So much to do, so little time…

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Twas the night before the night before Christmas and all through the flat,

Half the creatures were stirring, if you count the cat.

The stockings were still sitting in a box on the table,

And I SAID I’d get to them as soon as I’m able!

The children were snoring, flopped over their beds,

While visions of video games flashed through their heads.

And Papa in his ragged bathrobe and I in my sweats,

Had just sipped the coffee we drank on a bet.

“Is this going to be the entire Muse, Bethie?

Hm. I don’t know. I’m kind of feeling like I’m committed at this point.

“You’re committed? Or you need to be committed? It’s an important distinction.”

When in the next room there arose such a clatter,

I looked up from my ‘puter to see what was the matter.

Away from the Windows I glanced in a flash,

Heard another great bang, then a BOOM then a CRASH!

The light from the space heater pouring over the room,

Showed the lackluster defeatism of a hoarder’s true doom.

When what to my wondering eyes should appear,

But a tiny little kitty with tinsel dragging from the rear!

“…*sigh*… This whole thing is to tell us your cat got into the Christmas decorations again?”

Shh. This is the best part.

With a squiffy wiffy face so cute and so furry,

I knew in a moment I was right to be worried.

More rapid than eagles her courses they came,

And I stomped and I frowned and I called her some names:

“You butthead, you ass hat, you fur-covered twit,

You jerk off, you nutcase, you feline-faced shit!

Get out of the box, get out of the tree,

Now dash away, DASH AWAY, let my Christmas crap BE!”

As naughty pets who get into the ‘nip go

Into a frenzy, destroying all shinies both to and both fro,

So up to the console top the kitty she flew

With a tail full of tinsel, and glitter, too!

And then in a scratching I heard on the wood,

The clawing and pawing of something not good.

As I drew in a sigh and was turning around,

Higher the kitty leapt with a bound.

She was dressed all in fur, from her head to her paws,

And the tinsel was in her whiskers, her tail, and her claws.

A clump of garland she had slung over her back,

And she looked like a thief who was ready to attack.

Her eyes- how they owled! The look was so wary!

Her ears- how they twitched! Her claws, how scary!

Her droll little teeth were bared just for show,

And the fluff on her belly was as white as the snow.

The end of the garland she held tight in her teeth,

And the silvery decor encircled her tail like a wreath!

She had a tiny face and a fuzzy wuzzy tummy

That made me want to pet it, like some unwitting dummy.

She was tiny and cute, a right naughty little elf,

And I laughed when I saw her, in spite of myself.

A twitch of her tail, and the wiggle of her butt,

Dared me to try and get my garland back without getting cut.

I spoke not a word and went straight to my work,

Trying to unravel the garland from ’round the fuzzy jerk.

And batting a paw upside my nose, and making me jump,

Straight UP into the air she rose!

She sprang from the console, darting right, darting left,

And took off with the garland, leaving me quite bereft.

But I heard her exclaim, as she dove out of sight,

“Meow.”

Like it?

“Wait. It’s over?”

Well, yeah.

“…but…”

I mean, how else would it end? She’s a cat. Cats don’t get the concept of rhyming.

“…*thunk of head on the desk*…”

I knew it would be a winner.

Thus concludes a New Holiday Classic for Friday, December 23, 2016. I can’t even begin to list everything I still have to do to get ready. If I try, I will break down in a puddle of tears. No one wants that. Instead, I will march through today pretending I’ve got it all under control. Now THAT’S how to be a mum right before a holiday!

It’s a good thing she’s got a squiffy wiffy face…

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BREAKING NEEEWWWWWS

The 2017 color of the year has been announced!! Everyone ready? Could I get the band to give me a drumroll?

*ratatatatatatatatatatata…*

It’s….

“Greenery.”

Yep. Greenery. I’m told that’s a specific color. And not just ANY color; the 2017 Color of the Year. Be the envy of all your friends and show up to the New Year’s party in the cutting edge color…greenery.

