What’s your spirit holiday?

by S&M

As was recently evident from my zealous posting (sorry!) on The Gift Post, I like selecting, wrapping, and giving presents. That makes Christmas a tough-to-beat holiday for me, although this buzz quiz says I’m not a total fanatic. I also love birthdays, gifts or not. My son and I lean heavily into “it’s your special day” whether that means an outing, a special supper, or simply granting wishes/following directions especially fast. This year he “gave” me dinner out, including him eating something he never would have tried another day.

What about you? What holiday do you like to get in the spirit of, and what is that “spirit”? Scaring people at Halloween? Partying like it’s 1999 on New Years Eve? Backyard glamping or a building a truly rustic booth for Sukkot? Bonus points for stories illustrative of your holiday spirit.

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139 thoughts on “What’s your spirit holiday?

  1. I like to do milestone birthdays big. I generally think birthdays aren’t a bid deal – yes, let’s celebrate, but we can do it on a different day if that’s more convenient and whatever. But I enjoy making a big deal of the milestone ones. We had a party for DW’s 50th a few years ago, and I surprised her by hiring a band that she really likes. My brother’s 50th is this month, and SIL and my nephew have planned a big surprise party for him. We are flying in to surprise him, as are a bunch of other family members.

  2. I am insane for fireworks and will plan the week around 4th of July in order to see as many displays as possible. If I can feel the shockwave from a shell, I am happy. A neighboring town does a fall fest that I look forward to every year because they do a great display with a relatively low turnout, it’s such a treat to be able get great lawn space right under a fantastic display in October.

  3. By far my favorite day of the year is the Summer Solstice which falls on June 20 or 21 depending on the year. As I’ve said before if sun worshiping religious were still I thing I’d be all over that.

  4. You checked 10 out of 32 on this list!
    Christmas isn’t really your thing, and you’re certainly not obsessed with it. You don’t mind a few festive things, but anything more than that is definitely overkill for you.

    It must be my negative responses on gifts.

    Maybe I’m in a ranting mood, but these gender reveal parties rub me the wrong way. And aren’t we supposed to not make a big deal about gender because it’s fluid? Also, I’ve only noticed week- and month-long birthday celebrations since social media made me aware of them. Gifts and little celebrations every day. I generally like the one-day approach.

  5. Since Louise mentioned this I marked it on my calendar for celebrating later this month. Yay for the start of longer days!

    Makara Sankranti, also known as Makaraa Sankrānti or Maghi, is a festival day in the Hindu calendar, in reference to deity Surya. It is observed each year in January. It marks the first day of sun’s transit into the Makara, marking the end of the month with the winter solstice and the start of longer days

  6. I like the season from Thanksgiving to New Years. I love the craziness of the end of year activities, family get togethers, shopping, decorations, music and just the spirit that does seem to be in the air.

    We do have Hanukkah decorations and other winter decorations inside our house. No tree. I was gathering up all of the decorations on the 2nd, and it feels a little sad to go back to the regular winter grind. The only nice thing about this year is that we’ve had a lot of rain and just one snow so far. It’s too much rain, but I’ll take it vs. snow.

  7. At this stage of life, holidays make me feel overwhelmed and inferior, so I don’t enjoy the season from Halloween to Valentine’s Day as much as I wish I did. It doesn’t help that hunting trips, often business trips, end-of-year reviews for manager-DH and all four kid birthdays fall in that span. Making everyone’s holiday special is a lot of time and work.

    I handle it by limiting my obligations and rigorously planning. Christmas decor is limited to advent calendars, stockings and a tree. We’re regular guests at a friend’s parents’ farm for Thanksgiving the last few years, which means I prepare two dishes for 15 people instead of managing a fancy dinner myself. Birthday gifts are limited and we celebrate half-birthdays in the summer until you’re 10, at which you get summer-appropriate gifts.

    I find more pleasure in small treats and outings throughout the year. We bought flowers recently and DD loved that, so I’ll probably do that more often. We’re visiting the King Tut exhibit at OMSI this weekend.

  8. I really like Christmas and wish I could enjoy it more, but it my busiest time of year at work, so I can’t experience it like I want to, and then I find it depressing when it is all over (because I didn’t enjoy the time as much as I wanted to). So I wouldn’t call Christmas my spirit holiday. It think that might be Halloween or Fourth of July. I love decorating for those holidays and for Halloween the joy and excitement of the trick or treaters. For Fourth of July I love the parades, the appreciation for the WWII, Korean, and Vietnam vets on the route, the fireworks, and just general appreciation for our wonderful country.

  9. I have a fondness for home country festivals which are often linked to nature. I walk around my neighborhood silently observing changes. As July mentioned Jan 14th, is one I particularly like because it marks the return of the sun. Thanksgiving, I associate with the many harvest festivals that are celebrated in the home country. I have to point out that older harvest festivals in the home country have undergone rebranding and to publicize the revive these festivals the word Thanksgiving is being associated with them.

  10. This is a neat topic S&M! I don’t want to take it completely off course, but I have a question for the group. DH is having a partial knee replacement next week. Anyone have any experience from pre or post surgery (Fred I think had something similar?) that would be helpful to him or me?

  11. When the kids were younger, I had fun celebrating some of the minor holidays in little ways. For St. Patrick’s Day, I’d buy Lucky Charms and dye the milk green with food coloring. Valentine’s Day – chocolates and dye the milk pink. I put the food coloring in the milk container so it’s a surprise when they’re pouring out the milk. DD is now away at college, DS doesn’t drink milk and DH doesn’t really like having his milk turned to green or pink so that has now stopped. I do still celebrate Pi Day (March 14 – 3.14) as I am happy to seize on any excuse to eat pie.

  12. Oh, a friend of mine just had a partial knee replacement last month. Surgery went great and recovery has been pretty easy. Although he says that it is mentally challenging. He wasn’t expecting to be so frustrated on not having his knee work/recover as quickly as he wanted. He is athletic and always bounced back quickly from injuries, so he thought that his knee would respond quicker than what the surgeon and therapists told him. So my advice is have realistic recovery expectations.

  13. Thanksgiving is my special holiday. I love to host. Unfortunately, I have pretty much had to do without hosting and have prepped only sporadic small attendance turkey dinners since my divorce in the mid 90s. (Ex In laws with small kids and then the ancient great grandparents trump the former DIL. And that family is not accommodating, anyway.) I did go down to cook for Mom in DC when she was too old to travel but still managing on her own if I could draft one of my kids to join us. In 2017 I finally got to put the leaves in the table, take out Mom’s china, and have a proper feast with generations of family. (The ex in laws who now like me require numerous special dietary accommodations, but fortunately are allergic to cats.) That will have to hold me for a few years. We were away in 2018 and in 2019 we will be in NoCal with my younger son and his wife.

  14. Pi Day and May the 4th are big in our house. I enjoy Thanksgiving. Lots of food and football, no presents.

  15. We had such a nice and non-chaotic thanksgiving this year. I want to have another Thanksgiving in May. All the food is available to be cooked, schedules are not more packed (maybe not less, either). It’s fun to gather with favorite foods with eating being the biggest thing on the agenda. Perhaps that will be a New Years Intention – host a Springsgiving.

