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Tryin’ to grow a Bad Apple

Hey there, salt girl faithful folk. Clearly I haven’t written anything on here in a while. That was mostly due to a computer that had no battery and was threatening to kick the bucket for a year or so, and I’ve got a new one now, but I do feel like I’m ready for a change of scenery. And by that I mean blog scenery. I’m not abandoning salt girl completely, just relocating for a while and rethinking what I’m going to do with old SG.

New blog, which is connected to my small art business, Bad Apple, is at badapplemv.tumblr.com

See you there!

S.

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Thanksgiving

Sitting in the hammock, listening to music with the dog and getting nostalgic because of conversations earlier in the night. There are a handful of you–a big handful, I’m lucky– who have been with me most or all of my life, through the best and hardest of times. Thank you, all of you (many of whom will never read this blog) for helping make me the person I am today. I wouldn’t have known what to do without you.

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Mini Pep Talks Part 1: Write, Stupid.

It’s been a weird month all around, apparently. So says a friend in another state, so have I heard from nearly everyone I know here on Vieques. Even business has been weird. Busy when we didn’t expect it, and slow when we thought it would be okay. I have to embrace the weird because I have chosen to live on an island where weird is routine (for an example, I found a live piglet in an abandoned sailboat wreck a week ago). But this weird has been unsettling, because it’s an emotional, anxious, confusing sort of weird, and it’s totally turned my mojo upside down in a lot of important places.

My friend in North Carolina says that it’s been a “nebulous” month for her too. Her description of what that meant matched the way I have been feeling to a tee– confused and unclear, but somehow she feels okay about all of it. I didn’t until today, but I feel like my ship sort of righted itself through the course of the afternoon, and I’m back on course. My friend says it has something to do with the moon and Jupiter hanging out so close together tonight, which I noticed, although I’m not very diligent about my interest in astronomy or astrology.

I’ve also been feeling like writing recently, which I haven’t felt like doing much since I graduated from Emerson, with the exception of the 100-page fit of typing I did here on Vieques two years ago and haven’t looked at since. Maybe I’ll return to that project; maybe I’ll start writing a novel. Maybe I’ll write the bartending memoir I’ve been talking about, or finally put something on paper about my travels. Either way, the muse is knocking on my door, and maybe all the tumult and weirdness is just her signaling her return. I always did write best when things were a little squirrelly.

After two important conversations, neither of which I initiated, I find myself, like my friend in North Carolina, feeling pretty good about it all tonight.

I think I might start leaving post-it notes like little mini pep-talks around my house, though. Neon pink ones that say things like, “Don’t pre-worry the worry,” and “Think before you speak, even if you just woke up,” and “Write, Stupid,” and “Don’t forget that you love you.” These are the things I struggle with, believe it or not.

Yeah. Animals have it so good. They may worry, but only about serious important shit like “Am I gonna eat today?” and “Will my person ever come home?” and “Is that loud explody thing gonna kill me?”

Human worrying is dumb. Perhaps I’ll make a late resolution to stop Dumb Worrying and only worry about stuff an animal would worry about: food and exercise and companionship and fun and the occasional bitey or stabby or explody thing.

Oh, and sleep. Very important, that.

Zzzzzzzz.

SG

 

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I can’t think of a title.

So the hysterics say the world is going to end in five days. Other less hysterical Mayan calendar believers are saying it’s just the “world as we know it” that’s going to end. But doesn’t that happen every day, as elections and national disasters and technological discoveries and revolutions and protests and media events perpetually alter what we consider to be familiar and normal?

The “world as we know it” certainly ended on Friday in Sandy Hook. And prior to that, at Virginia Tech. And at Columbine. And at a grocery store rally for Gabby Giffords. And at a movie theater during a Batman premiere.

It keeps happening, and people keep asking why. There are answers– many answers– but our society has not yet been ready or willing to acknowledge them.

Why do socially awkward young white men (and overwhelmingly, this is the demographic that perpetrates these awful mass murders) keep flipping their lid and shooting up scores of innocent people and then offing themselves??

BECAUSE OUR SOCIETY IS TOTALLY FUCKED. There, I said it.

And yes, the media is largely to blame. And sure, technology is partly to blame. This shit didn’t happen when I was a kid, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the media explosion of the last decade plus has coincided with a dramatic rise in mass murders committed by mentally disturbed, lonely young men who, tragically, have given up on themselves to such a degree that they believe the only way to leave their mark on the world is to do something so horrendous that no one will ever forget them. But are the media and technology really the only culprits?

