Ahh, College

Going through the college process with Oldest One brings back memories, and definitely has provided some interesting moments of how the teenage mind works.

Oldest One will be attending the university I started out at. The processes were completely different back when I was about to be a college freshman, and there is no comparison to how it is done now. But it is still bringing back memories of my excitement, and how ready I was to leave home and be on my own. Not that I was truly on my own, I just didn’t know it. Oldest One loves to tell us she is almost an adult, and gets quite miffed when I respond that it is due to Husband and me providing the money for her to be there that it is happening.

Oldest Ones best friend was not able to get into the same dorm because she was doing everything a month later than Oldest One had. So she was trying to convince Oldest One to move dorms. We looked at six or seven dorms during our visit last year, and there was one dorm that stood out that Oldest One loved. It is across the street from the rec center, there is a university store within walking distance, and it is at a good place on campus to access the student union, library and most classrooms. Luckily the housing website has pictures and video tours of all the dorms, so before any changes were made I suggested we look at those. We looked at my old dorm, and wow, as much as it has changed a lot was still the same.

The showers looked exactly the same, down to the white shower curtains across each one. The closet and dresser in each room were the same. The beds were new, and much nicer, and there is a separate desk for each person. When I was there my roommate and I had a huge table with a chair on each side and that was our desk, our refrigerator was under the table, and it was also a catch-all for stuff. The night the table came off the wall and fell on me we discovered someone had written “beware of the killer desk” on the bottom.

Oldest One stayed with her original dorm choice, and now needs to do roommate matching. I was supposed to room with a good friend who ended up not going to the university at the last minute. So I was put with someone who hadn’t requested a specific roommate. She was fine, but her boyfriend wasn’t, and when I walked into the room one night and found him going through my underwear drawer I was done (the last of many wrong acts on his part) and requested a new room with a new roommate. The new person didn’t have anyone who wanted anything to do with my underwear. So I hope the roommate matching system, which works with Facebook, is good. She’ll answer questions and then be matched with other people looking for roommates and they can find out about each other, message, and decide if they want to room together. If she matches with more than one person she gets a list of people. Almost like looking for a date, only if you don’t like this person after a couple of days you are probably stuck for a while.

One of the best parts has been applying for scholarships. I didn’t have any scholarships and nobody ever suggested I apply for any. My student loans will be paid off after my house is. So Oldest One is being seriously nagged about applying for scholarships. She is doing them now in her senior year, but after all I’ve learned Little One will start applying for them in her sophomore year. Oldest One is trying to find and apply for anything she qualifies for. I was so happy when she started asking me questions to help her determine what she could apply for, and to help answer questions for specific scholarships. I did have to point out that she shouldn’t mark that she is active military, but that she is the dependent of a veteran. And unfortunately nobody in any family is a licensed contractor, so that scholarship had to be skipped. We figured out that if we had been homeless, she had a kid, one of her parents was part of the LGBT community or any other number of categories she didn’t fit she would have a much easier time with the scholarships. Oh, and it would have helped if Husband and I didn’t have college educations. She was right, we didn’t plan well for the world of scholarships.

So as Oldest One gets ready to start making college memories I am remembering my college years. I had fun, it was a great learning experience for me, and I am so glad she gets to do this. I’m not looking forward to her being in a different city, because of how much I’ll miss her, but I was fine, and she will be just fine too.

Christmas Tree Tradition

Growing up Jewish I never had one, but always loved the look of Christmas trees.  We had a Chanukah Bush, and I made paper decorations for it (it was a fake bush/tree thing in the formal living room of the house), and we did gifts and a Chanukah meal.  But it wasn’t a major holiday (it still isn’t), and it was more a reason for my siblings home from college to be at home for a dinner.

Then I married a Goy (slang Yiddish for non-Jewish man).  We agreed to raise our children Jewish, but to keep some of his family traditions, because they were not rooted in religion for his family.  Finally, I get to have a Christmas tree!  Our very first Christmas together we shared a house and a tree with another couple.  I made Husband (then boyfriend) Looney Tunes ornaments, because I wanted something special for us on the shared tree.  We still put those ornaments on our tree each year.

Then we didn’t have a big tree again until Oldest One was a year old.  My Mother-in-Law was very generous, and gave us the ornaments Husband’s family used when he was growing up because they didn’t put a tree up anymore.  We have ornaments made by his Grandmother, made by Husband in school, and ones commemorating the year, such as one from 1979.  I love pulling those out each year and watching the girls carefully hang them on the tree.  I like the tradition we are continuing, and handing down to the girls.

When I was pregnant with Little One I went to Hallmark with Oldest One and we picked out our first family ornament.  It was a gumball machine with the year on it, and Oldest One loved it.  Every year since then we have had a family ornament with the year on it.  At first they were simple, and I bought them in town.  Then I started to get family ornaments online I could put our names and the year on.  We have bears on boats, monkeys, cows…a whole zoo of ornaments decorate our tree.  When they are unwrapped each year we still ohh and ahh over them, and remember the one I dropped and broke taking it out of the box (Husband glued it), the one where the names wore off by the next year…each one is a memory.

I also get the girls ornaments for cheerleading.  They get an ornament each year (this is year seven) for each team they are on.  The first years were fairly easy, but it is definitely getting harder to find cheerleader ornaments they don’t own that can be personalized.  And they have each been on two teams for the past two years, Oldest One for three years.  Husband always does the obligatory eye roll when I order the cheerleading ornaments, but he always wants to see what I’m ordering.  Oldest One told me last year she always looks forward to seeing what I’ve found.  Little One just loves getting new ornaments.

We also have Chanukah ornaments on our tree.  They make specific ornaments for Chanukah to hang on Christmas trees now, but we were putting ones on well before that happened.  We would find Chanukah items, and in looking for where to put them on display we realized if we put an ornament hook on them they would be perfect for the tree.  So we did.  And they look great hanging next to the Looney Tunes, cheerleading, and family ornaments.

The tree also has ornaments the girls made over the years.  It’s hard to believe how tiny their hands and feet were.  I love those ornaments so much.  It brings back the days of lopsided tree trimming because tiny hands couldn’t reach very high without help.  It reminds me of the bright eyes putting out milk, cookies and beer (because milk can only fortify Santa so much) for Santa in their new Christmas pajamas.  It also reminds me of lighting the Menorah, and the girls wearing headbands with big dreidels sprouting from the top, and seeing who could spin the dreidel the longest.

I love our Christmas tree.  It symbolizes the traditions Husband and I have created with the girls, and who our family is.  It isn’t traditional, since it has Chanukah on it.  It isn’t color coordinated, and we don’t change the balls and tinsel each year to keep up with current trends.  It is hung with memories, and laughter, some fighting, and tons of love.  It is our tree, and I love it.