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Winter is coming - and so are a bunch of holidays. Some, like Halloween, are secular (or anti-religious, depending on who you ask) Others, like Christmas, have religious origins (Pagan or Christian, depending on who you ask) but have become secularized for many. What holidays do you celebrate? How do you do it? Or if not, why, and do you do anything else instead?
We missed Hanukkah, but there are still other holidays ahead. Yule, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year's, among others. What are people planning to cook? My mom and I will be doing lunch on Christmas eve. Soup and and antipasto-inspired spread of bread, cheese, meats, veggies and fruit. So I'll be making the soup, a lemon chickenn orzo, this week and freezing it, to be transported by car for 8.5 hours to my brother's house. I plan to pick up some meats at a local East European-style deli and some cheese. Doing an herbed white bean dip. My mom will go down earlier, get veggies and fruits based on what looks good there, maybe some smoked salmon (a favorite of my dad's), get the bread and crackers, maybe an artichoke dip, some pickles and olives. Like me, she's cooking soup this week to freeze and bring down. No idea what's being done for Christmas eve or Christmas day. We're a mix of vegetarians and meat eaters, so pasta is a common choice. I'm fine with vegetarian food, provided it's good food. My big New Years plans involve going to bed early, but maybe I'll make something nice and a little fancy just for myself, like a filet mignon or a corish hen.
I remember being about two years old (I have a long memory) and watching my dad plug in Christmas lights. That was probably the last year our family celebrated Christmas. Both my parents grew up celebrating holidays like most of middle-class America, but as they began their slide into fundie-dom they started reading tracts and booklets about the evils of holidays. They believed that Christmas, Easter, and Halloween were evil throwbacks to paganism that had been perpetuated by the Catholics (who, of course, weren't "real Christians"). I'm linking here to something similar to the many booklets we had around the house: http://blowthetrumpet.org/AChristmasDefenseHowGodsPeopleJustifySin.htm This refusal to celebrate holidays set my family apart, even from the fundamentalist Christians we associated with, and definitely caused a lot of confusion when people casually asked us kids what we were doing for Christmas, and we told them we didn't "do Christmas." We got asked a lot if we were Jehovah's Witnesses, since that's who usually comes to mind as not celebrating holidays. Sometimes people asked if my parents were Christian, because the idea of a Christian not celebrating Christmas was so astonishing. Birthdays were only grudgingly allowed: we normally had just a family gathering, similar to the Maxwells' descriptions of their birthday celebration. It was often pointed out that the only birthdays mentioned in the Bible were the birthdays of evil men (Pharaoh and Herod). Also it was seen as being likely to draw to much attention to one person and make them self-centered. This story has a bit of a happy ending, at least for me. After I left home, I embraced holidays with a vengeance. Christmas was amazing, my children got Easter baskets from my in-laws, Halloween was a pure delight of dressing my kids and taking them trick-or-treating. Now that I've left Christianity, I still look forward to the holidays. Christmas/Yule/Winter Solstice--whatever it's called, it's a time of joy and giving and yummy food. Halloween--it's a joy to watch my children enjoy what I didn't, with no fear of "Satan" to hinder their steps. The cycle of the seasons is cause for celebration, even if "Easter" isn't really a thing for me. And I want my children to feel special on their birthdays: to know that they're important and valued. This rejection of holidays stemmed from anti-Catholic and anti-Pagan attitudes. It was promoted as being "God's way," but all the tracts reviled Catholics and Pagans, making it obvious that the real problem was with other people's belief systems. Of course, we were the ones with the "right" understanding of the Bible. As with everything else. Nowadays, my parents still don't celebrate religious holidays, except for having or attending a Thanksgiving meal (apparently there's some justification in the Bible for "a day of thanks," don't ask me). They are free to do whatever they want on the holidays; meanwhile, at my house, there will likely be a delicious dinner cooking and a living room full of loved ones.
