Category Archives: Christmas

Crisis of Faith, Christmas Style

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I’ve been having a sort of crisis of faith for a while now. Long story short, I grew up going to church (with my aunt- my parents never went, which makes it super funny when my mom starts nagging me about taking the kids to church, claiming, “You always went to church!” and accusing me of being disrespectful to her non-churchgoing ass. Good times.) Anyway, the point is, I miss the community of church, I miss the fellowship, I miss the spirituality, and I want to find a church where I feel at home. Growing up, I had that – I made friends and performed in pageants and sang in the choir and gave the children’s sermon.

Then, when I was on my own in the city, I found a new church that was even better – welcoming and friendly and community & service oriented. But when I moved back to small town USA, I ended up back in the church I grew up in. And over the years the congregation started to wane, growing older, until no kids’ services were available anymore. No nursery or Sunday school or junior church. And suddenly, going to church with kids wasn’t easy anymore. Eventually I stopped.

And as much as I want to find a place like that again, I find it hard to get past the fact that churches are so often the least Christian places around. Haven’t seen that side of it? Try walking into a new church in a small town. And good luck finding a seat that Marjorie So and So hasn’t been sitting in for 40 years.

I hate that a place that represents all that is good and loving and welcoming is often the place we are most judged. Judged for what we are wearing or how much we give or if our kids can sit still. And instead of telling me I’m welcome in their house of worship, I find that they would rather tell me other things.

They want to tell me who to vote for.

They want to tell me what to do with my body.

They want to tell my friends they are an abomination and don’t deserve rights.

They want to tell me that science is wrong.

They want to tell me all the reasons why their way is the only way.

And the more they want to tell me what to do, the more I want to do the opposite.

Now that it is the Christmas season, it will only get worse. This is the time of year when , many people (churchgoers and not) decide to start singing their annual “Keep Christ in Christmas” jingle far and wide. And I agree – I do. Despite the fact that most of the traditions of Christmas began as pagan rituals, the point of Christmas is a Christian one – the birth of Jesus. So without Christ, you have no Christmas.

And I agree that we go overboard with political correctness, calling them Holiday trees instead of Christmas trees and the like. But that’s where my opinions and those of a lot of other folks differ. So many take it further – this is a Christian country, they say. If you don’t like it, you can leave, they cry. Pretty soon, Christianity = patriotism and anyone who doesn’t agree is a communist America-hater, terrorist sympathizer. And it’s all because Jesus isn’t allowed in the schools anymore! GOD BLESS AMERICA!

And then I – and all the people out there like me, who feel the same way – go running screaming in the other direction, away from the thing I just moments ago was longing for! I find myself arguing the opposite side of what I believe, playing devil’s advocate (Devil! One Nation UNDER GOD!), when I don’t even want to!

It’s funny how the only thing that seems to be standing between me and religion is religion.

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I’m a Liar. And Proud of It.

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In the past 10 years or so, I’ve seen a lot of blogging about and worrying over the concept of Santa & lying to our kids. I can honestly say that I had never thought of it that way, or heard anyone else talk about in my life before recently. And honestly? I just don’t get it. I mean, if your child grows up and hates you for “lying” to them about Santa – and in the process giving them loads of presents? Your kid is an asshole. And you might just be an asshole to have raised such an asshole.

Don’t get me wrong – to each his own. If you want to do the Santa thing, fine. If you don’t, fine. But the idea that doing it is going to damage your child or make them not trust you because you lied to them is completely bizarre to me. I can’t help but to think this is borrowing problems. I mean – there are plenty of real, honest to goodness problems that we can worry about. This? Just seems like a whole lot of silliness to me.

I have only had one child so far that made the transition from believing to not believing. But based on that one child, I have determined that I most definitely did NOT damage him in any way by allowing him to believe in Santa. When he came to me (older than many are when they stop believing) and asked me for the truth, I’ll admit it – it broke my heart. Previously, I used the “what do YOU think?” answer, but that last time, I knew. I knew that he knew, but was wishing otherwise. I knew it was time. And even though he knew, he was still disappointed. He cried. But not because I had been lying to him for years. Because he felt sad that he was moving on. Sad that some of the magic was being let out of his life. But not for one minute did he even think that I was wrong for “lying” to him (and I asked him about it some time later because of this nonsense).