Or, second choice, use literal greenery. I’d be okay with you showing up to ANY party in literal greenery. Slap some boughs across your bosom. Festoon your derriere with hemlock clippings. Roll around on the floor under your Christmas tree while wearing a fluffy sweater to repurpose those fallen needles. Really embrace the deep meaning and tradition of this completely real and not-at-all-made-up-because-they-were-running-out-of-choices color.

Don’t you feel better for being informed?

And…

Mornin’, all.

Sometimes a hard hitting news story usurps a salutation. That’s just the life of an ace reporter.

“Uh, Bethie? When did you become a reporter?”

Silly girl. Don’t you know ANYTHING about the world? I became a hard hitting news hound when I reported the color of the year. Apparently that’s all it takes these days to enter the fast paced, edge of your seat life of a journalist. So far no one’s shooting at me or threatening to sue, but I’m expecting my first cease and desist any day now.

Fear not. I won’t take this responsibility lightly. Unlike some reporters these days, I have principles. I wouldn’t DREAM of selling out my sources.

However, I have no qualms about mocking them relentlessly.

“Bethie! Are we doing…”

Uh, yeah. I mean, I was hinting pretty heavily. I already had the band ready. Just bring the go go dancers out…and cue the catchy theme music because it’s time for a….

* * * HEADLINE ROUNDUP!!! * * *

It’s been a bit. It’s also 4:07 a.m. after I was woken up by a cat licking my nose, which is such an unsettling feeling that there was no way in hell I’d get back to sleep if I tried. Teen 2.0 decided to make coffee so strong that it literally hurt my teeth the first sip (True story from an ace reporter!), and the very first thing I read when I opened the portal to the internet pissed me off. So, in case you’ve ever wondered how things really work behind the scenes, all of that is agar on the sarcasm petri dish for me. I figure if I’m in a sarcastic mood, why waste it?

“Why indeed.”

So, for those who might not know, the internet is full of stupid news headlines. Hell, it’s full of stupidity in general, but you have to pick your battles, right? I look around the legit news sites and find the best of the worst headlines out there. Sometimes they’re poorly worded, sometimes they’re just flat out idiotic. Usually, though, they just evoke a reaction that my internal narcissist must share. As always, the headlines are presented to you as they appear. I simply supply the caustic commentary. Let’s dive in.

– Fake News and Lavish Parties: Teens Cash in on Empire of Lies

To be fair, one could replace “teens” with “politicians” and no one would be batting an eye. If you run a nation through lies and inequity, can you really expect a higher standard of behavior from the kids? #UncomfortableTruthIsStillTruth

– Addicted to Video Games: One Family’s Struggle to Save Their Son

Have you tried introducing him to meth and hookers? I hear those are popular teen alternatives to the demon vid-ya games.

– Polar Vortex is Coming: What it Means and How to Prepare

It means it’s fucking winter. Buy a coat. Shit.

– NASA Releases Images of Black Hole Eating Galaxy

Dude! Seriously?? Where’s the parental warning??? Remember when NASA didn’t have to resort to such tawdry tactics to hold the public’s interest? I’m starting a new campaign: The Only ‘G’ In Space Is The Rating. Let’s work together and bring back a family friendly NASA. #FamilyFriendlyNASA

– The Stinky Present One Homeowner Left Package Thief

Poop. You know it was poop. Everyone knows it was poop. Why does this article need to exist?

– The ‘American Dream’ is in Trouble

Oh wow, look at that! I thought the ‘No Shit Gazette’ had closed shop! Guess not. Nice to see a familiar face in my new journalistic journey.

– Dopplegangers Who Met 4 Years Ago Now Roommates

That is some ‘Single White Female’ shit right there.

– Test Your IQ: Take ‘USA Today’s’ Weekly Quiz

USA Today has an IQ quiz? I feel like that’s an oxymoron…

– Obama Orders Review of Russian Hacking

I’m on it. *achem* While the end result was what the programmer intended, the methodology was sloppy, lacked finesse, and had little refinement. I’ve seen better execution by Blizzard. 4.6 stars out of 10

– Giuliani Removes Himself from State Department Consideration

Bitch please. You got your ass fired.

