the reason for the season is jesus, and other lies

An earlier but still timely message.

rant-ology!

 

santa

Children depend upon us to give them accurate information about the world they come into. See: whispering (not so) sweet nothings. They’re so easy to dupe or take advantage of—over and over—because their hard-wiring is set to trust. This doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a good trick or can’t distinguish between most of what’s real and what’s imaginary—if we help them. They do love to be included in any festive hoodwinking.

Jesus wasn’t born in December. That construct—according to biblical scholars—started mid fourth century and though there’s no definitive answer, the best guess is Jesus was born April-ish. Also, the main thoughts concerning Christianity’s two biggest holy days are that Christmas & Easter were taken from pagan holidays (Saturnalia & Ostara) or Jewish holidays (Chanukah & Passover). Quite a bit of evidence supports these ideas. For instance, the Christmas tree with its lights and decorations is linked to Druidic…

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the reason for the season is jesus, and other lies

 

santa

Children depend upon us to give them accurate information about the world they come into. See: whispering (not so) sweet nothings. They’re so easy to dupe or take advantage of—over and over—because their hard-wiring is set to trust. This doesn’t mean they don’t enjoy a good trick or can’t distinguish between most of what’s real and what’s imaginary—if we help them. They do love to be included in any festive hoodwinking.

Jesus wasn’t born in December. That construct—according to biblical scholars—started mid fourth century and though there’s no definitive answer, the best guess is Jesus was born April-ish. Also, the main thoughts concerning Christianity’s two biggest holy days are that Christmas & Easter were taken from pagan holidays (Saturnalia & Ostara) or Jewish holidays (Chanukah & Passover). Quite a bit of evidence supports these ideas. For instance, the Christmas tree with its lights and decorations is linked to Druidic practices, eggs & rabbits to fertility.

I’ve nothing against 25 December being the “decided” date to celebrate Jesus’ birth. But then who’s Santa? He appears to be an combination of St. Nick, Odin—a white bearded god who rode the skies with Sleipnir his white horse that children left carrots for in their shoes and Odin left grateful presents in return—and the Finnish Yule Goat who dressed in a red suit and brought candy to children. Very little of the traditional icons of xmas are Christian. Sorry.

At my house, we have one solstice tree and for most of my children’s lives we celebrated a self-created solstice ceremony commemorating the light’s return by colorfully drawing on paper what we hoped for ourselves and the world in the coming year, then burned them outside. We do/did have presents, some from “Ms. Santa” which were for the whole house like games or chocolates, but the focus of the holiday wasn’t gifts.

What does this have to do with misleading innocents? Well, many people lie about Santa at the expense of naive kids. When they find out the truth, kids are usually not disappointed that Santa doesn’t exist so much as humiliated because they were left out of the joke. They’re happy to “believe” in Ms. Santa, elves, reindeer, etc. with you and the family.

You’re Ms. Santa, right?”

“O, no. Not me,” I’d sing-song.

“Come on mamma—you are, too!”

“No, no, no. I don’t know what’s in this present.” They’d just eat this up.

Then there are parents who’ll insist the holiday is really all about Jesusbirth. How do they explain all this pagan imagery? Is Jesus’ birth about a glut of gifts and a gluttonous table? BTW, Mary was a homeless teenager with an illegitimate child. These days, certain Christians wouldn’t give her a quarter let alone revere her, and they’d kick her out of the stable.

Let’s all share the fantasy of Santa and reindeer, regardless of age. Let kids in; teach them we can dress truth in fiction to burn all the brighter, but only if everyone’s party to it.


whispering (not so) sweet nothings

Words are vehicles for communication but they don’t always go by their actual meanings. If I say, Hey, nice shirt! by intonation I could mean: I like it, I hate it, I’m teasing, I’m ridiculing, I’m shaming, I’m flirting. When someone pronounces, “let’s do lunch” we know if it’s authentic or not. While traveling—with very little effort—you can comprehend what people intend without being fluent. Tone, decibels, facial movements and body stance communicate far more.

Babies and children understand, too. Tara attended a small school in San Francisco with kids from all over the world. The birth languages didn’t matter since words weren’t important for these 5-year-olds to play and learn.

