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Knitting in the Shadows
Tuesday, 3 January 2006
Now Playing: NOT Christmas music
Topic: Holidays
It's gone.
They're all gone!
Yesterday I took down every Father Christmas in the house, and packed them safely away for next year.

I put away all of the candles that smell so Christmasy you can't quite fathom burning them any other time of the year. (When else does one burn Bayberry, for example?) I packed up their candle holders and put them away too.

I put back the "regular" candles and candle holders. (We're not getting into a candle discussion right now).

I put away all the snow globes. They're safely in their boxes, upside down to keep the water in.

I brow beat the kids into helping me un-decorate the tree and carefully wrapped each ornament and put them all in their box. I gently took the strings of red beads off the tree. Dan took the lights off.
I put it all away, and we hauled the tree to the curb.

We went outside in the 50 degree weather (??) and took the lights off of the bushes and arbor vitae. I coiled, Dan tied and put each strand in its own plastic bag (thus clearing out the back log) and then put them all in a box in the garage.

I took all the Christmas/Holiday/Solsticey music out of the CD changers in the house and in the car, and replaced them with other stuff (like Tom Leher).

Sometime today, the tree disappeared.

All that remains are the wreaths hanging from the sides of the garage.

Christmas has officially left our house.

Deep breath.

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 4:35 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Monday, 19 December 2005
Holiday Rant
Topic: Holidays
Now they've done it.

I was over at the Harlot's place, reading about how some folks at her kid's holiday concert (Songs from Around the World) were kvetching because the concert wasn't full of Christmas songs. It turns out she got hate mail hate mail, yes, our dear Harlot got HATE MAIL for having the temerity to suggest that people remember that state schools (in both Canada and the US) aren't supposed to be teaching religion -- that pesky separation of church and state thing, ya know -- and thus a purely secular concert in December was reasonable. (And hate mail is such a Christian sort of thing to send isn't it).

Then, I've started getting all sorts of emails from my friends inviting me to send a version of hate mail myself: Strongly Christian Christmas cards to the ACLU, which they'll have to open just in case there are donations, so that they can be buried in a ton of stuff just because the ACLU thinks we should acknowledge that not everyone in the U.S. is Christian, and even among Christians, not all faiths are the same (See this article about a Catholic man who the ACLU helped to avoid criminal penalties when he didn't want to convert to Pentecostal to complete a rehab program). I guess those folks think that the ACLU, in defending the rights of all of is to practice our religions is some how trying to take Christ out of Christmas. I find it amusing that so many of my friends think I'm on their side on this one.

At the other extreme (well, perhaps not extreme, but ...) my daughter's class had to change the name of their Secret Santa party, and the whole three-day festival, because one of the parents complained that it left that child out -- you see, Santa has evidently converted to Christianity, and thus by doing a Santa thing, they were leaving this non-Christian child out. So, they got Clandestine Holiday Pals instead.

Okay, Santa Claus comes from St. Nicholas (nick named Sinter Klaus...), and from Kris Kringle (from Christ Kind), but his story is also reminiscent of a rather non-Christian Italian legend as well: In Italy, a similar story exists about a woman called La Befana, a kindly witch who rides a broomstick down the chimneys of Italian homes to deliver toys into the stockings of lucky children. And he's far from part of church doctrine.

Heck, Santa didn't become a big deal until the 19th century. And now he's so solidly entwined with American Consumerism, you'd think the objection would be on those grounds, not that he leaves a kid out. I mean, the story doesn't say he only comes down the chimney of Christian houses does it?

But I digress. This folly on all sides leads me to believe we're addressing the "diversity issue" in wholly the wrong way. We've been working our tails off avoiding offending anyone by mentioning someone else's holidays. We're "supporting" diversity by hiding the things that make us different. It's time to quit.

Let's CELEBRATE our diversity by celebrating the things that make us different! Instead of secularizing all of our holidays, let's teach each other to celebrate ALL of the holidays. I'll help you celebrate your god(s), you help me celebrate mine. And we'll learn about what makes us different -- and about what makes us more alike than we'd suspected.

We'd discover that many religions have Festivals of Lights (like Diwali (celebrated in the fall), and Hanukkah, and Candlemas). And many have days of fasting (like Ramadan and Lent).