When I was about five or six years old, I was lying awake one Christmas Eve, too excited to sleep. And I heard my mom on the phone with Aunt Twin. I will always remember what it felt like to hear those words: “Ray is putting together Gina’s Barbie Townhouse.” And at that moment, I knew. I spent the rest of my childhood not believing. And you know what? That was sad.

I never told my parents I heard – I was afraid I’d get in trouble for being awake that late, so for years they thought I believed when I didn’t. The Christmas season was stressful for me. Adults always like to ask kids about Santa – Is he coming? What is he bringing? Have you seen him yet? And every one of those questions made me feel awful. And Christmas mornings? Oh MAN, they were tough. My parents could never understand why I didn’t jump excitedly out of bed like most kids. They would have to wake me up and practically drag me downstairs.

I know that many of these issues come from the pretending, rather than the lack of Santa, but not all. I was disappointed that he wasn’t real. And I always felt a little left out of the excitement and anticipation that the other kids felt about Santa. The fact is (for me at least) a Christmas without Santa is a Christmas without magic. And I like my Christmases magical.

And now I want my kids’ Christmases to be magical. So I’m going to go ahead and be a big liar. My kids will thank me for it.

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NEOL

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I was at my mom’s house this weekend and she had my very favorite ornament hanging on her tree – it is a stuffed, cartoon-ish reindeer in scarf and hat and gloves, holding a Christmas sign. It warmed the cockles of my heart to see those four letters: “NEOL”

Neol, indeed – it’s the season to disguise Christmas (and Hanukkah and Kwanzaa) as some sort of general winter holiday, which never fails to piss me off. Personally, I don’t care if you believe in God or Jesus – whatever. If you want to celebrate a completely pagan-ized version of Christmas, that’s fine, too. I really, truly don’t care – you have a right to do as you please. While I do believe that you can’t have Christmas without Christ, I will support and defend your right to do/celebrate/believe what you want. Because as long as I can do what I want, too, we’re fine. And what I want to do is feel the true spirit of the season (though I will readily admit to getting caught up in the commercialized trappings of the season). And if that involves wearing my “Jesus is the Reason” pin and putting a nativity on my desk, etc, that’s what I’ll damned well do.

I get so sick of this group or that group getting upset and pissed off over Christmas decorations. OK, at city hall, I can see the point – separation of church and state and all. Of course, I am a card-carrying liberal and still have no problem with holiday decorations at school or city hall. I don’t care if they are Christian, Jewish, whatever. It’s a special time of year. As long as you cover them all – whatever. I don’t necessarily want to see a crucifix all year, but a damned Christmas tree or a menorah isn’t hurting me or anybody else. But I can accept that with all the things I believe in regarding church/state separation, come things like this. I can suck it up. I have my own tree at home to enjoy.

But I really don’t get when people get shit for having decorations for their own holiday on their own private property. I know people who don’t think anyone should have anything outside where others might see it and get offended. Please. If seeing a damned Santa offends you, you’re in big trouble, pal. Because life in general? Full of the offensive. Get over it. And to bitch about a church having a nativity (which, yes, I have heard)? Are you an idiot? Seriously? Do you know of this thing called a church? Geez. I’m “offended” by all the hanging-out ass I have to look at driving through campus. I’m “offended” by the Asshole Traffic Brigade. I’m “offended” by Jon Gosselin. And yet I have to face all that shit daily. Who can I sue?

There is a local family that is pretty well-off that over the past 20 years or so, have been very prominent in leading the marches and suits and fights to stop having Christmas decorations in the city buildings. OK, whatever – to each his own. The city offered to put up menorahs, etc, to appease all groups, but this family was having no parts of it. The Christmas stuff offended their non-Christian beliefs. Again – whatever. But there’s one part of the story you don’t know. This family also owns a chain of stores that sell outdoor summary stuff in the warm months, but come fall? A giant Santa shows up on the roof of the businesses. And they sell Christmas trees and ornaments and outdoor decorations and garland and wrapping and all the detritus of the holiday. Big, fat hypocrites, much?

