Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Top Ten Reasons Why Your Child's December Birthday is Actually Fabulous

Three years and nine months ago I sat apprehensively in the doctors office, watched him spin his plastic gestation wheel, then pronounce "yep, looks like you're due December 25th." 

Great, I grumbled inwardly, another Christmas baby. Small Fry's post Thanksgiving birthday was as close to Christmas as I wanted to get. Though Jim Dear and I had been trying to create Baby Number Two for some time, we had studiously avoided red wine and Sinatra CDs on certain warm April nights. 

Or so we thought. 

Baby Sprout arrived one week before Christmas Day. When her first birthday rolled around - just as with the Fry - I was determined to make it something special. Now that we've had three years of celebrating TWO holiday birthdays, I realize that a December birthday is more of a blessing than I could have realized that day in the doctors office. Here are my top ten reasons why:

10. Toys are a 4th quarter business. Since you gotta buy toys for your child's birthday anyway, might as well do it when the stores are completely stocked and the sales are the best they're gonna be.

9. A December birthday is a great excuse for parent peer sympathy.... and for getting out of extra responsibilities. Try saying "yeah we have Thanksgiving, then Junior's birthday, THEN Christmas!" Watch as your friends roll their eyes in sympathy and murmur that of course you don't have to worry about collecting ___________ for the _________, or bringing _________ to the _____________. 

8. It's the cleanest your house will ever be: First you vacuum up all the dirt tracked in by Thanksgiving visitors, then you vacuum up birthday crumbs, then you vacuum bits of wrapping paper. You won't have to vacuum again until Memorial Day....

7. .... or it's the dirtiest it will ever be OK for your house to be. Really, who's going to vacuum three times in four weeks? (See #9 for seeking understanding about why your house is a wreck.)

6. If you time it right you can sign up to bring dessert for your office Christmas luncheon . . . and pawn off leftover birthday cake. This year I hope Jim Dear's colleagues enjoy the Christmas "muffins" with traditional pink and purple frosting.

5. Anyone with kids knows that after a certain point, when more toys come into the house... some toys MUST go out, unless you plan to move to a new house every year. Generally one tries to put a positive spin on it: "Remember how fortunate you are," you chirp as they grudgingly throw toys in the box marked Goodwill. Unlike summer birthdays, a Christmas birthday means you only have this conversation once a year.

4. It may not be easy to pay for, but it is easy to budget for. Around our house, when Jim Dear and I talk about saving for big purchases we have a line item that never goes away. It's called December.

3. Once the front end loader has carried off all the old crap (see #5), you only have to figure out where to put all the new crap once a year. 

2. After Thanksgiving, and after birthday(s), if you timed it right you'll only have about 6 days to really worry about Christmas! All you have to do is sit back, breathe a sigh of relief that at least the birthdays are done, sign a couple of Christmas cards, then wake up on Christmas morning! Voila, a hassle free holiday! (again see #9 as to why no one will expect you to do any more)

And finally the number one reason I think a Christmas birthday is a blessing in disguise.....

1. Having a baby during Advent connects you to why we have Christmas at all. As I stuff goodie bags, lick birthday invitations and reminisce about the day we are celebrating, I think about how a couple millennium ago another harried mom anxiously prepared for her baby's December birth. 'Tis the season to joyfully await God's working of a miracle in our world. 

Merry Christmas to all, and Happy Birthday to Fry and Sprout.
Some sketches of Fry and Sprout as we celebrate the holidays... which always reminds me about the passing of time, and how they are growing up:
Baby Sprout finally has hair... and a lot of it

Small Fry is trying to get Uncle George's 40 year old Tonka trucks to work.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Protecting the muse

Sometimes when I settle in to do my daily sketches I just can't think of anything to draw. Either there's no project I'm working on, or I can't think of some clever anecdote from the day to illustrate. Then I start feeling frustrated and think "maybe I don't have to draw tonight".... "I did sketch, um, a couple nights ago".... "the muse is just not in"..... but I've learned the hard way too much slacking on daily sketching leads to guilty feelings similar to those experienced when one eats the last three left behind cupcakes from one's child's birthday party. So here lately on the nights when I can't lure the muse out, I remember what keynote speaker Laurie Halse Anderson said at the LA conference this year:

"If you think of your muse as your 6 year old self how would you treat her? When she comes to your door would you give her rules to follow and a list of tasks to finish? Would she come a lot if you did that? Instead would you pull out all your old toys and bake cookies?"

If my 6 year old self showed up at my door she would not want to draw character sketches from  the next book I'm planning to submit. She would probably also not want to do a sketch for that magazine job due next month nor would I imagine she'd be much into thinking up some licensing illustrations. These are all projects I give my grown-up self. No, my muse would want to draw horses - Prancing, leaping, galloping. So over the last couple of weeks as the muse has been shy, I've handed her the reins and let her draw what she wants: