Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas is In The Bag (Again)

Christmas was in the house.  It was also in the bag (again).  That's right.  I won't tell you what my favorite gift was, but I will totally tell you about my favorite gift bag, provided once again, by my sister.
I have to be honest.  It was a little bit of a letdown.  It was not as revealing impressive as last year's bag.  But really, the waistband had nowhere to go but up after last year.  Lower was not an option.  I don't actually get anything from the Abercrombie store, my sister just goes in and requests a bag.  It takes so little to make me happy nowadays.

Moving along to more wholesome holiday fare....Ellie spent the day before Christmas doing this:

Making hats.  The hat-making resulted in this photo taken on Christmas Eve:

Jasper is holding a stuffed animal.  I can't tell which one it is.  Also?  I took six pictures and Jasper looked the most normal in this one.  Anyway - the stuffed animal is either Tiger-y or Little Green Bear.  His newest stuffed animal is called Snakey.  Joel commented on his lack of imagination in the naming department....Joel...the former owner of a gerbil named Blackie and a gerbil named Whitey.  Anyway, we have two Little Green Bears in our home - one is Jules's - and Jasper (also known as Jules's shadow) named his teddy Little Green Bear, too.  Even though he isn't green.  Anyway, Ellie made Little Green Bear an awesome yellow Jamaican hat - and Jasper  rejected it because it wasn't a beret', which was apparently what Little Green Bear had his heart set on.  So I was a little concerned that Jasper (who as you can see, is also not wearing a beret') might likewise reject his Christmas present from his sister - but he didn't.  Joel has convinced him that the pom poms (which Joel insists on calling balls) can be used as weapons if the need arises.  He briefly lost a ball while doing some kind of martial arts demonstration with his knitted cap - and I will leave the visual imagery of that thrilling display up to your imagination.

Christmas Eve found Jeff serving up our usual South Texas holiday fare of tamales, chili, Mexican rice, and guacamole.  I was feeling a bit under the weather (thanks for the cold, Jules!) and appreciated the fact that I have a cooking husband.  After all that cooking and eating, the Boy and His Dog took a little ho ho ho laydown during the cleanup. Right there on the floor.
The kids were all set to rip into the gifts - but there was a bit of important business to take care of first.  I believe I mentioned before that I got a new tattoo on my birthday (this is a result of a very persistent mid-life crisis that I have also mentioned before).  My dad had refused to look at it, saying that he needed fortification first (alcohol).  Seeing as how sooner or later I was going to be forced into a short sleeved shirt in his presence, I decided the time had come, and he was thus properly fortified.  Then he looked at my arm through squinted eyes, commented on the SIZE OF THE THING (the tattoo, that is, not my arm, which is actually fairly proportional to the rest of me), and said, "Wear it in good health."  Even though it is now official that I cannot be buried in an Orthodox Jewish Cemetery.  Well, actually, that was official after the first tattoo.  But now it is for sure - I couldn't sneak this one past a rabbi.  But seeing as how this entire scene of the Revelation of the Tattoo took place in front of a Hanukkah Bush known in some circles as a Freaking Christmas Tree - is this really an issue?  Anyway, now that the Old Man has officially seen it, I can share it.  So here it is.....
That is my professional tattoo artist, Rick, sticking his tongue out behind me.  It was really, really late.  He spent a lot of time designing the thing - which was lovely because yeah, I wanted him to.  So much time, in fact, that Ellie had time to wander off and do this:
She got her ear pierced.  Because really, it is terribly boring to watch someone get a tattoo.  I mean, I guess if they're carrying on and getting all hysterical it would be entertaining, but I'm not one to do that.  Because I'm Awesome.  Rick the Tattoo Artist is Kari's friend from Jr. High - so she went with us.  This picture was taken before she became massively bored.  Unlike Ellie, Kari's boredom did not result in a piercing.  She just got on Facebook.

Back to Christmas.  I woke up with a fever and a sore throat and the kids woke up to find their stockings (each one made lovingly by their Great Aunt Flo) full of goodies.  It was chocolate for breakfast, and four trays of cheese and spinach enchiladas for lunch.  I had a lovely day, even though I didn't feel good, just watching everyone play with their new things and enjoy being together.  The Christmas music was blaring, the dog was running from the remote control truck Santa brought Jasper, the boys were shooting aliens, Camille was playing with her doll....there were pieces of wrapping paper, puzzles, and matchbox racing cars all over the floor.  People brought me Earl Gray tea in a pretty mug and said they hoped I'd feel better soon.  I fell asleep listening to Bing Crosby hanging in there, but still being overpowered by Jeff singing to David Bowie while the family played Rock Band.  All in all, it couldn't have been any better.  I think having a cold and feeling slow gave me the opportunity to sit back and absorb and appreciate the scene, rather than running around and missing so much. Not that I'd want to be sick again next year.  Just saying, it wasn't all bad. 

