Complicated Holiday

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. There are no big expectations in our house. Just good food and we love to prepare and serve good food. It’s kind of our thing. Also relaxing time with family. So what’s not to love?

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Well, for starters and finishers, there’s the history. Its ugly and lurid and how we tell the story, what story we tell, matters. It matters a lot. With adoption, adopters have been creating the script they want told about adoption rather than letting adoptees tell their own story. Thusly, those who colonized this country, have told the story from our perspective for centuries. It’s way past time for that to end.

My mother’s dear friend Elizabeth is indigenous. She moved away when I was in the midst of prime time-consuming parenting time and so sadly I haven’t talked to her in years. Her sister was Miss Indian America in 1971 and so via google I saw that she is listed as Cherokee which is what I thought I remembered but wasn’t certain. Elizabeth was so dear to me as she was one of a couple of my mother’s friends who helped provide “mothering” to me after the death of my own mother when I was 19. Her own mother died when she was younger as well and she raised her sister from the age of 11. One time we talked about how she felt a little lost when she passed the age her mother was when she died and I never forgot that, especially when I passed the age my mother was. I also remember her grace and peaceful demeanor and oh how I wish I would have taken more time to learn more about her and her childhood.

Here are several indigenous women I have been following and reading and I am hoping we can all at the very least begin to turn the script over to those whose stories have not been listened to as widely as they should. They are difficult at times, but like much in life it seems that in order to  learn hard lessons it gets ugly for awhile. The only alternative is to pretend the ugly isn’t there and history has shown us that that hasn’t served us very well at all.

Kaitlin Curtice has two blog posts to which I would direct you. One is a list of books written by indigenous peoples for ages children through adults. For instance, I listened to the audiobook Heart Berries by Therese Mailhot from this list. It’s the poetic and agonizingly painful memoir of a young indigenous woman. A second blog post from Kaitlin is filled with resources to navigate this Native American Heritage Month and particularly Thanksgiving. She has also written the book Glory Happening which I am slowly making my way through as to savor it through this holiday season when we get so caught up in the busyness of it all and need reminders of the Glory in everyday life.

I encourage you simply to start. To begin to learn and listen with an openness to the voices of those who can speak for themselves of their history and experiences. We all need, want to be heard and so we all must also be listeners.

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Typical Mom

Dear Typical Mom,

I’m sorry.

I’m sorry that when we lined up for seats on the Extreme Swings at the amusement park today your tween-age daughter got the seat next to my teenage daughter.

Sorry that your girl was too uncomfortable to sit next to my girl. That she was so uncomfortable that she traded seats with you, and very sorry that you let her.

Sorry you missed an amazing teachable moment with your girl.

You have no idea of the opportunity you missed.

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You missed teaching your girl that she should show respect to those who need a little extra loving care. Even if she was too freaked out to sit by my girl you could have, at the very least, modeled it for your girl. You could have talked with Callie, introduced yourself and your daughter – anything to show your girl that you valued my girl.

You missed knowing a girl, if even for a few minutes, that rode the Extreme Swings and then went to the children’s area to ride the children’s swing ride with just as much unabashed enthusiasm.

You missed spending just a few moments with a girl who demonstrates Satchel Paige’s “Dance like nobody’s watching” quote better than anyone. She jammed to a tune while she waited to ride on the Enterprise, a spinning ride that is vomit-worthy, while others backed away from her. I don’t know if it was because they didn’t want to be near her or because she is a brazen, audacious dancer and she never, ever gives the gawkers around her a second thought. She dances without regard to the stares because, well, because it truly is nobody’s business and unlike most of us, she embraces that. I absolutely adore that about her.

I’d say it’s your loss, but it’s my girl’s loss too. Every time she is ignored it is a missed opportunity to practice her social skills.

So, truly, I am so sorry. Sorry that you missed an opportunity to meet a person so uniquely made, a mold breaker to be sure. I know I’m biased, but I’m pretty sure you missed a one in a million opportunity.

Sincerely,

Mom who is proud of her atypical girl

 

French Fries With a Side of Flirtation

Today’s after church lunch at Culver’s, a fairly regular event, was quite amusing – to us and those observing us.  For some reason Shannie often cries when we arrive somewhere other than home until she settles in and decides to stop – generally 5 – 10 min. tops.  Today she was pushing 10 minutes, but finally settled.  That wasn’t the amusing part.

First Ella, Jacob, Christian, Callie and Jacob thought they’d sit at one of the high tables.  So, we grabbed two of them next to each other.  All this time Shannie is crying and people are staring.  Then Callie decided she didn’t want a high table and I convinced her to wait to move after her dad returned from the rest room.  Then we moved and Ella, Jacob and Christian stayed put.  Thankfully before our food arrived Shannie settled in and stopped crying and the staring became less obvious and more furtive, my preferred type of observation.

When the food came everyone settled in some and all was calm.  Pretty soon I noticed Christian was grinning ear to ear and glancing over to the counter gesturing and nodding his head.  Pretty soon he was leaning back with his hands behind his head and adjusting his shirt.  Jacob comes over giggling about how he’s trying to impress some girl.  Christian kept saying, “What? What?”  like – it’s all good, nothing going on here.  We all got the giggles and Ella was rolling her eyes and moving away from him.  It just became hilarious.  I don’t know if the girl said “hi” – she certainly didn’t approach him in any way.

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I teased him a bit about it in the van and when he got home he told Jacob she was his girlfriend.  I’m pretty sure that’d be news to her and he didn’t seem to know her name, so that makes it kinda tricky I’m thinking.  It was so funny to watch him attempt to impress her with his somewhat limited flirting skills.  Gotta admit – Christian had more game than a lot of 14 yr. old boys who’d never have the confidence to even look in a pretty girl’s direction.  She may not have given him the time of day, but he still enjoyed every second of the experience.