How Halloween Saved The Christmas Countdown

I have a tendency to beat myself up over things. Right now, as I type this, a little voice is berating me because every time I check a published post, I find a typo but by the time I log into WordPress, I can no longer remember where it was.

Halloween 2012 was great fun but after an excruciating few weeks where little C never managed to earn a piece of Halloween candy after dinner, leaving her sister sweet P to work her way through both bountiful stashes of candy booty, I decided to jump on the candy fairy wagon for 2013.

It’s actually genius. You get the kids to pick out 10 (or whatever you deem reasonable) pieces of candy and the rest gets packed up to be collected by the candy fairy for less fortunate kids. In exchange, the fairy leaves a gift for the kids. For our inaugural year, I chose a small box of lego. I was so impressed with how willing they were to let go of the booty, I even stuck two lollipops on the box and a little fairy dust –aka sparkles that never actually make it into anything crafty.

The extra candy was hidden away to be disposed of when the kids were out. So of course, six weeks later, it’s sitting exactly where I left it. Every time I look at this one shelf of books, the candy bag says:

tsk tsk tsk, here I am still waiting to be given away. What’s wrong with you? You need only walk to the security gate and hand me over. Surely that’s not too difficult? Even for you?!

I could go on. Luckily, Thai Halloween candy is so unbelievably lame, I wasn’t tempted to consume it myself. Had there been decent candy, well I don’t even want to go there.

Thai Halloween Candy

Chocolate Flavored Skim Milk Tablets. Yum.

Before I know it, it’s November 31st, and I haven’t bought anything to put in the advent calendar! Crikey, what sort of SAHM am I? And then I remember the Halloween stash. Saved by my incompetence. Determined not to stuff them with sweets, I pick out a lone pack of candy for day one and vow to buy stickers and things for the next 23 days.

Day two rolls around and I have to distract the kids, while briefing Jefe where the candy is and tell him to put some treats the next box.

Later that day, I run off and buy a collection of erasers and small safari animals. I was rather pleased with myself, until I realized only the gorilla and brown bear fit in the boxes. Oh and strangely the camels. Every other creature will have to be a stocking stuffer.

This time I take it as a sign that the rest should be filled with the Halloween candy, reducing the pressure on my budget and my conscience as the voice from the book shelf is much softer now, with only half a bag left waiting for a home.

From My Thai Ashes, A Spanish Phoenix Rises.

Yes, I am prone to exaggerations. My Thai is hardly a mound of ashes, though it did come remarkably close to one in the last couple of months. With our future in Bangkok an uncertain one, and a host of other worries on our plates, I’ve been a very naughty language student.

Utterly unmotivated, I should have put my classes on hold and gifted them if we ended up leaving Bangkok. But hindsight is all too often useless. Instead, I attended here and there, wasting precious hours and retaining absolutely nothing, nor really maintaining what I had. Shame on me.

I’ll omit the self-berating monologue that has been on repeat play in my brain. It just isn’t productive. And when I can shut it up for a time, this has been an extremely valuable lesson in why one should heed Horace’s advice: Carpe Diem, imbedded into my generation’s brain by the inestimable Robin Williams.

You see dear reader, once I knew we were staying here and I had no more bahts to pay for classes when my package ran out, I realized how much I’d wasted. I’ve since really put some effort into getting my Thai back on track. What surprised me the most wasn’t just the renewed and strengthened desire to speak Thai; it was the realization of all the missed opportunities I’ve had over the last fifteen years to perfect my Spanish. (Read: speak in anything other than the present tense).

I worked for a Spanish-speaking employer for nearly five years along with his sister and his Spanish wife. Over the course of my employment there, I had two Spanish colleagues and most of our clientele was from Latin America and Spain. My mother and eldest brother are both fluent in Spanish. My godfather is from Argentina, and I’ve been together with my Mexican husband for nearly ten years. Seven of those were spent in NYC, often in predominantly Latin neighborhoods. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the US, as was widely evident in my double-period Spanish class where most of the students already spoke Spanish at home.

It bears repeating. My husband is Mexican. Seriously. I live with a fluent Spanish speaker. Say it with me slowly: S-H-A-M-E. Go on, you can do the forefinger rub. I deserve it.

I can give you a million and one reasons why I haven’t improved past advanced beginner, and some of them are actually as pretty good. But the truth is, I have no excuse.

When I picture myself in my dreams, as the person I’d like to be,  I am always able to navigate flawlessly through Spanish conversations. I’ve held off reading a host of wonderful Spanish writers in the knowledge that someday I will read them in their original form. I see my children, who are half-Mexican, telling their Abuelita about their week in Spanish on weekly calls. And I see myself calling her to catch up and tell her all about her grand-daughters lives and get sneaky ‘home-cooked’ mexican recipes to surprise my husband.

None of this will happen, if I don’t get off my ‘nachas’ and do this. I owe it to myself, I owe it to my extended family and, most of all, I owe it to my daughters.

All rights reserved by Tessek. Via Flickr