with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: Christmas

Spring Cleaning Can Include Taking Down Your Christmas Tree.

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here!

This past weekend, my family and I went to church on Saturday night as a family, so on Sunday morning, we ate breakfast together at home, welcomed the coming of Spring while also bemoaning the lost hour of sleep that comes with Daylight Savings Time, since toddlers don’t care and that dude got up anyway because his body clock said so. And we took down our artificial Christmas tree and put away the rest of the Yuletide decorations.

Tis the season! But not that season anymore.

Sunshine and tinsel and Spring and Baby Jesus. But he isn't in this picture. So here is my baby.

Sunshine and tinsel and Spring and Baby Jesus. But he isn’t in this picture. So here is my baby.

Yeah, so what had happened was that, as I have told you, I had major surgery in January, a week after New Years. Since we like to leave our tree up at least until then, because taking it down so early is too abrupt for me and I need to ease out of the holidays and back to normal non-sparkly times, we thought that we would pace ourselves and take it down when things got normal. But even after the initial period of my mom and sister and Bestie Maria coming to stay at different times, and friends and family giving us rides when I couldn’t drive, and friends sending and bringing food, and my husband literally doing all of the heavy lifting, it took us awhile to get back to normal. Which we mostly are, but I know that this whole thing takes awhile, and in all of that we had never set a deadline for the tree coming down.

For awhile it was fine, because we knew what we were capable of, and it wasn’t a priority, and friends who came over knew where we were with that, and that was like late-January/early February. It was actually kinda nice to have the tree there, all shiny, and we knew we would get to it. We took down most of the other decorations and, because we knew it would help us with finishing it up, put them on the floor in front of the tree. And then it got later, and then it snowed, so the tree fit in, but then it melted, and that tree started to look strange, and friends would come over then in late February/early March, and we would say “The tree is still up. Don’t judge.”, and they would say “Shoot, we don’t care.”

And then I realized I was judging me. Because it was time.

So on Sunday morning, we went downstairs and got the box that holds the Christmas stuff, and we turned on a warm weather playlist (“Here Comes the Sun”, “Walking On Sunshine”, “Everyday Sunshine” and the like) while wrapping up the Baby Jesus in our Nativity and disassembling the tree. It was a nice family time to spend with each other, looking at the gifts people gave us and remembering how nice it is to have people who give you things, and remembering the meaning of the ornaments and when we got them and why, like the Blue Crab one we got in memory of my Dad, who loved him some crabs, and also remembering who gave us certain ones, like my late former neighbor who did the alterations on my wedding dress and gave us a beautiful “First Christmas” ornament, and Bestie Johnette’s mom, who adopted her friends and gives us beautiful angel ornaments every year. And it was cathartic to complete something, and bring some order and get rid of clutter, and to literally move into a  new season.

It was good. It’s okay to do things on your own time. And then it’s good to know when it’s REALLY time.

This is the favorite warm weather song of both Streeter Twins. What is yours?


Lynne and Leslie Ask Each Other Random Christmas Questions. You Are Welcome.

by SweetMidlife

Merry Christmas from The Sweet Midlife! This has been a year of many ups, and many downs, and we have had a bunch of both in our families. And here we are, at Christmas, determined to have a good holiday not in spite of the losses we have gone through this year, but to savor this holiday BECAUSE we know how precious it is to still have what we do have. We also hold onto the part of the holiday that celebrates the coming of Jesus, and that gives us hope, but even if you don’t celebrate that part, our wish for you is that you find that hope somewhere this season, and find some joy.

Since we can’t be together this Christmas, we, Lynne and Leslie, thought that we would have an online conversation of sorts by asking each other Holiday-themed questions. Let’s see what happens. Leslie answers first.

Leslie being Christmasy.

Leslie being Christmasy.

Lynne asks: “What are you doing tomorrow? Also, Willis, what are you saying?”

Leslie: I am going to a friend’s for dinner and bringing wine. Is it bad when people only want you to bring wine? What are you trying to say, Friend? You’re saying I can’t cook? Boom. I’m making a banana pudding just because and I like it so if you don’t want it I’ll take it. Why am I arguing with myself?

Also…Willis is over your tired question. Since, like, 1979.