The security guard in the building where I work used to decorate his desk with a tree and a Santa Claus. He isn’t allowed to anymore because someone complained. Not because it was a religious freedoms type thing. But because Santa was white. Yes, because he did not have a multi-ethnic, trans-gendered, handicapped, deaf, blind, brain-damaged, immigrant, female Santa, he offended someone and had to take it down. How fucked up is this? The man is bringing you free gifts, people!! Do you really care what color he is? He could have two heads, purple skin, antennae and a big, green ass but if he comes bearing an ipod, then COME ON IN, FAT MAN!!

Still Alive

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I’m still alive, in case anyone was wondering. But hot damn, it’s been crazy around here. Two weeks ago, on Thursday, I got called into a meeting and told that we needed to design, plan, implement, run subjects for, analyze and report a study, to be completed the following Friday. Umm…okay? Let the crazy begin. I had already scheduled Monday off as a shopping day and I couldn’t change it, since I had not bought one single gift yet (I was rocking the procrastination this year, although in my defense, it was less procrastination and more broke-and-waiting-for-my-bonus-ation), so I worked like crazy on Friday writing protocols and questionnaires and recruitment ads and I left a shitload of prep work to my colleagues for Monday. Monday was a long, exhausting day which didn’t include nearly enough chocolate and/or wine. Then back to work on Tuesday when the crazy-assed subjects started showing up early and didn’t quit all day. Then off to my work holiday dinner and another late night. Then back in the office early and working late and like crazy all week long. But we totally rock and got that shit done.

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Saturday, I still had some shopping to finish, so I loaded up the kids and headed out to the nightmare that is the mall on the Saturday before Christmas. What I thought would be a quick trip ended up being an all day marathon of one of my least favorite activities: Shopping with Kids. We ended up making a last stop at Burlington on the way home, where I discovered The World’s Biggest Asshole of a Sales Associate.

First off, she was slow. Reeeeeaaaalllllyyyyy sloooooooooow. I stood there contemplating changing lines, but I talked myself out of it, because you know how that goes – changes lines then that one is slow. So I watched (no exaggeration) two and three and six people go through the other lines while she was still checking out the ONE woman in front of me. Then, I had a gift in my cart for each kid that I managed to keep them from seeing. So when I got to checkout, I told the boy to take his sister and wait in the chairs a little way away so she wouldn’t see (he knew about hers but not his). As TWBASA was taking forever to take things off hangers and prep them for ringing up, she picked up the shirt I had for the boy. She was waving it around and holding it up, so I grabbed another shirt and held it up like I was looking at it to block his view. And I told her that I was trying to hide it from him because it was a surprise. She finally set it back down and picked up the next item. Instead of ringing them as she went, however, she was just “prepping” them to ring.

So she picks up the short again and instead of just ringing it, she holds it up in the air, is waving it around again, and actually turns around and faces the chairs where the kids are sitting, all the while holding the damned shirt up high in the air. I don’t know if she was intentionally being a dick or what but I wanted to punch her in her stupid face.

Then she moves on to the next shirt, and can’t find the price tag:

TWBASA: This doesn’t have a tag.
Me: It doesn’t? I am sure it did when I put it in the cart.
TWBASA: Well it doesn’t.
Me: Um…so…
TWBASA: There’s no tag.
Me: Well, OK?? But…
TWBASA: I CAN’T RING IT WITHOUT A TAG!!
Me: Well, then I guess you will have to call for a price check.
TWBASA: Hmmph!!

Then I find the tag sitting on the counter, where she must have knocked it of in all the “prepping” and I show it to her:

TWBASA: I don’t know if that is the right tag.
Me: It is – look, same brand, same size, see?
TWBASA: hat might not be the right tag.
Me: Well, OK, I am pretty sure it is, but…
TWBASA: I CAN’T RING IT WITHOUT THE RIGHT TAG!!!
Me: THEN GET A FREAKING PRICE CHECK!!

She hmmph-ed again, but used the tag.

