219 Simple or Complex Christmas

We play a game on Christmas morning… I code clues; they have to decipher them.

So many decisions are being made this season.  Some are actually running under the radar.  Kyle said that his mom called, sobbing, desperate to see him at the holiday.  She considers herself immune compromised.  But as a resident of the Eastern part of the state, I imagine that she is far more dangerous to Kyle than he is to her (by outward behaviors and misguided beliefs about science).  He agreed to travel, seeing the family for the first time in six months.

People are making life and death decisions.  Covid deaths did spike to double as an after effect of Thanksgiving. Some are staying exclusive and reclusive, changing the events of the season entirely.  DeeDee and Joe have cancelled Christmas, the traditional Christmas.

A Chart from the BBC showing Covid 19 deaths did spike  after effect of Thanksgiving
Covid 19 deaths did spike after effect of Thanksgiving

And many are ignoring all warnings, and playing roulette with the elder and vulnerable lives.  Complex decisions.  Ignored and made to seem simple.

When we create the non-Covid related experiences of any holiday season, we make one original choice.  I watch myself do it.  I tend to pick “complex”.  The voice says “Why stop now”… or, rather, “This may be the last.”  I’m on a roll.  I may as well take the snowball to the finish line.  

There is some inner judgment.  We could eat take out or frozen lasagna.  Simple choices, and everyone would come away equally happy.  But I have the refrigerator and freezer packed with the traditional foods, African Peanut Butter Soup ingredients for Kwami, cinnamon rolls for the kids, a beef roast because that is what I remember (and I am the only one who really wants to eat it).  

We play a game on Christmas morning, that is, whichever morning we deem as Christmas (December 26th this year). Complex.  In a good way.  I code clues; they have to decipher them.  We are all just humoring one another… biding time ‘til the game drops to grand-kid level.  It just didn’t stop, and now stopping feels futile.

I won’t commit to simple.  There is too much of my type of love in complex.  But I know what simple looks like, and it could be a choice in the future.  Simple IS a frozen lasagna, french bread and salad dinner.  Simple is one gift to the entire group, maybe another Airbnb at the ocean.  

But, humanity is complex.  The point of the season is simple.  We choose how to live each day, and particularly the Holy Days.  There is no shame in complex.  It is a choice.  

But can we all find the part that is simple within the complexities?  The baseline.  The peace. As they say, wise women and men will seek It. 

204 Advent Calendars

An entire season of tiny treats amounts to the equivalent of one chocolate bar, so it IS really about the count down.

Advent calendars are all the rage.  Socks, toys, chocolate, even alcohol can be hiding behind those little doors.   We have traditionally used the Trader Joe’s chocolate calendar, because it is all a game, and the chocolate isn’t wax (like some others).  An entire season of tiny treats amounts to the equivalent of one chocolate bar, so it IS really about the count down.  

We have traditionally used the Trader Joe's chocolate calendar
We have traditionally used the Trader Joe’s chocolate calendar

This year, Jan found a truly creative variety.  Constructed by Plum Deluxe, there is a loose leaf tea for each day through the 24th.  Each flavor brews a pot of tea.  I have been keeping up, the daily seep.  Remaining up to date is always the challenge with advent calendars.  Yesterday, I slipped behind.  

Plum Deluxe Tea Lover’s Advent Calendar

Although our family has always played the count down game, it has been fun to watch the new additions learn.  Mark has no interest in counting down to Christmas.  He is culturally Jewish, so the calendar makes no sense whatsoever.  He would rather count forward to latkes.  Any of us would rather move toward latkes than consumerism, if we understood our own thinking process, but that is a totally different topic.  Latkes are delicious.

The calendar that flew to Mark for his first experience was opened from the end (not through the cardboard doors), and consumed all in one sitting, or maybe two.  Shante didn’t recognize the need for a teaching moment.  Or she tried, to no avail.

crispy panko potato latkes

Others have done similar things, not understanding the concept, ripping the doors from their hinges, giving up along the way, or fully leaving the whole situation sealed.

We are moving from darkness to light.  I did not use a segue.  It is boldly true.  

And the advent calendar is a semi lame, Christian (or now, consumerist) attempt at replacing the celebration of the Solstice.  This year, it some how links to our political position.  Science.  No science.  

The Solstice is the day that starts to bring back the light, in our hemisphere anyway.  It happens.  I don’t feel like debating science or defending any religion, one over the other.  The day the light comes is the day we are celebrating, the day we count to, the day we feel like we can move forward.

Jesus represents that.  The Solstice scientifically is that.  There is Diwali and Hanukah, the Lantern Festival and Santa Lucia Day.  So many more.  They all celebrate the light.  It is inside of us, bursting to come out.  It is love, enlightenment, the awareness of our unity.  It is definitely worth celebrating.  

But the countdown?  We could drop that.  Today.  This moment right here is the right time to stop counting, take in the whole calendar.  Be One.  Celebrate the light that you are.

158. Chocolate

With all of the expectations of social distancing and separation of family, facing the holidays, the medicinal qualities of chocolate are in high demand.

When the kids were five and six, I panicked.  It was written that people who are not exposed to a second language in the first part of their lives would be incapable of becoming bilingual.  I didn’t want Nyasha and Shante’s synapses to freeze.

A young woman in Lake Stevens was teaching Spanish to a small group of young ones.  (In Spanish), “Chocolate, chocolate, bate bate el chocolate.”  I hear that song.  It’s actually about stirring Mexican hot chocolate, rather than eating the firm candy equivalent, but it is still going round and round in my head.

Back in mid September, NPR played a report that claimed that Halloween candy sales were up 25 percent.  Personally, I don’t consider September a month to make such claims.  No one who buys candy in early fall plans to keep it around long term, certainly not until the end of October, and especially since many communities are skipping the open door adventure of Trick or Treating.

Candy sales are up.  One online claim is that there has been a 12 percent increase in chocolate sales in the last six months.  No surprise.  

We are living in a pandemic.  Few of us missed the Harry Potter series.  Madam Pomfrey had to stockpile chocolate in the hospital wing, “loads” to cure Harry and Ron alone. With all of the expectations of social distancing and separation of family, facing the holidays, the medicinal qualities of chocolate are in high demand.

Nyasha and I were laughing about the Halloween candy aisle.  When it comes down on November 1, there had better be a Christmas candy aisle at the ready.  (Wink. I think there already is.)