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Christmas Essence – The Reason Of The Season: Day 25

*** This post has changed from my original draft ***

This year, my holiday season was better than ever in some ways and in other ways, gave me a feeling of sadness.

Better Than Ever!!

Two year ago, our Christmas almost didn’t happen. I had lost my job (after we JUST bought a house) and we had no money for presents, a tree or our bills. I wasn’t even able to buy the pajamas for the kids that I looked forward to every year. One day I came home, pulled into the driveway and looked up into the living room window to see a giant tree with twinkling colorful lights shining out at me. I excitedly and hurriedly dashed up the stairs to find my husband (with his signature 5 ft long Santa hat) waiting with a big smile. He told me about his coworkers coming forward asking if we needed help. He thanked them and declined help, because there were much more deserving people out there who needed the help. But at the end of the day, someone handed him a card from everyone, filled with a collection of donations and a giant faux Christmas tree. We cried and talked about how amazing those people were and how great it was going to be get those pajamas and put the rest towards a special Christmas eve meal and a couple of long overdue bills. It was our first Christmas in our new house. On Christmas morning, my husband surprised me with a lovely long winter coat – the one I had been eyeing for a long time. He had dipped into the donation money before telling me so that he could make sure I had a gift to open.

Last year, after getting married in October, we didn’t have as much as we would have liked, but we definitely had more than the year before and we had a good time.

This year, we worked our asses off – so much so, I began to believe sleep was the enemy, taking bathroom breaks was time wasted, and showering was for the rich and lazy. I was able to take my kids shopping where they spent their own hard-earned money on gifts for their family members – it was a proud mama moment. Working our extra jobs and saving what we could made for our best year yet! We sent out Christmas cards for the first time! We sent homemade ornaments to family, gave cookies and cards to the people that take care of us (hairstylist, mailman, dance teachers, piano teacher, etc) and left a little something special for a little girl that visited Main Street to see the magic of Christmas Traditions.

It truly was a great Christmas – despite the stress of working – we pulled it off and I even got video of my daughter hugging her brother because of his truly thoughtful gift. That is our Christmas Spirit!

Our Christmas Essence :)

What a wonderful moment – so glad to have captured it on video!!

Now… my sadness -

This was my fourth year as the Christmas Angel in Christmas Traditions.

I love this job! We are all Christmas inspired characters, walking up and down Main Street in St. Charles, MO, spreading love, happiness and cheer. I wear a beautiful costume and gorgeous, giant white wings – it’s fantastical!

For the record – No, I don’t feel like a hypocrite. We are all actors and if we all believed that the character we were portraying was, in fact, real, we’d all been in padded rooms.

Also, on the other side of the hypocrisy coin, I am an atheist and there are religious aspects of the festival, but again, I’m an actor, portraying a part. I’m not proselytizing – in fact, I get proselytized to. Yup, some Christians can’t even let me be an innocent faux Christmas Angel Tree Topper without telling me how I’m wrong on the how-to’s of getting into heaven. #geesh #takeachillpill

I’m an actor. Period. If you can’t separate the two, then you have the issue, not me.

Back to my point – I LOVE THIS JOB! I love saying Merry Christmas, and have learned to say it in several languages. I get the occasional, “I’m Jewish,” to which I respond, “Oh, sorry – Happy Hannukah!!”

Kids clamor to meet us, collect our cards (see mine above), and get their picture taken with us. It’s such a great experience! We tell jokes, stories, and spread good tidings of great joy. It’s cold, some days are dreary with rain, and sometimes the wind cuts right through a body, but talking to strangers and turning a random face into a split second holiday friend is inspiring and spirit lifting.

Since Christmas is largely a secular occasion and Christianity “borrowed” their traditions from pagan worship, I find no harm in celebrating and partaking in an event that is promoting happiness and laughs.

Although I love this job, this year wasn’t my favorite of all my years. This year, the other winged creature on the street, Sugar Plum Fairy, was not among us. The actress who played her for 5 years was “not hired back”. The official reason – she accidentally cursed after mistakenly flushing during her drug test. The cursing was a violation of our “Code Of Conduct” which says Christmas characters don’t know naughty words.