I love Christmas.  I love the lights, the preparations, the food, and the family.  We don't keep Christ in Christmas the way some people do, and maybe that bothers the said some people.  I don't know how to feel about that, exactly.  I mean, I get their point - it is a religious holiday.  So I can see how if you're a devout Christian, you would want to make the holiday about Jesus and you would remind yourself to Keep Christ in Christmas.  But as to what other people, those of us who are not religious, want to do in our own homes with our own families to celebrate our childhood/hearth/home traditions.....which for my family includes a tree, gifts, music and food....why would you care?  Why would you get angry?  Would you like to come sneaking in like the Grinch (a popular Christmas story that has no mention of keeping Christ in Christmas when it extols the virtues and meaning of the spirit of Christmas) and take away my Christmas tree?  What does a Christmas tree have to do with Jesus anyway?  For that matter, what do lights, gifts, tamales, and overspending at Target have to do with Jesus?  Keep Christ in Christmas!! the bumper stickers parked outside of Wal-Mart say.  Now I'm assuming that Christians already do this.  So the bumper stickers must be directed at the Rest of Us.  Those of us who might just be trying to use the holiday (since it is a time that schools/colleges/universities and all government offices and most retail establishments and all banks and office buildings are closed) as an opportunity to spend time with our families cooking and eating, dancing and singing, giving and receiving....sitting around a very lit-up tree that never appeared in Bethlehem...listening to music about a walking/talking snowman...and yes about Jesus, too....passing around babies from young arms to old....and passing down stories...

To those who are upset that we dare to do this - what else would you have us do?  And if we tell you Happy Holidays because we might not know you well enough to know what holiday it is you're celebrating this time of year (maybe you're Jewish) - do you choose to be outraged that we didn't say Merry Christmas?  I am often confused by the anger that seeps out over things such as this....during the time of year when people are meant to celebrate the hope of an everlasting and joyful peace.

Would you believe that when I set out to blog - I had no intention of mentioning any of this?  But I have.  So I'll leave off with a few more pictures of us enjoying a holiday that we call Christmas.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the Sardine Family (which apparently includes at least one current Buddhist) to Yours!! 


  1. You asked so many good questions about Christians and Christmas that it is hard to know where to start. I believe the saying Keep Christ in Christmas came about because every where people were writing "x-mas" a couple of years ago. Sadly if Christians knew their history better they would know the joke would be on the people who do want to remove Christ from Christmas because the X means Christ in Greek. Another reason for our testy reaction could be the fact that we have slowly, quietly, been losing our rights to express our Christian Christmas beliefs publicly. For generations people have put up Nativity scenes in town squares but now can't. Those people may feel their family traditions are being threatened. Also as a Christian parent I have to work hard to keep the outside world from telling my kids what it says Christmas is about (gift). Luckily I am a homeschooling mom who knows how to turn the TV off but not every Christian is lucky enough to live this way. In order not to upset other parents and kids (even Christians) I have to tell my kids not to tell people that Santa isn't real. I just knew my 4 yo was going to spill the beans during a Christmas Eve service since every time he hears the word Santa he yells "Santa is not real". So even though Christmas specials tell nice stories that encourage people to give, be nice, spend time with family, take care of those who have less or are different (all Christian beliefs)they have nothing to do with the real reason for Christmas and there for Christianity. And doesn't bother you just a little that no one knows their history (of Christmas)? I mean do your kids celebrate 4th July without knowing why? Would you be a little bothered with English communist moving here and deciding to celebrate 4th of July even though they think we should still be ruled by England with no right or liberties but they like bar-b-que and fireworks?
    By the way cool tattoo!

  2. wow. now i have no idea what i was going to comment.

  3. As for the real history of Christmas... what a coincidence that we celebrate it at the time of a pagan tradition, using a tree! Hurray hurray! I do agree that the presents might be getting a bit out of hand, we kind of loose the focus on the enjoyment of just being together... As for Santa not existing: says whom? For me he does! And as for the very nice post: I totally agree with most of it, but I would never get a tattoo myself!
    Enjoy the rest of the end of the year, and hope you get rid of the cold before 2011!
    ps: nice hats and nice gift bag too!

  4. I think you were reading my post while I was reading yours ... which inspired me to start over with a new post! Anyhow, happy birthday to you! Love you, too.

  5. Just want to say that Jas is a friend who is extremely tolerant and giving in her day to day life...she has delightful children...and seriously - anyone who can tolerate me is In The Fold. I just don't get religion, nor do I feel that Christians are in danger of persecution - I think non-believers are more in danger of losing their rights - but that is the nature of the Personal Opinion Beast - is it not? I DO believe that the one thing that CAN stop intolerance and persecution is the formation of personal friendships among those of differing opinions - and I am grateful for the friends I have who are willing to participate in inclusive relationships (like Jas).

