30 November 2008
Each year my mother would put up the Christmas tree the weekend following Halloween. Seriously. I used to make fun of her but this year I found myself excited to do the same - even if I haven't actually managed to get it put up yet. I realise that my mom wasn't crazy, just festive. She would turn on the lights faithfully each and every night, inside and out.
Other than that, there didn't seem to be a lot of other festivities. I don't remember carolling or anything like that, I don't think we even listened to Christmas music other than on Christmas Eve and day. These days, I listen to the Christmas music online for the entire month of December. I prefer the secular songs (Frosty, etc) rather than the overly religious ones, but enjoy them all, nevertheless.
On Christmas Eve we would all beg my mother to open a gift. My dad was the worst culprit. I think he was the one who started the tradition and it has continued from there. We were only allowed to open ONE, and we didn't get to choose it. My mom did.
When we were REALLY little, Mom would also wrap little tiny presents and hide them in the tree. That was in addition to our stockings. Oh, our stockings...my Mom eventually started getting so many stocking stuffers that she had to custom make ours. They were HUGE-a small child could have fit into one! And they were always crammed full of individually wrapped gifts.
Our presents from Santa were always wrapped in special paper and had different hand writing on the tags. They were very distinguishable from the other gifts. I think my Mom still buys and wraps presents from Santa.
Christmas night was always a tough time for me, since I found it impossible to fall asleep. I was always so excited! I'd wake up early and creep into the living room. We were allowed to open our stocking stuffers if we woke earlier than my parents, which wasn't often. Then we'd open all our other gifts and have breakfast. Depending on whose turn it was that year to host the dinner, in the afternoon we'd head out to my Aunt Elva's or Aunt Sandra's, or stay home, for Christmas dinner. My mom and her two sisters used to rotate the responsibility for Christmas dinner. On Boxing Day we'd go to my Dad's sister's house for another dinner with his side of the family.
In the last few years we've kept a similar tradition, but Christmas Eve has taken on more importance. Now that my brother and myself are grown and live on our own, we go to my parents' home in the afternoon of Christmas Eve and stay the night. We have a nice dinner and hors d'oeurves later in the evening and listen to holiday music and play games and such. A little alcoholic imbibing also takes place. This year will be Delilah's first Christmas! I can't wait.
I haven't gone to my Dad's sister's place in the last few years, so we'll see if we make it this year. Most of my cousins haven't even met Delilah. My aunt Elva will be hosting Christmas dinner this year to make it easier on my grandfather, who lives with her. He's losing his sight and life has been difficult for him lately.
It's amazing how much things change from when you're a kid. Family traditions evolve, disappear, and new ones continually develop. It will be interesting to see how mine and Ben's take shape as Delilah grows older. Ben and I celebrate Yule, and have no plans to go along with the Santa myth. This year we'll exchange gifts on the day of Yule and have a nice dinner with a few friends and family members then host a stay-awake-over to make sure the sun comes up after the longest night. We plan tokeep a fire burning in the fireplace all night long, play games, drink hot cocoa (and other stuff too, I'm sure) and chat. It'll be nice. Hopefully I can stay awake!
27 November 2008
Wednesday was garbage day. We put out a can, as usual, but instead of the 3 or 4 small kitchen plastic bags inside the can, there was ONE. How I did this:
~when shopping, choose the item that has little or no packaging (or if it has packaging, make
sure it's recyclable-but no packaging is better);
~compost kitchen scraps; and
~eat leftovers instead of leaving them in the fridge to spoil-or cook so there are no leftovers.
You can do it too!
Yesterday was the first day of the second week in my weight loss journey. The scale read 157. Woo hoo! Even with 10 extra points for nursing, I'm losing. I was kind of skeptical that the additional calories would let me drop the excess weight. I have the feeling that the rate of loss won't be as dramatic as in the past (sometimes 5-6 lbs a week at first), but slow and steady is actually a better way to do it, in order to ensure it is fat and not temporary water loss.
