Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Talisman Revisited

I have borne two children. I still have both of them. Once, that would have been an improbable thing for a mother to say. Raising even one child to adulthood was something of a miracle. We are luckier these days, but there are still dangers. But it's no longer diptheria and smallpox and tuberculosis and morbid sore throat.

These days it's monsters. They no longer lurk in closets or the shadowy beneath. They are out in the open. They have guns and bombs and poison. There is no immunization for monsters.

I can't imagine what it would be like to lose one of my children. I still could. I realize that every single day, but something like the Sandy Hook shooting underscores it, punctuates it, puts in it boldface type. They are big and broad and so very alive. But anything could happen. I think back to the days when they were small. It was everywhere, the danger. I thought it would get easier to keep them safe but it just gets harder. So much harder. Because the older they get, the less control I have.

Friday night, right after news of the shootings, I dropped my youngest son, his best friend, and two girls off at the skating rink. The girls giggled, the boys affected nonchalance. They were unaffected, maybe even unaware, of all the malevolence that stands between them and adulthood. They climbed out of my van, and I surrendered them to world. Was it the shooting? I don't know. But for the first time in many years, I found myself using an old trick from those long ago days when their autonomy was so new and my ability to trust that they would return to me so very tenuous.....

Talisman (originally written 01/30/08)    

A navy blue newsboy cap,
a gray fleece jacket,
dark blue baggy jeans, fashionably frayed at the cuffs,
a button down shirt with gray, navy and white stripes,
(handed down from his brother),
a white undershirt,
brown tennis shoes with tan laces,
a navy blue and orange Land's End backpack that has seen better days.

Medium brown hair that curls under around his ears
and at the nape of his neck,
large eyes that are bluish grayish greenish,
lots of freckles that he hates,
and a large one on his lower right cheek,
a gap between his front teeth,
one of which is chipped and won't stay capped,
a little bit of a double chin; the last vestiges of baby fat,
height? I still have to stoop to give him a hug,
stocky but not fat, solid and strong.

He looks very small, standing out there, just across the street. He waits for the bus alone in the dark; too old for hand holding, too proud for company.

But I watch. I can't not.

I need to know he is safe, at least as safe as he can be out of my sight, out of my hands, out of my care. I remember the days when nothing took my children from my side. They were hard, those days, but they were also serene. I trusted myself.

And if I had a moment of irrational fear, I could simply touch, listen, intuit. I could calm my worry with the balm of their slow easy breathing, the warmth of their velvet skin, their aroma of powder and milk. I could smell, taste, and touch their wellbeing.

But the day came of course, when they left me. When I had to trust someone else to keep them safe.

It was very hard...for me.

They took it all in stride, treating it as a great adventure, which of course, it was. They were drunk with independance; high on autonomy. They didn't look back. Only forward for them, always forward.

It's gotten easier over the years, but I still occasionally have moments of stomach clutching fear. What if something happens to one of them? How would I go on?

I have no prayers and no God to hear them.

So, as he stands there, I catalogue him. It's my talisman against evil. My mother mantra. My bad things don't happen to good people charm.

If he gets lost or snatched, I know that he is there in my mind, just the way he looked right before he left me, whole and safe. I can tell the officers exactly what he was wearing, right down to the smallest detail. And they will tell me that with such a description, they will have no trouble at all finding him.

And they will ask me, "Ma'am, did you actually see him get on the bus?" And I can say with great certainty, "YES officer, I did."

The bus comes, and as it pulls up he is hidden from my view. I can see only his feet, which disappear one by one as he mounts the steps. I keep watching, and then I see his head bobbing down the aisle. He takes his seat, and I can see him no more.

Only then do I close the door on the world that has swallowed my child like a great beast swallows a tender morsel.

And I say to myself...

A navy blue newsboy cap,
a gray fleece jacket,
dark blue baggy jeans....

Friday, December 14, 2012

Hymns for Humbuggery

I have probably mentioned this a time or two, but I am a Humbug.

Not just a regular run of the mill Humbug. I mean a big fat, dyed in the wool, born and bred, bonafide, deeply convicted and profoundly committed....Humbug. I dislike Christmas. I know, you Christmas freaks; the ones who put your decorations up before the turkey carcass has even cooled, are gasping in shock and horror. How does this happen, you wonder. How can anybody not like Christmas??

