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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Death and Dying

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Depressing subject right?

But, it is part of life and as I have recently encountered (earlier than I anticipated), it is part of parenting.

If I am going to be 100% honest, on a personal level, death terrifies me.  I mean, makes me hyperventilate if I give it serious thought, kind of terrifying.  So, for the most part I avoid really thinking about it.  I figure denial and avoidance are genuinely the best route for me to go on this one.

Ironically, I am around death on a fairly regular basis due to work and I am actually comfortable with it (to the extent that one can be comfortable with such a thing) in that setting.  That isn’t to say that it doesn’t make me sad or regretful.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t get scared about the reality and inevitability of it as my heart breaks for those living it.  But, I can talk about it, “explain it”, touch it, support others through it… all with relative confidence.  There are nights that I lay awake processing the experiences I have on the job, but for the most part it is just that, part of the job.

All of that being said, I was still caught off guard yesterday when Nora asked me if I was going to die.  And later that evening, out of nowhere, she said “I don’t want you to die, because I love you so much.”  It made my heart hurt.

I am not entirely sure where this recent line of questioning is coming from.  (She also asked my husband the same question this afternoon completely out of the blue.)  I don’t shy away from the subject necessarily.  I believe in using words like death and die with my children, accompanied by developmentally appropriate explanations of what that means.  When our dogs die, I will be honest with them about that as well.  Nora knows that the great grandfather holding her in one of her baby pictures is dead.  But, it’s not like we talk about it all the time.  I certainly didn’t realize that she has been processing this in terms of us, her parents.  I hate the fact that she is obviously feeling vulnerable and worried, even if she doesn’t understand what this means completely at the age of four.

And no number of hours on the job prepared me emotionally for how I felt when she asked me if I was going to die.  Being a parent, especially to young children, adds a whole different dimension to my thoughts and feelings about death.  I just hope that I can provide reassurance and comfort to both of my kids as they struggle with this complex subject and what it means.  And I hope that I am not lying when I tell her that we both have a very long life ahead of us before we have to worry about dying.

As much as I don’t want to think about death, I really don’t want my kids to have to.



Santa Hat Candy Cane Cookies

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I try a new Christmas Cookie recipe every year.  This year’s were Peppermint Santa Hats.


It was super easy and is really yummy.  And I am not all that crazy about candy canes.


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noun: tradition
1. the transmission of customs or beliefs from generation to generation, or the fact of being passed on in this way.
Traditions.  We all have them.  They help define who we are, which family we belong to and what is important to us.  Traditions don’t have to be unique to the individual.  In fact, many traditions are shared by a variety of people and their families.  What makes them special is that for whatever reason they become more than just an experience.  They become memories and symbols that we want to continue in our own lives and pass on to our children.  The little details make them our own.  They carry a sort of intangible magic that can not be explained.
Traditions are engrained in the Christmas season.  They are the reason why so many of us are in love with this time of year.  They are what make it feel so enriched, special and full of excitement and expectation.  For me, one of the biggest memories I have from my childhood is the annual tradition of going to cut down our Christmas tree.  We always went to the tree farm around my older brother’s birthday and often it was what he chose to do with his special day.  We went with close family friends for several years.  My best friend and I would run around the tree farm, our sole goal to avoid being photographed.  It was a game that we loved for whatever reason.  Later, once that family moved across the globe, we went with one of my close cousins and her family or even just as an intimate family of four.
There was a restaurant that we would stop at for donuts and later for lunch.  I can’t remember the name of it anymore, but I can tell you in detail what it looked like on the inside.  I can tell you that I always got a grilled cheese sandwich.  I remember the small shop that opened across the street, which sold little gifts and ornaments and smelled of Christmas on the inside.
But, above all else, I remember the tree farm.  Running around, feeling the excitement of the season.  Sensing the challenge of trying to be the one who would find the perfect tree.  I remember watching my Dad cut it down and feeling like all little girls do… that my Dad could do anything.  I remember being happy.
I want nothing more than to introduce this tradition to my girls.  When Nora was a baby and I was pregnant with Meredith, we did go cut down our tree.  I also made my husband go almost every year before we had kids.  (I say “made” because this tradition does not carry the importance to him as it does to me.)  Since that year though, it has been a challenge to make this happen.  We went to Florida for Meredith’s first Christmas, the year after that we were selling our house so we used the small artificial tree from the years we lived in an apartment.  This year I had every intention of going to a tree farm, but Dave’s new job and other schedule complications made this impossible.  I am not going to lie.  I am really sad that it didn’t work out this year.  I think the girls would have had a blast.
Instead, I had to settle and we took the girl’s to a local nursery to pick our tree.  And while I was disappointed, the girls ovviously didn’t sense the loss of the tradition that I do in that experience.  In fact, they loved it.  They ran in and out of the rows of trees just like I remember doing as a child at the farm.
Nora was very serious about trying to find the perfect tree. 
Meredith found a branch and declared, “I found the PERFECT one!”
It wasn’t the beginning of the tradition I had been hoping for this year.  But, it was still a memory.  A great one.  And if they had this much fun at the nursery, I can only imagine how much fun they will have when I do get them to the tree farm.  I am determined to make this tradition a reality for them in the coming years.  It’s important to me.

Who Knew?

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Perhaps I am just slow to figure things out, but I only just recently discovered that you can go online to and place an order for a set of their flat rate priority mail boxes and they will send them to your door step absolutely free of charge.  So much more convenient and so useful – especially this time of year.  Thought I would share because sometimes these little things make all the difference in the world.