rebecca_in_blue: (happy smile)
Well, there was no Purim carnival or Oscars, but Rebecca still managed to stay busy this weekend. Sara and I were both off on Friday, and we went out and had lunch at a deli. We both ordered meat dishes -- I love buying meat on Fridays during Lent. I get a very childish satisfaction from it, which I guess comes from being a Catholic school veteran and hating all the seafood commercials that always get shoved down your throat at this time of year. (I mean, shrimp tacos? No, Taco Bell. Barf!)

After lunch, we visited the art gallery downtown. They're having an exhibition right now of the 50 most famous photos from National Geographic, and it was a really cool show. These were my favorites:

Veiled Rebellion, by Lynsey Addario (women by a roadside in Afghanistan, 2009). I love how lonely and evocative this is, and how the blue of the women's burqas is set against the mountains and the sky.

Shelter, by Joanna Pinneo (a family napping in their tent in the Sahara desert outside Timbuktu, 1998). I love how the tent diffuses the sunlight and creates such a warm, peaceful glow, and the baby's toes in the sand.

There was also, of course, the Afghan Girl. The photos were so beautiful, and it was very striking and powerful to see such big reproductions. I'm going to miss this little art gallery. It's so charming, and we've seen some cool collections here. I think big art galleries can be kinda serious and obnoxious. After the art gallery, I just had time to go on a brief bike-ride it got too chilly. It just won't get warm and stay warm -- ugh!

On Saturday morning, we had a session of religious school, and I think the kids actually enjoyed it. We did a lesson on King Solomon -- read a storybook about him, learned a song about him, and practiced writing his name in Hebrew. Sarah's the oldest, and she wanted to read the Solomon story to the younger kids. So we let her (anything that equals less work for us is a win!). She read King Solomon and the Bee, which is based on a traditional Midrash, and Maddy laughed so hard at the silly voice she used for the bee. I'm going to miss this group.

Sarah reading to Maddy -- aren't they so stinkin' cute?

I should've gone home after religious school, but I stuck around for Torah study. Oy vey. I'm not going to miss that. Do we really need to read the entire parsha before we can discuss it? Do we really need to go around the table and see how everyone's Torah translates Exodus 33:14? Does yours have My presence will go with you, My face will go with you, or I will go with you? That just seems like missing the point to me. It was so frustrating, because I know Torah study has the potential to be really interesting.
rebecca_in_blue: (stiff shoulders)
Rebecca has had a busy few days getting ready for Purim. Today, I spent about five hours in the temple kitchen helping to make hamantashen -- from scratch! I'd never made hamantashen before, just eaten them, but it wasn't hard once we got an assembly line going. I got the job of brushing on the egg wash and spooning out the different fillings. I enjoyed it, but my hands were coated in jelly and flour by the time we were done! We made apricot (yuck!), chocolate, and strawberry (yum!). Rebecca tried sneaking a few into her mouth, but we're going to sell some as part of a temple fundraiser, and the rest we're saving for the Purim carnival at the end of the month.

 photo Hamantashen.jpg
A small sample of all the hamantashen!

Speaking of which, on Saturday morning, we had another class of religious school. Our temple plans to host a big Purim carnival this year, with all sorts of fun activities and guests from other temples. We teachers have all been working hard on it, and the kids have, too -- they're going to perform the megilla play! On Saturday, we assigned roles and the kids had their first rehearsal. It all went pretty well -- two brothers are playing Haman and Mordechai, and they loved pretending to shoot each other with their toy guns. We even found a role for the super shy kid who couldn't handle being on stage -- audio technician! He was happy to sit in the wings and work the CD player. The kids enjoyed it, and everything was going so well until...

This happened. )

P.S. When I get frustrated, it's good to remember there are certainties in life.
Things I Will Never Like
1) When I make plans with someone, only to have them cancel on me later. This is probably #1 on my list of ways to piss me off. I hate when this happens.
2) People who bitch at me about things that haven't even happened! Yeah, I don't understand the thought process there, either. But there are people who think they can see the future, predict my actions, and feel entitled to yell at me about it now. Gag me.
rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)
Right now I'm in the middle of working six days in a row -- ugh! But I do have the best carrot dangling in front of me to keep me focused. Once it's over, Sara and I both have a four-day weekend, and we're going to Little Rock to visit Athena! I can't wait! Tovah is going to stay at our mom's house while we're away.

