Put the “Mind” Back in “Your Own Business”

Pagan Yule was around long before “Christmastime” and was centered around the winter solstice…  So I really wish everyone would stop trying to bully other people into saying “Merry Christmas,” if they don’t want to.  If you celebrate Christmas and wanna say “Merry Christmas”, more power to you, but trying to force others to “put Christ back in Christmas” is just as bad as others forcing trying to force you to say happy holidays instead of Merry Christmas.  As for Jesus being the “reason for the season,” no; the reason for the season is a physical, seasonal change in the position of the Earth relative to the Sun.  There is nothing in the bible that says Jesus was born in December, or more specifically, December 25th.  In fact, there is speculation because of some astronomical and cultural references, that he was born in the summer.

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History convincingly shows that Dec. 25 was popularized as the date for Christmas, not because Christ was born on that day but because it was already popular in pagan religious celebrations as the birthday of the sun. (source)

A careful analysis of Scripture, however, clearly indicates that Dec. 25 is an unlikely date for Christ’s birth. Here are two primary reasons:

First, we know that shepherds were in the fields watching their flocks at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:7-8)

The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary says this passage argues “against the birth [of Christ] occurring on Dec. 25 since the weather would not have permitted” shepherds watching over their flocks in the fields at night.

Second, Jesus’ parents came to Bethlehem to register in a Roman census (Luke 2:1-4)

Such censuses were not taken in winter, when temperatures often dropped below freezing and roads were in poor condition. Taking a census under such conditions would have been self-defeating.

Given the difficulties and the desire to bring pagans into Christianity, “the important fact then . . . to get clearly into your head is that the fixing of the date as December 25th was a compromise with paganism.” (source)

 

Not everyone is Christian, but we all deserve a “happy holiday.”  That is all.

Have a "cool Yule..."  Or a "Merry Christmas..."  Or... whatever!

Have a “cool Yule…” Or a “Merry Christmas…” Or… whatever!

Related articles:

https://alienredqueen.wordpress.com/2013/07/29/have-a-very-secular-christmas/

http://backporchtheology.wordpress.com/2013/12/07/the-war-on-happy-holidays/

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A Short Message to Friends and Family for the Holidays

Christmas evening.

I’ve been wrestling with myself on whether or not to write this post.  I love the winter holiday season; whether you celebrate Christmas, the pagan solstice, or just the “season of giving” in a very general way, the holidays can be an exciting, happy time to eat, drink, and be merry with friends and family.

They can also be hectic, busy, and very stressful… emotionally and definitely economically.  The season of giving has become very commercialized.  It’s not supposed to be about “getting stuff,” and I think most people understand that.  People keep asking me what my daughter needs for Christmas.  I love that they are thinking of her.

But I also feel guilty.  I don’t want anyone to feel obligated to get me or my family anything. (But I don’t want to insult anyone when I tell them that either; I’m not trying to discourage the people that love to give, but rather let them know we understand if they can’t.)  Also, I feel terrible because I know this year we can not afford to get anything for anyone else either.  (I know everyone is suffering in this economy to some extent right now, but we are basically just struggling to keep our heads above water right now until tax time.)  I actually worry that family members or friends will get their feelings hurt if we do not at least buy for their children.  I know the holiday is not about giving gifts, but I also understand being very “protective” of a child and I know how I feel if I think my daughter has been slighted or forgotten.

I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people felt this same sort of guilt and pressure around Christmastime.

So what I really want to tell all of you is: please, don’t overextend yourself.  Don’t do more than you are able.  We will understand and the baby is not suffering from lack of books and toys. 

The second thing I want to say is: Please do not feel like we are purposely slighting you or your children, friends and family.  That is not our intention at all.  Know that we love you all and are thinking of you, even though we will probably not see many of you this year, because of how far away from “home” we live now.  

I hope you don’t find this message tacky or inappropriate.  It’s just something that’s been on my mind.  Anyway, this is the first year J* is really, really aware of Christmas (or, “crystal,” as she calls it) and I hope she will find it all magical and happy regardless of where we are and what she gets.  I think she will.

christmas-tree-xmas-balls-decoration-photo

I love you all.  Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas…

Have a Very Secular Christmas?

So, I’ve been giving this some thought really probably ever since I had my child, but more so now that she is growing up and coming to an age where she’ll be able to anticipate the holidays and internalize some of the associated traditions and ideas.  As my regular readers know, I have what some might call a “crisis of faith.”  My heart wants to believe in a loving God, but my intellect and reason just don’t accept it.  And contrary to what some may say, wishing doesn’t make it so.

