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Saturday: Merry Damn Christmas, MYIQ2XU!

Hey, you fricking Scrooge (;-)), let me tell you a thing or two.  SOME of us grew up with Jehovah’s Witnesses as parents.  We never had a Christmas Tree, presents, weren’t allowed to sing Christmas Carols and were sent to the *library* back in the day when schools used to have Christmas parties in class.  Then, when we got back from break, we had to listen to all the kids at the lunch table tell us what they got.  If that weren’t bad enough, Christmas was the only time we went to see our cousins and grandaparents, who were *normal* people with all of the trimmings.  My cousins would frolic with their toys and presents while my sister and I would sit miserably in the corner like a couple of the Cratchitt kids.  We weren’t allowed to participate.  But we were forced to watch.

Then I grew up and decided the hell with the damn JWs and their irrational fear of pagan solstice rituals .  I would celebrate.  That’s when people started to tell me that “Christmas is for children”.  Well, thanks a lot, all you grown ups who had your fun and were now over it.  Every year, I go out of my way to spoil my kids and I have learned to never expect anyone to know what I want for Christmas because I never get it. Lots of money out because as an adult, it is expected of me.  The giving is fun and satisfying but it will never take the place of all those Christmases I missed.  Even if my parents had splurged a little bit on one fricking present or put up even a cheap aluminum tree, it would have been better than nothing.

No, no, I’m not bitter.  I am PO’d to the max.  I have people on this blog who are actually complaining that once again they are forced to endure carols and decorations and demands on their time.   Shove it, guys. I apologize to all of the Jewish readers, Muslim readers, Kwanzaa readers, Wiccan readers in advance.  You may have to endure the season and you have good reason to resent all of the forced merriment and consumerism.  But for the rest of you lucky people who were at least able to participate in what might have been even a modest way, Zip it, Zip it good.

And now, a Christmas Carol:

For those of you who want to prevent another holiday casualty like myself, consider giving to the Salvation Army.  The Salvation Army comes to my workplace every year and puts up gift tags for children whose parents can’t afford or are too incapacitated to give them presents.  I take one every year and think of spreading that little bit of joy as preventative medicine.

Now, be good.  I’ll be watching.

117 Responses

  1. Geeezz…where do you guys find these creepy Christmas Carols? What ever happened to Santa Claus is coming to Town???


  2. This one’s my personal favorite:

  3. I am probably the only one here who will be celebrating Christmas exactly the way RD’s Irish ancestors (I think she said she has Irish ancestors) celebrated it.

  4. — just a snarky rendition of all our moaning.

  5. SOD: I’m serious. If you have gripes about Christmas, take them somewhere else. Try to focus on what you can do to make some kid happy on Christmas morning, even if you don’t know that kid personally.

  6. If we must have a song, my vote is for Jose Feliciano’s Feliz Navidad.

  7. Btw, RD, it’s a pity you weren’t able to answer my call on the show Thursday. I had meant to apologize for the absolutely deplorable way my sense of humor manifested itself here this week.

  8. johninca: Funny, you picked the *one* Christmas carol that I don’t really care for. It’s too repetitive.

  9. Not at all RD — I’m hoping Christmas brings some joy back into what has been a horrific year. I’m looking forward to my 3 small nieces visiting. Children’s laughter and the sound of ripping paper, not to mention my husband looking very silly in his Santa costume…

  10. Why on Earth aren’t you celebrating the Winter Solstice on the 20th-21st. ? The dark night of the soul and all that? I wrote about it on RL somewhere – let me know if you want me to find it. The day the sun is reborn to save the earth again. It is something worthwhile to teach the children, about the seasons. And they can dress up as the planets and moons and orbit around someone with a flashlight. They can carry a globe so they see how the tilt works. Same thing in reverse on the summer solstice.

    Anyway I came here to tell you something.

    I am stunned — Did you all know a WOMAN wrote the Bill of Rights in our constitution?

    I just saw it on Book TV on C-span2. I am stunned. You can see the program on Sunday – they are going to run it again.


    Saturday at 1:15 PM, and Sunday at 6:00 AM
    The Muse of the Revolution: The Secret Pen of Mercy Otis Warren and the Founding of a Nation
    Author: Nancy Rubin Stuart

  11. Here is my comments on why we could all unite in WS celebrations:


    I wrote about it in Comments 15 through 18

  12. RD, the Salvation Army program you referred to is called an Angel Tree. I had never heard about it before this year, but I guess it’s been around for at least 10 years. Corporations, shopping malls, churches–various entities–can sponsor a tree. Individuals select a coded tag from the tree for a specific child (my selection turned out to be a 9-year old girl), and the tag specifies clothing sizes plus toy suggestions. The spending limit is supposed to be $35. You then take the gift(s) back to the sponsor (unwrapped, but in a gift box) and the sponsor makes sure it gets to the SA for wrapping and distribution. Best thing I’ve ever done for Christmas. Glad you brought this up for others to know about.

  13. Green: I love the whole idea of Winter Solstice. It sounds like fun. If you have a link, let me know and I’ll put it up.

    As for the Bill of Rights, quelle surprise! Did you know that the first known author in the history of civilization was a woman? Yep, her name was Enheduanna. She was a Akkadian princess, high-priestess of Innana.

    I’m guessing *you* already know this. 😉

  14. grayslady: Yup, been doing it for 5 years now. I always pick a kid who fits Brook’s description and buy her whatever she wants. Sometimes I go over the spending limit. It’s always nice to get a surprise. It makes you feel all tingly inside knowing the kid will get what she wants.

  15. Here you go RD — may Michael Buble’ warm the cockles of your heart with this Christmas tradition:

  16. ” SOME of us grew up with Jehovah’s Witnesses as parents.”
    Fortunately you never needed blood transfusions during those years; so you can enjoy Christmas with your children. I know a few who weren’t so lucky.

  17. RD I am so fucking sorry you had to grow up so austerely , NOT FAIR hugs to you

    I love Winter Solstice ,Christmas , Yule , Hanukkah , Kwanzaa , and any other Festival of Light in all of their forms . My philosophy goes like this , what ever you have to celebrate , lets get it out there and celebrate it and let me help you 🙂 Life is harsh enough , let us celebrate what we can when we can . I fail to see why helping someone celebrate their stuff in any way reflects poorly on someone elses celebration of…anything .

