2013: Interfaith Calendar

You know what impacts a lot of people without them ever knowing? Interfaith cooperation, education, and acceptance. Education is a big part of that. A simple thing is to know when people’s holidays are. And what they’re called. You don’t even have to know what they’re about—that’s a great bonus, though.

Jewish teachers used to have to take sick days for Jewish holidays. I’m not saying that every religion’s holidays should be national holidays with no school or work for most people (in fact, that would be wildly inappropriate for a lot of holidays). But, you know, holidays should be acknowledged by employers. They should also be acknowledged on calendars.

A lot of them aren’t. And it’s weird and oddly political, in a passive-aggressive sort of way, which are and are not included. I understand that, even though a Pagan calendar (which I haven’t gotten over the last couple of years but which I do kind of love) includes Christmas and Hannukah, a Catholic calendar probably does not include Pagan holidays. A typical, unaffiliated calendar might mention, say, solstices and equinoxes because they mark the beginnings of the four seasons and because they are objective milestones within the calendar year, but other than that likely just list Judeo-Christian holidays, and only the major ones. I totally get that.

But I also think that calendars can be better than that. Also, seriously, Islam is a huge religion which spans the globe. If your calendar mentions Hannukah but ignores Ramadan and it’s not targeted at a Jewish audience, you’re being passive-aggressive and need to chill out.

Have you guys seen this in the Huffington Post? It’s an interfaith 2013 calendar. No, it’s not complete. But it’s a great start. I have not yet gotten my 2013 calendar (whoops); my kickass periodic table of elements is still up on December (because my nerdiness is consistent). But, when I do get one, I am going to mark these down. Because it’s good to have on hand.

There are any number of places where you can order custom calendars. If you do, consider how informative you want for it to be. Even if it just hangs in your bedroom instead of your office, it’s good to glance at it and know what your friend or coworker or neighbor (or celebrity crush) might be celebrating on that day.


PS: I don’t know about you guys, but I am giddily nerding out right now about what sort or custom calendar I would make. I mean, I make things like this for fun, so it would be incredibly nerdy and parts of it would be obscure to almost anyone.

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Thank Yew: My Thanksgiving

photo of turkey pictures
So, I’m not going to rant about how half of the history that they teach in elementary schools is horrifying lies. Or even really complain about how when Lincoln founded the US’ Thanksgiving as an official national holiday with a specifically prescribed date, his statement of the subject makes it sound like a holiday for Americans who are of Abrahamic faiths.

Because, you know what? Unlike more official religious holidays, Thanksgiving is really just an American holiday, with its religious undertones purely optional. Even if, as my family did, you only celebrate the Santa-and-getting-what-you-want side of Christmas (I refer to it as “Santamas”), you still probably call it Christmas and may have noticed what the first six letters of the holiday are. You still hear crazy people who believe that any cashier giving them a generic religious greeting rather than one specific to their own religion is contributing to the collapse of America and dooming the world to catastrophe. Thanksgiving is just, well, Thanksgiving.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, have you heard this nightmarish song from the same total weirdo who produced Rebecca Black’s Friday? Patrice Wilson’s latest victim . . . I mean “client/star,” is Nicole Westbrook. I had it in my head all day on Thanksgiving—until I listened to Songs For An Evil Queen, a two-disk playlist which my best friend recently and painstakingly assembled especially for me because he is the best person ever.

I do not really like Thanksgiving food. I mean, cheese does not really factor into the meal very much. Or at all. I like cranberry sauce (but mostly I love the cranberry sauce that I used to get from Boston Market. That stuff was the best and way better than canned or homemade cranberry sauce, though I have not had it in a decade), but until I was in my early teens, I just did not see an upside to Thanksgiving. Sweet potatoes? No thank you. Stuffing in which my mother has hidden mushrooms and who knows what else? I’d rather die. Green bean anything? Don’t insult me.

And then I discovered that Hidden Valley Ranch dressing is a magical serum that transmutes uninteresting meat like turkey into a delicious food. Specifically, a delicious vehicle with which to ingest ranch dressing. It can’t be just any ranch, though. Hidden Valley. Other ranch dressings are … nightmarish imposters.

I should know. At this point, I am an expert in ranch dressing.

After the meal, usually cooked by my mother (this year, it was the two of us, my grandmother, my eldest aunt, and my mother and aunt’s cousin who is delightful but whom I see much less frequently). This was the first Thanksgiving since the family dog died (she passed away on the fifth of October of this year), and the fourth Thanksgiving since my youngest sister died (e. coli at the NC State Fair; fortunately, the livestock are now separated from where children are allowed to go. It would have been nice if they had done that before 2009). My youngest sister, Jaime, died on 2 November 2009 and would have turned fifteen on the twenty-eighth of November of that year, so Thanksgiving often falls on an awkward time for my family.