This was a pretty busy weekend. On Saturday morning, we had religious school at the temple; straight from there, I went to Torah study, and straight from there, I went to work till close. We did a lesson about Purim at religious school this week, and I think the kids actually enjoyed it. We made small batches of popcorn for them to eat while they watched this movie about Queen Esther, and afterwards, they put on masks of the different characters and clacked all groggers. It's kinda early (Purim falls at the end of February this year), but we have a lot of stuff planned for the holiday this year. I just hope it all goes according to plan! You never can tell with the religious school.

Sticking around for Torah study was a mistake on my part. I hadn't been in a while, and I'd forgotten how phenomenally boring Rabbi W can be. I know that sounds harsh, but it's true. First he has to hold a Shabbat morning service (which I wish he could schedule at a different time that wasn't during Torah study) and cant "Elohai N'shama" about ten times over. And the Torah parsha for this week was Bo, which I think is one of the most interesting and packed parshas in the Torah. Oh, well. I should stop now before I start to sound bitter.

rebecca_in_blue: (excited grin)
As of today, only ONE WEEK LEFT until I have to conduct services! Oh, noes! Fortunately, a very sweet, Hebrew-knowledgeable lady from my temple offered to help me practice, so yesterday evening, I drove out to her house in Swanky Subdivision Land (where all the Jews in this city, except Rebecca, seem to live!). We read through the siddur, practiced some Hebrew, and watched some music videos by Matisyahu and The Maccabeats. I'm thinking about playing his Hanukkah song "Miracle" during my service, since it'll be the last Shabbat before Hanukkah. But really, I haven't decided on that or on a lot of things. Like, do I want to include the Hatzi Kaddish or skip it? Should I sing or speak the Aleinu? Oy vey. I need to get it together!

Anyway, they invited me to stay for dinner -- ew, healthy food! -- and then I ended up playing with puzzle erasers and American Dolls with her daughter Sarah, who hasn't even had her bat mitzvah yet but would probably be a better lay leader than me. She had the Kaya, Marie-Grace, Rebecca, and Kenani dolls, but she'd switched their clothes around, which confused me. I never had an American Girl doll, just the catalog, so I actually enjoyed it. Yes, this is what Rebecca considers fun; I just never grew up. :)

Sarah also goes to my old school and has the same horrid PE coach that I used to have! As soon as she said her name, it was like an entire year of repressed PE classes came back to the surface. I can't believe that lady is still teaching PE and torturing kids! Ugh! But it was a really fun evening. I also brought my crocheted plarn mat over to show them, since we made plarn together back here. Unrolled, the mat was taller than both Sarah and her mom! (They're short people.)

Sarah and me holding the huge plarn mat!

This is what I've been crocheting all these months.

At services this evening, we had a lovely ceremony and oneg for a couple who renewed their vows. It was the closest I've come yet to attending a Jewish wedding. I'd been asked beforehand to bring a dessert food, which I don't usually do. So I baked Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, with a little cherry pie filling rolled up inside each one, then topped them with powdered sugar. They weren't the best dessert there, but they were pretty tasty and easy. Oh, and during the service, our temple president announced to everyone that I would be the lay leader next week. Ugh! I wanted to strangle her.

In other news, I was off from work today, but had to wake up early for a job interview! (The lady who interviewed me kept winking at me, which confused me to no end. Was she trying to tell me I'd gotten the job? Hitting on me? Both? Neither? Facial tic?) And I'm going to be waking up early for the next three days for religious school, work, and an dr. appointment! Ugh!

P.S. On the art calendar, I'm looking at On the Road from Versailles to Louveciennes, an 1879 oil painting by Alfred Sisley.
rebecca_in_blue: (dozing off)
Today, August 27, is the two-year anniversary of my first time attending services at the temple. In some ways, this day is more important to me than the anniversary of my conversion. I can't believe it's been two years already! For the first several services I attended there, I wrote detailed journal entries describing each one. Well, I reread those over the weekend, and I just about sat there with my mouth hanging open. I was amazed at how strange and unfamiliar so many parts of the services felt to me then, that have become comforting and familiar now.

