Great Expectations

by MomGrind

disappointedThe first night of Hanukkah was beautiful – candles shining bright in the Menorah, delicious potato latkes and Hanukkah jelly doughnuts, saying the blessings and singing together. Family time at its best and just as I had envisioned.

Then it was time to open the presents. After several years of resisting the kids’ pressure and sticking with the Israeli custom of giving money rather than gifts, this year we have finally given in and adopted the Jewish American custom of giving eight (!) presents to each child – one for each night of Hanukkah. So unlike years past, this year I had to give a lot of thought to what I bought. I tried to be thoughtful, without going overboard, since you can’t really buy eight big gifts, at least not if you want a college fund for your kids.

Back to last night. Presents were opened, proper gratitude was shown, except that one of my daughters seemed disappointed. When we asked her about it, she said, “Well, it’s just that if this is the biggest gift, then it’s not that big, so yes, I’m a little disappointed.”

I couldn’t help it. I burst into tears. Not just tears, mind you, but sobs, loud uncontrollable sobs. Then to enhance the dramatic effect, I stormed out of the room, announcing that to me Hanukkah this year is over and I have no intention of celebrating it further.
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by MomGrind

thank youFor my health. Because mom is right: Health is the most important thing. With ill health, it’s very difficult to enjoy life and to focus on anything other than one’s ill health.

For my husband, who is also my best friend and biggest supporter. I’m still at awe whenever I think of how we met, narrowly escaping never meeting at all. Fate? Perhaps. Luck? For sure. I’m the luckiest woman in the world to share this journey with you.

For my children, who bring me immense joy (and also angst, let’s be honest) every single day and certainly keep me on my toes and keep life interesting.

For my wonderful mother and father, who are also huge supporters. Your unconditional love and constant support have been extremely helpful. I love you.

For having a clean, safe, comfortable place I can call “home.”

For being able to afford keeping this place warm when it’s so chilly outside. My heart goes out to the homeless people I see on the streets this time of year. I am grateful for the wonderful organizations that support them and help them get back on their feet.

For all this food, glorious food surrounding me. For being able to purchase my food in a clean, modern supermarket. For having access to clean, safe water, and to all the food – basic or otherwise – I could ever wish to have. For having the knowledge that enables me to cook delicious, healthy recipes for my family and for myself.

For having easy access to modern medical services. Even if the price tag gets higher by the minute, I am still grateful to have highly qualified doctors and modern medical facilities nearby.

For everything that modern life offers me, even the things I usually take for granted such as plumbing and running water, electricity, modern roads, cars, not to mention the more recent wonders of computers, Internet and high technology.

To you, who are reading these words, especially my regular readers who have stuck with me for a long time now (I started blogging almost four years ago), you who keep coming back even though I can sometimes be mind-numbingly boring, even when I refuse to get personal, get too personal, self-promote, close comments, complain and whine and just desperately seek attention and validation, as all writers do.

Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving!

How Lucky We Are

by MomGrind

happy thanksgiving“I don’t want them to pull my tooth out!” complained my daughter, and rightfully so, from her point of view.

Me? All I could think was, but you are so lucky.

Standing there at the dentist’s office, my perspective was completely different than my child’s. He was showing me her X-rays on a computer screen, the X-rays that have enabled him to diagnose an issue that people in other parts of the world and in the past would not have even known about. And we discussed possible braces in 2012, to make those teeth not just healthy but also beautiful.

Looking around that dental office, immaculate, modern, and kid-friendly with TV screens on the ceiling, I thought to myself, WOW. We are so, so lucky. Allowing nature to take its course when it comes to our teeth is a disaster for most of us. Unless blessed with amazing genes, the entire system – mouth, teeth, gums, is so fragile, so vulnerable to issues and to disease. My late grandfather had lost all his teeth before he turned sixty. And he was not alone. Throughout history, and today too in many parts of the world, people suffer so much because of things that we take for granted, and teeth are just an example of course.

How lucky we are to be armed with all this amazing knowledge about how we need to take care of our bodies, with the tools to implement that knowledge, and – in many cases though admittedly not all – with the financial means to pay for these treatments.

I examined my daughter’s worried face, and I wondered if I could make her see that the minor discomfort we endure as we take care of our bodies is so worth it, is a blessing rather than a curse. Going to routine preventative exams, teeth cleanings, minor treatments and surgeries, even going through the trouble of eating the right foods (when we would rather eat junk), exercising (when we would rather watch TV), and the daily maintenance of flossing and tooth brushing and washing. None of these can be taken for granted in other parts of the world.

