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I do so celebrate Christmas

According to my computer it is December 26 already and therefore I guess it is safe to talk about why I STILL insist on not wishing strangers Marry Christmas in the U.S. unless I am absolutely certain that they celebrate Christmas: Because Christmas in the U.S. remains a religious holiday.

One’d thought that Christians in this country would be happy and proud that their holiday, the holiday celebrating the birth of the person of whom their religion is the namesake has not gone completely secular despite all the gross commercialization that’s going on.

Although I personally have no problem when strangers wish me a Merry Christmas (and I will wish them the same too), I do not care to assume that everyone I meet in the U.S. is Christian. Of course I know that the “wishing you a Merry Christmas” comes from good will, and it is much appreciated. Nevertheless, the “assumptions” implied in the greeting bother me especially since people simply take it for granted and don’t even realize that they are making assumptions.

[Digression] The irony is? If I were in Taiwan, I would have had no problem wishing anybody Merry Christmas because over there Christmas means Santa Claus, Reindeer, Snowman, Christmas trees, poinsettias, Christmas lights, catchy Christmas music, a great excuse for college students to host parties, a rare opportunity to exchange gifts (vs. cold hard cash in red envelopes <– how mundane & boring) It is an unofficial holiday to celebrate the spirit of giving. Who am I kidding. It is the spirit of spending & shopping that’s being observed…

Christmas in Taipei We do it better

 

I hung up the phone with a customer service rep two days before Christmas and turned to my husband who’d just come back from mass with his mother and our two boys.

“Wow. The rep just wished me a Merry Christmas. I’d say he took a gamble when he said that because how’d he know that I celebrate Christmas?”

My husband raised his eyebrows. “You know. The nice thing to say when people wish you a Merry Christmas…”

“Is to say thank you and Merry Christmas to you too. Yes I know that. Christmas to me is more or less a secular holiday, and I don’t mind celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ because it does not matter to me either way. I am happy for you guys. I am agnostic. I believe in everything.” I raised my eyebrows back at him.

“In the homily today,” he started, “the priest told us a story about ducks. Some guy was in his house during a snowstorm and he heard loud thumping on his windows. He looked and saw a bunch of ducks hitting his window – they’re trying to come inside the house but they could not tell that there’s glass. So the man went outside to open the doors to his barn next to the house, thinking that it would be a suitable shelter for those ducks. However, no matter how hard he tried, shooing them, waving at them, luring them with food, he could not get those ducks to stop hitting the window and change their course towards the barn. He realized that he’d have to wait for the ducks to find their way to the barn on their own.”

He looked at me triumphantly, fully satisfied with his success of being a contrarian. Argument for argument’s sake.

“Hmmm.” I took a deep breath. “That is offensive.”

“Why? I am merely saying that you will find your way on your own.”

“It’s offensive because you are assuming that I am LOST and have to find my way somewhere. I am not lost. I am happy where I am. I don’t need to find my way into the church or whatever. Hey, wait a minute. Were you trying to convert me?! I thought Catholics do not proselytize?! What the fuck?!” I protested loudly, in front of his decidedly un-religious brother too, nonetheless.

My husband grinned sheepishly, with the look of someone who just said something he did not intend to mean and got called out, “Well… Maybe the barn is not religion. Or church. Maybe the barn just means happiness in life. That you will find happiness in life on your own…”

“Hmm. Yeah right. The ducks my ass. Seriously what the fuck dude?” I walked out the room, still annoyed because I was unable to explain clearly WHY the story of the ducks is presumptuous and offensive when told to someone who does not wish to and need not be converted.

Later when the three of us were driving to a bar, the subject of ducks came up and we started teasing my husband about our “interesting” discussion earlier.

“Oh come on. I am never going to live this down, am I?”

“You know.” it dawned on me, “Here’s why I find the story of the ducks offensive. It’s like if I simply say ‘I forgive you’ and then walk away. ‘I forgive you’ predicates that you’ve done something wrong that needs to be forgiven. It is grossly unfair, isn’t it?”

 

I don’t know how to end this post so let me share this idea with you: “I forgive you.” would be a great epitaph.

 

 

 

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Santa is not real.

