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Archive for December, 2018

It’s the happiest season of all, right? But what to do if you’re not Christian, or even a lapsed-Catholic or Christian-light, or maybe Jewish or Muslim? Well, child psychologists can always tell us what to do, and lately they’ve been taking all the fun out of December.

First it was, teach your kids they don’t have to hug Aunt Fannie – that relative you see maybe once or twice a year who insists on a hug and a kiss. And now, we are being told to spill the goods on Santa – don’t lie to your kids about Santa!

“Do you believe in Santa Claus Mommy?” the Love Bug asked my daughter in the car the other day. Why do they always come up with such earth-shattering questions in the car? Of course I wanted to know what she said, but the Bride only said she stalled, making me feel like somehow I’d failed. Because even though Bob and I were raising our children in the Jewish faith, I never gave up on Santa Claus

I mean I didn’t leave him milk and cookies. We didn’t have any naughty elves sneaking around our bookshelves. There were no blinking trees in our living room either. And they never knew when Santa would arrive, silently gliding down our chimney – it might happen during Hannukah, or maybe on Christmas morning. But I felt it viscerally, that memory of a big, kind guy in a red suit visiting children all over the world to fulfill their wishes. And I wanted to keep that magic alive in my family.

But according to this BBC article, if a child is old enough to ask about Santa, they are old enough for the truth. No, Virginia, there is nobody.

“You shouldn’t lie about Santa because you are encouraging your children, usually with made-up proof, to believe a morally ambiguous lie. I’m not alone in being devastated learning of my parents’ elaborate deceit about Santa, leaving me to wonder what other lies they had told.

Santa supposedly encourages imagination but, as noted in this article, and others, you’re really asking children to suspend criticality and believe a fiction. As this piece suggests, fantasy and imagination work because we choose to believe what we know isn’t true. Far from promoting wonder, the Santa story encourages children to be consumers of others’ ideas.” http://www.bbc.com/capital/story/20181211-why-you-shouldnt-lie-to-your-children-about-santa

Today is the sixth anniversary of the shooting at Newtown Elementary School. Those children, who were the same age as my grand daughter, will never have the chance to ask about Santa Claus. They will never go caroling again with their parents. When our government failed to pass any meaningful gun control legislation after that, long before Sandy Hook, I lost my faith again. Only this time, it was with our country.

Last night we read about a 7 year old Guatemalan girl who died of dehydration and exhaustion at the border of New Mexico. She was in OUR custody with her father for more than 8 hours before seizures began. This actually happened last week, according to the Washington Post:

“The ACLU blamed “lack of accountability, and a culture of cruelty within CBP (Customs and Border Patrol)” for the girl’s death. “The fact that it took a week for this to come to light shows the need for transparency for CBP. We call for a rigorous investigation into how this tragedy happened and serious reforms to prevent future deaths,” Cynthia Pompa, advocacy manager for the ACLU Border Rights Center, said in a statement.”  

So maybe we should tell our kids the truth, always. Because buying into a fairy tale, quasi-religious belief that leaves Mrs Claus at home in the North Pole while her husband gets all the credit for one night’s work does seem antiquated. Maybe we must be brutally honest with ourselves first. And not expect falsehhoods to turn into facts simply because a great, orange-headed beast keeps repeating them…

It’s almost like selling someone a bill of goods about fossil fuels, and promising to fulfill all your wishes, just because you have your name on a few buildings.

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Do you miss Chip and Joanna Gaines on HGTV? All the silo-loving, shiplap-using, funny marriage-banter of their show “Fixer Upper?” Not me; I see their “Magnolia” housewares in my local Target, and I follow her on Twitter.

Last night was “movie night” in their farmhouse. All five kids (including the newborn) were piled up in their meticulous Master Bedroom bed, with a fire going in the fireplace and a Christmas tree in the corner. It almost looked too good to be true.

There is an undercurrent of unrest in Waco, TX. Housing prices have skyrocketed and tourists have been flooding into town to catch a glimpse of the happy Gaines’. Rumor has it, the Evangelical couple belong to a church that shuns LGBTQ people. And all those beautifully rehabbed homes, many have been spotted on AirBnB.

Now Waco is in the news for all the wrong reasons.

“Jacob Walter Anderson, 24, faced charges of sexual assault after allegedly attacking the woman at a fraternity party two years ago.

But after agreeing to a plea deal on a lesser charge, the former Baylor University student was given three years’ deferred probation.

The woman said she was “devastated”.

“He stole my body, virginity and power over my body and you let him keep it all for eternity,” the woman told Judge Ralph Strother in a Waco courtroom after he agreed the deal, NBC News reported.”  https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46519600

This is the THIRD time this judge has approved a plea deal for probation after a rape in the past two years, all Baylor University students. Anderson drugged and raped a young woman repeatedly and left her outside to die. But we wouldn’t want to “ruin” this white boy’s reputation, after all he is a former fraternity president and may one day want to serve on the Supreme Court.

He will not have to register as a sex offender, and his charge was knocked down to “unlawful restraint.” In Texas, if you’re white and wealthy, you are obviously above the law. At first Anderson was facing 20 years for rape, now two years later, his lawyers are celebrating; “No Jail Time” screams the headlines!

Great Grandpa Hudson graduated from Baylor a long time ago. I’m pretty sure he wasn’t a frat boy since he had served in the Navy during WWII first, and later became a missionary to Ghana. Bob recently accompanied him in an ambulance to the Bride’s ER. It seems he fell and conked his head, which immediately gets you all the bells and whistles, even though he never lost consciousness and all his tests were fine. Hudson is one indestructible old sailor!

