Thursday, December 29, 2005

Can I Get A Secular AMEN?!

Below is an op-ed piece in the commentary section of my local independent newspaper the Oklahoma Gazette []. It truly expresses how I feel about this whole "War on Christmas" debacle. Read it, digest, enjoy.

The Grinch who couldn't steal Christmas
By: Robin Meyers

Maybe you've missed it because you don't watch Kelly Ogle, Bill O'Reilly or "The 700 Club, " but the big news isn't the war in Iraq. It's the "war against Christmas."

The Grinch who would steal it is the American Civil Liberties Union. The barbarians at the gate of all things holy and sacred and necessary for the survival of Western civilization are secular humansists. They are on manger patrol. They are out looking for tablets with the Ten Commandments to smash and haul away - ironically, most of which are now left over Hollywood PR stunts for Cecil B. DeMille.

While a real war is killing and maiming, about which the president has now been forced to tell "half the truth so help him God, " the Christian right has invented its latest fake war to rally the troops and raise money. O'Reilly's "fair and balanced" fake news network recently ran 58 segments on the latest outrage from the "lunatic left," and not a single one on the genocide in Darfur. People in that hellhole are not so much interested in whether it's "Happy Holidays" or Merry Christmas." They are trying to keep their heads from being chopped off.

Meanwhile, back at the Entitled American Ranch, the Christmas that is reportedly under siege has now passed, and it was bigger and more pervasive than ever - perhaps dangerously so. In countless churches, in countless homes, around countless Christmas trees that were called just that, people wished each other "Merry Christmas, " and they worshiped the baby Jesus, and they gave each other expensive gifts to honor the birth of a penniless rabbi from Nazareth who talked more about the spiritual hazards of wealth than anything else, save the kingdom of God.

But as they sipped their eggnog, safe in a land with more religious freedom than anywhere else on earth, they fumed about the "war on Christmas." They did what every true Christian is supposed to do - make and keep an enemies list. They poured each other a big cup of despair and fed each other the cookies of persecution. "Woe are we" - the embattled, the last best hope to save the world from people who don't even believe hell.

What they have forgotten, or can't understand because they believe in the principle of "my majority rules" (as long as I'm in it), is that the ACLU, whose only client is the Constitution, is their friend, not their enemy. When they get picky about compulsory prayer in schools, or religious artifacts on public property, or sectarian prayers at sporting events where a captive and diverse audience did not come to worship or hear such prayers (and whose rights also matter), they are not being anti-religion, nor are they trying to "steal Christmas."

In fact, those who work to preserve the separation of church and state are the most important ally we have in the fight to preserve religious freedom. It may seem ridiculous sometimes, but all one has to do is consider the alternative - an American theocracy that is the Holy Grail of today's True Believers. The are within striking distance, and they know it - that is, as soon as they get rid of those judges who do not rule according to "biblical law," those "vermin in black robes."

Besides, in the end, nothing could be more unbiblical than to buttress the revolutionary ways of Jesus with the scaffolding of the state. The baby whose birth we just celebrated grew up to be an adult who saved his white hot anger for religious hypocrisy - those who argued over every jot and title of the law, but neglected to give a thirsty child a cup of cold water to drink.

If you really want to "save Christmas," then bring the manger home from the mall, and set it up in your heart. Feed the homeless, welcome the stranger and pray for your enemies - the ones you believe are already forgiven. If you do this, Christmas will not seem embattled at all. Just irresistible.

Meyers is minister of Mayflower Congregational UCC Church and professor of rhetoric at Oklahoma City University.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

The Post In Which I Become An Ungrateful Whiner

I grew up dirt poor, and as such, am usually quite grateful for any gift I receive. I never expect anyone to go out and spend their hard earned cash me, and I generally appreciate it when someone actually does. I also love to give gifts. Birthdays, holidays, any occasion at all. I just enjoy giving happiness to others through my carefully selected gifts. See, I'm the kind of person who will really think about the person I'm buying a gift for: their likes, dislikes, personal style, that sort of thing. I try to buy the most thoughtful gift I can on my limited budget, and most people really appreciate the effort. I do this by carefully paying attention to what others say that they need/want and file that information away for later. I also pay attention to the style and decor of my friend's and family's homes, so that I don't buy something they would never use. It's not always easy, but I do my best.

So, considering how much thought and effort I put into selecting gifts for my family and friends, it boggles my mind when they cannot do the same in turn. It's not that I'm hard to buy for, I'm not. I'm a Wal-Mart kind of gal, so I'm extremely low-maintenance, and I don't think that gift cards are chintzy gifts to give. I really do like 95% of the gifts I receive, I promise!