  16. Christmas is my favorite, and btw it is STILL Christmas! SO Merry Christmas to all of you!

    I love lots of things about Christmas but I especially love the music. I now have a Spotify subscription and have been playing my own idosyncratic Christmas playlist for days. Although last night we played John Adam’s Christmas composition, which is called El Nino.
    https://www.peoplesworld.org/article/el-nino-john-adams-radically-updated-latino-christmas-oratorio/

    I also love Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, and St Saen’s Christmas Oratorio, and Charpentier’s Messe de Minuit pour Noel. And the Boston Camerata album A Rennaissance Christmas, and Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols, and Jean Ritchie’s Christmas album. And many, many others.

  17. The quiz says I am not totally obsessed about Christmas but that is because its list of Christmas activities are not the activities I do. The quiz misses all kinds of important activities like cutting your own Christmas tree at the place with hot chocolates, reindeers, and outdoor bonfires, or drinking Champagne on Christmas morning, or Lego advent calendars, or putting up Christmas tree ornaments that have extensive family history.

  18. “Maybe I’m in a ranting mood, but these gender reveal parties rub me the wrong way. And aren’t we supposed to not make a big deal about gender because it’s fluid? ”

    I am waiting for the gender reveal party in which the baby-to-be announces itself as nonbinary, or perhaps androgyne.

  19. I love both Christmas and Thanksgiving.

    As both a child and adult I am the Halloween grinch. I don’t like costumes or candy so I’m a hard pass. Have always found NYE overrated, but I love New Year’s Day – the promise of a fresh new year.

    I always found Valentine’s cheesy and fake until we had kids, and then made it about love in general, not romantic love. Now I enjoy getting everyone cards and cooking a nice dinner for the family.

    July 4th is definitely one of my favorites, and we make a big deal of birthdays around here.

  20. I also love Easter and Halloween. When my last kid stops trick or treating, I am going to cry. My 16 year old has always trick or treated with this one particular girl since he was 5, and they continued the tradition this year.

    I like holidays that have lots of decor, activities, and also a spiritual connection (and yes, Halloween definitely has a spiritual, albeit non-Christian) connection. I am not so big into strictly secular holidays which is why I find Thanksgiving boring – it seems to me to be all about watching sports on TV and crazed travel. Also I am not into Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day very much. Fourth of July is OK if it lines up with a weekend because you can go camping and eat burgers.

  21. Also not into NYE. It is so cold out, so I don’t really feel like going anywhere. My preference is to simply make a nice meal (we usually do shrimp and artichokes) and snuggle in a robe and watch a movie.

  22. @Houston: I like your house. ;-)

    My favorite holidays are birthdays. If I am going to be completely honest, then I have to admit that my inner three-year-old still *loves* the idea of a day that is All About Me. And it has gotten worse, not better, over the past couple of decades, because my daily life seems to focus more and more on other people, so having that day where everyone focuses on me and reminds me that I matter and they notice everything I do feels more important than it did when I was 22 or 23 and the world was mine anyway. And conversely, I like taking the opportunity to show those other people in my life that I think they are special and to focus only on them for a day.

    I have a hard time picking my favorite holiday. I love Thanksgiving for the once-a-year food-and-football fest, and the lovely fall weather. I love Christmas because Christmas — the cold, the lights, the greens, the giant pile o’presents. I love the 4th of July, because our town does it so well and it is such an easy, old-fashioned holiday and I feel straight-up patriotic, without asterisks or cynicism. I love Hanukkah, because latkes and hysterical Yankee gift swap. I love Labor Day because of the promise of a break from the horrendous hot/muggy. I like New Year’s because I have a fat bank account from my end-of-year distrubtion and get to sleep late and watch football. I like Rosh Hashanah, because that’s the one we host, and I have an excuse to bring out the killer bee honey. I like Memorial Day and all of the holiday WODs at my gym, because it gives me the opportunity to mull over and be thankful for the sacrifices others have made on my behalf. I even like Passover now, because my FIL’s predeliction to skip pages is such a family joke that it even made it into my son’s bar mitzvah, my BIL serves great wine, and I adore matzoh ball soup and have learned to make awesome chopped chicken liver.

    Honestly, the older I get, the more I just like the tradition of celebrating a holiday, period. It’s taking a day out of the normal routine, getting together with people you love and who matter to you and who in many cases you don’t get to see that frequently, celebrating something/being grateful for something, having an excuse to open a good bottle of something, and eating delicious food that you (usually) only get to make/eat once a year or so. It sort of brings together everything that matters — and even the bad ones tend to make for great stories later on.

  23. Oh, yeah: and I like Halloween, because it is the one holiday when DH turns back into a little kid, so we can go unabashedly cheesy and over the top with no guilt or annoyance.

  24. It’s not really a holiday that we celebrate in the traditional sense of celebration, but my favorite is Ash Wednesday. I love the idea that I can be forgiven/forgive myself and put things in the past, and start fresh trying to be a better me.

  25. Mooshi – we sang the Charpentier at our last concert. :) Very pretty, although I wished our baroque recorder players had had more than one rehearsal! My favorite of the Camerata Christmas albums is the American Christmas one.

    My favorite holiday is Christmas, although I also love Thanksgiving (and find there is less of a let-down afterwards bc no presents). I also like birthdays and try to give our kids the birthday that *they* want (so the kind of party and cake that they want, etc.). This year #2 is getting 3 cakes – one last week with DH’s family, one on his actual birthday with my parents, and then one this weekend for his friend party. :) I always make the cakes and DH helps me decorate (he is better at drawing).

  26. Mother’s Day. I LOVE it. It’s about brunch, champagne cocktails, and of course – appreciating motherhood & the sisterhood of mothers in general. And of course – my kid always makes me some very sweet card/gift at school, and both he & my husband are even nicer to me than usual. It’s a good excuse to send heartfelt and sappy greetings to my mom & MIL (and grandma before she died). I love it. It’s overcome Christmas as my favorite since I became a mother. My birthday is very close to lots of other family birthdays/anniversaries as well as the 4th of July – so we are often traveling, going to other parties, or otherwise busy on my actual birthday.

    The Home Opener at Wrigley Field is also a huge red letter day on my calendar every year. Hope springs eternal and all that (even if you must attend the first game of the season in a full-length parka). Plus I get to see my baseball family again – all the other regulars/season ticket holders/ushers/beer guys.

    The first day that the farmer’s market opens in May is also a red letter day for me.

    I love Christmas, but I think it drags out too long now. Thanksgiving is nice for the 4-day weekend, but I don’t love the traditions/food around it. Never much cared about Valentine’s Day. I don’t really get into Halloween although I really enjoy seeing the creativity in other people’s costumes. 4th of July is one of my least favorites — I HATE all the unauthorized fireworks.

    Pi Day and St Patrick’s Day are fun days right when the winter has gotten SUPER long, so I enjoy those too. Plus – they are low key with low expectations. Pie obviously, and then for SPD we usually just make corned beef and dye the mashed potatoes green like my dad always did.

  27. I also enjoy Super Bowl Sunday because it is a great excuse for a party and a bunch of junk food like hot dips and wings, but no one takes it too seriously unless their team is in the game.

  28. “I love Christmas, but I think it drags out too long now.”

