It’s that time of year again

 

Bah Humbug!Christmas is an odd time of year for me. Traditions and all the cultural nuances make it all so confusing for me that I end up with a kind of conglomeration of ideas about the season and how it ought to be celebrated. If I had to distill it all down into one simple thought, it’d be that Christmas is first and foremost a time for family.

Growing up, Christmas meant a few different things for me. It meant having to get out of bed at 4:00am to get to church for 5:00am service. This is a tradition that has perpetuated in my immediate family for several years – Christmas morning service when we sing Christmas hymns and talk about the birth of Christ as the sun rises in the east and casts an ever-warming glow behind the artfully crafted cross in the east wall of the church. The church was built several decades earlier with glass blocks in the shape of a cross in the wall. On the inside, a wooden cross was bolted to the wall so that when the light hits those glass blocks, the wooden cross on the inside looks to be glowing. Watching that light up progressively on Christmas morning was quite the spiritual experience for the young me. Even if I was pouting from having been forced out of my warm, cozy bed before daylight.

As soon as we got home, Mom would make hot cocoa and I’d open my presents. There were never too many presents for me to open so that wouldn’t last very long. I’d always wondered why I never got a ton of presents. For a long time, I thought it was because we couldn’t afford it. Then I began to understand that my parents were trying to ensure I never got used to getting a ton of presents. That is the route to the dark side and narcissism and entitlement. Thank god for my parents’ foresight.

The rest of the day typically was spent listening to a variety of musical pieces as my father and mother took turns playing their favourite music. The day typically started out with Handel’s Messiah. At some point, Dad would switch that to The Student Prince. If Mom was in an argumentative mood, we’d get a little Nat King Cole in there too. Sometimes, we’d get some Sparrow (calypso) near to lunch time. If Mom wasn’t particularly argumentative, she’d just turn on the radio as soon as Handel or Mario Lanza’s Student Prince was finished, and we’d get Christmas carols for the rest of day. There was no reggae in our house; no-siree; nuh uh.

All of this set a backdrop to the smells of your typical Jamaican Christmas. In the early years, rice and peas, escoveitch fish, brown-stew chicken, roast beef, and ham would mingle with sorrel and rum cake. Dad would drink a beer or two during the day, switching to Vodka later on if friends stopped by for eats. Mom would sip Sherry, switching to a “brown bow” (coffee liqueur and milk) if guests were over. Bonus: I’d get to sample them all.

Over the years, as Christianity took on a more ominous tone for me, Christmas morning 5am service became more about being with my parents for something they saw as important more than anything else and the reality of that cross on the wall morphed into a symbol of the illusion that Christianity and faith actually is. Slowly, over the years, the day became less and less about celebration and music. Less food was cooked, less people stopped by, less alcohol consumed. One of the last Christmas days I remember involved 5am service, Christmas Carols on the radio, escoveitch fish and bammy. We all mostly slept the day away and no one passed by to visit.

I got married in 2008 and suddenly Christmas was this huge deal again. Christmas Eve at one set of in-laws with one set of gifts. Christmas Day with another set of in-laws and a whole different set of gifts. Just as much food and alcohol and company, less religion. It just so happens that 2008 was my first white Christmas too.

Even after a revival of Christmas Spirit as a new member of the Frantz family, the fervor has dimmed even faster in the ensuing years than it had in the years before the wedding. These days, my husband and I “Bah Humbug” our way through what has become a very materialistic holiday. The most one might get out of me this time of year is a “Happy Yule” on December 21st, maybe a small light-returning ritual on the morning of the Solstice, and a quiet day meditating on the return of the sun. And of all the pagan holidays, Yule is the one I tend to observe most because by the time it rolls around, I am sick of short days and dark cold nights. Mostly, we get our food and we hunker down until after the madness.

Today (Dec 23rd) is the last day we will venture out of the house. We’ve got wood, hot cocoa, food, and drink to last us 3 to 4 days and we aren’t moving, unless we absolutely have to, until Saturday. So, Happy Holidays, everyone. Be safe out there. And see you on the other side.

The Solicitor

Physically, he was unassuming. He wore a navy blue suit, with a starched white shirt and a fire-engine red tie. He was short enough that it would be easy to lose sight of him in a crowd. His skin looked like too-often bleached cotton, and his beak-like nose dominated his flat, pasty face. His lips looked like he was perpetually disapproving and his eyes glinted like polished onyx. The sheen on his forehead could just as easily have been from nervous sweat as from whatever pomade he had used to paste his thin, dull hair to his head.

