The main character, Tiana, is not all about getting a prince to rescue her so they can run off to live happily ever after, like Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel or Belle.* Tiana is an entrepreneur, the girl wants to own and run her own restaurant! She works two jobs and saves up her money so she could achieve her goal. What a fabulous message to send to children! Working hard to achieve your dreams rather than waiting around to be rescued or have someone else hand you your wishes on a silver platter. This totally jives with my personal work ethic and what I want to instill in my children.
Now, it is no secret that I love Disney. I love the movies, I love the songs, I loved watching “The Wonderful World of Disney” every Sunday night growing up, and I especially love the theme parks. Nobody does magic and wonder like Disney, and I pretty much live for the day when we can take Anna to Disneyland. However, I also celebrate seeing my daughter develop a strong will and definite opinions (even at 10 months, she has them!) and I will admit that sometimes this is at odds with Disney’s message. Lots of Disney princesses spend a lot of time waiting around for Prince Charming to show up.
But if you remove the search for the perfect man from the equation, I think Disney princesses have other character traits to be valued. Snow White is kind to animals and, um, dwarfs. Cinderella: also kind to animals, and also patient and giving to her evil stepmother and stepsisters. (Don’t get me started on the negative connotation Disney has insisted on giving to stepmothers.) I guess you could argue that Cinderella is a doormat of sorts and puts up with a lot of abuse, but stay with me here. Ariel: kind to animals (I’m sensing a theme here), sassy, strong-willed. Sleeping Beauty: musical, generous, and yes, kind to animals. Jasmine and Pocahontas: not satisfied with the marriages arranged by their fathers; willing to buck that trend and go a different path (which includes kindness to animals). And my favorite feminist princess, Belle: willing to look beneath the surface and see the good in anyone. And also, kind to animals.
* And with all due respect to Missy, I don’t think Belle falls into the category of waiting around for a prince to rescue her. Heck, she’s being pursued by the village jock and she’s more interested in reading her book.
So there are certainly values to be admired in Disney heroines, and I plan to emphasize those to Anna when she is old enough to have discovered princesses and fairy tales and glitter and dress-up clothes. Still, I am very much not a fan of calling one’s child “princess” or, worse, dressing them in graphic T-shirts from the Baby Gap that say “Princess.” I just don’t think we need to raise girls with that sense of entitlement.
(And there should be such a thing as innocence. Little girl clothes are probably a subject for a whole other post… suffice it to say, girls have their whole lives to wear slinky little things you’d wear to a cocktail party. I’m a fan of dressing them in cute, age-appropriate little girl things, like jumpers and overalls and turtlenecks and things of that nature. Luckily there seems to be no shortage of cute baby girl clothes (!) but it’s really quite astounding how many sleazy clothes you can find for them as well. I’m guessing this will only get worse as Anna nears school-age.)
Long story short: I have to believe it is possible to raise a child with both a love of magic and princesses and also a strong sense of self. I think my own parents did a pretty good job of striking that balance (Exhibit A: me). Here’s hoping we can do as well!
Contrary to everything I have always believed, it seems that the Norwegians also celebrate the feast of St. Lucia. Hooray! Even though we missed it this year (it falls annually on December 13), that is really okay since Anna is only 10 months old. Next year she will be old enough to enjoy it (though probably still not old enough to wear a wreath of candles on her head).
I seem to be obsessed with finding recipes to celebrate this feast day. Maybe it is just that I’m itching to bake something Scandinavian at this time of year? The traditional food of St. Lucia appears to be lussebullar (saffron rolls). There’s another recipe here for pretty braided bread featuring orange juice and cranberries. And last but not least, here’s a recipe I may have to try soon:
Beat sugar, egg, extract, and milk, add flour and baking powder, finally add margarine. Pour into bundt cake pan sprayed with cooking spray (or specialized Scandinavian cake pan). Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes. Edges must be golden brown. Cool in pan before removing. Bread will break if removed too soon. Sprinkle with confectionary sugar. Cool cake in pan before removing as it can break apart.
Variation: before pouring batter into pan, sprinkle sliced almonds on the bottom.
We’ve been back from San Diego for over a week now, and it was a wonderful time. Anna got lots of family snuggle time – we took hundreds of pictures and it seemed like she was being held by someone different in each one! Lucky girl. We also spent lots of time at the beach, indulged in fish tacos, Chipotle burritos, and In-N-Out burgers, and Anna got some new clothes at the Gymboree and Baby Gap outlet stores near our hotel. Oh, and Seth’s cousin got married! It was a beautiful wedding and they make a lovely pair. We’re so happy for them. It was such a rejuvenating vacation that felt a lot longer than four days! You can see all kinds of photos in my November Flickr set here.
I am now coming down on the other side of a trial I had on Monday. We actually didn’t finish the trial and have to go back to court next month. Luckily, all my prep work is done (although I’m going to subpoena four police officers since we have some more time now). (You might be thinking that it sounds like a crazy case, and you’d be right.)
Anyway, with this trial somewhat behind me for a bit, I’m starting to think ahead to the holidays! Seth got out our Christmas decorations last night and we had fun putting some of them out after Anna went to bed. We got our tree up, but won’t hang the ornaments until this weekend when Miss A is awake and can participate. (By “participate,” I mean crawl around the floor and look cute while we try to keep her from eating anything non-edible.)
The highlight for me, though, was unrolling the felt tree Advent calendar I received at my baby shower last year. I got a little teary thinking of that lovely party and filling the calendar with all the happy ornaments made by my family and friends. Even if at nearly 10 months Anna is still a bit too young to understand, we’re still going to go through the motions of finding an ornament each day to hang on the tree. Next year she’ll have a better sense of it all, not only what Advent means but also how very, very much she is loved by all the dear folks who made those ornaments for her.
I’m also starting to think more about holiday traditions. Advent/Christmas has always been my very, very favorite time of year… I’m not sure if that’s because it’s also the month of my birthday (but I don’t think so – I’m not the only one who loves December, right?). Some of my most treasured memories are from this time of year: baking cookies, the St. Olaf Christmas Festival, reading the Christmas story and other beloved books, various nativity sets, Advent calendars/ wreaths, etc., etc. Now I’m trying to think of other meaningful rituals we could add to our family’s celebrations. If we were Swedish, for example, I’d bake this bread for St. Lucia Day… but we’re not. 😉 So if you have any must-do activities that you think should become part of our family’s celebration, speak up!