Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Deconstructing Christmas

Overall, I have mostly come to terms with Christmas music.  No, I really, REALLY don't want to hear it for a solid 6 weeks every year, but I admit that it makes the sometimes-tedious task of wrapping gifts a bit more fun.  Plus, my baby son seems to like it when I dance to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer for him.

I prefer the sacred songs to the secular ones, but I find there is one thing that many Christmas songs, regardless of origin, have in common.

Incredibly.  Ridiculous.  Lyrics.  Weird word choices.  Creepy phrases.

Please, allow me to explain in the form of a top ten list (in no particular order).

#10. Winter Wonderland: Later on, we'll conspire / As we dream by the fire / To face unafraid / The plans that we've made / Walking in a winter wonderland.  What kind of plans were you making that you have to note you're unafraid to follow through on them?  I mean, are we talking going skiing on a too-steep slope or an attempt at world domination here?

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#9: Do You Hear What I Hear? A child, a child shivers in the cold / Let us bring Him silver and gold / Let us bring Him silver and gold.  No.  Just no.  The thought is mighty sweet, Your Highness, but the Holy Child could use a nice wool blanket, or maybe some crocheted booties instead.  Thanks.

#8: Away in a Manger: The little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes. Yes, Jesus was God made flesh, but that does NOT mean he was too sweet and angelic to cry.  As a new mom, I can say the chances were really good that little Lord Jesus cried when He was hungry and cried when He was wet and cried when He was's the human aspect of Him and all.

#7: Little Drummer Boy: Mary nodded / Pa rum pum pum pum.  In the same vein as the above, Mary's a teenage mom, but she isn't stupid.  If her baby just fell asleep, your rat-a-tat-tatting on the drum is not going to be a welcome gift, Ringo.

#6: Little Saint Nick: Christmas comes this time each year.  I love you, Beach Boys.  Really.  You're among my very favorite bands.  But this is akin to saying "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a reindeer with a red nose."  Guys.  Come on.

#5. The Most Wonderful Time of the Year: There'll be scary ghost stories / And tales of the glories / Of Christmases long, long ago.  I never understood this.  Why would you tell ghost stories on Christmas?  Wrong holiday, right?  I don't get it, either. 

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#4. Santa Claus is Coming to Town: He sees you when you're sleeping / He knows when you're awake / He knows when you've been bad or good / So be good for goodness sake! This pretty much attributes divine characteristics to Santa.  I'm conservative and according to most folks, a "religious person", so in my opinion, only God himself gets to claim these talents.  So it's a no-go for me.

#3. Frosty the Snowman: Frosty the Snowman / Knew the sun was hot that day / So he said, "Let's run / And have some fun / Now before I melt away."  Hot sun + running = melting even faster.  Basic science, Frosty.  You might be magical, but you're not the brightest crayon in the box.

#2. Last Christmas: I keep my distance/ But you still catch my eye / Tell me baby, do you recognize me / Well, it's been a year; it doesn't surprise me.  Okay, let me get this.  You were passionately in love, gave your heart away, and don't think your lover would recognize you just a year later?  I recognize people I haven't seen for a decade...and I didn't even profess undying love for them.  So, the question dramatically did you change your hair?

#1. Here Comes Santa Claus: So let's give thanks to the Lord above / 'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.  Again, I kind of lean to the right when I celebrate thanking God for Santa Claus - and not for the birth of Jesus - seems kind of selfish and icky to me.  I guess I should apologize if this seems a bit on the biting end of sarcastic.  It's only the past two years I've really been able to enjoy Christmas after years of bad memories associated with the holidays.  Still...some lyrics are almost as inane as what you hear in pop music.  Just something to think about.

As I'm listening to Christmas music, of course.  My husband is rewriting some of the lyrics for me: "Last Christmas, I gave you my heart, but the very next day, you returned it to K-Mart."

And he's cheery WITHOUT the addition of rum in his eggnog. 

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Monday, December 22, 2014

My Little Brony

There is a chance I am accidentally-on-purpose raising my infant son to be a fan of My Little Pony.  Is it because I'm a raging feminist, hell-bent on smashing gender-norms?  Is it because I can't stand cartoons for little boys?  Is it because I am obsessed with pink and sparkly things?

No on all counts.

Except the pink and sparkly one.  I do like things that are pink and sparkly.

I guess, even before I get started, I should explain that I am NOT plopping my baby down in front of the television and walking away for hours on end.  We watch a little bit, though, mostly because it helps with his torticollis (he is supposed to do stretching and exercises to strengthen the neck muscles on his left side).  If I position him a certain way, and he is interested in something (be it the TV, the cats, or a toy), he'll force his head to turn in the correct direction.  So there, that's for all the parents out there who are scandalized that I would even begin to allow my baby to become part of the entertainment culture.

Moving on...

I am an adult, yes, and I like cartoons.  I always have.  But even I approached the latest incarnation of My Little Pony with hesitation.  I'd heard about bronies and I thought that whole thing was a little weird.  I was a fan of the franchise when I was a child, but it wasn't my favorite.  (That honor would have been a tie between Jem and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with She-Ra and the Ghostbusters following close behind.)  But, as I stated above, I like sparkly things, and I really enjoy Flash animation.  

So I got hooked.

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It was easy to identify with Twilight Sparkle.  She's initially an introvert, a reader and scholar who prefers not to interact with people.  Hi, that's me kind of.  She's also a perfectionist and has a lot of potential.  Also kind of me-ish.  As the series progressed, I found my friends represented in the other main characters.  My friend Jaime, who I frequently mention on this blog, is like Pinkie Pie in that she is exceptionally outgoing, loves making people smile, and has boundless energy (even though she has FOUR rambunctious daughters).  My friend Emily has an element of Rarity to her; though I wouldn't call her vapid or vain, she's intensely creative, talented, and has a definite eye for design and fashion.  My friend Lindsay isn't as bashful as Fluttershy, but she is gentle, kind, sweet, soft-spoken and full of love for living things.  My sister Jules is the epitome of Applejack - a green-eyed, blond-haired country girl who doesn't mind getting dirty and who has the work ethic of, well, a Clydesdale.  My friend Jordan is a tough rebel-turned-good girl who is confident and strong-willed, but who would do anything for her friends.  I think that makes her Rainbow Dash.

Having said all that, why is it so important for my son to watch this show as he grows up? much as I love the superhero cartoons, they don't talk a whole lot about second chances and redemption.  The thing I love most about MLP: Friendship is Magic is the element of forgiveness.  I love the way that the characters grow and learn, and their progress isn't erased as new storylines develop.  I love that, in multiple story arcs, the "bad guys" are given the chance to be heroes, to learn from their mistakes, and to make friends.  Sometimes they change, and sometimes they don't, but it's rare to see that kind of progressiveness in cartoons.  Regardless of the medium, what a beautiful lesson to teach children!  That we make bad choices and it's okay to try again.  That a friend's bad choices doesn't mean she is a bad person. That people can change when they want - or need - to.  That trust must be earned and valued.

And, that it's okay for that lesson to be wrapped up in a sparkly pink bow.

Even for boys.