After two years, I feel like the honeymoon is over, and what happened over the weekend kinda contributed to that. On Saturday morning, we had the first session of religious school for this school year, and it is not off to a great start. Rabbi W is a nice guy, but he can be so boring. I really think he has no memory of what it's like to be a kid, and no concept of what kids today find entertaining. I felt so bad for the kids, to the point that I'm thinking about e-mailing Rabbi W with more exciting lesson suggestions. I'm kinda paranoid about their faith becoming boring or burdensome to them. Maybe I'm taking this too seriously.

But after religious school, the grown-ups had Torah study, and that went even worse. We didn't talk about the torah portion for the week at all! Instead, Rabbi W passed out copies of an article about Iran trying to develop nuclear weapons, the threat it poses to Israel, and what America should do about it. I do think that's a topic we should care about, but I'm not sure Torah study is the right place to bring it up. We stayed off-topic from there, and things got very political and divisive. A sample of what was said:
  • "Well, Romney is very pro-Israel. Israel will have a friend in Romney." UGH! Don't even get me started on the whole idea of voting for an American president based on Israeli interests! Wtf?
  • "Obama has always been very pro-Muslim. I mean, just look at his middle name." Well, of course, if you're pro-Muslim, then you must hate Israel! The two are completely exclusive!
  • "But it says in Torah that all Jews are supposed to live in Israel." I was seriously tempted to get up in this woman's face and yell, "Well, I don't see you there!"
It got so bad I actually had to get up and leave. Ugh.

On Sunday afternoon, I played basketball with "Briana." (Sara said when I told her after, "But you don't play basketball!" Me: "Yes, we definitely established that.") During all of the previous stuff we've done together, Briana has been kinda shy and quiet, but I definitely saw another side of her come out playing basket ball. She was very competitive and even a little aggressive and braggy. She scored about 30 hoops to my 5. I couldn't have cared less about getting my butt kicked, but I could've done without her showing-off attitude. But she's just a kid, so I'm trying not to let it annoy me. We played basketball until we were sweaty and hot, then it stated raining right in time. The basketball court was covered, so we just got cool breezes and a little mist on our faces. It felt so good. Then we drove down the street to Burger King and got two 50-cent ice cream cones (yum!) and listened to the two girls behind the counter argue about the right way to dress a hamburger. They got so into it that we both cracked up. For the most part, it was a fun afternoon.

I guess I should a lesson about this from temple. It took several services there before it stopped feeling weird to me. And hopefully, I'll get better at religious school and doing stuff with Briana with time and practice, too. Fake it till you make it, Rebecca.

I wasn't planning on doing anything to celebrate this day, but, almost as if he knew it was my two-year templeversary, Sassy Jewish Grandfather #1 took me out for a drink at the coffee shop. (Cheryl & Maggie took me out on this day last year, which is back here.) He's also burning me a CD of songs our choir does at services. :) I might complain a lot, but deep down, I know I'm very blessed.

28 DAYS LEFT UNTIL SEASON 10 OF NCIS! Less than month to go, people!
rebecca_in_blue: (Default)
Shabbat services at temple tonight marked a very special occasion for me (and for Rabbi W, who is finally back in Louisiana after a trip to visit family in Israel, where he fell ill, had to be hospitalized, and worried the crap out of all of us). Today, August 10, is the one-year anniversary of my conversion to Judaism. My entry on that day is back here. It's hard to believe it's been a year already! A year ago, I never would've thought that I'd get roped into teaching Jewish Sunday School, or that I'd spend a week at a Jewish summer camp.

While I'm grateful to be Jewish and it has enriched my life in many ways, there are certain things I didn't know before I converted that I now wish I had.

