Monday, March 15, 2004


We have a somewhat weird tradition in our household. At Christmas, we label gifts in various fashions. Sometimes it's biblical - From: Adam. To: Eve. Sometimes it's nonsensical - From whatshisface. To: whatshername.

When my youngest stepdaughter, Lisa, was little and I was still positioning myself in the awkward role of stepfather without a clue, she once labeled a gift to me: From: Lisa. To: You're Mean.

She didn't intend it to be hurtful and it wasn't. She doesn't even remember it now, although I bring it up occasionally.

Back then Lisa used to say, "You're mean" in a playful manner whenever I denied her anything. If she wanted to go to a movie, or wanted me to buy her something and I refused she would say, "You're mean". She always smiled when she said it. It was cute and endearing.
In truth I denied her as little as possible...there are few weapons in a stepdad's arsenal. Spoiling kids is one I recognized early and found it easy to master.

I saved that gift tag. For years I carried it in my wallet to remind me of the delightful, happy child I was blessed to know, love and hopefully help mold in some small fashion.

I destroyed the gift tag by leaving my wallet in a pants pocket during a laundry cycle - I have a habit of doing this with various items, though we needn't dwell on it here - suffice it to say it was the only thing in my wallet that I was truly saddened to lose.

I still hold onto the memory though.

These days, Lisa is more of a woman, but she'll always be that happy child to me.

Today she turns 19 years old.

Happy Birthday, Lisa.


You're Mean.