– New Amherst College Mascot? 2,046 Suggestions Include Hooloovoo, Biddys, Fighting Poets, Ants, Amps, and Asparagus

*crosses fingers**whispers**Please let it be the Fighting Poets…Please oh please oh please…*

– Interfaith Event Against Hate Crimes Expects Large Turnout

Gee. No way this could possibly go awry.

– Rotterdam Police Arrest ‘Terror’ Suspect With Guns, Fireworks

“You got the timer right on that Roman candle array, Stan?” “Yes, sir!” “We got one shot at getting on COPS, and I don’t want a half assed timer blowing it.” “Ten four, sarg!” “Then get the guns and matches ready, boys. On the count of three…”

– Refrigerator Ruled Out As Cause of Fire That Killed 36 in Oakland

Initially suspicious because of its propensity to run, officers had no choice but to release the Model 117 Amana after surveillance footage clearly showed it never left the break room of the office complex next door.

– McCain: Tillerson’s Putin Ties a ‘Concern’

Tillerson’s? TILLERSON’S? Forget Tillerson. I’m personally a little more concerned with Trump’s Putin ties. Seems you kind of missed the bigger picture here, MSN.

– Finally the Truth Behind ‘M*A*S*H’ Revealed

I’ve been waiting 33 years for this very moment. *holds breath while the article loads* What? WHAT?? It’s nothing but CLICKBAIT??? WHYYYYYYY!!!!!?????….so….close….*sniff*…*rides off into the lonely sunset to continue the search for answers*

– Cat Tongues May Inspire New Wound-cleaning Technology

Mother of god no.

– An Alt-Right Makeover Shrouds the Swastikas

A Lawsuit-scared Media Shrouds the Nazis By Calling Them ‘Alt-Right’

– Artist Collective Residents Fear Crackdown After Oakland Fire

Uh…I think they missed the moral of the story…

– White Supremacists? Not Exactly, KKK and Other Groups Claim

Duh, they’re only “white nationalists”…folks who believe white people should be the ones in power, should never “mongrelize” their race, and should send those of other color and religions out of the country. We’re hurting their wittle bitty feelings by calling them “white supremacists.” So don’t do that. Instead, call them Nazis. All of them. Every chance you get. #A.Duck.Is.A.Muthafuckin’.Duck

– Why the Ghost Ship Slipped Through the Cracks of Oakland Inspections

I think we’ve already learned how lax inspectors are in Oakland.

– Why the Ghost Ship Slipped Through the Cracks of Oakland Inspections

…besides, do you even know how difficult it is to inspect a ghost ship? Every time you try to board, you fall right into the water.

– Spanish Civil War Ruins Offer Lesson on Cost of Conflict

Again, I feel the moral of a story has been lost. It takes a special kind of journalist to look over the headstones of the fallen men and women and think, “How can I best highlight the horrors of war? Hm…you know what? That building looks ugly with the bullet holes. OH MY GOD. Pulitzer, here I come!”

– That Old Rebel Group on a New Kidnapping Spree

Watch it, or those cheeky rapscallions will sneak in and steal your panties at night, girls!

– Fall of Aleppo Will Be a Pivotal Moment in Syrian War

Yes, but are the buildings okay???!!

– Judge Rejects Pimping Charges Against Escort Service Site

“Free membership for a year, you say?” The lawyer for the accused held the judge’s gaze, fighting to keep his composure and not allow himself a smirk of victory. As a seasoned attorney, he knew that look in the judge’s eye. He had him, hook, line, and sinker.

– Role Models? Parents Glued to Screens 9 Hours a Day

…*guiltily eyeballs screen*…*glances at clock*…*5:14? No one’s even awake yet? FUCK IT* *Triumphantly glues eyeballs back to the screen*

– Tiny Techies: Preschoolers Tackle Hour of Code

See?? SEE?? It’s not all bad to be a plugged in parent.