Five minutes and two items later, she picks up a book that is also missing a tag. This one, I know had a tag when I put it in the cart, because the girl picked it out to buy with her own money and I checked the price:

TWBASA: This doesn’t have a tag.
Me: Oh.
TWBASA: It. Doesn’t. Have. A. Tag.
Me: Well, it had one, but I guess it fell off like the shirt.
TWBASA: It doesn’t have one now.
Me: Well, I guess we’ll have to get a price check on it, then, won’t we?
TWBASA: Where did you get it?
Me: In the books.
TWBASA: You mean Baby Depot?
Me: I don’t know what department it is – the kids toys and books.
TWBASA: I don’t know what that is.
Me: The toy section. Where there are toys. And giant bookcases. Filled with books.
TWBASA: Is that Baby Depot?
Me: I don’t know.
TWBASA: Well, what department is it then?
Me: I don’t know. Because I! Don’t! Work! Here!
TWBASA: Hmmph.

I had to get a manager to come over and take care of it. Thank god there was one nearby, because the police might have been involved and you’d all be reading in the paper about the stabbing in Burlington.

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I pulled the girl’s Christmas dress out of the bag last night only to discover that they left the ink tag on it. And now I have to drive back into the jaws of hell to get it removed. And I can’t find the receipt. Awesome.

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And speaking of awesome, my friend Hedge got a Christmas card from a neighbor. This neighbor barely speaks to her any other time and basically thinks she is too good for her neighbors. As soon as Hedge saw the return address, she thought, what the hell? But it all became clear when she opened it and inside the Christmas card was a bookmark advertising a new book. A book written by the woman’s mother. And self published. And it is so unbelievably awful awesome, I had to share it with you. Apparently, it is the first in a trilogy and sure to be a swashbuckling bestseller. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Captain S1ick:

Christmas Music

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Don’t forget – my geeky giveaway is still going on!

Things I’ve learned from listening to the All Christmas Music All the Time channel:

– When it comes to the standards, the originals are almost always the best. No on can rock around the Christmas Tree like Brenda Lee, Gene Autry is the only one I want to hear sing Rudolph, and no matter what an asshole he purportedly was, Bing Crosby simply IS White Christmas.

– Occasionally, though, the remakes are better. Willie Nelson made Pretty Paper.

– There are so many, many ways to fuck up Silent Night.

– To wit: Christine Aguilera has a set of pipes, but someone needs to explain to her that “peace” does not have 17 syllables.

– I don’t like my Christmas songs to be fucked with very much. Jazz them up, rock them out, whatever, but don’t fuck with the basic song in ways that make them un-sing-along-able. And Christmas songs are made for singing along.

– Medleys suck. While we’re on the topic of singing along, it sucks when you’re just about to rock out the second verse of O Come All Ye Faithful, and suddenly you’re in the Little Town of Bethlehem and thinking, “Did I just black out?”

– Hard Candy Christmas is seriously underrated.

– So is Fum, Fum Fum.

– With a few exceptions, the awesomeness of the 80s did not carry over into Christmas Music.

– Even at Christmas, the entire concept of John Tesh makes me want to vomit.

– Suzy snowflake is what second graders sing in music class. It does not belong on the radio. Ever.

– Merry Christmas from the Family sounds more like my family every year.

– No matter how much eggnog* I drink, I still think Bruce Springsteen sucks. Santa Claus is coming to town sounds like something your chain-smoking drunk uncle forgot the words to. (*OK, rum and coke. But in a festive holiday glass.)

– Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy makes me nervous when the girl is listening. Because I’m crazy and I don’t have enough ridiculous shit to worry about.

– Synthesizers + Christmas music = Baby Jesus Crying

– Please – no more barking damned dogs (though when I was a kid, they had a version of it with laughing and it was infectious).

– Vince Guaraldi? Genius. So pretty and nostalgic.

– And on the Peanuts topic, Snoopy’s Christmas is pretty cool, too.

– And of course all the Grinch music. I mean, anytime one can work “three decker toadstool and sauerkraut sandwich with arsenic sauce” into a song – I’m in.

– You can’t go wrong with Dominick the Donkey.

– Embarrassingly enough, I’m still a sucker for the chipmunks.

– Madonna is no Eartha Kitt. Neither are the rest of the skanks who have tried, and failed, to do Santa Baby justice.

– Who the fuck wants a hippopotamus for Christmas? What, are they on crack? Hippos kill motherfuckers! You do not want a hippo!

– Angels among us isn’t really a Christmas song, but I love it anyway.

