Monday, February 21, 2011

Family Day 2011

It's Monday, but dh & I are enjoying a lazy day at home. It's a long weekend for us -- a relatively new (and most welcome!) phenomenon for us in Ontario during the dreary month of February. And while I will happily enjoy any day off that the powers that be see fit to bestow upon us, it still rankles that this one has been labelled "Family Day." I'm sure I'm not the only person in this province whose family situation doesn't quite fit the socially approved ideal of a mom, dad & 2.2 kids and who wishes the politicians who invented this holiday had come up with a different name. Even without the angst about my family situation (or lack thereof, depending on how you want to define "family"), to me, "Family Day" smacks of politics, of pandering to the "family values" crowd. (Right now, case in point, I'm watching the suppertime news, with each of the three political leaders preaching about what they will do for Ontario's "families." Ugh.)

I did a quick Google News search, & was heartened to see I'm not the only one who thinks the name needs something to be desired. As the Toronto Sun says, "Great holiday. Name needs work."

"This is a small thing, but it's a powerful recognition of our priorities," [Ontario Premier Dalton] McGuinty told reporters at the time. "There is nothing more valuable to families than time together."

Well, he would say that, wouldn't he?

With nine brothers and sisters, and four adult children, his family can field a football team and have one left to ride the bench.

Not everyone is so lucky.
Family Day #1 2008
Family Day #2 2009

Family Day #3 2010

*** *** ***

So, being that I have the day off, I tuned into Oprah this afternoon. I doubt that Oprah knows that it's "Family Day" in Ontario (as well as Alberta), but -- as if to rub salt into the wound -- her special guests today included Celine Dion (with several lovingly photographed segments featuring her new twins), as well as a family of SEXTUPLETS from Columbus, Ohio (the mom previously lost twins to premature labour). The sextuplets went home with $250,000 in store credit from their local Wal-Mart, and Mom & Dad got a belated honeymoon in Vegas in the best suite at Caesar's Palace, with front-row seats to Celine's new show there.

I've probably written about this before, but I have a love-hate relationship with Celine. I'm not a particular fan of her singing. Both the music & her personality are a little over the top for my tastes. I find myself cringing at her willingness to share every last detail of her personal life. She was going through infertility treatment at the same time I was -- and I remember standing in line for my ultrasound at the clinic, hearing one of her songs on the radio, & muttering to the woman in line next to me, "I'll bet SHE doesn't have to line up at her clinic at 7 a.m. with her butt hanging out the back of a gown."

And yet, I think she's genuine -- there's nothing artificial about her. She's Canadian : ) and there is no doubt that she loves her family (and she has a LOT of extended family to love!). And if all her oversharing about her desire to have children, her many IVFs, her miscarriage, brings some level of infertility awareness to a few more people in this world, I guess that's a good thing.

*** *** ***

We've been in our house almost 21 years. Katie's been gone almost 13 years, & we're coming up to the 10-year mark of our decision to stop infertility treatment.

During all this time, our spare bedroom has stood as a kind of symbol of our thwarted plans & dreams -- of how our life sort of screeched to a standstill for awhile (& is still sometimes struggling to get back up to full speed). It's the smallest bedroom in the house (the third is our office/junkroom) & the one we had designated for the nursery (it was the baby's room for the previous owners, too). We never did much with it after we moved in, because we were expecting to decorate for a baby, sooner of later.

But it's been years since we (more or less) accepted that it wasn't going to be the baby's room, & still haven't done much with it.

The room is furnished with our very first bed (double mattress & boxspring on a frame, no headboard), and a cheapo, particleboard chest of drawers & night table that dh had in his student apartment. There's not much room for much more. The bedspread on the bed was the very first one that was on the bed (courtesy of dh's aunts) when we arrived home from our honeymoon -- an embroidered organza over taffeta confection that was still pretty, but increasingly becoming shredded.

For the longest time, I've been wanting to do something with that room. I thought that finding a new bedspread would be a good start -- but I haven't been able to find one that I liked -- at least, at a price that I liked. I wasn't going to spend more on a bedspread for the spare bedroom than I would spend on my own room.

Yesterday, we went to the mall & I went to investigate the white sale at one of the department stores. I stumbled onto a bedding set that I finally thought would do the trick. Comforter, bedskirt & pillow shams. Not the greatest quality, but good enough, for the amount of use it will get (we don't get a lot of overnight guests). Best of all: it was originally just $79.99 (a price I would have thought quite reasonable in any case), but it was marked down to $39.99. AND it was a scratch & save weekend, so I got an extra 10% off on top of that. All told, my new bedding set cost about $40, including taxes. Not bad!!

Dh helped me to move the mattress off the boxspring & put on the bedskirt, then make up the rest of the bed. We still need new furniture (again, nothing expensive, but I think we can do better than what we have), lamps & curtains/valance, but it's a start.

*** *** ***

To end off, a meaningful quote (brought to my attention by another childless-not-by-choice friend):
"For a long time it had seemed to me that life was about to begin -- real life. But there was always some obstacle in the way, something to be got through first, some unfinished business, time still to be served, a debt to be paid. Then life would begin. At last it dawned on me that these obstacles were my life." ~ Fr. Alfred D'Souza


  1. I'm also enjoying a day off today, but here in Manitoba it's Louis Riel Day. DH & I had a nice conversation this morning about how the name Louis Riel Day is better than Family Day, for exactly the reasons you mentioned. Sorry it's Family Day for you.

