Happy Holidays. To Everyone.

I dreaded getting holiday greetings from strangers when I was a kid.  You see, I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and any discussion of any holiday/celebration inevitably led to a recitation—”Because it’s a lie!”  “Because someone got their head cut off!”  “Because we are grateful EVERY day!”—of why I didn’t celebrate them.

Having long left the Jehovah’s Witness stuff behind, now I quite enjoy the holiday season.  My wife and I celebrate Christmas and I love it (I have a lot of missed holidays to make up for.)  Not being particularly religious, my greeting to people I don’t know tends to be a generic “Happy Holidays.”  I see an awful lot of news coverage of people getting quite irate over the use of “Happy Holidays”—whether they hear it from a store’s door-greeter or see it (either written out or implied, somehow) on holiday packaging or displays.  A huge discussion about “taking the Christ out of Christmas” or “the War on Christmas” always results, but what I hear is this:  “How dare you say a phrase that is inclusive of my holiday, but does not include only MY holiday! How DARE you!?”

I don’t get it.  I mean, I really don’t get it.

First, as a user of The-Phrase-That-Apparently-Dare-Not-Be-Spoken, I happen to believe it covers everyone’s celebrations through the entire holiday season (including the new year). If someone wishes me a Merry Christmas, I wish that back to them (because obviously, it’s what they celebrate, and I genuinely want them to have a Merry-Whatever-They-Celebrate).  If someone wished me a Happy Hanukkah or a Happy Kwanzaa, I’d smile and wish that back to them, as well.  Personally, given that I don’t know what any given stranger celebrates, I figure “Happy Holidays” covers all bases and I feel good about that.

Second, my greeting is simply a lot more awesome.  By simply saying “Merry Christmas,” you are only wishing me happiness through the 25th of December. With my “Happy Holidays,” Christians, I see your December 25th and raise you by SEVEN more days! And my greeting can even be retroactive back to Thanksgiving!  Boom!  That’s over a month’s worth of wishes for holiday cheer!

This idea that unless you’re using the phrase that only covers one holiday, you are disrespecting that holiday—it’s absurd. There’s room in this holiday season for everyone and the more the merrier!  Isn’t sharing, love, compassion, and all that supposed to be the reason for the holiday season?  That’s what Christ taught, right?  (It’s been a while since I was forced to memorize scriptures, so you’ll have to refresh my memory;  but I’m pretty sure He was pretty big on those things.)

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One day, as I wandered into our kitchen…

…I found a full glass of water set alongside the large dog/kitty water bowl on the kitchen floor.  I could tell that it had been carefully placed and not dropped there, as it was a very heavy glass and it was filled to the brim with water.  Was some kind of hydrating gift being made to the Trash Can Deity?  I wondered if I should place some tea light candles around it or burn some incense (or—given that it IS a trash can—just spray some air freshener at it)?  

WaterGlassOffering
Offering to the Great Trash Eater, lest He be displeased and refuse to accept our coffee grounds.

 

When I asked my wife about the glass, all was revealed.  

“I put it down there for the cats,” she said.  “They get tired of drinking out of a bowl and enjoy drinking out of a glass now and then.”

(Our relationship has always been firmly predicated on the fact that am the weird one, mind you.)  

I thought about pointing out the dangers of one of us accidentally punting a water glass across the floor, thought better of it, shrugged and went on with making my tea.  

A little bit later, this happened:

AngelinaDrinkingGlass
Angelina sometimes gets tired of drinking out of a bowl and enjoys a glass, apparently.

So there you have it.  What do I know?  When we met, I was the cat person and my wife was the dog person. (We’re both half-and-half on the feline/canine preference scale now.)  Through all my years of cat companionship, I had never offered any cat a refreshing drink of water from a glass.  I’d like to take this time to apologize to all the cats I’ve known before:  Buttons, Black Paws, Elvis, Rum Tum Tugger, Tigger and all the rest.  

Next week’s discovery:

“Yeah, the cats are tired of drinking just water.  They like a nice glass of champagne every now and again; they enjoy batting at the bubbles.”  
*Another champagne flute crashes to the floor and breaks*

AngelinaNap
Happily hydrated cat.