    I do understand that some people have terrible memories at this time of year as well , from actual trauma or abuse , and for those folks ; I hope they heal well enough to be able to celebrate . I hope my celebration doesn’t add to their sorrow , and I hope that knowing of their pain deepens my celebration with compassion.

  18. On Thursday my eleven year old son and I are going to the Salvation Army headquarters here in Baltimore and sorting and giving out all the gifts that people have donated. I am really looking forward to it, because it sounds like fun and it will be a good way to show my son that everything is not about him 😉 Christmas is one of my favorite times of year and I enjoy every minute of it.

  19. SHV: Well, actually, I wasn’t vaccinated for rubella because of the same concerns. I’m not sure where the blood comes in during the production of the rubella shot but my mom was adamant. So I didn’t get the shot.
    I caught rubella in 8th grade and was sick as a dog for two weeks. Missed a lot of school. My mom probably didn’t give it a second thought that she was potentially putting her pregnant friends at risk. Me and my two siblings were walking, talking vectors.
    About 20 years ago, she needed a hysterectomy for uncontrolled bleeding. Her doctor told her she needed a transfusion. She refused. My brother had just turned 18 and my dad wasn’t available (it was an emergency), so he signed the paperwork to override her refusal. Incredible that we had to go to such lengths.
    She invites us to her house at Christmas time but I always refuse unless she agrees to put up a tree. She never does. So we stay in NJ and she is forced to come to us.

  20. Back in my Noam Chomsky days (about two years), I hated all things Christmas, the commercialism and so forth. But Christmas was pretty much the only time of year that my family was together. Even though I may not like all the commercial aspects of christmas, its worth it to be together with the people I care about most.

    Ok, I do hate the christmas songs playing non-stop since black friday. All of ’em except Mariah Carey. Her songs are so associated with middle school crushes its hard NOT to like them.

  21. RD, did you say you’re of Irish ancestry? Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but from these incredible family stories I think you’d have made great Italians.

  22. Not quite sure what happened, so I’ll just tiptoe on outta here.

  23. Speaking of vaccines and not wanting to give them to your kids, there is a growing and dangerous anti-vaccine movement. Parents unable to find answers are blaming vaccines on the increased levels of autism we are seeing even though there is no real evidence for that. Some are trying to keep their children from getting vaccinated. As good as RFK Jr is, he’s been part of the problem.

  24. johninca: I’m mostly Irish. No Italian at all. My mom was the JW. She was originally a Lutheran. My dad was Roman Catholic. He was never JW but he went along with her because it was just easier and he was at sea most of the time anyway. So, we were subjected to her Armageddon fantasies, her crazy fear of demons lurking in everyday objects, and the absolute hatred of Christmas. No, my mother doesn’t just not celebrate Christmas for religious reasons. She is the original Grinch. If she could steal your Christmas tree and your roast beast, she would. It’s almost pathological. The whole world could be celebrating and all the houses look like the Nutcracker were visiting them personally and my mother would be gritting her teeth, clapping her hands over her ears and thinking about how she could keep Christmas from coming.
    She is forced to give presents because everyone expects her to but never wraps them. And everyone knows how much she doesn’t like it because she never lets them forget how gaudy everything seems to her.
    In all the time I’ve known her, that heart of hers has always remained 3 sizes too small when it comes to Christmas. The Grinch looks like a softy in comparison.

  25. well ok then…

  26. SOD: Yeah, now do you get the picture? When it comes to Christmas, the milk of human kindness touches her not a whit. She is completely insensitive to the feelings of others. Why should it bother her kids if it didn’t bother her? I lived with the ultimate Scrooge. I won’t put up with it here.

  27. I caught rubella in 8th grade and was sick as a dog for two weeks. Missed a lot of school. My mom probably didn’t give it a second thought that she was potentially putting her pregnant friends at risk. Me and my two siblings were walking, talking vectors.
    About 20 years ago, she needed a hysterectomy for uncontrolled bleeding. Her doctor told her she needed a transfusion. She refused. My brother had just turned 18 and my dad wasn’t available (it was an emergency), so he signed the paperwork to override her refusal. Incredible that we had to go to such lengths.
    I am old enough to have seen Rubella babies..not a pretty sight….

    Overrulling an adults wishes about having a blood transfusion wouldn’t “fly” in the legal climate today. As far as I am concerned, a mentally competent adult can choose to bleed to death…But a religion that would sacrfice a child, ie. JW or Christian Science for religious doctrine, is beyond contempt.

  28. My father was Jewish and my mother was Italian . Between both families , it is a wonder I did not grow up thinking the holidays were a month long cooking contest, and bake off .

    I do look for great new music from indies for this time of year , there is so much out there that never gets heard , from the Snow Shovel Blues by Kurt Lewis Neufer to Christmas In My Hometown By Dan May , so if anyone knows any indie musicians who have new ( good ) holiday music I am always looking for some 🙂

  29. That’s it; I’ve had enough. I’m speaking to the authorities about making RD an honorary Italian. For everything she has gone through, we could skip the initiation and go right to family feuds, uncles and aunts she didn’t know she had, pasta, merry holiday get togethers and more family love than she has ever known.

    This offer isn’t made every day, RD. You could be one of us.


  30. Whew! I was really worried the ice storm got you! But NO!



    You are among Christmas LOVERS in here! My mom? Oh Christmas was HUGE in our family. HUGE. I love it. It has gotten a lot less commercial for me — the older I’ve gotten, but, I LOVE IT!

    You go, RD! Geez at the rate this whole country is tanking give THANKS we’ve still got Christmas, ahem.

    I might even get TINSEL this year, because of RD. I hadn’t thought about it in ages. But, when she started working on that basement of hers — it got me in redecorate mode myself.

    RD! I’m so glad you survived the ice. The pix in LAT are just?

    hugs, hugely! Be safe in all those trees.

    My mom always had tinsel and those Charlie Brown trees…

    Nothing like a Christmas Tree, and giving is the true spirit of Christmas — it sort of lights up your whole…..self.
    The biggest lesson my mom ever taught me was that there were people needier than I in this world — like other kids.

    ps: I saw a Santa yesterday — everytime I see one, I smile.
    they are REAL! hahahahaha!

