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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Zoroastrianism. Did you know that this Persian religion was founded around 3,500 years ago and was the very first to worship just ONE god? This happened before Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed in the Bronze Age of Iran. Before Moses led Jewish slaves out of Egypt even. And when the big Z’s followers were nearly wiped out, Islam took over.

This Christmas Eve has me feeling sad. My dog Ms Bean is sick for one thing, really sick. We saw the Vet yesterday who was dressed in her best Santa sweater. She was kind and told me she’d actually had a dream about Bean last weekend. She said she rarely dreams about work, but that Bean was happy and healthy and sitting in her lap. In the dream.

“I see so many dogs, and here she is today,” she said smiling, holding Ms Bean in her arms while listening to her heart. I may not believe in heaven and hell, but I like to think that all dogs go to a beautiful, sunny, dog park when they die; that tennis balls abound and frisbees fly through stars.

My path to non-belief, or maybe “spiritual secularism” is a better term, has been tortuous. From being totally indoctrinated into Roman Catholicism as a child, to converting to Judaism at age 30, just before marrying Bob, I’d had plenty of dreams about the Pope and conversations with myself about the value of organized religion.

First of all, I didn’t want our future children to have to “pick and choose” their religion because we didn’t have the ability to commit.My life had been crazy enough with melded families after our Year of Living Dangerously. But my real decision to convert came right after listening to a rabbi speak about the Jonestown Massacre.

This mass murder/suicide event took place in 1978, the year before we married and the Bride was born. We were sitting in a Temple listening to a rabbi talk about how Judaism differs from other religions….mainly there is NO ONE MAN at the center of it!

Over 900 people killed themselves or were poisoned because of Jim Jones, an American cult leader who led his followers to Guyana. https://www.history.com/topics/crime/jonestown

Think about that for second:

  • Nobody to tell you to drink the Kool-Aid;
  • Nobody to die for your sins and promise eternal life;
  • No man in a saffron rob saying his dharma is the one true dharma;
  • No guy who told millions to kill infidels, so flying planes into buildings was fine.

Nope, for Jews celebrating Chanukah this week, a very minor holiday on the calendar, God is represented in many, amorphous ways – God was never a man. And the study of Torah only leads to lots of questions. Something I was taught in Catholic school we should never do, we didn’t question our nuns or priests. We were told to have “Blind Faith!” I was taught to memorize Catechism, which pretty much made me hate school.

Yes, Nancy, Pelosi I know “hate” is a powerful word… maybe we need a more powerful word for how we Progressives feel about Mr T.

He is a shining example of a cult leader, many of his evangelical faithful refer to him in the glowing language of a savior.

“The power of the evangelicals as a voting bloc is in their sheer size, and in their symbiotic relationship with the president.“Because they are a third of the Republican base, Trump needs white evangelical Protestants to get elected,” said Robert P. Jones, chief executive of the Public Religion Research Institute. “And because white evangelicals see themselves as a shrinking minority, in both racial and religious terms, they need Trump.”  https://www.nytimes.com/2019/12/20/us/politics/christianity-today-trump-evangelicals.html?searchResultPosition=2

He may mock women and the handicapped, pay off prostitutes and lie with equanimity, he may bend the constitution to fit his needs, but by God he’s still appointing conservative judges to life-long appellate benches.

This is the happiest season for some, but for me it’s a mixed blessing. “Mr. Trump’s re-election campaign announced on Friday evening that he would go to Miami on Jan. 3 to start an “Evangelicals for Trump’’ coalition.”

Thank you to my daughter who is following in her Daddy’s footsteps and taking care of the poor and injured today and tomorrow. Thanks to all the Christian and non-Christian first responders and medical personnel working this week. And a very special thanks to my Veterinarian.

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This morning while scrolling through Twitter, I saw that a new Ms America was crowned last night. While I was group texting with the kiddos about the Democratic Debate out in LA, a Virginia Tech Hokie walked away with the crystal tiara in Connecticut. And get this, Camille Schrier is a biochemist who didn’t have to strut in a swimsuit competition; she did, however, demonstrate a cool science experiment as her talent!

