I’m back sucking at trivia again. But I’ve done a lot since I last left a note here.
First and foremost, I’m on a new webhost. This is after… maybe fifteen years at eskimo? The timeouts were too frequent, the support too slow. I understand the reasons but it was no longer worth paying money for, so here I am. The site lives in a friend’s closet in North Carolina, up the road from where librarian.net lives at UNC. I think it will be happy there. Now that these things aren’t auto-posted to facebook, I’ll have to think about whether I’ll import them there or not in some other fashion. I get a lot of comments, people are clearly reading stuff, I’m not really afraid of facebook in any real way. But I’m also winter-lazy, so I may put it off. I had a list, called the Things You Are Putting Off list, aka the Albatross list, that had a lot of crap on it that I’d been putting of. Estate stuff, other paperwork, selling the place in Topsham, and switching web hosts. Most are done, house is still sort of for sale, I’m feeling less dread which is a good way to go into the shortest days of the year. Speaking of, here is a story in two pictures.
As you know, I work part time at a public school. I am also more Jewish than anyone else who works there. Every year the public school does a holiday display and we get into some light-hearted ribbing about how their idea of diversity is putting up a coloring book cutout of a menorah in the holiday stocking-and-tree display. I guess I could make a bigger deal out of it, but I’m not mad, just sort of “C’mon guys, try harder” about it. So two years ago when the menorah was stolen, one of the shop teachers actually made another one (very cool) which for whatever reason the principal forgot to make sure was part of the display this year. So I nudged him. And here we go. I could live somewhere else, but I really like it here, the pervasive Christmasness around wintertime is just part of being part of a more homogenous (and religious) community than I might otherwise like. There are many other benefits. I’m thankful for both my larger and smaller communities at times like this. Next update on the blog: Solstice Bonfire. Stay tuned.
Related: if you see anything weird happening here that shouldn’t be, please drop me an email. Still troubleshooting.
At the risk of jinxing things, it’s been a pretty good holiday season so far. Starting on Thanksgiving, there’s a steady stream of Things to Celebrate til New Years. Aside from the big holidays, there’s also Jim’s birthday on the sixth of December and Solstice which is celebrated here in the neighborhood with a Sunday night bonfire and a lot of good food. His family does a big family Christmas thing which was fun last year, and it’s a good time to head down to see my family when I don’t have classes here and when the temperature drops into single digits.
My landladies don’t celebrate Hanukkah, I don’t think, but they have artist friends who do. One of them made a large menorah for a local synagogue and made them a smaller version. They found some nifty candles and asked if I’d come over and take a few photos and email them to their friend. This was a few days before the actual last night of Hanukkah, but it was great to see the candles all glowy against the dark night [at 6 pm!] and I took a few nice photos. I enjoyed the letters to the editor in the New York Times after the David Brooks Op Ed talking about Hanukkah.
“Sometimes a festival of lights is just a festival of lights.” Happy holidaytime, whatever you may or may not be celebrating.
I can’t spell Hanukkah which is probably okay because I don’t really celebrate it. However as the Most Jewish member of the high school I work at, I felt it was my duty to make sure there was some sort of menorah around holidaytime. If you’ll recall, there was one last year but it got stolen. Well it turns out it wasn’t even stolen but rather mangled by an angry kid who was stuck in the principal’s office. It was never replaced. “Where do you get a menorah anyhow?” the lady in the office asked me. I had to admit I wasn’t sure. I did go around telling people the story of Hanukkah [somewhat cribbed from Wikipedia] and answered a few FAQs [no there’s no Hanukkah bush, no it’s not really a major holiday, no there’s no Christmas tree involved, yes I still like cookies].
Yesterday I went to the school to pick up my car after its oil change — just another wonderful perk of working at a voctech school — and I found a little clip art menorah which I put on my classroom door. I don’t really have a classroom per se. That is, I don’t teach a class at the school. However, I’m there enough and there’s a free classroom so one of the rooms has come to be known as “Jessamyn’s Room” There’s a door decorating contest at the school where each class decorates their door in a holiday theme. This is the predictable presents, trees, red and green whatnot. Each classroom also adopts a family, a family from town having trouble making ends meet who gives the school a list of things they could use. From my position the lists are terribly poignant. No one’s asking for gameboys, they’re all asking for things like warm socks and a pair of women’s jeans, size 32. The kids all chip in to not just get the things on the list, but stocking stuffer stuff also. They then assemble and wrap it all and put it under the school tree which is out in the hallway and the families come pick up the presents right before the school shuts down for the holidays.
I used to have a pretty GRARGRAR opinion of the oppressiveness of Christmastime. Too much religion in my Wintertime. Too much shopping in my long dark nights. Too many well-meaning people not considering that other people might have different culutral traditions, or different choices, or different types of families. I’m still not totally pleased with the whole creche on the town commons thing, but I moved and I hear they don’t do that anymore since someone stole the baby jesus. Being more of a fixture at the school where they actually take pains to make sure the holidays are about sharing what you have with the people in your community, where it matters to people that everyone has enough, has really allowed me the room to enjoy the stressful Thanksgiving to New Years streak in a way that hasn’t worked as well in the past. Last night, when it was dark outside and I was leaving the school, I colored in one candle on the clip-art menorah.