As he shuffled into the room, one got the impression that he had spent many a day with his shoelaces tied together and his hands unable to get loose to untie them. He cleared his throat as he brought a briefcase up to rest on the table in front of him.

“Goodday. My name is Roland Jones and I am a solicitor.”

I had to strain to hear what he said because he spoke as if he had top-secret information and an unsecure room to share it in. He continued after a brief pause.

“I was hired by Brooks LLC to assist in the legal aspects of this transaction. I have been brought up to speed on all the history relating to each individual in this room and barring any last questions … , ” he looked pointedly around the room and continued, “… everyone here is able to sign on the dotted line today.”

There was silence as the room seemed to enter a kind of suspended animation; each of us eyeing the others waiting to see who would ask the one question we were all thinking.

Just as Noland Jones, solicitor, readied himself to speak again, a tentative female voice spoke up from the back of the room, “Where are we?”

Musings on men and women and fear …

I am re-watching “The Fall” on Netflix because it is such a powerful show in so many different ways. Stella Gibson is an almost perfect embodiment of strong career woman. And the shows writers have shown remarkable power in stressing several feminist themes throughout the show’s run.

At one point, Stella Gibson tells her paramour the following words whilst they are presumedly post-coitus:

A woman, I forget who, once asked a male friend why men felt threatened by women. He replied that they were afraid that women might laugh at them. When she asked a group of women why women felt threatened by men they saud, “We’re afriad they might kill us.”

I found it odd that this television show, so precise in a lot of other ways, thought to present this quote as is: “A woman, I forget who.” It seemed unlikely that Stella Gibson would be unable to recall the exact source of such a profound quote. A quote that Stella herself lives to fight against with every molecule that she is. So I looked it up.

The quote seems to be attribute to Margaret Atwood more often than not. However, this page at wikiquote seems to suggest that a definitive source has been elusive.

Unattributable as it seems to be, it is probably the most comprehensive explanation of violent misogyny that I’ve ever seen.

You know your pet is cute when …

So funny story. Because the hubster’s schedule is wonky for a bit, I’ve got evening dog walking duties for a few days. He liked walking Rusty in the evenings because of all the attention they get together. My two boys, out trolling for winks and woos.  He probably won’t admit it out loud, but that’s ok. I know how it goes. 😊

This evening, I encountered two ladies walking in the opposite direction. By the way, I dunno about this notion that your pets get you more attention. Moments before, Rusty and I passed a young man who looked like he barely wanted to say hello. It must be a woman thing. Or maybe I wasn’t looking as cute as I thought I was. Whatever the case, he almost totally ignored us. Those two women, though, didn’t hesitate to call out “Hallo Rusty.” No hallos for me. No siree. It was all about the cute doggie. 

I see how it is. 

From the overactive mind chronicles

Pine_Needles_(5902273583)This morning as I walked Rusty, I turned my nose up into the air and sniffed in much the same way I’ve seen Rusty do on several occasions. In fact, it is one of his signature looks especially when there is food on the air waves. I like to imagine he’s savouring all the smells and just enjoying life and the ability to experience life. I imagine that’s what is in his head because that is what is in mine when I lift my face up to the sky and take deep breaths too. And this morning was no different.

The air is fresh and clean this morning, like it was washed in fresh pine. The odour of the pine needles is so strong even the least sensitive nose is likely to be able to detect it. The scent overrides just every other smell (except dog poop). I literally walked with a smile on my face for the whole half hour, taking deep breaths, enjoying the scent of pine. (It should probably be noted that pine is one of my favourite scents alongside sage, vanilla, and clove.)

The one jarring note in this idyllic morning walk is that my mind couldn’t help but make connections with the extra strong smell of pine and the storm that just passed through here this weekend. We got 20mph winds on Saturday and the yard is littered with broken branches and the pine needle contingents in the yard, on the driveway, and on the streets have quadrupled.

The bottom line? This lovely walk laced with my favourite scent, heavy on the air, is courtesy of the destruction of nature. Basically, things had to break for me to enjoy my favourite scent “naturally”.

Yeah; my husband is most definitely right – I think way too damned much. /sigh

Ooh; new WordPress version is out

So I hear that it’s easier to add formatting into the edit box. I bet that means you have to be using the visual box.

Apparently they updated things like:

  • lists
  • quotes
  • but not bold or italic formatting? how droll

At least quoting works.

And headings:

Like this one.

I really wish they’d done bold though; and italics. Oh well; no worries. That gets converted upon publication. 😀

 

P.S. By the way, I am late. This happened last week Tuesday; on my birthday no less. :/