I found myself at Meijer at 10:30 on a Saturday night, wearing slightly too big leggings with a noticeable hole on the left hip, flattened flip-flops held over from last summer, and an awkward-fitting sweatshirt my mother bought me mere weeks before finding out I was pregnant with Kiedis. My hair pulled back in pigtails and hidden under a pageboy hat, no make-up, glasses, and exhaustion identified me enough as a parent for a random person to stop me and ask my opinion on a gift for their child.
I watched the girls nearly a decade my juniors teeter about on their sky-high heels in their tiny skirts and painted-on pants, carrying bottles of cheap liquor or wine, something between a smile and a grimace crossing my face. Not that long ago, it feels, I was that girl with my handsome boyfriend/fiance at my side, celebrating for no reason at all nearly every weekend.
I both miss those days and rue them.
Now, I stood trying to wrap my tired brain around the task of building two (P)Easter baskets for my children after a last-minute decision that we would mark the day after all.
In years past, we would all gather for ham and candy at my grandparent's house -- me and my family, my brother and father, his two siblings and in combination seven other cousins, one of which has three children of her own. It's a loud family affair, but it's what we've come to know. However my grandfather spent most of the week in the hospital, so hopes for a joyful gathering (or any gathering at all) were quickly and quietly dashed.
That left marking this spring-coming holiday on my shoulders, which led me to Meijer after a day of house projects and trips to Home Depot.
Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever sleep more than six hours, at best, again.
I wandered the aisles, trying to remember what exactly it is that you put into plastic baskets supposedly left by a giant rabbit under the stealth of night besides copious amounts of candy. I mean, I definitely already had some of that in the cart, but I wanted something more, something with substance.
I traversed the perimeter of the store, finding things here and there -- some fancy spill-proof bubbles (spoiler: not spill-proof), little coloring kits, themed water bottles, gardening gloves (they've been asking for them) and t-shirts with licensed characters emblazoned upon them, and toothbrushes.
They desperately needed new toothbrushes, and my kids are still young enough to be excited by anything new to them. Also, see above about candy.
I stayed away from the seasonal stuff, the pre-made baskets. As what happens often with Christmukkah, we buy them things they need or to help them learn, maybe upgrading to the version with the idol du jour upon it so the better to entice them with ... and we leave the other stuff to other people, friends and family members. We have enough toys to fill three classrooms, it feels, and I would rather my kids learn to use their minds than let their things do all the work for them.
And lo and behold, the next morning as they discovered their little baskets, they were overjoyed at their findings. A small egg hunt commenced through the living room and dining room, then through the day as we worked outside on our projects they reveled in their gifts, simple things but not without purpose or substance because I would rather get them things they could use than crap that will have to be pitched in a few weeks.
Never bring anything into your home that is neither useful or beautiful, but hopefully both.
The weather was warm enough to require wardrobe changes and sunblock, and nice enough to spend the majority of it outside, together, as a family. We ate dinner by candlelight at the dining table on this rare Sunday off, the mood lighting requested by my children because maybe they somehow understood the specialness of the occasion in some way.
And the day, it felt perfect.