I have yet to make it to the gym but I hope to do that starting this week. Even if it's just to do a quick weight circuit and 10 minutes of cardio, to start, that's more than what I've been doing. I really miss my muscles. And for anyone who doesn't know this already, muscles burn fat. Lean muscle mass burns calories, even while you're sleeping. I like that.
I started watching the Dog Whisperer on National Geographic channel yesterday. This guy is amazing! I've already learned how to address Tyler's food aggression and we've started working on her overall aggression and barking issues. Last night was her first session involving food aggression and already we've seen an improvement. I also told Ben how to keep calm when she's misbehaving, instead of getting angry or frustrated, since she reacts to projected emotions more than commands. I too have been following these instructions and see how Tyler stays calm rather than escalating the behaviour. "Peace, trust, relaxation, and respect." That's the mindset you have to create in a dog. I have a lot of work to do with Tyler, but we'll do it one step at a time. Wish me luck.
24 November 2008
Have you ever wandered into a Chapters bookstore and looked around and pictured all of the trees that were massacred in order to stock the shelves?
There are a few options for those who want to change the face of reading and help save trees. The first is a digital ebook reader, like the one Oprah raves about. Then there's ecoBrain. EcoBrain is an option where you pay less than you would for a paper book, then download it to your laptop, desktop, whatever. Then you can take it anywhere you want!
Hop on over to Healthy Green Moms and read her latest blog entry on ecoBrain. They're giving away a free eBook called Radical Simplicity: Small Footprints on a Finite Earth. The contest is open until Friday Nov 28th.
Monica, the writer of the post over on Healthy Green Moms, talks about the books she hauls around every time she moves. Boy oh boy can I ever empathise with that! I've moved 11 times in less than 10 years, and each time, about 10 or more boxes are books. That's heavy, heavy work. Not only that, but the bookshelves required to house all those books are made of...you got it - wood.
Hop on over to Healthy Green Moms and check out the contest. And who knows, maybe you'll win! Let me know if you do!
21 November 2008
The holiday season - Christmas, Yule, Kwanzaa, Chanukah, whatever you call it, is about sharing your time with loved ones, and a good meal or two (or three). It is NOT about who spends the most, who has the biggest pile of gifts, or who got the most Christmas cards.
Alas, the power of advertising has won. Our children are bombarded with toy ads via television and internet. Stores have all of their toy displays right up front and centre in some places (hello Walmart). We hear ads on the radio, see them on buses, and on and on. Santa has become the central theme in Christian and secular Christmas celebrations - ask 10 kids what Christmas means and I guarantee you they'll all mention Santa before anything else.
"There's nothing I can do," you say? Limit your kids' television viewing, get a PVR and fast-forward through the commercials, don't bring the Sears Catalogue into your house, recycle store fliers before your kids see them, and most importantly, change your own way of thinking. Does your 4 year old REALLY need 50 presents? Does he NEED that shiny plastic toy that he'll play with for 3 days and then discard in favour of the next new item? Does she need 15 dolls that all look the same that (of course) have entire lines of clothing and accessories that you must purchase in order for your child's life to be complete?
My challenge for you this year: buy simple, handmade (if possible) toys and clothing. Avoid plastic toys that limit your child's imagination. Think of some pieces of material, perhaps dyed (a family project) in different colours. These scarves can transform into capes, grass, a flag, part of a fort, and on and on. The possibilities are endless. Another idea is to make Christmas gifts. Everyone loves fudge, cookies, peanut brittle, quickbreads! Crochet some scarves and caps! Wrap the gift in some lovely paper or a cute little box they can reuse-this is personal and shows the receiver that you care enough to spend time creating his gift.
Fight commercialism! Save your money! Spread the love! Enjoy your family and friends this year!
18 November 2008
Now I've plateaued around 160 lbs and want to get back down to my former 140ish pounds. I realize that dieting while nursing isn't a good idea, so I'm falling back on an old tried-and-true method, Weight Watchers. A long time ago I knew someone who paid the $16 bucks a week to go to meetings and she gave me her extra slide points calculator and a daily journal that tracks daily points consumption. I still have those tools and, along with the wonderful world wide web, I will try to lost approximately 20 pounds. If I can drop 10 pounds by Yule/Christmas, I'll eat normally and then go back to counting points after the holiday. Of course, I'll have to watch what I eat and not go overboard. As in, no eating 4 slices of lemon meringue pie.