– Real Robots Fight a Virtual War in Your Own Living Room

Whose living room? Not mine! I told you I want no part of the robot uprising. #Not.Bowing.Down #No.Sheeple

– How a Goggles-wearing Parrot Aids Flying Robot Designs

Shit. They’re getting an air force now! #Still.Not.My.Overlords

– Scientists Manipulated Mice to Make Them Lose Track of Time

Scientists are dicks.

– 57 Major Relationship Red Flags To Watch Out For

57!? That seems like a really specific amount of red flags. Did somebody at Redbook just get dumped? Hmmm??

– 57 Major Relationship Red Flags To Watch Out For

…there were 7 of them about lying, and 5 about not wanting to meet/interact with her family. Yeah. Someone’s a tad bitter.

– Inflation is Finally Perking Up

Boy, I was just saying to my hubby last week that I am sure getting sick of paying a reasonable price for necessary goods. Can’t wait to empty the piggy bank just to buy milk!

– If Mom and Dad Can’t Afford it, Santa Shouldn’t Be Able to, Either

Who died and made you the financial gestapo? Stop telling Santa what to do with HIS money Commie.

– 9 Ways Your Sex Life Can Be Improved In Just One Day

Holy. Shit. Listen to this one: “6: Don’t let rejection be an option for either one of you.” No joke, that is legit what it says. Let that marinate for awhile. #DO.NOT.FOLLOW.THIS.ADVICE. #It’s.A.Felony

– Memphis Ties Homicide Record With Recent Killings

…uhhh…congratulations?

– $3 Gas A Gallon? Coming Soon

I’m not surprised. The price of gas has been going up steadily for a couple months now. Maybe that’s why they can’t afford a basic grammar lesson over at USA Today.

– Official Reinstated After Racist Remark

“We were on the fence about canning Nancy, but once she opened her mouth, we knew we had one of ours at the top,” said the Nazi KKK “alt-right” grand poobah from under his ridiculous dumb white cone head. #Alt-right.Are.NAZIS

– As U.S. Spy Chief, Fiorina to Support Backdoors

*gasp* NO. I’m STUNNED.

– Second Man in a Week Dies While Skiing at Killington, Vermont

Maybe they should have skied at Livington…

“Bethie!”

What?

– Ex-governor Michael Dukakis Endorses Campaign to Exonerate Ethel Rosenberg, Executed in 1953

The life after the gubernatorial seat is a fast-paced ride that never stops.

– Amherst College Suspends Cross Country Team Activities After List of Women, Offensive Emails Emerge

Okay, new name option: The Pervy Poets.

– Turkey Detains Kurds, Hits Militants After Twin Blasts

Turkey detained Kurds? No whey!

– Governor of Indonesia Capital Sobs Uncontrollably as Blasphemy Trial Begins

A governor elected to office is actually facing FIVE YEARS in jail because he quipped offhandedly that some of his political opponents were misquoting the Quran during their speeches instead of debating the issues. That’s all he said. He won his election. And as soon as he took office, he was arrested for blasphemy and now stands trial. Just let that one sink in for awhile. #Nazis.Take.Many.Forms

– Fake Dentist Pulled Teeth, Made Dentures, Prosecutors Say

So…a regular dentist, then.

– Out of Prison But Uninsuranced, Inmates Fall Prey to Ills

Yep, that’s how it’s worded. Verbatim. Seems kind of like grabbing at low hanging fruit to pick it apart, doesn’t it? #You.Do.It.To.Yourself.STAT

– Years After Alleged Mob Murder, Family Wants Answers

“You know, right after it happened, we didn’t really care all that much. It was a thing that happened, and we were busy with our own lives and shit. But then at this past Thanksgiving, my sister Sally said, ‘Remember how Papa was gunned down in front of us? Think we should start looking for the killer?’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah! I totally forgot about that!’…”

– Intelligence Community Worries About Trump’s Refusal to Hear Briefings

They put too much effort into this spin. All they needed was, “Intelligent Community Worries About Trump”.