    Christmas is supposed to be 12 days, from Dec 25 to Jan 6. That seems like a nice duration. Lunar New Year is similar in duration. Perhaps you mean that Black Friday + CyberMonday + Advent + Christmas goes on to long? :-)

  29. “btw it is STILL Christmas!”
    I just came from a funeral (work colleague’s 95yo mother) that I have to say was one of the best I’ve ever been to. There were maybe 40-50 people in the congregation. The priest started by pointing out who was there: neighbors, relatives, work colleagues of the son/DIL, etc. Then he pointed out this is a Christmas funeral. Now everybody knows about Little Christmas (Jan 6th) but he added this that I did not know…Christmas goes thru Jan 13th, the Baptism of the Lord, after which Ordinary Time begins.

    I got a 2 on the quiz, so I guess Bah Humbug! Not really. I enjoy the season, and even though I am not religious or a gift person (I am terrible at choosing gifts particularly for DW* and I never want anything for myself), I like giving the joy to others. It’s just that I’m always feeling like there’s one more thing coming that we (I) have to do**, so we never get any quiet evenings at home. (Yes, I know, soon enough I’ll be wishing someone, anyone, will stop by so I’ll shut up now.)

    * She’s not really a jewelry person, so even if I wanted to be spendy on that it’d probably miss the mark too

    **not necessarily Holiday related but e.g. we are hosting ~14-18 people for cards tonight. The hosts provide beverages (everything we needed for that was bought on New Years) and nuts?M&Ms, etc to nibble at the card tables, guests bring hors d’oeuvres/desserts. Well, DW can’t let it go at that; she loves to bake so she of course wants to bake something, put out some of the remaining Christmas cookies, grapes for those who are being good, a cheese/charcuterie/cracker platter. And then at dinner on Tues, Wed, and last night review all that which needs to be done to be fully prepared. It’s just draining on me to go over the to-dos again and again. I’ve tried the just make a list, add to it as necessary, and we’ll share the duties and get everything done approach…no go. But after tonight, an uncluttered weekend comes, so maybe some relaxation too.
    {if that was a rant, rant over}

  30. By far my favorite day of the year is the Summer Solstice

    Go to Sweden for this holiday. Seriously.

  31. And I forgot Lunar New Year. I enjoy it even though it really isn’t “my” holiday. I like it because I had the privilege of spending the 2 weeks of LNY in China once, and got to see how big of a celebration it is. It combines the family togetherness and frenetic travel of Thanksgiving with the decorations, activities, and glitz of Christmas. And for several years after that, there was a big celebration for Westchester County sponsored by the OCA which was really fun – hordes of kids dressed in traditional outfits running around, county politicians, interminable presentations of awards, dragon dances and Monkey King skits, and food.

  32. Go to Sweden for this holiday. Seriously.

    Rather than Iceland? I keep seeing an add for a combo deal that includes Iceland and Denmark which would be awesome for the solstice.

  33. Halloween is my holiday. I wrap my birthday up into that, so I always have an excuse for a party. My house lights the way that night (and I’m unapologetic about it). The Thanksgiving to Ground Hog Day season is tough for me – between all the holidays, and multiple parties, we have the boys’ birthdays and their associated parties (two this year). So it’s lots of travel in a relatively short amount of time. And exhausting. On the other hand, I’m looking forward to Little Christmas. That’s “our” Christmas where we open our presents and have a nice family meal. It’s quiet and easy.

    WCE – I may have to steal the half birthday idea and just wait for then to give the boys presents. I wonder if I can swing that next year!

    I am an unapologetic sun lover. I so look forward to the long days of summer.

  34. I didn’t think of including Red Sox Opening Day, which is a holy day of obligation in Boston. That would be on my very short list.

  35. I have never got into the habit of gift giving for Christmas. I like the spiritual aspect of Advent, the decorations, carols and Christmas tree. I do think the Christmas season goes on too long and now it’s beginning even before Thanksgiving. It should begin sometime around Dec 20th and continue to Jan 6th. The day after Christmas, I spied Valentines Day items in the store !

  36. “I am insane for fireworks and will plan the week around 4th of July in order to see as many displays as possible.”

    You might consider coming here for NYE. Fireworks are literally insane.

  37. “Also not into NYE. It is so cold out, so I don’t really feel like going anywhere. ”

    Another reason for NYE here.

  38. “I have a hard time picking my favorite holiday.”

    Mine is any holiday that gets me a day off work without any additional work piling up in my absence.

  39. Of the big holidays, I am a Halloween person. I like Thanksgiving, I like Christmas, I like Easter, I like July 4, but I don’t go above and beyond for those. Halloween is the one where I go above and beyond what’s normal. Most people don’t even *have* special Halloween music.

    Of the smaller holidays, I always cook lamb stew and brown bread and colcannon for St. Patrick’s Day. Since Burns Night is on a Friday this year I think we’ll celebrate this year, i.e. drink scotch for those of scotch-drinking age and read poetry (no doubt the readings are improved by the scotch). We use to always go in for the Chinese New Year’s parade but in recent years the kids’ busy schedules have always made for conflicts.

  40. A big reason to spend LNY in China is the fireworks. Night after night after night. We could see multiple displays in different parts of Beijing from our hotel window.

  41. HM – I composed special “horror music” when I was about 10 and recorded it onto a tape, along with screaming and howling. Then we played that on repeat all night long. If you recall where I grew up it was in keeping with the rest of the area. ;)

  42. Adopted since we moved here in 1990: the start of Ice Hockey Season.

    I’ve always loved hockey; I remember watching the Original 6 on a 9″ black & white tv in my bedroom (pre-cable) with a snowy picture. Then after expansion I went to a ton of Seals games in Oakland. In LA, pre-Gretzky, I used my out of date student ID to get into Kings’ games for $5 for about 5 years. When my kids started playing and it was fun to watch, but there were many years of 2 parents/3 players when we would say “will hockey ever end???” But now we’re past that mayhem and although I am a baseball guy through and through, I love hockey, especially the playoffs. NHL, of course, but college is also great, high school is fun to watch. Bring it on.

    Of the traditional big holidays, it’s gotta be Independence Day. Least prep/upfront stress of them all.

  43. A Halloween playlist? Mine includes Monster Mash, The Time Warp, Bad Moon Rising, Staying Alive, Super Freak, and more. I used to celebrate Halloween and Day of the Dead much more, but in the last few years I’ve toned it down.

    Becky’s mention of Ash Wednesday made me think of the many religious holidays of my childhood. We had processions, kermeses, novenas, and other fun liturgical traditions.

  44. Mine is heavy on Nox Arcana, plus some stuff from game soundtracks (the scary clips, not the thrilling/heroic parts), plus some weird sounding ambient stuff.

  45. “killer bee honey – I’m going to need more information on this.”

    It is exactly what it sounds like: honey from killer bee hives. There is a bee place at Rennfest here that sells it (https://www.beefolks.com/shopdisplayproducts.asp?id=27&cat=Killer+Bee+Honey). It is impossible to describe accurately, and yet when you taste it, it tastes exactly like what you’d expect killer bee honey to taste like — a little spicy, a little strong, a little less cloyingly sweet, etc. It is just sort of sui generis, and I love it with all my heart. (And I don’t even really like honey in general). I have a gallon of it in my pantry — and I do mean that literally.