Last night I went online and discovered that nursing mothers get to add 10 points to their daily allowance. So I get to eat 32 points worth of food each day. That's the MAXIMUM allowed. Plus I get an extra 35 points each week to use spread out over the week, if I want. I also get points credited back to me if I exercise, depending on the intensity.
I'm EXCITED! I've used this method before, while working in Windsor (after I broke my foot and gained 15 or so pounds) and I lost the weight I wanted within about 2 months, maybe less. This morning I started and I've already written the points value on each item in the cupboard so I don't have to calculate each thing before I eat it. Now I have to start thinking about healthy, tasty, low-point meal options.
17 November 2008
Tips for people who have clutter and want to make the effort to get rid of some: get some boxes. Or bags. Pick ONE room and get to work. One box is garbage, one is recycle, one is donate, one is stuff that belongs in different room in the house, and one is keep in that room. Do NOT put away items that belong in other rooms until you are finished. Simply concentrate on getting that first room done. Then take the box of stuff that belongs in other rooms and go room to room putting it away. You'll be amazed at how fast you can get the area clean. Then start the next room.
Next I'm organizing my office/sewing room. I have several boxes to get through and then I need to get my desks made. Once that is complete, I'll take all my partylite stuff upstairs and start on my living room. For anyone who's been in my place, you'll know that my living room is kinda cramped with bookcases and baby stuff and our huge tv. Since Delilah will be crawling and getting into everything soon, I've decided to jump the gun and just cut back on the stuff she can get into. I'm going to pack all my books on the one bookcase into a tote and take the bookcase upstairs to be re-purposed for my Partylite stuff. The altar bookcase will move to where the other bookcase is right now, and the items on it will be moved to a corner curio cabinet and corner shelf in the corner the altar bookcase is now. The curio cabinet will have doors to house my incense and candles and such. There will be a shelf or two for all my esoteric books and then my altar items will be placed on a freestanding corner shelf above the cabinet. The floating shelf that is currently in the sewing room will go above the tv for displaying items and the end tables will be freecycled. My green Ikea rolling table with shelf will house the DVD player, VCR and one of Ben's game systems. The DVD stand will be gone since I plan on putting all our DVDs into one of those storage binder systems. All of the cases for the DVDs, along with our VHS tapes (yes we still have those!) will be placed in storage in the basement, labelled for easy retrieval.
Sounds like a lot of work, and it probably is. But so worth it! I'm imagining how bare this room will be, how clean and relaxing it will seem. And I can't wait to start. But first I need to get some totes. They have them on sale at Zellers for 6 bucks off, only until Friday. I'm going tomorrow to get 4, to start. Then I can pack up my books and take that shelf upstairs.
Well, I guess I can get started sorting through some stuff upstairs in my office. Get sorting!
10 November 2008
My mom gave us her old tree at the end of the season last year. It's in the basement, right now, waiting for me to go down and get it. I can't wait. I've been looking for the perfect ornament to get to represent Delilah's first Yule.
Onto the topic of this post: I've joined an ornament exchange! Karen over at Write From Karen put me onto the ornament exchange over at An Island Life. Sounds fun, check it out!
Wow. Six months have passed since Delilah came into this world. It feels like these months have flown by, yet it seems that she has been in my life forever. I can't even begin to describe the emotions I experience when I look at her. Sometimes, I see her smile at me, and the love I feel is overwhelming.
Everything is new to her. It`s amazing: each time she experiences a new thing it's as if I am too. The dog chasing her tail sends D into peals of laughter. Music enthralls her. She's always happy, especially first thing in the morning. She opens her eyes and looks at me with a huge smile on her face. It starts my day perfectly.
I can't believe how my life has changed, how my opinions have changed, how much I have changed. But I wouldn't change my life for the world.