Lynne asks: “What is the best Hallmark-y type movie you have watched this year? And was Hayley Duff in it? She is in all the movies. 

Leslie: The only Hayley movie I saw was “His Secret Family,” and it was NOT a Christmas movie. It was a “Girl, background checks! Hello?” movie. Also, when your insane husband who had a secret family says he only needs one family now, he’s coming to kill you. Why are you still in your house? My favorite was “A Baby For Christmas” on Up, because Neil and Drucilla were back together! (Amirite, “Young and the Restless” fans?)

Lynne asks: “Holiday baking question: Why should we believe it’s not butter? Shouldn’t it always be butter?”

Leslie: Butter is the reason I will likely never be vegan. Sorry, cows. I appreciate your service.

Lynne asks: “What was your favorite Christmas memory from our childhood? I can’t wait to hear this.”

Leslie: That time that we didn’t get our tree until Christmas Eve, again, and a family friend said she knew a guy who delivered them door-to-door and I was like “If this tree is fugly we can’t take it back and you’re gonna feel obligated to pay for it and then we have a fugly tree,” but we were all lazy and Daddy was like “I’m not paying for an ugly tree” and sure enough the dude came at like 8 p.m. and it was the Charlie Brown tree’s sicklier cousin. I mean, he was coughing like Satine in “Moulin Rouge!” But we had no more options and we paid for it, because the guy was there and no one wanted to turn it down and seem rude. #getyourtree

Lynne asks: “Snow Miser: Misunderstood Genius over-shadowed by his flashier brother?”

Leslie: Snow Miser is the Jan Brady of Christmas, meaning that he has to discover his own groove. #I’mtoomuch

OK, this is Leslie. Lynne’s turn to answer. Let’s do this.

 

I always feel like a snowman's watching me... actually, I don't. That would be weird.

I always feel like a snowman’s watching me… actually, I don’t. That would be weird.

Leslie asks: “Do you suppose Rudolph ever snapped because of childhood memories of being bullied and then totally used for his nose-glowing, or just waited till he had tenure and started his own rival delivery service? Cause I would have.”

Lynne: I don’t think he snapped. I think that he held onto that and became famous after writing his memoirs, titled “Turn On Your Noselight: How I Overcame Oppression and Now Run This Reindeer Thing.” The alternate title was “How You Like Me Now, Blitzen?”

Leslie asks: “If last Christmas I gave you my heart, but the very next day you gave it away, how did I get it back to be able to give it to someone special? And how bad of a friend was Andrew Ridgely for poaching George’s girl in that video?”

Lynne: I think the guy she gave it to pawned it so he could buy more short-shorts, because that’s what people wore in Wham! videos. George heard it was at the shop, and got it back. And I can’t hate on Andrew. He wanted something to do afterawhile.

Leslie asks: “Is making “My Favorite Things’ into a holiday song just a naked ode to materialism? And would Maria approve?”

Lynne: It might be. Maria was all about recycling, hence curtain-based playclothes. And you didn’t ask, but I feel like I should shout out to The Baronness. Whattup, Barronness. Oh, what if Maria remade Salt N Pepa’s “I’ll Take Your Man” and sang it to the Baronness and had Gretel as her own Spinderella? Huh? I would buy that record.

Leslie asks: “Where is this Barnes and Noble that Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett hang out, and can you think of any other duo it would be fun to run into while holiday shopping?”

Lynne: I WISH I could run into them, but if they showed up at our B&N, we probably would have missed them because we had to go home because we wouldn’t let the 3 year-old eat all the Starbucks cake pops.

Leslie asks: So what’s your favorite Christmas memory at Casa Streeter?

So many. Ooh, you started it with the Christmas Eve tree procrastination-turned-tradition tales. There was the year we waited so late on Christmas Eve to get our tree from the lot at the parking lot of Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, where the Orioles and Colts used to play, and by the time we got there, the dude who worked there had gone home and left all of the trees there for people to take for free.. And this was before everyone had cell phones, but I remember people on their carphones (Daddy had one!) calling their friends going “Pookie! You better come get you a tree, Yo. It’s free!”

