Little Things

marshI love my nieces and nephew, my sister’s four kids. They range in age from 19 (20 next month!) to 10. The oldest is a sophomore at the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth, and the youngest is in, I think, the fifth grade.

My nephew is, of course, a video game aficionado, as are most boys these days (he’s the 10-year-old), and even my nieces love electronic devices. So usually there’s a video game or an electronic handheld or an iPod or something among their birthday or Christmas gifts. But the most fun gifts are often the ones you can enjoy with other people, so I have made it a point to always buy board games. At Christmas, I try to buy at least one per kid, then I tag those for all of the kids so there’s no fighting. We always end up playing several games after all the gifts are opened.

Several years ago, after Thanksgiving dinner (which is always at my house), I sat down with the kids afterwards and we played a few board games. One of the kids said, “This is fun…we should do this more often.”

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So I started a family tradition called Spieltag. Spieltag is German for “game day.” Sorta. Technically, I think it should be tag des spiel (“day of play”), but spieltag has a nicer ring. For the record, it’s pronounced shpeel-tahg. We are not German, but I wanted a catchy name for the event, and so Spieltag it is!

We usually do Spieltag at my sister’s house, but occasionally we’ll hold it at my house (usually in the summer when the dogs can enjoy the sun outside while the house is full of kids). We have food, soda, juice, things to nibble on. It’s one of the best traditions we’ve started.

With the number of games the kids have now, there’s no shortage of things to play. The more fun games are the ones that end up making us laugh–games like Would You Rather…? or Cranium, or games that make you do silly tricks like standing on one foot, singing a song, and balancing something on your nose. Then there are the trivia games. For those, they usually all team up against me. Two or three teams of two or three kids against me (yes, teams of two or three kids…because my sister’s kids invite their friends over on game day), and I usually win (in the four or five years we’ve been doing this, I think they’ve beat me once;)

smIn today’s world, with so many people connected with the outside world electronically, with most of our “friends” keeping in touch via Facebook or text messaging, it’s nice to be able to sit down at a table and surround yourself with the laughter of your loved ones. Life is too short and too precious to let it all pass you by. I look around the table at my nieces and nephew, and sometimes I get a flash of memory–my oldest niece at 1 1/2 singing Patsy Kline’s Crazy in the backseat of my car, my middle niece looking like a princess in her ballerina dance costume, my youngest niece smiling at age 4 with a face full of chocolate and a huge smile, my newborn nephew with his little black Chuck Taylors that my brother bought him–and I’m so thankful that I got to experience all those things and that I get to watch these kids grow from babies into the beautiful young people they’re becoming.

Why am I writing about this today? Well, my brain’s been in a little bit of a funk lately. I think it has to do with the bombings in Boston last week. Not that I’m obsessing over them (I’m not), but the whole thing just seems to have drained me. It was too close to home, and it reminded me of how fleeting our time can be in this world. We go about our daily lives, worrying about things that we think are the big things, when it can all be taken away in a matter of minutes, or even seconds. And it reminds me of one of my favorite quotes:

Cherish the little things in life, for one day you
will realize that they were the big things.

happinessYour job and your bills are important, your home and your car, your health insurance, your taxes–all of those things are important. But there are more important things than those, things that may seem pointless or silly–like standing on one foot, singing a silly song, and balancing something on your nose–those are the things that you’ll be remembered for, those are the things that are “little” that are actually quite a big deal.

Cherish the little things…and try to realize NOW that they are the big things.

Happy Friday!

groundhog not weathermanWe got more snow last night. A few inches. I really do mean it when I say I usually love snow. This year, however, it’s getting a little ridiculous.

My sinuses the last few years have been wreaking havoc on me this time of the year. My ears are popping all day long, every time I swallow, every time I move my head. There are some polyps in the sinus cavity in my forehead, and I’ll tell you they seem to be dancing in there or something this week. Little bastards!

At least it is Friday! For some reason, it feels like this week took forever to get through; probably because my Monday started out so crappy. On Wednesday, I thought it was Thursday. It should have been Thursday. It felt like Thursday. Maybe I was in a time slip or something. Why do the weekdays pass so s-l-o-w-l-y and the weekends just seem to fly by? Really not fair! Remember when we were kids and time seemed to pass so slowly! We thought we would never grow up!

I’m going to visit my BFF again in May. That can’t come soon enough! Visiting her is like a mini-vacation, and I can definitely use a vacation, even a mini one!! We talk on Skype several times a week, we chat back and forth by text and instant messaging, but being together in person is just so much better!

beybladesMy nephew turned 10 last weekend (on St. Patty’s Day). His birthday party was on Saturday. I had a previous appointment, so unfortunately, I had to arrive late to the party. In hindsight, from the reports from my oldest niece and my sister’s boyfriend, arriving late was a good thing. I think I’ve forgotten what being in a roomful of 9- and 10-year-old’s can be like;) I got him something called BeyBlades (no clue) because my sister said that is the latest toy he’s into. While at the store, I saw something called a Destroyer Dome. If you think of BeyBlades like Matchbox cars, the Destroyer Dome is like a racetrack set for them.

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My nephew with his Destroyer Dome…er…well, he WAS there about two seconds ago!

It was awesome watching him open it, because as soon as he started pulling it out of the gift bag, I heard “Whoaaa!” then “OH MY GOD, I GOT A DESTROYER DOME!! DESTROYER DOME!” My sister had her camera ready to snap a picture, but by the time she clicked the button, all she got was a shot of the empty space where he’d been standing because he’d already shot out of the room to show everyone his new toy LMAO! Score for Auntie! ;)

I have to admit, I am an awesome auntie! Sometimes I just need a reminder, and sometimes I don’t even realize how awesome of an auntie I am. For instance, a couple years ago at my oldest niece’s 17th birthday party, she says to her friends, “My aunt always gets the best cards!” I had to give an internal “phew!” that I had gotten one of those quirky noise-making, musical cards, and then realized that I now had a reputation to live up to that I hadn’t realized before that. After she opened the card, she ran into her room and brought out a box where she keeps all the previous quirky, noise-making, crazy cards I’d bought her, and she showed them all off. Seriously. They have boxes to keep their “Auntie’s cards” in. Of course, buying cards is getting harder because now I have to make sure I don’t give repeats lol!

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See? It’s the little things that really matter. My ex-sister-in-law hated buying cards, thought holidays had become too commercialized, which sure, I can agree to an extent. She went out of her way to buy gifts that she felt were appropriate for them, despite what they were “into” or what they liked.

But to be honest, it’s not about the card or the gift. It’s about what you get in return for that card or that gift–the grin on a kid’s face when the googly-eyed hamburger on the card starts singing “I’m….aaaaa….HAMburger-HAMburger-HAMburger,” the laughs that follow, the “Whoa!” when a kid opens a gift and runs from the room to show what they got, the warm feeling you get in your heart when you hear them say, “My auntie gets the best cards!”

I take pride in picking out gifts, in finding things that I know the kids will like, things they’re actually interested in. And, not for nothing, but I do also buy things that I feel are appropriate for them too…like the year I bought my oldest niece Betty Smith’s A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (published in 1943), which has become her favorite book of all-time:)

It’s fine to want to buy “appropriate” gifts…but in order to do it right, you have to know the kid you’re buying for. That’s where my ex-sister-in-law made her mistake.

Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look
back and realize they were the big things.
Robert Brault

Cats happy fridayAnyway, I guess I went off on a tangent today, but my week started out crappy, and I wanted to end it on a good note:)

What better “good note” is there than to rave about the happiness of the kids you love?!

Happy Friday!