Category Archives: holiday

Focus 52: "Begin"

Yes. I already wrote my post for the New Year.  It was fabulous. Did you miss it?  Well, go the hell back and read it.  It was all about love with nice stories, sexy music and of course, the joy that is my life.

Now, I am involving myself in the “Focus 52” project, where we creative types will be taking photos, blogging, showing off our goods (no, not like that…perverts) in a collective effort to post our stuff at least once a week, every week, for a year.

I am a commitment phobe.  Don’t believe this?  Ask my three husbands.  Yeah.  It’s like that. 

However, I truly feel I can devote myself to this project.  I watched my girl Janice do her 365 day project, where every. single. day. she took another photograph and uploaded it, blogged about it and she really moved me with her work.  It inspired me and now that she is sponsoring the less taxing Focus 52 project, well, this is something that I feel I can do…especially with her at the helm. 

I recently started taking pictures.  Not great pictures, but pictures of moments that make me say…wow, I would love to write about that moment.  So, with camera in hand…I grab the moment.  I’m not a professional photographer by any means.  My experience goes as far as in the mirror pics of myself for Facebook or boobie shots on my phone that I text to my husband.  But, for the purpose of just grabbing the moment, my skills of point and click are good enough.  I just want to capture enough of the moment for me to take it home and write about it.  My focus will now be on exactly that…capturing moments in photos and then, talking about that particular moment in time.  What it meant.  What I was feeling.  The circumstances surrounding it.

This project will not only give me the opportunity to commit to my writing once again, but allow me to branch out just the tiniest bit into another creative outlet.  You don’t have to be good at something to love what you do.  (See: President George Bush). 

Here is my first photo (click to enlarge):

This photo was taken New Years Eve, 2010.  It was taken from the balcony of our hotel room overlooking the Gulf Beaches in Treasure Island, Florida.  A better photographer would  have known to center this bitch, as the sun usually doesn’t lay lazily to the right.  At this particular moment, I was thinking…this is the last sunset of the year.  When the sun sets…it will give way to a new year, a new start.

A new beginning. 

I think I am going to like being a part of this project. 

When Religion and Tradition Collide…

I truly believe that most Christians do not have a clue about the origin of their religion. More over, I believe that most of them do not even remotely understand that Christmas has nothing at all to do with the birth of Christ. And Santa? Good old Santa has nothing at all to do with the Christian version of Christmas whatsoever. So, when a conversation like the following takes place, I often try to gently inform and educate while trying to understand that, no matter what I say, someone who has been made to understand one thing since they were a child is not likely to change their opinion regardless of how much sense someone else makes.

I had the following conversation on Facebook the other day and was curious what Blogger would think of it. Apparently, “Person A” was upset because of a recent ruling in Florida stating that all Christmas signs/decorations would not be adorning the toll booths along the highway, as has always been done in the past, because when Halloween decorations were put up this past October, many people complained that they were “offended” by them. They were offended because the decorations pushed the Pagan holiday of Halloween and it was an affront to those who are devout Christians.

NOTE: Names are redacted to protect the idiocy identity of the player involved. Also, random comments that contributed nothing to the main idea of the conversation were deleted in the interest of saving space.

Person A: I’m tired of hearing that people are offended about the word CHRISTMAS & when someone says MERRY CHRISTMAS to them! Well guess what, “TOUGH SHIT”, I don’t hear you complaining when you go on CHRISTMAS break or have OFF from work for this wonderful day. If you are offended–TO FRIGGEN BAD– I have to be sensitive to all your holidays, then be RESPECTFUL of MINE! MERRY CHRISTMAS, MERRY CHRISTMAS, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

Friend of Person A: That’s awesome! You took the words right out of my mouth!