Lest the capitalists fear a sudden return of Religion to the holiday would cut into the December buying frenzy, may I point out that this new approach would provide even more gift giving opportunities. You want consumerism? I'll give you consumerism: We'll have St. Nicholas presents on December 6 (or is it 2d -- there's another thing then), and Lucia's Day gifts on the 13th, and Solstice Presents on the 21st (along with Yule gifts, and Christmas and Mithra's birthday presents on the 25th, and Boxing Day gifts on the 26th. This year, Hanukkah begins on the 26th - that celebration involves gifts for 8 days. Basil's day gifts on January 1, and 12th night presents on January 6. This year, Eid al Fitr does not fall in December, sometimes it does, and during those years, the three day feast would add to the cacophony of celebrations.

Of course, I say all this having chosen the least/most offensive name I could for my annual December Party. Two days from now, we'll be celebrating our own Festival of Lights -- via a Solstice Celebration at my house. At least half of why I chose to call it a Solstice Celebration on the first year's invitations was in recognition of the fact that my neighbors hail from the Philippines, India, Israel, Canada, America and Viet Nam; and are black, white, Asian, etc ... and both gay and heterosexual. I had no idea what religion several of them were/are, except that I knew the folks across the street were pretty seriously into their church.

I figure Solstice is both purely celestial, and deliciously Pagan ... but is unlikely to make anyone truly uncomfortable unless they saw me dancing naked around a bonfire in the front yard. Since the fire is actually in the back yard, I figured it was all okay. This year, given our current 6 degree F temperature reading, you can bet I won't be dancing NAKED, even with a raging bonfire. I will be lighting my house with nothing but candles and the lights on the trees.

This one sits in the only place a bonfire would make sense -- so it's clear there won't be one in the front yard.

This one sits up near the house.

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 8:54 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink
Updated: Monday, 19 December 2005 9:41 PM CST
Monday, 12 December 2005
Tis the Season
Mood:  don't ask
Topic: Holidays
Tis the season...for the annual discussion about Holiday Cards. Who gets them? Who doesn't?

Do we send cards to people who live in town? or only to those who live out of town.

If the in towners get cards, do we send them to the folks who have already received invitations to our annual Holiday party? To the one's who received invitations but have declined? Clearly, folks who can't R.S.V.P. don't deserve another stamp...
But what about the folks who are COMING to the party. Do they need cards too?

Me, I have two lists ... party invitees are on one list, card recipients are on another. I figure, as expensive as cards are, and as impersonal as they wind up being when you're sending them out by the thousands ... hundreds dozens, if I get to see you and raise a glass to toast the season with you in person, you're likely to be content without a card. If that's not the case, you'll send me a card, and I'll be sure you get one in return. I send cards to people I care about -- people with whom I really want to maintain a relationship.... even if we're hundreds of miles apart.

DH, on the other hand, can't see why I might invite someone to my party but not send them a card. He thinks we should send a card to anyone with whom he's golfed more than twice, and to anyone who might be a potential business contact. I think if you're sending holiday cards to network for business purposes, the firm ought to buy the cards and pay the postage, but that's just me.

Worse yet, that card recipient list has two parts. One group of people get inflicted with receive an annual newsletter, in which I bore them to tears with regale them with a summary of the highlights of our year -- special notes for each of us even. The other group of people is not close enough to me to learn the gory details special achievements in our lives, and thus I don't spend the extra money on copies include the newsletter in their cards. I put all of DH's golfing buddies and business acquaintances on that list. Only my real friends and family get to learn the history of my life.

Now, you'd think after eleven years of this exercise we'd have it down pat. But NO. Tonight we endured the annual argument over how this goes. This may well mark my last year of organizing any cards for anyone not on my card recipient list.

Okay, honesty here, likely not. I'll wind up doing it for him again next year. And we'll have this round of silliness again next year. Between now and then I'll come up with a few more excuses to knock people off the list altogether . In preparation for this, I've started a spreadsheet.

Here's how to get cut out of our holiday generosity get cut from the list:

1) if you get a card from us, don't send one back. In fact, don't acknowledge it in any way.

2) if you get an invitation from us, ignore it completely. Definitely do NOT tell us you won't be coming. Don't show up either. If you make it to the party bearing a bottle of wine, you'll be stuck on the list.

3) ... I'm working on it! There have got to be more ways to cull this list. (suggest ons in the comments eagerly accepted)

Of course, this means that if you send us a card; or
invite us to your party, you'll wind up on our list(s). You have been warned.

Gotta run, I have spreadsheets to design, labels to print (you think I'm hand writing all those golfing buddy's names? are you nuts?), cards to sign, and stamps to affix. How'm I gonna get my knitting done??

Posted by shadowdancer105 at 8:54 PM CST | Post Comment | Permalink

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