More complicated thoughts under the cut. )

As an aside, I rode my bike to services tonight, which I haven't done in a while, and I'm a little embarrassed by how quickly I felt out-of-breath and exhausted. I really hope I can start bike-riding in earnest again once the weather is cooler. I pushed two little kids in my congregation (who will both be new students in religious school in the fall) around on my bike after services tonight, and they loved it.

rebecca_in_blue: (raised eyebrows)
It's kinda hard to believe, but this morning's religious school class was our last for this school year. We won't meet again until the fall. For as much as I griped about it, I got a little emotional when we all said goodbye. It's kinda like the fig tree we planted for Tu Bish'vat back in January, which has already grown noticeably and even has a few tiny green figs. The kids have grown and learned a lot this year, and (most miraculously) I've gotten better at teaching them.

It can be hard in such a tiny congregation in a city with so few Jews, and I imagine that goes double for the kids. I mean, just think of all the ways our culture mass-markets Christmas and Easter and shoves them in kids' faces. Think of how many Christians proselytize, advertise, and tell anyone who'll listen that they should worship Jesus. Yes, our lessons rarely went as planned and were often made up on the fly, but I hope our little religious school gave the kids some sense of Jewish identity, so their faith will not be burdensome or meaningless to them.

So, for our last class, we did a mitzah project. Everybody brought plastic shopping bags, and the kids cut them down and tied them into "plarn" (plastic yarn - they loved that word) that charity groups use to crochet into sleeping mats for the homeless. The kids were all very enthusiastic helpers and had fun. The balls of plarn might not look like a lot, but they were. The kids tied enough to wrap around the entire social hall and beyond!

"Everybody say plarn!" (These are only some of the kids.)

I know, I know, look at all those red eyes! Innocent victims of a horrible photographer with a bad camera. My Kodak seems to have finally died, and my GE is no good indoors -- or from a distance, or in motion, or at night! Ugh! Fortunately, the photo editing tools at Picasa are great (way better than Photobucket) and create decent photos, no matter how awful my originals are.

Kein Y'hi Ratzon -- may this always be God's will.
rebecca_in_blue: (worried eyes)
Midnight in Paris was very good, and so was Hugo, which I watched with Adam tonight. I was surprised by how sincerely feel-good and touching it was, without being too sappy. I hope I can stick to my goal of watching at least one child actress movie a month for the rest of the year. I can't believe I'm posting this and encouraging her craziness, but Sara decided to braid my hair while we watched Midnight in Paris, and this was the result. Believe me, it looked so much worse in person!

Most embarrassing photo ever under here! )

Anyway, now onto a more serious subject. This morning, we had another session of the temple's Hebrew school.

Thank goodness no one from my temple knows about this blog, because Rebecca's about to go on a long, somewhat angry rant. )

After Hebrew school, the adults had Torah study. Rabbi W asked me to talk to a lady in our congregation who's in the conversion process about the beit din and mikvah. It was so surreal for me, because it feels like just yesterday, I was the one asking questions about that, not answering them.
rebecca_in_blue: (stiff shoulders)
I'm up late tinkering with the laptop, making updates, reinstalling some programs and deleting others. We got hit with a bad virus earlier today (even though we have anti-virus software!) that frustrated me almost to tears. The good news is that I was able to restore it without spending any money, but the bad news is that we lost all our data! UGH! Oh well, at least I didn't have to completely reinstall Windows 7. Now for a little recap of my weekend.

I was off on Saturday, but I had an even busier day on Sunday. (Whatever happened to sleeping in?) That morning there was another session of religious school. We decided to teach the kids a song they can sing in front of the whole congregation one Friday evening -- which made Rebecca want to break out a guitar and say, "Let's learn a song we can sing for the rabbi when he comes! Now, what songs do you know?" We found a song about the Ten Commandments that the kids learned easily enough, but then we teachers came up with the bright idea to add motions to it. How do you get kids to sign out things like no adultery? Yeah, we don't know, either.

