Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holidays, Faith, and other Tetchy things

Oh, Holiday Season. ... you are like a very pretty pebble caught between a silk stocking and the finest of footwear.

Tis the season for people to get tetchy. I'm pretty sure that's a Yiddish word, as the Jewish seem to have the best vocabulary for categorizing annoyances.

The annual online war is being waged: Don't say Happy Holidays to me, I'm Christian! Don't say Merry Christmas to me, I'm Pagan! Don't put your Jesus in my neighborhoods secular display! Don't put your Santa in my manger! What the hell is Eid?

I have to say that most of the Jews I know just stay out of the whole mess, keep their heads down, and have beautiful Hannukah celebrations despite the rest of us.

I try to stay out of it, or at least keep it funny. (That's my philosophy for a lot of things.) I don't turn down a blessing of goodwill and cheer, no matter what flavor of faith it comes from. I try to peg my own blessings based on the person; and I hope that when I fail and say Merry Christmas to a non believer, they'll take it in the spirit that it was intended.

This is the time of year, though, when I receive the most questions and commentary on my own faith. Mostly it's people who want to say the right thing, and that's sweet. Sometimes it's not, and that's irritating, but I figure it this way:

If God said for the people who were sure of their faith in him to go forth and prostelytize... well. God's a tricky bugger, and a bit more cynical than me... but I know that when I send a kid out to teach something, what I'm really looking for is for them to learn something new. Maybe this whole 'GO FORTH and SPEAK the word of GOD' thing is just as much for the preacher as the heathen. (Heathen: one who lives on a heath. Not: ONe who doesn't believe in God, eats babies for dinner, worships Satan. See where I'm going with this?)

Does this mean I sit down to for coffee with every evangelical-mormon-watchtower-passing-free-love-hippie that comes along, and try to sway them to my point of view? No. I'm not that bored.

If I were going to, ahem, express my views on the holiday season, though, it would go something like this:

This is the season of the dimming of the light. This is the time of cold winds and ice storms. Nothing grows now. This is when the shadows and darkness take over the world. This time is a test. Will you light your own candle, and have faith in it? Can your undying devotion turn that tiny flame in to the resurgance of something greater than itself?

Your light can be Jesus, or God, or Santa. Your light can be Krampus, the Sun, or magical oil that burns for days. Your light can be the Hadron Collider at CERN. You can call your light whatever you want. It doesn't matter, as long as you light the candle, and have faith in it. As long as you beat back the shadows for another year.

uh oh. He's getting smarter.

Holy brain formations batman! Sawyer has, so far this morning, tried to play his harmonica and guitar at the same time (Youtube stream of Springsteen & James Keyes has been going all AM) and then started running around naming shapes. Which sounds boring, but: "ODEN BUM!" ... lifts tail... "CIRCLE!" AHAHAHA!" is not boring.

Monday, December 12, 2011

It's taken 35 years for me to write this.

I've tried to write this post a bunch of times. Each time I've given up, either because I lost my thread, or my voice, or more often, because it made me weepy, and I hate crying. Tonight though, I think that I'll just get it out, and maybe a few tears, and see where it all goes.

This post needs a little background: First, my parents are retired Air Force. My grandparents are retired military. So are my uncles, my aunts, my cousins.. it's a theme. I spent my earliest childhood on White Birch St, a housing community on Pease Air Force Base in NH. I moved to York, Maine when I was 5 or so.

My genetic heritage is this: Italian, Welsh, Irish, Scottish, Norwiegan, Cherokee, .. and rumors of a little African thrown in can be verified with one look at my lips. This genetic throw of the dice resulted in my face, which is a face shaped face, and my skin, which is olive. My eyes are dark hazel, although most people would tell you they were brown. My hair is a frizzy, kinky nest of curls that looks dark brown or black, but is pretty darned red when viewed up close and in singular.

I look like everybody. Well, outside of NH or ME in the 80s, I look like everybody. I've been spoken to in Arabic, Farsi, Hindu, Afghani, Pakistani, Egyptian and every single flavor of Spanish and Portugese and Italian. Each time, the speaker thought I would respond in their native languae. I've been told I'm "exotic like Toucan Sam." and I've been told "It's great how far up the ladder someone of your color can come these days." I've been called a nigger, and high yeller,' which is more accurate, but still totally wrong.