    Avocado or banboo honey is sort of close, if you find that someplace.

  46. When I was in college we threw a Halloween party in our lounge. As people were arriving, we played Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor, loudly, while my roommate who was attired in a black cape stood over a big bowl of Sangria cackling “Come, drink the blood of the Devil”.

  47. ” Perhaps you mean that Black Friday + CyberMonday + Advent + Christmas goes on to long? :-)”

    YES! Starting with Halloween these days. I try to ignore it up until around December 15th, and then I personally celebrate from Dec 15th – Dec 26th or so. :)

  48. @Mooshi – I’ll accept that description happily. I’m not Catholic in heritage, and I don’t really celebrate Epiphany or anything post Christmas as part of “Christmas” per se. It’s a secular holiday for me now anyway.

  49. This year Thanksgiving displays were minimal . There were fewer turkey or harvest themed items. Christmas things had already crept in. I just don’t care for the rushing to get to the next holiday when the one before has not yet arrived.

  50. C’mon, Laura, it’s gotta be the disco version so all the ghouls can dance!

  51. Finn, “literally insane” fireworks sounds heavenly! I haven’t been on this blog long enough to know where you live. Is is similar to HM?

    Any other knee replacement advice? DH is not a great patient, and I’m getting nervous. A co-worker who recently had hip surgery suggested getting a recliner temporarily to sleep in at night so that he does not have to climb the stairs to get to bed. We have a bathroom with a step-in shower on the 1st floor. We will be pulling up any area rugs and moving living room furniture around so that he has easy access to the tv and couch.

    DD is competing in a jazz festival in Boston two weeks post-op. The PT said he’d get crutches for DH to use for that trip because they signal “give me space, don’t bump into me.”

    I feel as though I’m still missing something obvious that we should do before rather than after.

  52. A co-worker who recently had hip surgery suggested getting a recliner temporarily to sleep in at night so that he does not have to climb the stairs to get to bed.

    Talk to your doctor but that may be a bad idea. He should be able to walk up and down stairs when he leaves the hospital/rehab. The big risk is that he won’t move enough/won’t go to rehab/do his exercises and that will cause a poor outcome. Most likely it would be good for him to have to go up and down stairs.

  53. Swim – I echo what Rhett says “The big risk is that he won’t move enough/won’t go to rehab/do his exercises and that will cause a poor outcome.” For the first few days/week if he just goes downstairs in the morning and back up at night that’s ok. As long as he does his pt.

    Check your email in a bit.

  54. I agree – the preventable knee-replacement suboptimal outcomes that I hear about most are related to poor compliance with physical therapy or too much sitting around. They will have very specific instructions for exercise and movement, I would follow them exactly.

  55. I love Memorial Day weekend, because it is the official start of Pool Season (even if it’s not actually Pool Weather). The first day we can eat outside on the deck is like a little holiday, especially after a long winter. When we lived in DC, the Rolling Thunder events were also a big part of Memorial Day weekend.

    But like MM, I also like Christmas because of the music, and with my own Spotify playlists I can keep the music going until Christmas officially ends on January 13. (That is also right before the new semester begins, so perfect timing.) It’s far more enjoyable now that the crush of December events is over. This year we finally caved and got an artificial tree, which DH wanted in part because he can procrastinate about taking it down.

  56. I like Memorial Day too for similar reasons. It is a bit of a false start now that DD has so many finals and state wide exams in June, but I get into a summer mode as soon as all foo the pools and beaches open.

  57. I agree – the preventable knee-replacement suboptimal outcomes that I hear about most are related to poor compliance with physical therapy or too much sitting around. They will have very specific instructions for exercise and movement, I would follow them exactly.

    Another ditto. DW needs to have both knees replaced and we saw a surgeon about 6 months ago for a consultation. He told her straight out that he didn’t think she was ready because of the commitment you need to the PT afterwards.

  58. You guys may have adjusted my attitude about Pi Day–thanks! In recent years, I’ve been irritated at cards and general recognition of it–to me, it was a quirky, nerdy thing, and other people picking it up was intrusive and diluting the fun. Maybe I’ll be able to feel differently when it comes around this year.

    I would love to have a traditional Thanksgiving, but my family feels otherwise. I’ve tried for years to get them to do the big feast, but they are not interested, particularly my parents, and since grandparents are the usual hosts, that makes it awkward. Maybe this year I should look for people to invite for a Friendsgiving.

    Denver, somehow, no matter what celebrations are planned on other days, the “real” birthday is never just another day for us. Even if “nothing happens”, my son and I both just have that “birthday” feeling. And I’ve got to say–he initiates it on both his birthday and mine. I love it, because he is generally not interested in other holidays.

    Rhett, I think any/all of the Nordic countries would be great for summer solstice. I’m not sure how many of them do winter solstice things. I have a friend in Germany who went to celebrations where they have a bonfire and people jump over the fire. Her 6 year old jumped the fire, so maybe there’s sometimes a smaller side fire for that. This may have been on the Brocken, the witches’ mountain. I know there are celebrations there. But I don’t know if you could attend–think it was just women. For Easter, witches in Sweden fly to a certain mountain. I don’t know if German witches go to the Brocken for EAster, but wouldn’t be surprised if they did. I assume there is a lot of overlap in customs, because of language similarities, and since the Swedish ruled Germany.

    HM, that sounds/looks almost like NYE in Berlin. It goes on for miles, and for hours

    https://www.thelocal.de/20150102/warzone-berlin-new-year-video-goes-viral It’s a tourism draw. The official fireworks display is at the Brandenburg Gate, and the road is shut down for a mile south of there for partiers.

    Swim, yes, Finn and HM live in the same state, and I’m pretty sure they’re on the same island. On the hip replacement, I agree with others that movement is important. My mom can be quite the drill sergeant. Visiting them after my dad’s October hip replacement, I felt awful making him get up to get his own cup of tea or whatever, but she insisted he needed to do it. Sure enough, by January he was riding his bike to go play tennis again!

  59. Swim – Best of luck on your DH’s knee replacement. My one anecdote echoes what others have said. My relative who had his knee replaced (after his hip replacement and spine issues) was on his feet for an active Costa Rica trip a few months after his surgery. He’s fanatic about PT, with his own added regimen of weight training and yoga and Peloton. He’s admitted that so far still he has less mobility in his knee, but he’s older and is still overall happy with results.

    I remember some of you have visited Yellowstone in winter. By chance has anyone visited Iceland in winter?
    Not political: Private Companies Are Paying To Keep Roads Groomed, Bathrooms Cleaned In Yellowstone
    https://www.npr.org/2019/01/04/681995105/private-companies-are-paying-to-keep-roads-groomed-bathrooms-cleaned-in-yellowst

  60. I went to Iceland in late winter, On Feb 1 sun rises at 10 am and sets at 5. It usually isn’t really cold and snowy around Reykjavik, just gray and damp. It rains a lot, so the northern lights tours which are a highlight are not guaranteed, although they usually drive you to a part of the island where there is less chance of clouds. And Icelandair usually has cheap package tours from the East Coast. The thermal baths near the airport aren’t that crowded, and the bus tours run to the local Southern sites. There is nightlife mostly over the weekends with Europeans coming over – right age for July’s children. Most of the tourism in the rest of the island is closed. (Game of Thrones locations north of the Wall – northern Iceland is where is it filmed. in winter). I loved it for a long weekend.