  31. Going out for a Christmas tree. Must be 8ft tall and smell really good. Nothing artificial. I will pay a lot of money for it. Then, I will decorate it and \check to make sure my mom’s skin doesn’t smoke when I wickedly force her to hang an ornament on the tree.

    Such fun!

  32. I love Christmas. I love winter. I love snow. Like all things there are things about them that are not perfect. But how sad not to have the wonderful memories of Christmas that most of us have.

    I always wonder how people can think that the Jesus they worship as all loving and kind would want to make anyone, let alone children miserable.

    Every night the big “Happy Holidays” decoration across the front of my house goes on automatically at dusk. Inside the Christmas tree and lights in the windows are also connected to a timer and they suddenly switch on.

    I love snowflakes so I have a string of Christmas lights that looks like snowflakes strung across the top of my cupboards in the kitchen.

    I have Christmas candle holders and candles everywhere and two Christmas night lights in the bathroom.

    Like I said, I love Christmas. I wish there was someway I could share all the wonderful years of Christmas memories I have with you RD. I am so sorry you were deprived of having memories of your own. I am so sorry.

  33. johninca: I may take you up on that offer as I understand from my Italian friends that lasagna is prominently featured at Christmas dinner.

  34. You could get one with roots and plant it !!! I have an entire green wall on the east side of my home of leyland cypress that were once yule trees 😉

  35. I grew up with “father Frost” and the “Winter tree”. I came to NYC to a party that had a tree decorated with dreidels, and continued the “winter tree for my kids, until I found about the winter solstice…From a priest in St Marks church who explained how all the winter holidays emerged out of it, before a Japanese sakuhachi players group started playing at the exact time of the event (Japanese tradition that St Marks hosts every year). Great things started happening to me that very day and ever since, so I stuck with the solstice, while enjoying all celebrations (of people, not retailers).
    But your headline is begging for the South park song – which I also enjoyed

  36. “As good as RFK Jr is, he’s been part of the problem.”
    His behaviour on the vaccine issue is despicable and for that I think he is a piece of crap. Autism is a tragedy for the fchild and the family and for him and others to pander to the anti-vaccine pseudo science quacks is beyond my contempt. IMO, vaccine causing autism would be the best possible explanation..a single correctable cause…unfortunately it isn’t true.

  37. I can second the Italian motion, my grandmother was Abruzzi and my grandfather was Venetzia/ Trieste .. and we always had lots Italian food at Christmas along with everything else .
    I am a very advanced Italian ; I have an electric pizzelle maker instead of the old fashioned iron one like my grandmother had 😉 LOL

  38. Your mom was JW, mine was poor (welfare) and mentally ill.

    The end result is the same. Christmas was for everyone else.

    I guess for me, it still is for everyone else, because I dislike Christmas intensely., it is too gawdy, too commercial. Maybe it’s because I don’t have kids of my own.

    The gift trees where you know the gift is going to a specific person are probably fine. I don’t donate to charities that ask for “unwrapped gifts”. I figure many of the good gifts are skimmed off the top by some of the charity workers (I’ve seen this happen), leaving the shit for the needy recipients. If I give, I adopt a family and give directly. Call me scrooge.

    Anyway. We all react differently to our rotten childhood Christmases, I guess.

  39. Didn’t Salvation Army get some pretty severe flack a few years ago for being anti-gay?

  40. Oh man, RD, but I LOVE my cheap aluminum Xmas tree. (Snagged it on eBay.) However, I’ve told my daughter we can go get a real one if she and the kids want. We’ll see what they decide when they show up next Saturday.

  41. Every Christmas ( even tho my dad was Jewish ) we put together a large box and basket of food , a complete dinner plus clothing and toys and drove to some person only my dad knew and delivered it at night anonymously , on a date very close to Christmas and sometimes Christmas Eve .When I was very little and asked why we did not deliver it in person so we could see the happiness on their faces, he said NO that would be embarassing to them , and that was that!

    My dad was a mensch , and I miss him every christmas since he has been gone, but I kind of get him back when I give something anonymously to someone who otherwise would not have it this season.
    I am glad you are making your own traditions RD

  42. Goodafternoon everyone. I found this political cartoon about the Blago affair that is pretty humorous.


  43. oh and just FYI , that was the same guy , my dad, that the nuns in catholic school told me was going to hell because he was not “baptised” .
    Cruelty comes in many forms . I am grateful to BE pagan 🙂 and make my own traditions 😉

  44. go to Rhapsody.com and play “In the Bleak Midwinter” by Judy Collins with Tyne Daley. It is a wonderful rendition of one of my favorites.
    I think you can also listen to it here:

    Then there is a song called John Denver Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913 .

    I think you can also hear that at Rhapsody.com.

    Then there are all the classics. My personal favorite is still O Holy Night, no matter how many bad covers there are of it by country and R&B singers. If you want to hear it sung right get the Pavarotti version.

  45. HEY Afrocity . loved you under the bus the other night 🙂

  46. T, I think the reason that the SA asks that the gifts be unwrapped is to make sure that price tags have been removed, that no one is boxing up old clothing or toys, etc. I, too, liked the idea of giving gifts to a specific child rather than something like Toys for Tots, where the gift is so impersonal.

    My best friend and I chipped in together for the Angel Tree gift. We decided that we’d rather have an ordinary, inexpensive Christmas meal than to see a nine-year old child be without at Christmas. We both believe that Christmas has become highly commercialized but would prefer not to take out our feelings on a needy child.

    I like to think that, Christmas or not, this little girl will appreciate some pretty new clothes to wear (our gift). If the SA had a program for birthdays, I’d do that, instead, just to avoid over-commercializing what is basically a religious holiday.

  47. Merry Christmas Riverdaughter. And thank you for all you have done all year. Especially for taking in all of those of us who came late to the site.

    I just got a card from my favorite aunt, 88 years old, and taking care of my uncle who’s had a stroke. All the parents in my family are at that age now. My mother is in Alzheimer’s assisted living. Yet my aunt has never missed a birthday card or a Christmas card to me. She was my “other mother’ when my mother was mentally ill. God bless her, and god bless all of you.

