Do you really want a hippopotamus for Christmas?

You know that song, “I want a hippopotamus for Christmas. Only a hippopotamus will do!”? I love that song! I don’t know why, but I do. My college roommate even got me a plastic hippopotamus Christmas ornament one year that still goes up annually.

However, when it comes to actually getting a hippopotamus for Christmas, the sensible thing is to pass. I don’t have the time, energy, money, space or experience to care for a hippopotamus, no matter how much I might want one. Yes, baby hippos are adorable (it’s the wrinkles). But you know what? Baby hippos turn into big hippos, and then even bigger hippos. And I don’t have any idea how to look at a baby hippo and tell how big it’s going to be; therefore there’s no way to properly prepare for the amount of space it will need. (Will it fit in the backyard swimming pool or not? How can I tell?)

The same applies to puppies. Puppies (and kittens and whatever other living things) for Christmas.

We’ve all seen the videos of the squealing children as the puppy tumbles out of a barely-wrapped box, red ribbon around its neck, and smothers its new people in slobbery puppy kisses. It’s adorable.

But it’s death till you part, my friends. Or it should be.

Any living thing – whether we’re talking puppies for Christmas or ducklings for Easter – is a commitment for the life of that animal. It’s not a “let’s play with it until the kids get tired and send it back” sort of thing. It’s not a “if it gets too big we’ll just get rid of it” or “if it’s too expensive we’ll just let it go” situation. It’s a “I have brought you into my life and I promise to care for you, whatever you may need, until you are no longer with us” scenario.

You wouldn’t adopt a child and give them the sense that they belong to your family and will be safe and cared for, and then send them back to the adoption agency when they don’t sleep through the night. What sort of news scandals would that cause?! I know not every one considers their pets to be their “babies,” like I do, and that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean you can just get rid of them whenever they may become an inconvenience.

Not all pets are truly members of the family, like mine are, but there is a difference between somebody’s pet and just another animal.

I have nothing against outside pets. I wish my dogs were outside pets, and as soon as we get a fence put up they will make the transition full-time. However, if you don’t want to touch the dog except with the barest minimum head-pat; if you don’t want the dog to touch you in any way; if you don’t want there to be any sign in your home, in your car or on your clothes that you own a dog at all; if you don’t have time or knowledge to properly train the dog; if you don’t ever want to hear the dog; if you don’t see a need to socialize the dog with other animals or people — in short, if you just want the dog to sit quietly in the yard and look pretty so you can tell people you own a dog, then you don’t want a dog, you want a lawn ornament.

Buy a lawn ornament. Spare the dog the loneliness of a life with you. (And that applies all year long, not just for Christmas.)

Also, don’t get puppies as presents unless your children are old enough to care for the dog or you are prepared (inevitably) to care for the dog yourself. And you are prepared to love that dog (or kitten or hippopotamus) and provide it with proper food, shelter, medical care and, yes, companionship. Because sticking the dog in the yard and having no interaction except to put down a bowl of food once a day while the dog sits where it can’t touch you is not companionship.

If someone put their child in their room and had no interaction with him except to put some food under the door a few times a day, we’d call that neglect. Don’t put your pets through that.

Buy stuffed animals for Christmas. Buy real animals for life.

Happy Friday,

The Missus

 

But you’ll love it when you’re 70…

If I had a dollar for every time in my life an older person has come up to me and said, “Sweetheart, you just look like you’re still 15,” I would be a wealthy woman.

Here is why you should never say that to a young person, male or female:

It’s insulting. Period. Whether you think so or not, it is.

Yes, yes, I know, the common response is, “But honey you’ll love it when you’re 70!” Yes. I probably will. When I’m 70 I will likely want to look 11 years younger than my age. But right now, at 26, your casual words undermine my authority, my professionalism and my self-confidence in the workplace.

I am a young professional, not many years out of college, still trying to prove myself and my abilities in the workforce. When you come up and ask me if I’m still in high school, and then insist that looking like a teenager is a good thing, that is the opposite of flattering or helpful.

