Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Return of Christmas

First of all, I am not one of those people who is offended by the early appearance of Christmas. Once upon a time, I was totally the person that put their Christmas tree up around mid November. Why not? Why should I wait all year to only enjoy 4 weeks of the decorations, the music, the movies, the presents? I would be happier with a solid 8 weeks of Christmas. :) It would be awesome if cities kept up Christmas lights all year. In college, the day after Thanksgiving my radio would find a permanent home on the station playing 24 hour Christmas music, which also sickeningly was the station with Delilah...

Which brings me to number 2: I'm not a fan of Thanksgiving. We could skip it (keep the time off though) and my life would not be impacted. I'll eat Thanksgiving dinner, but I have never craved nor looked forward to it. I don't like stuffing. The best part of sweet potatoes are the marshmallows (my sister and I from time to time have made valiant attempts to change the potato-marshmallow ratio). Turkey is only good when smothered beyond the point of recognition in brown gravy. Although I will say I really love Joan's homemade rolls, and I have discovered that I really like making snobby pies. But again we could skip Thanksgiving and make it Christmas Part One and that would be way more awesome.

The last two years though, the idea of celebrating my favorite season was about as welcome as a case of lice. In 2010, Christmas Part One/Part Two was forced participation. Our lives were in turmoil beyond what I'd like to remember, and celebrating anything seemed ridiculous and fake. We didn't decorate. We were spending all of our money on existing, and presents were as minimal as possible. We tried once to listen to my amazing Christmas playlist, but after a couple of songs we turned it off and never brought it out again. The spirit of generosity was not there, but we recognized the holidays simply because we were supposed to.
           In 2011, we celebrated Thanksgiving jointly with my Williams clan which was great. I think that  the different approach to the holiday was helpful in keeping the obvious absence to a minimum. Christmas came... that's about it. It came. I put up the tree but didn't bother to decorate, or most of the time even plug it in. My house was completely dark on the block. The playful joy of making a Christmas list seemed laborious. I did enjoy making cookies with my sister, but I could have done without the rest. Carrying on the "Mom Prefers Vodka" tradition that Roger started years before (long story) was sweet and humorous but also carried a weight of sadness it didn't used to.

There is something sad about being indifferent during the holiday season when it was once something I was passionate about - yes passionate. The Christmas season always brought out a more joyful, optimistic, generous, happy, a better me, and even in the moment it is sad when you feel nothing.

But you can't force Christmas and all its precipitates.

About two weeks ago I felt a strange yet familiar twinge... a desire for gingerbread and Vince Guaraldi.  And so I'm going to foster that which I haven't felt for a long time: in honor of the rapidly approaching Christmas Part One, I'm going to put up the tree tomorrow, ornaments and all, with some Christmas jams in the background. It would be really great to find some joy in the season again.

Don't feel guilty if you still call it "Thanksgiving."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Why I am the "Idiot" that Votes Blue

I voted for Obama. Twice.

I own an Obama shirt.

Go ahead. Unfriend me if you'd like. I'm one of the ones you may have cursed last night, or this morning.  I'm one of the idiots that supports that socialist, baby-kiling, Bible-hating Muslim. 

But instead of telling you what I didn't like about Mitt Romney, let me tell you what I DO like about our President who I have enough faith in to cast my ballot for a second term. 

  • First of all, I'm a woman, a woman who takes birth control. I pay for health insurance every month. I shouldn't have to worry that the money I already pay may not cover birth control because my employer believes "every sperm is sacred". Yes, one of the guiding principles of our country was freedom of religion BUT it's freedom of religion for everyone, not just Christians that don't believe in birth control. By upholding an employer's right to deny coverage for something they shouldn't be asking me about in the first place is infringing upon my own belief that even God knows it's just a swimmer until it fertilizes something. If you are confused as to how birth control pills prevent that from happening, here is an informational link. Now, if you only employ a staff that is of your same religious conviction, then by all means, don't cover birth control, heck - make the chicks cover their heads at all times too, but I think requiring employees to be of a certain religious belief is also illegal, and surely we can all agree that would be a bad and medieval idea. 