What I don't look like, is my mother. We've come to terms with this, and now enjoy the looks we get when we announce we're related. I've got 4 inches on her. She's got red hair and greeny hazel eyes, and burns in two seconds flat on a sunny day. My mother is beautiful, and I've her genetics to thank for my blonde haired, blue eyed and tawny skin, green eyed sons. In black and white, we look like a family. In color photos, we look like a UN meeting.

There's the background. Here's the story.

My God Mother is of Mexican descent, and also part of an Air Force family. So, obviously, are her children, my god siblings. We all lived near each other when I was small. I have a photo of Sandy and the children, taken in the 70s, and that's about all I knew of them, thanks to the Military moving us all over. There are other photos, which show my christening, and I remember looking at those when I was small. I remember asking who they were, and my mother telling me that *this* was my god mother, and *this* was my god father, and *these* were my god siblings.

My mother tried to explain to me the concept of god parents, but I was about 4, and took away very little fact, and even less memory. What I do remember is this: My father was gone most times, and so it was just me and my mother, whom I looked nothing like. Here were photos showing me as a baby along side my god family, whom I had the same coloring as.

So I decided, in the manner of a 4 year old, that when God gives you a 'God Family', he must make you look like them, so you'll fit in later and know each other when you find each other. Because Mom and Dad, they know who you are, so you don't need to look like them. But looking like your God Family might come in handy for ID purposes down the road.

I spent most of Kindergarten and First Grade telling people I was Mexican. I believed it to be so.

Now, 30 years later, I'm back in touch with my God Mother and my God Sister, thanks to the wonder of Facebook. I'm pleased to report that they are even more wonderful that the fantasy I created in my mind all those years ago. My parents made a good choice, when they picked my God Parents.

And here's the lesson: It's not about what the color says, it's not about what you look like in black and white. It's about what you believe, and what you have faith in that counts. Always.

Kids and Christmas. Give Values.

Things Sawyer played with today: welding goggles (superhero) carboard from under the frozen pizza ( frisbee), the dog (noble steed), Aunt Amber (jungle gym), moms ring measurer ( sword), Ruler (sword with numbers), markers and paper (airplanes, train tickets, and eventually a tattoo of a watch on his arm. ) The remote (phaser). People, parents, listen up: Kids DO NOT NEED MANY TOYS. They need supplies, which are oftenth free. With Christmas looming, please, get kids one thing, if you want, that you think they'll LOVE.. and donate the rest to charity. That would be the best gift ever. Heifer INternational is great, you can name the gift after a child. How about a stuffed water buffalo with a reciept of the amount you gave, and a photo of the water buffalo named George? How coll would that be?!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A moment.

Today was hard, I think because it was so normal. And because normal in this household has become defined by hard. My husband works 7 dyas a week. We have two kids, we have a brother living with us, we have a giant dog, we have bills to pay. Christmas is looming, and with it my yearly anxiety attacks. Sawyers birthday is coming up, and 3 is very different than two.

So I was a bit introspective today, listening to music and pondering as I waited at one of Dovers longest stoplights. I was staring out the window at nothing, waiting for the green to mean go. Above the light, a bird soared on a thermal. I looked, and looked again, and realized it was a hawk. I wasn't far from home, so I wondered as I watched it if it was MY hawk, who hunkers down in my aspen tree from time to time. I thought it was funny that for years we've had crows in that tree, and now we have a hawk.

The hawk landed on a branch as I watched, and I glanced at the light, praying for red so I could keep it in view for a moment. I got my wish. I looked back up at the magnificent bird in front of me, and saw a speck beyond it, in the sky. A black dot, getting larger. With none of the dithering circles that the hawk performed, a crow landed in the same tree, a few branches away.

The birds both looked to the south, ignoring each other but completely aware of each other at the same time. I breathed a word of gratitude, and the light turned green. I kept them in sight in my rearview mirror for a block, after I turned, and they were still watching the south, seeming to look right at me.

I don't know how rare this is, but I have to imagine, pretty rare. It's a big city. There's a lot of trees. There's a lot of trees just where I saw these two, and either one could have had a tree to itself, plus a buffer of branches. But they chose the same tree, just feet from each other. Just when I was watching. Just when I was thinking.

So thanks, mothernaturegodgoddessrandomchance, for that moment. I'll be wondering on that for awhile.