As for Baylor Alum Chip and Joanna, I’m pretty sure their white-washed, religious life will have its share of ups and downs, like any marriage. But unlike most, they are still in the spotlight. At least her bedroom Christmas tree wasn’t blood red, like a certain immigrant from Slovenia!

Here is the girl who recently lost her first tooth and her Great Grandma the marriage counselor. That’s a Mona Lisa smile if I ever saw one!

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We picked up the L’il Pumpkin at school mid-morning. It was going to be a fun day, going to the Children’s Theatre to see The Little Mermaid, then lunch and on to Hannukah. But we had a long holding session in the lobby before the play with a few other schools, so I headed over to the large center table covered with paper, crayons and writing prompts.

“Ariel and her father the King are having trouble understanding each other. What do you wish adults could understand better about children?”

“What do you think,” I asked my little grandson.

“Listening,” he said without missing a beat.

And a light went off; I thought about the term “active listening,” like some ancient artifact that had washed ashore in my brain, back before parenthood. While studying child psychology, I knew even before reading a text that some people are checked out when it comes to their kids, and some are just naturally checked IN.

This was long before we had tiny smart phones to ding and buzz our attention away from our children. Just as we need context to read and comprehend, we need to hear between the lines in order to communicate well with little people. Sure meltdowns can happen, but if we are paying attention, we can usually avoid them.

I was recently involved in a conversation with one of Great Grandma Ada’s friends. He had been a professor at Vanderbilt in his youth, now well into his 90s he liked to paint beautiful, vivid landscapes. I was aware of how effortlessly we spoke, and it’s hard to remember what exactly we spoke about, but it started with Brexit. The rare thing of beauty was that here was a man who was listening – he wasn’t turning his head away, or nodding, or looking at his watch. He was engaging, and our words flew elegantly back and forth.

You don’t have to be a Disney princess to get into hot water with your parents. The L’il Pumpkin told me he was glad Ariel smashed the magic shell containing her voice, thereby breaking the sea witch Ursula’s spell. I thought about the many voiceless women, throughout his/herstory, who were destined to live a constrained life; tied up in apron strings, never learning to drive a car (like Nelly, my foster mother), living in a “Doll’s House” like Nora herself, or Shakespeare’s Rosalind before her.

I hope our grandson grows up to be a good listener, to be a mensch. Watching him skip back to our car, holding Bob’s hand in the parking lot, my heart melted a little.

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CAUTION:

The following essay may not be suitable for younger or happier readers!

Christmas songs are now being censored, an Ohio radio station has pulled “Baby it’s cold outside” from its skew. This made me feel really old, since I know all the lyrics to this gem, and I thought to myself, “What is this world coming to???” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-46413209

While I was riding back from yet another Target run, I pushed a button on the radio in my car to a station I rarely listen to – MSNBC. I can’t even watch Rachel at night, not if I want to sleep. But I’d rather listen to music while driving, even Christmas music is preferable. Yesterday however I guess I needed a jolt of news. Good news.

The sound was strangely eerie, at first I thought the station must be having technical difficulties. But within a millisecond I was afraid these sounds were muffled gunshots, and I was listening to an active shooter in a mall someplace with a “Go Pro” camera on his head!

Turns out, it was only the sounds of President George HW Bush being laid to rest. The sounds of a talk show on silent.

I agree, he was maybe the last of the great white Republican presidents, a true statesman and WWII vet; and he knew how to get us out of a war and not just into one. Plus, I always loved his wife Babs and her homage to big, cultured pearls. But I was not about to spend hours of my time listening or watching his casket travel to DC.

I dragged in my Target haul, including a pair of Chewy slippers for the L’il Pumpkin, and started making dinner.

Hannukah always sneaks up on me, still coming right on the heels of Thanksgiving is pretty early. Last night’s dinner was a hodge-podge of leftovers that included meatloaf, olives, zucchini and pasta but at some point over the next week I’ll be making latkes! Actually this is a truly Southern holiday because anything fried is appropriate for Hannukah, including donuts!

On our first night of Hannukah we celebrated with friends over bowls of delicious chili and toppings. Our gracious friend’s art-filled home was humming with music and the lilting melody of small children. And although the Great Grands have apparently caught our colds and missed the festivities, we managed to Facetime with Ada for the candle lighting. Her voice had gone down a few octaves, like mine.

Like my spirits. After spending most of the weekend trying to design a holiday card on Shutterfly – that website needs a complete makeover btw – I started thinking that Mr T can indeed shoot a person in cold daylight and get away with it. My first reaction upon hearing of the death of a president was that this will be good for our current president. The media spotlight will pivot to funeral caravans and away from the mounting evidence of T’s Russian connections, of his blatant lies to the American people. That he has been compromised, bought and paid for by Putin.

I know this is the happiest of seasons, so forgive me for being blue today. My head cold is hanging on, and the temps have dropped from near 70 to near 30. I hope you’ve got your cards done, tree up and cookies baked! I hope you will still listen to Frank Loesser’s song about seduction in 1944. “I really can’t stay,” today I’ve got to buy some potatoes for the latkes!

It’s rumored that Mr T will not be allowed to speak at Mr Bush’s funeral…how much are you willing to bet that the gears of justice may just catch up to the presidential puppet-in-chief after the holidays? Would you bet all of your gelt?

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