I am worried that I may have ruined my son’s childhood. On Christmas eve nonetheless. Before he went to bed full of anticipation for Christmas morning, I decided to tell him THE Truth.

Well, I did not really decide per se.

He turned 9 this year and he’s always known that Easter Bunny is not real because, well, he is not a fucking idiot. He had suspected for a long time that tooth fairy is also not real so he went CSI on us: When he lost one of his teeth, he did not tell us. In the morning he came to the side of my bed, showed me his tooth, and said, “See. I put this under my pillow and it is still here this morning. I know tooth fairy is not real. This proves that YOU are the tooth fairy because I did NOT tell you about the tooth.”

Fine by me. I actually feel relieved because to prolong the lie as they grow older, the mechanism that goes into putting up the show becomes more elaborate, and then it goes from a harmless childhood tradition to full-blown deceit. When I heard about people that left footprints in the backyard, cracked the window open, sprinkled ashes by the fire place or reindeer droppings in the front lawn, I cringed. How much is too much?

At some point the child becomes old enough to just know  and though it is not discussed, tooth fairy will simply stop visiting. At least that was how it went with my oldest boy.

With my youngest, Mr. Monk, it has been a completely different experience. He really wants to believe in the magic despite the contradictions he himself acknowledges. Throughout this year, he’s been hinting that he’s ready to let Santa go. Or rather, he knows that we the parents are Santa all along, “Just like the tooth fairy.” But he has never come right out and said, “Santa is not real.”

When my mother-in-law called me to confirm that Mr. Monk no longer believes in Santa, therefore we do not need to “do the Santa thing”, I said, “Sure. He’s outgrown it already.” All the presents were wrapped and labeled, and none of them were from Santa. Then when Mr. Monk and Grandma were making Christmas cookies, he said, “Remember to leave a cookie out for Santa.” With all the sincerity and conviction of a young child. My heart skipped a beat.

After the Christmas eve party, when we were trying to get him and his cousin to go to bed, the two of them begged for a cookie for Santa. And a glass of milk.

“Are you sure about this? Is Santa coming tonight?”

“Mom, you forgot? Santa is coming and he will eat the cookie and drink the milk just like he did every year.”

Never mind that my husband was always the one that volunteered to be Santa by taking a big bite out of the Christmas cookie, finishing the milk, and for good measure, leaving a crumpled napkin on the table.

My niece does not believe in Santa. She knows that Santa is not real because that’s the way her parents decide to bring her up. They have been kind enough to play along, and every year, my mother-in-law would prepare a present from Santa for my niece just to be convincing. I looked at her enthusiasm and excitement as she and Mr. Monk prepared the cookie and milk and the accompanying note for Santa, and realized that for a child sometimes knowing something is not real is different from wanting to believe in that something.

When I put the kids to bed on Christmas eve, I whispered to my oldest, “Do you think Mr. Monk still believes in Santa?”

“I think he knows. He just does not want to admit it…” He turned around and asked his brother, “Hey, ____, do you think you will get anything from Santa tomorrow morning?”

“Of course!”

“How do you think Santa is going to get here?”

“On his sleigh. Pulled by his reindeer of course.”

After a prolonged dance around the touchy subject aka beating about the bush, finally my oldest sighed, “This is like that saying ‘How do you find out a bomb really works?’ Don’t make me ask you that question that if I ask you you are going to know…”

“Just make the big presents the Santa presents.” All of a sudden Mr. Monk said.

“No. Make the small things the Santa presents.” My oldest countered, “Otherwise you never get to thank mom and dad for the big presents.”

“No. I want the big presents to be from Santa.” Mr. Monk protested.

“This settles it then.” I thought, “He knows the truth.” Feeling relieved, I said to my oldest, “So, [Oldest Boy], do you want a Santa present too?”

All of a sudden, Mr. Monk’s face fell and he pulled the blanket above and over his head, visibly upset. “Do you have to tell me this on Christmas eve? Can’t you wait until the day after?”

WHAT HAVE I DONE?

“Do you have to ruin my childhood? And on Christmas eve?”

SIGH. KILL ME NOW. Not sure though whether I’m more disturbed by how I potentially single-handed ruined his childhood or by how he sounded just like me, a master of guilt-trip…

Yes I know. I am the worst, most evil mother in the whole world. Oy ve.