– NASA’s Cassini Spacecraft Just Sent the First Images From Its New Orbit Around Saturn

The images were taken of Saturn’s “north” pole, from a distance that’s about the same as from Earth to our moon. Raging around the pole is a hexagonal hurricane that’s as wide as two Earths, with wind speeds of up to 330 mph. No one knows why the clouds form a hexagonal pattern instead of a circle, but when Cassini finally makes a last, triumphant run straight for the planet in 2017, we may be able to see footage of the surface, or at least some type of topographical data that could help us figure it out.

No jokes. No mockery. Just thought that was amazing and worth knowing. I guess NASA has redeemed themselves today after all.

– The Best Gadget Gifts for Women

I didn’t know that telephones and wireless keyboards were gender specific. My bad.

– The Best Gadget Gifts for Women

I just had to. I had to rage read this one. And you know what? I was/was not disappointed. I saw exactly what I thought I’d see. The first four in the list are little gadgets designed to track fitness. The next is a pair of USB unicorn slippers. There’s a stupid little box that you press and it gives a randomly generated inspirational quote, and a key fob type thingie that you push to make a massage appointment. Internet, you’re starting to piss me off.

– Engagement Rumors Hit Gwyneth Paltrow, and More News

That is not news. “I heard a rumor” is not news. If anyone is questioning my ability to call myself a journalist now, all they need to do is read this headline.

– 29 Times Celebrities Inspired Us With Their Ugly Christmas Sweater Style

“news: n., noteworthy information, especially about recent or important events”

– 14 Priceless Pieces of Relationship Advice You Only Realize After You’ve Been Married

I swear to god if you don’t get your act together, internet, I’m out.

– Your Pet’s 2017 Astrological Forecast

*sigh* That’s it. *waves white flag* *storms off* *slams door*

Thus concludes a Roundup for Tuesday, December 13, 2016. I’m off to get ready for work where I hope to have less bizarre customers than I had yesterday. I mean, one can hope, right?

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before…

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Mornin’ folks.

So this asshat walked into a bar…

…actually, not a bar so much as a bakery, but that didn’t really sound like a good intro.

Anyway, he walked up to my counter and said, “I need a long plastic bag.” I said, “Good morning, sir! How can I help you today?”

“I need a long plastic bag,” HorseFace repeats.

To help you understand the situation, let me describe Daddy McDouche. Remember yuppies in the 80s? Guess what? They got old. They upgraded their car phones to those bluetooth ear pieces, the ones that helpfully light up with bright LEDs to alert the public that they are in the presence of a real twatwaffle. Kept the sunglasses inside, because hey hey hey that’s just what movers and shakers do, baby. Traded their chinos for ironed jeans to stay “edgy”. Hair slicked back, because ain’t no fly away bangs gonna get in the way of closing the deal. Ten bucks says he’s still limping his Saab along.

He said his wife broke her arm, and that our pharmacy didn’t carry any cast covers. I suggested tall kitchen trash bags, because that’s what you use when you shatter bone matter. Or so I thought. So the rest of the nation has always thought. But no, that is not a good solution for Mrs. Knobhead. “I’m not putting a garbage bag on my wife!” he sputtered.

And that’s when I knew how this was going to go.

I rummaged around to find the long bags we use for Italian and French breads, and the big mamajamas we use for large artisan loaves. I brought him the options, and he immediately dismissed the ones that had “Italian” and “French” printed on them. “I’m not interested in branding.” Cus, you know, French bread is a brand he just can’t support.

He did like the looks of the super large artisan bags. I gave him five, at no charge because he may be a douche, but he’s still a customer and I’d do the same for anyone who asked. He didn’t thank me. Instead, he decided to make my life better.

No, for real. That was his goal. This is what went down.

King Pompousass took the bags and said, “I had an idea for your company that I’ve been trying to get people to listen to.”

I said, “Oh? I’d love to hear it!”

I did not want to hear it.

“You know how this place tracks how much you spent on the receipt?” Yes, I am familiar with how receipts work. “I think that if you spend ‘x’ amount, you should receive a free reusable grocery bag.”