I am acutely aware of how my adult perception of Christmas and its origin has changed in relation to the hopeful magic of childhood Christmases past.   I was never what I would call “strong” in faith, but now that I have pretty much decided where I come down on the organized religion issue, I am unsure how exactly I want to represent Christmas to my child.  It’s certain that I do want to celebrate with my family in some way.  To me, right now, Christmas is mostly about family, togetherness, and love…  But why should we celebrate that in December instead of all year round.  I am fine with objectively explaining to my daughter, when she is old enough to understand (she is turning three next month) the reasons why the majority of people who celebrate Christmas do so (“Jesus is the reason for the Season” and all that jazz) but I do not feel inclined to raise her in a religion or even in a belief in a supreme being.  A large part of me feels that indoctrination of young children is wrong because it sets them at a disadvantage for later autonomous decisions regarding religion.   For example, had I not been taught as a child that I was supposed to believe in God, would I be so uncomfortable with the fact that I don’t believe?  

Then there is the “Santa question.”   We believed in Santa as a kid, and it was fun and relatively harmless, even when we found out he wasn’t “real.”  And yet,  I find I am loath to lie to my kid, even if it is a fun and harmless lie like Santa.  And yet regardless of what I tell her, I wonder how many of my friends and relatives and even random but well-meaning strangers  will thoughtlessly ask her if she’s “excited for Santa” this holiday season…

So I am left with the question of how I want to present the winter holidays to my child.  The only reason Christmas is even celebrated in December is because of Christianity’s attempts to combat or counterbalance the pagan holidays and rituals of excess practiced during that same season. (source 1, 2)  Basically, Jesus was not born on December 25th, and there is no date given in the bible for his birth, although certain astrological references lead some scientists to believe he was actually born in the Summertime.

Do I take a more naturalistic or pagan approach, celebrating the time of year and nature’s cycles, and then maybe meld into it my feelings of family and tradition?  Would it make some people feel better if we celebrated the holiday but didn’t call it “Christmas?”  Guess it’s a good thing it’s only the end of July… then again, wasn’t Jesus born in the Summer? 😉

This is the optimal idea...

This is the optimal idea…

...and yet clearly that somehow pisses some people off.

…and yet clearly that somehow pisses some people off.

(Click here for more on why Christmas may be celebrated on the 25th of December.)

Valentine’s Day: Happy or “Humbug?”

I’ve been seeing about a fifty/fifty split on Facebook posts between

“Happy Valentines Day, [so-and-so]! I love you, (blah blah blah…)”  and

“Screw Valentine’s Day! It’s just a Hallmark holiday anyway!”

Personally, I can’t think of a reason to complain about a day where there is an abundance of chocolate and flowers around, and an increased chance of sex!  Saying those things are bad is like saying you like to kick puppies.  Also, the nay-sayers are fooling themselves if they don’t think every other holiday has become a “Hallmark holiday” as well.

Like I told my friends, via my own status, even Christmas is commercial now.  I highly doubt the twelves disciples gave one another expensive electronics or fancy jewelry to celebrate Jesus’ birthday.  Anytime a holiday results in almost as much stress (or more) as it does joy, the holiday has likely become too commercial, or strayed too far from its original meaning.

I was thinking to myself today, the point of Valentine’s Day, or any holiday, is that its significance is what you make it.  What you put into it is what you get out of it.  So, if you want to celebrate V-day, great! If not, more power to ya!  But then this day took an interesting sort of turn which left me feeling a little confused, disappointed, silly, and finally, pissy…

In the spirit of this post, I was originally going to do a Valentine’s Day photo shoot (incognito, of course!)

By the time I got done exercising, I was feeling confident and inspired.  I knew hubby was coming home for lunch (he usually does,) and I wanted to wash the funk off before he got home, but I was going to wait until after he left to go back to work to get all fixed up, and I’d also have a nice deer steak ready for dinner.  But I had some extra time when  got out of the shower, so I got dressed up in a cute little vintage strapless number that’s been gathering dust in my closet, shaved my legs, put on some make-up… I even crammed myself into those pain in the ass spanx so I’d look extra svelte in my dress.

Granted, hubby says I always look beautiful…bleh.  But when I dress up, dammit, I feel pretty…only, when hubby walked through the door, his face hanging cuz he had a headache (again,) and… nothing.  Not only was there not a “you look great,” or “Happy Valentine’s Day,” there was no change in facial expression whatsoever.  

Already feeling embarrassed, I mumbled something about wanting to look cute for Valentine’s.  And then I said, in my daughter’s direction, “But now Mommy’s going to go change cuz she just feels silly.”

~sigh~  So for about 20 minutes I kind of wanted to cry, and then hubby left to go back to work and he kissed me twice and told me he loved me…

Hubby is a bit short on romance, but he’s a good guy and he does love me.  Last night when we got back from a couple of errands, he whipped out a bag of Andes Candies he had managed to sneak by me  (I heart Andes Candies) and he said, “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

Well, it’s the little things that count, right?  So I made myself some “Valentine’s Day comfort coffee” with Hershey’s syrupand dropped a couple of Andes in it to make it extra minty-chocolatey.  And now I’m going to go smoke a “Valentine’s Day cigarette.”

