Friday, December 11, 2020

A New Tradition

Today’s post is a writing challenge. This is how it works: participating bloggers picked 4 – 6 words or short phrases for someone else to craft into a post. All words must be used at least once and all the posts will be unique as each writer has received their own set of words. That’s the challenge, here’s a fun twist; no one who’s participating knows who got their words and in what direction the writer will take them. Until now.

My words are:

fluffy ~ chestnuts ~ sparkling ~ mantle ~ jolly ~ reindeer

It was submitted by:


I'm not a traditional Christmas kind of person which, if you know me at all, probably doesn't come as much of a shock.

What will is that I'll be attending church all month for advent and if there's a Christmas service I'll probably do that too.

But first...

I live in the Deep South, and it's hot as Satan's balls 90% of the year, it seems, so roasting chestnuts in front of an open fire really ain't a thing we do down here. I don't even have a fireplace or a mantle to go with it for stockings to be hung on, and even if I did, my cats would find a way to pee in them or rip them down or hide within them such lovely gifts as hairballs or pieces of rodents, a spider leg or two.

My cats are also the reason I don't do a tree with a fluffy skirt stacked with wrapped gifts or sparkling lights or garland or fancy ornaments. I do not have the time or inclination to pick the damn thing up 27 times a day or vacuum up the needles they pull out or clean up the vomit after they eat parts of things they shouldn't eat. The longer I've been sick with chronic fatigue syndrome the less I've had any desire to drag all this stuff out only to have to put it back up when I've barely recovered from cleaning it all up every single day.

I give my kid his presents as soon as they come in because I can't keep gifts a secret, and even though we do eat with family on the eve of and the day, it's never been particularly important for me. I've never been the kind of religious person that does the whole holy day thing. I'm not religious at all, and the days that seem to have the most meaning for others never have meant those things to me. Parts of holidays are fun, and I pick and separate out which things I enjoy and which things I'd just be doing because it's what people are expected to do. I'm fine with keeping my traditions to watching Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Elf and Home Alone (1 and 2 and sometimes 3) and making cheese pennies for Christmas Eve. I like watching old cartoon Christmas episodes and buying candy canes in random flavors to try and before things got really extra tough this year, I loved searching for the perfect gift for someone and watching their face light up in excitement when they opened it and saw what it was. Alas, 2020 will be a year of skipping that one no matter how much I enjoy it.

Something good did happen this year though that will help and has helped ease some of the tensions and burdens of this chaotic mess, and I think I'm a better person for it.

I took my atheist ass to church.

Ok, it's not that simple. I don't know if you may have seen the church signs of the UCC in Clackamas County, Oregon that often go viral on Facebook, but I stumbled across them several months ago. Some of the best ones used scripture to discuss acceptance of the gay community. One said "our transgender siblings have heartbeats." Another talked about jesus as a refugee. This was in stark contrast to the far right evangelical christianity I had grown up around down here--the church beliefs that so many used to tell me my kind of love is a sin and hell-worthy. I'd grown up around people that used their religion as a weapon at every possible opportunity, and I had a lot of old wounds and feelings and, let's face it, trauma associated with christianity and religion as a whole. I followed the page out of curiosity over the signs figuring I'd see more I could share, and I did. But I also saw a clip of a Sunday sermon and there was Pastor Adam, jolly as he almost always is, talking about love for the LGBTQIA community with a pride flag hanging behind him. He talked seriously and openly about a Jesus who accepted everyone on the margins of society and that, in fact, that's all Jesus was about--love. I can't quote him verbatim, and I don't think I should because I could never do the words justice. You have to see it for yourself. His point though was about how wrong everyone else was who used the Bible to condemn.

I bawled.

There's no shame in admitting it. Suddenly here were these old wounds being soothed in a way I didn't know I needed and at a time in my life when I thought I'd gotten past all that. Here I was feeling so much...vindication is the right word I suppose. Or maybe not but it will do. I started out with a couple videos, and then I read his articles on the church website and then some more on the site for the Raven Foundation. And I don't mind telling you I was an absolute mess every single time. Every one of them. The kind of love and acceptance of who I am that Pastor Adam talked about is not what I got growing up, but it's what I deserved, and I see that more clearly than ever now. There was never *any* reason to withold it or to judge. Never.

Of course seeing the sermons after the fact just led to me wanting to watch them in real time which I can do because the pandemic kind of forced the church to go virtual. Every Sunday morning I see the post that says everyone is welcome--atheist, jewish, christian, gay, trans, straight, pagan...anyone and everyone gets a seat at the table--and I smile and get a little excited looking forward to taking part and (shocker!) sometimes even commenting. The first day I watched live, someone commented they are a trans witch who took communion with an Arizona tea and a piece of birthday cake, and received so much love and welcoming...and I knew I'd be okay. Everyone is welcome to take communion, too, by the way. Nothing is required to have a seat at the table and break bread together. 