I won’t get into the details – just Google it.

Laura, formerly the Sugar Plum Fairy, is a highly talented, hilarious, irreplaceable actor. I contacted to ask her why they wouldn’t give her her job back. Did she cuss someone out? Did she threaten someone? What did she do?!?!!

She says all she did was accidentally curse, and repeatedly tried to call the City of St. Charles to get her job back as they were very good at not returning her phone calls, and crying while begging for her job back. She says her crying and begging was embarrassing and pathetic. But anyone who has ever been “let go” before can attest to becoming a blithering idiot. I know I have.

This was all very sad for me. I knew she had many, many fans who looked forward to seeing her every year.

However, the part that saddened me the most…

Seeing and hearing our fellow Christmas Traditions cast, crew and directors snide, sarcastic and scroogy comments regarding her media attention. Some of which they posted on Facebook.

I’ve heard the, “Well, there’s more to the story!” But if this evidence isn’t presented than why would I jump on the bandwagon of trashing my former co-worker. She didn’t do anything to me… or to any of us. In fact, in all of her media attention, she kept reminding everyone to NOT boycott the festival and she herself would be attending to show her support of the rest of us.

This year, in the depot (where we costume up) felt very different to me. Out on the street, it was still wonderful and magical. The weather being unseasonably beautiful, we had a record year in terms of the number of people who came out. But in the depot, there were times when I wished I hadn’t returned. Some of our cast and crew, the people who worked with Laura for years, would have private discussions that weren’t meant for those of us that supported Laura to hear. I’m no dummy. When I walk up and you awkwardly change tone, inflection and words… the jig is up.

Regarding my support of Laura, I would do the same for any of my fellow Christmas Traditions family members. I would support anyone who was “fired” or “not hired back” unfairly and had the courage to speak up and say, “This unfair thing happened to me, I’d like my job back.”

I would not throw them under the bus, especially publicly.

Of all my jobs and all of the wretched and mean people I’ve encountered in my lifetime, I never, NEVER, expected to have to endure the venom and judgement displayed by my Christmas Traditions family. We are supposed to be gracious, cheerful, supportive and have integrity.

Why the hateful words?

Aren’t we better than this?

We are a family! Why is the atheist being the least judgmental? What happened to your beliefs of ‘do not judge lest ye be judged’? AAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!

I was disappointed this year. The magic in the depot didn’t appear for me, it was tarnished with jealous, sarcastic, judgmental words.

My friend, Laura, returned as the Sweet Tooth Fairy as she was hired by two merchants on Main Street, because they believed in her. Thank you to Grandma’s Cookies and Riverside Sweets for making our Saturday afternoons in December a little more Fairy Christmas :) Grandma’s Cookies even sponsored a Food Drive, aptly named, Hunger Is A Naughty Word in support of Laura, trying to get her job back before the season started.

The Holiday Season 2011 was bittersweet. Ups, downs, the good, the bad and everything in between.

Thanks, Sugar :) FAIRY CHRISTMAS and a FLAPPY NEW YEAR!

***

The Reason Of The Season is a new series that will take place from December 1 – December 25. I, like many non-theists and non-Christians, love the holiday season. I love taking the this chilly time of year to remind the people I love how much I love and adore them, to help and give to those less fortunate, and feel the innocent hope of when I was a child. This series is an effort to educate many on tradition and history as well as an opportunity to share why I love this time of year and the traditions we use and have created in our family.

***

The Santa Delusion – The Reason Of The Season: Day 23

I love Santa!!

Flashback to 1988, I was in third grade. I sat down at the kitchen table to tell  my mom, “I know Santa isn’t real,” to which she replied, “Don’t tell your brothers,” and that… was that.

From what I can remember, I never told my brothers how terribly smart I was for figuring this out. Partly because I feared the consequences and partly because I still wanted to believe the magic.