08 November 2008
For anyone purchasing clothes, try to get organic, locally made (at least on this continent). She'll be running through her 6-12 sizes quickly, as the arms seem fairly short. She'll need 9-12 month sizes and 12-18 month soon.
You can either click the banner above this post featuring Cheeky Monkey's logo to go directly to her registry list, or click HERE.
Please make sure you indicate on the list that you've purchased the item, so it isn't duplicated. Gift receipts are appreciated!
Sunday, Stacy is hostessing a Partylite show and I will be the consultant. My first. I'm a little nervous, but not too much. I'm more excited than anything...call me weird but I'm looking forward to starting this new part of my life, the part where I get to work (if you want to call it that!) for minimal hours and have fun while doing it. Because of this, I'll be able to stay home with Delilah! Now THAT is awesome.
Last night I was at my sponsor's house and she has lent me some stuff to show. I have some pieces that will knock the socks off of the guests! I'm really excited to show people all the product I have that will make great gifts for others or themselves. I am totally in love with the products I have to show, one of the best reasons for becoming a consultant is that I get to buy everything discounted or get it free!!!
I'm really hoping for Stacy's sake that there is a good turnout. The more people who go to her party, the more sales she will get, and that equals free product and half-price items, as well as great deals. The main reason that people host shows of their own is to get free stuff. It's that easy. Invite a bunch of people, say, 25-40 (to end up with an attendance around 10-12), provide me a place to do the show, supply some simple snacks (although you don't have to), and let me do the rest! Easy as that. And then reap the rewards. Why don't more people do this!?!
Well, I'm off to bed, I've spent the last hour preparing some notes, thinking about my display, and watching a training video for ideas on presentation. What will likely happen is, I'll be all prepared and then end up completely winging it. Which is usually how I do stuff like this, but it always works out in the end.
Wish me luck!
05 November 2008
News reports have been flooding us with articles warning that the impending flu season may be the worst in years. Even though it is difficult to separate the facts from the hype, a close evaluation of the flu vaccine will reveal that serious questions must be raised about the recommendations that are routinely touted, namely high efficacy with little risk. Anyone considering a flu shot should become informed about the substances coming through that needle, and should be determined to investigate the safety and efficacy issues that are still unresolved.
The Vaccine Virus
Each year, a new vaccine is developed that contains three different viruses (one influenza B and two influenza A strains). CDC officials select the new viruses based on which viruses were prevalent during the flu season in China and Australia the previous year. The CDC admits that the viruses selected for the new vaccine are chosen on the basis of an “educated guess.” [i]
What’s in a Flu Shot?
The influenza virus is grown in “specific pathogen-free” (SPF) eggs. Eggs are tested for a variety of agents—usually between 23 and 31—to confirm the absence of those specific pathogens. Laboratories limit the number of agents that are screened due to the shear abundance of potential viruses and/or bacteria to choose from. In addition, screening for every potential agent would be cost prohibitive.[ii] If none of the tested agents are detected, the vaccine is reported as “pathogen free.”
However, it should be understood that there is a distinct difference between “pathogen free” and “specific pathogen-free.” In its July 1996 report, the Institute of Medicine acknowledged that “although it is not possible to produce a completely uncontaminated animal, it is possible to produce an animal [or egg] certified to be free of specific pathogens.”[iii] Viruses that are harmless to their animal host, however, may be potentially harmful to humans.
During the manufacturing process, antibiotics (neomycin, polymyxin B and gentamicin) are added to eliminate stray bacteria found in the mixture. The final solution can contain the following additives in any combination: Triton X-100 (a detergent); polysorbate 80 (a potential carcinogen); gelatin; formaldehyde; and residual egg proteins. In addition, many of the influenza vaccines still contain thimerosal as a preservative. Thimerosal (mercury) is being investigated for its link to brain injury and autoimmune disease.
Does the Flu Shot Protect?
