Memes, Teens, and Strange Things for Christmas


We don’t do Santa. I’m going to just get that out of the way. Close your mouth and keep reading. My son is a teenager now so it’s too late to change our mind on that. The reasons don’t matter so let’s just move on, OK? 

I’m here to scare you … I mean tell you. As children grow their requests don’t get any easier to find and fulfill. But you’re going to lean into it, mama, just like I am this year, and you’re going to love it. Teen boys are THE BEST.

You’re going to get him a phone. At some point, very likely before he hits teenagerhood. You may get him one while he still believes in Santa, who knows? And when you get him a phone then you are going to start a whole new level of communicating.

You’ll text. Sometimes when we can’t say the things aloud, we text each other. He texts things he might not feel comfortable saying. 

He also sends the very best memes. He sends them at the best times. Sometimes when he knows I’m having a not-so-good day. Sometimes after we’ve had a little disagreement. (Yes, you’ll keep having those.) Often after we’re each in our own bedrooms and I think the day is done. My favorite is this kitten that reaches out to hug me

(He also sends crazy ones and sometimes I understand the humor. Sometimes, not.)

Phones and apps on the phones can make for horrible things with teens. I’m sure you’ve heard. But, I want you to know that they can also just as well make the world a little better for them, too, not worse. 

When the world’s made smaller, it can be easier to find the people like you. For instance, perhaps the people like you don’t live on your street or go to your church or sit beside you at work or in class. I know people as old as me who never met someone like them until college or later. 

My guy can find people like him. They’re sure not like me! Why in the world would I google search for where I could find a plushie with no face (from Shang Chi), text my parent asking to go shopping, and spend my money on several of them to give to other people like me.

Morris, from Shang Chi

Yes, you’ll still buy your teen things like plushies.

Even a teenage boy will like them, certain ones of them anyway. I’m surprised that I’m excited about a squishable I’ve found for mine to discover under the Christmas tree. (I said no Santa, not no presents! Please, he’s still been quite indulged. It’s a huge taco – shhhhh!)

You’ll also continue to promise them things you’ve never imagined. 

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about giving experiences, not things. We’ve practiced that a bit, going on trips during Christmas break quite often. But beware. You cannot fool a teenager. Mine asked to see a capybara and I laughed. Now, just a few weeks before the biggest holiday of the year, I am no longer laughing.

The capybara has become a beloved creature of my son due to Instagram. About this time last year, he and his friends began following the account of someone who owned a pet caracal, what I call a wild cat with pointed ears. Soon after, caracal Instagram guy began sharing photos of his friend who had a capybara. A capybara is a GIANT rodent. 

The capybara has gained a bit of fame recently, as it makes an appearance in the latest Disney movie, Encanto. I have thought about telling our son that no child of the 90s ever asked their mom to take them to see a warthog. But he would, no doubt, remind me that our own Riverbanks Zoo has meerkats at least. Thank you, Disney (?)

With the internet world at his fingertips and now soon a license to drive, our son has found that there is indeed a zoo with capybaras in Georgia. As it is a mere three-hour drive away and a mere $54 (in addition to zoo admission) for a one-hour capybara and friends experience, it is his only request. 

How could Santa (his mother), deny him?

Please know that any magic he has been denied due to our failure to play Santa will be justly punished. On the afternoon of Saturday, December 18, you may be snug at home making cookies and helping your little ones write their last letter to Santa. I, on the other hand, will be out in a dirty field, perhaps hand-feeding apples to a hundred-pound rat. 

What the strangest thing you’ve done for the magic of Christmas?

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Melanie McGehee never knew she wanted to be a mom. Even marriage caught her somewhat by surprise, in spite of the fact that she met husband Andy through a matchmaking service. She thanked eharmony by writing about that experience for an anthology, A Cup of Comfort for Women in Love. Almost two years to the day after marrying him, she stared at two pink lines and wonder aloud, “Is this okay?” His response, “Kind of late to be asking that now.” It was a bit late – in life. But at the advanced maternal age of 35, she delivered by surprise at 35 weeks and an emergency C-section, a healthy bay boy. Ian, an only child like herself, is ten years old and unlike any of the children Melanie has tutored, substitute taught, or led in a variety of church activities. Together with him, Melanie has discovered Thomas, SpongeBob, youtube tech channels, Lemony Snicket, Kate DiCamillo, shirts with no tags, and tooth powder. You can follow Melanie’s personal adventures and her love of children and teaching at beingmissmelanie.


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