with Lynne and Leslie
Category Archives: Christmas


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.


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.

‘Cause We Need a Little Christmas, in the Middle of January

by SweetMidlife

Lynne here!!

So, my mom always thought the switch from Christmastime to post-Christmas time was too abrupt. For a month, and actually longer, you hear all the music, and see all the decorations, and see all the mass goodwill for the most part, then on December 26,( or January 2, depending on how long people count their holiday season, depending on the holidays they observe) the sparkle goes away, the music is over, and you get snapped back into the regular. This is why Mommy keeps her tree up until mid-January, which is good, since she doesn’t usually get it until Christmas Eve, a procrastination thing that eventually just became tradition. I feel the same. I find myself on Christmas Day looking wistfully at the clock like Cinderella at the ball, knowing that at midnight, the magic ends a bit.  We, too, have our tree up still but mostly because my husband and I have both at some point been under the weather and since the baby can’t walk or pack things neatly, there the tree stands.  But the thing is that it’s not just the outward that changes, like the putting away of decoration, or the change in what’s on the radio, or the absence of that commercial where Santa Claus sells Chevys. It’s the mood change.  We seem to go from this period of hope back to ho-hum.  Look at the Hallmark or Lifetime Movie Channels. For a month, they both played predictable yet really enjoyable movies about Santa’s niece, or Santa’s wife coming to Manhattan to reunite a family, or Santa played by Judd Nelson forced to bring Christmas spirit out in 3 non-spirited teenagers.  Or movies about a boy trying to find a husband for his widowed Mom for Christmas. Yes, you know where all of them are going, and you know who is going to end up with who. But they feel safe, you know. No shocks.  No sad endings.  Just happiness in the end. Then, suddenly, most of the movies that are on after the holidays are called like “Deadly Deception” or “My Best Friend’s Boyfriend”, and it’s all drama and backstabbing and peril.  And yes, there is a place for those movies, but I would love a little bit more of a cushion or transition.  I know that the holidays are over, but does the spirit of goodwill and joy have to be? I say no.  I think we should stretch it out to now, or Spring, or how about to next Christmas?  I am determined that non-holiday doesn’t have to mean gritty. Here’s to a little year-round happy.

That is so not cute, Part 2 or Shut up, little girl!

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! Lynne, my partner in ranty ranticism, a thing I just now made up but that you totally get the gist of, got us started yesterday with her pondering on the advertising value of nasty children. I, too, have found myself screaming “Shut up, little girl!” at various TV commercials featuring the most sour, inappropriately familiar, parent-shaming little brats. In my family, they’d be at the very least sent to their rooms for, like, ever. But apparently someone on Madison Avenue believes that there is money to be made trafficking in demanding little harpy creatures who tell their families exactly what they want in the most disrespectfully matter-of-fact terms.

I’m not sure what the draw is – is the assumption that children are now horrible because our collective permissive parenting sucks, and these Children Of The Corn are supposed to be just like your own little personal Chuckie at home, somehow endearing you to their familiar awfulness? If I saw my kids in these brats, like the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese creatures who dead-seriously accuse their parents of “stealing”  “their” food, when the parents presumably bought said food, and prepared said food in the pots and pans that they bought in the house they paid for, with the electricity they pay for, I’d break into shameful hives, scramble the kids into counseling/exorcism, and apologize to everyone I ever inflicted them on. And then I’d get some sort of counseling myself.

For sucking.

Last holiday season, eBay ran this offensive, awful ad where a young “lady” sings a cute little rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” to her family about the gifts she hated in the past and what she will and will not accept. This is hilarious to me because it assumes that A) we all believe that you deserve a gift automatically by existing and that B) telling me not only what you want but what you will and will not accept and that my previous expendutures of cash on your little ungrateful butt have not only not been appreciated but have qualified me for public shaming.

Hold up, little girl. Let’s get this straight. You just outed me as sucking and basically submitted a musical list of demands like I work for you, and you expect me to buy you something? Are you kidding me? Are you kidding yourself? Are you stupid? Because if I don’t throw my drink at you and storm out immediately, I’m the stupid one.

