Oh Christmas Tree

Those of us that grew up with something resembling a Christian background are likely to have a Christmas tree up this time of year.
While not religious the tree is the center of familial celebration for the Christmas season. Some of the traditions go back a thousand or more years, while the modern tree is straight from Victoriana. Well by the way of Germany to Queen Victoria’s home.
There is in fact something charming about bringing the forest inside and placing trinkets on the branches, covering it with lights and fighting the cat off of it.
Growing up we did not have a lot of money, so the tree was always an exciting extravagance that came before Christmas. Most years we went into the national forest and found a tree to bring home, often it was a family outing with boots, scarves, and frozen fingers. Our dogs would act like maniacs in the snow and our little kid dreams always wanted to bring home a tree in the 10′ to 15′ range, when our ceilings topped at 8′.
At times the tree was a little sad and bare, but somehow it didn’t show too much when we added some tinsel and a mess of ornaments. There were clay hands, broken snowmen, and felt reindeer that made the tree look like an explosion of the worst crafts known to 90s children. Mom also had the “Special” ornaments that were more fragile and special, they always made it to the top of the tree where no child nor puppy, nor kitty could aim or maim them.
There were years that things went awry, like when the cat killed the nativity in an epic crash that involved a tasseled table runner, and it all landing on the Siamese’s head. Only Jesus made it out alive. Then there was the year that my sister’s and I took ornamenting the tree on ourselves, unaware of our mother’s awareness on evasive placement, and the litter of puppies ate all the wood ones on the bottom foot of the tree.
All around though, our tree was our own, and each year was looked on with excitement. It was never because we got new ornaments, or a new tree, it was because we got to relive all our old memories and all the ornaments that brought as joy and wonderment. We had crystal ballerinas, glass bells, and whimsical forest creatures.
As an adult I learned that people buy new trees, new ornaments, new decorations, and have a new theme every year. It enhances the general Martha Stewart nature of a home, it’s clean and happy, and photogenic. In the age of Instagramming, YouTube Stars, there is definitely an appeal. I like a home of clean lines and design as much as the next 20-something, but not when it comes to my tree.
This year our fake tree is on its last leg, there are metal-plastic branches missing the it is permanently bent, with many branches unable to hold bigger ornaments. We only paid $20 for it five years ago, so it makes sense that the 6′ Family Dollar mess is falling apart. This year is its last, but there is something about it that brings up an immense amount of sentiment. It was the first tree I bought as an adult, and not another family hand-me-down, but what decorates the tree is the better story.
Each ornament has a tale. There is the carousel horse I have had as long as I can remember, a 25 year old fragile plastic white horse with black hair. There is a copper ornament with a cutout elk, announcing many weekends spent in Rocky Mountain National Park. For my step-daughter there are My Little Pony’s and a plush fox. The newest ornament members include a pair of hedgehogs commemorating our marriage this year, and a fat clay dolphin from Mexico.
Each year Ryan, Lily, and I have been playing house, I have bought Ryan and Lily an ornament, something to remember the year or just something they like. Ryan has received Yoda, a Maneki-neko cat, and this year a spaceman. Lily has a Lenox Elsa, a parrot and this year will be the dolphin and a miniature sombrero. There is a wood cat for when we adopted our cat, and a groom from my bridal shower.
It looks like a mess, to be honest, it should not be in a magazine, or even an Instagram post, and the cat hates that it took over some of his prime sunbathing room. Yet it’s ours, a tree full of baubles to celebrate our lives, and the gifts from our families to get started on our own. Maybe I’m more sentimental this year because we are officially wed, but all around I love that we have such an ugly tree, and the joy of decorating it each year.
Maybe the best part is sharing this with Lily, we decorate the tree together, pulling out our boxes and deciding what makes it on the tree. Each year she gets more that are hers, and when she moves on to college or her first home, they will go with her, pieces of our home, so that she too can buy her first tree and start creating her own ugly Christmas Tree.
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New Ventures

Greetings fans! In case you don’t follow me on Patreon, I thought I would share that my fiance, Ryan, and I are doing a podcast! It’s largely comedic, with thought provoking analysis and suggested reading and research. It’s a learning process as we are new at this, but we’re excited to try something different.

Episode 1

Episode 2

 

 

Never Ever Ever Stop Learning

Read the title.

Because it says a lot about our culture. This statement has to be shared over and over again, because its important. Yet it seems to fall on deaf ears, or is dropped, shattered on the floor like an old glass no one really cared for.