SO, thus concludes Streeter Twin Christmas Convo time. What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

 

 

 

 

 


Ring of Fire, or The Saga of the Wreath

by SweetMidlife

Happy 3 Days Before Christmas from Lynne!

I have always wanted to be a crafty person. Not Beastie Boys-crafty, but Martha Stewart-crafty. However, to be successfully crafty, you have to have follow-through and adequate preparation, 2 things that I have not always had at the same time. There have been some successful projects, like when a friend gave me an old wooden table and chair set that had been in her attic, and I painted the table blue and decoupaged a big yellow sunflower in the middle, and I painted the chairs alternately blue and yellow. Then I had this idea that I was going to decoupage a lot of stuff and sell it, after only successfully doing it once, but umm, that went nowhere. Over the years, I have been alternately crafty, sometimes having great momentum and just doing the thing, while other times talking myself out of whatever project I had in mind because I hadn’t really thought about what it took to do it well.

Which brings me to the wreath.

My husband and I bought our house in 2011, and found out that we were pregnant the day that we closed on the place, which was the day before we moved. The combination of being new homeowners, finding out that we were going to be parents, and also being in a new city where we didn’t really know anyone (we had friends in family within 40 minutes of here, but that’s not the same as having people RIGHT THERE), made me really want to establish this place as ours. To really add something to our home that was made with our hands. And that inspired me, if I am remembering it right, to buy a copy of some magazine not long before Christmas time. I think that it was like Better Homes and Gardens, or Women’s Day, or something like that, and as I flipped through the pages of do-it-yourself ideas, I saw something that would look amazing in our house: it was a door wreath made out of actual hot peppers.

“Oh my gosh!”, I thought. “This is perfect.” My husband is from San Antonio, TX, and loved Mexican food and all things spicy, so this would be a fitting thing for our front door. Plus, it was unique, and I just knew that whoever came to our place over the holidays would see it and laugh, and be impressed by my talent.

Yeah.

So I went to JoAnn’s Fabrics and bought a wreath frame, and I think I got ties to attach the peppers to the wreath. And I took the magazine with me to the grocery store, and I picked a peck of peppers (yeah I said it!),  and I went home to start my project. I was so very excited, because I knew that I was going to knock this thing out of the park, y’all. And I started tying peppers to the frame, and it was looking really fresh and lovely, and then my fingers started to hurt from the pepper juice, and my hands were getting red and raw and irritated. When my husband got home from work, I was like, “I have no idea how the people in the magazine could stand this. My hands are burning!”

And my patient husband looked at me, and he looked at the picture in the magazine, and he looked back at me, took a deep breath, and he said, “Babe. It’s because the ones in the picture were dried first. That’s why your fingers hurt. You are working with fresh peppers.”

Ahh. That makes sense. And when I looked at the picture again myself, I saw that this was true. My zeal had overrun my actually taking a good look at what I was doing. I don’t have photographic evidence of my sad craft, but here is my recollection of it.

Yes.

Yes.

So I think that we cooked with some of the peppers I bought, and held onto the rest in the fridge for as long as I could so I wasn’t totally defeated. Now, what to do with the wreath? And I had this idea, but this one was actually good. I went out to CVS and bought a large bag of gift bows. And I stuck them all over the wreath, and they looked way festive, and I put the wreath on the door. And some of the bows fell off. Pretty much every time we closed and opened the door, we lost some, and I spent that winter taping and re-taping bows to the frame, and for the most part, it looked non-jacked-up. Pretty, actually. But bow wreaths don’t keep well in the shed. So when I fished it out the next December, some had fallen off, so I did more bow surgery. And that lasted that Christmas season, but I think last year I looked at the trash bag we had it in in the shed, and saw wayward bows, and decided that I didn’t want to even be bothered. But this year, though, I decided that I was gonna do something with this thing. This is what it looked like when I got it out this year.

Yeah.

Yeah.

When my son and I decorated our tree, which is pre-lit, we started with the ornaments and loaded it up with dangly goodness. Then I looked over and saw the bag of garland we forgot to put on. But I think that was meant to be, because then I remembered my mostly-naked wreath, and decided to do this….

20151222_082040

Ooh ooh ooh ooh ooh, I like it, I like it.