Maggie Mae posted a topic in Wide World of SnarkAny chance we can get a Festivus Celebration going on Friday the 23rd? Anyone else interested in this? I have no idea how to make the feats of strength transferrable to the internet.. but I'm sure someone more creative than I can think of something!
I thought it might be a good idea to have a place to write about what's going on in my life, since big things are rapidly happening. First thing is that I'm getting married April 2016. Possibly even March. It's happened pretty fast but there's really no reason to wait since we don't want a party or a big wedding, and the sooner we're married the sooner my fiance can apply for a spouse visa and live here full time. I'm so happy and excited to marry him, I wish we could do it even sooner. I really couldn't hope to find a better partner than him <3 Second thing is that I'm disabled and live with chronic pain. I've finally managed to get in to see a pain clinic that offers comprehensive treatment. That comprehensive treatment means 5 hour sessions with everything from psychologists, psychiatrists and surgeons. Three five hour sessions. That's going to be really hard for me. I hate talking to strangers, especially strange doctors because doctors have been so fucking useless to me for the past 15 years of my life. My fiance will be able to come to my final appointment with me (thank god), and my mother will come to the first (you have to bring a relative/partner to certain appointments) but I know she's going to say stuff that will humiliate me because she has zero fucking tact. I'm also going to have to work on fixing up my apartment that I haven't lived in for 2 years so my fiance can move into it with me. It's going to be a bit of an adjustment, going from living by myself, being on my own all day to living with a partner full time. He has a job lined up (not that he can be paid until his spouse visa is approved) that means in a few months when his tourist visa expires he'll be out of the house most of the day. I never really saw myself as the stay at home wife type, but here I am. Hopefully we can both finish up our degrees and one day I'll be in a position to work. I don't want him to have to be the breadwinner, that's too much pressure on top of having to move half a world away. He's prepared to do it because he's wonderful, but it's not what I want. So yeah, got to fix up the apartment. Needs tons of cleaning (which I can't do, but my family is helping). I'll have to sort a lot of my shit into boxes and put the boxes... somewhere. God knows where. It's a lot going on at once for me and it's a bit overwhelming. On top of all that I'm really sick at the moment. Like, can't get out of bed for more than a trip to the bathroom or kitchen for a glass of water. If anyone actually reads this (which I doubt), don't worry. I'm sure I'll be on to bitterly eviscerating episodes of A Game of Thrones in no time at all. God damn, the writing on that show...
Okay, we're up to day three of Thanksgiving prep. Let's make some cornbread for the dressing. I was losing the light and couldn't get a good shot of the batter, so here it is in the oven: You'll have to wait till the next post to see it transformed into cornbread dressing. Okay, next up is some French bread rolls: Please note that my container for wheat gluten is an old yogurt container. Fancy! Since we are working with wheat, here's a shot of the wheatberries before they took a spin in my grain mill: That's hard red wheatberries on the left and soft white wheatberries on the right. After a few minutes in the grain mill ( please wear ear protection!), You get this: Hard red flour is again on the left and soft white flour Is on the right. Because these flours are whole grain, it's best to only grind what you need for a recipe, or store the flour in the freezer. My shoulders balk at too much kneading, so I'm going to use the dough cycle on my bread machine to make the dough and do the first rise and punch down. Ugly dough, huh? After shaping, rising, and baking, you get this: True confession time: I forgot to grease or line the baking sheet with parchment , so these stuck to the pan. I carefully arranged them so you couldn't see the raggedy bottoms. Day three is over, what will tomorrow bring?
Compiling the ol' Christmas wish list. I put everything I want on that list, whether or not I have a snowball's chance in hell of getting it or not regardless of the cost. I figure what the hell, just put it on there in case someone is feeling really generous. My immediate family does the same so we all know what to get each other too. Of course it takes a little bit of coordination so one person doesn't get three Pirates snuggies like he did one year. Since I might be having surgery within the next year this was the first year I asked people to not get me certain things, such as beer or food items. I said even clothes wouldn't be a good idea since if I have the surgery they'll soon be too big for me.
