Friday, December 28, 2012

I seriously need some elves...

Christmas 2012 has come and gone. We lived through the Mayan apocalypse AND dinner at my sister's. Just when I thought my extended family couldn't be any more boring, a co-worker mentions that at HER Christmas eve festivities, everyone got drunk and sang The Twelve Days of Christmas, including appropriate acting out of the song. Video was prohibited, of course. Nothing done at my holiday celebrations ever require anyone to sign a waiver, unfortunately.

As you can see from the above picture, Santa did not so much visit our house as ransack it. Oh, wait, that was done by children, mostly one small-ish, still-very-excited-by-it-all child. Which is really fun to watch, but not so much to clean up after. I now know why Jewish people go out for Chinese food and a movie.

Which is why I spent the day not cleaning. S-, who is normally home everyday except for 1 or 2 hour outside activities or occasional forays to friends' houses, is at karate camp. All day. A lesser woman would say that is a great time to tidy up, but not me! I spent the 5 hours having uninterrupted time speaking to my husband (actual whole sentences!) and surfing the web. Also, I learned how to use Evernote on my iphone and computer, so not a total loss. I am nothing if not fascinated by how to be organized. Actual organization is another thing. Besides, I think that organization-type people are part of a pyramid scheme. Just like you can make a million by writing a book How to Be a Millionaire and convincing a million people to buy it, so I think those Efficiency types try and convince you that being organized is oh-so-wonderful and then convince you to buy their twee organizing bins and color-coded folders. Their own houses probably look like who did it and ran. Anyhoo.

She is trying to look fierce

So, I offer you Susan's Guide to Cleaning Your Abode. First, pick the least dirty/cluttered room. Start small, I say. Find the spot that will be easiest to clean, however you define that. I generally pick the bathroom-it's small in size and usually doesn't have a tremendous amount of clutter in it, unless we had an extended bathtime the night before. Clean that mother! It won't be hard, because you started small. This success will give you fresh impetus to clean more. Move onto another room. Do NOT start with the kitchen. If it's like mine, it's too much at this point to even think about. Pick one spot in the room to clean off. Not a desk, that's too complicated. Say a bed or a couch. Clean off the surface and make the bed, if that's where you're at. Now go around with a big bag and pick up all the garbage. There, doesn't it look cleaner already? And you now you have one clean surface to focus on and you won't be overwhelmed by the rest of the clutter. If you like, use that surface to organize; dirty clothes, clean clothes (why would both be on the floor? If you know the answer to that, you don't need this article), papers, books, dirty dishes (but not clean dishes, there are never any clean dishes, sheesh). These things must be put away before you move onto the next room.

The kitchen. I try not to be in my kitchen unless I'm cooking something, so I'll clean it while I cook. Counter-intuitive, I know, but it works for me so don't judge. I fill the dishwasher while I'm waiting for water to boil or whatev. I have to wipe down a counter already to get cooking, so why not just keep going? With the dirty dishes away in the dishwasher and the counters cleaned off, I can pretend that the floor's not too bad and save that for another day. As one of my nursing instructors said, I throw a handful of dirt in the corner and when it sprouts, I know it's time to clean. Words to live by and you won't find that in any how-to-be-organized book I'll warrant.

New Year's is a few days away, a propitious time to clean the house. If that's not enough of an incentive,
invite some people over, then you'll have to clean. A Filipino nurse at work told me that a few minutes before midnight on New Year's, they open all the doors and windows of their home to let the evil spirits out and make way for good things to come in. Hey, ya never now. Happy 2013, y'all.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Holiday Happenings in Hub City

So we missed New Brunswick's tree lighting this year as I was working. But then I found out (still not sure how), that Highland Park was having a Christmas tree/Menorah lighting Saturday. After Shabbos, of course.

(Our town has a large, Jewish population-mostly Modern Orthodox, some Hasidim, conservative. A reformed minyan meets at my church. Israeli's, who can fall into any camp, I guess. Oh, and we have a town eruv. Google it).

So S and I and hubby and the dog walked uptown for dinner and general lighting of things. Several shops were giving out warm cider and cookies and S's old daycare was having pictures with Santa. S told Santa she wants a baby brother or sister for Christmas. Umm. Anyhoo, We stayed too long at the shawarma restaurant, missed the lighting of the Christmas tree and so stayed for the menorah lighting. How's that for a multicultural sentence? While they were preparing the menorah, a big PVC affair, the high school a cappella group sang, and then a blue grass group played Christmas music. It was quite a sight, all of us huddled on the sidewalk, listening to Christmas tunes and watching the menorah preparations. S found some friends. Together, they posed for pictures for a Jewish paper. "Say Happy Chanukah!" said the photographer and the 3 girls did, with candy canes in their mouths. I love my town. They were also selling menorahs (dreidle included) for $1. Of course we bought one, I have no shame. And it's a dollah.

I think the town kinda threw this thing together last minute, because the place they chose to do this was right on the main drag, on the sidewalk with cones extended into the street which is busy with NJ, holiday traffic. At night. I spent the time poised to spring into action should someone be jostled into the path of an oncoming SUV. Anyhoo, the rabbi(?) came forward, talked about the meaning and miracle of Chanukah and then proceeded to light up a flare. I had been wondering, because their were no light bulbs on this thing and there was no way a candle was going to last in the weather. No, flares it is! The assembled group sang the blessing over the lighting of the candles and with his one flare he lit the center and then the first night candle. Flares smoking, sparks falling to the ground, mothers pulling their children back so they didn't catch on fire. And all the while the real risk of an errant driver veering 1 foot to the right and cutting us all down. Good times.

We went home and played dreidle with pennies. It's easy and because we haven't had cheap dreidles pushed on us since childhood, fun (some Jewish friends I know are less than enthusiastic about the dreidling, but it was exciting and exotic for us. And you get to sing that song). It literally took S 10 seconds to memorize the symbols. Not the names, we're still working on that, but right away she knew that nun=no pennies, hey=half the pennies, shin=put a penny in the pot and gimmel (which looks like a "high heel" per my child)=Yippee! Gimmel me ALL the pennies!

Today we went to the Crossroads Theater's Holiday Jubilee. Eldest daughter got paid, yes I said paid, to be a costume consultant for the Motown inspired holiday show. Kids are free with a paid adult ticket and they sat on the stage. It was great-the music was fun, we were dancing in the seats and S had a great time, even though she didn't get picked to go up and dance with the cast, but she wore her disappointment well and I was so proud of her good behavior I bought her a disgusting candy thing at 7-11 afterward. They even put in  Chanukah, Kwanzaa and Muslim songs. And not in a "hey we have to be politically correct and throw in a
Chanukah song" but very nicely done. Because, seriously, sharing between different groups of people doesn't dilute anything, it only makes what we have and believe in stronger. It was groovy. AND the costumes were right on. I came home, ate 3 slices of pizza and passed out. Word.