It was easy, and it used stuff I already had, and my kid got to supervise, and it didn’t hurt me. Those are good things in decorations, I say. Yes, I do.

How about you? Have you had any decoration-fails? Any decoration wins? In-betweens? Tell us!

 


Sing a Song of Christmas, But Don’t Tell Your Mom What Song It Is Beforehand.

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here!

I have spent the better part of 13 years directing children’s church choirs, and directing both adults and kids in plays, and I have rejoiced and laughed and oohed and ahhed with the parents of the kids I have worked with, as their little performers have sung and danced and Shakespeare-d their little hearts out. It is thrilling for me to see our hard work blossom into a performance, and I know it is wonderful for families to see their children up there doing the thing.

Well, I have joined the ranks of those who sit in the audience and watch their kids do stuff. And it is hilarious.

Our son is 3, and just started going to a preschool based out of a local church a few days a week in September, and so far this school year, they have done 2 holiday performances for parents. The first one was a Halloween Costume/Assembly, where each class sang a song that they had been working on with the music teacher, parents went crazy from the cute, and then the kids marched around the room so everyone could get a better look at their outfits. My son’s class sang a song about pumpkins. That I had never heard my son sing before. I mean never. And I first, I wondered if my son had been listening in class at all because he wasn’t singing at all. All of the other kids were singing, or at least it seemed that way, because it was magnified how much my kid was not singing, and just when I really wondered where Dude had been, he hit a big giant cheesy grin on the part about the pumpkins smiling. So he DID know this song! He was just choosing what he chose to sing. Ahh. This is who my kid is, at least for that moment, I thought. He’s 3. They evolve like every 30 minutes.

So, yesterday was his school’s Christmas program, and his teachers sent home a really nice notice about the show, and that they wanted the kids to wear Christmas clothes (which to us meant red sweater), and that the little folks were going to be learning some songs and working on stage presence. Hooray!! So I asked our kid, maybe a month ago, what songs they would be singing.

“We only sing it at school. Not at home.”, was what he said.

Well then.

So, I have been doing detective work over the last few weeks, trying to get any hint of what selection they were singing. He has wanted to listen to what he calls the “Gloria” song, which I realized was “Angels We Have Heard On High. “Wait”, I said. “Is that what you are singing at school?” “Yes”, he said. “It is.” I accepted that, although because I have met him before, I had a feeling that might not be the case. 3 year-olds sometimes tell you want you want to hear so they can go back to their toy excavator. Or to see you holding onto every bit of carol-info they can get.

Then Thursday, he announces that they are singing “Jingle Bells”. “But wait!”, I said. “I thought it was the Gloria song.” “But I love ‘Jingle Bells””, he said. Which is true. But he sings “Jingle Bells”, no joke, 12 months a year. Then 10 minutes later, he says that they are singing “Our God”, which is his favorite worship song, and I figured that wasn’t right, so I just stopped asking. Which is what I think he wanted. Well played, Sir.

So yesterday was the big day, and he got dressed in his red sweater, and he looked really quite deliciously cute.Now, I won’t post pictures of the actual program because I couldn’t get any without featuring other kids, and since I don’t have those parents’ permission, I won’t.

Pre-show tricycle ride.

Pre-show tricycle ride.

But here is what went down.

My husband had to get his car serviced all day yesterday, so he took off work, and he and I dropped off Nat King Childress to school, then went and got coffee while we waited for the show to start. We drove back to school, and on the way in, we ran into a friend whose son is in the same class as Alex, and we found that he was equally mum on what sing they were doing. “He won’t tell us. He said it’s a surprise and he can only sing it a school.”, she told us. Well, then. We walked to the really beautiful main chapel of the church, got a printed program and found our seat. I started reading, and saw that they had listed what songs each class was singing! At last! I looked at the top, saw his class listed, scanned, and realized that neither of the songs they were doing were songs my kid said they were singing. Well played, Sir.

“You are really wired.”, my husband told me. I hadn’t realized it until I sat down and proceeded to squirm in my seat how excited I actually WAS.