Of course not.

Media and technology have power over our society for one reason and one reason only: WE GIVE IT TO THEM. If Americans were not watching Honey Boo-Boo, Hoarders, Keeping Up With the Kardashians and other mindless “reality” TV shows, producers would stop making them. If Americans were not perpetually lapping up sensationalist journalism– like the coverage of these horrifying murders– the media would stop covering it the way they do.

If parents stopped buying video game systems for their children, and stopped allowing their kids to spend hours on end in front of a screen watching gore and violence and interacting with no one, the video game manufacturers would be less inclined to keep making violent video games.

Why does this horrible stuff keep happening? Why are young men shooting up schools and movie theaters, and gay kids killing themselves, and whatnot?

Because people need people to survive. People need attention, and affection, and love, and support, and interaction with each other. They will settle for attention, whether good or bad, if they can’t get the rest of it. People do not want to be ignored, sidelined or forgotten. We are pack animals, meant to live in families, villages, and communities. When we feel lonely, abandoned, ostracized or ousted from our “pack,” whether it be at home, at school, at work, or on a larger scale by society in general, we act out. We feel an inherent need to make our mark, whether it be on family, community, friends, or on the world at large.

When we act out, seeking attention or notoriety, there is always an intended audience: the person or group of people who have made that person feel ignored or ostracized. If it’s a person’s family, they will act out at home, in a way that will affect the family members they feel have wronged them. If they feel they’ve been passed over for another sibling, they’ll do something to harm that sibling, or distract attention from them. It’s pretty common knowledge that kids, and people, will seek negative attention when they can’t get positive attention. So let’s think about these shooters. Who do they think wronged and ignored them? EVERYBODY IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD. Their parents, siblings, classmates, countrymen–Everyone.

These are the loneliest, most maladjusted people of their generation. They are probably all mentally ill, and it’s likely none of them have been treated. Why? Because no one cared enough to get treatment for them. Why not? Because we are all so focused on ourselves, and on the media, and on what such-and-such said on Facebook that nobody fucking bothered. Because there’s a stigma attached to mental illness, and parents– just as concerned about their social standing as kids are– don’t want to acknowledge that their kid might be depressed, anxious, disabled or messed up. Because it’s easier and less expensive to give the kid a computer and say, “he’ll be fine,” than it is to actually confront the problem of a depressed kid head-on, by getting professional help and actually admitting that as parents, perhaps they have failed.

Yes, these people are monsters. Every single one of them. But monsters like that don’t happen in a vacuum. They are created. They are created by their parents, by their peers, and by society. These monsters are a result of lifetimes of being told that they are not good enough, not worth anything, never going to amount to anything, unimportant and pointless. I’d be willing to bet every single one of these people was rejected, whether subtly or obviously, by their parents. (“He’s a weird kid. Why aren’t you like normal kids? What’s your problem. You’re not a real man if you’re gay,” etc.) And if they were rejected by their own parents, it’s almost a given that they were rejected in school. Rejected by the opposite sex. And society as a whole REJECTS people who do not fit into the prevailing standards of what is socially acceptable. Chances are, having been allowed by their parents to grow up with few social skills and few coping skills, these young men were pretty much rejected by everyone. That kind of isolation and self-hatred is a ticking time bomb.

It is OUR responsibility as a society to do what’s necessary to prevent it from going off.

It is YOUR responsibility, if you are a parent, to give your child attention, structure, confidence and most importantly LOVE. If you say you love your kid, but you don’t show it, THEY KNOW, stupid. If you don’t say it at all, the absence of those three words is THE ONLY THING THEY HEAR. If you show your kids their unimportance by prioritizing your own social or career aspirations over the time that you should be spending with them, they internalize that. If you don’t believe in your child’s abilities, they will never believe in their own. And if you don’t tell them you believe in them, they will think that you don’t. If you criticize their talents, their passions, their aspirations, their intelligence or physical abilities–thereby invalidating them– you will crush their confidence before it even gets a chance to grow. If you pick on your kid, other kids will pick on your kid. If you instill confidence in your kid, he or she will have confidence around other kids.