The Hebrew class had some bumps in it. My 7-year-old Hebrew study partner (I can't call him my student, because we're on the same level) is very enthusiastic and seems to think learning Hebrew is the darn funnest thing ever! We learned ש, the letter shin, and I told him that when shin has a dot on the right, שׁ, it says SH. When the dot is on the left, שׂ, it says S. That was when another teacher jumped in and rather snippily "corrected" me, saying that shin only takes a dot on the right and only makes a SH sound. If we ever see a shin with a dot on the left, it means someone made a mistake. (I make no claim to infallibility, but all the Hebrew research I've done has told me that shin with a dot on the left says S.) I didn't argue with her, but it did piss me off because she said this in front of my students and I'm 99% sure she was wrong, anyway! It was the first time I've ever felt a vibe of "I was born and raised Jewish and you converted, so I'm a better Jew."

That afternoon, I drove to Texas to see Sassy Jewish Grandfather #1 in "The Odd Couple." I'd been putting off going because it was still so freaking COLD here last week -- in the 30's and freezing! -- that I didn't want to go out at all, much less all the way to Texas. But I finally went, and I literally laughed so hard I cried! Here's a picture of him in all his slobby glory as Oscar:

Happy Valentine's Day to all those of you will be celebrating the day in some way. Rebecca won't, beyond maybe buying chocolate hearts for the two folks who helped me with my computer free of charge. But there is a new episode of NCIS tomorrow, and that's something we can all celebrate!
rebecca_in_blue: (stiff shoulders)
A scene from Grandma's house, on Christmas Eve...
Adam: (about Grandma's new armchair) Wow, how much did that cost?
(As an aside, he has the worst gift-giving manners ever. He is constantly telling you how much how little he spent on your gift, and asking how much everything cost. Ugh! Our dad is spinning in his grave.)
Me: Adam, stop asking how much stuff cost!
Athena: Rebecca, stop being such a Jew.
At which EVERYONE in the room bursts out laughing.

I can't stop thinking about this, and the more I think about it, the madder I get. Next time Athena is in town (which will probably be for Grandma's funeral), I should tell some good Mormon jokes and see how she likes it. Hmph.
rebecca_in_blue: (dishevelled hair)
[Error: unknown template qotd]Ugh. Seriously, LiveJournal, I'm not sure which frustrates me more: your impossibly user-unfriendly new RTE, or the increasing commercialization of your Writer's Block prompts.

I can't believe I'm back here after I swore not to make another post until LJ got rid of its new RTE and all the drama it's generating. Rebecca has no willpower! But you already knew that, didn't you?

It's still plenty hot here, but since it's no longer quite hot as Hades, I'm doing an experiment to see how long I can go without driving Muse Watson. For four days this week (Monday-Thursday), I didn't touch my car at all and went everywhere by bike. And I actually enjoyed it! Yes, it took a lot longer to reach my destinations, but I felt much healthier and less stressed than when I'm driving. I also arrived for work much earlier than usual, since I always over-estimate how long it'll take me to bike somewhere. And I'm not if it's because of the biking or not, but my fanficiton muses are finally working again! We'll see how long I can keep this up.

At services tonight, out of nowhere, Rabbi W called on me to take the Torah scroll out of the ark for the parsha reading. I actually ignored him the first few times he called my name; I didn't mean to, but I just assumed he meant a different Rebecca, as this Rebecca has no experience in handling Torah scrolls. Then I remembered that I'm the only Rebecca in our congregation right now. I guess it's all part of being a Jew, and I think I did well enough, but boy, was I nervous. The Torah scroll is heavy and cumbersome, especially if you've never held it before. Jacob (Sassy Jewish Grandfather #3) canted the blessing over it before the rabbi read the parsha, and the whole time I was standing there thinking, "If I drop this in front of everyone... oh God, please don't let me drop it..." My arms were very sore by the time we put it back in the ark, but at least I didn't drop it. After services, several people told me I did very well. I probably I looked as nervous as I felt.

On a slightly related note, I'm currently reading This Is Where I Leave You, by Jonathan Tropper, about a very dysfunctional, secular Jewish family who decide to sit shiva and have a traditional Jewish funeral when their patriarch dies. It's hilarious!

