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Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Best Ever Christmas Display: Our International Holdiays

In a previous post I mentioned my conflict about Christmas as an adult.  This got me to remembering some of my childhood Christmas experiences and one of the best ever Christmas displays.   This is going to be a long post, but ...hey....I'm blogging for me! Not you.

I'm indulging myself.

Let me preface by saying we spent many of our Christmas holidays in Mexico.  My grandmother and my Dad's younger siblings lived there from the mid 1940's to the late 1960's.  30 years as legal residents of Mexico and they had two places to live.  One was a very modern apartment in Mexico City and the other a wonderful rustic old villa in Tequisquiapan.

Aunt Rae in the courtyard Tequis....after college

One side of the courtyard
My aunts and uncles were going to the College of Americas or high school in Mexico and since it was Christmas break, our family usually spent several months traveling to Mexico and just visiting.  From the late 50's until the family moved back to the States our Christmas was international. 

1960 Family in Acapulco.

Acapulco was a favorite spot.   At that time it was a resort town for the Mexican elite society and especially the favorite of the college students.  As kids, my brother and I loved it.  Warm sands, surf and we were able to be pretty much on our own, running up and down the beach and body surfing.  There were no 'helicopter' parents in those days. 

Some photos from that time. My brother being a butt and refusing to smile because he didn't want to have a photo taken. Ahhhhh. family

Aunt Rae being very "glam" on the beach in front of our hotel.  That's my grandmother in the back.  Uncle Owen, being a studly high school senior.
(AAARGH I give up...blogger will not let me position the photos on the page how I want or let me resize them!!. )
Rae.... College age

Uncle Owen...high school

But,  all this digression leads me to to the most awesome Christmas display ever. Even though we were not immersed in Santa and Rudolph, I believe we got a better understanding of what Christmas is all about.  The Christ Child.  Baby Jesus.     (description of the display after the jump)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Flip Side of the Power of Prayer

Sometimes I think that the world is coming to a final judgement day when I read some of the articles on the net.

The other day there was an extremely disturbing story on the internet.  Among the many disturbing articles out there, this one really got to me because in my mind pets like dogs, cats are innocent beings that should be protected and cherished and animals should never be abused or treated cruelly.  Yes....yes.  We eat animals and death is part of that process.  But, there is no excuse for abuse in that process.  People who abuse animals are the lowest form of life and deserve no sympathy.

A Brazilian woman who is a nurse beat a small puppy to death, in front of her child.    I couldn't bear to look at some of the still photos, much less dare to link to the video that was taken by an outraged neighbor.  Too horrible and too inhuman to contemplate.  The video was posted on the internet by the outraged neighbor when the police would do nothing.  The ire and and well deserved venom that is being heaped upon the woman who beat the dog is incredible. 

Millions of people around the world literally hate this woman.

This got me to thinking about the Power of  Prayer and positive thinking.   The power of positive thinking in healing yourself and praying for the healing of another. There are many inspirational stories about prayer and groups of people praying that seem to have resulted in miraculous cures. 

As a somewhat agnostic person, my personal take on prayer and positive thinking is....what can it hurt?  Why not be positive?  Why not if you believe in a higher power combine your thoughts with others to create a bigger channel to the higher power?   A larger and clearer signal uploaded to the higher power or to God. 

If you don't believe in God, and want to go more scientific, there have been studies to try to quantify the results of a group prayer.  Inconclusive so far.  Maybe it could be that the energy from our brains, telepathy, psychokinesis.....who knows.

In regards to the Power of Prayer and Positive Thinking, what if there is a flip side.  The power of group hate.   Millions of people thinking negative thoughts about YOU.  Millions of people literally wishing you dead or wishing terrible things upon you.  

Millions of waves of "negative vibes" wafting her way.  Millions of minds engaged in group hate

I wonder if this woman from Brazil can feel the hate.

I hope so.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Reading My Husband's Mind

Soooo.  The other day the Dumbplumber pipes up and says something like.  "He told me the other day that he would be able to have me over tomorrow to do that thing."

I'm thinking to myself, who is "he" and what "thing"?  My husband is always thinking and then just jumps right into the middle of the conversation without any preamble or context.   It comes from having a busy mind and being preoccupied, but damn! it is frustrating.

I said--(snarkily)------> "You know, we have been married now for 18 years and I still haven't quite gotten that mind reading thingy down pat yet."