And then the doors opened, and in filed in the kids. And I realized that with all of the parents watching them process, it felt like looking for your kid as they march in for high school graduation, or when you wait for the bride to walk down the aisle at a wedding. And you know what? I am not sorry about that. There are no degrees involved, but darn it, you are never to young to know that people are excited for you. And excited we were. There was waving and picture-snapping and grinning and finally, Alex’s class came in, and there he was, holding the hands of one of his teachers. Then I wondered if there was a reason WHY she was holding his hand, and if maybe he needed, umm, an extra hand to get him to where they were going, but then noticed other kids holding teachers’ hands and decided that SOMEONE needs to hold the teacher’s hand so whatever.

Then the show started. Alex’s class was first, and they lined up in front, with him standing on the end. Then the teacher started the song. And my kid started looking at the stained-glass window. And then he started looking at the altar. And he had not started singing the actual song.

But then he did! He actually knew words!! And he did some of the arm movements too! And then they handed out bells and little drums for the next song, which was called “Angel Band”, and I was very impressed that the kids put their things that make noise down until that part of the song. Very impressed with mine because we have met before. Then the instrument part starts, and as evidenced by the bad video that you will never see that I shot, it was beyond crazy. They were just going to town on those bells and drums, and I started laughing uncontrollably, and I wanted to scream “You bettah work!”, but I decided to not do that. Then their class portion was over and they sat down and so did I and this is what happened for the rest of the show…

…The other 3s class sang some song where they each had baby dolls in blankets, who were supposed to be Jesus, and my husband said “How soon until someone drops one?”, and sure enough, some little boy dropped his doll, and people started laughing, and he liked that so he did it 2 more times. When the teacher came to take his doll away, he started twirling. Did not skip a beat. It was glorious. Then the 4s classes sang, and apparently when you are 4 you can handle words and hand movements and actually moving, because they had like choreography. One of the classes did a song that is a Hebrew blessing, and the kids did joyful, jubilant moves, and this one little girl had so much joy, she was grooving like she was a townsperson in the youngest production ever of “Fiddler On the Roof”. Full Tevye-realness. And then they did a Nativity scene, where one of the angels had to back out because she got sick before school and another little girl filled in and did wonderfully because I could not figure out who she was and only knew that there was a replacement because the director told us. Good job, Backup Angel.

The whole show was less than 30 minutes, and then we all went downstairs and ate cookies. And then we went home. And the whole thing was over.

And we told Alex that we were proud of him, and it didn’t really matter that I didn’t know what they were singing. They had it handled. Handled. Because maybe I didn’t need to know everything. Because Jesus was celebrated, and that is the point of the church preschool Christmas show. And even if everything didn’t go as planned, it went exactly as planned, because they are in preschool. Because preschoolers do things that are unplanned. Having a base for them to veer from is key, and they were fine. It was fun. And I am thrilled to be on this side of the audience.

 


The twins and Dolly wish you a “Hard Candy Christmas”

by SweetMidlife

Merry Christmas! This is Leslie, and behalf on Lynne, our family, humanity, the 1984 Duran Duran fanckub, people who love cheese and Grumpy Cat, we would like to wish you a happy holiday. And we’d like to do it with the help of Miss Dolly, and some sad hookers.

You see, Miss Mona and the former employees of the Chicken Ranch in 1982’s “The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas” are parting ways, because…well, it’s a long story. And even though they are not a traditional or even legal family (or involved in legal, family things) they are very unhappy to have to leave each other. But Miss Mona, who is Dolly, tells them that sometimes they have to get through things even if it’s hardscrabble, like a Christmas so thread-bare that you only get hard candy for Christmas. You’ll be fine and dandy.

So whether today finds you flush or flushed, hardy or hapless, go hug someone you love. Or call them. You won’t let sorrow bring you way down. Tell ’em Dolly.


Black Jewish Chrismukkah Part Two: The tree-ing!

by SweetMidlife

jewish tree

Leslie here!

Here’s a quick one, because we’re in the last lap of our Holidaypalooza – this year kind of snuck up on me, which is ridiculous since no one in the world other than mail carriers and pre-school teachers who do crafts should be more attuned to the holiday schedule than a Features reporter for a newspaper. It’s been non-stop holiday stories and blogs and Tweets and whatnot since Thanksgiving, but when my husband suggested we both take the day off Friday to finish our shopping since it was the last weekend, I was like “No it’s not!….Wait…what?”