  61. The remnants of the pagan solstice shows up on Dec 13th as Sankta Lucia. There are some beautiful church services associated (and a national pageant), but I am not sure one would visit the country just for that. It is a time of celebrating light, flame and warmth, magic (with hardly any Jesus). As you may recall, Dec 13th used to be winter solstice until the calendar was readjusted a few hundred years ago.

    We celebrate Lucia in our home with the traditional food and a non-traditional party. Ikea and I work together to cater it (where else do you get your pickled herring and elderflower drinks)

  62. Meme, thank you. That’s very helpful information! I am thinking of a long weekend. Unfortunately that volcano that you can enter is not open this time of year. But it would be nice to see the Northern lights and other sights. Ice caves or glacier hikes maybe.

  63. Off topic update on DS’ college search. He is taking AP Environmental and loves it, so he’s thinking he wants to go into environmental science. A few weeks ago he decided he does want to look at Utah and even asked if we could swing by on our way back from Arizona in March (no). I like it because it’s in the WUE for all majors with tuition 150% of in-state, and it’s not too far so travel costs would’t be bad.

    He’s been looking at schools during break and found Washington State has a nice program. And they give a $10k annual scholarship under the WUE, so I like it. Travel costs wouldn’t be too bad either.

    Then he decided to remove the division I football requirement from his Naviance searches and Humboldt State was a 100% match. So he was looking into it, but the travel would be an issue. Flights are not cheap and there aren’t a lot of options.

  64. Denver, how awesome that his studies and academic interests are guiding his college search! Utah would still have the same general landscape and climate, right? At least as compared to Arizona anyway. I once thought I might go to AZ, until I walked around there one year at Thanksgiving with a cousin who was there in school. I could not handle the heat and dryness. We tried to keep me hydrated, but I had never felt so awful in all my 17 years as at the end of that day. Obviously, some people can do it just fine–you just have to make sure your son is one of them. The low humidity should be fine for him, so it’ll “just” be the temp he’d have to adjust to. For Humboldt State, Frontier ($107), United ($120), and Southwest all have non-stop flights between Denver and San Fran. To see how he’d get to campus from the airport, look at “By Bus” at the bottom of this pagehttps://www.humboldt.edu/visit/travel And even an 11 hour drive is closer to home than Austin and Finn’s kids are. (But I’m not one to talk, as I’d be surprised if my bub is in a different city from me when he’s at uni).

  65. Yeah, Humboldt’s a bitch to get to from pretty much anywhere. Super beautiful campus, though. Of course everyone is still screaming about the budget cuts to the California universities, but they do seem to stagger onwards.

  66. We wouldn’t make him take a 5 hour bus ride to get to/from the airport. On the off chance he ends up there, and I think it’s a pretty slim chance because he doesn’t like how remote it is, we’d pay for him to fly to Arcata. And where are you getting an 11 hour drive? It’s about 21 hours from Denver according to Google.

    Now he’s more concerned about the size of Arizona and ASU being too big. I don’t think it really matters between 20,000 enrollment or 40,000, but he does. We’ll see what he thinks when we visit them.

  67. Where did I get 11? Probably from not wearing glasses. The cracked phone screen makes it harder to see too.

    Rocky, stainless is fingerprints galore! I think integrated appliance, like they’re hiding in the cabinetry, is the new thing.

  68. “even an 11 hour drive is closer to home than Austin and Finn’s kids are.”

    Direct flights start later this year so DS can have a single 11 hour flight home.

  69. We looked at new fridges recently, and they’re now available in a stainless steel finish that resists fingerprints. I assume other appliances are also available with that finish.

  70. I hate stainless steel finishes. MIL who is cleaning obsessed thinks every print on a stainless steel appliance makes it look dirty, so she is constantly wiping prints. I told her we need to have a remote to open and close appliances.

    Interesting discussion on college distances.
    DD – has your DS looked at UC Davis ? A colleague’s DD had ASU and UC Davis on her list. There was another AZ university on her list that is in the mountains but I don’t recall the name.

  71. Our own college update: DD got into the U MN engineering school this weekend; we won’t hear about Honors College or merit aid until March. But honors college is highly questionable — their “middle 50th percentile” range is 34-36 ACT and 99th percentile class rank! Meanwhile, I didn’t realize that there was a Nov. 1 application date to qualify for the scholarship that gives out-of-state students in-state tuition, grrrr, so blew that one. But, honestly, she loves IIT, and she doesn’t really want a big school anyway (I thought she might like MN’s connections with the hospital for med school/biomed engineering, but IIT has a good biomed program and is a lot smaller). So I’ll need to talk with her to see how much MN is still a serious consideration given the offer she already has from IIT.

  72. ” I told her we need to have a remote to open and close appliances.” lol!

    Distance from college is certainly an important factor to be considered for most families. I enjoy hearing about the DD family thought process as well as others here.

    I finally saw a couple of Mrs. Maisel episodes and thoroughly enjoyed. Part of the appeal to me is the production/set design that captured that era. While I can see how this series could be criticized for its fantastical approach, isn’t that how lots of entertainment works? Escapism? This show made me think of Meme, as well as my older sister, both from completely different backgrounds, who could have related to many parts of this story. Without getting too political, it made me think about both the structural and intrinsic aspects of women’s place in society.

    Related, I am fascinated by Ashwini Bhide, who is spearheading the construction of Mumbai’s new subway system. She is featured in a WSJ story.
    ‘You Have to Actually Cut Open Mumbai’s Belly’—Inside One of the World’s Most Audacious Transit Projects>

  73. “Meanwhile, I didn’t realize that there was a Nov. 1 application date to qualify for the scholarship that gives out-of-state students in-state tuition, grrrr, so blew that one.”

    It’s hard to remember all these details when you’re in the thick of it, but I know these early deadlines have been mentioned here a number of times. (I also missed a similar deadline when my kid was going through the process.)

  74. @July — yeah, I had checked the various school pages over the summer to make sure we hit the scholarship deadlines, and I checked again when she was doing applications, but everyone else was Dec. 1, and I just flat-out forgot about UMN. I kept thinking I had forgotten something but convinced myself that I was just thinking of the early action deadlines. Oops.

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person who has never raised a picky eater knows exactly how to make other people’s children eat.”

    I think this version is even truer than the original. I *hated* growing up in an era when everyone assumed that picky eating was simply defiance, and so the proper response was to force the child to comply. It was invalidation on a fundamental level, never being believed that I was telling the truth and not just “acting up.” If you think about it, it’s a version of gaslighting. I find it very interesting that her son followed the same path mine did (eating everything when small, then cutting things out one at a time starting around @18 mos). From what I’ve heard, I did that as well (though my tastes narrowed more slowly — I remember still eating popcorn shrimp at Red Lobster until I was maybe 9).

    I think there is some sort of fundamental physiological cause going on; when I was little, I had a bunch of food allergies/intolerances that I grew out of, and when DS was older, he was diagnosed with a very significant shellfish allergy and a bunch of minor ones. But there is also clearly some taste bud and textural stuff going on, as I still cannot tolerate a number of things, despite repeated efforts.