The new Miss America told the crowd during introductions that she plans to get a doctor of pharmacy degree at VCU, in Richmond, Virginia. She has undergraduate degrees in biochemistry and systems biology from Virginia Tech.  https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/19/entertainment/miss-america-2020-trnd/index.html

But let’s return to the debate. The best take-away from Twitter is that Amy Klobuchar is the Goldilocks candidate: “…she’s not too young, not too old; not too hot not too cold; not too left, not too right.” She was the only candidate in the room with Chuck Schumer and Nancy and Mitch, trying to iron out the rules for an Impeachment trial in the Senate.

Amy brought her Minnesotan Nice self into the dust-up between Pete Buttigieg and Elizabeth warren when they were discussing “wine caves” and “purity tests” and who has more money than whom –

I did not come here to listen to this argument,” she declared. “I came here to make a case for progress.” Of course, she added, she herself had never been to a wine cave — although she had visited “the wind cave in South Dakota.”

 

It’s time to take a breath, pour some egg nog and take the Grands to see the Nutcracker!

What could be better than Tchaikovsky and magical Christmas dreams? I remember actually using a steel nutcracker to crack open walnuts around the holidays, I even remember sticking cloves in oranges; today we light candles for scent and buy our nuts pre-cracked, in bags all ready for baking. But according to a German folktale, nutcrackers symbolize strength and power, with an ability to guard the family against danger – like Russian dancers, or an army of mice.

Kind of like a Ring doorbell for that matter!

Old traditions are changing with the times. Beauty pageants are no longer all about perfect measurements and teeth. Science can be sexy. Women and gay dudes can run for president and maybe even win in the new year. And dancers of all colors can twirl on their toes under the spell of Herr Drosselmeier.

But the big news that’s not getting much coverage is that Billy Graham’s publication, “Christianity Today,” is calling for Mr T to not just be impeached, but removed from office. The editors called his attempts to shakedown a foreign leader for his own personal gain “…profoundly immoral.” I wonder if his legions of devoted followers will listen, or even care?

“He has hired and fired a number of people who are now convicted criminals. He himself has admitted to immoral actions in business and his relationship with women, about which he remains proud. His Twitter feed alone — with its habitual string of mischaracterizations, lies, and slanders — is a near perfect example of a human being who is morally lost and confused.”  https://www.latimes.com/opinion/story/2019-12-20/trump-outrage-tweet-christianity-today-impeachment

If Mr T is removed from office, Mike Pence would be President; no moral confusion there. Enter the guy who can’t be alone in a room with a woman other than his wife

So Happy Holidays Everyone, whatever holiday you’re celebrating!

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“Mama Pajama rolled out of bed”

Yesterday, since the Bride and Groom were busy saving lives in their respective hospitals, I told the Grands it would be Pajama Day! They cheered and ran around like I was Willy Wonka telling them they could eat all the candy they wanted in the world. The Bug was sporting flannel penguins all day and the Pumpkin was delighted to stay in Star Wars attire.

The only thing they had to do was brush their teeth, the rest was optional!

I had inadvertently left my cell at home, which is oddly freeing! We baked cinnamon buns, built a Legos airport, watched some Mickey Mouse Club TV, walked the dogs, and visited Great Grandparents Ada and Hudson as Secret Santas! Then I cooked a turkey for Christmas dinner!

“But turkeys are for Thanksgiving,” the L’il Pumpkin said. “I’m only cooking the breast,” I told him.

We’ve never done the Jewish Chinese restaurant thing. Maybe because it was always just the three of us while Bob manned his ER, or maybe it’s because I had never heard of it. Once we did take-out Thai on Christmas Eve though, and that’s a tradition I would love to continue…

Last night, my ER doctors told me why they tend to see a lot of congestive heart failure on Christmas Day – it’s because of the HAM. Yes, that big salt load will do the trick, so be careful people. Too bad it’s so good with horseradish sauce.