    I myself love Christmas Carols and lights. I just got a new Harry Connick Christmas album. And as soon as I finish writing this damn brief this afternoon, I am going out to drive around and look at the lights. And then clean house so I can get the tree up.

    Merry Christmas to all!

  48. Badtothebone, I have an electropop version of O Holy Night by an old group called Intuition that is amazing !!! Just amazing …

  49. when I was a kid my grandparents would come on Christmas and my grandmother would always play the piano for hours while we sang carols in four parts. That would be on Christmas Eve and I remember that my oldest sister always got to sing this beautiful descant to Silent Night because she was the only one with a High Lyric soprano while the rest of us were Mezzos and Contraltos (not that I mind that anymore…but I used to). We would be in our Christmas jammies, the new ones the Grands always brought us that were were allowed to open the night before Christmas.
    In the morning my oldest brother would make us all wait upstairs while he went down to see if Santa got there yet. Then we would go downstairs and we could have our Santa presents because they were unwrapped and sitting by our stockings which had candy and little gifts in them.
    My parents and grandparents would make us wait for hours while they had what seemed like a ten course breakfast and 25 gazillion cups of coffee. I suppose it was to make the day last longer.
    There were always eggs and sticky buns and bacon etc…

    Then sometime in the late morning we would go out, X-country skiiing or skating or snowshoeing. Then dinner …turkey or Roast Beast.

    RD, I am so sorry that you had miserable times as a kid. But just think what a wonderful thing you have done for the kids and future generations. The traditions you have set will carry on in the future and they will always have those memories.

  50. Christmas was always difficult for me as a single mom. This was compounded by my son having his birthday in December.
    However I always managed to get him ONE present, a stocking, and a big tree.
    Occasionally (not often) he would get another present from a charity of some sorts. We liked that-they were always better than what I could afford.

    I remember one Easter when I literally could not afford to buy him a chocolate Easter Egg-I was so ashamed, but we got by.

    The past ten years have been much better as I have regular work. The tree has gotten smaller as the present has become more substantial. We feel quite rich-well at least I do.

  51. I’m with swanspirit on this one – just celebrate everything. Its no coincidence that so many cultures developed celebrations for this time of the year – most of which have some relationship to lights and stars and yes – real Hope. Not the fake kind O rambles on about. Its just a wonderful time to celebrate and share all the various traditions enjoy the wonders of nature.

    RD – do not let anyone tell you Christmas (or any other holiday) is just for kids. You are never too old.

    Side note – we always helped out the Salvation Army as part of our religion classes (Catholic School). They cover all the major holidays – and all the days in between. Although their bell ringers are the icon most recognize – they provide services all year long. One of the only reasons I bother to visit the mall – that’s where there is usually an Angel Tree.

  52. Swanspirit, I would love to hear that version. I bet it’s a rare treat.
    BTW, your father was a mensch, I agree. I wish more of us would take the time and do such things for other people. This would be a great Christmas to start.

  53. swanspirit- My dad was a Jewish immigrant and my mom was an agnostic German ex-Lutheran. My dad was the one that most actively celebrated Christmas with his newly minted Americanism- he wanted to fit right in, so he was in charge of the lights, tree, and sometimes the wrapping of presents, which used to annoy us to no end, as he delighted in placing tiny toys in big boxes to make it impossible to guess the contents. He would get this impish grin at Christmas. We had no idea what the holiday was for, but it was fun.

  54. We just got back from buying this year’s Christmas tree and was delighted to see this thread – Oh, RD, yes you must join us and become Italian – we do have grand Christmases.
    Both my sons are great bakers and cooks – I’m sure because of the holidays – they learned how to make wonderful Italian cookies and pastries as they baked with me as they were growing up and just loved the food so much that they both paid attention so they could continue when they left home.

    Afrocity – loved the cartoon – it does seem like things are starting to creep out doesn’t it?
    The Electoral College passes on this president on Monday – is there no way of stopping it????? 👿

  55. BTW – unfortunately almost every county in this country has a battered women’s center that is usually full of kids and women at this time of year. For the last 15 years a group of us adopted the one in our county and support it as much as possible throughout the year but particularly at the holiday time. We believe that no kid should be without a present to open at Christmas/Chunukka (sorry RD)
    So contact your local social services office and see what you can do to put a smile on some kids face and reach out to your sisters who are hurting right now.

  56. You guys are making me all misty .. Merry fricken Christmas and Happy darn Yule to all of you ….

    badtothebone I dont think it is anywhere on the net anymore the group doesn’t exist anymore , but I will play it on my show tomorrow
    http://www.cygnusradio.com Noon to 3 PM EST Neighborhood Radio

  57. Riverdaughter: Very quietly tell us one thing you would really love for Christmas. Nothing political. A real present. We are listening. I mean it. We need to know. If you want whisper to Santa’s ear he can be reached via the elves at HLFblogger at gmail dot com

    Now for my own rant:

    I do not celebrate Christmas but that’s no reason you should not. See we live in this pluralistic democracy where you get to celebrate Christmas if you want to, I do not because it is not part of any tradition I relate to (I do though miss my late mother – mine was not an observant family but culturally/ethnically Jewish, and her potato latkes were light and wonderful. I have her menorah, which I lit as a kid…I’m going to take it out); myiqx2 does not because he does not want too.

    And nobody has to celebrate any particular holiday any particular way, not with house parties for the President-elect or anybody else.

  58. Heidi Li– she wants love.

  59. I owe you an apology Riverdaughter. Some time ago you wrote a post which, as someone from a JW family, I thought ill-informed. Obviously it wasn’t, even if I didn’t agree with your conclusion. I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions.

    In my family our “Christmas” was wedding anniversaries, where we would get together as a family, eat too much and give one another gifts. For non-Witness relatives we would give them wrapped presents far in advance of Christmas or birthdays and it was up to them when they decided to open gifts. Now that some of the family have made the same decision you did, we do get together at Christmas for the sake of the children. Grinch or not I do love the spirit of Christmas – as a nurse I was often rostered on Christmas day, and it is a lovely time to be working, everyone has the spirit of giving and loving!

  60. I love Christmas, always have, but it got so much better when I had kids of my own to delight.

    But it’s strange down here in Oz because it is hot at Christmas – I miss the cold ones and have to work a little extra to get into the spirit.

    P.S. At what age do I finally tell the kids there isn’t a Santa?