  75. I think people fail to recognize how much is textural. My mom made “oven-fried” chicken that was incredibly slimy. The taste didn’t bother me; it was the sliminess. My dad couldn’t choke down bananas because of the texture.

  76. Modern stainless finishes do not show fingerprints as easily as older ones. As for decor, unless the entire kitchen is being redone and a matching “suite” (often value priced) of appliances purchased, it is best if a replacement just fits in with the other appliances. If they are all different today, white, black, steel, perhaps this is the time to swap them all out. My personal preference are the retro looking enamel in turquoise or other fifties colors. But pricey. Since the fridge is the appliance that usually suffers most from fingerprints, I wouldn’t fret over an oven that will likely do just fine between visits from the cleaning lady.

  77. never being believed that I was telling the truth and not just “acting up.”

    They thought you were faking? Or they knew you were telling the truth they just believed your will needed to be broken?

  78. DD – has your DS looked at UC Davis ? A colleague’s DD had ASU and UC Davis on her list. There was another AZ university on her list that is in the mountains but I don’t recall the name.

    No, he hasn’t considered any other California schools.

    Distance from college is certainly an important factor to be considered for most families. I enjoy hearing about the DD family thought process as well as others here.

    I’m concerned about the ease of travel, not the distance. Even without the nonstop flight, it’s still pretty easy (although a very long trip) for Finn Jr to get back and forth because there are numerous flight options. If DS ends up at Oregon, which is still his first choice, there are nonstop flights to Eugene, and Portland is two hours away with a lot of flights. Pullman is a bit more isolated, but it’s only 90 minutes from Spokane and there are a lot of flights to Denver from there.

    Lfb, that sucks about missing the deadline but it sounds like it’s pretty far down on her list anyway.

    I agree about pickiness being more physiological. Yeah, sometimes it’s a kid being a stubborn pain in the rear, but I think most of the time they really have an aversion to the food for some reason.

    Funny story about DD – she has no career interests yet so she decided to google “high paying jobs” and came up with marine architect.

  79. “Now he’s more concerned about the size of Arizona and ASU being too big. I don’t think it really matters between 20,000 enrollment or 40,000, but he does. ”

    I think there is a big difference. My own university is just shy of 20,000, which is a comfy size. When we visited Rutgers, which is 50,000 students, I found the place utterly overwhelming.

  80. I agree that physiological responses, and just plain old tastes, lies behind a lot of pickiness. But the kid in that Serious Eats article, and her family, went way beyond normal pickiness. I think there were some major emotional battles going on there which she isn’t being honest about. It seemed like a dysfunctional feedback loop – the more she rejected her family’s food, the more they scrambled, in the face of very real hardship. People from dysfunctional families, even as adults, often are unable to understand the real issues behind the ways in which their families interacted.

  81. @Rhett: they thought I was making it up to get attention/be stubborn/assert my will, and that I’d like it just fine if I just shut up and ate it — and even if I didn’t like it it wasn’t that big of a deal, we all have to do things we don’t like, so I should just shut up and be grateful to have food on the table, because there were starving children in China. It was all part of that same authoritarian parental ethos that says “children should be seen and not heard.” In that world, refusing food is pretty much the most fundamental rebellion possible (because it is both defiant AND ungrateful) and so tended to trigger a lot of older-adult hot buttons.

    I think over time my mom figured out that there was something real going on, but that was the overwhelming atmosphere of my childhood. Certainly she got as many disapproving looks and comments as I did — because if it’s all a made-up battle of wills, then my continuing resistance meant that she was a failure as a mother for not “fixing” me.

  82. Home country parents were notorious for forcing thin kids to eat to build up strength. I was fed porridge and soft boiled egg. Hated both. Bland and unappetizing. I hated that breakfast. Why no toast with butter and jam or
    an omelette or more traditional and appetizing breakfasts I don’t know.

  83. “I’m concerned about the ease of travel, not the distance.”
    I agree with this. DS2 is looking at schools, and this is certainly a consideration. I think we would consider Chicago because there are so many direct flights each day. On the other hand, I would prefer he not go to a school in many areas of rural upstate NY because it is such a pain to get to those places. SUNY Albany is fine, though – it is an easy drive and is also well served by buses and Amtrak. Thankfully, DS2 only wants city schools.

  84. “Home country parents were notorious for forcing thin kids to eat to build up strength. I was fed porridge and soft boiled egg”

    When we were in Germany, the family upstairs always made their kids eat a raw egg each day for some health reason or another. I tried it once. Eeuw.

  85. I agree about pickiness being more physiological.

    Most children eat a wide variety of foods until they are around 2, when they suddenly stop. The phase can last until the child is 4 or 5. It’s an evolutionary response, researchers believe. Toddlers’ taste buds shut down at about the time they start walking, giving them more control over what they eat. “If we just went running out of the cave as little cave babies and stuck anything in our mouths, that would have been potentially very dangerous,” Dr. Cooke said.

  86. We’re looking at a 5hr (one way) drive to get DS3 back to college on Sunday. If it’s just he and I, I’ll normally do that in 11hrs roundtrip, taking an hour there for him to get his stuff back into his room and for us to have a meal together. I really do not mind the drive, or spending a day like that.

    But this Sunday it’ll be a pain because the dorms don’t open till 2 and I want to watch the NFL playoffs, particularly the 440pm game, and although I’d really like to I can’t take Monday morning off because I have a meeting that I called and was a pain to set up at 830.

    And DW wants to come along. Which is nice because now the driving can be split between the three of us and she and I (like others I suspect) always have great planning/what are our priorities talks in the car.

    Alone, I would probably drop DS at 2-215pm, start heading back and drive ~2.25hrs, find a Buffalo Wild Wings / sports bar, watch the game, then drive the rest of the way home. Long day, but I’m ok with it. But DW doesn’t want to “stop at some sports bar and sit there for 3+ hours”, then have to drive home. So maybe we’ll listen on Sirius till the end of the 3rd quarter, then stop and watch the rest (there’s a casino about 45min from home and that should be decent timing if all — weather, traffic — goes well). DS2 says he’ll set DW’s phone up to get the game live; fine except it probably means I’m driving all the way back and DW will have to contain herself from yelling at the phone/tv.

    Condolences to the Ravens, Seahawks, Texans and Bears fans here. And congrats to the Chargers, Cowboys, Colts and Eagles fans. I really have no horse in the race.

  87. The videos of NYE fireworks were fantastic – thank you, I would love to travel to HI or Germany for those.

  88. I was the world’s pickiest eater as a child, to the point where eating a restaurant or at someone else’s house caused real anxiety for me. It was 100% a texture issue. I pretty much lived on plain pasta, cheddar cheese, and apples until I was 20. Thankfully for me, my parents just rolled with it. They never once forced me to try something or got on my case about it. They had zero qualms about me just fixing my own bowl of plain pasta.

    I definitely had other family members who thought it was a power struggle and would go toe to toe with me, but if you cannot swallow blueberry pancakes, you cannot.

    When I was around 20 the aversions just went away. I still didn’t really eat meat until probably min-late 20s, but all kinds of things I couldn’t have eaten before were suddenly appealing. So I have a lot of sympathy for kids that are picky eaters.

