Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Public Service Announcement

This is a post written on behalf of all of those with birthdays during the holiday season. You all probably know someone with a Christmas or Christmas Eve birthday, or perhaps a few days before/after. As soon as you find out, you can't help but ask the same questions every time:

*Was that hard growing up?
*Do you get fewer presents?
*Do people forget about your birthday?

Well, I am here to set the record straight and layout some guidelines for you regarding birthdays in the holiday season.

1. DO NOT EVER GIVE A GIFT AND SAY IT IS FOR CHRISTMAS AND THEIR BIRTHDAY!!! You would never give a gift to someone with a June birthday and say it was for both occasions, and you would probably be offended if it happened to you. There are probably some special circumstances, such as someone receiving a house or a college education, but that is probably settled with the old "Don't expect any gifts at all for the next X years" cover-up. Totally acceptable. Also acceptable: Just one gift. Sometimes, there may be someone that ou would give a Christmas gift but would not give a birthday gift. That's fine! Than don't give them a birthday gift! I assure you, they do not expect you to give them extra gifts just because their birthday is near the birth of Christ. The key is to be confident in not giving them a birthday present. If they seem expectant for another gift, that is their own atrocious manners; resist the temptation to tell them that the gift is for both!!!

2. People with birthdays during the holiday season do not expect all festivities to go on hiatus to make time for a birthday. Just make the effort to quietly remember them. I don't think anyone is trying to upstage Jesus on his special day. Essentially, let them know that they haven't been completely forgotten. A Christmas party does not need to be double-themed just because someone happens to have a birthday. In fact, don't double-theme it; that can fall into the same category as doubling up on gifts if you're not careful.

3. Don't get eaten up with guilt for forgetting that Christmas/Christmas Eve/etc is someone's birthday as well. It is a well-known fact that people forget birthdays all the time, and brains are a little more frazzled than usual during the holiday season. It's ok. They understand.

4. Try not to wrap birthday gifts in Christmas paper. That's just a personal pet-peeve.

5. Don't put birthday gifts under the Christmas tree. That's just common sense.

6. I am not sure how universal this emotion is, but a lot of people with Holiday birthdays actually enjoy them! It isn't considered a "bummer" or a "cruel dealing of fate" to have a birthday in late December. It is such a happy time of year, so full of celebration! It's much nicer to have happiness surrounding your birthday than to have it fall on a drab, emotionless day of the week during some arbitrary month. Plus, for those with birthdays especially close to Christmas, you practically never have to go to work/school on your birthday and you're almost always with loved ones.

7. For those of you who wish someday to have children, and one of them happens to be born in late December, do not give them a Christmasy name. Most of those names are silly, and the name should be picked based on the person, not the season, right?

There you have it, world. I am fairly certain that most people in the not-as-unique-as-you-might-think situation of having a birthday near Christmas would concur with most of the points I've made. Ok, the last one was definitely personal preference. If you want to name your Christmas baby "Carol Holly" or "Nicholas Joy," that's your call.

jo (christmas eve baby)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

If You Really Love Christmas, Come On and Let It Snow

I saw Santa Claus today.

He wasn't quite what I expected.

I was raised with images of a jolly rotund cliche clad in red from head to toe and sporting white whiskers.

But the Santa Claus I saw didn't have any whiskers, nor was he wearing red. He had a simple tan jacket and a black cap, and he was on the slim side. But I knew it was him right away.

There were two women struggling to lift a heavy parcel into the back of their car, and they were obviously coming to the ends of their ropes. And then he appeared and lifted the box easily into the car, put a finger to his cap, and walked away unceremoniously.

People are quick to say that Santa is an invention of toy manufacturers and retail outlets, but that is not true. Some say that Santa takes away from the "reason for the season," the birth of Christ. Also not true.

I say that Santa is one of the truly pure things left in this Holiday season. Not plastic effigies of St. Nick that dot front yards, and not the character with a list that is used as a threat for misbehaving children. The Spirit of the season is manifest in the person of Santa Claus, and Santa Claus exists everywhere.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Hey, Hermano

I am learning Spanish one phrase at a time. My goal is to learn a phrase per day. Lazy, no? I am not anticipating being fluent anytime soon. I'm cool with it.

So how does one pursue the Spanish language if one is jo? There are two avenues:

1) Stephanie, the Ecuadorian who lives with me, is wonderfully patient and kind and willing to teach me. Almost everyday, I will ask her to translate something into Spanish so that I can learn it and forcibly insert it into my day to day rhetoric. This technique ensures me that the phrases I am learning are ones that I would actually use on a day to day basis.

2) I am addicted to the local Spanish radio station. I listen to "Rumba! Ciento Cuatro Punto Cinco!" all the time. It is difficult to follow everything that they are saying as my vocabulary is very limited, but I love it anyway. And though the phrases I pick up from the DJs' banter and stations IDs are not nearly as applicable as those I learn from my live-in mentor, I still find plenty of oppurtunities to say them with all of the Latin bravado I can muster.

So here's what I have so far. See if you can tell which ones I learned from Steph and which I picked up from Rumba 104.5:

Mi piel está muy secca y mis labios están muy partidos.
My skin is very dry and my lips are very chapped.

Me puedes traer salsa de tomate, por favor.
Please bring me the ketchup.

Y muchos más!
And much more!

Santo Dios, es mucho dinero!
Good Lord, that's a lot of money!

Más musica, menos comerciales
More music, fewer commercials

Mucho gusto.
Pleased to meet you.

Señor Perro, para perros pequeños.
Mister Dog, for small yappy-type dogs.

Orgullo Latino!
Latin Pride!

There are so many more still to come! I am well on my way to being bilingual. Look out, world!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I Am an Evil Herbivore

I am sorry. I really desperately want to be a consistant blogger. And i say that a lot. Which is just downright hypocritical. I'll stop apologizing and just try to do better. I'd be much better off if the wireless card i spent $65 on wasn't a dud... oh well. Anywho...

It used to really irritate when people said "anywho." I would glare at them once they turned their backs and sneer at them, mockingly mouthing the word they had dared utter in my presence. Then, one day, probably in winter because winter is the time to make such discoveries, I realized that "anywho" was a completely acceptable (in my book) typo for "anyhow." I like the word "anyhow" because it offers a pleasant change of scene from the all too over-used "anyway," and who can be blamed for switching the last two letters to a word every now and then? That's all it took for me to drop my inexplicable grudge. I kind of have a soft spot for typos that look and sound like they could be real words. I imagine that is how the great thinkers of the literary world, people like C.S. Lewis, J.K.Rowling J.R.R.Tolkein, create new languages and invent new vocabularies. I think they also had a leg up on the competition because they don't have first names. When you don't have a first name, it allows your mind to move to other levels of thinking that many of us will never access, wieghted down, as we are, by our cumbersome monnikers.

Some of the most fun I have is giggling at the words that spell-check offers as alternatives to words it doesn't recognize. I would give you some stellar examples right now, but spellcheck doesn't seem to want to work. Not only does that cut back on giggling, but now you have to suffer through my frequently atrocious spelling. I like to pretend that I am a good speller. This is a bad habit. I sometimes catch myself making fun of someone for not knowing how to spell something when I, myself, am ignorant on the same count. It's one of my more caustic traits, I guess. Alas, I will never be Akeelah, but sometimes, when I'm alone, I like to spell antidisestablishmentarianism out loud, tapping my side with the rhythm of the letters. Akeelah rocks.

This blog needs a picture. I'll get to work on that.