Person A: Thanks (Friend), I can’t take all the credit, my awesome cousin said it first but it is exactly what I was thinking!! Forget political correctness, MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

CP: I get that…but then, you have to give equal time to ALL religions. There was no Happy Channukah signs up this past season either. That’s disrespectful to me…if you are going to just do Xmas but not MY holiday. I exist. I pay taxes just like you do…why does my holiday not matter? LOL I’m just kidding. I actually don’t care. People say merry xmas to me all the time and then I usually shoot back with Happy Hannukah to them. It makes people laugh. I put up a tree every year and call it a Hannukah bush. Truthfully, the safest thing to do so as not to offend is to place a sign that says “happy holidays” and leave it at that so whiny bitches don’t get all up in arms over it. However, it seems to me that most find “Happy Holidays” equally as offensive, like there is some secret crusade or conspiracy to eradicate Christmas which is ridiculous and untrue.

The Halloween thing, though…that was another story. And, to clarify, it was Christians and Catholics who did all the complaining! They were angry that a Pagan ritual based “holiday” was being shoved in their faces. So basically, all the people who celebrate xmas sort of shot themselves in the foot now with all the halloween complaining. LOL They did it to themselves.

Person A: I’m personally tired of tip toeing around, all this pc stuff is ridiculous! If I offend you with Merry Christmas then don’t say anything or say Happy whatever back! My holiday, what I grew up with was CHRISTMAS, I’m catholic and believe in the MAGIC of CHRISTMAS!! I have no problem going to the mall and seeing a dreidel or a Menorah and now even the kenorah, it does not offend me so why should a “CHRISTMAS TREE”, Santa or other Christmas symbols offend others, it’s just plain old crap!

CP: But that was my point. I’m a Jew, as you know. I don’t find “Merry Christmas” to be offensive. Not at all. My family has Catholics and Christians in it as well. However, it is important to realize that the people who complained about the Halloween decorations were the people who made it so that Xmas decorations are now offensive to others. Unfortunately, the people who complained about Halloween were devout Catholics and Christians who were angry about a Pagan holiday being shoved in their face. So, you see…if they hadn’t gotten offended over someone ELSE’S holiday, they would have their decorations up now for their own! It wasn’t Jews or Muslims who did this, Hon. It was YOUR OWN PEOPLE! I’m not trying to be offensive here or even attempting to point fingers, but what happened at the toll booths was done by hypocrites (which I am NOT NOT NOT accusing Catholics/Christians of being). What I am saying is that people who did not think about the big picture ended up cutting off their own nose to spite their face. They rallied against someone else’s holiday (Halloween) with such fervor that now their own politics are getting tossed back at them. That’s what happened here in Florida. As for why others find Christmas symbols offensive? I have no idea. But then again, I’m still trying to figure out how Santa has anything at all to do with the birth of Christ. Santa was born out of, coincidentally and oddly enough, Paganism…which makes all this entirely too ironic. LOL

Person A: So you are saying that the people who complained about the Halloween decorations are the reason that we can’t have Christmas (not Xmas please) decorations now? That makes no sense.

CP: Sure it does. The newspaper clearly stated that it was the Catholic Coalition for Keeping Christ in Christmas were the ones that sent the threatening letters to the Florida Highway Patrol regarding the Halloween decor on the toll booths being offensive. So, in order to please everyone, they made the only decision they really could make, which was to opt out of decorations altogether. It seemed like the appropriate decision to me. Kind of like kindergarten mentality. If you all can’t play nicely together, no one gets to play at all. It’s unfortunate but because of the radical behavior of some, no one gets holiday decorations now. Frankly, I don’t understand why there would be a specific holiday put on the toll booths ever. Happy Holidays is more than sufficient and easily runs the gamut of holidays between October and the New Year.

Person A: Ya but this is the Christmas season. Everyone celebrates the Christmas season even if they aren’t religious. Its a tradition thing not a religious thing.