On Tangerines and Being an Imposter

Ok, so the tangerines bit in the title isn’t true. Sorry. I was standing in the kitchen making a pot of green tea and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to write about this morning, and I saw a bowl of tangerines. Actually, they weren’t even tangerines—they were mandarin oranges, so I lied about that, too. I have nothing to say about any citrus fruit (except that I really should eat the rest of the mandarin oranges, as they’ve been sitting there for a while. They’re probably starting to get mushy, and I hate wasting food).

 

citrus fruit
See?  I didn’t lie about there being a bowl of some kind of citrus fruit.

So I was a liar about the tangerines.  I see we are starting off fantastically with this post.  Truth is (or is it the truth?), I’m kind of winging it this morning. Once I get something in mind to write about, I get going and can’t stop. I’ll be laughing to myself (unless I’m writing about something that has made me angry, and then my wife is startled by mutters of, “That asshole!” and “She won’t be elected again once the two people who read my blog start calling her office and making some noise!”

Ok, so two is an overstatement.

When you get in that flow, writing is fun and happens without your really meaning for it to. What results is a product of doing something you enjoy. What’s strange is when you find yourself in a situation where you’re getting paid to do that thing you enjoy. A couple of months ago, Carl Richards wrote an excellent New York Times article entitled “Learning to Deal With Impostor Syndrome”. (Hey—“impostor” is not spelled with an “-er” at the end of it, my spell check angrily insisted. You learn something new every damn day, don’t you?) 



Until I read Richards’ article, I had never consciously labeled the crippling fear I had of submitting my writing to someone and asking to get paid for it. (Cue discouraging interior monologue.) If you’re good at something and enjoy doing it, how is that work that deserves pay? And also—there are a zillion other writers out there; many of them as good or much better. Why do I deserve to do this or be paid for it? 



I wrote my feelings off to a litany of other things (including low self-esteem and never being allowed to eat ice cream when I was a kid*) and never thought much more about it. But then a friend posted this article and just like that, my insecurity had a name: “Imposter Syndrome.” (This was kind of like recently when I discovered that the fear of throwing up is an actual, DSM-IV phobia.  It’s called “emetophobia,” for those who, like me, are like, “What? Just because I have an anxiety attack when I get nauseous, I’m not crazy? I mean, I am crazy, but I’m a valid, NAMED kind of crazy? Yay!”) 



“Imposter syndrome” makes me think of the villain in a Scooby Doo cartoon having his mask ripped off to the gang’s exclamation of, “That’s not the Loch Ness Monster; it’s Old Mr. McGee!” I guess it kind of feels that way—that despite someone paying for and actually enjoying what you’ve written, they’re going to see behind your mask and shout, “Hey! You’re not a real writer! You’re not a funny blogger like Jenny Lawson, an entertaining journalist like Emily Yoffe or a fantastic storyteller like Anne Rice! Pretender!  You’re just you!  Give me my money back!” 



I’ve been doing freelance work of late, doing all sorts of writing and proofreading for various people. With each writing gig, I wait for the other shoe to fall. “You want me to write this? This isn’t hard and I’ll enjoy doing it. Surely, this is all a farce and the person hiring me will turn out to be my wife posing as someone who messaged me with a much-needed writing assignment.” (“But you were struggling and I just wanted to boost your self-esteem!” she’d say.) 



But the assignments keep coming, as does the positive feedback. I guess (impostor that I am) I’ll just have to pretend to be someone who is confident and cocky in a Trump-esque fashion. “I write fantastic op-eds!  My articles are high-quality!  My op-eds solve world peace! Everyone else’s writing is weak and lacks stamina!”

*The ice cream thing is a lie, as well.  I was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and while Christmas and birthday parties were banned, delicious, delicious ice cream was not.  

EDIT:  My iPhone dictionary insists that “imposter” spelled with an “-er” is just fine, thank you very much.  Apparently, it and my Mac need to have a heart-to-heart…er…hard drive to hard drive?  I’m leaving the title of this post spelled the way it currently is—just to cover all bases.