Not going to lie, that’s a good idea. And I told him it was.

He said, “Of course it is! I’ve thought so for awhile. Now take that idea with you into your next corporate meeting.”

Corporate…meeting? This dude has about as much idea of how a business runs as Donald Trump! I gave a courtesy laugh and said, “While it’s a great idea, I’m just a cake decorator. I don’t have meetings with corporate. But, if you go on our website, there’s a place for you to give customer feedback and suggestions and I’m sure they’d love to hear about it.”

This is when Slicky McGee got pissed. I’m talking, PISSED. He turned purple. A vein throbbed at his temple. He left the sunglasses on, but looked at me over the rims. Yeah, he was THAT mad. “Then take it to your manager! Or supervisor! I’m handing you a good idea here!”

I said, “And I thank you, but I’m telling you that corporate would be much more open to hearing a good idea from a customer than from me. In fact, they love hearing from our customers. If you just go on to our website…”

He said, “Unbelievable! This place is UNBELIEVABLE! What’s wrong with you? I’m HANDING you an idea that will promote you up and out of here and you’re not taking it! Don’t you want to better yourself? Or do you want to be stuck here your whole life?”

Everyone I have told this story to had the exact same reaction when I reached this point. “I bet you were pissed!”

Actually, no. I wasn’t pissed, but we’ll get into that in a second.

I said, “I like my job. I’m happy where I’m at. Thank you for the suggestion, and I hope those bags work for your wife.”

He slammed a hand on the counter. “Un-be-LIEVABLE!” he reiterated in case I hadn’t heard him the first time. “I’m GIVING you a golden idea and you don’t even care!” He shook his head, snatched up the bags, and stormed away, saying once again, “What’s WITH this place?”

Thus ended my encounter with Sad Yuppie Who Can’t Let the 80s Go.

Boy, was he fuming. I don’t think I can stress enough just how angry and disgusted he was. Or how flat out wrong.

I didn’t get angry. I couldn’t. This man was sad and delusional. He had a good idea, but it was in no way a career maker. It’s an idea for a customer promo. Big whoop. We have those all the time. Dozens a year. I don’t know who thinks them up, but I can guarantee no one’s getting a spot on the board just because they think of handing out a freebie. It wouldn’t change the company. It wouldn’t actually even change the customer base. It’s not one of those promos that’ll draw in new shoppers. No one is sitting there looking at the sales flyers on Saturday morning thinking, “What is this? A free plastic tote after I spend $200? Well sign me up!”

Yet, he believed this idea was shat out by King Midas himself. Starting from that standpoint, I couldn’t get mad.

“But Bethie, he was demeaning.”

Yeah, but in fairness, I kind of summed him all up with one glance, too. He thinks I’m sad and pathetic “stuck” in my job. I’m not. I like my job a lot. I get the hours that can work out well for everything else in life, and I don’t have the stress of being management. I really do like the position I have. Why should his opinion change that? Or make me feel bad?

He may have looked at me and made assumptions, but I did the same. I guarantee that he’s got way more money than me. I also guarantee I’m far more content in life than he is. And I can guarantee that because I’m not so on edge that I’ll vent my spleen at a part time grocery store employee who was actually trying to do me a favor. I’m not so frustrated and tense and angry that I’ll blow up over literally nothing. He’s a sad character, folks.

Besides, it was an awesomely absurd moment. A sitcom playing out in real life. I love that shit. I eat it up. I can’t get mad because a situation like that is my mental candy. I love being part of or witness to inane happenings. They don’t make me angry, they tickle a weird part of my brain. Yeah, I understand everything his words implied, and I get how it could be insulting. Actually, if he had done this to someone else, to one of my coworkers, I probably would have been furious on their behalf.

I just can’t muster anger when it’s pointed at me. My brain says, “Wait, wha??? Is this…is this happening? Aw shit! Hey, Cortex, you gotta see this! Grab some popcorn. This is gonna be gooooood!”

