Archive for December, 2009

The Christians vs. The Pagans

December 21, 2009

That’s it.  The Christians win.

Today is Solstice. The shortest day of the year. The rebirth of the sun. Today is the pagan holiday that paved the way to the overbearing holiday where so many pretend that little baby jesus was born at this time in a manger and a star appeared in the east and the wise men followed the star and gave spices as presents and so now we all get a big friggin tree and put it in our window and we wish everybody peace and love. Have I ever mentioned how much I hate this time of year. This soul-freezing, inversion breathing, Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Merry Christmas time of the year…. The only good thing about December is today. Solstice. But the last few years Solstice has lost and Christmas has won.

One year ago this week Kim was waiting to pull into a parking spot at Costco and a big SUV came from the other direction and gunned it and swooped into the spot before she could turn in. I wanted Kim to play a game of Subaru chicken but she moseyed on like it didn’t even PISS her off. Luckily someone was pulling out just a few spots away and Kim got that spot. The incident irked me and I was well on my way to a bad mood. We hopped out of the car and Kim was doing her best to talk about how those ladies were jerks but I shouldn’t let it get to me. And then the cutest old couple walked over from a few across the road and told Kim that they saw what those ladies did and they just wanted Kim to know that they found it to be very rude and they were sorry that it happened. Kim smiled warmly at the couple and said that them coming over made her feel better. I, however, was still miffed. I was especially miffed when the women that cut us off were right in front of us selecting a cart and chatting to each other like they weren’t big jerks. Merry Christmas this. And Merry Christmas that. And did you hear what so and so said in Relief Society. And I walked up to get my cart and told the woman (much nicer than I felt) that I found her actions to be inappropriate. She retorted that she had been driving around for 10 minutes before she finally found that spot, and since she had looked for so long, she did what she had to do to get that spot. She then made the mistake of saying. “It was nothing personal. Merry Christmas.” To which I not proudly responded. “Yes. Merry Fucking Christmas you hypocrite!” You should have seen her eyes. Popping out of her head. Kim had the audacity to look embarrassed at being with me. These naïve, mean, Christian women embody EXACTLY what I cannot stand about Christmas.

The sugary sweetness of privilege drips all over this holiday. And each year I give into it a little bit. In the past when coworkers have given me presents I’ve explained that I’m not Christian and the responses I hear back range from. “Christmas is for everybody.” to “keep the gift. It’s what Jesus would want.” to “Happy Solstice then.” But now, coworkers give me gifts and I say “thank you.” Then mark on my to-do list that I have to go buy Christmas presents for my coworkers.  My ideals align with women who wrote this. But my actions anymore certainly do not reflect that.

Each year Christmas wins a little more. Each year Solstice loses even more. Having children in this climate only complicates my experience with Christmas even more.
I want the boys to love solstice and to get gifts on this day and to forget about Christmas. But they are already different and get called out in so many ways, it seems as if my “crusade” (pun intended) against Christmas just makes them even more different. So this year we have a tree with lights on the tree. They boys brought home a school picture with Santa. (Though to Casey’s credit he refused to sit on Santa’s lap. “Tuz I don’t know him and I don’t sit on stwangers laps.”) And I keep saying that it’s okay that we have a secular Christmas. But deep down I know it is not.

I know that I can resist it on my own, but I can’t seem to be able to put my boys through any more pain.  So we have become the atheists who have gotten swept up in the Christian hegemony of Christmas.  Maybe the boys will be old enough next year to take it all away?

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The Cost of School Attendance

December 14, 2009

Riley is missing school today. This is particularly notable because this is only his 2nd absence in 3 years of school. The first absence occurred on his first full-day of kindergarten. Kim and I were enjoying a relaxing anniversary cruise and my mom was watching the boys. She drove from Roosevelt to SLC after the weekend and arrived in SLC late so decided to keep him home rather than send him to school tardy. It was an issue for Kim at the time. I just laughed. Beggars (moms who want to go on cruises) can’t be choosers (“make sure he goes to school.”) Kim couldn’t comprehend how a person could allow a child to stay home from school unless there was a family emergency, a sickness, or another major event. Kim views education differently from my me. Growing up, I just had to tell Mom that I was falling behind on school and needing a day to catch up on homework and she’d call the school with an all-purpose, “she’s needed at home” excuse. The good part of that philosophy is that I never had to learn to lie, pretend illness, or fabricate family emergencies. The bad part of that philosophy is that I never received the coveted attendance award.

Riley was awarded “outstanding” attendance in kindergarten – the absence the first week of school marred his record from the get-go. He won “perfect” attendance in first grade since there was no anniversary cruise to contend with. So far this year he was on track for the “perfect” award again. Which was why at 2 PM yesterday when I was stuck in Roosevelt with an unexpected snowstorm continuing to dump on us, I struggled with the decision about whether to drive home or not. I called the statewide number for road conditions. The two major mountain passes I would have to get over were described as “Currently precipitating. Snow packed. Slippery. Icy. Chains or 4 wheel drive recommended.”