CP: I disagree. There are about 4 other holidays that take place during the month of December that I can think of. There is Hannukah, the Muslim New Year, Kwanzaa, Christmas and probably a few more that I am not even aware of. Merry Christmas does not acknowledge those other religions at all. Second, Christmas decor would consist of Santa, reindeer, elves, etc. which are all steeped in Pagan tradition and originate via Pagan mythology. It was the fact that Florida state chose to use the Pagan originated holiday of Halloween to complain about in the first place. But now that we are discussing Christmas, they want Pagan symbolism to hang freely? That makes very little sense to me. Further, why only Christmas trees, Santas and the specific phrase of “Merry Christmas”? Why not menorah’s and kinara’s as well? Why wasn’t there a big banner across the booths that said “Happy Hannukah” during that week? It’s completely unfair to only acknowledge one religion during a holiday season that consists of more than just that one holiday. This is why a simple “Happy Holidays” banner would have been sufficient. My personal opinion is that NO holiday acknowledgment is warranted due to the fact that there should be separation between church and state. Those toll booths are paid for by MY tax dollars as well as yours. If we are going to reflect one religion, then all should be given equal time…but since the toll booths are run by state and federal government agencies, religious holiday acknowledgment in any form is inappropriate to begin with. So, my initial assessment stands. If the Catholic and Christian organizations who boycotted the toll booths at Halloween had thought about what they were doing…I mean, really thought their actions through, then they would have realized the simple fact that they did, indeed, do this to themselves. State government just opted to take the path of least resistance, which is to do away with the decorations altogether.
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This is where the conversation ended. I was “defriended” shortly after this. I gave her a few days to cool down and then wrote her a note telling her that I absolutely was not trying to offend her nor be offensive. She accepted my apology (though, I still don’t know exactly why I felt I should apologize. However, she is someone my daughter is associated with and I didn’t want to make things bizarre between she and my daughter) and continued to state that she felt I was mocking her religious beliefs. Now, I could have opened a brand new, fresh can of worms by telling her that the decorations in question have absolutely nothing to do with the religious aspect of what Christmas represents. I suppose that’s another story for another day. I shall save that one for the inevitable Easter vs. Passover debate.

What’s your take on the situation? Are you part of the “Leave Christ in Christmas” brigade that is easily offended when someone writes “Xmas”? Are you a “Happy Holidays” kind of person or do you feel the need to retaliate with a stern “Jesus is the reason for the season” reply to any who say that to you? Do you think that most people understand the origins of Christmas and/or Hannukah well enough to know that what I was saying was not necessarily offensive so much as it was an attempt to educate?

One thing that continues to make sense to me is the fact that after all this time, Jesus still has not come back. I mean, would you want to come back only to answer all these ridiculous theological and religious questions? I know I wouldn’t. He’s probably sitting back on some island somewhere, taking in the sun with a cold beer in one hand and the good book in the other saying “No shit. Really? Did I do that? I don’t remember saying THAT. Who wrote this crap? It had to be Luke. Maybe Matthew. No, wait. Paul. This has Paul written all over it, that damn prankster. When I get my hands on that little bitch, I am going to give him a piece of my mind, Dad dammit.”

The History of Halloween and Five Fun Facts

(Stolen from The Huffington Post). Enjoy!

Americans love Halloween. We as a country spend over $5 billion a year celebrating it. But where did the holiday come from? And how did traditions like asking strangers for food and dressing up as ghosts develop?

Halloween has its roots in Samhain (pronounced sow-in), an ancient harvest festival held at the end of the Celtic year. The festival marked the end of summer and the beginning of the dark wintertime. It was believed the spirits of the dead returned on this eve to damage crops and play tricks on the living. It was also believed that the Celtic priests, or Druids, were able to make predictions about the future, which they did during large bonfire celebrations where they wore animal skins and sacrificed crops and animals to the spirits.