One of the things I've learned, is the importance of starting my Thanksgiving preparations early. My preparation actually begins on the Sunday night before Thanksgiving when I pull the turkey and any other needed items out of the freezer, but the real work starts on the following Monday. We are not having guests this year, so I will be making the scaled down version of my Thanksgiving dinner. That means that some dishes will be absent as we only have so much room in the refrigerator to work with. Because the weather has turned colder, I'm starting with pies. I usually make those on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, but it's cool enough that I think they will keep okay covered up on the washing machine. We'll start with apple. I don't always make an apple pie, but my husband asked for apple pie instead of the Maple-Pecan Chiffon cake we had last year for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Here we go: The small container to the left of the apples contains a pie crust I had in the freezer. I ended up using five apples, but I think four would have been better. I forgot to replace the pie plate I got rid of last year, so this one is going in a 9x9 baking dish. Gotta roll with the punches around here. Since this recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, I decided to go ahead and zest the lemon too. You'll notice I didn't peel the apples before cutting and coring them. I rarely peel fruits and vegetables if the peel is edible. The peel is a source of fiber, and you lose some of the nutrients if you choose to peel them. I told you I cut up too many apples for this dish. I still have to add the crumb topping, so I'm going to have to be careful not to spill it. I'll have a picture of the baked apple pie further down. I was starting to lose my natural light. Okay, next up is pumpkin: The powdered milk is there because the recipe calls for sweetened condensed milk. I make a homemade version of sweetened condensed milk with dry milk powder, water, sugar, and butter. The small container in front of the powdered milk is another pie crust I had in the freezer. I'm not posting a shot of the batter in the bowl because the lighting is so poor. Here's a shot of the pie in the oven: Making pretty pies is not my strong suit. I promise they taste better than they look. I had to go referee a kitty dispute while the apple one was baking, so the top got more brown than I intended. My official taste tester said the apple one was good, and I had some of the pumpkin and it had a good flavor. Especially when you add a tiny dollop of whipped cream. Day one is over, and we have pie. Life is good.
I finally get my turn to host Thanksgiving at our house this year after about 8 years. My sil and mil have been taking turns and beating me to the punch for invites. I've had a warp dyed and waiting to become a table runner and placemats for for almost that whole time. After I invited everyone late last month I realized that I had better get on that warp. As so often happens while I weave, I decided to make some celtic knot binding to go around everything. So I now have the whole warp woven, and part of it over dyed because there was just too much yellow and not enough red, and the warp for the tablet weaving dyed. I have no idea if it will be done before thanksgiving ( I need like 20+ yards of binding), but I'm going to try. I always do this to myself at the holidays. I get all ambitious and over extend myself. Anyway, what are you all working on for the holidays?
This book came up in one of the Lina threads as a common gateway to Christians becoming FakeJews. heartofwisdom.com/biblicalholidays/2011/10/13/a-family-guide-to-the-biblical-holidays/ This is a 39 page sample. heartofwisdom.com/Acrobat/BHPreview2.0.pdf Has anybody encountered this book before? They claim that Jewish holidays that were around for thousands of years before Jesus are actually in place to "foreshadow" Jesus and are "G-d's way of teaching about Jesus." As a Jew, this makes about as much sense to me as if someone were to say that Jewish holidays are here to teach about L. Ron Hubbard. There is also this "parable": Are they not aware that the things I bolded are also a part of Jewish celebrations? The holidays all have themes--freedom (Passover), atonement (Yom Kippur), trees are awesome (Tu B'shvat--oh wait, they leave this one out of the book.) Jews dress up in costumes for Purim, they decorate their homes for many holidays and give gifts at Purim. Do they write these things off as "unbiblical?" Are they completely oblivious to the fact that all holidays, religious and "pagan," involve rituals and customs?