The other thing that galls me about this ad, and the Kraft one where the absolutely humorless kid confronts his mother’s book group about stealing his mac and cheese as if they tied him up in his room and raided his pockets, is the public nature of it. Talking to your parents like that is bad enough. Talking to them in front of extended family and friends is embarrassing, shaming and should make parents cringe. It should not make them spend money to appease those kids.

I am not a parent, but I am a godmother, auntie and family friend. I cannot control the way that the kids that I love are taught to be grateful, but I have impressed upon the little ones on whom I dote the following: I love you. I love spending time with you. I like spending money on you. But I am neither a Website or an ATM. You are owed my protection and love. You are NOT owed money, or some specific thing that you want. You don’t get to demand things from me. You don’t get to tell me what you’re going to order and get mad when I tell you to pick something else. You don’t get to demand a gift before I even get out of the car, because that means me and the gift are getting back in the car and going back to the store. You certainly don’t get to open a gift I gave you and ask how much it cost. All of these things will get you a talking to, or no gift at all.

I owe you my love. My love may be presented sometimes in the form of a gift. But that gift is not my love. And that gift is not an obligation. And if you don’t get that…you don’t get a gift.

And I’m eating the frigging mac and cheese. In your face.

Hey! We might be talking to “SYTTD”‘s Randy Fenoli

by SweetMidlife

Leslie here! You might know that my day job is as a reporter for the Palm Beach Post, where I get all sorts of fun offers to do stories on things I may or may not think anyone cares about. But sometimes, we get a doozy, and one came today hawking a new special with everyone’s favorite dapper bridal fashion guru and former drag pageant queen Randy Fenoli of “Say Yes To The Dress: Please Buy This Pnina Tornai Dress.” We adore Randy not only because we love his suits, but because he is the match to any snotty princess who think he works for them.

Randy works for Kleinfeld’s. And for fashion. And for The Dream. And if you get saucy, it’s not gonna fly. Believe that. And all your snotty friends will see you on TV getting served by a dapper man who didn’t even break a sweat. Or break his smile. He’s never rude. It’s just not gonna fly well.

And now The Randy presents “Top Ten Weddings of 2011,” a new TLC special on Dec. 23, when you’re wrapping last minute presents and wanting to see famous people wrapped in fancy dresses. I wonder if Kimmy K and her three-hour marriage are included. Make. It. So. The union was maybe fake but the wedding was pretty. In a drag queen on E falling asleep during a “Platinum Weddings” marathon sort of way. Commentators include:

  • Sherri Shepherd, host/actress/comedienne
  • Rob Shuter, columnist (PopEater.com)
  • Kate Coyne, assistant managing editor (People)
  • Bonnie Fuller, editor-in-chief (HollywoodLife.com)
  • Joe Zee, creative director (Elle)
  • Sheryl Lee Ralph, actress/Niecy Nash’s matron of honor
  • Sharon Sacks, wedding planner
  • Joe Buissnik, celebrity photographer
  • Ben Fogel, royal contributor

We are trying to get a copy of the video to review, as well as an interview with the man! Would you love that? Of course you would! Pray hard, y’all!

Merry Christmas from Bride At 35, Part 2!

by SweetMidlife

As promised, this is the other half of the Bride at 35 team, Leslie, as I sit at a Little Rock, Arkansas sports bar with my husband, who is cheering on the Baltimore Ravens. And I’m writing about weddings, which is pretty much the antithesis of what he’s doing. It also reminds me of the first time he took me to his favorite Baltimore sports bar with his old friends, where I interrupted him during a crucial play to ask him to look at a darling reception place setting idea in Martha Stewart Weddings.

Which brings us to why I, and my sister, am so thrilled to be able to share our experiences as brides of a certain age with you. The above story is just one teensy example of those funny things that happen as you are planning a wedding and more importantly planning a life. I am learning to integrate my life with my husband’s, as I learn about Ray Lewis and interceptions and he learns about place settings and guest books. He is my partner and I am his, and as we celebrate our first married Christmas, we are both happy for the gift of each other and the patience, at the age of 39 and 40, to be able to accept the things we can not change and be humorously thrilled about the things we’re learning.

And here at Bride at 35, we’re embracing the season as well as our mission: to celebrate the love and circumstance that can happen at any age, and the beauty and wisdom (or not) that accompanies it. We want to share in your joy, your questions, your hope and fears and just the fact that love is possible. As are awesome place settings.

Happy happy joy joy!

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