Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Holiday Spirit? I Must Have Lost Mine Among All These Bills!

The excitement of the holidays is something I probably haven't felt in a very long time. In fact, as a child I remember the very Christmas that ruined all future Christmas' for me.

1984. The worst Christmas I can remember. Not because I didn't get any presents, I did. In fact, I received quite a few presents that year. The Walkman I wanted, roller skates, a whole lot of [ugly] clothes I would later be forced to wear, and I even got my first pair of concert tickets! The Beastie Boys opening up for Run DMC! To this day the memories of me standing on a chair looking like a damn fool doing the WOP, is still considered one of the highlights of my life.

But, that was also the Christmas that I received 2 computers. A Commodore from my step father and a Texas Instruments from my father. Not only was I not allowed to keep both, but I was forced to choose which one to keep.

After being influenced by my brother, I will never forget the look on my fathers face when I told him I didn't want the Texas Instruments. The guilt I felt after that day would be the beginning of a horrible guilt ridden life.

Looking back at it now, I don't think that it was fair of my step-father, who was awarded custody of me years earlier after my mother passed away, to force me to make that decision. But, that situation left a bad taste in my mouth that would remain for every Christmas that followed.

Now, that year wasn't the start of my 'Grinch-like' attitude or the main cause of my lack luster holiday spirit. By then the tradition of decorating the huge Christmas Trees that sat in the front window of our formal living room, and the tree that sat in our family room where all of the presents would be placed under, the enjoyment of our family dinner with all of the relatives (from my mothers side that would come into town) while listening to the soulful holiday tunes that played in the background, would later be replaced by the 'revised' tradition of going to over my step-fathers overly religious fellow church members house's where the television played nothing but those old classic religious movies all day long and Silent Night was replaced by old southern hymnals, and the smell of Chitin's never failed to make me want to throw up! By those years my mother had already left this world and Christmas' had definitely changed.

But, that 1984 Christmas was certainly a turning point.

Once I was an 'emancipated minor' and didnt have to partake in the various Christmas Day celebrations I was able to finally enjoy the day free from work and school, until I had my own children. For my children's sake, the obligation of celebrating Christmas was back in force and Christmas became a 'chore' I did (with a fake but always present smile) just so my children might be able to enjoy something that was ruined for me many many years ago.

 Today Christmas has taken on a whole other meaning. A celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ has been tainted by stories of ignorant women's who have resorted to violence because someone else grabbed the last Tickle Me Elmo or whatever over priced 'must have' toy is that year. Nativity Scenes have all but been replaced by various statues of Santa, 'Merry Christmas' has now been replaced by more 'politically correct' terms and the goal seems to be who can get even further in debt [the most] buying gifts for their already, in many cases, overly spoiled unappreciative children.

I'm not blameless. Most Christmas' I spoiled my children. Probably out of some underlying guilt I felt for all of the struggles my children had to go through that year and I have to admit, I am probably a little resentful that this year I will not be one of those mothers indulging their over spoiled unappreciative children. I'm not a little resentful. I'm A LOT resentful.

But, even with the vast number of houses that surround me covered with so many lights that I cant even begin to imagine the electric bill the owners will be sent, I am still very much absent of the Christmas spirit. Maybe its just me but I feel like the meaning of CHRISTmas has been lost. How do we get it back?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Serving Up Good Luck And Prosperity With A Side Of Gold!

Every New Year’s Day I partake the tradition of eating Black-eyed Peas.

The meaning behind the tradition is one that dates back to slavery. By eating Black-eyed Peas on New Year's Day you will be met with good luck and prosperity.

Black-eyed Pea, which symbolize wealth and good fortune, are often cooked with ham hocks,[the pig] representing luck, served with collard green, representing money, and a side of cornbread, representing gold.

One variation of the tradition is that by eating 365 Black-eyes Peas on the years first day will bring luck and prosperity all 365 days.

Now, do I really hold my future in a Black-eyed Pea? Of course not! But, it is a deeply rooted tradition, of which the meaning behind it is even deeper, and is as much a part of my ancestry (and struggle) as 'Jumping the Broom'. It has no true merit but symbolic value.

With everything we have lost in the world in which we live today, as individuals, as a community, historically, and (for many) culturally, it's comforting to be able to, at the very least, hold onto tradition.

So, on the first day of the coming year, just as we have done the first day of many years, me and my family will respectfully sit down at the dinner table, give thanks to the Almighty God for allowing us to make it through another year, ask Him to prepare us for the year to come, and enjoy a soulfully delicious bowl of Black-eyed Peas.

From me and my family to you and your family we would like to wish you all good luck, prosperity, and a happy new year!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In My Own Words...Being Alone

I have to admit, I truly enjoy being alone. I probably like being alone more than most people. But when I'm alone I can relax. I can think. I can breathe.

Being alone gives me the opportunity to put things in perspective. Assess what I need.

The older I get, the more I enjoy my time with myself. The more I find peace in the silence.

When I'm alone I reflect on a lot of things. Decisions I've made (good and bad), where I am in my life, if my life is where I want it to be, and what I want to do in my life.

It's also my time to rest. Rest my body. Rest my mind. Rest my soul.

From the outside looking in some people might assume that I'm bored (or boring). But, that is so far from the truth. What some may call boring I call stress free. My 'Alone Zone' is a 'Drama-Free Zone'.

Whether 'my time' is a 15 minute hot bath, or a 48 hour sabbatical in the bedroom, its something that is mine that can not be taken away from me. Its mine to think about whatever I wish, be bothered with whatever I want (or not), and rejuvenate from the life's wear and tear.

My gift to myself. My 'Calgon' moment for me to get 'taken away.'

Monday, November 28, 2011

In My Own Words....Silence Speaks A Thousand Words

My step sister used to say 'As long as Valerie's arguing with you, you don't have anything to worry about. It's when she stops arguing, you need to worry.'
People who knew me understood what that meant. If Ive stopped arguing, Ive stopped caring. I only argue about what I'm passionate about.

Whether this reaction is right or wrong, that's how I react. When I have gotten to this point, spent energy was wasted energy. When I feel like I'm wasting my energy, time, effort, or what have you. I'm done.

Struggles are a part of life, but when the struggle is unnecessary and recurring (especially if it impacts my life or my comfort zone), the best thing for me is to tap out! Because if I don't, I end up with drama surrounding me, and I hate drama! There are three types of people: Those who like drama (causing drama, being involved with drama); those who say they don't like drama but every time you turn around, what are they involved in? Drama! And those who really don't like drama and avoid it at all costs. I am the latter. I despise drama.

To me, recurring issues equal drama. Its like that saying 'First time, shame on them. Second time, shame on you. Third time, either your ignorant or in denial' (I added the last part myself.)

Now, I understand that life, like most things, is about trial and error. You try one thing and if it doesn't work, your supposed to learn from what didn't work, and try something else. Its the not learning from what didn't work, or not taking responsibility for your part in what didn't work that I have a problem with.

Dealing with repetition, to me, is wasted energy and ultimately I remove myself from that part of the equation. That's when the silence kicks in. Because there's nothing else for me to do. If someone is not going to help me try to keep their boat afloat well, they will have to sink by themselves. Cuz' I refuse to sink!

All I request, at the most, is to acknowledge when something isn't working, and at least an honest effort to try something a little different. If I can't get at least an attempt, If all I get is empty words of what may change in the future when changes need to be made now, I stop arguing. And as my step sister says 'When she stops arguing....'.
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