Real life is the best book ever. I absolutely LOVE being part of an asinine chapter.

I also had a customer that smelled like onions and poo. And was very needy. And would. Not. Leave. I’ll take the irrationally irate kind any day over the pooey onion man.

But that is enough of the bad part of bakery-ing. They are only slight speed bumps in this exciting season. Now that Thanksgiving is over, my job has morphed from appeasing people with pie to enticing people with holiday splendor. I get to make pretty and cute Christmas stuff right now!

Everyone’s bitching about it being too Christmassy too early. But I get to make snowman cupcakes and Santa tarts! I got to deck out my display case in bakery bling-crusted trees on snow white gossamer “hills”! I got to make gingerbread houses to create a neighborhood flanked by buttercream poinsettias! And tomorrow, I get to try my hand at a painted cake technique that may actually make it possible to create holly leaves that really look like holly.

*sidenote: It is ridiculously hard to get a buttercream holly leaf to actually look like holly. It’s too soft. It doesn’t have the crisp lines that a holly leaf needs. I can get close. But this is cake decorating. CLOSE IS NOT ENOUGH. I want people to be like, “Hm. Well, I was going to get that cake, but seeing that it’s covered in holly, and holly is poisonous, I’ll just take the snowman instead.” LIFE GOAL.

I love Christmas. I love Christmas decor. I was raised to believe that a few tacky Christmas items are tacky…but cram enough of them in a small space and it’s magic. It’s true. If you celebrate Christmas and you look around your room and think, “Hm. This is tacky,” then you simply do not have enough and you need to get cracking and either buy or make more. You’ll thank me.

“Buy more? Buy MORE?? Bethie, you’re just playing into the commercialism of Christmas!”

I said you could make more. You don’t have to buy the decor. Grab a glue gun and some glitter and see what happens.

“You’re still turning the holiday into something gawdy and…and…”

Secular?

“YES!”

I didn’t turn it into something secular. The Church did that when they adopted traditions of non-believers in a bid to spread their message. And you know what? I don’t see any problem with that.

For me, it is a secular holiday. For me, Christmas is a societal tradition based around a historical figure that really must have been one helluva guy. For me, it celebrates the thought and meaning behind a story of a man who had to have been charismatic and understanding, kind and stubborn, a dude with some excellent ideas who wanted to make life better for those around him, no matter the personal cost.

I don’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. That’s just a personal opinion, not meant to offend or anything. I’m not trying to “convert” you or change your opinion. Everyone comes to what they feel based around their experiences and observations in life. I in no way want to try and sway you to “come around” to my way of thinking. Don’t do that. Have your OWN way of thinking!

I’m just being completely upfront and honest here. I don’t believe Jesus was a Messiah. I do, however, believe that the message spread by this historical figure for peace and acceptance and understanding is something worth celebrating. I am all for creating a season in which we take the time to love and honor and unite with our fellow man, where we give to friends and loved ones in a show of appreciation and affection, where we donate to the needy and seek out stories of hope and joy and triumph…

Why shouldn’t I embrace and celebrate that?

“Because it’s a Christian holiday!”

I hear this all the time. It was a Christian holiday. Was. The moment the Church began to pull in traditions from other, non-Christian peoples, it changed.

Let me argue this point with one of my own. The people who tell me I cannot celebrate this holiday are the same people that insist our society has been formed by Christian principles, that say Christianity shaped our nation, and even if you’re not a Christian, your life in the US is a result of the Christians that went first. So it’s okay to live day to day being societally influenced by the Christian majority, but NOT celebrate what has become mostly a secular holiday?

“It’s not secular.”

It is!

Society as a whole has changed Christmas from a religious observance to a cultural tradition, not just in the increasingly secular UK and US, but in many countries that have a Christian majority. Think I’m wrong?

Where in the Bible did Peter hang a wreath? Bedazzle a tree? Give gifts? Is there a gospel according to Santa that I missed somewhere? Did Rudolph light the manger so Joseph could see well enough to catch the newborn King when he popped out? Were the gold, frankincense, and myrrh created by little elves in a workshop in the North Pole? Did Jesus teethe on a candy cane?

