Miss Kookamooka

The next few posts look at some of the things that make our family unique: The rituals, family lore, etc. that define “us being us.” (Warning: Much silliness ahead—that is a family hallmark, or at least was, until my kids reached the age where “We love being silly!” gave way to “We need to be cool.” Sigh.)

There are no real “lessons learned” in these posts, except maybe an overarching one: I think rituals and lore are important for all families, and maybe even more so for alternative ones. They create a sense of tribe and belonging. So I encourage every family to create and meaningful rituals and share family stories (real or made-up), especially when your kids are young enough to enjoy them.

I start with probably the silliest example of all …

Miss Kookamooka lives at the North Pole. She is Santa Claus’s next-door neighbor. She travels the world teaching the cha-cha.

She is a real person.

You may find this hard to believe, but my kids found it hard to believe in Ms. Kookamooka. As “evidence” they pointed to the fact that they never saw her, even though I claimed that she was a friend and visited our house often.

Me: “It’s not her fault you are always away doing dumb stuff like school and activities when she comes here. And besides, she is very busy—it takes a lot of time to travel the world teaching the cha-cha.”

I suppose it is Ms. Kookamooka’s fault they my kids also, for years, did not believe that there was a Queen of England.

Me: “Your rooms and beds need to look better than that. What would the queen say if she stopped by for a visit and saw those covers all over the place?”

(Apparently, in addition to being friends with Miss Kookamooka, I am also friends with the Queen.)

Kids: “Daddy, there’s no such person as the Queen of England!”

(Side note: There’s a joke here somewhere about how queens come to visit our house all the time, but I’ll hold off on that one.)

Anyhow: The Queen was vindicated when Uncle Cedric sent a postcard from London, and there was Liz in all her glory not only in the photo, but on the stamp. Clearly Uncle Cedric has more credibility with my kids then I do, because from that point on they were firmly on “team Queen.” So much so that, a few years later, they both voluntarily sat through Helen Mirren’s “The Queen” movie—twice. But that’s a story for another day.

(Mostly unrelated tangent: A while back Mark said he wanted to go to London someday, because you never know, you could meet a “dutch and duchess.”)

As it turns out, Ms. Kookamooka got her vindication as well, when we happened upon Santa’s Village in Tilden Park in Berkeley (yet another story for yet another day). As we walked through the village, right next to Santa’s house, there was a “snow”-covered cottage. At the end of its lane stood a mailbox labeled S. K.

Shirley Kookamooka.

See you in cha-cha class.

Next: Musicals

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