This year, I had a wonderful time with my relatives. I drank a bit too much delicious wine and the pies were not opened until it was just me with my mother. When I am done writing this post, I am going to go eat a slice (read: one quarter of the entire pie) of blackberry pie, because hot damn pie is delicious. After I was done visiting family, a wonderful friend of mine came over—after having more than one Thanksgiving—and he and I watched Justice League because it is an awesome show that we both missed out on when it first aired.

Also, Disaronno, my favorite beverage on the planet, was involved. On the rocks, of course. I did not make it into an amaretto sour like some kind of . . . monster.

And, of course, I considered the things for which I am thankful. No one at our table prayed openly or anything like that; that has never been a part of my Thanksgiving experience, though my grandmother and aunt, at least, are Christians. We mostly exchanged stories, most of which we had all heard before. Old people are adorable.

I considered the things for which I am thankful. A non-exhaustive list? I am thankful for my magnificent friends who are the only reasons for which I have not given up, moved to as cold of a place as I can find and found some life-sucking job that will pay me enough that I can play video games and, in all likelihood, reach five-hundred pounds through simply no longer having any motivation to interact with other humans in person. Even just keeping in contact with them online is enough to keep me sane. Or close enough.

I am thankful for my wonderful and absolutely out of her mind insane mother. She is all kinds of weird but she cannot help it.

I am so thankful that I have a computer that works, and works well. Computer troubles leave scars in your soul.

It has been such an honor to write for Zelda Lily and I absolutely love doing it. Even on weeks like this one when I almost forget until the last minute because my schedule has been crazy.

I am writing a book (the first part of a series). I am so thankful that it is coming along nicely, that I have a detailed outline of the book’s events already assembled in order and a clear idea of where the series is heading. I am especially thankful that my unreasonably awesome best friend is my collaborator. He is so brilliant and, while I would be writing even without him, the stories and characters and settings would not be the same without him. Plus, he’s often the voice of reason when we are blamestorming, and that is all kinds of necessary. I hope that, next year, I am thankful that we are done writing this book and that we have found a publisher.

I finished the first draft of another chapter just before writing this, in fact.

I thanked the Gods for being awesome, but I did so in private.

I am especially thankful that President Obama was reelected. Thankful that I will never have to say “President Romney” unless I write a story about a gloomy alternate universe.

Happy belated Thanksgiving, you beautiful people. I hope that you enjoy your delicious leftovers if you still have any.

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The Dead Come Back Home On Samhain

photo of halloween pictures
Halloween, All Hallows Eve, Gay Christmas, and various other names that get increasingly goofy, is coming up at the end of this month. I am always so excited. Halloween is a fun time of the year (unless you’re one of those fun people who calls it The Devil’s Night in all seriousness and passes out bible tracts to unsuspecting children), and not just because everything that 30 Rock said about gay Halloween parties is true (but it is all true).

The last time that I dressed up for Halloween, it was in a white-and-blue dress as Her Imperial Majesty, Jadis, Queen Of Narnia (“The White Witch” from The Lion, The Witch, And The Wardrobe). For reference, I am a six-foot-three man.

There is occasionally talk (especially by the scripture-instead-of-candy folks) about Halloween’s origins as “The Devil’s Holiday.” While I don’t believe in the devil (or any other sort of Pointlessly Malevolent Entity), there is a lot of misinformation about the origins of Halloween. On both sides. The Celts celebrated Samhain, but we honestly don’t know that much about it—the Celts weren’t compulsive wall-bloggers like the ancient Egyptians. It had something to do with death, and we know that there was never a deity or other entity by the holiday’s name. We know that ancient cultures from many places throughout the world have holidays around this time that are related to death. Honoring the dead, reburying the dead or tending to their tombs or remains.

The rowdiness aspects of Halloween are modern, arising in the early 1900s. I looked up a wonderful collection of (speculations regarding) the origins of Halloween traditions, and …

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How Do You Celebrate the Holidays?

The Oatmeal has created a rather humorous comic depicting how various groups of people celebrate the holidays.

I have young children and babies in my life, and I can attest that this is usually the case. Small children doesn’t actually care too much about what is inside the present, as opposed to the idea of ripping it open. Putting too much thought into a present for a baby is a waste of your time. I usually tend to get the parents something they …

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