29 December 2008
23 December 2008
Hey, wait! Don't throw that ornament at me! I meant that in a NICE way!
Sheesh. I've seen no less than half-a-dozen bloggers throw a fit over the use of "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas."
I really feel the need to point out that there are, indeed, more holidays than just Christmas that happen in December. In fact, there are at least seven that I'm aware of - probably more!
If you say "Merry Christmas" and I answer back "Happy Holidays", I promise you it's not intended to insult or offend. And it is certainly not a personal attack on you or your religion or your god, okay?
When I say "Happy Holidays", that is my way of being inclusive - of trying to wish everyone a good and happy season, whatever their beliefs or practices.
Ok, now let's tackle this obsessive need to control the Christmas holiday.
Again, the blogosphere seems to be full of Christians who resent me on this subject. I try not to take it too personally, but ... seriously? C'mon, it's not like you own the patent.
I am agnostic. To clarify, that means, to me, that I do not know if there is a god. If there is, I've never found a religion that defines "god" in a way I would identify with. I explain this here to make the point that, for me, Christmas has nothing to do with religion of any kind.
I celebrate Christmas. I love Christmas. It's my favorite holiday.
But you won't find a manger scene in my yard or a "Jesus is the reason for the season" sign in my house. (In fact, you would be more likely to see "Axial tilt is the reason for the season" - because I have a weird sense of humor like that.)
Some of my friends and family do decorate with religious trappings. And that's perfectly fine with me. As is the menorah my co-worker puts up. And the Kwanzaa candles at a neighbor's house. And the yule log and branches at another. Whatever makes you happy.
But, just because they share a name and date does not mean that we are or should be celebrating the same thing.
There are untold numbers of words and phrases and traditions in modern American culture that have their roots in ancient (and not-so-ancient) religions and cultures. To use one of them does not imply an endorsement of their original meaning.
The word "Christmas" denotes your religious holiday. But it also happens to be the name we use to identify the secular holiday.
So, you need to share.
There might be implied meaning behind the word "Christmas" for you that is just not there for others. But that doesn't make your meaning more valid than mine.
My using the word "Christmas" no more means that I embrace your theology any more than my using the word "Thursday" means that I worship the Roman pantheon.It's about etymology, not theology.
It's not about "taking Christ out of Christmas". If Jesus is your reason for the season, no one can "take" that away from you.
Here is my proposal: You celebrate Christmas the way you want to and I will celebrate the way I want to.
Voila: World peace! :)
I hope your holidays bring you much joy during this season.
I usually pull out the ol' analog copies for a reminisce to really get my holiday geek on. But this year - thanks to my bestest blogging buddy over at Smokey Acres - I have e-versions I can share! :)
22 December 2008
I know people who dread their holiday family parties every year. For them, I almost feel guilty about how much I love the holidays.
For me, Christmas is all about family - it's the day we gather together and celebrate each other. The meal, the decorations, the presents ... those are all nice, but they are just the wrappings and trappings - the real gift is spending time with the people we love.
It just so happens that I actually LIKE most of the people I'm related to. I know, freaky, right?
This Christmas Eve, I will have a house full of family members spanning four generations. Our family gatherings are simple: There is no dress code, dinner is potluck, gifts are modest, and there are usually a plethora of kids and pets underfoot in over-crowded rooms. But everyone is welcome, and there is always plenty of love and laughter to go around.
I loved it all when I was a kid. And I love it all the more now that I'm a mom. Knowing that we are passing our traditions and values to our two adorable lil' minions - and all of our family's next generation - makes it all the more sweet.
We don't have everything. But we have everything that counts.
And we appreciate it.
In this crazy, hectic, commercialized world, my holiday wish for all of us is not that we will have more - but that we can all truly appreciate what we already have. :)
So, Happy Holidays - whatever holidays you may celebrate - from our family to yours.
May peace and plenty be the first to lift the latch on your door, and happiness be guided to your home by the candle of Christmas.
In the New Year, may your right hand always be stretched out in friendship, but never in want.
~ Irish Holiday Toast
21 December 2008
Today is the Winter Solstice - the shortest day and longest night of the year.
Some cultures celebrate the solstices with festivals to recognize the cyclical nature of the world and our connection to it.