And as we undergo the medical treatments necessary to keep us healthy, doctors use anesthesia to make sure we don’t suffer unnecessary pain; they scrub their hands and sterilize everything to protect us from infection; and if something does go wrong, we can often fix it with antibiotics and with other medicines.

As I comforted my crying daughter, I tried to explain all of this to her, even though I suspect she’s too young to understand. At age 11, she has every right to be upset about the possibility of her tooth being pulled out! But later, when she’s older, I hope she’ll realize how lucky she is. I hope she’ll be grateful – yes, even for those minor discomforts that keep her, that keep us, so healthy and strong.

If you’re in the US, I wish you and your family a Happy Thanksgiving. May we all continue to be so amazingly lucky.

I love these Christmas 1967 ads.

The dip may look obnoxious (how did they make it so FIRM?):

Christmas ad sixties dip


The idea that foil can beautify one’s home is hilarious:

Christmas decorations sixties


Serving Spam Spread as a holiday delicacy is wrong on so many levels:

Christmas ad spam


And no one in their right mind would use this sentence today: “16 colorful pages with new ideas for a gay holiday brunch”:

Holiday baking


But as always when looking at the past, it all looks so naive, innocent and sweet.

Photos were uploaded to Flickr under the Creative Commons license by Uh.. Bob. Thank you!

Worst Holiday Gifts

by MomGrind

It’s that time of year again. Everyone has a story about the “worst Christmas gifts ever” they’ve received. When choosing holiday gifts, you might want to avoid these common pitfalls.


Insulting Gifts
bathroom_scaleGiving a Weight Watchers certificate, a “healthy cooking” book or a digital bathroom scale to an overweight friend may seem helpful and caring, but it can really devastate her. Chances are, she knows she needs to lose weight and doesn’t need any reminders from you. On the other hand, scroll down to “thoughtless gifts” and you’ll see that you’re not supposed to give her cookies either. Try to pick something neutral that has nothing to do with one’s weight.


Inappropriate gifts

ThongGiving lacy thong underwear to your girlfriend can be fun, but if she will open the gift when her extended family is there, you may want to stick with something a bit more conservative. Same goes for any “sexy” gifts actually. If you really want to give your husband a naughty gift, make sure he opens it when it’s just the two of you.



Useless Gadgets

gadgetFancy paper weights, leather tie cases, personalized desk clocks, singing golf balls (I invented the last one) – those are just a few examples of what men are “supposed” to like. Those “Gifts for Men” stores? I say ignore them. They mostly carry useless gadgets that no one really needs. This is exactly the type of gift that would be forever re-gifted.


Noisy or Messy Gifts for Kids

kid_playing_drumUnless you truly can’t stand the parents and see the holidays as a great time to get back at them, avoid giving kids anything that has the potential to be seriously noisy (such as a set of drums) or very messy (such as a pottery kit).



Thoughtless Gifts

3143534717_4df6468345_mA couple of years ago I gave a Starbucks card to a colleague. Much later, I woke up one night realizing that he once told me he hates coffee and never ever drinks it – the smell alone makes him ill. Sure, Starbucks sells more than just coffee, but I think this gift qualifies as one of the least thoughtful gifts I have ever given to anyone.


So what DO you buy? How do you avoid the “worst Christmas gifts” syndrome? The basic rules of gift giving apply to holiday gifts too: take notes throughout the year in case the recipient drops a hint; give a gift that expresses your relationship with the recipient rather than a generic gift; give something they would never get for themselves; and give something you would be happy to receive too (but not something that ONLY you would be happy to receive).

Photos by Thinking Tree, Bare Necessities, makelessnoise, sudhamshu, and Michael Hedrick Photography.

Funny Christmas Ads

by MomGrind

In case you were at a loss as to what would make your loved ones happy this holiday season, allow me to make a few suggestions, inspired by fifties-era Christmas ads, from advertisers who were clearly out of their minds.

A bathroom scale

No other gift says “I care about you” quite like a bathroom scale.

Ladies Home Journal, December 1955. Image credit: sugarpie honeybunch

A pillow

The gift the entire family lusts after.

pilllow-adLadies’ Home Journal, December 1952. Image credit: sugarpie honeybunch

An electric range

This is what mother REALLY wants.

electric-range-adHotpoint All-White Automatic Electric Range ad, 1920s. Image credit: bayswater97

A Toaster

Only for the romantic at heart.

toaster adImage credit: Jon Williamson

A Vacuum Cleaner

And you thought a toaster was romantic!

vaccum cleaner adImage credit: Jon Williamson


The best gift ever: beautifully wrapped cancer sticks.

cigarette-ad.JPGSent via email by Linda Abbit of Tender Loving Elder Care



perfect-christmas-giftImage credit: Jon Williamson