To be fair, I do like Christmas itself. It's the lead in I'm not terribly fond of.

It's a lot of pressure for a Mom. No disrespect to the Dads, but really and truly, the burden of creating Christmas magic usually rests squarely on the shoulders of we women. And there's a LOT that goes into such a feat; baking, decorating, shopping, wrapping; and all that on top of the regular responsibilities of life. Then there are the crowds; never my favorite thing, but even less so this time of year, the greed, the commercialism, it's just all gotten so out of control. I find it throughly disheartening and completely exhausting.

I think the real meaning of Christmas has been lost.

Now before you click your window closed, assuming this is another "Keep the Christ in Christmas" tirade, let me assure you, it's not.

If you're new here, aside from being a Humbug, I'm also an Atheist. Oh yes. I'm a wet blanket of many facets.

So I'm not talking about Jesus. Because whether Christians want to admit it or not, Christmas as we know and celebrate it today is a secular holiday. And frankly, those folks who holler and complain about the reason for the season are big fat hypocrites.

I know, that's a strong word. And I don't mean it unkindly really. I don't think they even realize. But they're putting up trees and wrapping gifts and perpetuating the myth of Santa Clause with all the trimmings; reindeer, elves, magic sleigh and the obiquitous naughty list, (without which, along with the ever present threat of nothing but coal in commodious stockings, those two weeks of school holiday would be simply impossible for any Mom to endure), just like the rest of us heathens.

Because they want us to remember, it's not about all that stuff! It's about the birth of a saviour! The salvation of mankind! Peace on Earth!!

So that irritates me. It comes up every freaking year and I'm just sick to death of it. But that's another post for another day.

Let me just say....Peace on Earth I can get behind.

Yes. Peace. Harmony. Fellowship. Family. That's what it's about.

Not shopping and toys and gluttony and presents and throat punching your fellow man to get the last Baby Wetsalot.

I just hate it all.

Now all that said, there are a few things that can stir my soul and kindle a tiny spark of Christmas spirit amid all the commercialism and chaos.

The sight of my tree, when it's the only source of light in the room. My kids sighing with pleasure at it. The warmth of a crackling fire and the cat playing among the discarded boxes and bows and paper. Pajamas all day, Jimmy Stewart on the t.v. and doing not exactly nothing, but not a whole lot of anything. A look that passes between my husband and me; one of shared satisfaction, of knowing that once again, we achieved the impossible and gave our kids a Christmas to remember.

And then....there are the Christmas Hymns. They invariable raise goosebumps on my arms and a lump in my throat.

I know, I know. They irony is not lost on me folks.

Many of you have taken the opportunity in years past to point out that since Christmas Hymns move me, that proves that there is a tiny morsel of spirituality that wants to blossom and grow into a real live Christian! But I don't really think so. There have been plenty of opportunities for that to happen over the years. It never has.

The fact is, I just like those songs.

It's really not about content for me. It's about the sheer beauty of the music, the emotion in a quavering note. But most of all, it's about the memories those songs evoke.

I grew up in a Christian household. We went to church faithfully and of course, we attended Christmas Eve service. Despite many of the unpleasant memories from my churchgoing past, those memories are never anything but fond. Even now, thirty years later, I can smell the pine in the church sanctuary, feel the chill of winter air as it swirled in on the coattails of parishoners and the warmth of my sisters' arms pressed against me in the pew.

Most clearly of all, I remember the sight of my parents standing at the pulpit, singing. Always arm in arm, my Mom slightly taller than my Dad in her heels, my Dad's tie typically tied too short. Their faces were uplifted, my mother's throat a pale column, my Dad's Adam's apple bobbing above his collar. My Mother's mouth was a wine painted O, my Dad's a mustachioed oval. Their harmony was flawless, their pitch perfect. There are many things I didn't know about those days, but in that moment, they sang as one. They

That is why Christmas Hymns move me. They take me back to a time that was safe and happy and free of the stress that comes with being an adult and having my own family. A time when I was unaware of anything under the surface, and knew only that our family was strong and solid and at peace. The bliss of childhood ignorance is unlike anything else.

This is one Hymn that never fails to give me goosebumps. They sang it a time or two along with many others. But this one sticks with me for some reason. It's one of the most beautiful, I think. I hope you enjoy it.

Whatever you believe and whomever you choose to place your faith in, we're all in this together. Peace to you and yours this Holiday Season.