  • Second, I'm a woman that knows all too well that you have no idea what the future may hold. Thank goodness I have absolutely no experience with this, but how can I possibly tell you with complete certainty that I won't be a victim of rape in my lifetime. And because I thankfully have no experience with it, there is not a fiber in my body that would be justified in judging any woman that would choose, or not choose, to carry to term a fetus that is the product of sexual violence. I cannot fathom the horrors of rape and the ever-present reminder of that instance that would follow should that woman so unfortunately become pregnant. And if you, like me, are so lucky as to know nothing of that horror and yet you are arrogant enough to think you can comprehend what a rape victim is capable of handling over that next 9 months, then I can share some personal horrors for you to try to understand instead. I have no idea what I would do should I be in that situation, but if I were, I would hope that I would have a choice.

  • I also believe in funding the social service programs required to care for the kids that are born, because outlawing abortion doesn't magically make all women fit or ready parents, or make all men responsible or financially sound enough to pay child support. That means spending taxes to fund 18 years worth of programs, because if you want the babies to be born, you have to love and support them afterwards too.

  • I 100%, whole-heartedly believe medical care is not something that should be afforded by the rich. I do not believe that when you have medical treatment you should leave the hospital with years, or a lifetime, worth of debt. I think it is disgusting that I can take my dog in for an ultra-sound and biopsy and pay a total of $78, but we all know how crazy expensive it would be to have that same procedure done on ourselves. And when I hurt my ankle 2 weeks ago, I shouldn't put off going to have it checked out because I fear what I'm going to owe, even already having insurance.
  • I totally benefitted from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Not only did Roger and I see an increase in our monthly checks as one of the tax cuts took out less money each month, but the $8000 First Time Homebuyer's Credit helped us buy our first home. In addition, after having paid into a 403(b) monthly since 2004, I started actually earning money on my contributions for the first time EVER in 2011. After the first couple of years teaching, I was getting more and more students with parents out of work, and over the past 4 years I have seen that status change 

  • Being a teacher in Texas, I have taught my fair share of students who have... questionable documentation, if any. But that doesn't make them any less of a human being. As Americans, we are ALL the product of our ancestors wanting a better life for one reason or another. The idea that we are now so "elitist" that, because most of mine came over in the late 1700's, my newly-American ancestors' immigration was more appropriate is ridiculous. Do it in what should be the American way: help them become citizens and then tax the crap out of them! :) That's one way of shrinking the deficit - create more tax payers!

  • I don't like coal. I don't like oil. It's 2012... come on. I may not like nature, but one day I might, and I'd like for it to still, ya know, be natural.

  • I don't think there is anything wrong with expecting and requiring my car to have better gas mileage. It's 2012... come on. Especially since the technology has existed for a very long time. You should watch Who Killed the Electric Car. It's on Netflix. Watch it instantly! It's a strong lesson in the power of lobbying, and for those of you my age, you'll probably vaguely remember the commercials from when we were in high school!

I have to be honest; the more I get to know myself the more I find that I am way more to the left than I even thought possible growing up in rural Texas. But I believe in fairness, equality, taking care of others, taking care of my environment, protecting my body, and for the most part staying out of other people's business as long as they are not negatively impacting someone else. I believe that anytime you privatize something, someone figures out how to exploit it for their financial gain. I believe that actively using regular filibusters to stalemate legislation is about as mature as putting your fingers in your ears and declaring "I can't hear you!" I believe that infidelity makes a mockery of marriage, not the gay community. I believe that marijuana is not remotely in the same league as cocaine and should be legalized, regulated, and taxed like mad. I believe life-altering commodities like oil should be regulated. I believe tobacco is evil. I believe Wal-mart might be evil. I know McDonald's is... Just watch Food Inc. I know those crazy European socialist countries have higher life expectancies, longer maternity and paternity leave, a greater respect for the arts, and have topped the list of "happiest citizens" for years. I would even consider living in one of those should my family choose to join me and the availability of Dr. Pepper and BravoTV over there change. 

I'm still a nice person. :) Promise.