The roads were empty driving home, and as we pulled into our parking spot we said Merry Christmas to our Millennial neighbors Aubrey and Tyler. They were wearing matching onesie pajamas, and had been in them all day too! In fact, they had rear flaps like Dr Denton’s, with a reindeer motif.

iPhone back in hand, I realized that matching PJs is a funny tradition for some families; yet another holiday happening that has flown under my radar all these years. One family did super hero PJs, another did guys in red and gals in green. Then there’s always the easy to replicate lumberjack look. I haven’t told Bob yet, but I’m thinking maybe we should don matching PJs next Christmas along with the Grands?

Hope y’all had a Happy Little Christmas. One of the Bug’s Hanukkah gifts was a set of matching PJs for her American Girl Doll. Thanks to my friend Ellen for the idea.

Goodnight Rosemary, the queen of Corona!

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Last night I got caught up in a Twitter tirade. Katy Tur was on a plane bound for NYC with the Notorious RBG – people were wondering if she was drinking Scotch, some told Katy to be sure and put Ruth’s oxygen mask on FIRST, and I just had to chime in saying, “Make sure no one coughs in her direction.”

Later Katy Tweeted: “You wouldn’t have known. She was moving well yesterday and she spent the entire ride working.”

Today we learned that Ginsburg had surgery to remove two cancerous lesions in her lungs. Godspeed dear Supreme Court Justice, I know it’s not easy having surgery of any kind after the age of 80, in fact, I have that stipulation in my advanced directive – No Surgery After 80! Which means I have the next ten years to fix whatever is ailing me, and after that, all bets are off.

If I lived in New York I’d make RBG chicken soup. This is what we make when our loved ones are sick, also known as Jewish penicillin; it can cure the common cold and probably most every other illness known to man or womankind. The recipe was passed down to me during my conversion to Judaism in Pittsfield, MA. The secret is in the fresh parsley!

Meanwhile, we’ve been inundated with Christmas cheer, all while Mr T is losing his mind. So I thought a tradition had to be maintained; on Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and Vixen. Today the Bride and I brought the babes to see the Nutcracker in all its TN glory! The Nashville Ballet adds a BIG teddy bear and some Native American Indians to its story, all while staying true to the original plot.

Clara has a dream and her toys come to life!

I had more fun watching the L’il Pumpkin stare transfixed at the stage. We watched the Christmas tree grow. He danced in his seat. He was transfixed by the “actual” snowfall in the theatre. And very much like his Uncle, the Rocker, he was quite interested in the orchestra! “I see the piano Nana,” he said. I pointed out the horns, and the drums; the violins were keeping the front row humming.

The Love Bug would like to study ballet, and her brother wants to learn how to play the piano. We are heading into a New Year. What miracles, what wonders will this new Congress deliver? Maybe the Sugar Plum Fairy will bring us peace…because when I asked the Love Bug what her Mama would want for Hannukah, that’s what she said. She wants peace.

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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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Who is (or was) St Andrew? According to Wikipedia, “He is the patron saint of Cyprus, Scotland, Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople,San Andres Island (Colombia)Saint Andrew (Barbados) and Tenerife.” He was a disciple of Jesus Christ, a fisherman who preached Christianity in Greece, where he was crucified. Of course I think of golf when I hear his name and not my old Catechism.

Today, St Andrew’s Day, November 30, is a bank holiday in Scotland; with Brexit looming larger and Ukraine closing its border to Russian men, not women mind you, we may all want to light a candle to this saint!

Our family will start lighting Hannukah candles on Sunday night. Since we follow a lunar calendar, you never know when this holiday will pop up. The Amazon smile boxes have been piling up all week, and lucky for us there were no “porch pirates” in sight. I’ve always had mixed feelings about online shopping, wanting to patronize local businesses during this critical sales period. But when it comes to toys, Amazon always wins.

The Love Bug just asked the Bride if she believes in Santa Claus. I told her I hope she said “YES!” Because this was the one thing I could never give up for my children, the magical mystery of elves and reindeer. Santa always left a little present for Jewish children, a shining red and green package amidst the blue and white decorations. And since the Bug is about to lose her first tooth, I hope my daughter keeps the Tooth Fairy alive as well.

