With no kids, the buck teeth stop here

Sue selfie Jan 2018I had buck teeth. My top front teeth stuck out, and I may have been called Bucky Beaver every now and then. My parents, kind souls that they were, never said an unkind word about it. They took me to an orthodontist and got the teeth moved into a more ordinary configuration. They got the bottom ones that were jumbled up straightened out, too. When I was 19, they paid for oral surgery to fix a problem inside my lower lip.

None of this was fun. Methods were more primitive back in the 1960s. I had wires attached to metal bands around each tooth, tightened up every few weeks. I wore a headgear at night, rubber bands that squeaked when I opened my mouth, and a retainer which kept the embarrassment going after the bands were removed. My teeth ache just thinking about it. My braces cost a fortune. Mom spent countless afternoons driving me to the orthodontist, and I went through a lot of pain, but it was worth it. Over the years, people have often complimented me on my smile. I know how lucky I am. Not every family can afford any kind of dental care.

Lately, my lower teeth have started jumbling up again. I think I’m stuck with it. Braces are pretty low on my priority list now. Mom isn’t around to take care of it.

But here’s the thing. I was not the first generation in my family to wear braces. It’s very likely that if I had children, they would have inherited my crooked teeth. My mother wore braces. In old photos, it looks like my paternal grandmother, who died before I got a chance to know her, had buck teeth, too. She also wore glasses. I suspect she was nearsighted like me. My other grandmother gave me the Roman nose with the bump shared by most of her siblings.

Heredity. Whether it’s crooked teeth, a giant nose, mental illness or a fatal disease, people pass their traits down through the generations. Of course, some genetic traits are wonderful things. I got my brown eyes and lively mind from my mom, too. I have to credit both parents for my good health. I’m proud to carry on the Avina and Fagalde family lines.

But I’m not carrying them very far. As the end of my branch of the family tree, I won’t pass on either the brown eyes or the buck teeth. My cousins with their many children and my brother with his one biological child are passing on their share, but no one will inherit my exact combination of traits.

Our guest speaker at our writer’s group Sunday shared a piece she wrote about being adopted. She will never know how she came to be the way she is. That seems like such a loss. She and her husband have cats, no kids. Will she wind up being just a “one-off,” no one behind, no one ahead?

Depending on how you look at it, having no one to inherit our genetic traits is either very sad or a relief. My brother’s teeth came out straight. His daughter’s teeth are good. With luck, the buck teeth stop with me.

Do you think about what you are not passing on if you don’t have children? Please share in the comments.

 

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Christmas cards without kid pictures

Need a smile? Read “I’m Single and Childless and You Don’t Want My Christmas Card” by Blondie Tales. I’m thinking you all can identify with this piece about how Blondie can’t compete with all the child-centric holidays cards her friends and family send out.

I sure can identify with Blondie. I almost didn’t send out Christmas cards this year. I usually send about 50 and get back about 20. Those are filled with exactly what Blondie describes, vacation photos, kid photos and newsletters full of the achievements of offspring I don’t even know. But still, I do want to touch base with the folks with whom my only contact is Christmas cards, so I did it.

What should we childless people put in our cards? Last year, I included a giant photo of my dog and noted that I was still writing, still singing, still enjoying life with Annie. If I’d had any major vacations or career achievements that they could relate to, I would have included them, but I didn’t. I mean, I think my blogs are important, but half my family would say “what’s a blog?” and the other half would wonder why I bother. Ditto for my other publications, my music activities and about 300 dog walks a year. I lost 20 pounds and haven’t gained them back, but that doesn’t seem appropriate to share. I didn’t go to Europe, didn’t get rich, didn’t get married, didn’t acquire any children. So anyway. On the cards where I felt chatty, I noted that surviving another year with no bad news is an achievement to be grateful for. Merry Christmas. Love, Sue.

It’s one of those challenging things about the holidays. You almost want to do something impressive just so you can put it in your Christmas card and gloat because your year was more fabulous than theirs.

My friend Carol, who never had children but has a lot of pets, sends out an entertaining newsletter every year from “The Irving Menagerie” in which each pet tells some of the family’s news for the year. I love reading that one.

If we are going to do holiday greetings, we need to find a way to make it fun for us as well as for the people who will receive them. No “woe is me” allowed. I’m thinking next year I might include a humorous poem, something they’ll want to keep. Or maybe another dog picture. Maybe a humorous poem and a dog picture.

How about you? Do you send out Christmas cards? Do you feel pressure to compete with the newsletters and photos? It might be a generational thing. Am I wrong in feeling that younger people are not messing with cards anymore? At least not the paper kind you mail? Especially with postage up to 49 cents each? Do you send online greetings instead?

This is my last post before Christmas. Did it come up fast or what? So here is my greeting to you.

MERRY CHRISTMAS! IF CHRISTMAS IS NOT YOUR THING, MAY YOU FIND COMFORT AND MEANING IN WHATEVER YOU CELEBRATE. MAY THE NEW YEAR BE FILLED WITH BLESSINGS. EACH ONE OF YOU IS A BLESSING TO ME.

Hugs,

Sue