– I really HATE the songs about poor little street urchins who are starving and Jesus disguised as a homeless person and God help me, if I hear Christmas shoes one more time, I’m going to hunt down the person who wrote it and run them down with my sleigh. Then beat them with those fucking shoes. Just in case they meet Jesus tonight.

Back to Reality

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Ahh, back to the “real world”. Going back to work after the holidays I always a double-edged sword. On one hand, ughhh, no more sleeping in, no more lounging around in jammies, no more hot breakfasts and freely-flowing wine (And beer. And rum.). No more people sending gifts and cookies and home-made goodness. No more spending all my time with my beautiful, loving children. On the other hand, no more feeling like a lazy ass because I sleep too much, no more looking like a disgusting lazy ass in my jammies all day, no more sorta-almost hangovers, no more utter gluttony, what with the gifts and goodies. And no more spending 24 hours a day with my noisy, pain-in-the-butt kids.

Usually when I am working, I get up around 5:00 am or so, but this morning, I decided to sleep in a little. There was snow predicted and I figured the roads would be bad, which would slow me down anyway, so sleeping in until 5:30 would be no big deal. But at 5:00, the phone rang. And you know how it is – when the phone rings at some ungodly hour, it scares the crap out of you – you leap out of bed, run to get it wondering and worrying over who is sick, dead, or injured. So, I leap from the couch, fall over my own feet into the chair where the jackass dog is sleeping, which makes him completely lose his shit, we both tumble to the phone where I grab it and hear, “This is the Smalltown Area School District. We are operating on a two-hour delay. Thank you.”

Seriously? Seriously?? You are calling me at Dark O’Clock to give me information that will be plastered all over the no less than 6 local TV channels, six bajillion radio stations, and every TV and newspaper website within a 100-mile radius? Well, Fuck you very much, SASD! I could have slept that extra 30 minutes, turned on the TV to ANY channel and seen all 200+ delays and closings scroll across my screen for the next 4 hours if I wanted to. How fucking stupid would I have to be to miss that information? If only they put this much effort into teaching our kids something. I mean, these are the people that scheduled my son’s group music lesson at a time slot that falls 15 minutes before his bus arrives at school. The people who spend about seven of nine months teaching the kids how to take that asinine George W Bush test of bullshit and typos. The people who decided (briefly – before parent reaction warranted otherwise) that the kids were not allowed to speak at all in the halls or at lunch. So why am I surprised?

Anyway, I hope you all had a very nice holiday. Mine was pretty good overall. Other than the fact that we are still adding/renovating and my head is going to explode if we don’t finish soon, that is. I mean, if I thought we were crowded before Christmas, I was sadly mistaken. Because Now? Now we are crowded. I just can’t wait to at least get the kids’ rooms done, so we can start putting stuff away. And for mr b to finish the trim-painting so we can disassemble the spray booth and I can start to turn the basement into the playroom that it is intended to be. Because right now, the new ping-pong table is taking up all the space and I really want to start moving toys down there. And speaking of ping-pong? It makes the dog lose his tiny little mind. As soon as he hears the first ping (or pong – whatever), he goes completely batshit and starts barking. It’s funny for about 3 minutes and then you want to stuff his own head up his ass. I only wish I had a photo of the time I had to tape his face shut (oh, shut up – it was only that blue painters tape – I knew it wouldn’t hurt or de-fur him. And on one last tangent – speaking on de-furring – I got a furminator and it rocks.

OK – so I want to know – what was your best gift? Your worst? The one you were most excited to give? Your biggest disappointment?

Mine are:

Best – well, I’d like to say my camera, but since I actually bought it myself, it probably doesn’t count. So I’d have to say that my camera case was probably the best gift, since it allowed me to carry around the camera without acting like some freak transporting a live, beating heart in my hands. Which is pretty accurate. I’d practically shove an old lady, a puppy and possibly the Baby Jesus out of my way to avoid hurting my preciousssss.

Worst – the cute but too-small clothes that my mom got me. Though I should be used to it by now .

Most excited to give – the boy’s drum set. I’m sure the day will come that I regret this one, though.

Biggest disappointment – I was all set to give the girl a smart-cycle. There were 3,964,278,817 of them in every store. Until I had a chance to shop without kids. Then, there were none for 200 miles around. Except the bastards selling them online for twice the price. Assholes.