He said:   "Well, it is easy.  Here let me give you some clues
...humina, humina, humina.....TITS

..humina, humina, humina.....BEER

..humina, humina, humina.....TITS

..humina, humina, humina.....HOT RODS

..humina, humina, humina.....SEX

..humina, humina, humina.....SCOTCH

..humina, humina, humina.....FOOD  oh ..... and TITS IS easy to read my mind."

Oooookaaay.   Thanks for the clues.

He also said: "If you don't post this you don't have a hair on your ass."

Well, I don't have a hairy butt, but here is the post.

Who makes me laugh and smile every day.   Dumbplumber...that's who.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What I Love About Christmas.....What I Hate About Christmas

Ah...the most wonderful time of the year.  Ring ling a ling.  Christmas is here.  Fa la la la la.  Bah humbug.

I'm always conflicted about the Christmas season.  There is much to love and much to not love.

In the past, before marrying Mr. Dumbplumber and when I was working for minimum wages at a crappy job, standing on my feet for 8 hours a day and living in a crumbling shamble of a marriage, Christmas was a time of stress and hardship.  With no money and no happiness in my life, I "put on a happy face" for my child.  Keeping up the fantasy of Christmas was tiring, discouraging and depressing.  We didn't have family close by so we rarely had any  gatherings of relatives.  No Norman Rockwell Christmases.  Christmas was also a time to remind me how alone I was and isolated from family. We had presents, mostly hand made because I couldn't afford much else. I was the only parent who participated in the Christmas decorating or the Christmas spirit.  We did have good food, cookies, candy, cakes and all the trimmings.  THIS I can do on a shoestring.

Christmas to me, as an adult, always represented deprivation, hardship and inadequacy.  My daughter didn't know this and her memories of the holidays are good.  My job as a parent was successful: to protect your child and allow them the joys and fantasies of the holidays.

Things are different now and money isn't an issue, but the stress is still there.  Like a cat that has been conditioned by evil scientists with shock treatments, I still am wary about the holidays.  My wonderful husband says......GET OVER IT.   So I try.

Today, there is much to like about Christmas and much not to like.

I love to give presents.  To think about what the person needs and wants and to see their appreciation of the gift is priceless. To try to find just the right thing for each person.  I still hand make many of my gifts because I like to do so. It isn't out of necessity now, it is out of love.

I hate wrapping presents.  I don't do a very good job because I'm impatient.  My packages look like a team of   Chimpanzees did the wrapping.  Frankly, I really don't see much point in spending lots of money on wrapping, bows, glitter and all that stuff.  The package is going to be ripped open and the effort put into making it "pretty" is going to be burned in the trash barrel shortly after Christmas along with the other boxes and trash.  Those gift bags that can be used over again are a brilliant invention.

I love decorating the tree.  Each ornament.....mostly hand made from salt dough, knitted, quilted from fabric scraps or assembled from feathers from wild game we had killed and eaten, has a memory attached.  Granted some of the memories are not so good, but others are.  The fun that my daughter and I had making the hair of Santa's salt dough beard with a garlic press.   The time we were able to buy a special ornament, that ceramic skating teddy bear or the glass prism stars.

I hate decorating the tree, because all the while I know that I will have to clean up all this stuff.  The prickly tree will attack me and leave welts that itch and last for weeks. The lights become impossibly snarled.  Each ornament will have to be put back into the boxes or wrapped up for protection.  Knowing that as time goes on after Christmas, the tree will begin to look sadder and sadder and eventually be thrown out to be burned.  What a waste of time.  I'm always tempted to just throw the whole tree out with the lights still attached.

I love the cooking.  What a great excuse to make mounds of goodies.  To try out new recipes and give the results to friends.  The holidays are a cooking fanatic and recipe junkie's best time of the year.  Inviting family and friends over for a big feast is something I look forward to.

I love the fact that Christmas is when the days begin getting longer and that we are turning the corner of the short days, dark cold nights to the promise of spring and summer.  To every season...turn turn turn.

I hate that my birthday is just after Christmas.  January 6.  Epiphany.  A birthday party was always an afterthought.  I think I had 3 birthday parties as a kid.  Everyone else was burned out by the holidays from Halloween through New Years.  Who wanted to have yet another party? Generally, it was just..." is an extra gift for your birthday under the tree".  I suppose it could be worse, my father's birthday is Christmas Eve.

In addition, many of our Christmases were spent in Mexico visiting with our relatives who lived in Mexico City or traveling to and fro to get there and back.  Most of the childhood memories I have of Christmas are those with a Mexican tradition, not American.