For those: Happy Solstice and Blessed Yule!
Personally, I always like to take a moment to note the Winter and Summer solstices. They remind me not to take nature - and our place in it - too much for granted.
I'm an extremely rational and practical person. I don't believe in - or really have a care about - anything magical or mystical or supernatural or paranormal.
So it might seem odd for me to say that I am often fascinated - awed, even - by the wonder of nature and by the myths different cultures have created to explain our world and man's place in it.
I love the Greek myths about creation and the seasons, and the Norse tales of the hero's journey, and Polynesians' wrathful fire goddess, and the many Celtic personifications of nature.
These stories are fascinating to me. From a literary perspective, for sure. But also from an anthropological one.
Ironically, it seems to me that the "average" person was more in touch with the natural world in ancient times - when we did not understand the "why" of it all.
Now that we can explain things from the astral to the molecular levels, we've lost some of our wonder.
We use clocks and calendars to track time, instead of the sun and seasons. Our homes are climate controlled to the point that weather is largely irrelevant.
Global positioning systems have taken the place of navigation by constellation. The lights of our cities block out the patterns of the stars. We speed by so fast in our cars and trains and planes, that we barely notice the animals and the trees and the rocks and the waterways.
We can touch the sky, we can leave our planet, we can see into other solar systems, and we can alter our own cells ... and all of that give us an illusion of being somehow removed from the rest of nature.
I get just as caught up in all of that as anybody else.
There are moments when nature still manages to break through all of the modern distractions and really take my breath away.
But, mostly, it's easy to fall into the fallacy that the beauty and wonder of nature is irrelevant to our everyday lives - that it's all separate from us.
So, at least twice a year - at the solstices - I like to take a moment to consciously acknowledge the beauty and wonder of this amazing world we live in.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not planning to shun modern conveniences and go live in a cave to commune with nature or anything.
Heck, I don't even plan to turn off my central heating today.
But ... for me, the solstice is a time to remember that we are all part of something bigger. It's a humble reminder not to take myself - or anyone else - too seriously. ;P
19 December 2008
18 December 2008
But, it's true. I knitted my little fingers to the bone the last couple of months to make these (plus a couple more that didn't make it in the picture) for some family and friends.
Don' they look warm and fuzzy and cozy? Like long, sleek Tribbles who just want to cuddle up and nuzzle your neck.
If I ever get the feeling back in my knuckles, I will maybe make one for myself. :)
So, did you do anything "crafty" for the holidays?
12 December 2008
Location: Driving in the woods ... in a big ol' stretch of nowhere ... at night.
Minion1: "Mommy, I have to go potty."
Me: "Can you wait just a few more minutes until we get to our campground?"
Me: "There's no bathrooms here, sweetie. Are you sure you can't wait just a little bit?"
Minion1 (now, with a note of desperation): "No, I hafta go RIGHT NOW."
Me, to husband: "Pull over."
So we pull to the side of the road and I take the Minion off into the trees to do what bears do in the woods. Since we were going camping, we're prepared with a shovel for the occasion. Of course, being a Mommy, I also have handi-wipes in the glove box (and in my purse, and in our luggage, and in my pocket - 'cause it's in the job description).
Business done, we hike back to the car where the Husband is waiting with Minion2, and Minion1 proudly shouts out to him:
"Daddy! We planted my Poo-Poo in the woods! It's gonna grow a giant Poo-Poo Tree!"
Fast-forward to this week: We are driving along again - The Husband at the wheel; Minions securely restrained in their car seats; Me, talking about picking out a Christmas Tree.
Minion1: "Mommy, we need to go see MY tree."
Me: "Oh, what tree is that?"
Minion1: "My POO-POO TREE a'course! I bet it's REALLY big now! Can we go see it?!"
Minion2, gleefully: "Poo!"
Me, to husband: "I am *so* blogging about this tomorrow."
10 December 2008
08 December 2008
I think I just had an epiphany.
I've always loved this song - and the character. I even sing it to my kids, sometimes. But I never consciously realized until just right now how very zen this song is. :)
And don't spend your time lookin' around
For something you want that can't be found
When you find out you can live without it
And go along not thinkin' about it
I'll tell you something true
The bare necessities of life will come to you