The sermons themselves with their messages about love and acceptance and peace...about those on the margins being who Jesus represented, about universal healthcare and living wages and housing as a right...these are things that are important to me, deeply so, and to see them represented in arguably one of the most important and misused books in all of history in a way that was denied to me my entire lifetime has been transformative. This church and this Pastor never say the people who used religion to hurt me are not "real" Christians and never deny that this evangelical kind of christianity has unfortunately become mainstream. They call it out. Loudly and proudly and often. They shine a light on all the ways the church and Jesus and the bible are and have been used to oppress. It's real work for justice and not flippant thoughts and prayers. What this church and Pastor Adam particularly are doing to address the issues the religious right have brought to our political system are important...possibly vital. 

And it's what I needed in one of the most stressful years yet. It kept me going when I didn't know how I would. Many people can say the same. In fact, I see them say the same a lot of Sundays. 

So I guess I have a new tradition for the holidays. Perhaps the best one yet. Ok nothing can beat Elf but perhaps a close second.


Links to the other “Use Your Words” posts:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

On the Border

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

The Crazy Mama Llama

Friday, December 4, 2020

Time After Time

Welcome to a Secret Subject Swap. This month 6 brave bloggers picked a secret subject for someone else and were assigned a secret subject to interpret in their own style. Today we are all simultaneously divulging our topics and submitting our posts.

My “Secret Subject” is:

It’s January 1, 2021. How do you see 2021 playing out?

It was submitted by:


Time is a construct.

I mean, sure, we age. We have sunrises and sunsets and calendar years to mark our trips around the sun, but we also arbitrarily change the time twice a year in most of the United States to fit old farming and harvest needs, so time is not really an unmalleable fixture.

We get lost in 8 hour work days and fixed holidays and 7 a.m. alarms, school bells, deadlines, punching in and punching out, and begging for any scrap of life unhindered by the clock. We live on borrowed time and someone else's time and at some point a clock or a day of the week or the marking of a brand new year starts holding far more significance as a symbol than it does as reality.

I'm not really a new year, new me person. I don't like to set myself up for absolute failure.

January 1st isn't going to magically change anything for me. My chronic illness isn't going away. I won't wake up with a new body or a brain that will suddenly be better at handling all the things my body can no longer do. I won't wake up to better behaved cats who don't pee on the stove the night before Thanksgiving leaving me to not discover it until it is much too late. Yes, yes I mean I burned cat pee on Thanksgiving. My financial situation isn't likely to change for awhile if ever. None of the things that have made my life more difficult in the day to day is going to change once I wake up on January 1st far earlier than I'd like because dogs have to be walked and the vacuuming needs doing.

Are there going to be improvements? Maybe? We elected someone who isnt trump. I mean , there's that. But, at *best* we prolong our descent into fascism until someone better at it than Trump comes along and woos enough people. Frankly, Biden is far too little too late to stop that train from rolling. He has no plans on investigating Trump. He's our modern Gerald Ford who we remember for what besides pardoning Nixon? I won't suddenly get healthcare or the ability to buy weed legally or be less afraid for myself, my genderqueer kid, or any of the friends I have in marginalized communities. We won't be able to quit saying the names of people killed by police as Biden prepares to funnel more money into policing. Kids will still be in cages. All the unbearable parts of being American will still be there and unfortunately will be even less talked about just like under Obama.

We will still be living in a pandemic. Vaccines aren't going to be widely available for some time and who knows if they'll be affordable even then. I haven't left my house for most of 2020, and I still won't be able to on January 1st and probably for much of 2021. My immune system is compromised, and no one gives a shit enough about their loved ones not to gather and spread death much less about strangers with shitty immune systems. I'm stuck here for the foreseeable future.

If I hear one more healthy person tell me I'm being too cautious when my kid has no other parent if I catch it and die, I'm going to fucking explode.

What I'm trying to say is 2021 is going to be the same as 2020 but without the stress of an election year. It'll be stress over a president who won't get anything done or can't. It will be stress over a conservative Supreme Court and career politicians that should have been drug out in the street ages ago and if not 5 years ago then definitely when they abandoned us in a pandemic to play head games with each other while we starved and died as sacrifices to the only Gods allowed in this country--capitalism and money. (And of course the minor god of internet clout). 2021 will be all the same problems I had in 2020. I'll be living in struggle and trying my best to find happiness and peace in the little things.

I am a roll with the punches kind of person, but it's good to be able to predict most of the punches as they come, so I cant pretend anything about the coming year is going to drastically change, and that's ok? Maybe? I honestly don't know. It's been a rough one, but I've made it this far so fingers crossed I can hold on for longer. It's fine to live for those little things and little moments...because I'm the only one that can get the dogs to take their meds without a fight and knows that my kid's favorite color is pink. I have to finish reading Discworld and finish painting the halloween mural in my kitchen. I have an album I pre-ordered coming, and I kinda want to see if David Lynch actually is doing a series for Netflix. I can't do those things if I'm not here...and when those projects are done there will, hopefully, be more. Hopefully there will always be more.


Here are links to all the sites now featuring Secret Subject Swap posts. Sit back, grab a cup, and check them all out. See you there:

Baking In A Tornado

Wandering Web Designer

A ‘lil HooHaa

Part-time Working Hockey Mom

The Crazy Mama Llama