I love some kinds of Christmas music.   My favorites are the traditional tunes that are about the religious nature of Christmas.   THIS is one of my favorites.

I hate the Christmas music that is everywhere beginning shortly after Halloween it seems.  In the grocery store, on all radio stations.  If I have to hear Santa Baby or Rocking Around the Christmas Tree  one more time, I'm going to find a department store Santa and beat the crap out of him.  Ho....freaking HO!   I think Christy Lee must have finally biffed it since we aren't bombarded with her advertisements.  Thank you God.  Having Christmas shoved down our throats 24/7 really doesn't put me into the holiday spirit.

Which brings me to one of my biggest hates about Christmas. I HATE the merchandising The commercial buy buy BUY THIS STUFF attitude.  The relentless shoving of products and brainwashing of the children to demand ever more gifts and ever more expensive gifts.  I guess this goes back to my first issue of poverty and Christmas.  As a parent, you often just can NOT get that Barbie Dream House, new bike, game system or whatever.  The children, especially those who still believe know who....don't understand this and when the gift they have their heart set upon getting isn't there, they think that maybe there is something wrong.   Did Santa not like them this year?  Were they bad? Terrible children?  So in order to not disappoint your young child and to not appear to be an inadequate failure of a parent in the eyes of your children, you cave into the merchandising frenzy and go into debt for toys and items that often are just later discarded or wear out.

I try to think about the good things, remember WHY we have Christmas and to appreciate how much better my life is now.  You do need to have experienced the downs in life to appreciate the good fortune you have..... and I am very blessed indeed. 

Merry Christmas.  Have some delicious cookies and don't let me wrap your presents for you.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Life Is A Series Of Re-Runs

Watching the Occupy everywhere movement, their fervor and the breathless coverage by the media.....It occurs to me, looking back from my lofty years (61) that life is often a series of re-runs.  Events and patterns happen over and over.

When you are young, it seems like everything that is happening to you and that you are experiencing is happening for the first time.  And for is.  The first time.  The first kiss, the first time you have sex, the first shooting star, your first foray into politics.   The experiences have power and are unique because they are happening to YOU.  And as we all know, when you are young. you are the center of the universe.

The Occupy kids are full of sound and fury and mostly sincere in their efforts and feel like their actions are going to change the world.  I well remember the feeling.   Kids 40 and 50 years ago felt the same way.  Vietnam protests, marching on government buildings, civil rights....even the violence are all re-runs this time around.  Same slogans, same energy.....same.

Recessions:  the economy sucks today.  Guess what sucked pretty bad 30 to 40 years ago during the Carter era.   We thought it was the end of the economic world then.  To the adults of that time, it was just another milder re-run of the Great Depression.

Another way to put it is: as you get older suddenly your parents seem smarter.

Life is a series of re-runs.  Nothing new under the sun. Even the Romans experienced the same social ills that we are experiencing now. 

"Rome--SEPTEMBER 4, 476AD.  
Rome falls. In the centuries preceding, Rome had been overrun with illegal immigrants: Visigoths, Franks, Anglos, Saxons, Ostrogoths, Burgundians, Lombards and Vandals. They first assimilated, many working as servants, but soon came so fast they did not learn the Latin language.
Though militarily superior and marching on advanced road systems, the highly trained Roman Legions were strained fighting conflicts worldwide, and eventually troops had to be brought home from the frontier outposts, such as Britain.

Visigoth King Alaric, Vandal King Geiseric, Attila the Hun, and finally the barbarian King Odoacer, committed terrorist attacks, wiping out whole cities, until Rome itself was eventually sacked and looted.

Rome had been weakened by a large trade deficit, having outsourced its grain production to North Africa, and when the Vandals captured North Africa, Rome did not have the resources to retaliate.

Citizens of Rome were kept distracted with violent entertainment in the Coliseum and Circus Maximus. The Roman Emperor kept citizens appeased with welfare and free bread.

One Roman commented:"Those who live at the expense of the public funds are more numerous than those who provide them."   Tax collectors were "more terrible than the enemy."

 Rome was crippled by huge government bureaucracies and enormous public debt."

It doesn't mean that just because these same things occur over and over that we shouldn't try to make a difference.  The Civil Rights Movement certainly did make a difference.  What these repeating patterns or re-runs mean, is that we need to pay attention and learn from our mistakes.

To the OWS really aren't the center of the universe and you are not unique. 

Been there, done that and still have the ragged tee shirt to prove it.