Tuesday, December 15, 2009

American or Religious Holidays?

It's December, and we are now delving into our winter holiday celebrations.

Some of you may be celebrating Hanukkah, which began a couple of days ago. Others may be happily anticipating Christmas at the end of the month. The Islamic New Year begins later this week.

In the United States of America (where I reside), we ascribe to a very wide variety of religions. After all, the Pilgrims came to America specifically to have the right of religious freedom. (Whether they respected the religious or other freedoms of the Indians who already lived here upon their arrival is another matter, and I won't insufficiently address it in a cursory manner here.) There are so many religions in the USofA that I won't even pretend to be familiar with most of them.

And yet, in this religion-obsessed nation, the most prominent holiday figure in the December media is Santa Claus, who arguably relates to no one particular religion, or several. Some people believe that Santa Claus is really the Christian Saint Nick. Others believe that he's a carry-over from pre-Christian paganism. Still others make it a point to ignore Santa Claus because he does not fall into their belief systems. But the mainstream representation of Santa Claus is that he's just a harmless, jolly old white guy with a sizeable stomach and a fluffy white beard. He brings presents to children and (if you watch Lifetime movies) love to hopelessly romantic single folk.

Personally, I value my Americanism just as much as my religious identification. So I have no qualms about the co-existence of this Jolly Santa Claus figure and the celebration of my own (non-Christian) religion. I don't want my children to have to suffer the indignity of not getting presents from Santa Claus in a society that reinforces his existence each December. I don't want them to assume they're on an oft-mentioned "naughty list" because their parents don't happen to be Christian. Honestly, even I don't want to have to change the station when my favorite Christmas song plays on the radio. I would rather sing along.

To me, not celebrating a secular Christmas feels un-American because I live in a consumerist culture, and Santa is all about the gift-related part of the holiday season. I would never go to Mass (unless it was to accompany/support a Christian/Catholic relative or friend). I would never put a wreath on my door (because I know it represents the crown of thorns that Christ was forced to wear on the crucifix.) And I would never, ever display a manger on my front lawn. But I look forward to seeing who might wander under some mistletoe, and I'll make sure that Santa doesn't forget my children on December 25th.

What's your opinion on secular and/or religious celebrations of winter holidays in the USA?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Raison d'Etre

Lately I have been giving a lot of thought to why Gd placed me in this universe, in this time, in this realm. What are His intentions for me? Am I fulfilling his expectations, or is He up there just shaking his head sadly, thinking, "When is this woman going to get it?! I've certainly sent her enough clues and opportunities!"

Do you know what your purpose is for this lifetime? Please comment.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

October and Halloween

As I mentioned in my last blog posting, October is a time when leaves leap from trees in a burst of colors that brings me to my knees.

But October is also a time for that most controversial holiday: Halloween.

For those of you who know me in my non-electronic life, you know that Halloween is my favorite American holiday because there's nothing I like more than wearing costumes! So I disclose my lack of objectivity.

That said, I would like to acknowledge that I respect those who don't celebrate All Hallow's Eve for religious reasons. If you are one such person, feel free to skip this blog and check out the next one.

For me, Halloween has nothing to do with paganism (just as Santa Claus has nothing to do with the birth of Jesus Christ). So please read this blog in that context.

I've often heard the statement that Halloween is an ideal means through which to reveal one's alter-ego. In other words, a lady who typically wears clothes that cover her ankles, wrists, and half her neck will sometimes burst out in a sexy vamp costume. Likewise, a mild-mannered man might appear as some outrageously gruesome monster.

As for me, I like to wear outfits that accentuate aspects of myself that I embrace but that society typically doesn't welcome (in public).

For example, last year, I dressed as a bellydancer. Most of my close personal friends know that I learned how to bellydance during my college years and still enjoy it -- from the attire, to the movements, to the music, to the finger cymbals. But it's not exactly something that one brings up in the corporate lunchroom or during a family gathering.

How about you? When you dress up for a Halloween party -- because I acknowledge that most adults don't wear costumes simply to trick-or-treat with their kids (like I do; LOL) -- do you dress to release your alter-ego, or to go public with a part of yourself that isn't normally acceptable in your environment?

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Autumn is my favorite season.

I love how the colors turn rich, and how that depth of hue allows my eyes to see the contrasting colors.

I enjoy the fashion -- the sweaters and boots.

My skin delights in the fresh breezes for which it longed all summer.

But mostly I invite the coming of Fall because it offers a fresh start. Life begins anew, and thus so do we.

What is your favorite season and why?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why Write? Why Read?

In my experience, I've found that writing can sometimes feel like an onerous, insufficiently lucrative chore.

But, most of the time, it connects me to the subcutaneous layers of my self -- not the superficial self that real-world living requires, but the self that injects meaning into our existence.

That's what makes facing the blank screen and struggling to navigate the complicated maze of achieving publication worthwhile.

If you are a writer, why do you write?

If you are a reader, what books validate your spirit and feed your hunger for life?