Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't want to talk about the cats anymore. For a while, anyway. I'm swimming in kitty news and updates and status checks here in my everyday life, and I've come to the point where I just don't feel like relating any more of it. However, I will say this much for those who are concerned - Big Acoustic Kitty seems to be responding well to his insulin and does seem to be getting better.
So, what does that leave? Well, let's start with the holiday stuff, shall we? Yes, I said "holiday". Pardon me, but I just cannot understand why the whole "Keep Christ in Christmas" brouhaha has to KEEP coming up every stinking year. (Keep in mind, I live quite close to Colorado Springs and that whole nest of right-wing evangelical nut jobs that I shall not name here. So I get to hear about this crap all the bloody time.) What on earth is so terrible about wishing someone "Happy Holidays"? Yes, yes, I know ... "Jesus is the Reason for the Season." Please shut up and go dust off your nativity set, will you? I celebrate Christmas, and I tend to wish strangers a Merry Christmas this time of year ... unless I am 105% certain that they don't celebrate it, in which case I'll try for a more appropriate greeting. But you know what? In my much-loathed and still very un-missed corporate job, I worked with a number of Jewish folks who were quite active in their faith. You know what we most often wished each other? "Merry Christmas." We took it in the spirit in which it was intended, and didn't get huffy with each other. And why do some of these Christians seem to think they have more right to complain about their holiday getting trivialized than other faiths do? The re-dedication of the temple in Jerusalem was well before the birth of Christ, correct? (I'm going out on a limb on this one and not hopping over to Wikipedia on another tab to check my facts.) I know that celebration of the winter solstice was going on long before certain events in Bethlehem. So how come the Jews and the Pagans never start screaming like ninnies every year? (I'm sure some of them do ... but if you haven't logged off by now to go send out prayer requests for my salvation/damnation, I'm sure you get my drift.)
But regardless of who's right and who's wrong, what I really don't get is why these whiny buggers feel the need to keep drawing attention to how retailers handle Christmas. I've got news for you, Mr. & Mrs. Colorado Springs and your damn quiver-full of kids, Wal-Mart does not give two shits about whether they put "Christmas" or "Holiday" or "Season" or "Winter" on their ads ... they don't care about you, or your faith, or any of that - all they want is your money. And they want as much of it as possible, as quickly as possible. If they figure they can get more of it next year by "responding to people's concerns" (quotes used incorrectly in the service of indicating sarcasm) they'll slap baby Jesus, the three kings and a couple of sheep up on their advertising displays faster than you can say, "Boo". (Which you probably wouldn't, because that might indicate that you approve of that candy coated Satan-worship that occurs around the end of every October. But I digress ...)
So, enough holiday vitriol. There are, in fact, a lot of things that I like about this holiday season. As a matter of fact, let me go back to something I mentioned along in Paragraph Two - Nativity sets. Okay, so I'm not really a huge fan of nativity sets, per se. Most of them are so horribly schlocky that I can't stand to look at them. My mother (Hi, Mom!) has long been a collector of nativity sets, so I have developed an appreciation of sorts for them over many years of familiarity with her collection. As a matter of fact, I have developed a couple of Nativity Set Rules - rules which are not met by the majority of sets out there, and which therefore preclude me from ever having a collection along the lines of the one my mother has. My rules are actually fairly few, and fairly simple:
1. Mary had better be holding on to that baby. Tight.
Let's consider this from a realistic perspective, people. Mary was what, 15? Nobody knows for sure, but that seems to be a reasonable guess. So you have a 15 year old new mother, married to a virtual stranger who is probably twice her age, at best. She's away from home, she's given birth in a stable or a cave or what-have-you, and now she and the baby have become something of an attraction for any and all nearby shepherds and wandering rich tourists. Now, I don't have children of my own, but based on my own mother and other mothers I have known, Mary is going to have a death grip on that baby. There is no way she is going to be gazing down at him in adoration as he reclines, half-naked and glowing, in a box full of hay. And if Joseph had anything going for him at all (which he must have, or the Archangel would have gone and given some other single guy the nod), he's going to be a little nervous about the whole situation, too. I don't require a ceramic Joseph to be preparing to clobber the interlopers, but would it hurt to make him look at least a little more awake?
(And as an aside, you know how Bethlehem was Joseph's home town? I'm betting there were some raised eyebrows there about Joseph and his new bride. I notice there's no mention anywhere in the bible of Mary's mother-in-law. I am hoping that God, in his infinite wisdom, chose Joseph in part because he was an orphan. Because personal assurances from the archangel or no, there is no way that MIL/DIL relationship could have been spun into anything positive for the gospels.)
2. Actually, there is no specific Rule Two.
There are a number of personal preferences that I keep in mind when looking at nativity scenes (I like animals, I don't like angels, and keep the schlock to a minimum), but #1 up there is the deal-breaker for me.
In my Mom's whole nativity collection, there are really only two that I've ever wanted for my own. There's this one:
And this one does now belong to me. Mom gave it to me when I went out for her birthday this year. The other one is, I'm sorry to say, in flagrant violation of my "no-schlock" rule. It's a tiny gold plastic nativity scene, hot-glued onto some kind of glittery red plastic/fiberglass disk. Both of these sets have been around since before I was born, and I've always loved the big gold and silver set, but it wasn't until the first or second Christmas after I graduated from high school that the gold and red plastic set became dear to me. I doubt that I can do a good job of making anyone understand why I like it so much, so let's just put it simply: Joseph no longer has a head because the cat ate it. The Poot, as a certain one-eyed orange tabby was known, came along one Christmas, sniffed Joseph's head and immediately bit it off. I know, because I watched it happen. He completely ignored everything else, and after decapitating Joseph, The Poot wandered off and never bothered that nativity set again. I thought it was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen in my life, and even now the memory of it can set me to giggling like a fool. So, schlocky or not, I must have it.
(For those of you who might like a little better definition of the term "schlocky", it's anything that you might find here. Especially the stuff that you can tell is taking itself seriously.)
Well, that's enough ranting for the moment. If I don't get back here before Christmas to take on the subject of annoying Christmas songs (and if you thought I had things to say in this post...), then I hope all of you and yours enjoy the Happiest of Holidays.
Oh, fine ... and a Merry Christmas, too. ;-)