The catch is that we’re wired to never stop learning. We take in daily information that assists with our survival and well-being, we have to. We have evolved to continue to take in and process data. We, as mere mortal humans, take in the information and connect it with a million other pieces of information that we know. Making this endless web of knowledge linking to knowledge and knowledge creating ideas and perspectives and developing our world views.

Of course the other side of this is that we can often be wrong about our world views. We end up with skewed views and mis-information. Which often means we have to re-learn in order to be correct. Or, sadly, we stubbornly stick to our misunderstandings like a mule refusing to move for a train.

The train is truth, the mule is stubbornness….I think that makes sense?

My point is, we’re all wrong on a regular basis, and we owe the world, our friends, our neighbors, and the planet to continue to learn and adjust.

Maybe the better analogy is that we should adjust our sails as the wind changes. This doesn’t mean that we remove the sail and start over, it means that we move as things change. We take on new winds to our benefit….Ahem….meaning we learn how things are and we adjust.

Because the reality is, if we continue to be stubborn and not move, or not learn, is that we get run over or knocked away. We end up on an island we never wanted to be on, or smashed by a train.

So, I challenge all of you to look at your world, and look at how you think, and question it. Ask yourself, “am I right in this?” “Do I know what I am talking about?” and from there go and question it.

I’ll share my own example:

I stubbornly (I know….) believe in my own memory as being accurate for many things that have happened, in say just the last 8 years. The reality, as I am slowly remembering, is that the brain is terrible faulty when it comes to memory. Therefore, my memories are only about 60% accurate to what actually happened. Say the time I got confused and stranded by the bus schedules in Scotland, two days in a row. I REMEMBER not being able to get the right information, the reality is probably along the lines of not reading the schedules correctly, or asking the right questions.

Other things that have come up:

“cats eat grass to puke” the reality and probably more scientific answer is that cats like grass for digestion and cleaning their teeth.

“Sally Hemings was Thomas Jefferson’s mistress” well the term mistress is problematic when someone is owned by the other and about 14 years of age when their owner begins a relationship with them. Meaning: Sally Hemings was forced to have a sexual relationship and children with the man that legally owned her. That man was a founding father and president of the United States.

This brings up a lot of subjects, which I’ll address in another post, but the point is, we have to think about how we talk, feel, interact, react and share the world. We have to acknowledge our mistakes, and we have to learn new data.

This makes the world a better place and it means that we can be better beings to and with one another.  We have to move out of this post-truth funk and fully acknowledge the importance of truth, knowledge, education and experts. Oh my lord, we must listen to and acknowledge experts.

Again, stay tuned for more….until next time, keep learning.

American Crime- You need to be watching.

American Crime is a series that delves into the complex world that exists in criminality in our country.  The first season analyzed the O.J. Simpson trial and this season examines the world of American slavery.

Slavery, yes. Because it’s important to understand that though slavery is technically illegal, it very much still exists. Slavery is still a crime in which people are forced into many forms of labor, sexual acts or a variety of things. It can be a housekeeper, tomato picker, prostitute, massage parlor worker or a variety of other things.

These problems often come out of extreme poverty and individuals seeking out something or anything better than what their current circumstances allow. Immigrants, often undocumented, come to the United States for jobs that pay 5 or 10 times what they make in their native country.

The brilliance of American Crime is that it analyzing exactly how millions are sucked into situations where they are forced into labor and abuse with little to no pay. These individuals are bribed or forced to stay in their slave-like situation and though people may not be property or “owned” individuals are treated like disposable property.

This season of American Crime looks at the connection between industry and market demands that drive agricultural-based abuses. Such as the tomato farmers hiring as cheap as possible labor in order to sell produce. These things have actually happened, in situations similar to, if not worse than, those depicted in American Crime.

I look forward to seeing where the show goes, and I hope its existence shines more light on what cheap food actually means for everyone.

My Diploma Hangs on the Wall

My diploma hangs on the wall

It’s best friend by it’s side

One has a $60,000 price tag

The other $40,000

They’re beautiful pieces of paper

Expensive as they are.

 

They have a lot of memories attached

Memories of fun and learning

Memories of personal growth

There is travel mixed in there

and summers abroad.

 

They’re beautiful pieces of paper

Representative of education and time

They’re beautiful pieces of paper

that show my passage of time.

 

I even had them framed so that I am reminded

of all the hard work I’ve done

And of which I should be delighted.

 

Yet they hang there on the wall while I struggle to pay my bills.

 

They hang there on the wall while I try to keep my head up.

 

They hang there on the wall while I can’t pay my debt.

 

They hang there on the wall while I wait for my ship to come in.