  61. Rd: Well, I love Christmas. I love what it means: the birth of Christ. I love the thought and the reality of the Incarnation..I love the fact that no matter how brutal this world becomes at the heart of matter and the created world is the truth of Love for all that is and that, like it or not, that Love will rule and exist forever…
    Your suggestion to transmit an example of that Love is lovely in itself, appropriate, and accurate….Thank you.

  62. Geez…we can’t have our curmudgeon knock Christmas. Sorreee!!

    The Momster and I don’t “celebrate” Christmas in any big way. No kids around. Just me and her. A number of years ago, my first gay lover had the temerity to put a pistol to his chest and pull the trigger the day before Christmas Eve and off himself. (that was definitely a bummer since I had worked my last couple of days at an agency that was closing down). It was especially a bummer when I found out he had something to his friends about us getting back together and him leaving his wife (the boy was confused).
    At our last lunch together he said he wanted to talk about something after the Holidays. I told him didn’t know if that was a good idea or not. Water under the bridge, etc. Meanwhile inside I was dying and could not wait for that “talk” as I was hoping it would be something I’d want to hear.

    As in years past I donated to the “Angle Tree” thing and also chipped in extra $$$s at the grocery to buy a bag of groceries for families in need.

    RD I’m happy that you have the money to do the Holidays the way you wish to. It seems that quite a few will not be able to do so. That being said, please allow us who do not make a big deal out of it anymore to have a bit of fun with our curmudgeonly ways. 😉

  63. scrubs- i think they figure it out on their own. I only mildly encouraged the tradition, but my son firmly believed in Santa until he was 8 or 9, and then peer pressure got the best of him. I never informed him of Santa’s non-existance. My son was so funny- we had a wood stove and he thought that Santa came down through the stove pipe and for years didn’t believe he would appear in a fireplace, only a woodstove, because that was all he knew! Children rationalize a lot of stuff if they really want to believe. It is adorable.

  64. Hey Fredster! Long time no chat with on the zombie shift!

    Thanks lililam – mine turn 11 in a month and they have been getting lots of pressure at school.

  65. To intimate that those who are not “overcome” with the holidays. but still make the effort nonetheless to just “shove it”, is going a little overboard in criticism in my humble opinion. There are also some of us who may have suffered similar fates in our younger days, whose back stories may not be all that uplifting, but who still attempt to make the best of it on behalf of others.

    Over generalizations have been criticized on this blog for other posts and it may well serve to keep in mind that there are many out there who do not enjoy the advantages of overspending or approach the “season of giving” without unwanted memories surfacing to remind us of those pitiful years.

    Being told to “shove it” ranks up there with “just get over it” and those words can bring a lot of unintended hurt to others
    without realizing it. People celebrate or not in their own way and their reasons must be taken into account before they are advised that they are deficient in that regard.

  66. Thanks swan spirit. I am holiday cleaning. I have to clean when I am in the mood, otherwise it won’t get done. I got the tree up, it is white 7ft. It is a tradition in our family to have an silver aluminum tree but I caved and bought a white Martha Stewart one. The aluminum tree is from the 50’s and I thought needed a rest this year.

  67. Is this an open thread? If not, I apologize but I just noticed Obama picked another person from the Clinton admin for Housing. This is hilarious.

    And, “it’s beginning to look a lot like” FITZMAS!

    (Sorry, couldn’t resist.)

  68. Thanks Pat .

  69. Pat Johnson:
    Holidays have complicated personal meanings for people, don’t they? I struggle with Thanksgiving, which I love, but which “belonged” to my beloved mother. Since her death I have had to find ways to celebrate it that work for me; and most of my family does not get that. They say things like, “Everybody has to get over losses” when what they really mean is “Do what WE want, don’t get over loss in your own way.”

    What can we do to make your December season jollier?

    Heidi Li

  70. Pat Johnson, can you drop me an email: HLFblogger at gmail dot com?

  71. Heidi: This isn’t all about me. I do my bit every year, tree, decorations, gifts, cards, parties, the whole nine yards. I began traditions for my own children which they in turn passed have passed on as well. But sadness often intrudes for a variety of reasons and often we find ourselves going through the motions on behalf of others. That being said, to be told to “shove it” because there are times when we are not always in the moment is rather insulting.

    My point being only that we cannot and should not make people feel different because they have not reached a particular height of celebration. Life more often than not gets in the way.

  72. I hear you, Pat J

  73. Bah Humbug!

  74. I probably should have taken the advice and just “zipped it”.

  75. Pat J: I for one am always interested in what you have to say.

  76. P.S. At what age do I finally tell the kids there isn’t a Santa?

    From Gremlins:

    Kate: Now I have another reason to hate Christmas.

    Billy Peltzer: What are you talking about?

    Kate: The worst thing that ever happened to me was on Christmas. Oh, God. It was so horrible. It was Christmas Eve. I was 9 years old. Me and Mom were decorating the tree, waiting for Dad to come home from work. A couple hours went by. Dad wasn’t home. So Mom called the office. No answer. Christmas Day came and went, and still nothing. So the police began a search. Four or five days went by. Neither one of us could eat or sleep. Everything was falling apart. It was snowing outside. The house was freezing, so I went to try to light up the fire. That’s when I noticed the smell. The firemen came and broke through the chimney top. And me and Mom were expecting them to pull out a dead cat or a bird. And instead they pulled out my father. He was dressed in a Santa Claus suit. He’d been climbing down the chimney… his arms loaded with presents. He was gonna surprise us. He slipped and broke his neck. He died instantly. And that’s how I found out there was no Santa Claus.

  77. Rd is out getting her tree and it’s like anarchy on the Confluence or like school when the teacher steps out of the room.

    Can I do a poetry open thread?

  78. NJ Community Food Bank has been getting my Christmas donations these past two years, as well as “in honor of” donations instead of birthday gifts for people who have everything. They are really hard up right now. You can donate online, too.

    The Community Food Bank has affiliates in every state.

  79. LOL, great rant, riverdaughter! You tell ’em.

    From one child deprived of Christmas to another, I’m making up for lost time myself. The right wing likes to talk about the war on Christmas, well they have n-o-o- idea, LOL.