FOUR ... DAYS ... LEFT until the Season 9 premiere of NCIS!

rebecca_in_blue: (stiff shoulders)
As of today, Rebecca's been officially Jewish for one month... and I'm beginning to think my Star of David necklace might as well be a sign that says, "Hello, random stranger, please approach me and make ignorant and/or offensive comments about Judaism." Here's a small sample of the things I've heard since I started wearing it:

"The enemy doesn't want you to know this, but you can have a relationship with Jesus too!" and more behind this impossibly difficult cut. )

On a somewhat similar note, X-Men: First Class was released on DVD yesterday, and Sara, Adam, Sable, and I all watched it last night. Some funnies, mostly courtesy of Sara:

"Rebecca has to go down with the Jews! She promised!" )

Riding my bike home from services yesterday, I saw an awful sight: an estate sale in progress at Grandma's old house! It kinda drove it all home. Everything left in the hosue that wasn't nailed down was for sale, and even though most of it was stuff I didn't care about, I hated to see strangers buying it. I snuck in and stole took the "Bless Our Home" plague that'd been above Grandma's mantle for as long as I could remember. I don't know what I'm going to do with it, but I just did not want to see it sold. (Update: You can see the plaque in our new apartment here.) We've also got the old, no-longer-functiong clock from her kitchen. I wish we could take more of Grandma's stuff, but we just don't have room for anything in this shoebox of an apartment. Besides, I have to remind myself that those things are just things.

P.S. LiveJournal has been a real pain lately. Making the cut in this post was damn near impossible, creating a bulleted list actually was impossible, and I still can't edit my old entries! I've been with LJ since 2007, but their editors are such a mess that I've seriously considered abandoning this journal.

TEN DAYS LEFT until the Season 9 premiere of NCIS!
rebecca_in_blue: (stiff shoulders)

I usually enjoy Torah study at the temple, but this morning... ugh. Somehow, a man named Jim Hebert - who is neither a member of our congregation nor had been invited to our Torah study - found this way in. And we're usually happy to have visitors at our temple, but this guy... again, ugh!

We happened to be reading Exodus 33, which is a very interesting chapter because it anthropomorphizes G-d by assigning Him a face, hands, and a back. Our group is discussing this when Hebert says, "It's talking about Jesus! Jesus is G-d in human form!"

I happened to be munching on matzoh bread with cream cheese at the time - yum! - and just about choked on it. Talk about your uncomfortable silences. Hebert tried to go on in this vein, but Barbara (Jewish Grandmother #2) interrupted and tried to explain that Jesus is not part of our Torah or our temple; there's only HaShem.

But nothing Barbara - or anyone - said to him made any difference. He said that our Torah was "incomplete," that we were "close-minded" to the truth. He spoke the name of God, something I've never heard anyone at temple do. He insisted that the "only" explanation for passages that assign a physical body to G-d was that G-d lived in human form as Jesus. This was also the "only" explanation for when G-d refers to Himself in plural form. I was so tempted to ask him, "Okay, where in the Gospels did Jesus say that Jim Hebert is the sole authority on interpreting the Bible? And where did Jesus say that you're supposed to be disrespectful to people who are trying to learn?"

When Rebekah directed Hebert to Genesis 1:26 - Let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness - he actually had the nerve to say, "That's exactly what I mean! Are you sure you're not a Christian?" He was lucky Rebekah's dad wasn't there; he probably liked to have punched his lights out. He sent me a message on Facebook later: "Rebecca, Rebekah told me all about that jerk at Torah study. Was he very obnoxious? I should've been there to take care of that idiot." Yes, you should've been. (Rebekah's explanation for that passage, by the way, was that G-d was referring to Torah and had created Torah before anything else.)

In the end, I'm surprised no punches were thrown. Sam and Barbara got very riled up, and Hebert actually told Barbara - the sweet old Jewish grandma who made hamantashen and chocolate matzoh for all the kids - that he'd see her "at the final judgement." She replied coolly, "I won't be there. I've already passed you up." That was wicked awesome, but all in all, it was seriously one of the most disrespectful things I'd ever seen. Can you think of anything ruder than coming into someone else's house of worship and telling them their beliefs are wrong?

