Wednesday 28 Sep 2016

Forms of Celebration
Jennifer Flaten

You know what my two favourite words are: silent reading. Especially, after a very long, very loud day with the kids, I can’t wait for silent reading. In fact, there are days when I wish I could send everyone to their room for silent reading at 10 am. I’d be the first to go.

Alas, I have to wait until before bedtime, but I’ve found a way to encourage more silent reading and, no, it isn’t duct tape.

The kids love to use a flashlight for silent reading. Of course, they never remember to turn the flashlight off before falling asleep.  Consequently, we go through batteries at an alarming rate, so much so, that I’ve taken to ordering batteries by the case.  Our evenings consist of one child after another parading into the kitchen announcing that they need to change the batteries in their flashlights.

We also use up a lot of flashlights, apparently they don’t make them like they used to, it is either blame the faulty design or admit that my children are really, really hard on the equipment.

Since we celebrate St. Nick’s day in this house; oh, wait, if you live anywhere but Wisconsin you probably don’t know about St. Nick’s. I know when we lived in Minnesota, I mentioned St. Nick’s day and got a lot of puzzled looks-this from the people who eat lye cured cod. They also didn’t have a decent Stollen, but that is another article for another day.

A little primer for those of you who don’t celebrate St. Nick’s, it is a little precursor to Christmas. On St. Nick’s eve, you hang up your stocking and if you were good St. Nick, that is, Santa Claus will leave you a little gift and, my favorite part, candy. Also, it is tradition to put an orange in the stocking. I think they originally did that to fill out the stocking and give it a little heft. I just use candy. I would use cupcakes but they just get smooshed.  

My family has always celebrated St. Nick’s, so I made sure to keep up with it when I had kids. I mean really, who doesn’t want to wake up and find a stocking full of candy and goodies?

We also do a Christmas Advent Calendar, a candy one naturally, and yes, I let them open it in the morning. So, during December my kids have candy for breakfast-take that food police.

This year, I decided the perfect St. Nick’s gift would be miner style headlamps for the kids. I will admit the fact that I could not only buy a three pack of headlamps, only $10, from Costco, but also a super-sized sack of candy, thus saving me a separate trip to pick up candy strongly influenced my decision.

The headlamps were a big hit. The kids now run around with the headlamps strapped to their head all the time. I have to take extra caution when one of them comes in for a goodnight kiss, the light projects quite a bit out from their little heads. One of these times, they are going to give me a black eye. 

Imagine my surprise when I find out that my gift, which was meant to encourage more silent reading, was actually a trendy gift. Those headlamps are everywhere. I saw them in four holiday ads.

Hey, I got my kids an in demand present, inadvertently, but still that counts right?

Since seeing those ads, I’ve become curious, I know my kids are using them for silent reading, and some sort of game in the basement that resembles Seal training in the dark, but how about other people?

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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