So on our trips around the greater South Florida area on the the holiday tip, we ran across the cutest thing – I think it was on “Shark Tank,” a show I am trying to create a fabulous invention just to get onto. Anyway it’s a Hanukkah tree topper, a Star of David instead of a traditional tree star. And it was a no-brainer. We also have the menorah (read of the road to finding it here) so this just adds to it! What do you think? The kid we live with likes it. And if our cat were still alive, she’d vow on her nine lives to get to it and destroy it because it makes us happy. Because annoying the humans is like cat Christmas.


The weird, friendly adventures of a black Christian lady looking for a Hanukkah menorah

by SweetMidlife
And behold, a menorah grows at Marshall's.

And behold, a menorah grows at Marshall’s.

“Happy Hanukkah!”

Over my shoulder as I (being Leslie) rush out of a fancy chain home decor store here in West Palm Beach, I hear the very sweet and apologetic clerk, who has just explained that her establishment is the latest on my crossed-off list of places that do not carry menorahs. This is my fifth Hanukkah season with my husband, who is Jewish, and the beautiful candle holder that his late mom got us for our wedding seems to have vanished in our last move, or in the ether, or with a tiny Jewish group of Borrowers who also seem to have stolen the mate to every one of his socks.

Because we already had one – or used to – I have never had to go shopping for a menorah before, and foolishly believed that in an area whose populace that no less an expert than Jason Alexander described as “a preponderance of Jews” would be a hotbed of menorah-hood. That it would be the Menorahhood.

Oh, foolish silly Goy.

I am not Jewish, but I am a wife, so in the last five years or so I have become our household’s procurer of most holiday and special-occasion paraphernalia and accoutrements, including wandering into Judaica stores looking for seder plates, making Passover reservations, ordering matzo ball soup en masse, hunting for High Holiday tickets and, as today, driving around the greater West Palm Beach area looking for a menorah. When I first began these errands years ago, I braced for the weird looks – and boy, did I get them! – at the red Afro’d black woman wandering, confused, through the Kosher cookbooks, looking like the loser in a very specific scavenger hunt.

But you know what always wound up happening, on those trips and today, on my menorah hunt? Everybody, pretty much to a number, was awesome. Welcoming. The guy in the Judaica store could not have been more helpful. The ladies in the various delis looked bemused but walked me through the rugelach and smoked fish dips with patience and kindness, because it was clear I was out of my depth.

And today, two separate clerks, the aforementioned lady at Restoration Hardware and the one at chi chi stationary store at Paper Goods, said “Happy Hanukkah” to me. And it made my heart grow a gazillion sizes. Understand that I am a Christian, and my celebration of Hanukkah is because of my husband, who in turn goes to Easter services with me. It’s also a nod to the Jewish roots of my own beliefs.

The ladies at those stores do not know this. I assume that I look different than the other people who have come in looking for menorahs and candles and stuff. But they listened to what I wanted and greeted me accordingly, and it was sublime.

Many of my Facebook friends of several religions have recently pondered the downright nasty response they have gotten from some strangers who have received their sincere “Happy Holidays” and spit it right back at the giver, to strike a blow for the War on Christmas. I can see standing up for your beliefs, but don’t be nasty about it. (Those people, no matter how fervent their Christian beliefs, are being bad citizens and, if you think about it, not exemplary Christians, because we all know the best way to interest people in your beliefs is to take their heads off when they say something nice to you and can’t tell if you’re Christian, Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, atheist, Druid or otherwise. But go on being outraged. That’s such a good look on you. Said no one ever.)

So I loved that these women wished me the happiest version of the holiday that corresponds with the thing I was looking for, because that makes sense, regardless of my appearance, or of fear of insulting me – it wouldn’t make sense for me to be insulted, but you’ve met humans, so you know they sometimes take operatic-level offense to the stupidest thing.