As I got into my teens (Christmas Eve when I was 13 was awful – Hello becoming a woman! :( ) the magic of Christmastime was waning and I just wanted to sleep in on Christmas morning. I missed the time when I was waiting to be happily duped, to be shown the magic trick, to believe in something greater than humans.

Well, the time of being a child didn’t repeat itself. Shocking, I know.

At 19, I had my son. When his first Christmas rolled around, the question of celebrating the myth of Santa didn’t even come up. Living with my parents, a young single mom, I didn’t have the authority to make those kind of decisions. I was too fearful and inexperienced to even begin to contradict what my parents wanted/believed. It had never been a house full of critical thinking or encouragement of individual opinions. So, without skipping a beat, the Santa myth was passed down.

I didn’t mind too much.

Since then, I’ve grown to love Santa even more. Weird, I know. Obviously I don’t believe there is an actual person who flies around the earth delivering gifts. (But if there is, he has forgotten our house every damn year.)

Are we lying to our kids when we perpetuate the myth of Santa being an actual being? Yes

Does it bother me? Yes… and no.

To me, the myth of Santa represents a feeling. The character of Santa embodies the warm, fuzzy feelings I get about this time of year. This year especially. I’ve had my share of trials and tribulations, but this year, I am able to get gifts for my kiddos that I don’t normally have the funds to even think about buying. I even sent out a tall stack of Christmas cards this year. And the best – we were able to get toys for charity. It has been a grand year! And to me, it feels magical – the sparkly feeling in my stomach is my magic.

Giving and the looks on others faces when opening gifts is inspiring and makes me feel like Santa. We are all Santa. I believe, if I had to do it all over again, I may not lie to my kids about Santa being a real being, but I think we would still love the magic that comes with “playing pretend” for a month every year.

My son no longer believes in the myth that Santa is one man flying around the earth. My daughter seems to pretend he’s real, but insists she believes. I don’t tell my son to not tell her, in fact, I encourage them to discuss it and bring to the table why they each believe what they believe. Their conversations are typical sibling discourse, as they are kids, but I’m glad they are using their critical thinking skills to try to determine what it is they believe and why.

In the end, I believe in Santa as the fictional character that embodies the sparkly tummy feeling we get when we give to others. I collect Santas, and each year, my kiddos gift me a new one. In our house, sparkly tummies and critical minds aren’t mutually exclusive. Giving to others is as magical as forming your own opinion… to me.

 

 

***

The Reason Of The Season is a new series that will take place from December 1 – December 25. I, like many non-theists and non-Christians, love the holiday season. I love taking the this chilly time of year to remind the people I love how much I love and adore them, to help and give to those less fortunate, and feel the innocent hope of when I was a child. This series is an effort to educate many on tradition and history as well as an opportunity to share why I love this time of year and the traditions we use and have created in our family.

***

Love Makes A Family – The Reason Of The Season: Day 22

For me, the holiday season is a special time with my family. With the cold and the shorter days, the evenings which we spend watching movies, drinking hot cocoa, and laughing brings warmth and light to an otherwise depressing season.

My family isn’t “traditional”. I’m divorced. And my two kiddos have two different biological dads, neither of which is my current husband.

My son’s father passed away a few years ago. But we ensure Gavyn continues to build a close relationship with his bio dad’s family. My ex-husband, David, is the bio dad of my beautiful daughter and the dad that has raised my son since he was 2. My ex-husband and I have always maintained a working parental relationship. We have ALWAYS understood that they are more important than anything else and we have made it work in a remarkable fashion. My ex-husband and current husband get along very well. We are even over to my ex-husband’s parents house for all of the holidays. Every other Christmas, we switch which house we all stay for Christmas Eve/Morning. Yes… David will spend the night at my house and Brian and I at his… because we all want to be there for our annual Christmas traditions, to see the kids faces on Christmas morning… because each moment is so special and we all understand how important it is to be there for it all.