There are no guarantees that the influenza viruses selected for the vaccine will be the identical strains circulating during a given flu season. In fact, it has recently been announced that this year's flu vaccine does not include the strain that is being reported by doctors in the community called the “A Fujian” strain. Outbreaks have been reported in Texas, Colorado and elsewhere[iv] that involve strains that do not match the current flu vaccine. CDC tests have confirmed that more than 80 per cent of the 55 strains of influenza virus isolated thus far are the A Fujian strain. Even so, the CDC still maintains that the current vaccine could provide cross-protection against the new variant, but the fact is, no one knows for sure.
Moreover, the majority of illnesses characterized by fever, fatigue, cough and aching muscles are not caused by the influenza virus. Non-influenza viruses (e.g., rhinoviruses respiratory syncytial virus [RSV], adenoviruses, and parainfluenza viruses) can cause symptoms referred to influenza-like illnesses (ILI). Certain bacteria, such as Legionella spp., Chlamydia pneumoniae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and Streptococcus pneumoniae, have been documented as the causes of ILI.[v]
Notably, these microbes are not part of the flu vaccine. Unless an organism’s antigen is contained within the vaccine, there is no protection conferred by the vaccine. It is estimated that most adults will average 1-3 episodes of ILI, and most children will average 3-6 episodes. The CDC also admits that “many persons who have been vaccinated against influenza can still get the flu”[vi]
Targeting the Elderly
The flu vaccine is generally recommended for persons aged 65 and older, and those with medical conditions who could experience serious complications from the flu. Medical journals report broad differences in effectiveness for the elderly, ranging from 0 to 85%.
The CDC states that 90% of deaths from influenza occur among the elderly. Considering that nearly 65% of all deaths (from any cause) occur in this age group, it is nearly impossible to prove that flu shots significantly increase life expectancy in this group. The truth is that most people—young and old—will weather a bout of the flu without hospitalization or complications.
A Serious Concern: Alzheimer’s Disease
Hugh Fudenberg, MD, an immunogeneticist and biologist with nearly 850 papers published in peer review journals, has reported that if an individual had five consecutive flu shots between 1970 and 1980 (the years studied), his/her chances of getting Alzheimer's Disease is ten times higher than if they had zero, one, or two shots.[vii]
Dr. Boyd Haley, Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemistry at the University of Kentucky, Lexington has done extensive research in the area of mercury toxicity and the brain. Haley’s research has established a likely connection between mercury toxicity and Alzheimer’s disease. [viii] In a paper published in collaboration with researchers at University of Calgary, Haley stated that “seven of the characteristic markers that we look for to distinguish Alzheimer's disease can be produced in normal brain tissues, or cultures of neurons, by the addition of extremely low levels of mercury.”[ix]
Does this prove that the mercury contained in the influenza shot can be directly linked to Alzheimer’s? No, absolutely not. But further research in this area is critically needed because the absence of proof is not the “proof of absence.”[x]
Flu Vaccine Now for Children
The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) adopted a resolution effective March 1, 2003 that expanded the use of the influenza vaccine to include children aged 6-23 months. The recommendations also included vaccinating those aged 2 to 18 years who live in households containing children younger than 2 years of age.[xi]
The flu vaccine most commonly given to children is Fluzone, a trivalent vaccine grown in chicken eggs. Harvested with formaldehyde and containing the recommended ratio of 15 ug of each of the three prototype viral strains, each dose of Fluzone also contains 25 ug of mercury.[xii] The new CDC recommendations include giving the influenza vaccine to children beginning at six months of age and then annually, for the rest of their lives. Children less than age 9 receiving their first flu shot, two doses of vaccine are recommended, with a minimum interval of one month between the two doses. However, the CDC does not provide a direct reference to substantiate this recommendation.[xiii]
On June 17, 2003, the FDA approved an intranasal influenza vaccine for use in healthy persons aged 5–49 years. Flumist is a live-virus vaccine that can cause a litany of problems.