    Christmas is my revenge. I promise Bill O’Reilly could come over to my house and in about 40 minutes he’d start complaining about all the lights and music and glitter. Ha! I dare him to even try to sleep within 3 blocks of my house. I bet he’d run right back to his studio and apologize for ever claiming their was a war on Christmas. I already won it.

    I saw a woman on TV that simply does Christmas year round. She also has ten cats. I love to terrify my grown children with stories like this…

  80. Someone set Sarah Palin’s Church on fire.

  81. Johninca:

    Go for it!

  82. johhinca: knock yourself out!

    Rd is out getting her tree and it’s like anarchy on the Confluence or like school when the teacher steps out of the room.
    and not sub teacher either!

    Scrubs: eh, sometimes the late night is active and times not.
    Was around for a bit late last night but it was kinda quiet.
    I have trouble getting in here around “normal” hours because of the momster and don’t get her put to bed till around 11:00 or so my time-CST. By then, most have called it a day here.

  83. Okay…someone had to do it and I might as well before RD gets back:

  84. Damn, myiq – that wasn’t much of an answer. And, being a single mom, the kids won’t have to find their dad in the chimney dead.

  85. I’m not participating in the anarchy, guys. I refuse to let past pains ruin my happy time of year.

    Fredster – what allows you to be around today? Where is mom?

  86. when we moved from Phila to Secane it was the beginning of December.The lady who sold us the house had left an artificial tree. It was wooden dowls and easter grass. My husband was going to put it up.
    I had a fit. We did not have a car and no one in the house drove.My son had broken his leg and was on crutches. My two daughters and a neigbors kid went to the nearest firehouse and bought a tree. First of all very few people walked anywhere in the area. Here we are coming up the street carrying a christmas tree with tiny tim on crutches bringing up the rear.
    You should have seen the looks on the peoples faces as they drove by.
    I have taken names from the angel tree and had a ball getting things for the kids.
    Now I get to call Santa’s helpers to drive the Christmas train where they collect toys for kids.
    I am soory about your childhood Christmas memories but hopefully each year you get to try and replace them with good memories.
    Jennifer Aniston is making a new movie called PUMA about empowering women

    I hope the spam that hates me does not strike



  87. She’s watching the tube Scrubs. Hannibal is on AMC.


  88. I love Christmas even though I never got the Barbie that I wanted. My mom could only afford the knock-off but I was six and I KNEW the difference. It sucked but I learned from the experience.
    A few years ago, I bought my own Barbie on ebay. I love it.
    RD’s just telling us what she wants for Christmas. I, for one, am so happy to find a refuge from Obamaland that I will keep my complaints about the itty-bitty irritations of Christmas to myself.
    This year, I’m asking Santa to make Obama realize that he really wants to be a law lecturer in Chicago.

  89. If you don’t like Christmas, fine. I don’t like cats, but I have yet to post one of those cats in the microwave things.

  90. I’d like to add my own vote of support to the SA and all of their programs. The SA is one of the most efficiently run charitable organizations in the world… the Toys for Tots program, for instance, has a standing 100% of cash and toy donations go straight to helping children. It’s one of very FEW organization in the world with a 100% cash turnaround to the people being helped without taking out overhead costs. The Marine Corps manpower is what makes the difference on that one… they do the transportation and logistics and other expensive handling, the SA adds their great organizational skills into the mix.

    I give a 10% of my salary donation to the SA all year round through the United Way program at work, and set aside a couple of hundred dollars cash every Christmas season to throw into the buckets and buy toys for their children’s programs, both Toys for Tots and Angel Tree. 🙂

    It’s very fulfilling knowing that any money given to the SA is going for a good cause.

  91. My cousins would frolic with their toys and presents while my sister and I would sit miserably in the corner like a couple of the Cratchitt kids. We weren’t allowed to participate. But we were forced to watch.

    How awful! MERRY MERRY CHRISTMAS RD!!! I wish I could spoil you–you’ve given us so much. I personally enjoy Christmas. Love of family and friends, and I do not see the present-buying as consumerism. For me, it’s a very creative form of treasure hunting, trying to find just the right gift and/or little gifts for each person I care about. My brother grumbles and barks about the consumerism and pressure blah blah blah. I focus on the love.

  92. I am so sorry for your childhood situation, Riverdaughter! One of my friends was JW in high school, so I always gave her a Christmas present. She could not give me anything at Christmas, but would give me something for no reason some other time of the year. At least her parents did surprise her and her sisters with big gifts, usually in August.

    Always buy yourself a Christmas present. Do it for Santa.


  93. Linda, I assure you that I know all about Jehovah’s Witnesses. I attended the Kingdom Hall, involuntarily, for years. I don’t know the specifics of what *your* family did but there is nothing about the JWs that I am ill-informed about. My mother converted two of her siblings and her mother while she was at it. She was the first one to get out but her siblings are still in it. They aren’t allowed to speak to her because she is now an apostate. But as far as I’m concerned she is still one in everything but name. BTW, my cousin feels the same way I do. If your family didn’t swear off all holidays and birthdays, anniversaries and celebrations with worldly people, then they weren’t good witnesses and you know it. A good witness is in the world but not part of it. A good witness does not put his faith in government nor wastes his/her time doing things that don’t consist of making new witnesses.
    I know witnesses alright and hate everything about the Watchtower and Bible tract society. Can you believe my mom once took me to Bethel and tried to get me to consider it instead of college? I was never baptized but some of my friends were pressured by their families to do so. Some had no alternatives. Their parents would have kicked them out of the house. They quit school, did missions or married early and had a bunch of kids while they were still in their teens.
    There is no way to put lipstick on the JW pig. They have ruined many lives. Don’t believe me? Just see what happens if someone in your family tries to leave. That person becomes dead to them.

  94. I don’t want you to cry for me or hit me for saying this but I don’t like Christmas- because it reminds me of how poor we were. Many Christmases were bleak. Now, I spoil my own children and grandchildren like my mother did for me and my brothers when she finally was able to afford presents. But, like your lingering regrets, mine make me blue. What was that song, It’s going to be a blue, blue Christmas…
    It’s hard to overcome Christmas Depression and no amount of money now makes up for the past.