I wind up finding not one but three different menorahs in the most random of places – the stockroom at a nearby Marshall’s, where a nice clerk was about to discount them and put them on display. She, too, doesn’t blink an eye when I happily swoop in and grab one, because a sold menorah is a sold menorah. When I light the candles tonight, I’ll be grateful for my family, and the joining of two cultures, and for the resilience that the holiday celebrates, as well as for people who understand that what these holidays have in common is Divine love and the love we’re supposed to show to each other.

And that’s something to be happy about.


Keep That Niceness Going

by SweetMidlife

Seasons Greetings!

 

Lynne here.

On Christmas Day, after our family breakfast at IHOP, while our toddler was napping, I went to the 7-11 down the street to get a Redbox movie. Wait, it just hit me that I have referenced 3 brand names in 1 sentence. If you patronize these establishments because you saw their names here, I should get some sort of endorsement fee. Okay, anyway, back to Christmas. I went into the 7-11 after I got the movie to get some snacks, and two guys who had just left came back to hold the door open for me. And everyone in line was smiley, and the little kids getting Slim Jims were grinning like they were holding new toys. The cashier was so gracious. More people held the door on the way out, and everyone was saying “Merry Christmas”. It was a Yuletide miracle! Everyone was basking in the glow of that day, and that glow translated into smiles and niceness. When I got home, I posted on Facebook how wonderful everyone was, and several people sighed that this would change when Christmas was over, and that it would be another 364 days before people were that nice again.

Does that HAVE to be true? NO!

So, I am encouraging you, and myself, to look for ways over the next few days that you can be kind to strangers. It doesn’t have to be anything grand. Let’s start with smiling. Could you, over the weekend, deliberately smile or say hi to at least one person in your daily travels? If you have to practice it at home in the mirror, do it, so you won’t look creepy. But once you have it, go use it! Smile at the grocery clerk! Smile at the gas station dude! Ramp it up and say hi. And see how people react. Nice doesn’t have to just be for Christmas. Christmas Day should be a reminder of how we should act ALL year. So just try this weekend. Let me know if you do it, and what happens.

 


We didn’t get a Christmas tree. Are we bad people?

by SweetMidlife

A drunk Christmas dog and a disco ball are not traditional. But then again, neither are we.

 

Leslie here!

We had such good intentions.

My husband and I are in a new home, with lots of places for Yuletide decorating, including a tree. We have only been married four years, and I think we’ve had a tree once – The first year we went to visit my folks in Arkansas. Last year my mom was down and we stayed in hotels. I can’t tell you what happened in 2011, other than that we didn’t get one. I can’t remember why? Bad people maybe?

Anyway, here we are in the new place, and I found our decorations, including our stockings, some lights, the Christmas tree star and all of the holiday stuffed animals Scott has bought over the years, including Drunk Christmas Dog, who sings “Silver Bells” and appears to be trashed, and Slightly Objectionable Christmas Dog, who sings “Donde Esta Santa Claus?” Our cat hates that guy. She has tried to kill him several times, and seems pissed that somehow he survives. Drunk Christmas Dog, however, she just kind of observes and then walks away from as if she is just DONE with him.

We priced trees. I asked people on Facebook. We even drove by lots and would both say “Hey! We need to get a tree on the way home!”

Alas, the best-laid plans of mice, men and humans who collect objectionable Christmas animals oft go astray. Or just blow up all together. Because we still don’t have a tree, and as we are headed out of town for the holiday, we’re not gonna get one. And I don’t know what happened! We just never got around to it, which makes me question my Christmas cheer. Sure the lights are awesome, as are the stockings. But if I can’t get around to buying a tree, what’s wrong with me?

Then again, tree procrastination is not new to me – My folks usually got ours on Christmas Eve, because they were cheap (I think we got one free one year that the guy at Memorial Stadium just closed up early and left a bunch in the parking lot) and because we were a family full of overachieving 80s and 90s stress monsters who were focused on the go-go-go and then went “Umm…we got all these lights.”

I think the lights actually usually went up a few days before the tree – My dad could have been the dude in that “12 Things At Christmas That Are Such A Pain To Me” parody who is freaking out at the lights – “One goes out, they all go out!” We used to laugh at him, because he would come home from being all management and professional and be freaking out at the lights. And woe to the daughter who didn’t check the string before we got them up on the tree our outside and half of them were burned out. Not cheer. NOT CHEER.