However, the gifts that came (belatedly) in the mail yesterday from my brother-in-law and his wife were not exactly what my husband or I expected. It looks as though we received some random gifts that you would give to someone you don't know well, or hell, I don't know, maybe they thought the gifts were cool. We received: 2 "squishy" small bolster pillows with this soft, fuzzy cover (which are quite comfortable), a 7 in 1 game set that still had the $6.99 price tag on it, a tango themed cutlery set from Buenos Aries (from their South American trip last year), a book light (which I actually liked a lot, since I'm a voracious reader), a ceramic, painted mask (which I hate-masks creep me out, and it looked like it came from the dollar store), and some chocolate Euro-coin shaped candies (which are over a year old-from their trip to Europe last year). It's almost like they looked around their house, found some random stuff from their travels, plus a couple of quickly purchased gifts and shipped them off. I know, I know...I'm being an ungrateful bitch. But this is the millionth time I have taken MONTHS to carefully select and purchase their gifts, while spending more than I should, only to be burned in return. And it's not like they are poor, or struggling. My brother-in-law's salary is three times than what Jake and I make together in a year's time, and he owns several properties, while we only rent a duplex. I know it's supposed to be the thought that counts, but that's just it....I thought about their gifts, and they thought nothing about ours. I think it hurt my hubby's feelings, and he said to me "I told you not to spend money on them!". Jake had me order a custom made hoodie for he and his brother with their last names on them, because he thought it was really cool, and it is. So, for his brother to be so thoughtless stings a bit.

The other thing that annoyed me was that once again, for the millionth time, they misspelled my name. My name is spelled N-A-T-A-L-E-E, not I-E, which I know is the customary spelling, but that's not how my mother chose to spell it. I have been with my husband for over 10 years. In that time, I have sent countless cards and packages with my name spelled properly to my BIL and his wife. You'd think, in all that time, at some point, that they'd notice how my name is spelled. I've even teased it my BIL about it. I mean come on! I'm thinking of deliberately misspelling their names from now on, until they get the hint. Although knowing them, they won't.

Please don't think I don't love my in-laws, I do. Well, to be more honest, I love my BIL like he's my own brother, but my SIL? Eh....she's nice and all, but she gets on my nerves. She's a likeable gal, but do I love her? Not so much. Despite that, because she is married to my beloved BIL, I treat her with the utmost kindness and respect, and spend just as equally on her as I do for him. It's not her fault that she grates on my nerves, that's just her personality, and I'm not going to penalize her for it.

Ok, enough bitching and whining for now. Trust me, this is the only place where I'll be expressing this opinion. I would never say anything to them directly, or to any other family member about it, so as not to hurt their feelings. But damn it, I just had to express it somewhere, and since this is my blog, and no one in my family knows about it, this is where I'll say it! And um, seeing as how no one at all really reads my blog, I'm thinking I'm safe, no?

Well, here's hoping your Christmas was merrier than mine!

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Always the Bridesmaid...

....never the mother. Ok, so that didn't exactly make sense, but I couldn't think of a better analogy.

I belong to a support group for those suffering from primary infertility. I've been a member of this group for almost 4 years now. In that time, I've seen many women come and go, most by successfully achieving their dreams of motherhood, either through ART or adoption. However, there are a few of us "core" ladies who have been unfortunate enough to still be around, even after all of these years. Some of these women have been on this board much longer than I, and I've always hoped for the best for them.

Today, I found out that two of these women received positive betas from their recent ART cycles. These are women with whom I have shared my ups and downs with during this long, painful "journey" (I hate that word) of infertility, and I consider them to be my friends. So, of course I was happy to read of their success, and I hope that their pregnancies result in beautiful, healthy children. However, I can also admit that my joy is greatly tinged with bitterness, jealousy, and sadness for myself. Most of the women on the board are currently undergoing treatment or are in the process of adoption, and here I am, stuck always in perpetual limbo. I feel like I will never get to get on that horse and ride off into the sunset with my baby. I'm now three months away from hitting the 7 year mark of TTC. For fuck's sake, if Jake and I didn't have infertility issues, we could have a 6 year old by now!!! Do you have any idea how painful that is for me to think of that?!? When is it my turn?! I'm sick and fucking tired of waiting; waiting for money, for insurance, for jobs, so that we can finally pursue our goals of parenthood. I don't have TIME to wait!!!

Jake and I sat around Christmas Day, after everyone left, and were both filled with sadness that yet another holiday had gone by without our own children. I enjoyed watching my foster sisters, nephew and niece rip into their presents, but I want to see MY kids doing that. It is so fucking hard to endure this year, after year, after year. Every Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas comes and goes without my child. I hate seeing my husband and I so sad during what should be some of the happiest times with our families. We want to make a family of our own, and we can't. And that sucks so damn bad, that unless you've gone through this yourself, you'll never know what I'm talking about.

Excuse me while I go and mend my broken heart once again.....

Friday, December 23, 2005

Happy Christmahanukwanzakah! (and New Year)

Just wanting to wish you and yours the best this Holiday Season. Yes, I'm saying HOLIDAY, not CHRISTMAS, because I do have friends and family who are not Christian (including myself), so I'm being all-inclusive, not PC. However, I DO call my tree a Christmas tree, because that's the holiday I'm putting it up for.

Anyway, enough of that rant! So, have a great one (but be safe, ok?), whatever it is you celebrate, and I'll see you all next year!

And I pinky swear to post more in '06!



PS: Karen, if you're reading this: Hello! And thanks for stopping by!