It’s really that simple, but it’s an almost impossible message to convey in this age of greed, selfishness and laziness: If we want this kind of thing to stop happening, we have to STOP criticizing, STOP marginalizing, STOP ostracizing, STOP focusing on money and status and ego and power and START being pack animals again. We are meant to take care of each other, to teach each other, to protect each other, and to support each other. We are not meant to interact with each other through machines, but in person. We are not meant to share Facebook memes or YouTube videos, we are meant to share meals, and skills, and challenges, and hugs, and kisses, and tears. We are not meant to be alone, tromping through a stressful life without company. We are meant to be together, as a family, facing the challenges and joys of life TOGETHER.

So if you’re upset by what happened at Sandy Hook, stop watching it on TV and reading about it on the internet, and spend time with your family and your friends. Take a walk, share a meal, play a game. Give the people who matter to you your attention, and stop giving your attention to the things and people and devices that don’t matter. We don’t need technology, or money, or status to survive. We need food, water, shelter, and OTHER PEOPLE. We need to express ourselves, and be heard. We need to be loved, and to love ourselves. This is where we as a society have gone astray. It’s time to go backwards. We’ve gone forward enough. It’s time to unplug and return to the values we had before technology created a global community that is NO SUBSTITUTE for the actual, in-person community that we need in order to be complete as human beings.

I’m not saying deactivate your Facebook account and throw out your TV. I’m not planning on quitting Facebook, and I don’t have a TV but if I did I wouldn’t throw it out. I’m not saying all video games are bad, and should be gotten rid of. I’m just saying that these things need not be prioritized in people’s lives the way they are nowadays. They should be an afterthought, a tiny piece of entertainment, to be enjoyed for a short period of time after a day full of human interaction and creative expression. They should not be a lifestyle.

The people who are the happiest are those who give and receive the most love. Period.

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New Skills.

Learning to see. Made this skirt out of a turtleneck the other day 🙂

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We Don’t Live Quietly

My boss is from North Carolina, and has been living on Vieques and running a fine dining restaurant for six years. During service, she is all business–strict, tense and ubiquitous– but before and after work she is just a Southern gal on a strange Puerto Rican island who has a great sense of humor.

“In the North, y’all keep your crazy people behind closed doors,” she says. “In the South, we put our crazy people on the front porch. On Vieques, we crazy people run the show.”

She is referring to herself and the other bar and restaurant owners, mostly expats from the US and Europe, but also to some of the less prestigious local color.

Take for example Manny, who I met four years ago on my first trip to Vieques. When he’s on his meds, Manny is sweet, if a little slow and creepy to those who don’t realize he’s harmless. When he’s off his meds, Manny is a bit sketchier, has a bit of the crazy eye, and has an obsessive habit of relocating random things from one end of the main street to the other. PVC piping, light fixtures, wheel barrows, potted palm trees, tourists’ shoes– one can never predict. But Manny is not a thief.

“He’s harmless,” Kate says, her mama hen persona coming out. “He’s not stealing, he’s just relocating things. When it gets real bad we’ll all call each other in the morning and say ‘Hey, I’ve got a palm tree and a wheel barrow in my back yard. Any chance you’ve got my cooler?”

Manny is protected– from the law and from unknowing outsiders who would misjudge his intentions– by a posse of Viequenses, both native and expats, who consider him one of their own. If he’s acting out, the owner or bartender or cook from whatever the nearest restaurant or bar is will step in and make sure he doesn’t get arrested or get in a fight.

That’s one of the things I love the most about Vieques: you can let your freak flag fly high on this island and it will only mean that you belong that much more. What a misfit crew we are, but we’re also a tribe; a family. It takes a certain mindset to feel comfortable here, and to fit in here.

No one who chooses to live on an island is normal. Take any island you’ve ever visited for an example. But this island– a remote, mostly undeveloped paradise where the ferries run sporadically and the term “island time” takes on a new meaning when you’re waiting in line at the pharmacy for the oldest and slowest cashier on the planet to ring you up, attracts a particularly odd breed of weirdos. Individually, we are freaks–some a heck of a lot freakish than others–but together we are a tribe. You can laugh all night sometimes just listening to a friend describe their day.

We don’t live quietly.

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Got my ass handed to me tonight. Eight tables at once in fine dining, sat mostly less than five minutes apart. If I were an octopus I’d have been golden. Somehow I pulled it off.