Yay, me.

I guess I’m still a little bummed, so… dammit, I better get some extra Valentine’s Day sex tonight, or someone’s gonna be in trouble!

My Christmas “Wish In One Hand” List

I’m still kind of like a little kid at Christmastime.  Now that I’m older, I can get excited about giving presents as well as getting.  I’m not gonna lie; I like getting presents. For the past couple of years, hubby and I haven’t been in a financial position to exchange gifts for Christmas, birthdays, or anniversaries.  But that doesn’t stop me from “window shopping.”  So here’s my “Wish in one hand” list.  

BADSanta

First, I’ve been wanting a new pair of boots for a while now.  Although my knee-high hooker boots have seen better days, they’re still wearable.  But I still want a new pair, with a lower heel.

Doc Martens, my old favorite.  I still have three or four pairs around here...but, they don't have buckles.

Doc Martens, my old-school favorite. I still have three or four pairs around here…but, they don’t have buckles.

Cobb Hill Bridget Dress boots; functional and fashionable

Cobb Hill Bridget Dress boots; functional and fashionable

Martino "Logan" Boots...a nice cross between the above two...and still with the buckles.

Martino “Logan” Boots…a nice cross between the above two…and still with the buckles.

Next on the list, money for some more ink.  I can’t be wearing these bad-ass boots without some new bad-ass ink to go with it.  I wanna work on a half sleeve, adding to what I already have on this tattoo:

tatme

And I also want to get a new tattoo:

A Perfect Circle...cuz Maynard's the man.

A Perfect Circle…cuz Maynard‘s the man…  I think I’ll have his love child.

Well, there are a crap-ton of things I would love to have, and a crap-ton more me and my family could use, but at present, these are the top things I want, that I am unlikely to be able to afford on my own anytime soon…hence the name of the list.  Oh well…

Guess I’ll have to settle for family and fellowship and all that shit… I mean, all that great stuff!

 But seriously…I am looking forward to Christmas this year because I get to go back to my home state and see my family… with my husband this time.   Last year I flew back, just me and the baby because hubby couldn’t get off work.   Managing airport security with a one year old and all of her accouterments is pure hell!  This year, hubby is coming and my baby gets to see her extended family, which is all I can really ask for.

Bah! Humbug! Homesick for the Holidays

Ah, the smell of BBQ, like a campfire in the fall.  My Peppermint Patty coffee creamer.  The joys of experiencing the holiday through my toddler’s eyes…

The ridiculous crowds at Walmart, the rude drivers, the stress of not having enough money to buy groceries, let alone presents…

Oh, and it’s currently 69 degrees outside.  Bah! Humbug!

But all of this I could handle if I didn’t feel so down and out.  The holidays are drawing inexorably nigh and it’s looking less and less like I’m going to make it home to see my family.  I was going to hitch a ride with my uncle in his motor home (he generously offered last year,) but he told me they had planned on taking the car this year.  This was a few weeks ago, and he said if they changed their minds, of course we could ride with them…  But it’s hard enough for my husband to get time off for the holidays ahead of time, so the closer the holidays approach before we ask, the less likely he is to be allowed off of work.  Last year, as we were the only one’s whose family is almost exclusively (with the exception of my uncle) out of state, he was the only one of his coworkers who did not get to spend Christmas with his family…any of them, because the baby and I flew home by ourselves (oh, holy night…mare that I will never repeat!)  He had off Christmas of course, but as we live 800 miles away from family, one day just isn’t sufficient travel time.

If my uncle were able to take the motor home to MD this year, I’d tell Hubby to tell his boss that he was takin’ off, and tough titty said the kitty if they didn’t like it.  It’s not right.  Seems to me they could spare him for a few days, as everyone else at his job generally stays instate.

“Tough Titty…” (Tough Kitty)

It’s bad enough I only see my parents like 3 times a year now (and consequently, they only see their granddaughter 3 times a year.)  It’s killing me, and I know it’s killing my mom.

I miss my family and I want to move back home… but I also don’t want to.  Simply put, I’d only move back to MD because most of the family is there.  Frankly, I don’t like what the place has become.  I feel safer out here with the good ol’ redneck, racist, ignorant, fat hillbillies than I would back home where I’d fear getting mugged going to the freakin’ Wawa.  I realize part of this is perception, and that there is crime everywhere…  but according to my perception, it seems like the people out here are more ignorant than actually malicious.  Prime example; last year, in my home state, a guy I went to school with was stabbed to death in his own apartment when a seventeen year old hood broke in to steal the gun my classmate had for home protection.  Did I mention he knew the kid from around the neighborhood?  Did I also mention this guy was legally blind?  Who the fuck stabs a blind guy?

