Happy Holidays 2016

Thanksgiving is the gateway to the holiday season and if you are young, you may not know that once upon a time there was no Black Friday. Yes, it's true. Now to me Black Friday is a horrid display of hordes of people who are willing to shiver hours in the cold outdoors in order to barge into department stores the second they open the doors, to battle for a limited number of the most sought after presents of the year. They are enticed by the possibility of getting the lowest price ever known to man or woman for leader items in limited supply that lure them in. Maybe it's the thrill of the hunt, wanting to win the biggest prize for an unheard of low price. Maybe it's just because they want to give their loved ones the best of everything. I really do understand. Times have been tough for too many people for too long, but let's try not to run over them.

That said, I think of holiday shopping as a contact sport, injuries and all. Black Friday makes the Breaking News every year now, people knocking people down to get a bargain and not even stopping to help the fallen get up. You could not pay me to go shopping between Black Friday and the new year. In all fairness, it would be hard for anyone to convince me to go shopping on any day. I must have been absent on the day they gave out the shopping gene.

Please know I'm not criticizing the people who consider shopping as a form of recreation. It's harmless fun if you like it and don't end up with credit card debt you can't pay. I'm only speaking as my authentic self when I say that for me shopping is a form of torture. I'm so thankful for Amazon Prime. It's pure magic. Order online. Pay. Wait two days and packages appear by my front door. 

Once upon a time, I was only aware of two holidays: Christmas for Christians and the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah that we learned about in my 99% white Christian elementary school. This year, the first day of Hanukkah starts the night before Christmas Day. I find that interesting for some reason. Since the growth of the Internet our computers have taken us to places we had only dreamed of and introduced us to people across the planet who became our social media friends who speak different languages that we do not know. On Facebook we only have to click "Translate" and the language barrier disappears, not perfectly, but enough.

Christmas Manger                    Hanukkah, Jewish Festival of Lights

On social media, some of us share more about ourselves than is probably wise, but it speaks to our longing to know each other and to be known. New places, new customs, new values. We open our minds and often our hearts and feel like global citizens in this brave new world. Social media and Breaking News on CNN 24-hours-a-day, inform us immediately if there's a crisis occurring in another country. We hold our collective breath and pray for them, hoping none of our new foreign friends has been hurt or worse. We care more about these strangers who have become our friends because they have shared themselves with us as we risked sharing with them. We all want to be known, to believe our lives matter.

In the process, we have been exposed to many other religious and cultural holidays and celebrations. I saw the graphic below that says seven of the world's major religions have about 29 holidays from November to January. It feels more appropriate for me to say Happy Holidays now. I bought three different cards to send this year and it got confusing. Next year I'll buy the one that represents who I am then, preferably alive. This graphic echoes my feelings.  I don't think my holiday is the only one that counts.

Winter religious

Bodhi Day of Enlightenment - Dec. 8                 Pancha
                      Ganapati, Hindu gift-giving December festival

When I sat down at my computer I wasn't sure where this page was headed. I'm in Gainesville, Florida, on this December 24th, alone in the house at this moment. I stare out the window above my cluttered desk for inspiration. The bare trees in North Central Florida have finished flaunting their abbreviated display of gold and orange and morphed to a matte shade of brown leaves now blanketing my deck. Some days they are the only thing that gets me out of the house to sweep them away.

Kwanzaa            Winter Solstice ~ The Return of the

We celebrated the Winter Solstice here a few days ago making it officially Winter now.  the Weather Channel tells me the temperature here at 5:30 pm EST is 80 degrees with a predicted low tonight of 60. I can't find words grand enough to express my gratitude for being able to live in this climate since 1953. I loved growing up in Brooklyn and wouldn't trade it for anything. I survived eighteen winters of snow and ice and occasional blizzards, but I was young then and didn't think of it as a hardship. It was what it was, and making igloos out of snowbanks created by hand by the street cleaners was great fun. However, Florida is heaven for me now. I hope I never get talked into living north of I-10. If you care about me, please stop me if I do. I'm serious!