So, I’m reading Facebook, and run across this ad for a t-shirt. The shirt has a picture of a dragon and a saying that was adapted from G. K. Chesterfield. The shirt says “Tell fairytales to your child to teach that dragons can be conquered.” I got curious about the original quote, so I looked it up. According to several sites, the original is “Fairytales don’t tell children that dragons exist; children already know that dragons exist. Fairytales tell children that dragons can be killed.” I started thinking about this. How we treat our children can either give them confidence to go through the most difficult situations, or give them timidity and passivity. Do we teach our children to slay dragons? How can we teach them that they can pick themselves up, time and again, and enter the fray? Well, one way is, when they are very very small, letting them choose. Now, when they are little, we want to make sure their choices are all acceptable to us. But let them learn how to make decisions. “Do you want the red shirt or the white shirt to wear with your black pants? No, I’m sorry, you may not wear your pajama top to school. But you choose, red or white shirt?” Yes, this takes more time than just pulling clothes out and saying “put this on.” But such simple things as that can help imbue our children with confidence, not passivity. And later on as adults, when they are faced with decisions far more important than what color of shirt, they will have a background of weighing, considering, decision making, to draw upon. Our lives, both as children and as adults, are full of dragons. Letting a child learn how to make decisions – and suffering consequences for a bad decision (I reminded you that it was spirit day at school, but you chose to wear your blue shirt, and not the school shirt – no I am not bringing your shirt to you.) will help them learn how to slay dragons (I’ve lost my job. What are my best options?) and how to take important risks (Should I change jobs? Move to another state? Ask her to marry me?” Oh, and reading those fairy tales when they are young doesn’t hurt.
I don’t write a Christmas poem every year, but frequently this season finds me inspired, one way or the other. This is actually the second of two poems that I have written this Christmas season. Hope you enjoy!
Christmas Poem 2013
The animals do speak, they say
according to tradition’s tale
early Christmas morn
when they are all alone
with no one there to hear.
When I was young, I wished
to creep out to the barnyard
late at night, when midnight’s
spell induced the animals to talk.
And bells were said to ring,
giving broken angels wings
to mount up to the heavens
there to proclaim the king.
And I? I sit alone this Christmas Day;
the feast is over, the games are done,
the visitors have gone away
and I have crept back home
and all alone.
It was not on this day so long ago
that shepherds watched their flocks at night.
Not the winter, with its winds so cold,
for then, all things were tucked up tight.
Nay, twas spring or summer,
or probably the fall that saw the
blessed birth that brought to
man such joy and mirth.
But this day was chosen long ago
to bring devotions to the mind
of how the babe was born;
and so Christ’s Mass was celebrated
on this turning of the earth.
‘Tis true that other celebrations
did occur near to this time,
and some do say the time was chosen
to present a choice twixt pagan thought
and Christ divine.
Somewhere, still, within a wooded glen,
the moon all dappled there, between the trees,
unseen by human eye; I sometimes wonder
if the fairy folk still dance.
The spirits walk, they say, upon
the Christmas morn,
as veils between the worlds stretch thin.
They have no souls, the fey.
At least, that’s what the legends say.
And yet I wonder, is that true?
Or is it just that they are not born
of earth and breath of God?
The stories speak of one, a seal in sea,
but woman on the earth,
who took for mate a human man,
learned of God, and took baptismal birth.
But once her husband died, they say,
returned unto the sea.
I wonder if, there within the deep,
a selkie sits and speaks of
Christ’s birth upon this day,
Leading even Fey upon His way.
I ponder this, but all alone,
Half listening for the music
from the woods.
The muse dictates to me these words,
demands her due
but still she knows that somewhere,
at a time unknown,
A babe was born.
That babe changed all the world,
and still brings hope
to those forlorn
and all alone.
A babe was born that blessed night,
so many years ago,
and still we sing “Noel, Noel”
tho seasons come and go.
