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I Gift You With a Sleepy Ramble

I’m watching an interesting show on the History Channel right now. 

I just spent five hours helping my son finish a project he’d blown off– one that was supposed to have taken three weeks.  He’s in a gifted reading program and while he likes the choice of bigger books, he isn’t so keen on the extra projects. 

He may be now.  While this took two nights and a ton of our time, the finished projects are so cool, he was jumping up and down with excitement before he went to bed.  (Not usually a time I like him so energized…)  I’m hoping the lesson he’ll take away from this is that there is much pride and good feelings to be had on a project finished and done well.  I hope.  A lot.  Things with the kiddies have been a little difficult lately. 

But back to the program.  My brain is too fried to work, so I’m sitting, “veg”-ing and learning about the origins of this holiday season.  I’m already familiar with a lot of this.  Just look at the office picture a little down and to the right and you’ll see “some” of my books.  I’m a nut for knowledge. <g>

Lately, I’ve noticed some people are getting upset– feeling that the reason for Christmas is being forgotten.  I don’t know if this will help, but it might put things into perspective if we remember that this original holiday season had nothing to do with Christmas.  And… there have always been other celebrations at this time of the year– in addition to the celebration of Christmas.  But, here’s a bit of random history from the show. 

odin7.jpgThe Norsemen celebrated Yule at this time of the year– in honor of Odin.  Yule was a celebration of life in the struggle of harsh mid-winter. The yule log burned for up to twelve days and each day was a party.  It was said that each spark off the yule log represented a pig or calf that would be born in the coming year. 

The Romans (Saturn was the God of this celebration) had a month long party (though, I remember a shorter period of time in some writings) called Saturnalia and it was said to be a celebration of the disorderliness of life.  (Boy, does this one fit now. <g>)

December 25th in particular, was the winter solstice and the original celebration of the birthday of the sun god, Mithra.   

Christmas actually came later.  The bible doesn’t give the time of birth of Jesus, but facts actually support a spring birth.  The choice to celebrate Jesus’ birth was made because the celebration of Mithra was already going on that day.  The original pagan holiday was eventually taken over by this new celebration.

In England, when the celebration of Christmas was established it wasn’t really religious– more like a carnival.  This was a crazy, anything goes kind of celebration.  They even had a Lord of Mis-Rule.  Probably a play on the “yule” tradition.

In the seventeenth century, my ancestor, Oliver Cromwell, came through town with his puritan ideas and changed everything.  (He did a lot more– horrible, horrible things– but we won’t go there.  Weird to know I exist because he did.  <shudder> ) The fun and games went underground because Christmas was outlawed.  Then later, King Charles II restored Christmas.

The puritans weren’t too happy about this and well, a lot of other things, so they came here.   In 1659, they outlawed Christmas again in America… but it didn’t take.  Not all of them agreed.   <g>

(Here’s a fun “off the subject” Wickipedia fact.  “The label “Puritan” fell out of use when their movement became the status quo; it was replaced by the broader term Nonconformist, which was used after the English Restoration to refer to all Protestant denominations outside of the official Church.”)

Wow.  Nonconformist came to mean something entirely different later on, didn’t it? <g>

thomas-nast-santa_t.jpgAnd did you know that this original Santa came from the imagination of a minister?

Okay, there was more to the show, but I missed it and I’m too sleepy to go into a lot more detail.  You all probably know this anyway.  <g>

Plus, I was distracted by emails from my son’s teachers.  They’ve really been working hard with us to figure out what our son needs.  He’s bright, but too talkative and easily bored and every year, we’ve had to deal with his idea of what school should be– a party.  A time of social celebration.  An All-Year Holiday Season!  heh heh

I laugh now, but not normally.  It’s a constant battle and frustrating because according to them, he could easily ace things.  Instead, he just decides he doesn’t need to do the work because he already gets it.  Yes, he’s told me this.  Sigh.   

And now that I’ve rambled sleepily and probably bored you all to tears, I’m going to watch a little of the next show about beer then go to bed.  Yes, Christmas then beer.  Only I would find that oddly amusing.