In preparation for the drive, my sister and I went into town to buy snacks and water. The grocery story shelves were sparse. The meat aisle was empty. The supply truck couldn’t make to Roosevelt. I should have taken that as a sign from the Universe that I was meant to spend an extra day in Roosevelt.

But Riley was worried about missing school. Casey missed Mamma Kim. And I figured my sister needed a break from me and the boys. In a single weekend, Casey drew on her wood floor with a marker (not permanent), the boys managed to overheat the motor to the jets in her bath tub, Casey took a tumble down her entire flight of stairs, Casey played an annoying singing penguin carousel game constantly until Uncle Q. took a screwdriver and wire cutters, tore into the thing, and cut the wire to the speaker. Riley lost a board game and had a come apart because Linda wouldn’t keep on playing to see who would get second place. Linda’s lecture to him: “Riley there is only 1 winner and the rest of us are losers. You are one of the losers” wasn’t helpful. I, of course, was the winner.

Linda isn’t used to children my boys’ age. And to be honest, my boys are higher maintenance than most. I’ve outworn my welcome there so many times. But she has a wood-burning stove and keeps the house at 80 degrees. She drinks coffee with me in our pajamas and we put real Irish Crème in it. Sitting with Linda by the fire giving each other pedicures is like intravenous Prozac that gets me through the winter.
So when the snow let up about 2:30 PM, I loaded the boys up in the car with our water, snacks, extra blankets and cell phone. We were going to give it a try.

We were fine until the mountain pass we call Strawberry. The wind was howling and blowing the new snow in drifts across the road. At first Riley was mesmerized by the “dry ice” effect and he pretended we were driving through a witch’s potion. “The wicked witch is trying to cook us to eat us, but we have to keep driving out of the cauldron.” But then he noticed a couple of cars that had slid off the road. He noticed that every car that passed us coming the other way was a giant pick-up truck and he got scared when the gusts of wind engulfed us in white out conditions. He started counting the seconds that we couldn’t see the road and his anxiety was only worsened by the “f” word the driver kept muttering. (Me? Would I do that?) We took our position in a line of almost a dozen cars and we followed in each others tracks. The snowplows were out but they couldn’t keep up.

It was the worst driving conditions I had ever driven in. But we went slow and took our time. Casey slept. Riley stressed. I cursed. And we arrived home safely about 7:30 PM. The typical two hour and fifteen minute drive took us over four hours.
Riley and I were both too stressed out to eat dinner.  I took a bath and Riley watched Pippi Longstocking to settle down.

Riley woke up this morning and puked.  Then he started crying because if he goes to school he might make his friends sick.  And if he stays home then he won’t get “perfect” attendance.  I really despise that award.  Despise it!  I said, “Look dude.  You’re puking.  Maybe you’ll have to settle for “outstanding” attendance this year. You’re not going to school.”  How many parents have to beg their sick child to stay home?

So Riley is home sick today.  Maybe he actually has a bug, but I can’t help but wonder if he’s home because of the stress of the drive.  Next time we’re staying in Roosevelt.

What happens when…

December 1, 2009

My sister hosted Thanksgiving this year.  She’s a little bit on the OCD spectrum.  We got a Thanksgiving packet a few weeks prior that included a meal that we were responsible for and what part of Thanksgiving dinner we would cook.  Then the week prior, we received an “invitation” in the mail inviting us to the after dinner family talent show.  The only requirement is – if you “ate” you must “participate.”  Beings I planned on having a lot of turkey I figured I’d have to come up with a talent.

Short of standing up in front of family and solving the rubik’s cube in 3 minutes or less, I have no talent.  In fact, I’m anti-talented.  When I start singing, dancing, playing a musical instrument or the like, people leave.  They get up and leave the room.  I guess that could be my talent.  “How to clear a room in ten seconds flat featuring Ruth…”

Casey read a book.  Papa played guitar and sang. My brother in law played the saxophone.  My niece did a stand up comedienne routine.  Riley was a magician.  My sister alphabetized long words like the librarian that she is.  (Guess you had to be there.)  Are you curious yet as to what I did?

What happens when you get 21 family members in a room and REQUIRE them to showcase their talent?  I’ll tell you what happens.  You’re bound to get a strip tease out of it.  A strip-polka if you’re lucky.

What was I to do? It was my Grandma’s idea.  I couldn’t let her down.

When Grandma was about ten years old, this song was popular.  It was considered so risque that the local radio station banned it.  But Grandma used to stay up late at night to listen to the Tijuana Mexico station so she could hear her strip polka.  I can only imagine her dancing around the room flinging off clothes.  And here she is 69 years later basically doing the same thing.

This Thanksgiving I am particularly thankful for my Mom and Grandma.  For lots of reasons, not the least is this.  Who else would I dance the strip polka with?