  89. Thank you for sharing that article RMS. As a child I wouldn’t say I was a picky eater, but there were definitely ethnic foods my dad would force me to eat, but I would refuse to because of the texture. I was given many a lecture about starving children in China. I also hated milk, and that was another battle I had with the adults in the family. I would be left alone at the table until I finished my glass. It wasn’t until I was in middle school that I finally figure it out that if I had milk (or ice cream or cheese) that I just didn’t feel good. As I child I couldn’t recognize the connection, nor describe how I was feeling. Turns out it is a protein intolerance and I passed it onto my children.

  90. @Fred: If your DW doesn’t want to stop so you can watch the entire game, why can’t she drive for the first @3 quarters while you stream the game on her phone?

  91. Lark, the fact that your parents just rolled with it was exactly the right response, preventing the kind of battle of wills portrayed in the Serious Eats article. Still, at what point does pickiness start veering into eating disorder territory? You describe feeling anxiety about normal social situations because of your pickiness. Also, you say that at age 20, suddenly the aversions went away. I noticed that the person in the Serious Eats article said pretty much the same thing. Most people start beiing responsible for preparing their own food at about that age – maybe that plays a role in the disappearance of aversions?

  92. “I also hated milk”

    Oh me too, and I still hate milk in fact. In my case I can’t even blame lactose intolerance. I just hate the sliminess of the stuff. When I was a kid, if I was served milk at someone’s house, I would gulp it down as fast as a could – literally I chugged it – while trying not to smell it. Then I would cheerfully ask for some water to accompany my meal.

  93. Most people start beiing responsible for preparing their own food at about that age – maybe that plays a role in the disappearance of aversions?

    It could be. Or the normal process that locks a kid’s palette down when they enter toddlerhood reverses itself more slowly in some people than others.

  94. Or presumably the strength of the aversions that kick in in toddlerhood varies from person to person. If the aversions are really strong, the person ends up traumatized by the experience and it takes a while to get over it.

  95. My parents compensated for the soft boiled egg trauma by putting it in various cartoony egg cups.

  96. @Fred: If your DW doesn’t want to stop so you can watch the entire game, why can’t she drive for the first @3 quarters while you stream the game on her phone?

    I was going to say the same thing.

  97. Most people start beiing responsible for preparing their own food at about that age – maybe that plays a role in the disappearance of aversions?

    Not the case for me, because I was a junior in college and still eating all meals at the cafeteria. But I distinctly remember that was the year things that would have bothered me before stopped bothering me.

    Or presumably the strength of the aversions that kick in in toddlerhood varies from person to person. I think this was the case for me. In my case it was never taste, and I was always willing to try food because I found it interesting, but 2 different textures in my mouth at the same time (like, a piece of pasta and a vegetable, or a hotdog and a bun) would set off my gag reflex.

  98. but 2 different textures in my mouth at the same time (like, a piece of pasta and a vegetable, or a hotdog and a bun) would set off my gag reflex.

    I never had that. But is it like when I get an iced coffee and sometimes there is a piece of ice that can make it up the straw and you’re drinking it and suddenly there is a chunk and you’re mouth/brain goes, “AHHHH a chunk!!” Then you explore it with your tongue and it’s just a piece of ice and you go back to your business. In your case all texture changes while eating caused that “omg something is wrong” reaction?

  99. I know I have a real dislike for the combination of hard crunchy things mixed into gooey things. For example, nuts in chocolate, sprinkles in ice cream, peanuts mixed into certain Asian dishes. It is definitely dislike of the texture contrast, because I am fine with nuts and peanuts alone. Thankfully it is really easy to avoid those kinds of dishes, or in the case of the peanuts in the Asian food, just pick them out.

  100. It’s kind of funny to be that Serious Eats is the website publishing that “In Defense of Picky Eaters” when Kenji Lopez-Alt (higher up at the site) is one of those extremely annoying parents who thinks that his toddler’s refined palate is all because of his superior parenting & cooking skill. He constantly, CONSTANTLY brags about it on social media and podcasts.

  101. @DD – SIL has a degree in Environmental Science from UIUC and is doing just fine for herself. I mean, your alma mater barely meets the standard of having D-I football these days, but other Big Ten teams DO visit the stadium to beat them up. ;)

    (I I know – Champaign is not that easy to get to from Denver – too far from St Louis AND Chicago really.)

  102. @Rhett: to some degree I think yes. I still remember loving Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup until I was 8 or 9, and then for some unknown reason, I was eating it one day, and the mushroom made sort of a “squeak” sound, and I had this thought of “that would be exactly what an ant would taste like.” And I was unable to eat mushrooms after that. Even as an adult, I love how they taste, and I can talk myself through it and force myself to eat them, and I even really like some mushrooms (eg enoki), but give me a little generic button mushroom and I just can’t. It’s the squeaky-chewy thing that’s like nails on a chalkboard. I also don’t like gelatinous things, it reminds me of chewing a hunk of fat on a steak, which is just gross. So I don’t do great with “real” Chinese, where that gelatinous texture is a delicacy.

    I also feel compelled to note that some of us began cooking much earlier (9-10) in an effort to make foods that we liked, and to reiterate that some aversions never go away. What has changed is my power to control the situation. E.g., I used to shy away from any kind of unfamiliar food, because if I didn’t like it, I knew I was going to have to eat it anyway (or not eat at all while being a “disappointment”). Now I am more than happy to try all sorts of things, because I know I won’t have to eat anything I won’t like (and, tbh, I am also eating in a whole different level of restaurants, and *much* more is delicious than when I was a kid!). So the risk is just much, much lower, and it’s “safe” to make the wrong call once in a while.

  103. @Rhett – I have experienced the phenomenon you mentioned first-hand with my own kid and with other kids that I am close to that 2-5 is generally the height of pickiness. And then, generally, they gradually like more & more things into adulthood. There are so many things that I didn’t like and really barely tried until my 20’s – seafood of any kind, a good steak, any exotic vegetables, spice beyond the very mildest salsa, etc. And now there is little that I don’t like at all, although of course I have preferences.

    Since DS was never one of the extreme cases – we just ignored it & made sure that there was something that he liked at every meal. This was not all that hard – he always liked rice/bread/pasta/pizza, plain vegetables (not too mushy), any fruit in any form, nuts/nut butters, and soft meats (e.g., sausages or meatballs or ground meats – no steaks or hunks of chicken). He’s gradually changed his tastes over the years to accept more things while also giving up some of his old favorites. He still hates eggs in any form where they are the star of the show. I don’t really care.

  104. Denver – has your son looked at Montana State? It has good science programs I think. Montana State also has a very easy application process and was pretty generous in giving scholarships. It would have been cheaper for DD to go to Montana State than to go to Univ. of Washington where she would have gotten in-state tuition. Three of DD’s friends are at Montana State and are enjoying it.

    RMS – thank you for posting the piece on picky eaters. DS is quite picky (although he ate everything at 18 months) – some of which has to do with food texture and some of which has to do with smells. And he’s never liked drinking milk or having it on his cereal. I find I get quite irritated with all the articles that make it sound like it’s so easy to raise a kid who won’t be picky. My brother was also very picky as a kid and now eats a wide variety of foods. Similar to what Rhett said, I do think your taste buds change around 3-4 and then again around 18 – 20 years old.