    *Note to Self - Inform kids that 4th of July isn't really a holiday designated to appease the gods with the virgin sacrifices of tiny Lego Men on bottle rockets.

  6. I loved the hats. :)

    I was sick over Christmas, too.
    I think it was a Grinch bite, now that I mention it.

    I celebrate every holiday my way. No one's business.

    I don't care how other people choose to celebrate. I won't interfere in their fun, or be offended if they don't celebrate the way I do.

    We're not a religious family, either. Which, if you read my post before I edited it, you'd really know. But it's still mostly there.

  7. I'm still wondering if Joel got the barbie doll he asked Santa for.

  8. Loved the post, loved the pics, loved Jas's response and yours as well. You are so right, Carol. It IS important to surround ourselves with people who may not think the same as us, for that is how we learn that in the end, we really are all the same.
    And I am with Suzanne - what about the barbie doll???

  9. Santa brought Joel a ballerina Barbie in a delightful pink tutu. Actually, he is suspicious that it is not a "real" Barbie because the knees don't bend. So he gave it to Camille. That Santa - at least he heard correctly this year. Not like the year he thought Joel asked for high quality pants...

  10. I'm stuck on the gift bag......

    Okay, now I'm unstuck. That is actually a very pretty tattoo, and I'm not much of a tattoo person (it must be that I'm hoping for an Orthodox Jewish burial.)

    I also love the pics of your family.

  11. Wow, lots of stuff in your post and the comments. As a Christian, I still say Happy Holidays for the reasons you mention above and think it's ironically amusing that we celebrate our holy days with pagan traditions like trees and Easter Bunnies. We don't do Santa here, either,and dislike that the school actually tells my daughter that "Santa" wrote back to her letter, when it was a fifth grade student (who couldn't spell.) IT was very confusing for her, to have her teacher, whom she trusts, telling her something her mother had already told her was not true. I'm not sure why it's okay for them to propogate that untruth--it really irritated me this year. They visited "Santa" at a lady's house across the street, too, and got stuffed animals from "him" (it was a woman dressed up as Santa with a fake beard on.) I don't mind a secular education at all and actually prefer it in many ways, but I find myself scratching my head over what they think is okay and not okay to tell the kids.

  12. PS--Very pretty tattoo and very nice gift bag. :) That's a nice Christmas tradition!

  13. OK - I'm kind of freaked out by the female Santa entertaining kids in her house....missed seeing you yesterday Amy! But it was a gross day out.

  14. Since I've been dragged from my slumber, I guess it wouldn't hurt to make a comment, or two, or possibly three.
    I usually prefer tattoos on skinheads with with tight jeans and kick ass army military boots but yours is okay too. Although it's a little low on the arm. Good luck getting in the steno pool with that on your wrist.
    And at first, I thought that that was your belly when I opened up your Blog. I thought to myself, wow, Carol's in some really good shape for popping out five kids! Thanks for explaining.
    I love homemade gifts. Can Ellie knit one for me? I'm not picky. Any old thing will do. In fact, I'll even take one of your old ones.
    Okay, let me talk about that whole Christian thing from where I stand. Actually, I'm sitting right now but that's beside the point. And I think that I can add my two cents even if I'm not the King of the Christians. Actually, since Christ is King of the Jews, maybe I can apply for the job if no one else steps up.
    Anyway, Christ is within me. He is not in my Nativity Set or even in my Christmas tree. However, I do use these visuals as reminders and I love to see small town Nativity sets. And does it bother me when these things are challenged and removed? You bet your sweet bippy it does. And then I'm reminded that that thought is not very Christian of me and then I feel a little guilty for thinking that way. In fact, being a Christian is hard work for me. I struggle daily if not hourly with it. I'll give you an example. Thou shalt not kill. It's one of God's big No-Nos but if anyone harmed my kids, I would probably forget about that one. And not only would I kill the person who harmed my kid, but I would make it a nice slow death. So you see, I really struggle.
    Wow, where was I? Oh right! Although, for me, Jesus is all around me, more importantly, I carry him within where it really counts. If the world was striped of all things Jesus, it wouldn't matter to me. They can't strip Him from my heart and mind. So let them call it X-mas if they want. Why should I care, really?
    Wait! What was your question again? Oh never mind, it doesn't matter.
    Going back to rest if you don't mind.
    Your Friend, m.
    p.s. You're crazy if you think I'm going back over this comment to look for spelling errors. m.

  15. Hey, I got nothing to add except, Merry New Year!

    Which doesn't mean I don't have thoughts about everything you wrote here… As always, I loved this post, loved where it took my thoughts.

    Hope this new year is beautiful and fine for you and your family. I can't wait to see what it looks like…

  16. Camille got Beauty & the Beast! That's my fave Disney movie of all time. :)

    I'll come over and watch it with her sometime. ;)