But back to the point, suffice it to say this conflict of feeling is causing me some distress…

Were we to magically discover hubby had the time off of work, thus allowing us the opportunity to drive ourselves home, then there’s the question of the $300 dollars in gas we’d likely need to get there– one way.  Would our POS Explorer even make it that far?

Assuming we’re grounded and we just have to accept it, how now am I going to afford to get everyone I want to gifts?  Our parents usually understand if we can’t afford to get them anything, but I like to buy for my sisters, and then their are my nieces and nephews, and my best friend’s kids, and my cousin’s kid…

Obviously I am not the first person to observe with no small trace of irony that this holiday is not supposed to be this stressful.

Yet I feel blue, and despite what I intellectually know and what I would tell others in my position, I feel like I deserve a big lump of coal in my stocking for not being able to give my family, and most importantly, my child, the things I want to be able to give them this holiday season.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  That’s not what the holiday is about, if they really care about us, they’ll understand, and all the baby needs is love…

So why do I still feel like a giant, disappointing piece of crap?

Bah! Humbug!

It’s Cancer, Charlie Brown

WHOA! Hold the phone. Everybody out of the pool!  My trip down memory lane just took a wrong turn!  More like it was derailed.

Was on the interwebz looking up some of the old cartoons that I remember from my childhood so I could show some of them to my toddler.  She especially loves anything with music.  So we got through the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special and that Garfield Christmas show.  So I went on to look  for A Charlie Brown Christmas.  I hadn’t found the whole episode, but had stumbled across some Charlie Brown episodes I didn’t remember seeing as a kid.

*spoilers for Why, Charlie Brown, Why?    Yes, I actually put in a spoiler alert, cuz you never know who would be pissed if I ruined the ending of this kid’s cartoon for them.

And that’s how I ended up watching Why, Charlie Brown, Why?  Charlie Brown shows have always had their melancholy moments.  Charlie Brown is usually outcast or made to feel unloved in many of the episodes, and there are whole passages where there is little to no dialogue, only a strange piano music (that reminds me of the Cosby Show.)  So as I watch this particular show/episode, it opens with Linus noting the peculiar amount of bruises on his little friend’s arms.

Ooookay.  Well, these kids talk about some weird shit sometimes, and in an even weirder adult manner.

The little girl, whose name is Janice, mentions she never used to bruise so easily.

Noooo.  They wouldn’t do an episode about that…

References to her feeling ill and thinking she has a fever.

Uh-oh.  

I stopped right there and looked up the episode on Wikipedia.  Yup.  It’s about cancer.  Airing in 1990, it is considered the first animated series to tackle the subject.

“Why, Charlie Brown, Why?”

Granted, as I continue watching, I note that the explanation of Janice’s leukemia is vastly simplified.  I understand the show is addressing the issue to a fairly young audience, but it occurs to me as I watch that it does children no good to have this issue sugar-coated.  For instance, when asked if she will die, Janice explains that there are treatments for leukemia and she thinks she’ll get well.  Sadly, we as adults know that this is often not the case.

The process of her treatment (chemotherapy) and the effects it has on her health also seem a bit simplified as well.  But I guess in such a case, it would be left more up to each individual child’s parents to decide how much explanation their children could handle in regards to the subject of terminal illness.

To the writers credit, they also attempt to address issues that are tangential to the idea of a child returning to class after having undergone chemotherapy, such as ignorance, bullying, and insensitivity. For instance, Janice returns wearing a pink ball cap, having lost her hair.  Linus ends up having to defend her when another little boy teases her about her cap and her baldness.  Linus grabs the kid and shakes his fist at him, all the while yelling at him about how he has no idea what Janice has had to go through.  The  other kid, properly chastened, apologizes and tries to make up for his meanness by complimenting Janice’s hat.

There is also a segment of the show that also seems to touch on Janice’s siblings and their feelings of loneliness and jealousy over the “attention” that Janice is getting because of her illness.

In the end of the episode, Janice returns to school once again after some more treatments and she whips her hat off and her head is full of hair again.  Guess this is supposed to signify she is “all better.”  End of story.   Well, yes.  Vastly simplified.  No mention of remission or recurrence.  But, hey, it’s for little ones.  Or maybe the show’s writers should leave the heavy topics to the parents.

What’s your opinion?  You can check out the episode HERE.  It’s not very long.  I realize now there are many shows that tackle serious subjects for a younger audience, and I would guess that the newer shows and ones like these each have their merits.  Weigh in, if you like.

On another note , there are clearly some episodes of these old shows I missed.  Maybe that’s for the best.