This job will make my Vineyard job seem like hanging out in my friend’s basement…

Wait, that’s exactly what my summer job is. It’s one of the few things I’m looking forward to about leaving this island. Oh, to go to work in my street clothes… And pick the music…

Fine dining is for suckers. Thank God we don’t do brunch. That said, I’m still working in a job I don’t hate, which means I’m winning. Hooray.

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Enough Is Enough. Anything More Is Excess.

There’s something truly amazing about living in a place, and living a life, in which the most stressful part of your day is leaving the beach to be at work at 4:30, or waiting in line at the pharmacy while the oldest living cashier in the world takes twenty minutes to ring up each customer. It’s a different world down here, and I’m a different self when I’m here. I’m the person I hope to learn how to become anywhere. This place changes you. Changes your priorities, and your standards of expectation. It makes you grateful for every simple thing you have, because you don’t have much. Every day is an adventure because it has to be. There’s no movie theater, no arcade, no mall, no full-size grocery store, no bookstore… it has no excess. It has just enough.

The word “enough” has taken on a different meaning for me since the first time I came here four years ago, and especially in the past year since last March, when I moved down here to live and work for the first time. Being here has helped me to realize just how excessive the society in the United States is, and how excessive my life has been up to this past year. It’s made me realize just how much money I was wasting on shit I didn’t need, and how much money my family and friends have wasted on shit they didn’t need either–all of us putting ourselves into a financial quagmire for nothing. I don’t regret spending money on my education, and on living in Boston to get it. But I wish I’d had the wisdom several years ago to forego the creature comforts in exchange for the time and peace of mind that having to work less provides.

For example, I am able to work only three nights a week in a restaurant and sell handmade jewelry and art on the side, and in a couple of weeks once I’ve caught up, I will be able to sock away money by the hundreds of dollars because my rent is only $200 a month here, and on a good night I can make that in one shift. I don’t have to pay for heat, and our house is on a hill so there’s a constant breeze or wind, meaning we don’t need to run the air conditioner. Our house has a washing machine on the back porch that drains into the yard and takes nearly an hour to finish a load–but every time I do a load of laundry in it I’m grateful, because two weeks ago I was living in a tent and doing my laundry in the sink of a public campground bathroom. What luxury! A washing machine!

Living cheaply and comfortably here is very possible–even easy–but it requires creativity and occasionally daring. For example, every single appliance in our house could stop functioning completely at any moment. I’m pretty sure the microwave is from the 1970s–but it works! The fridge has been painted a hideous shade of baby shit green for reasons I can only imagine (drunkenness? colorblindness?) and the face of the microwave has been brush-painted fire engine red (why??). The other day one of the ceiling fans started emitting a sort of burnt-plastic stink, and we pondered for a moment whether a concrete house could actually catch fire. Then our roommate–who is both creative and daring– jumped up on a chair and disconnected the wire that was overheating, and voila! no more potential electrical fire. So what if we’re one ceiling fan short? The previous day, he took apart the whole oven to figure out how to light the pilot light so the oven would work. We have hot water in our house now–a luxury I haven’t previously had in my homes here–because we spent sixty bucks on a plug-in “suicide shower” attachment that heats the water instantly. I don’t think I ever truly appreciated a hot shower until I’d taken so many cold ones.

Think about it. How many rental situations have you been in where you had to figure out how to solve a problem like a burnt-out and potentially dangerous ceiling fan, or a gas stove that’s so old that there is no electrical plug to it whatsoever? Have you ever lived without television, or made your coffee camp-style in your house? How long has it been since you went without internet? Have you ever lived in a town without a library or a bookstore?

I highly suggest trying it.

Living without the creature comforts I’m accustomed to at home has made me not only appreciate those comforts when I have them, but has also helped me to realize how many of them are just truly unnecessary. It’s quite possible to live comfortably and spend less than half of what we’re accustomed to spending, but you have to be smart and persistent and a bit of a scavenger. And you have to COOPERATE with other people. On Vieques only every fifth or sixth person I know has a car, and nobody’s complaining. The people who have cars will pick you up if they see you walking, and if you need a car for something you can surely borrow one without too much trouble. Nobody’s car is all that valuable, so they’re not worried about what you might do to it.