Some of us caucused afterwards about whether he should've been asked to leave. Understandably, a lot of people were for it, but Rebekah and some other people thought it might've reflected badly on our temple. I was really impressed with how well Rebekah handled it. She avoided confrontation and never got angry. I can only think that she must've encountered jerks like Hebert before, because it certainly shook me up. But to paraphrase Antoine Dodson: Jews don't run around cryin' and actin' sad! We just dust our shoulders off and keep on movin'!

Anyway, after Torah study, I biked straight to Grandma's house and enjoyed some spaghetti with her, Aunt Carla, Uncle Chuck, Patrick, Priscilla, and Bethany. I brought them chocolate matzoh for dessert (Barbara gave it to me - she's just like Grandma in that whenever she gives you food, she says, "Is that all you're taking? Please take more!").

Think I'll watch The Ten Commandments on TV tonight.

Random P.S. Happy Birthday, Shirley Temple Black! She's 83 today.

rebecca_in_blue: (trembling hand)
Rebecca's Christmas List for this year is very grown-up and boring. I do want some fun, entertaining things, but I hope to buy those myself with any money I get for Christmas.
  • Black socks to wear to work.
  • A black belt, also for work.
  • Books: Plain Beautiful – The Life of Peggy Ann Garner, by Sandra Grabman; a Calvin & Hobbes book that neither Sara nor I has yet, especially Attack of the Deranged Mutant Killer Monster Snow Goons or Homicidal Psycho Jungle Cat.
  • A new shower curtain. Our old one is falling to pieces. Just nothing with cats, flowers, etc. on it.
  • A shirt with something funny (but inoffensive) about Jews or French people. CafePress is the place to go for these.
  • Flash/Jump/USB drives. It's all the same thing, just with different names. I would prefer a few small ones (no higher than 4G) to one big one, and something colorful or patterned that I won't lose. My store has a big selection, and they start pretty cheap.
  • Bumper stickers reading God Loves a Duck and/or Klaxonnez si vous parlez français (Honk if you speak French). There are a few local places that make custom bumper stickers and some more online. I would prefer ones that are colorful and easy-to-read. These will go on our second car, when we get it.
I just got done putting up and decorating our Christmas tree. It's another artificial one, and a little too big for how many ornaments we have, but it still looks nice. I'm not a Christmas freak by any means, but I've always enjoyed trimming the tree. This year, however, my feelings were mixed.

At this time last year, I had hardly been exposed to Judaism at all. I thought I knew a lot about it, because it's something I've always been interested in, but I've learned so much over the course of this year, I realize now that I knew nothing back then. The more I learn about Judaism, the more out-of-touch, even uncomfortable, I feel with some of the concepts of Christianity. Even though I'm fresh back from Hanukkah services and thinking seriously about converting (although I refuse to make any rash decisions, and people at the temple have not pressured me at all), I still thought I could take Christmas in stride. After all, my family has never really celebrated it religiously, and we're a pretty mixed mixed bunch – Mormons, Catholics, heathens, etc.

But my Christmas has hit a few bumps. Trimming the tree felt... weird, especially hanging our few religious ornaments. We've had these ornaments forever (there's one of Mary holding Jesus that I made myself in kindergarten, and vividly remember making; there's another of the Holy Family that I got at Midnight Mass 2008) so it made me sad to feel that they didn't belong. I keep telling myself that it's no big deal and I can celebrate Christmas secularly, but that feels a little weird, too.

The appropriation of Jewish holidays seems offensive to me. I've never actually encountered it, but I've read about it at
, and I sort of consider the entire "Jews for Jesus" movement to be one big, massively wrong appropriation. (Especially since I've heard these people target real Jews for conversion. Scary.) So it occurred to me that secularizing Christmas is, in a way, an appropriation of a Christian holiday. I used to be annoyed by the "Keep Christ in Christmas" message – especially back in high school, when I heard it all the time – but now I think I understand where they're coming from. And this is an unpleasant sensation, because I'm used to making fun of people who have a different opinion, not seeing their side of things. I must be losing it.

On the other hand, Christmas has become very secularized in American culture. It's not something I personally chose to happen, so why can't I celebrate it however I want?


rebecca_in_blue: (Default)

March 2013



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