Monday, December 25, 2006



I broke a tooth last night. How's that for timing? Christmas eve, just before leaving for a week-long vacation. I'll try to pop by the dentist tomorrow before our flight but I am freaking out because I've had two allergic reactions after dental anesthesia. Since I've procrastinated and haven't been to the dermotologist to find out what exactly I'm allergic to, I don't know if my dentist will be able to do anything for me or not, until I get the allergy pinned down. DH told me to suck it up and go without anesthesia. "What's the problem? You've been through childbirth."

Oh, and merry christmas!!! Kids are happy, DH is grumpy because he had to put together a race track. I got an 8-Gb Ipod Nano, so I'm really happy (other than the whole broken tooth fiasco.)

Second broken tooth in less than 6 months. Bad luck? Or nasty trend?

Smile! Smile! And pay no attention to the gaping hole in my back molar.


Saturday, December 23, 2006

rehashing seasonal issues

Q came bouncing into the kitchen a few days ago to grab a drink. "Hey mom, you know Hannukah and Kawanzaa? They aren't real holidays like Christmas is."

My heart skipped a beat and I took in a shallow breath to hold. "Ahh, ok. What makes you say that?"

He went on to tell me that Hannukah is a pretty minor Jewish holiday ("I mean, it's not like Rosh Hashanna or anything") and Kawanzaa is really based on a harvest festival. He explained that christmas was a major Christian holiday but Hannukah was really just a little celebration for Jewish people.

I could breathe again. And I was very grateful to my friend Paige, who is Jewish and is very active in our school, who was invited to talk to the students about Hannukah. She'd laid it out there for them very factually. E could even describe to me the battle that took place between the Macabee Jews and the Greeks (Syrians?) that lead to the miracle of the oil which is celebrated at Hannukah. Thank goodness my kids don't think that Hannukah is the Jewish Christmas.

The presumption by a lot of us in the U.S. that religious freedom means equal emphasis is just wrong, I think. It's not going to happen. After an extended discussion with the moms on my email list, many of which are Jews, I do not believe there IS an acceptable solution to the conundrum as to how to correctly recognize a minority religion by any given society. Some Jews were upset by the bombardment of "Merry Christmas" greetings that they receive upon every trip out into public this time of year. They are tired of Christmas music and Santa talk. And I get that. I do. It is presumptuous to assume that every person out there at the mall is celebrating Christmas. Many other well-intentioned folks get it, too. So we've ended up with displays of the menorah aside the christmas tree. Stores hang banners that proclaim "Merry Christmas and Happy Hannukah!" "Seasons Greetings and Happy Holidays is used in an attempt to acknowledge there is more out there than Christmas.

But in reality, this kind of atmosphere feels so contrived. So condescending. "Yes, yes, here is our recognition to your holiday too." And it's not even a major Jewish holiday. It just happens to fall near the winter solstice, as does Christmas. "Where is the recognition for Rosh Hashanna? For Yom Kippur?" some of my Jewish friends are asking.

Well. Look. Jews make up about 1% of the U.S. population. It's quite unreasonable to expect broad public acknowledgement of each holiday of each minority religion. Minority religions are not limited to Jews. We've got Islam, Hinduism, Pagan religions, and heaven knows how many others.

The other option is to erase the widespread celebration of Christmas here and essentially spiritually santize our public selves. Whew. This kind of talk is why "PC-ness" is so despised. Not only is that not even close to practical, but I don't WANT it to happen. Look, if Jewish-owned businesses want to celebrate Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur, that's fantastic! I'll join in. I'll be happy to receive whatever religious greeting is handed to me at whatever time of year, particularly if it is one given with goodwill and peace. No way will there ever be the emphasis on these holidays as on christmas or easter, but that's just because of statistics. When more than 85% of a population is Christian, and a large number of the remaining population celebrates Christmas as a cultural holiday (which is where I fit in), it's going to stand way out. There's no fighting the numbers.

What we can strive for is an environment where all religions feel comfortable in celebrating their particular holidays. Where Christians can wish fellow shoppers "Merry Christmas" without worrying about whether they will offend the recipient. Where the recipient can smile warmly and respond "Thank you! Happy Hannukah!" or "Happy Kawanzaa!" with true goodwill and without a hint of irritation. Where businesses are flexible enough to allow days off for Jewish employees during Passover, or for Muslim employees during Ramadan, or Pagans wishing to celebrate the solstice or equinox holidays. I don't want a world sanitized of religion. I don't wish for Christians to feel they must change their greetings to "Happy Holidays" to keep from offending others. On the other hand, those who choose to offer that more general greeting also shouldn't be made to feel ostracized.
(The link is to my post from christmastime last year. Funny funny. We funny people. We rehash the same old arguments from year to year.)

