Sometimes, all I really need is for someone to tell me that it’s ok– that I’m not a bad person–if I don’t open my door to let my hashaa kids inside. That I can take break every now and then for myself, to regain peace of mind, centeredness, clarity, patience. But what if I do it all the time?
Earlier this week was New Year’s. [For those of you still recovering from the shock of the Doomsday-that-never-happened to notice that 2013 is here.] I was planning on spending it inside my hashaa, mostly (sadly) inside my ger. Last year, while I spent it between a few people’s homes, I was so worried about my ger’s getting cold the whole time that I kept running back and forth between my ger and whatever home I was visiting at the time. (Thank goodness all the homes were close to where I lived.) This year, I didn’t even aspire to stay up until midnight. I didn’t feel much in the mood to celebrate, so I didn’t do much planning.
The woman who had me stay till midnight at her home last year saw me walking on New Year’s Eve day this week and, inevitably, told me to visit her home that evening. Hoping to make an appearance and dash, I wrapped a deck of Uno cards as a gift for her daughter, went over as early as I could, and left with the excuse I was visiting more homes. Which wasn’t a complete lie.
I also had gifts for my hashaa kids, so I had to visit each of their gers to give them. The gift I had for the girl in the farthest ger (who’s 6) was a big bag of a lot of little things that I was re-gifting. I am pretty darn good at re-gifting, much to the chagrin, I’m sure, of anyone who’s ever given me a gift. There was a toy mask in there, a bottle of face wash I didn’t like, some watercolors I had never used, and some fake nails that a friend had given me for Christmas. Come to find out, the nails were her favorite thing. That helped lessen the guilt for re-gifting them in the first place just one week after they were given to me.
The boys (7 and 4) got watercolors, too (I bought too much at one point for a project that went awry), but instead of re-gifting (people don’t tend to give me boy-friendly gifts, not that I’d want them to), I actually purchased gifts for them: two storybooks each from a local food store. I knew the older boy just learned to read last year, and the younger one likes pictures, so I hoped that there’d be some redeemable quality for each of them, no matter how weak (unappreciated?) I though they might turn out to be.
I shouldn’t have worried. Though I thought their mom was just being nice by exclaiming how nice the gifts were, the boys also took to them. The young one held the books up and excitedly started telling how they were the same ones that so-and-so had or that his classroom had or that something else I couldn’t understand had coincidentally happened, too! The older one was less expressive but immediately bent over one on the floor and started sounding out the words aloud. After the young one finished ‘reading’ (making up stories while flipping the pages), he decided to use the watercolors I had given. All of my gifts were being used right in front of me! It was better than I had expected. I felt like I had chosen well.
The solidifying moment for my ecstasy happened a little later: I went into the far ger to spend a few more minutes before the big year-change, and the second ger’s family came in. While the rest of the family brought only themselves, the older boy had brought one of the books I gave and was still reading amidst the chaos of celebrating. I can’t describe exactly what I felt in that moment, but it was a mixture of pride, nostalgia, and something sweeter and more tender than I’ve felt in a long time.
I know that I don’t always have the energy to have kids in my ger or to engage with the people in my community, but rarely– maybe not all the time– I may do something pretty ok.
I can’t be that bad of a person, right?