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Math Geek Mom: Still Frames

When I teach Calculus, I often begin by comparing the difference between Calculus and Discrete Math to the difference between the individual frames of an old-fashioned movie tape and the movie when shown on a projector. I tell them that, while algebra and all of discrete math looks at individual situations, or “frames”, Calculus can study a world of continuous motion. This analogy has been on my mind lately as I find myself recalling scenes from past holidays with my daughter. Individually interesting, they run together into a “movie” of emotions that grabs me at this time of the year.

December 20, 2012
 

When I teach Calculus, I often begin by comparing the difference between Calculus and Discrete Math to the difference between the individual frames of an old-fashioned movie tape and the movie when shown on a projector. I tell them that, while algebra and all of discrete math looks at individual situations, or “frames”, Calculus can study a world of continuous motion. This analogy has been on my mind lately as I find myself recalling scenes from past holidays with my daughter. Individually interesting, they run together into a “movie” of emotions that grabs me at this time of the year.

I recall her first Christmas, a little baby in an embroidered sleeper, crawling around on the floor in the midst of piles of Christmas presents. There is a picture of her doing this, framed and sitting on a dresser in my parents’ bedroom. Once, when she was about four years old, she saw the picture and pointed it out to my mother. “Grandma, I want one of these”, she said, pointing to the piles of presents.

I recall the year she was about three, and, while quite the china doll of a little girl with blonde ringlet curls in her hair, she nevertheless decided that she wanted a (toy) motorcycle for Christmas. It was not long until my husband decided that he, too, also wanted a motorcycle, and they began to proclaim to me that Santa would bring them both motorcycles for Christmas. When she came into the living room on Christmas morning to find a toy motorcycle waiting for her, she quickly looked around the room to ask “where is Daddy’s motorcycle?”

I recall several different Christmases as she became aware of various holiday songs. There was the year when she kept repeating the last line of one song asking, with a smile in her voice, “Hey, Santa, what ya’ got in that bag?” And then there was the year that she loved “I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas”. After watching her giggle over it many times, I headed to the mall to try to find a store that could sell me a stuffed hippopotamus. I eventually found one, but it was in a specialty store where I could not just buy one. Instead, I needed to participate in its assembly and even kiss it as the store workers sewed it up where its “heart” was to be found. So much for power shopping that day!

I love the fact that she now takes some responsibility for decorating for the holidays, something that was definitely appreciated this year, as I have struggled with grief in its many forms. I am, to say the least, having a difficult time summoning Christmas spirit this year. As I found it almost impossible to think of decorating for the coming holidays, she enlisted the aid of a friend to help hang decorations on our tree. The tree is now only waiting for this year’s special ornament, which I choose every year to represent some important event from the year. I save them with a letter written to the future explaining why the ornament was chosen. This year’s ornament will almost certainly be an angel, in honor of my sister, one of Heaven’s newest citizens.

And finally, I remember a line from my Christmas letter sent in the long years we spent waiting to become parents. It said simply “we hope that someday soon, Santa will visit our home.”

Wishing everyone a

Happy and Blessed Holiday Season!

Note:

     After I finished writing this entry last Friday, my husband called me with the horrendous news from Newtown, Connecticut. I will write about that sometime early in the New Year, when we, I hope, have some answers to the oppressive question of “why?” In the mean time, my thoughts and prayers are with the people of Newtown and with all of those living in and near my home town of Danbury, Connecticut.

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