Monday, December 26, 2005

December Dilemma

We celebrate Christmas here at my house because I grew up celebrating a secular Christmas and when my husband & I were first married, that's what we did. So we have a tree, an artificial one, but decorated with lights and ornaments and no religious symbols--well no Christian symbols. The tree itself is pagan, I suppose.

We give gifts. Our son gets a stocking full of small items, a large orange & a large apple. Those are from my spouse's family traditions.

Since Chanukah started last night, we lit our hanukkiyot (Chanukah menorahs) in the window and will do so every night of Chanukah. However we spell it.

The kid's a bit disappointed that we don't seem to have a small gift for him each night of Hanukkah, but we told him that we gave them all out on Christmas and that's that. The gift giving on Chanukah evolved in the US as a way for us Jews to compete with the allure of the Christmas. I guess we reason if our kids get gifts on Chanukah, they won't thirst after Christmas...

To tell you the truth, since my home was spectacularly secular and my grandparents didn't seem to want to inculcate Judaism as lovely way of life, I guess I fell under the spell of the season and every year I suffer a number of things:

1) seasonal affect disorder starting as soon as DST ends or whatever we fall back for occurs and that makes me susceptible.

2) being torn between wanting to celebrate Christmas secularly and religiously--although not in a particularly Christian way.

3) Wanting to sing Christmas carols, but knowing that they are not celebrating being Jewish--or all my values, I'm torn. To me, there is no king of Israel. The messiah has not arrived and if people will always be pigheaded, she won't be coming any day soon.

4) wanting to spend money in an extravagant and urgent way--especially on Oscar who will have a birthday in about a month and a half and who doesn't really require "stuff."

5) crying over sentimental Christmas movies, stories, etc and feeling cynical about doing so.

As you can see, if you've read this far, Whitman's phrase,"I am large, I contain multitudes," applies to me. I guess it's okay to have these contradictory feelings and impulses as long as I don't let them tear me apart. And as long as I'm aware of them and don't try to repress them, but if I always think about them and what they mean to me it helps keep me honest about who I am.

And the person I am could not just embrace an entirely Jewish life, living as I do in the secular world and married as I am with a man who is neither religious nor Jewish.

Today I am feeling comfortable with all these choices and not scared of anyone's disapproval or disdain.

And there is some in the Jewish community. I hear over and over again: a Jewish house shouldn't have a tree. But we do and that's that.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Autism: The Band Concert Part

Maybe I should just quit going to band concerts. I swear, being a mother can be bad for the ticker.

No seriously, it's the night of the Winter Concert at our high school and Percussion Ensemble, the Choir, the Concert Band, the combined band and the orchestra are all playing.

Logistics are not my son's strong suit and we get him to the band room and I ask him if he knows what to do and he says no, so I say, we'll ask your teacher. He does and I leave and meet up with my husband. We sit in the auditorium for half an hour waiting for the concert to start.

We watch as the kids file in and sit down while waiting for their turn. There's Osc with his trumpet--oh good he's near someone by whom he sat last year in band...if he follows this one...

The Concert Band which is only 15 students is what Osc is in and they have one number: Alleluja from Exsultate Jubilate. Osc does fine.

The last numbers are for the combined band. It's huge, this band. Zillions of kids on stage. I notice Osc hesitating and not going at what I think is the right time, behind the person I think he needs to be behind (not that kid this time). Both my husband and I wait tensely to see him get on stage and try to find a place.

He turns, he's lost, there's no chair, something's wrong. He raises his hand to try to attract the teacher's attention--he's like the last one not sitting and finally the teacher notices and directs him toward a seat.

I tell you watching that was some of the worst moments of my life. I wanted to jump up and guide Osc. I wanted to part the sea of band kids and make room for mine.

I don't know if it's ever going to get easier for Osc. (or me) I think part of it is, as kind as the band teacher is, he can't be watching out for Osc all the time--it's not on his radar. He's one of the top high school band teachers in the country. I am sure he thinks about how good the band has to sound and look...

Actually I'm not sure...but at the high school level, there's more competitiveness that goes along with the competence of students. So I don't know, but I don't get a sense of he's here to nurture talent. Maybe that's because I don't see the rehearsals, just the finished product.

And the finished product is damn good. I don't know if I should demand that my son has a para for Band. Someone to help him with the logistics of stuff.

Oh well. It's maybe a good thing he's not in Marching Band. Or maybe he should be--more logistics, more stuff to keep in mind. Help him practice for real life.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Awful Tooth/Lunar Phases

It's been a while since my last post and it's not because I've had nothing to say.
Nothing earthshaking anyway. Just not enough time in the day.
On Dentistry:
In any event, I would like to draw your attention to the website for the dental practice I visit:Dr Mingos & Associates.

I like their website. It's not goofy or full of flashy graphics. It's got links to information about dental problems, treatments,how to relax if you're anxious about visiting the dentist. It's a seriously useful site--even if you're not going to switch dentists or move to Kansas City just to visit these guys, you can learn a lot about both dentistry and web design.

Lunar Phases: And if you're interested in keeping track of what phase of the moon we're in (waxing gibbous?)go visit Star Date. The whole site is full of great information about astronomy. And the lunar phase calculator site is graphically nifty.