  2. Hm, sounds like the Canadians just wanted a bank holiday to match the US schedule!

    So, you could always call it President's Day!! Snark, snark.

    And you and dh got to spend a day together. Your, no YOUR, family. Feel empowered by that, my dear. You guys have a great marriage. Not everyone can say that.

    Love the quote. I have been trying to be more in the present moment, not always looking forward, but enjoying the here and now. (Boy is it harder to do in the winter). Not only do I try to avoid reliving the past, worrying or looking forward to much to the future, but I also try to avoid the alternate present.

    take care xoxo

  3. I love, love, LOVE the quote. Thanks for sharing.

    I know just how you feel about Celine. I agree - I think she is genuine. But most of the time her enthusiasm comes across as so darn obnoxious. It always makes me feel like a bit of a Scrooge!

  4. That's such a huge step with the room. I don't think you can put a time frame on these kind of milestones. Sounds like you knew when it was the right time to make the change.

    And as for Family Day? I think you're spot on about the political slant. Today is President's Day here in the U.S. and I'm thinking about the neighbors I crossed paths with today. Almost none of them have family of any kind in the state or even in the country. Most of my immediate neighbors don't have children either. Some Family Day for them! Pfft!

  5. I like your quote at the end. I've heard it before, but it always resonates with me.

  6. That is one of my all-time favorite quotes!

  7. I'm sorry it's Family Day in AB and ON. Painful reminder for too many people. I don't know why they, unlike Manitoba, couldn't come up with a better 'thing' to honour. Even 'Celine Dion Day' would be better. ;)

  8. "Family Day" is truly a horrible title for a day off, especially when they claim that the average household is no longer a "family" in the traditional sense, but singles, flatmates, couples without kids or with kids left home, etc etc. It must make a lot of people feel isolated.

    Well done on redecorating the room. The room that would have been our nursery is one of two rooms in the house still to be redecorated (since we moved in 17 years ago!!). It is our spare, spare room ... and I'm thinking of making it my own dressing room. Indulgent - hell yes!

  9. What a great post Loribeth! There are so many things like "Family Day" that can be hurtful to those without children and/or struggling with infertility and loss. I imagine those who named it weren't intending to offend anyone, but I so appreciate where you are coming from.

    I am so glad that you finally found bedding that you like for the room. I understand you wanting to give that place a new look and different definition in your life.

    Lastly, I LOVE that quote! I read a story a long time ago called "The Station" with a similar concept, about how throughout our lives we are waiting "to get to certain places." When I am older, when I graduate from school, when I get married, etc. THEN I WILL BE HAPPY!

    It took me a long time to realize, and I am still working on it, that the journey IS the destination and even if our lives don't look anything like how we imagined, hoped and dreamed they would or could, we can still find joy in wherever we are at.

    Thank you for sticking with me and commenting on my blog over the years Loribeth. I am grateful for your support and intend to comment on other's blog (especially yours) more regularly going forward.

    Take care,
    Kathy :)

  10. Did you see where Oprah asks Celine - so did you consider stopping (re: IVF) after 5 times?. Give up the dream? (It's the same question she asked Jen from Inconceivable Family) And C eline says, No.

    Hah! Did you get that Oprah? No, she wasn't giving up. How come you didn't challenge that? Cause she was ultimately successful?

  11. I think they should call it MidWinter Day. But what do I know, I live in BC and WE DON'T GET A FREAKING HOLIDAY!!!!! I'm bitter.

  12. Nice closing quote there. I really like that.
    And great bedding set. I've been thinking I need something new for our bedroom, but I have the opposite problem from you, in that I'll gladly spend the money on our guest bedroom, but I sometimes have to force myself to spend the money on ourselves. Silly. I need to get over it and just cough up the cash for a decent, durable comforter for our bedroom.

    I, too, have a love-hate relationship with Celine. I love how open she is about infertility, but I get so annoyed with the whole "I'm going back to get my son's TWIN siblings who are frozen" blah-blah nonsense. I know that ARTs frequently take us into uncharted territory, but just because the eggs came from the same cycle does NOT make them your existing son's "twin" (though I guess now that she has actual twins, she's stopped with that annoying line...). Oh, and her music is grating, too. The Canadian business is good, though. I'm pretty fond of several Canadians ;)

    Hmm. Family Day. That's an odd holiday to me for some reason. Isn't that kind of what Thanksgiving is about?

  13. I have ranted forever about designated personal events/holidays. I HATED the school events that centered around father/daughter themes as mine (father that is) was not around. The girls all talked about it weeks ahead, planning dresses, hairdo's. Bah-humbug.
    When we adopted, there was an issue about me being allowed paid time off by my employer(like all the other new mothers) because our son didn't pass through my hooha, but was delivered via a social workers car to an office where we were waiting.
    I could go on and on. Suffice to say, I hope you enjoyed your day off, and called it whatever felt good.