Even though I romp throughout the domain of written words, sometimes they’re bargain-basement items when vocalized. If “Joe” says something callous and is called out, he often says, “I’m joking,” when we know he wasn’t. When a child asks mom if she’s sad (when she is) and is told, “No, just tired,” this teaches kids—who look to us to inform them correctly about the world, inwardly and outwardly—to doubt what they sense in favor of what someone they trust tells them. See: wanting for want.

I live in a culture where most people’s word means very little. So, why am I surprised when people want to convince me with words what their actions don’t back up? Why do they push for my “approval assurance” for something I know is patently untrue? See: “do you believe what you’re sayin’? yeah right now, but not that often.”

Supporting someone demonstrates you care about what they do and you attempt to show up in actions as well as in words. What support is not: saying you’re “there for them” but in fact not being so. It’s not giving someone what you want to give them but providing them with what they want and sometimes when it’s not convenient for you.

If I ask for a glass of water and I’m given a hammer, don’t expect me to be thankful. It’s a non sequitur. How does your psuedo-intention trump my need? And if I request a ride on Friday but you volunteer for the second Tuesday of next week, it’s not helpful and I won’t give you points for offering something I can’t use.

My ex mother-in-law once gave her hirsute son a bottle of aftershave for xmas, then huffed,”Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” after he logically and kindly wondered at the efficacy of her “present.” Shouldn’t the gift be more about the receiver, not the giver?

Commonly, I call a company’s “support line” and am auto-told “all representatives are busy helping other customers.” Yeah, right, that huge workforce of one. Their faux-care is insulting. Hire a real staff and then maybe I’ll believe that I’m a “valued customer” and not hang up.

how to cook a teenager

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I adore teenagers. Best people on the planet, IMHO. If given even a 16th of a chance to be so, most are earnest and straightforward. I’ve worked with many a teenager: counseling, teaching creative writing or volunteering at teen shelters.

The goal of all child-rearing should be to raise a decent, thinking, heart-driven person who considers others but not at the expense of Self. Here’s some tips:

  1. Listen more; talk less.
  2. It’s not about you. Focus on what your kid requires, not on how you look as a parent. See #17
  3. Ask yourself what your kid needs instead of how to “fix” their behavior.
  4. Communicate honestly even if sometimes you say: “I’m uncomfortable answering right now.” Teenagers have precise bullshit meters. You’ll put nothing over on them even if they’re too polite to tell you so. Yes, I said polite.
  5. Please be kind. People speak to their kids as if they’re deadwood.
  6. Be compassionate. Please don’t talk about them in front of them; they have ears.
  7. Tell stories to tell stories–not as “morals” or “lessons.” Trust they’ll get it; it’s just fun to hear a story.
  8. Stop being so serious all the time; they’re not things to teach but people to interact with. Have fun with them.
  9. Don’t tease them. It’s scary and difficult enough not knowing how all the parts of you are going to fit in this f-ed up adult culture (I’m still trying to figure it out) without someone being condescending or acting as if what is felt or thought is a joke.
  10. Don’t bite on the bullshit. Ask, don’t argue.
  11. Be willing to repeat and repeat and repeat. Maintain neutral tone over and over and over.
  12. Be vulnerable. These are people. (I can’t say this enough). Tell them about your life–your floundering, your triumphs, your feelings–just to share. See #7
  13. Model behavior you’d like from them. They’re still kids and even though they’re attempting to define themselves into the larger community instead of just family, teenagers still take cues from you. You want respect? Give respect. You want humor? Be humorous. You want them to work hard without whining? Then…..
  14. Embody integrity. If you say you’ll do something Follow Through. Excuses? You hate it when they do it, so don’t. See #13
  15. Often when teenagers make “know-it-all” statements, they’re actually asking questions by “trying on” ideas. Let them. Instead of discounting or dismissing, ask why they feel that way (without a tone!) and then…Listen To The Answer. Have a conversation. Let them practice expressing those feelings, beliefs. You don’t have to agree but you don’t have to trash or ridicule them either.
  16. A teenager’s job is to discover and to risk, not to modify their behavior so you’re not alarmed. Deal with your fear. You can tell them how what they’re doing or not doing makes you feel. See #12
  17. Trust your kid regardless of some acting out behavior; you have no other intelligent choice. It takes tremendous courage when the rest of the panicky parents are watching and ready to blame you and your kid as “bad influences.”
  18. Tame your child, don’t break them. Do this by honor & respect, not control & fear.
  19. Listen more; talk less.