I like the Alfred Tennyson quote I ended my post with last year:
"I am part of all that I have met"

Celebrating diversity means we should feel free to celebrate as we choose, and work to pass that freedom to others as well. No suppression, even for the majority.

Merry christmas!

Friday, December 22, 2006

head meets brick wall

Doesn't it seem like most normal people would have learned after toiling over something like my Thanksgiving cheese wreath?
Noooo. I had to go and try marshmallow-cornflake wreaths for our neighborhood christmas party tomorrow night.

Cute. But I'm not sure they're worth the effort.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

religion test

My results for which religion best fits me from SelectSmart.

1. Unitarian Universalism (100%)
2. Secular Humanism (94%)
3. Theravada Buddhism (87%)
4. Liberal Quakers (82%)
5. Neo-Pagan (76%)
6. Mainline - Liberal Christian Protestants (65%)
7. Taoism (64%)
8. Non-theist (64%)
9. Mahayana Buddhism (63%)
10. New Age (63%)


Monday, December 11, 2006

obama watch

There is something about this man. He's been compared to Robert Kennedy, called a rock star, and has become a beacon of hope for thousands of Democrats looking for a new kind of candidate. I, like so many others, didn't know who he was until I heard his speech at the Democratic National convention. I was hooked and have been watching him ever since.

I worry that he'll get caught in a whirlwind of celebrity and will become a caricature. I worry that the right will find ways to spin him into doubt (his middle name is Hussein - what will they do with that??) But from what I've seen of him, he is honest and forthright and just really, really smart and should be able to handle games like that in a way to stay true.

He hasn't announced any candidacy yet (have you seen his piece on ESPN?? LOL!!!). But he did travel to New Hampshire this weekend, as reported by Perry Bacon Jr. in the Times.
"A fundraiser for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, originally intended for about 500 people, sold more than 1500 tickets to people from 13 states — and that didn't include the more than 100 reporters who showed up. Seven hundred came to another event to hear Obama speak and sign copies of his best-selling book. "It harkens back to RFK," said Lou D'Allesandro, a New Hampshire state senator, "all of the new people coming out. And this phenomenon is country-wide."

Here he is on The Daily Show last year in November. He is so awesome. I love his ease and humor and his obvious intelligence. He gets it, you know? I'd love to have dinner with him. I'm still hoping. I think he's the real deal. The next few years will be a breath of fresh air to watch.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

our weekend

I was feeling a little discombobulated this morning. My living room kept swinging between a place where I expected to see stained glass and crosses to expecting to have a concierge walk up and welcome me to Holiday Inn. Q pulled out his electric keyboard, and was alternating between setting it to pipe organ while he practiced "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" (Quite unsettling, sounded marvelous!) and then setting it to pre-fab cheesy songs like LaCookaracha. Add to that the soundtrack to High School Musical that E decided she needed to listen to, and I didn't know where my head was.

After the four-girl sleepover here on Friday, with more of the "High School Musical" songs accompanied by cartwheels done in very convoluted patterns around my smallish house,locking themselves in the bathroom while they raided my makeup, a trip to Red Lobster where every child ordered (of course) chicken fingers, and then yet more birthday cake, we're done with the birthday celebrations and have moved on to christmas. Here's our tree:
Notice the complexity of Q's tree-sawing form. And yes, those are ski goggles he's wearing pushed up on his forehead. Don't ask me. He went and found them himself when we announced we were heading out to go slaughter our christmas tree. You know. Safety first.

And afterwards we carted it home. Notice here my daughter's fabulous fashion sense. I am not allowed to help her dress. Ever. We will evolve to belly button piercings and other more inappropriate choices for attire over the next several years, I am quite certain. Stay tuned. All this projection is why I am happy to let her run around in purple and orange and black go-go boots after all.

Monday, December 04, 2006

a big ole' piece of my heart

Happy Birthday (Saturday) to an amazing, smart, sweet and adorable eight year old
who happens to be my daughter.