If you’d like to follow the write-up of this show, you can find it here.   http://www.history.com/minisites/christmas/


  1. December 14, 2006    

    Your son reminds me of my husband back when he was in high school. He is so smart, but bores easily. And his dad was really mad when my hubs aced his SAT’s after blowing off study sessions.

    I love the lessons we give our children. Even if they are a pain in the rump to get across. 😉

    Oh…speaking of Santa and ministers, my Santa Nutcracker is actually a Catholic bishop. A Saint. Who gave away toys to children.

    I’m always fascinated to learn about how traditions evolve and adapt.

  2. December 14, 2006    

    And I’m tired too. Which is why my post is almost inchoherent.

  3. December 14, 2006    

    Rinda, we have the same son. Take comfort in the fact that so many boys are like ours! I’ve taught for twenty three years, and notice bright boys who aren’t that interested in school. Part of it is the teachers’ fault, many who seem intent on piles of paperwork; who in their right mind would want to fill those? Well, I’m talking blithely on, while my own dear son is bringing home D’s (HELLO!) when he’s capable of at least B’s. I just want to encourage you in that you’re not alone. Millions of mothers of sons are asking themselves the same thing right now.

  4. December 14, 2006    

    Have you ever read any of the Purtian writings? Jonathon Edwards, et al? Serious stuff.

  5. December 15, 2006    

    Both my kids are struggling with their work. My daughter because she panics on tests. My son because he just doesn’t want to do it. We’ll get through it. They both just need a little more one on one time with me in the afternoons. 🙂

    I read some of the Puritan writings years ago. Yes, serious and intense. Some of it was too scary for me to go anywhere near it again. Some of it was very interesting — especially the few who ventured into mystic territory.

  6. Nik Nik
    December 18, 2006    

    It’s not easy being blessed with gifted kids.

    My son, 12, gets bored and so he writes stories in class. His teachers don’t fault him because he gets his work done, is quiet (most of the time. There was the day he blew up and asked the teacher “why should I be good when all it gets me is a proverbial kick in the wang?” after the whole class was punished because one monkey was acting up) and doesn’t cause much ruckus.

    The Girl, 14, draws. All the time. Her notebooks are full of cartoons, characters and wonderful, wonderful stuff. And, like your son, waits until the night before to finish a project that was given three weeks in advance.

    I wish I had advice other than we all did the same thing and none of us are living in cardboard boxes under the freeway! School is dreadfully boring! Algebra. Really. Who needs that crap?

  7. December 18, 2006    

    It is boring. And my son is a talker– he blurts stuff out constantly. But… he also doesn’t like to put in a lot of effort in things. We insisted he clean his room the way like it and he put 12 trash bags of stuff in the garage. Suspicious, we went through it. Folded clothes that still fit, tools… basically he just threw everything in bags and said it was toy donations. Trash and all. Sigh. He’s a great kid just a little lazy.

    My fifteen year-old daughter is quiet like your kids. She brings books and reads. She also likes to draw.

    Hopefully, we’ll figure out what will keep the son busy.

  8. December 19, 2006    

    When I was touring Turkey, I made it a point to stop by Elmyra, St. Nick’s hometown (where he served as Archbishop).

    But I know what you mean. The modern Santa bears less and less resemblance to the original. Turkey’s got stretches of wasteland, but no tundra or permafrost.

    I’m hoping that the lesson your son learned was that you can blow off something and draft the family into helping you make something cool at the last minute. But since he’s your son, I’ll bet that he probably learned the right lesson.

    And I’ve personally celebrated the Saturnalia since 1978.

  9. December 19, 2006    

    Oh no, he’s learned a harder lesson than that. He did most of the work. I sat with him to make sure. I also made him go through everyone one of those bags and sort things out.

    I honestly don’t know what I’m celebrating this year. I think it’s a conglomeration of all the holidays. I’m at a weird crossroads or something– not really sure what I believe right now. I think it’s one reason my 23rd writing slowed down so much. I will say that I hope I figure it out soon. Feels weird here in limbo-land.

    If I don’t speak to you again before, have a wonderful, disorderly and fun Saturnalia. Wish we could share a bottle of wine.

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