If you choose not to receive the flu shot, have a discussion with your doctor regarding other options. However, some simple and possibly quite effective things you can do for yourself to prevent the flu include: 1) avoid white sugar;[xiv] 2) exercise regularly; 3) get adequate sleep; 4) eat a healthy diet, omitting trans-fats; 5) drink plenty of purified water daily and 6) wash your hands. A common way people contract viral illnesses is by rubbing their nose or their eyes after their hands have been contaminated with a virus. The CDC states, “the most important thing you can do to keep from getting sick is to wash your hands.”[xv]
We are so used to taking medications—for prevention and treatment—that it is difficult to comprehend that these modest recommendations are really the most powerful ways to minimize the likelihood of getting the flu.
Making the Decision
You may decide to consult a physician who is schooled in alternative medicine to assess a variety of options for you and your family. What is most important, in the end, is to become as informed as possible regarding your options for keeping healthy and avoiding the flu.
[i] Sabin, Russel and Reynolds. Breakdowns Mar Flu Shot Program Production, distribution delays raise fears of nation vulnerable to epidemic. San Francisco Chronicle. Feb. 25, 2001
[ii] Charles River Laboratories, A Laboratory Animal Health Monitoring Program: Rationale and Development,' (Winter 1990); Source: Internet address
[iii] Institute of Medicine Press Release: Federal Guidelines Needed to Ensure Safety in Animal-to-Human Organ Transplants. July 17, 1996.
[iv]CBS: The Associated Press. CDC Says Flu Season Is Going Strong in Parts of U.S., Vaccine Doesn't Match Strain Doctors See.
[v] MMWR. November 9, 2001 / 50(44);984-6
[vi] MMWR Nov. 9, 2001/50(44); 984-6
[vii] Hugh Fudenberg, MD, is Founder and Director of Research, Neurolmmuno Therapeutic Research Foundation. Information from Dr. Hugh Fudenberg came from transcribed notes of Dr. Fudenberg's speech at the NVIC International Vaccine Conference, Arlington, VA September, 1997. Quoted with permission.
[viii] The Relationship of Toxic Effects of Mercury to Exacerbation of the Medical Condition Classified as Alzheimer’s Disease by Boyd E. Haley, PhD.
[ix] NeuroReport, 12(4):733-737, 2001
[xi] MMWR. 2002;51[RR-3]:1-31
[xii] Package insert. Influenza Virus VaccineFluzone® 2003 – 2004 Formula
[xiii] MMWR. 2002: 51 [RR-3], pg. 19
[xiv] All forms of refined sugar depress white blood cells' ability to destroy bacteria. See Sanchez A, et al. Role of sugars in human neutrophilic phagocytosis. Am J Clin Nutr 1973;26:1180.
[xv]CDC—Handwashing: An ounce of prevention keeps the germs away.
Ben thinks I'm silly for being so emotional today. I'm overwhelmed with feelings: awe, incredulity, happiness, gratitude, relief...
The success of Barack Obama's Presidential campaign is monumental in its importance, not just to the United States of America, but to Canada and the world. He represents change, hope, and tolerance. He represents black people and white people. He's educated, well-spoken, quiet, graceful, charismatic, and inspiring.
Imagine: there are people alive today who, years ago, couldn't vote because of the colour of their skin. Yesterday, they were allowed to vote - and one of the people they could vote for was BLACK! Not only did a black man RUN for President, he WON! This is huge. Now, every generation that follows will grow up learning about the first black American President and how he changed the world.
Now, Obama has a tough job ahead. He inherits a huge deficit, two wars, and countless other problems. Add to that the promises he has made for change, and you have a potential for heartbreak and disappointment if he fails to do what he has said he will. I do not envy his job at this point, but I hope he realizes the importance of keeping his word and always doing the best he can, to lead the most powerful country in the world with fairness and humility while being decisive, intelligent, and innovative. Major changes to environmental policy are required, immediately, and I think he realizes that. Green collar job creation will be instrumental in taking steps to halt the progression of environmental destruction. Obama, I think, understands that major change must take place, and NOW, in order to avoid going past the point of no return.
His first order of business, I think, will be to try to fix the economy, followed by a decision to withdraw troops from Iraq, deal with Afghanistan, and all the while making policy on environmental decisions. Tough job.
Mr Obama, I wish you the best. Congratulations and good luck!
04 November 2008
Now, onto business: is anyone else worried?