It may seem odd to some. But we don’t care. Showing our kids that we love them so much that we worked through everything personal to get to a level where we can appreciate the other for their parental abilities and acknowledge that, although we aren’t married, we are still a whole family, is better than most of the stories I hear about divorced couples.

Yet, in our way, we are a family. A whole family. Not a broken one. Our kids have 2 homes, yes. But with parents who communicate, laugh, work together, and get along, having two homes just means having more stuff :)

I wish everyone could have family and marriage equality. I’ve asked Santa and I hope he brings it this year. I could never fathom why a 2000 year old book had such grand authority on the concept of modern marriage or why “all loving” actually comes with a lot of “exceptions” attached. Lastly, I grew up in a “traditional family” and it was not what I would call particularly loving. Love has nothing to do with the bible, religion, or antiquated traditions.

Have a heart bigger than god and realize love comes in many forms – not just your brand.

Happy Holidays To Family Love!

***

The Reason Of The Season is a new series that will take place from December 1 – December 25. I, like many non-theists and non-Christians, love the holiday season. I love taking the this chilly time of year to remind the people I love how much I love and adore them, to help and give to those less fortunate, and feel the innocent hope of when I was a child. This series is an effort to educate many on tradition and history as well as an opportunity to share why I love this time of year and the traditions we use and have created in our family.

***

Pajama Up! The Reason Of The Season: Day 5

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Technical problems postponed this post – SORRY!!

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We all have traditions, some we realize, others we don’t. This time of year is usually the ones we recognize.

My favorite Christmas tradition is pajamas.

Yup – snuggly, cozy, warm, brand new PJs! Sometimes I call them PJams (pronounced puh-jams) – dunno, just like it.

Every year my kids get to open one present on Christmas Eve… and it’s always pajamas. It’s our cute little tradition – fun for them to open a gift early and fun for me to have the kids in new, unstained clothes for pretty pictures on Christmas morning.

2010

 

2008 - Somehow Max still managed to get hot cocoa on his shirt.

 

2003 (Gavyn was blinking... I think)

***

The Reason Of The Season is a new series that will take place from December 1 – December 25. I, like many non-theists and non-Christians, love the holiday season. I love taking the this chilly time of year to remind the people I love how much I love and adore them, to help and give to those less fortunate, and feel the innocent hope of when I was a child. This series is an effort to educate many on tradition and history as well as an opportunity to share why I love this time of year and the traditions we use and have created in our family.

***

I Want To Marry Him Or Vote For Him… But Instead I Will Thank Him

This video has been making the rounds again on social media – with good reason. Zach Wahls, a 19 year old engineering student raised by a lesbian couple, gives a moving, inspired, and… let’s face it… kickass speech to oppose House Joint Resolution 6 which would end civil unions in Iowa. Although the speech and vote was early February of 2011 – the sentiment still needs to be heard – REALLY heard.

 

My favorite quote – at the end:

The sexual orientation of my parents has had zero effect on the content of my character.

Why we have to vote on basic human rights is beyond me to begin with. I guess equality has limits on the basics – like cable. And if I have to hear another person say, “But the Bible says…” I may actually slap someone. If you want to “throw” an antique book at this, I may have to bring out a few other choice antique atrocities, “Well, the Bible also says…” to include how to properly keep slaves and why women should be quiet.

Sometimes the book is literal (the “good” stuff) and the rest is being “taken out of context” (everything else).

I am proud to be of the same species as this guy… thank you, Zach Wahls, for being a good person of great character. And thanks to your parents who raised you and instilled character far greater than those who believe they have the monopoly on determining  other people’s basic human rights.

** The House voted 62-37 to pass House Joint Resolution 6, but the Senate WILL NOT vote on this issue this year because the Democrats still hold a slim majority in the Senate–1 seat. That means that Senate Majority Leader Mike Gronstal will not be holding a vote on this issue. Iowa Press has more details. **

 

No Dishes Left Behind

Proverb Writing Assignment

I chose:

You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours, which means, You help me and I’ll help you

I don’t agree with it because you can help someone just because your nice and not if they help you.
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