Just day to day life here is an adventure. Sometimes the island is out of gasoline for four days, and when it arrives, it can take four hours of waiting in the gas line–but we do it because we have to. There have been three power outages in the past week, and my restaurant stayed open all three times. Driving here is like playing MarioKart when you’re drunk, except the obstacles in the road are horses, potholes and dogs. Occasionally a kayak, a mongoose, a goat or an iguana. And we are all daily players in each other’s lives, because there aren’t that many of us. There are days, usually Mondays or Tuesdays when we all have the day off, where twenty of my friends and I will gather at the same beach and spend the whole day just goofing off. Why is that possible here, but nearly impossible at home? Because we’re not working like dogs and so excessively over-scheduled and overcommitted that we barely have time to sleep. We live cheaply, we work minimally, we get by, and we have time to enjoy our lives. Our furniture and appliances might fall apart at any moment, but we’ll figure it out because that’s what you do here. You make it work. And it makes you work less. Almost everyone I know here is happy, which is so not the case at home. I’m practically ecstatic. Every day I wake up feeling blessed with plentitude and completely appreciating everything I have.

It’s not much, but it’s enough.

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Musings on Time and Gratitude

This morning I woke up around six a.m. to use the bathroom and when I opened the fridge to grab a drink of juice (which I expected to be warm), I was pleasantly surprised to see the light on in the fridge, indicating that power had been restored to Vieques. In all honesty, I had no expectation that we’d have power back so soon, as I had no confirmation of what the source of the outage was. Rumor had it last night that there was no power on parts of the main island, that perhaps the outage had to do with the solar storm and resulting earthquakes– in my mind, we could have been without power for days. I was prepared for it. At least we still had running water, a house, and a gate around that house to protect us.

Turns out it was simply corroded wires, and the power was restored by morning, which, given my expectations, was a treat.

If there is one thing that I love about Vieques more than anything else, it’s that it makes me appreciate the small things in life. The simple necessities. It makes me grateful for the things that we take so much for granted at home. Running water. Locking doors. Privacy. Electricity. After camping for ten days, those things seem like a luxury, and every day I’m grateful for them.

And without all of the trappings of home –TV, internet, movie theaters, scads and scads of retail outlets vying for every last dime in your wallet– I find I appreciate the natural world around me more here than I do at home. Not that I don’t appreciate nature at home, but without anything else to do, there is really no choice here most days but to go to the beach, take pictures, go for a hike, or kayak, or paddleboard, or hop aboard a friend’s boat. On Vieques, there’s plenty of time to do all those things we keep telling ourselves we don’t have time for at home. The truth is, we have time for them all at home, but we fill up that time with unnecessary activities, most of which involve earning or spending money. It’s refreshing not to have the option of filling up my schedule with bullshit. I’ve been to the beach every day this week, and I DO have a job. My rent is $200 a month, and although the place is not a palace, it’s enough. It’s all I really need.

The other huge benefit to living without all the unnecessary extras we call “normal” at home is that I have plenty of time to think, to reflect, to write, to read, and to daydream. I think we Americans have trained ourselves to think these are the unnecessary extras, when the truth is quite the opposite. If we spend all of our time working in order to pay for all the things that we really don’t NEED, we don’t have time to live. To be. To relax. To think. To be happy, and REALIZE that we are happy. Our priorities are all messed up.

In the perpetual quest for material wealth that is contemporary American society, we have lost sight of what is really important: the quest for happiness. We all know, on a surface level, that money can’t buy happiness. But then why do we keep trying to fill whatever empty place exists in us with material things? Why do we get ourselves into crippling debt buying toys and clothes and fancy home furnishings and zippy cars? Wouldn’t being debt-free be more satisfying than having all those things at such a steep price? Because the price is not just the debt, and the stress of the debt, but the TIME spent trying to pay off the debts; time that we should be spending with our friends and loved ones, enjoying nature, making art, cooking and eating, listening to music, relaxing, and doing the things that will ACTUALLY make us happy.

Time is the most valuable resource we have, and we waste far too much of it. We waste it on working to pay for things we don’t actually need. We waste it on anger, stress, resentment and guilt. We waste it on pointless activities like video games, television and facebook. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not simply proselytizing–I’m just as guilty as anyone else. But I’m trying to shift the balance of how I spend my time and money, because as I’ve learned here on Vieques, I’m a hell of a lot happier when I’ve got less money, less trappings and all the time I want to sit in the hammock and read my book. Or to sit here, at half past noon on a Wednesday, and write to you.