A babe was born!
And angels all did sing
Glory to God on High
and Praises to our King.
I love words. I find word origins fascinating. How they change in meaning is fascinating. How sentence meanings change due to punctuation can be hilarious. For example – “I love cooking my family and dogs.” means something very different from “I love cooking, my family, and dogs.” How about this one: Supposedly a teacher wrote the following words on a chalk board and told his students to punctuate it.
Woman without her man is nothing
The men all wrote “Woman, without her man, is nothing.”
The women all wrote. “Woman: Without her, man is nothing.”
Same words, two very different meanings.
Around this time we often hear Christmas carols, and one of those Christmas carols is “God rest you merry, Gentlemen.” Now I know many of you are going to look at that and say ‘Why is the comma after ‘merry’? Shouldn’t it ‘God rest you, merry gentlemen’? The answer is no. The original, first printed in the 1700s, does not refer to happy gentlemen. If you look at the entomology of words, first look at the word “rest.” In this usage, it denotes “make” or “keep”. So now we come to Merry. The word originates before 900, and means pleasant or delightful. So the phrase does not mean, as some believe, that these happy gentlemen need to take a nap from their strenuous holiday celebrations. Rather it means “God keep/make you delightful or pleasant.” I know with all the stress of the holiday season upon us, it is easy to get snappish, irritated, frustrated…This is a time when the lonely feel the loneliest, when the poorest feel the difference the greatest, when the sick most want to be well…hopefully those of us who are not poor, lonely, or sick will remember in our rush and hustle of holiday preparations, the ones who are. Indeed, may
“God rest ye merry, Gentlemen.”
I am still pondering the thoughts that I heard at a funeral last week. The son of the man who had died stated that his father was a “man’s man, and he taught us how to respect women.” Respect. Too many times, a “man’s man” is seen as someone who uses women. You know the type – bragging over every conquest, every name in the little black book…Or maybe the man wants to seem tough, emotionless, so he acts like a bully, perhaps. Bullying can take on a number of different forms. A post has been going around the internet the last couple of days. A guy was flying, and another passenger, a woman, was quite upset by the delays. She was worried that she would not make her connecting flight, and was loudly complaining about it. The guy sent her a glass of wine, sent her notes, was very rude to her, and tweeted the whole experience, laughing at the fact that she was so insistent on getting to her family on time so she could make the secret family dressing. At the end of the flight, the woman slapped him. He declined to press charges, perhaps because he knew he had brought it on himself. Turns out there was more to the story. This women is in the last stages of cancer. This was her last Thanksgiving with her family – and no, she did not make her connecting flight, and no, she did not make it in time to have her final Thanksgiving with her family. She does have the family secret dressing – which she was going to teach to the other members of the family. Barring a miracle, she missed her last Thanksgiving with her family. I’m sure she could have handled being late in a different way. But this “man”, who patronized her, bullied her, wrote obscene notes to her, made fun of her – he was not a “man’s man”. He showed no respect. He acted like a little immature boy. I wonder what kind of father he had, to grow up thinking that it was ok to act like that. I wonder what kind of mother he had. I wonder how he would feel if someone treated his mother the way he treated that dying woman. I don’t know what he is, but this young man, who thought it funny to belittle someone else, is not a “man’s man,” nor has he learned to treat women with respect. Perhaps, with the various commentaries that have been being made, just maybe, he will learn something about respect and humanity.
UPDATE: Elan Gale has stated that he made it all up – there was no “Diane” Some one wrote in to Storify that Diane was her cousin, dying of cancer. That note can be found here: http://freethoughtblogs.com/butterfliesandwheels/2013/11/bullying-at-35-thousand-feet/
So, was it all a hoax? Was there really a Diane who is dying of cancer? Who knows. But regardless of whether or not it was all a hoax, the word choices used by Elan Gale still show immaturity. It could have been funny without the cruelty – he chose to take it too far.