 

“Hey, it’s better you know now. Do you really want some old creepy fat guy crawling around your house and watching you while you’re sleeping?” My oldest intervened. This made Mr. Monk laugh and we once again skipped the subject at hand.

After a long while he stopped alternating between sobbing and laughing at his big brother’s antics and finally fell asleep. I went downstairs, pulled out three presents from under the Christmas tree, rewrapped them in the special wrapping paper reserved for “Santa gifts”, and slapped a sticker on each of them that said “From Santa”…

 

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Tis the Season to be Jolly

December 11, 2011

in random

Tra la la la la la la la la.
Don we now our gay apparel
Fa la la la la la la la la.
 

Gay apparel as in holiday parties. Of course. Tis the season of office holiday parties where alliances are formed, enemies are made, and by the end of night, everybody is drunk enough to tell the person whom you absolutely hate when sober, “I love you. Seriously, man. You. are. the. best!”

New York Magazine is kind enough to give us a guide on “How Drunk Can You Get at Your Office Holiday Party” with a handy dandy notebook printable guide that you can tuck into your bra and bring with you. Better remember to check on it though while you are still sober enough to read it in the bathroom stall because any good office holiday party will not have adequate lighting for reading. Duh.

 

Cog in the machine, while suffers in silence the rest of the 364 days, gets to have the MOST FUN EVER at the office party. “I hate my job so much I don’t even fucking care any more.” That’s the attitude that will get you through the night!

 

I’ve told you that I get typecast all the time, right? Well, it happened again. A friend of mine Facebook-tagged me:

CHRISTMAS OFFICE PARTY– Use the first 10 people on your friends list. Don’t Cheat:

Running around topless singing Jingle Bells: 
Spiked the punch then drank most of it :
Dancing on the desk singing “Can’t Touch this”:
… Has Rolodex making prank calls:
Spinning around in office chair screaming:
Locked in the bathroom hugging the toilet:
Passed out under their desk:
Sitting on copier making Christmas cards:
Throwing fruitcake at people outside:
Playing spin the bottle with cleaning crew:

Guess where my name fell? Yup. The first one. I just don’t think it will ever happen because I cannot sing worth a damn.

Also? I just survived our mega office holiday party last week and I’ll have you know that I kept my clothes on the whole night. And I did not spill any drink. Woohoo! WIN!

The sad truth is I could not have gotten hammered even if I wanted to. The OPEN bar? Was not really open. They only served beer and wine. INCONCEIVABLE. ikr?! So the whole night I kept on going from the 5th floor to the bar at the hotel lobby to get my own drink on. Yes, my dear Internet, I paid for my own premium vodka at an office party with an open bar. I had four with a heavy pour and I woke up with NO hangover and NO headache whatsoever. Win? WIN!

Despite the open bar not being really open, I had a lot of fun at the party talking to random people, including coworkers whom I had never actually spoken to until that night and their wives, my boss, his wife, his boss, his boss’s wife, someone else’s bosses, someone else’s bosses’ wives, etc etc etc. Problem is? I kept on thinking, “The missis must be really really bored. Probably want to poke their eyes out with a fork if they have to face another forced conversation. Quick. Let me say something genuinely funny to amuse them.”

At one point, I offered one of the missis to beat up her husband for her. I guess I am not going to get a promotion, again.

I also told a coworker whom I had not really spoken to before until that night that I love his wife. Huh. I don’t think it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship between me and him…

 

But the BEST part of the night? I finally got a picture taken of me in which I do not have ginormous fat arms that look like they are about the size of my torso.

Finally. A picture of me with NO fat arms. Yeah! This goes to prove that lighting is everything.

This heavily cropped picture somehow focuses on the cruel fact “Where the fuck did my waist go?”  Oh hell. I will be happy with the NO fat arm for now. At least I am not making my friend look like she’s naked…

 

 

It's that horrifying moment when your friend's "fat arm" makes you look naked...

 

p.s. Yes. YES! I confess. I wrote this post just so I could post this picture. You are welcome. And if you spill anything on your clothes, take them off, take a nekkid picture, send that and the dry cleaning bill to moi. xxoo

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