In fact, I believe the going rate for a tooth is astronomical!

Whether you believe in saints or santas, I believe the L’il Pumpkin will be delighted with his first Hannukah present. You see, he and the Rocker watched two Star Wars movies back to back over Thanksgiving, and as you probably already know, our Star Wars history runs deep. From creating stop-action films in our NJ garage with his toy action figures, to composing music for the new films, our son never ceases to delight and amaze me – just like his red headed nephew! And his new furry friend.

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If Mirriam Webster is on to something, they just let the world know. The Word of the Year for 2016 is “surreal,” or “having the disorienting, hallucinatory quality of a dream; unreal; fantastic;” and after the past few days and months I’d have to agree: a truck plows through a Christmas Market in Berlin, mimicking the Nice attack earlier this year; a Russian ambassador is assassinated in Turkey while being filmed by an AP journalist, just as citizen journalists have been documenting killings by police and streaming them in real time in this country; a Twitter-babbling, boisterous billionaire wins our election with a little help from Russia, just as many populist politicians all over Europe are disrupting the status quo.

The past year does seem like a nightmare, surreal, only we are not dreaming. Yesterday the deal was sealed with the Electoral College, and Melania (or Ivanka) will get to pick out the new White House china, not William Jefferson Clinton. Will it be American (I love my pattern from Lenox, which was once produced in NJ) or Slovenian? Just think, if Hillary had won, Bill could have just recycled the fine china Hillary picked the first time around! This would have saved taxpayers plenty!

I wonder what kind of food Mrs T will serve at state dinners? I heard a fascinating author discussion on NPR about the history of First Ladies and how they have sparked culinary trends in the past. Think of Jackie O introducing French food to the American palate. She and Julia Child shaped my young interest in all things French. I nearly burned down my first home trying to make coq au vin.

Just as Eleanor Roosevelt told her chef not to produce any meal costing more than the average American could afford during the Great Depression, Michelle Obama has been instrumental in getting our country moving and making sure her chef, Sam Kass from Chicago, planned his meals based on Real Food.

Kass changed the Obama’s diet—more fruits, vegetables, and whole grains; less processed foods and desserts. As first lady, Michelle Obama passionately told her family’s culinary story, especially how it benefited the health of her girls. She and Kass turned to broader health initiatives beyond the first family’s table. They grew a vegetable garden on the South Lawn, launched the health and lifestyle initiative “Let’s Move,” tackled school lunch reform and redrew the United States Department of Agriculture’s food pyramid as a simplified icon called “My Plate.”http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/12/09/504693961/first-ladies-often-forge-food-trends-but-melanias-menu-is-a-mystery

If I were to apply the term surreal to Mrs T’s gastronomical philosophy, we might imagine a state dinner consisting of her favorite fruits. After all, this is what we know, she eats 7 fruits a day. So perhaps the first course would be a baked fig? Followed by a blueberry and raspberry terrine? Would she serve a third course, a potato or pasta dish? Maybe she would branch out and serve cauliflower rice in a lovely crystal bowl? For dessert, it would have to be apple pie…or maybe strudel? We already know Mr T doesn’t drink alcohol, but I’m sure they would have to serve the appropriate wine pairings to their guests of state. Right?

This week we are off to Nashville for some grandparenting fun. It will be the first year in a very long time when Bob will NOT be working on Christmas, however our daughter WILL be seeing any and all comers in her ER on Christmas Eve. She loves her urban hospital as they see lots of ages and real life and death problems – unlike a suburban hospital’s typical run-of-the-mill, free-floating anxiety problems. The staff really cares for their homeless population who tend to come in as the temperatures drop. I hope she doesn’t mind my little synopsis.

I’m looking forward to my enforced news sabbatical and will try to write between grating potatoes for the Bride and Groom’s Hannuka party and warming up the dreidel. Hope whatever holiday you are celebrating this year is filled with family love, cheer, real food and friends. And I hope your dreams are filled with nutcrackers and sugar plum fairies! Thought you might want to see my tiny, surreal tree!

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