In early A.D., Romans came to the Celtic territories of modern day England, Scotland and Northern France, and were the first people to influence the celebration of Samhain. They brought their own holidays: Feralia, the Roman day to honor the dead in late October, as well as another holiday to honor Pomona, the Roman goddess of fruit and trees. It is possible that this Roman influence is the reason apples are given out and bobbed for on Halloween.

By 800 A.D., Christianity spread to the Celtic Territories and brought with it another holiday, “All Saints Day.” Pope Boniface IV, the designator of All Saints Day, was likely trying to replace Samhain with a similar but holier holiday meant to honor saints and martyrs. Later on, All Saints Day was renamed “All Hallows” and thus the day of Samhain (Oct. 31st) began to be called “All Hallows Eve,” and eventually shortened to “Hallowe’en.”

All of the holidays that were melded together to create our modern version of Halloween involved dressing up in one way or another. The celebrators of Samhain wore animal skins at their bonfire celebrations and those that observed “All Saints Day” often dressed as saints or angels. Later on men in Scotland would impersonate the dead on the day, explaining the ghoulish tradition we still observe.

During the mid 1800’s, Irish and English immigrants flooded the United States and brought Halloween with them. From these immigrants we received the Halloween traditions we recognize today, however skewed they are now. For instance, the first trick-or-treaters were far from today’s smiling children with commercialized costumes. They lived in Medieval England, and practiced “souling,” in which poor people would beg for sweet breads, in return for praying for the families’ souls. Later, the immigrants who brought Halloween to America would develop their own version of trick-or-treating, but it didn’t become popular here until the 1930s.

1) Halloween Is The Second Highest Grossing Commercial Holiday After Christmas

What used to be just a singular holiday with minimal things to purchase has turned into an entire “Halloween Season.” Between decorative lights and lawn ornaments, elaborate costumes and loads of candy, the average American spends a pretty penny on this fall holiday. However popular Halloween has become, the recession has affected spending for this year’s spooky night. Spending is down, according the the National Retail Federation. Shoppers will spend an average of $56.31 on the holiday compared to $66.54 in 2008. Some ways people are cutting down include making homemade costumes, using last year’s decorations and buying less expensive candies. For the children’s sake, let’s hope everyone doesn’t resort to giving out apples and pennies. Didn’t you just hate that as a kid?

2) Harry Houdini Died On October 31, 1926

The famous magician was killed (accidentally) by a McGill University student named J. Gordon Whitehead who was hitting him in the stomach repeatedly as part of a stunt. A week later he died of peritonitis from a ruptured appendix. Despite acute appendicitis, Houdini refused to seek medical treatment.

3) There’s A Phobia For That

Samhainophobia is an intense and persistent fear of Halloween that can cause panic attacks in sufferers. Other relevant phobias for this time of year: wiccaphobia (fear of witches), phasmophobia (fear of ghosts), and coimetrophobia (fear of cemeteries).

4) The First Jack-O-Lanterns Weren’t Made Out Of Pumpkins

They were originally hollowed-out turnips. The modern practiced mutated from the Irish tradition of carving faces of the the dead onto the gourds and putting candles inside to make them glow. These days your Jack-O-Lantern is most made out of a pumpkin, which most likely came from Illinois–a state that grew 542 million pounds of pumpkin in 2007.

5) One Quarter Of All The Candy Sold Annually Is For Halloween Night

Yes, no matter how much we eat for Christmas and Thanksgiving, Halloween has corned the market on candy. As a country we consume 20 million pounds of candy corn a year. Handing out Halloween treats is the perfect excuse to eat some too, as four-in-ten (41%) adults admit that they sneak sweets from their own candy bowl. And if you’re a kid, hang on to your basket, because home is where the candy thief is as 90% of parents admit to sneaking goodies from their kids’ Halloween trick-or-treat bags. But whether your stealing some, handing out some or having yours stolen, chances are you’ll get your hands (or miss getting your hands) on a Snickers bar, it has been the number 1 Halloween candy for years.

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Happy 14th Birthday to my Halloweenie, Nicholas.