What board room of executives is going to take a 15-year-old seriously? Probably not the ones I walk into.

Remember when you were fresh out of school? Remember when you wanted to be taken seriously? How would those comments have felt to you then?

This also spills over into cruel assumptions made about a person’s intelligence and decision-making abilities based on their “appeared” age. I have a young friend my age who got married the same summer the Mister and I did. She and her husband now have two beautiful sons, the first of whom was born a year or so after their wedding. She was 22 at the time.

I cannot believe – and yet, really I can believe – the insulting remarks and actions she received any time she took her firstborn out in public. Things like, “Honey, you aren’t old enough to have that child,” and “Don’t tell me he’s yours!?” and “Did you do this on purpose?” Yes folks, it really happens. And I expect it to happen to me too one day, unfortunately.

So, please, make an effort in the coming year to put the phrase “But you look so young…” out of your vocabulary. (Unless you actually are in a nursing home, in which case it is probably appreciated.) Please be respectful of the younger generation still trying to blaze their trails in the world, and please don’t make assumptions about young-looking women with children. For all you know she could be in her thirties and just be “blessed” with a teenager’s physique.

A work in progress

Those who know me personally know that I had a unrealistic expectation that the Mister and I would close on our new house, get all the painting and fixing up completely done, and then move our belongings inside and start living in an already-magazine-perfect home.

Yes, yes, I know. You’re laughing. I get it.

That is not what happened, obviously. Maybe if we’d both taken two weeks off work and did nothing but work on the house, but certainly not with 8-5 jobs and two puppies to take care of.

In reality, we closed on the house on a Monday, and I took the day off to paint and clean. Lots of work got done that day. Then nothing else got done all week long. We gave up the dream and moved in that Saturday.

The house is a work in progress, but progress is being made. The hallway is completely painted and has been for a few weeks now. We’ve bought a few small pieces of furniture and the Mister hung new blinds in the living room and kitchen last week. There’s even a welcome mat by the back door. It’s a slow progress, but it’s progress.

The biggest hurdle of the past few weeks has been the color of the living room walls. The Mister loves the chocolate brown and cranberry red that are already there, and I don’t dislike them, but I wanted to make the house OURS instead of just living in someone else’s home… so I’m painting.

I have agonized over the color choices for WEEKS! I’ve brought home dozens of paint cards and painstakingly eliminated one by one. I’ve bought quarts of test colors and painted swatches on the walls and scrutinized them from every angle in every type of light. I finally came to a decision a little more than a week ago. After painting almost one whole wall with my test quart, I ran back to Walmart for a few more gallons. They were out of the base type they needed to mix my paint, and they weren’t sure that a substitution would still work just right. So I waited.

Last week went by. The wall was half done and driving me crazy. So yesterday, Sunday, I went back to Walmart. They STILL didn’t have the base type I needed (our rural Walmart only restocks thing about once a quarter), but I agreed to try a substitution in the hopes that it would match.

I got home and painted a test patch. It was close! I thought it was the same! But it wasn’t. I continued painting, hoping it would somehow, magically be the same color when it dried. Or that maybe if I just kept painting I would cease to care.

As it turns out, after much pacing and muttering and frustration… I actually like the mistake color better than the color I chose. I hate to admit that, because I spent so much time choosing that color, but the mistake is slightly deeper and, believe it or not, is EXACTLY the color I had in my mind but couldn’t find on paper.

I bought two more quarts of the exact same “mistake” formula and redid the wall.

So it’s a work in progress. The living room looks TERRIBLE right now, with one wall needing a last coat, one wall with only the edges done and one wall with a big swatch right in the middle where I needed to use up the rest of the paint I’d already poured out. It’s horrendous. But when it’s done, it will be beautiful, and it will be exactly what I wanted.

So here’s to making a house a home, and here’s to a husband who lets me pick whatever colors I want without (too much) complaining. 🙂

Happy Monday,

The Missus