Hi, all. How are you? We’re in the midst of accepting another COVID Christmas away from family. From the comments on this Instagram post, I’d say many of you are in a similar situation. Sending a big, virtual hug to everyone struggling right now. Doing my best to acknowledge the disappointment while remaining grateful; grateful to everyone who is vaccinated and taking precautions, for those who worked to develop and administer the vaccines, as well as our healthcare workers who have been stretched too thin for too long.
Below you’ll find a little reflection on life and my son’s Legos. I had planned to write this for a while but it feels even more relevant now. Also, five links for you! And finally, if you have some downtime this holiday, you can catch up on all of my newsletters here.
Hang in there, friends. xx
PS: A major bright spot has been the response to Matt’s Hot Dad Pants, which seem to be a go-to gift for the gents in your life.
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What My Kids’ Legos Taught Me About Life
Legos first arrived in our home two-and-a-half years ago, as a birthday gift from a friend to our oldest son. Fitzgerald had just turned four and his brother, Oliver, was two; they loved the bigger Duplo blocks but it felt a tad early for Legos (aka choking hazards!) to make their way into our lives. Fitz, however, was thrilled to get a Spiderman-themed set. With step-by-step instructions and all the designated pieces needed to build the superhero, his nemesis, and cars for both, the set felt wildly different from the hodgepodge Lego assortment I had as a child. Together at the kitchen counter, Fitz and I followed the step-by-step instructions carefully.
Legos — or more specifically, Lego sets — triggered something in my must-keep-things-organized mom brain. I immediately wondered where and how we would store them. My first thought was to keep the pieces of the set together, displayed on a shelf and taken down to play with but not to disassemble. Except that wasn’t what Fitz wanted. Once he finished the Spiderman set, Fitz played with it for a bit and then…to my horror…started to take it apart, piece by piece. Then he built something else?? Who was this child! What was he doing!
The more Lego sets we got, the more out-of-control our collection became. Undeterred, I doubled down on my attempts to organize it. I had massive sorting “parties” (quotes required here because nobody in our house thought it was a party except me) to hunt and peck for each piece in a set, storing them together in a labeled plastic bag. Another time I tried dividing all of our Legos by color, which was immensely satisfying visually but totally useless for building. And also, undone in like five seconds. For Christmas last year, I bought my kids two giant plastic organizers with tiny drawers and meticulously sorted our Lego collection by shape. By myself. As if that was a good use of my time. Sigh.
Are you laughing at me yet? Because you should be. None of this has stuck. Fitz’s preferred setup is multiple bins filled with a random assortment of Legos. Our three tables are a disaster, a sea of parts and pieces. He still meticulously builds the new sets he receives but eventually they become his own creations. He spins elaborate stories around the ever-evolving vehicles and structures, like a garbage truck with a water hose up top and a three-room house where it lives. Once he proudly showed me that he had built a drone — I didn’t know he knew what a drone was! He’s coaxed his younger brother into this way of building, too, loosening Oliver’s more rigid tendencies (I wonder where he gets that from…).
I’m embarrassed to say it took the support of our beloved pediatrician for me to fully embrace this approach. During a routine physical, she asked Fitz what he liked to do for fun. “Legos!” he said. Then she asked how he liked to play with them and, to my surprise, if he built things besides the prescribed sets. She was as excited to hear about his creations as he was to talk about them.
Santa is poised to deliver more Lego sets to our home this week and I am greeting them with open arms. So much gratitude for the stretches of quiet time I’ll get as the boys and their little fingers work furiously on putting them together. And then, truly, I am excited to watch what they will do with those sets, where their creative little minds will take them.
But mostly: I no longer try to organize our Legos beyond keeping them contained to the table (and not the floor, ouch). Instead, I see our jumbled collection in a new light, an ever-present and humbling reminder that there is wonder — beauty, even — in the chaos.
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Five Things To Check Out This Week
READ: My good friend Candace Jackson looks at the complicated real estate trend of home buyers writing letters to sellers. Does it help the underdog or encourage discrimination? (New York Times)
READ: Jo Piazza reflects on Carrie’s career pivot in the Sex and the City reboot. Piazza, like Carrie, is a former gossip columnist turned author and podcaster (loved the first season of Jo’s series Under the Influence). “I love what I do. I adore making podcasts and writing books and essays. I feel so blessed that I get to wake up every day as a story-teller. But I’m also exhausted. I feel like I am doing six jobs because I am doing six jobs. Gone are the days when a single column in a newspaper can support one person, much less a family.” (CNBC)
PRE-ORDER / Step aerobics? Did it. Pilates? Loved it. Peloton? Newbie but trying. Which is to say I’m excited for “Let’s Get Physical: How Women Discovered Exercise and Reshaped the World,” a new book by Danielle Freidman that looks at exercise culture. Alexandra Jacobs of the New York Times (a brilliant writer + reviewer) called it “fact-packed but bouncy.” Pre-order it now and look for it on January 4. (Bookshop, New York Times)
LISTEN / If you’re looking for a podcast to binge, Matt’s got a rec for you: “Holiday entertainment flag: I think SMT followers would really enjoy the Office Ladies podcast. Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey break down an episode of the Office in each podcast. Fast fact #1: It's hilarious — one could even say amazing. Fast fact #2: It's also *chonk* full of analysis of how style/beauty was used to message character development to the audience, including on Episode 100: ‘Heavy Competition.’’ (Office Ladies)
WATCH / I’m not crying, you’re crying. Yet another needed reminder from this amazing Insta account: “Kids want a happy mama, not a perfect mama.” (@BigLittleFeelings Instagram)
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Lastly! I'm giving away *three copies* of Royal Trivia, the new book out today by Royally Obsessed's Rachel Bowie and Roberta Fiorito. It's so good! TO ENTER: Leave a comment at the bottom of this Bulletin post with your all-time favorite royal moment. I'll pick a winner at 5pm PT on 12/22. Open to US residents only.
PS: It would mean so much if you would forward this newsletter to a friend! I cover the royals every Friday and more general style topics on Tuesdays. You can subscribe and read previous editions here.