Friday, December 15, 2023

Favourite Things Party

I went to the Relief Society Christmas party this evening. It was a dinner, which was awkward, because I didn't want to take off my mask to eat. But I just ate before I went and sat and visited with people while they ate. It was tempting to take off my mask because truthfully I hadn't eaten very much before I left, so I was pretty hungry (it had been a busy day and we only finished with the clubhouse at 6:15 or so, and my ride was picking me up at 6:30), but I stuck to my convictions and kept my mask on.

I recently saw someone somewhere explain their reasoning for wearing a mask by talking about the other leading causes of death in the United States. There's heart disease (695,547 deaths/year), cancer (605,213), accidents (224,935), and diabetes (103,294), to name a few.

I wear a seat belt, try to eat balanced meals, get regular exercise, refrain from drinking and smoking...

So naturally—of course—I will also wear a mask. 

Anyway, let's just say that the girl I was sitting beside for a good chunk of the party admitted that [a redacted relative] had wanted to come to the party but [redacted relative] was sick...with COVID. And her husband was sick with COVID. And their children were sick with COVID. 

And I was just very happy about my decision to keep my mask on. That's all. 


The second half of the party was a "favourite things" exchange. I...wasn't sure what to bring...because I don't really feel Like, there were women giving passionate monologues about the gift they gave: "This lipstick will change your life!" and "That is the best-scented lotion in the world! Now you, too, can smell like me!" and "You have no lived until you have used a frother!" 

Meanwhile, I can't think of anything that's my favourite of anything. You have a favourite body wash? Neat. I use soap. Like, whatever's-in-the-shower...soap. Soap that I haven't thought about long enough to even have an opinion on. Do people go around actively smelling each other?

Anyway, I know I can't be the only one to struggle with choosing a favourite thing because the gift that I got was a bag of Hershey's kisses and the giver was like, "Yeah. I don't have a cool story about my gift. I just like candy..." And I was like, "Word." Because...I get that.

Choosing something—a favourite something—to give away was agonizing. 

My kids actually suggested that I could just joke about giving one of them away because they're my favourite things. And they're not wrong! 

But in the end I remembered that I have a book out! So I wrapped up a copy of my book. 

First, of course, I had to float the idea at the dinner table to see whether or not it was too self-promotional. Sometimes I'm afraid when I share my writing that people will see it as an act of conceit (when really it's an act of bravery because having other people read your words is scary), but the dinner table agreed that it would be a lovely gift. 

So I wrapped it up and it sat and sat and sat on the table and no one picked it because they could all see it was a book. Weird, right? Like, obviously you choose the book first. Not at this party, apparently. 

Eventually a sweet woman in our ward picked "the book." She unwrapped it and flipped it open. 

"Oh, a book of poetry!" the woman beside her exclaimed. "I'm glad you got that and not me! I hate poetry! Can't stand the stuff!"

And then the woman who opened the book closed the book to look at the front cover and said, "By Nancy Heiss!"

And the other woman looked like she perhaps wanted an alligator  to show up to swallow her whole, which, I mean...fair. But also...who hasn't stuck their foot in their mouth before? I do it all the time!

Truthfully, a declaration that one detests poetry says nothing about me as an individual. They're well within their rights to dislike poetry. But it feels a teensy bit personal when, like, they're gazing at a collection of my poems specifically. But no matter. It was fine.

The recipient handed me the book and asked if I would give a reading of my favourite poem. 

My favourite poem?! Eek! I don't do favourites!

I flipped around until I found one that caught my eye. I explained that although I had written this particular poem when I was weaning Alexander—and thought he was going to be my last baby—I had since given birth to Phoebe. She's our for-real last baby...and I'm currently working on weaning her. And then I began to read:

Is this how Jack’s cow felt?

Old and tired,
dried up,
and so sad. 

Am I good for nothing now?

Trade me in
for magic

Do those even exist?

Buried deep
inside of me—
once upon a time—
there was a dream,
a wish, a plan.

I hope they sprout.
Now that the cow’s untethered, 
now that the milk’s gone.

While I was reading my phone buzzed. After I finished reading I passed the book back to the recipient and then—happy that the spotlight was once again off me—I pulled out my phone to see who had texted me (I only got about 10 billion texts while I was at this party—a neighbour needing a babysitter, a friend trying to set up a play date for our daughters, Andrew with updates on the kids...). 

This particular text was an update from Andrew:

Phoebe is in bed sans nursing. I think she’s going to sleep 🤞🤞

I could hardly believe that he texted that to me as I was reading 'The Last Weaning.' But that's exactly what happened. And she fell asleep for him just fine. And I don't feel the same sort of panic over this as I did when I was weaning Alexander. I'm not necessarily happy about it, because I miss my teensy Phoebe and I love snuggling with her, and—yes—I love feeling so, so needed. But also, I'm happy about it because I've spent 12 years of my life nursing babies and I'm ready to retire and do other things. And I'm less fearful about whether I can do other things because I did other things. 

Tomorrow, for example, I formally graduate with my master's degree. 

I'm not going to graduation, but...that's my formal graduation date. 

It was hard, but it was wonderful. I read a lot, I wrote a lot, I whined and cried a bit, and I learned a lot. And I'm not a very confident person by nature, but I gained a bit of confidence in myself, as well. I dug deep and got reacquainted with my identity beyond my children (a part that really had been buried pretty well the past several years, not that I resent being a mother...just that it is difficult to balance the needs of your children with your own needs as an individual).  


  1. Well that was super awkward, but in truth I would be someone who would normally have said I hate poetry, thanks to the dry dribble they make you read in school. But I read your book and it was lovely and honestly this year I started reading more modern poetry and have really enjoyed it. Turns out I just hate old English. Good figure. Also who doesn’t pick books. I rather have that them some random persons body wash…although I do have a favorite lip stain so I probably would have brought that.

    1. Also congrats on graduation. That’s amazing….and apologizes for in bed auto fill. It’s 5 am in bed and I’m too lazy to correct 😂