Sunday, December 5, 2010

We Wish you a Merry Mithras

This year I decided to study Mithraism. Mithra, the ancient sun god was born of a virgin on December 24th, sported a halo and wings and except for that (occasional) lion’s head of his could have been mistaken for someone else. If my dear cousin Denis was alive 2,000 years ago, he would have worshiped Mithras, the patron god of the Roman military. Scholars believe that the Romans imported the religion from the near East. Denis is spending the year in Iraq. I’d like to sway as many locals as I can to make sure they look out for him.

Although I did not care for her in the least, Kathy and I shared a moment in 1980. She was telling me about an uncle whose favorite song was “I’ll be home for Christmas”. He never made it. We both cried. My heart still breaks for loved ones who can’t be together for the holidays. Rich and I spent New Year’s Eve apart one year when mom’s hospital emergency saw me bussing it to Elliot Lake on December 31st . I was away from Rich, Dad apart from mom. We turned in at 12:01 am, both thinking about happier times.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Keeping It Light

Last Sunday I got out the Advent wreath. It is really just a five candle candelabra that I decorate with Christmassy stuff. One candle was lit for our Sunday dinner, and one more will be lit each Sunday until Christmas morning when all candles will be lit. Steve derides me for hanging on to Christian traditions when I am no longer a believer. But I am pretty sure many of the traditions around Christmas are hangovers from pagan times. This time of year it is all about cheering up the darkest season. Any kind of sparkle and light will do.


We haven’t many traditions in our house, but we do like our advent calendars. This year it’s Lego again—one little model every day—and please forgive me, but I bought the damned thing in September, but only because they can be hard to find if you wait too long. One year we ended up with Playmobil instead, but they actually require you to assemble their 24 little toys into 24 little boxes, and I’m sorry but, if I don’t get to play with the toys, I at least want the excitement of not knowing what those toys might be.

It was stupid to buy this year’s advent calendar so far in advance. Every day it reminded me of how little gets done in December, and how a whole year of not doing nearly enough can suddenly come down to the crunch . . . and how are you expected to get out from under all that when there are parties to go to and gifts to buy?
     Then, to make matters worse, I opened the first day of my calendar with a message from Revenue Canada. The second was a meeting where the client didn’t show.
     The third had better be chocolate.

Festive Specials

I hear today that some malls in Toronto have banned the Salvation Army bell ringers from doing their job because of noise pollution. Apparently when they shake their money makers the silvery tinkle elicits some sort of Pavlovian response from the shopkeepers, and instead of the joy of the season these folks are filled with insensate anger. I think this prohibition is perpetrated by the Politically Correct Police, happy for the slack-jawed consumerism so long as it is not associated with the “C” word. Anyone who has really worked retail during Christmas doesn’t need a bell to tick them off.

For years our advent calendar has been a collection of 24 little elf hats. They come in different colours and have numbers perched Seuss-like on their tops. I used to put candy and treasure maps in them when Dan was little. This year we will put in karmic messages and take turns so that Dan doesn’t have to bear the brunt of the goodie-two shoedness. Since I’m dealing with a fifteen year old and an occasionally distracted husband, the duties will be light: pay someone a compliment, pet an animal, answer your God-damned mother when she asks you a question.

Hot and Cold

There was a massive blackout in the middle of the hottest part of the summer. The heat and humidity were palpable with not a breeze of relief. All the same we had the windows wide open. Probably the only difference it made was psychological. I woke to the sound of a car starting. It just sat there; fumes from running it began to seep into our bedroom. After awhile it stopped, then, just as I was drifting of it started again. This was repeated through the night. Our neighbour was sitting in her car running the AC to stay cool.

There was a massive blackout in the middle of the coldest part of the winter. Even bundled in my warmest clothes it was miserable waiting for a shuttle bus because the subway was not running. Bus after bus came, packed so full people pressed against the front window. Any cabs that came by had already been commandeered. Then a woman pulled up in front of me and beckoned me to get in her car. Three others were invited to get in her back seat. Traffic was slow but we were a cheery crowd thanks to the kindness of a stranger.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Mr. Clean vs. Mr. Freeze

How exactly do they expect you to clean a freezer? If you try to wipe it out when it’s running, whatever you’re using will likely freeze before it does any good. And if you do let it warm up enough for a proper clean, then where are you supposed to keep all your frozen stuff while you wait, your second filthy freezer? Come to think of it, the last time we managed to clean our freezer was only after that last long blackout left us without power for days, and we ended up eating things we’d had frozen for years.

Das Fleisch Balls

My Year of Eating Animals draws to a close. Throughout these months I’ve wondered if I’d go back to just consuming vegetables, fruits and scaly things, or continue as a carnivore. Dan has made up my mind since he’s announced that he will become a vegetarian. I wonder what has brought him around? Is he developing a conscience? Was it that traumatic viewing of Food Inc in last year’s geography class? Maybe it was paddling by a moose in Algonquian Park. Either way, the only thing standing between us and better karma is a freezer full of ethically tickled-to-death meat.

How Do We Survive Until Adulthood?

My friend, Roy, theorizes that the worst assholes of the world are probably suffering from some form of mental illness. Considering how much we are learning about psychology – and more importantly psychoses – I think he is probably right about that. Lately there have been some studies of the adolescent brain in which it was discovered that certain sections are not fully formed, leading teens to have very poor judgment in important decision making. This has led some scientists to declare that teenagers are virtually insane – so I guess that is why they act like assholes a lot of the time.

There is no doubt I was an asshole when I was a teen. I did many things that I thought were funny, but were actually cruel. Like when my best friend and I went skinny dipping with my sister. Donna and I came out of the water first and we took Ann’s clothes up to the house. That forced Ann to have to run naked across a North Shore Road, which was luckily not all that busy. All the same it was a trick that I would not have appreciated at all if it had been played on me.

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