I am cracking up as I write this, because we could have been the cast of “A Very Busy Buppie Christmas,” in that we were majorly excited about the holiday but too busy to focus on it until the last minute. But when we did we were all in. It wasn’t the way other people would have done it, but it was the way we did, and it was us. It was hectic and last minute and kind of a sitcom, but we loved every minute of it, even when the tree was ugly or the stocking kept falling. We had the best time together and now that Daddy’s not here, I cherish those imperfect stressful Christmases all the more.

So the Streeter-Zervitzes don’t have a tree this year. We will get one next year. But we do have lights, and stockings, and love. And singing dogs under a disco ball. I think we’re gonna put the gifts under that.

I guess that’s how we do it.

 


BlackSantaJesusPalooza

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here.

 

Okay. So last week, Aisha Harris, a black writer from Slate, wrote a piece about how we, as a multiracial society, need to come up with an across the board Santa Claus image that is neither black or white. Or any race, actually. She said it should be a penguin, since they are benign and everyone loves them. Now, I think she was kidding about the bird, but she was serious in suggesting that Santa should be all-encompassing. And this made lots of people crazy, including Megyn Kelly of Fox News, who in self-described joking comments, said that she understood  Harris’ feelings of wanting someone to identify with when she was growing up, but that all of us had to face the fact that Santa was a white man. She even reassured children everywhere that it was okay and they didn’t need to fear, because Santa, and Jesus, for that matter,  was still white. And I guess that made a lot of people sleep better.

Yeah.

So I have been debating this with other people and myself over the past few days, because I, like Aisha Harris, grew up with white Santas in print, and black Santas at whatever kid party you went to, and sometimes at the mall. And also whenever my aunt Ann got a hold of a brown crayon. And we had both black and white Santas at home because my parents were fine with that. But I got WHY we would want to have a black Santa: we wanted something that looked like us.

Yes, St. Nicholas was a real person, and he wasn’t black. He was Greek. And somewhere over the years, he was re-imagined as a jolly white man with light skin. Cool. But I am sure that part of this was that this matched the skin of those who were enjoying the image. I get that. You see the goodness in your own reflection, and that is healthy.  So I don’t see why it was such a large jump for other people to take the now-fictionalized image of Santa and adjust it for their own race so they could also have an icon of generosity that looks like them. Especially if when you look around, the positive images you see don’t look like you. Or, when only the negative ones do. I get that.

And I thought about Megyn Kelly’s assertion that Jesus was white, too as I put up our nativity set.  Which featires all black people. That I got from a white friend. And it is beautiful. It is lovely. And is probably as historically inaccurate as Megyn Kelly’s initial insistence (she has back down from THAT a bit) that Jesus was a white man. Because He was a Middle Eastern Jew.

I am under no illusion that the historical Jesus was as dark as I am. Not at all. I am actually fine with images of white Jesus. Because Jesus as a spiritual being transcends color and race. He is for everybody.  I guess the question, again, is why it bothers us if someone else wants to picture a Jesus that looks like them?   I think, if I can surmise with my BA in Psychology that I never used professionally, this: That people want a Santa or Jesus or Disney Princess who looks like them because it says that THEY too can be something good and holy and beautiful. And I think that we are afraid if that if everyone doesn’t hold that image, we are losing ground. And I say we should let that go. I think this: we all want our goodness, our beauty, our humanity recognized. And it shouldn’t bother us when other people want that too. Hopefully the black/white/Asian/Latino Santas of the world can take turns going to places where kids don’t look like them, so they can see that good can be all colors. And you can have white Santa, somebody else can have back Santa and someone else can have Asian Santa. And guess what? White people can have black Santa! And Black people can have white Santa! Have the Santa you want.  That is the loveliness of nowadays. Little black girls can look up to Katniss Everdeen the same way that little white girls want a Princess Tiana doll (from Disney’s “Princess and the Frog”, the first Disney movie with a black princess).  Racism is so powerful because it is based in fear. Fear that if I don’t dominate or belittle the other, than I will be compromised. So I insist that beauty and value can only look like me. But we should see EACH OTHER’S  beauty, and we should be able to do that without feeling that we are losing something. And we all win then.


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