I am worried that McCain will get in. But this apprehension is due more to the fact that Sarah Palin terrifies me. I mean, come ON, this woman believes that everything in the Bible really happened. She believes the Bible LITERALLY. She got prayed over by a minister so that she'd be protected against witchcraft. Seriously. Um..what happens to all the witches in the States if she becomes Vice President? And what would happen should McCain DIE while in office? That would make HER the President of the United Freaking States. Sarah Palin. President. Dear Lord help us all.
But I also think Obama rocks. He's charismatic, baby. And I don't give a good goddamn that he's a newbie, I think he'll do a great job. And a black President!! Wowsers.
I have a couple Obama For President pins. I'll be wearing one tomorrow. Put your energies and thoughts towards him winning!
Now we have Christmas carols and Christmas displays to look forward to.
I know I'LL be putting up our Yule Tree sometime in the next week or two. Call me crazy, but I am excited to do it. Funny, that...I used to make fun of my mother for putting up the Christmas Tree the weekend after Halloween, I thought she was crazy. My mom LOVES Christmas. Seriously. I guess it rubbed off.
I've always enjoyed the holiday season/cheer, even if I don't celebrate the whole Jesus Christ birthday thing. I mean, even when I was totally into Christianity, I didn't really get how a magic flying elf named Santa Claus, excessive spending, and drinking egg nog really had anything to do with a little baby born in a manger to a virgin Palestinian woman. But whatever.
The smells, the sounds, the giving, the happy help-your-fellow-man feeling of the holiday season is what I enjoy. I like the planning, the picking, the buying, the wrapping, and the hiding. I like the 24-hours-a-day Christmas carols on online radio stations, even if they do feature songs about Jesus. I like egg nog, hot chocolate with Baileys, snow flurries, and Christmas lights. I like the "magic" of it all.
We don't plan on doing the whole thing with Santa with Delilah. We won't be celebrating/recognizing Christmas with Delilah at home, but we WILL be celebrating Yule. Yule occurs on December 21 this year. It is the Winter Solstice, the first day of Winter, and the longest Night of the whole year.
From Wikipedia: "According to the medieval English writer the Venerable Bede, Christian missionaries sent to proselytize among the Germanic peoples of northern Europe were instructed to superimpose Christian themes upon existing local pagan holidays, to ease the conversion of the people to Christianity by allowing them to retain their traditional celebrations. Thus, Christmas was created by associating stories of the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure of Christianity, with the existing pagan Yule celebrations, similar to the formation of Halloween and All Saint's Day via Christianization of existing pagan traditions....
Many symbols and motifs associated with the modern holiday of Christmas derive from traditional pagan northern European Yule celebrations. The burning of the Yule log, the decorating of Christmas trees, the eating of ham, the hanging of boughs, holly, mistletoe and others are all historically practices associated with Yule. When the Christianization of the Germanic peoples began, missionaries found it convenient to provide a Christian reinterpretation of popular pagan holidays such as Yule and allow the celebrations themselves to go on largely unchanged, versus trying to confront and suppress them. The Scandinavian tradition of slaughtering a pig at Christmas (see Christmas ham) is probably salient evidence of this. The tradition is thought to be derived from the sacrifice of boars to the god Freyr at the Yule celebrations. Halloween and aspects of Easter celebrations are likewise assimilated from northern European pagan festivals."
So Ben and Delilah and I will celebrate Yule with a Yule Dinner, followed by a stay-awake-over during which time we will keep a fire burning, play games, and watch movies. This year a few friends will join us in our vigil. After Yule, we will do the merry-go-round of Christmas celebrations with our parents/siblings etc. Everyone (read, Grandparents) will understand that Delilah will NOT be receiving gifts from Santa, and when she's old enough, she'll be told the story of what Christians believe, just as she'll be told the story of what other religions believe. I don't feel it is necessary, however, to lie to her about an imaginary character who sneaks into your house while you sleep (CREEPY) to leave you presents. I'd rather she saw the magic in everyday life than to believe in a magic elf with flying reindeer who can travel faster than light.