  95. Heidi Li: I have given up on getting presents. No one knows my taste and unless I spell it out in great detail, I don’t get it. Leaving hints never works. I told the BFF very specifically what I wanted for my birthday. Didn’t get it. And it wasn’t super expensive or something i didnt need For some reason he gets me presents that he can enjoy too. That doesn’t seem special. My mom buys stuff that is too matronly or flowery. Once she bought me the ugliest set of pajamas I’d ever seen. I was so upset I nearly cried. I know she did it on purpose because my sister and SIL got much nicer sets. I asked her for the gift receipt and returned them. Last year she gave me the most hideous set of sheets. So, I give up. I don’t want anything. I have made it my custom to buy myself *exactly* what I want for Christmas so I am never disappointed. Sometimes, I even wrap it.

  96. Riverdaughter: I don’t have near as sad a xmas tale of youth to tell as you. My parents (mom was jewish dad catholic) always went overboard with gifts. of course we never had a tree until the last minute, depending on the condition of dad on xmas eve. but he was a pleasant drunk so I never noticed much.
    my mom decided to tell me that she and my dad were splitting up one xmas eve. not the best of moments to break such news but thats the hand I got dealt. In hindsight, it wasn’t such a bad hand. Now I spoil my kids rotten on Christmas, buy my own gifts from my kids and my husband (being the one bringing in the income its all my money anyway really) and put up all different color lights on my upscale block where neighbors ONLY decorate in white lights (I am a crass invader from ny). The tree is always too big and lopsided, but I let the girls pick it out and the dog is constantly eatingi the candy canes and decorations off the tree.
    I am an aetheist and in general a pretty cranky person. But I love christmas. I love the story of christmas, the story of hope, of birth, of something greater than us. It’s a story to me but I love it.
    I love writing letters with my left hand so the kids can pretend they are from santa (they don’t believe anymore I don’t think, but the 9 year puts on a good game face).
    I love linus’s explaination of xmas to charlie brown. I love snoopy and the red baron’s temporary WWI truce.
    I love The Bishop’s Wife with David Niven, Loretta Young and Cary Grant.
    It’s sappy, sometimes phony and always commercialized….but I love it.

  97. This year I am getting myself a treadmill, I have been very very good!

  98. My husband said that Watchtower people came to our door yesterday. It’s a good thing I wasn’t here, because one thing which really incenses me is having someone with such arrogance as to try to preach to me at my door uninvited. It’s an invasion of my privacy, just like spam and junk calls.

    I am sorry for all of you who grew up in these families. Merry Christmas many times over for all of those years.
    I will think of you this year when I start feeling the bluezies,

  99. I have a number of wonderful memories of Christmases growing up. Some of the few magical times in a frequently dysfunctional family. Making paper chains to decorate the house, trimming the tree on Christmas eve, my father preparing Christmas morning brunches from the Escoffier cookbook, choosing a Master of Ceremonies to hand out presents, sipping champagne while reading the little rhymes and hints on the presents’ tags before opening them, reading the the volume of Asterix or the Dover Fairy Books I received that year, having roast beef and Yorkshire pudding for dinner with a wine from my father’s cellar. Oh yes, Episcopalians know how to live. We believe in salvation through good taste.

    Since the father of my son is Jewish and we decided to bring up our son in that tradition, we observe Hanukkah. I duly perfected my latke recipe and, with a bit of obligatory parental grumbling, we spoil our child. He seems to treasure it, along with the brisket and challah I make every Rosh Hashanah and the Passover seders with his grandparents.

  100. Christmas seems to be one of those happysad times that you enjoy at one level and are lonely at other levels, especially remembering those in absentia. In recent years, I have lost younger siblings and my mother (all within one year). I lost my father on New Year’s Eve many years ago. So I reflect a lot during these times. And I am sad because my daughter is so far away in a third-world country (but doing great work so desperately needed there). And my son has lost his job. I have a very ill brother that I take care of. Fortunately, we were lucky to have great memories — not a lot of money, but as my father always told us each Christmas that we had a lot of love — more important than the fanciest of toys.

    And I look at the little children in the larger family and so enjoy seeing their joy and smiles. It is so important, and so while we reflect on our losses and our pains — maybe this is necessary this time of year — we go on to hope (I wish that word had not been so denigrated this year) but I do mean real hope.

    Still, Riverdaughter and others who feel such great trauma about the holidays, especially for reasons of a kind of religious persecution, I wish the very best. There is simply too much dogma in the world, causing people to miss the really important stuff.

  101. plainjane: When JWs come to my door, I tell them I grew up as one and have absolutely no interest. But they keep coming back, sometimes with kid in tow. So the next time one shows up on my step with a kid, I’m going to ask what her name is. Then I’m going to bend over and say to her, “well, Jane, you don’t have to believe any of this crap. Only your mom does. And when you’re old enough, you can decide to never go to Kingdom Hall ever again. Wouldn’t that be fun? Just make sure you never get baptized and they can’t disfellowship you. The elders can’t throw you out of your own family. Not a thing they ca do about it, Janey- babe. Just wait it out.”. *wink*
    If her mother protests, I’ll to her that I’ll mind my own business if she minds hers. Then I’ll smile sweetly.
    Betcha they never come back.

  102. RD:

    Just tell ’em you’re busy with a goat sacrifice in your backyard.

    The JW’s and Mormons don’t even come down my street anymore.

  103. my tibet religious art scares the JW’s away … all I have to do is open the door … the look up … see lion faced dakini … and they just head for the street

    although on a lighter note, one of the morman kids (you know those boy children they call elders) actually recognized some of the icons

  104. Wish my “Our Lady of Evolution” had the same reaction. But, unfortunately, I don’t think they get “it.” Of course, She’s flanked by two icons, one Madonna and Child and one St. Lucy so I guess I can’t blame them.

  105. Your Christmas story makes me very sad RD. I’m just glad you were able to escape that environment. Not that I’m a believer, but not allowing children to enjoy the holidays is, IMO, cruel.

  106. riverdaughter, on December 13th, 2008 at 8:14 pm Said:
    “When JWs come to my door, I tell them I grew up as one and have absolutely no interest. But they keep coming back, sometimes with kid in tow. ”

    OMG – You reminded me of the funniest story!