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To Those Who Claim There’s A “War On Christmas”

1) Christmas is a pagan solstice holiday that was appropriated by Roman Christian autocrats several hundred years after Jesus died. Jesus was supposedly born in the spring. The Christmas tree was also adopted from pagan celebrations. [these statements are paraphrased from other sources]. You are alleging a supposed “war” -in which you imply that Christians are being persecuted for their faith– over something that didn’t belong to you in the first place.

2) No one is forbidding you to say “Merry Christmas,” unless you are a state employee or teacher in an institution or organization that has respectfully adopted “Happy Holidays” in order to acknowledge that the winter holiday season also includes holy days for several faiths other than Christianity. In that case, you can still say Merry Christmas until you’re blue in the face when you’re not at work.

3) You, and your religion, are NOT being persecuted. You are not forbidden from practicing your religion, or observing your chosen holy day. You are not going to be arrested for saying Merry Christmas, or having a Christmas tree in your house. A suggestion that you may want to acknowledge and respect other faiths by offering a polite and inclusive “Happy Holidays” to people whose faiths you are uncertain of, is by NO MEANS persecution.

Persecution is when people are rounded up and systematically executed for their beliefs (i.e. the Holocaust). It’s when people are forbidden to don their articles of faith in public institutions (i.e. muslim women and girls being forbidden to “cover” with their traditional headscarves in school or at work). It’s being forced to say the prayers of or claim allegiance to another faith (i.e. the Crusades, in which thousands or possibly millions were killed for not being Christian or converting to Christianity). It’s being made to celebrate the religious holiday of a faith not your own (i.e. American school children who were not Christian being taught about and celebrating Christmas–and only Christmas–until the last ten or twenty years).

4. “Happy Holidays” is not offensive. To ANYONE. That’s the whole damn point. Even if you say Happy Holidays to an Atheist who celebrates no holidays at all, they’re going to be grateful for the well-wishes and probably also for the respect shown by not assuming their Christianity by saying Merry Christmas (or assuming their Judaism by saying Happy Hanukkah, etc.). The only people who are offended by being told Happy Holidays are the ones who have made a conscious choice to be offended by it, either out of veiled bigotry or inflexibility to societal change (“in my day, we said Merry Christmas”).

5) The “War on Christmas” was created by Fox News and other conservative media outlets. They did not do this because they actually care about Christmas. They did it because they care about MONEY, and fabricating a passionate religious debate over a complete non-issue will put millions of ducats in their bank accounts. The longer and more successfully they can manipulate people into getting angry and indignant about something that’s not actually a big problem (unless you’re a bigot, in which case showing respect to people of other faiths is downright painful to you), the more money they will make. The additional bonus of the War on Christmas whine-fest is that it’s completely distracting the attention of millions of Americans from the things they should actually be worried about, like the systematic elimination of our Civil Rights, the complete corporate control of our government and economy, the alarming depletion of the natural resources our species depends on, and the unforgivable destruction of our planet.

6) I find no small amount of irony in the fact that many of the same people who are complaining that they’re not allowed to be publicly Christian enough, are the same people who are trampling each other in department stores around the country in order to get the most coveted (and often expensive) Christmas gift items. Explain to me how that is Christian behavior? Isn’t Christianity supposed to be about selflessness, humility, and Love thy neighbor, etc.?

Don’t whine to me about not being allowed to celebrate Christmas when you’re actually celebrating American Express and Macy’s. Seriously.

I remember the stories about Christmas that I was told when I was a kid, and most of them were about giving to those less fortunate. The characters in the stories were POOR. And the presents they got were things like clothes, and food, and blankets. Occasionally, they got a handmade toy. Those stories weren’t about iPods and Nintendo systems and Tickle Me Elmo dolls. And they certainly weren’t about greedy, materialistic people fighting each other about completely unnecessary things to add to their already unconscionable material excess.

On that note, I would like to wish my few readers a happy winter holiday season, no matter which holidays you choose to–or not to– celebrate. I, personally, will be celebrating Christmas although I am essentially an atheist. I will be giving gifts that I have handmade, had already, or traded with other artists to obtain. My family will be eating a pot luck Christmas dinner, with fresh venison I got in trade for the main course, and we will celebrate Christmas–I hope– with the television off. We will probably not be doing too much praying or Praise Jesus-ing, because the celebration of Christmas is more about family than it is about religion for us.

I hope that wherever you are, and whatever holiday you’re celebrating, that you’re warm and healthy and happy this holiday season.

Much love,
S.