“But those are all just symbols.”

Yep. Symbols taken mostly from OTHER religions and OTHER peoples. The Church culturally appropriated the hell out of shit to make their wild new ideas seem less scary to the pagan and secular peoples they were trying to convert.

True Christmas as a religious observation is not celebrated by the vast majority of modern Christians. It was initially a season of fasting, deep prayer, and personal reflection. That’s it. No gift giving, no jolliness no merriment. It was serious and somber. There are only a handful of branches of Christianity that still celebrate the serious observance Christmas was intended to be. If you hang a wreath on your front door, you are celebrating what has become a cultural tradition, NOT the purely religious Christmas.

“But I do both! Sure, I’ve got a wreath, but I also go to church and say my prayers and DO celebrate in the religious way.”

And that’s the only place we differ. I celebrate the same holiday. I just don’t take the last step toward making it religious.

Look, I was raised with Christmas all around me. My family was religious, I was religious as a child, and many of my family members still practice and believe. But why does the fact that I am not religious now 10mean I can’t recreate the spirit of the season for my kids? Why can’t I teach them about a historical figure, someone who had beautiful thoughts and ideas that we most definitely should live by?

A man from Nazareth lived a long time ago. A man so charismatic and different from the harsh world around him that we still know of him 2,000 years later. How rare is THAT? Especially since he was not a king or a pharaoh or a senator. He didn’t lead armies, he didn’t conquer lands. He spoke. That’s what he did. He spoke, and we STILL remember him today. He had these radical thoughts and ideas that people were ALL people and ALL were worthy, and he had them in a time and place that was ruled by folks hellbent on denying every word out of his mouth. He didn’t shut up. He didn’t cave. He didn’t waver and he died for his beliefs.

Historical Jesus was really friggin’ cool, and definitely someone to honor and celebrate.

Why can’t I celebrate that man, as a MAN, an ordinary man without any religious or supernatural or spiritual ties? Why do I need to ascribe to him creationary properties? I personally believe that he was just a guy, not the chosen son of an all powerful creator. Why does that mean I can’t be happy that he existed? Be amazed at his thoughts and ideas? Be proud that humanity produced a regular Joe, a lowly carpenter, who just had enough of the status quo and said, “DUDE. Seriously with this shit?”

…er, paraphrasing there. I’m sure he said it with far more eloquence.

He must have. Think about it. He must have been one of the world’s best writers to inspire so much for so long. He must have been someone really special. Don’t tell me I can’t celebrate that. And don’t tell me that in order to celebrate I have to think he was a deity.

We celebrate lots of great people. And, we’re humans. When we celebrate, we want to party.

I’m going to hang my wreath. I’m going to give gifts to my kids. I’m going to decorate happy little snowmen cupcakes and hum along with the piped in corporate Christmas music. And I’m going to teach my children not that Jesus is the son of a creator, but that he was an awesome man who stood for beautiful things in the midst of a seemingly ugly world.

Look around. Look at the headlines. Everyday we’re bombarded by stories of the absolute worst side of humanity.

I’m going to take this month to celebrate the best.

And I’m not taking anything away from Christians to do this. I’m not taking anything away from you, if you are a believer. I’m not appropriating your religion. I’m celebrating a man from our shared history in the traditions of my culture.

“I’m still not comfortable with that, Bethie.”

Jesus wouldn’t have been, either. He also wouldn’t have been comfortable with any religious celebration of his birth, not even yours. He would have interrupted your office Christmas party to tell you to take off the poly-blended Santa hat, put down the bacon wrapped Lil’ Smokies, and go to temple to ask forgiveness for having the hubris to name him the Messiah.

He would have been completely aghast at the both of us.

Thus concludes a rare mostly-serious and less rare long-winded Musing for Sunday, December 4, 2016. I need to clean the house and start covering every spare inch with Christmas tchotchkes. Er, the spare inches the cat can’t reach, anyway…