I understand that in December, those of us who celebrate Christmas might say "have a good holiday" in an attempt to avoid offending those who don't celebrate Christmas's religious or commercial significance, and I guess that makes some amount of sense, since the theory is that at least one of the recognized December/January holidays will appeal to or connect with whomever we're greeting. But Easter? There is no seasonally equivalent, non-Christian holiday compatible with Easter, is there? So, "holiday"? Was that a bizarre and misguided attempt at political correctness, or is Easter really a day worthy of a special greeting from retail employees? I don't get it. As usual, however, I'm probably just overanalyzing. I'll stop now. I think I'll go make sure Arbor Day is noted on my calendar, so I can properly greet the receptionist at the health club that day.

"So it's pretty much just about the food"

Apparently I'm not the only one failing to realize the significance Easter still holds. Despite my assertion that it was pretty much just another Sunday, when my sister proposed organizing a group to go to brunch at Nye's, I agreed. After all, I'd never eaten there (unless you count the olives in a bloody mary, of course), and the two-column list of buffet items advertised on the flyer sounded far more appealing than the buffets I have "enjoyed" at the Manitowoc County supper clubs where my family spends most Thanksgivings and Easters.

Among our party for brunch was a German friend who was confused by the "Sunday best" attire he noticed in a local coffee shop that morning. Suddenly he was concerned about being underdressed in his "snappy casual" jeans and button-up shirt, though he didn't fully understand why. "What's really the big deal about Easter?" he asked. His girlfriend, my dear friend Jamie, stupefying exclaimed, "It's ONLY the second-most important religious holiday of the year!" She was only partially serious in her mocking, but in her classy suit jacket and velvet pants, clearly she saw more significance to the day than he did. I'm not sure whether his disorientation had something to do with being German or more to do with being a lapsed Catholic from a not-very-religious family. As I expect Catholics in Germany celebrate Easter much like the Catholics of German descent in my home town church do, I expect it's more of the latter. Being a lapsed Catholic myself, I can relate.

Nevertheless, we quickly realized that the easiest way to explain this holiday to our German lapsed Catholic friend was to point out the most important element of all American holidays--the food. Think about it. Sure, there are your traditional food-related holidays (i.e., Thanksgiving, Christmas). In reality, though, nearly every holiday recognized in this country has some element of eating as an organized team sport. Labor Day? Massive picnics and barbecues. Memorial Day? Ditto. Fourth of July? Same. Halloween? Candy. OK, so I've never been offered a Presidents' Day cookie or been invited to a Columbus Day brunch, but obviously it's not so shocking that Easter is just another holiday where we give ourselves permission to become stuffed to the belt-loosening point and then spend the rest of the day parked on the couch. Explained in this manner, my German friend got it. "So it's pretty much just about the food," he said. "I think I'm getting the hang of this," he smiled. And then we all turned to listen to my sister arguing with her Jewish boyfriend about when the networks air "the Easter shows." We may all be heathens, but at least we got a good meal.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

About Me

Because I don't really like Blogger's built-in "about me" profile questions, here's my own "About Me" page.


I Like...
  • They Might Be Giants
  • REM
  • Indigo Girls
  • Elitist humor
  • Hostess chocolate cupcakes
  • Biting the edges off the sides of Kit Kat bars and Reeses peanut butter cups
  • Taco Bell
  • Expensive fancy flavored coffee drinks
  • Dark chocolate
  • Red wine
  • Libraries
  • The first four seasons of Gilmore Girls
  • The Simpsons
  • Target
  • Movies
  • Knitting
  • Yoga
  • Finding ways to make things for less money than I could buy them
  • When people spell my name correctly without having it pointed out to them
  • Board games (especially Balderdash and Catchphrase)

I don’t like…

  • Traffic lights that are on timers, rather than sensors
  • Toilet paper put on the roll facing back
  • When people call me on speakerphone
  • People who can’t figure out how to use an apostrophe
  • When people say “I could care less” when they really mean “I couldn’t care less”
  • Wal-Mart
  • Mushrooms
  • Eggs
  • Artificial cherry flavored anything
  • Beer
  • Stupid people
  • Most bumper stickers
  • Bad concert etiquette
  • PT Cruisers
  • Making big decisions (and little ones, when I know I have to live with them for a while)
  • Scary movies
  • Most radio morning shows
  • Bad grammar
  • Cooking
  • Cleaning
  • Presidents who think that God speaks through them (or who polarize the nation and then somehow have the arrogance to think they have a mandate)
  • People who use religion as an excuse for bigotry and closed-mindedness
  • Organized sports

I am…

  • A Wisconsinite, transplanted in Minneapolis
  • A single female home owner
  • A technical writer and editor
  • A self-professed grammar geek
  • Taller than most women
  • Addicted to lip balm
  • Horribly uncoordinated
  • Fairly stubborn
  • Rather opinionated
  • Often way too analytical
  • A very fast talker

Saturday, March 19, 2005


Right then. So. How to begin...

Do I really need a blog? No. Of course not. (How many people who have them really do?) But you see, once upon a time, I thought I was creative and thought I could write, and now seven years as a technical writer has seemingly drained all such creativity out of me, and habitual laziness has kept me from attempting to do anything about it.

Friends used to tell me, "you should write a book." They said this because I'd take some little detail, some minor observation on the world or the people around me, and I'd turn it into an amusing story in a letter or e-mail... This is very different, obviously, from putting enough of those little details together to form a compelling story or a humorous essay. Somehow I've never mustered the energy or motivation to take that next step. Maybe this is due to lack of talent or lack of real creativity, but I prefer, again, to attribute it to laziness. I would say that my battle with laziness has affected most areas of my life, but to call it a "battle" would imply I am doing something to fight it, and fighting is not something a lazy person is apt to do.

In any case, I'm starting this blog in an attempt to encourage myself to get thoughts to paper (or, "virtual" paper) on a more regular basis, in the hopes that occasionally I might capture something worth turning into something else. Maybe I'll find that I really don't have much to say or much interest in saying it. Maybe I'll keep this to myself or maybe I'll share a link with friends and let them weigh in on things as well. I don't really know at this point. Guess we'll see where it goes. In any case, hi. I'm Stefanie, and this is my blog.