    One of my older brothers used to love scaring the pants off my little sister. She would come home from elementary school for lunch everyday. For some reason my little sister liked to come in the front door. The rest of the family used the side door, so the front door was usually locked. About mid-morning my mom would unlock the door for her. But if mom forgot, my sister would stand there and knock instead of just going around to the side door.

    My brother could hear my sister open the gate and come up the front stairs. If the door was locked, he’d duck down so she wouldn’t see him through the window and sneak over to the door. Then, after she’d knocked a few times, he’d whip the door open and lunge out with a loud roar.

    One day my brother hears the gate open and the footsteps on the front walk. He hears a knock. He sneaks across the room and waits behind the door. Second knock. On the third knock he whips the door open, lunges out and roars. Well…. it wasn’t my sister at the door. It was this poor JW and her little girl. Needless to say, he scared the sh!t out of both of them.

    He said he felt so guilty about it he bought a couple of watchtowers from them.

    Story still makes me laugh.

  107. Riverdaugher, it probably won’t make you feel better to hear that there were other kids, like me who never had Christmas during the years that mattered. I tried to make it up when I grew up and kinda spoiled my kids too. But, after having done that, I no longer care about the holidays. I finally figured out that it’s time had past. There are more important things I want to do with my life than trying to relive something that will never be.

    I understand you, Riverdaughter, and I understand those who don’t care for Christmas. But most of all I’m happy that you’re making sure your children experience Christmas with all the bells and whistles. I’m happy I did that for my kids.

  108. RD, I’m truly sorry you had a “sad experience” as a child regarding Christmas. I met some JWs a few years ago and they were very nice. We went out to lunches, shopping etc. together and I enjoyed them very much. But alas, I did not convert because of Christmas. I love the tree, the glitter, the carols, etc.

    I’m a musician and this is a busy time of the year for me. I love every minute of it. I perform in retirement and nursing facilities. This is a difficult time of the year for so many who have outlived friends and family and have health challenges. A visit to a nursing home, taking children and/or dogs (if this is allowed) is a wonderful experience not only for the residents of these facilities but for those who are doing the visiting.

  109. I am a bit distressed to see you and some others posting here supporting the Salvation Army. You do know that this religious organization overtly discriminates against gay people. They refuse to hire gays and if they find someone already employed with them who is gay they fire them.

    There was also a recent story about of a high ranking official of the Salvation Army who wanted to marry a woman who wasn’t a member of the SA and he was told he would lose his position. There are many charitable organizations to support but the bigoted Salvation Army isn’t one of them

  110. My JW story:

    For 12 of my 21 years in L.A. I lived in the Silverlake Hills, in an apartment with a picture window in the living room, looking out over downtown to the south, and with a good view of my little street down below as it looped around to the west.

    For some reason the JWs always seemed to come from that direction, and since I was often sitting at my big work table in front of that window, I usually saw ’em coming.

    So I’d run to the stereo, put Sympathy for the Devil on the turntable, and crank it up LOUD. (Sometimes, just for variety, I’d use X’s Johnny Hit and Run Pauline instead.)

    If they still came to the door, the ensuing conversations were generally pretty brief, since I’d be singing along with Mick or John&Exene under my breath while they were trying to sell me The Watchtower.

    ” ‘He bought a sterilized hypo
    to shoot a sex machine drug…’
    I’m so sorry, what were you saying?”

    Here in Catholic New Mexico the JWs don’t seem nearly as common, but I still come home to find a Watchtower or other literature stuck in my front door from time to time.

    Ah, nostalgia…

  111. Hm. The guy who did Chiron Merry Christmas, above, also did “Re: Your Brains“, the Office Memo from Hell. The rhythm, setting, and tune are almost identical.
    ➡ mountainsong 12.13.08 at 2:02 am

    Well, there might be a meteorite the size of Rhode Island speeding towards us at the speed of light and we only got 4 days left, I’m still gonna stay in shape, and love everybody, dance with em all and tell em, don’t worry, it wont hurt~~~see ya on the other side. :)//
    Ever read David Pellegrino’s ‘Flying to Valhalla’? In a nutshell, it has “Rules of Alien Contact”, that Asimov helped formulate, that say many or most dominant planetary species will be predators, hence aggressive and paranoid, and will thus assume others like themselves would like to take over. The only rational response is thus to eliminate the competition, which is done by setting up automatic missile factories in solar orbit, racking rockets fueled by anti-matter. When a potential dangerous (life-bearing) planet is detected, an immense rail-gun boosts a missile or two its way, and it accelerates with the a-m fuel to about 0.92C. (At that speed, it’s 12X closer than it appears at all times.)
    Impact would punch a vacuum hole thru the atmosphere 100s of miles wide, and crack up enough of the crust to eliminate all advanced life forms.
    So … at some point we’ll maybe detect incoming about a light-year out by its gamma-ray halo caused by interstellar gas impacts with the missile. It’s really a month away by then. By the time it’s apparently a light-hour away, there are 5 minutes to impact. When it seems to be 5 minutes away, there’s plenty of time to bend over and kiss your bippy good-bye. 😉

    Of course, the only defense is to keep VERY quiet, and start right away to build our automated solar orbiting factories …

  112. Obots vs. Palin? $1M arson damage to her home town church. Lovely. 😡

  113. Katherine B: I think we can all agree that discrimination against gay people is unacceptable. However, they do a lot of good work for poor children. If you don’t like the SA, however, there are other worthy causes. Like food banks and Hurricane Katrina projects.

  114. R2D2: I think your experience is my point. It’s not just for kids. It’s for everyone. We tend to expect that the people who missed out as children will just grow up and forget that they were never treated like they were special and deserved to have people spend time picking out the present that is just right for them. Well, I *do* expect it. And I don’t want anyone griping about how much of a pain in the ass it is. We all deserve it. If you don’t get it from anyone else, do it yourself. Wrap up the thing you want, even if you have to cut back on your niece’s second cousin twice removed’s present and make a big deal out of it when you open it. Say, “Oooo, it’s for me! I wonder who it’s from? ” Shake the box. Open it slowly. Enjoy every moment.

  115. Your story of Christmases past is very sad and profound RD-
    it is fortunate we can make new Christmas memories now,
    and in years to come. I celebrate the feeling of Peace and Goodwill-
    and the glitter and lights- and the singing…………and I buy myself
    a great present too!

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