  105. In your case all texture changes while eating caused that “omg something is wrong” reaction?

    Sort of, but in my case it was more of a nauseating experience, where my stomach would turn and gag reflex would be set off. It was a gut reaction. Pun intended.

    I can’t recreate it now, because the aversion is totally gone, but I can remember it. Shudder.

  106. Lark, glad you get that it isn’t all mama’s cooking’s fault!

    “They thought you were faking? Or they knew you were telling the truth they just believed your will needed to be broken?”
    Rhett, in my sister and BiL’s case, they seemed to think my niece was faking and her will needed to be broken. I was swiftly shut down and given “the look” by all adults present when I suggested that if she disliked peas that badly, maybe she shouldn’t have to eat even the 2 or 3 bites they were demanding. My mom thought I was positively evil for suggesting that could lead to an eating disorder. A few years later, when my sister thought her kid was heading towards anorexia, guess what the amazing advice of the miracle doctor was? You guessed it. Don’t force her to eat things. Arg!

    Louise, what?! I love soft-boiled eggs. lol. I seriously do, but I also get how very individual these things are. DS can’t stand mush–mushy applesauce, mushy cottage cheese, mushy whatever–it doesn’t matter. In the German town where we lived, it was believed all children loved rice pudding and it was frequently served at daycares and schools as a treat. He absolutely hated it! So I get that you can dislike the eggs I like best.

    LfB, authoritarianism does not sound like your mom! My DS has tried making his own foods. Several times he’s brought recipes that he thinks sound good. I get exactly the right ingredients and we make it according to instructions, but nope. It hasn’t worked yet. I’ve started always having pizza in the fridge so that when I serve him something like pasta with browned ground beef mixed in with the tomato sauce, he can just say “next!”

  107. My daughter is definitely more picky than the other two kids. If she could, she would live on candy and instant ramen, with some Kraft mac n’ cheese thrown in for variety. I actually think it is due to the her earliest months – at 11 months, she had never had any solid food, and had been on a diet of a teeny bottle of really sugary formula every 4 hours. She was very underweight when we met her. And that Chinese formula – ugh! I think she developed the idea as a baby that sweet was the norm. It also explains some of her other food weirdnesses – she hordes food, and will climb all the way to the ceiling of the pantry if she knows there is candy up there. She also likes to open the ramen spice packets and eat them straight. Anyway, I just feed her whatever everyone else is having because she can always find something she would like – in the meal – salad with ranch dressing if nothing else (btw, she got the ranch dressing thing from the kid of one of our list denizens – no one else in our house can abide the stuff!), and never comment. One thing that is good about her is that she does like super spicy stuff. We have a constant battle at the pediatricians though because she is so tiny – we always get grilled as to what she is eating and then get the stern lecture about ensuring she has enough protein.

  108. @ Fred – why not just record the game and watch it when you get home?
    This is what DW said…maybe it will come to that. Since we’ll be driving we can easily enforce a news blackout.

    re me watching/her driving for the first 3 quarters: her team is playing, I’m just an interested football fan/bystander. She’ll want to watch the live stream if we do that.

  109. @SM: Not my mom — she was my (relative) safe haven. It was really my dad (who was very authoritarian as a parent and so tended toward seeing it as defiance) and then my mom’s relatives (who saw food as love and thus the refusal to eat as a personal rejection). Since my mom had grown up in that environment and become anorexic as a result, she vowed never to push food and was much more reasonable about “just try it, you don’t have to eat it if you don’t like it.” Although she did compel the ingestion of vegetables — just not the ones that made me gag. :-)

  110. @Fred: IMO, when you’re talking about wanting to plan the trip so you spend 3 hours in a generic sportsbar when you can’t even drink because you’re driving, you’re just a teeeensy bit more than an interested bystander. ;-)

  111. Ivy, I wouldn’t mind if he went there but he has no interest. And we did win a couple of Big Ten games this year, although one was against Rutgers so I don’t think it counts :)

    SSM, I’ve mentioned Montana and Montana State to him but he doesn’t seem interested.

  112. “Now he’s more concerned about the size of Arizona and ASU being too big. I don’t think it really matters between 20,000 enrollment or 40,000, but he does. ”

    I’ve heard that the honors colleges at both UA and ASU can make them feel smaller.

    Also, ASU has multiple campuses, so if he does everything, or nearly everything, on one campus, it’ll only feel as large as that campus. I believe engineering is largely separate from the rest of the university, so if he’s not an engineering major he may never need to go to that campus.

    That’s something you may want to look further into when you visit, e.g., see how far apart the campuses really are, and whether the separation alleviates the possible overwhelming feel of that large an enrollment.

  113. Finn, did you visit the east coast during the winter break? if yes, where did you decide to go with your family?

  114. Lauren, yes, we spent a couple of days in the Boston area, and a few days in NYC, before we went to CA for several days on the way home.

    We visited several colleges– BU, MIT, Barnard, Columbia, USC, UCLA, the Claremont colleges, SCU, LSJU– although only 2 (BU and MIT) were not completely self-guided visits.

    We also saw a couple of shows in NYC. Was it you who recommended the Radio City Xmas show? We all liked it, DW really loved it, and DD noticed a Korean guy in the cast. The Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra concert was really good.

  115. Finn, I’m pretty sure an honors college is not in his future. I am curious how the ASU enrollment breaks down by campus or if the number he saw was just for Tempe.

  116. Finn – Did you deem the neighborhoods congenial enough for your daughter around BU, MIT, Barnard/Columbia, USC and UCLA? And does SCU stand for Santa Clara? What is the special sauce at SCU?

  117. I don’t know what Finn thinks, but Santa Clara is a good solid Jesuit school with good connections to the businesses in the community. And one of my former classmates is on the philosophy faculty there.

  118. Yes, SCU = Santa Clara U. Not sure there is a special sauce there, but a close friend who lives in the area is an alum who gave us a tour, although a good part of the tour involved pointing out buildings that were not there when he attended.

    Quite a few local HS grads go there, and we also knew many SV engineers who went there for MSs and MBAs; we’re well aware of its stature locally.

    It’s in a pretty decent neighborhood. On one side, it’s not very pretty, but that’s an industrial neighborhood that I think is not dangerous.

  119. Overall, neighborhoods seemed pretty good.

    USC has always been notable for its history of crimes nearby, but the USC village is now open, continuing the gentrification of the area around campus, as well as adding dorm space that makes a residential experience more of a possibility.

    USC does tick off many boxes, and their efforts to address the safety concerns, in concert with their efforts to increase their academic profile, make it increasingly attractive.

  120. I think several regular posters mentioned the Christmas show. I mentioned it because I think it is a great way to see what NY is all about during the holiday season. We started taking DD to the show when she was about 4, and we used to go every year. We decided to scale back to every other year since they only make minor changes each year and the tickets are pricey even with some of the available discounts. years ago, but now we go every other year. I’m glad that your family was able to see the show, and that they enjoyed their visit. Tt is fun to visit that part of the city during the holidays because of all of the holiday decorations. The crowds are a problem, but it sounds like you were able to navigate and get to all of the places that you wanted to see on this trip.

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