Manifesto Project: The Power of Collective Wisdom

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

The response to the Parenting Manifesto Project has been absolutely wonderful -- getting the perspective of dozens of parents on the big-picture elements of parenting has been eye-opening. Though one commenting wag last week suggested "don't get your parenting advice from a blog," it turns out that the collective wisdom of all of you is as valuable as just about anything you'll get at Barnes & Noble. I'm still archiving manifestos as they come in -- check them all out at the manifesto page and feel free to send along yours to rebeldad+manifesto@gmail.com.

I've culled from what I've received so far to come up with an all-star manifesto, another stab at truth, in 500 words or less:

Kids understand more than they're often given credit for. Explanation doesn't mean argument, and it doesn't mean that you negotiate away authority. Again, it's validation of the child's personhood so that he'll validate his personhood, and include in it a right to legitimately question authority. (Terrance Heath)
Miscellaneous do's and do nots: Do not bring one of those sippy cups with a straw onto an airplane. Do not drink any kind of beverage on an airplane with an angelic, peacefully sleeping baby on your lap. Do not clip your newborn's fingernails. Do not let your toddler wrestle the urine-holding part of the cute little potty chair away from the sitting part of the cute little potty chair by herself. (Cathy White)
Pick which hills you're going to die on. Some of them won't win the war -- skip those but know ahead of time what you NEED to fight. Weird hair, baggy pants, black nail polish -- little bitty hills. Drugs, drinking -- anything that has long-term (as into adulthood) consequences -- REALLY BIG HILLS. (Mom of Seven)
Sometimes your best just isn't good enough, or what you thought was the best turns out, in hindsight, to look like a mistake. Be able to step back and laugh at the situation. All you can ever do is try something and see what happens. If it works, great. If not, you try something else. (Elizabeth at Half Changed World)
Trust your gut. If something doesn't feel good or right, there is probably another way, another answer, another method, another doctor or even just another time or day/week/year that is better. (Hedra and Will)
Read to your kids! Instill in them the power and joy of a good book! Added bonus: If/when your wife is pregnant with a second (or third, etc.) child, your reading aloud benefits both kids! (Slurry Feed)
Keep your word. If you promise to take your child to the movies, then only your death should prevent you from doing so. Make your promises very carefully. Never threaten a harsh punishment. If you say a particular consequence will take place due to misbehavior, make sure it does. (Sue Mort)

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  December 21, 2006; 8:20 AM ET  | Category:  Tips
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Comments

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Why are we doing this again???????????????

Posted by: To Rebeldad... | December 21, 2006 8:57 AM

Ask your child to search the clouds for dragons, flying elephants and unicorns.

It's a great way to encourage your child to look up, use their imagination and get them to tell you what they are thinking.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 21, 2006 9:01 AM

Somebody suggest a new topic for today, please!!

Posted by: Ajax | December 21, 2006 9:19 AM

Ajax, that is not in the spirit of a culture of responsibility. Why not suggest an alternate topic yourself?

Posted by: Ownership society | December 21, 2006 9:23 AM

What is everyone's favorite Christmas cookie?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 9:25 AM

How about worst in-law (or own parent)xmas experience??

Posted by: Lisa | December 21, 2006 9:34 AM

Well, I promised updates on the pregnancy, so this seems as good a time as any. So far so good. Things have been pretty uneventful. I began to have bouts of queasiness, food aversions, and smell sensitivites about two weeks ago. It isn't awful, but there are some foods and smells that just repulse me now. But it seems to be subsiding, which has me a little worried. My breasts are also very tender and I can only tolerate a sports bra right now. I know, this is too much information, but heck, it's an anonymous blog. Went to the doctor. He took some blood tests and will find out in a few days if the hcg levels are rising properly. Have a referral to genetic specialists who will do some screening tests later on. I plan on doing a nuchal translucency test at about 11 weeks, and then decide about amnio or CVS. Hope I get that far, although I am not particularly relishing going through those screenings as it could always be bad news. What to do if bad news? Well, that's the hardest part. If it turns out the fetus had Downs or some other serious chromasomal disorder, I would probably terminate the pregnancy. This is hard to type, but in theory at least, I can't see another choice for myself. But I am hopeful this won't happen, and that all will be normal, and that a few weeks from now, I will be able to exhale. Holding my breath like this is hard.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 9:36 AM

Brian

The Parenting Manifesto Project isn't collective wisdom, it's collective typing.

Posted by: DZ | December 21, 2006 9:36 AM

Well I agree that eating or drinking anything on a plane is a way to arrive looking messy, but why not sippy cups on a plane?

It's not like the pizza place at the beach where any drink given to a kid comes in a cup with a lid.

Posted by: RoseG | December 21, 2006 9:36 AM

Emily, hang in there -- speaking as someone who has gone through all of that worry and medical testing and procedures, I know how you feel, and it's not fun. Especially when people tell you that you need to relax because your stress will harm the baby! (as if adding massive guilt over feeling stressed doesn't ratchet up the stress level) But you come across as a very strong person, and I have faith that you WILL make it through whatever happens.

Posted by: Laura | December 21, 2006 9:42 AM

YOu want a new topic -- here goes:

Is it appropriate to mention your politics in the holiday newsletter/Christmas card? Should I be able to tell from your holiday missive:
-Who you voted for in the last election?
-How you feel about stem cell research?
-Your personal feelings about the war in Iraq (usually politely couched as "I feel it's somewhat ironic that I'm wishing you Peace on Earth and Goodwill to Men while simultaneously our heartless president sends our blameless young men off to die . . ")

Just curious. I don't like it. I think it's inappropriate -- though I expect a number of you will say "Of course it's appropriate if it's important to you and you're really committed to the cause, etc. etc. etc." have at it!

Posted by: Armchair Mom | December 21, 2006 9:44 AM

Just couldn't think of a good topic and thought I'd ask the rest of you.

Posted by: To Ownership Society From Ajax | December 21, 2006 9:48 AM

Emily: I agree with Laura. Hang in there. I was so scared before my sonogram. Never did the amino because I was under 35. Missed the CVS test because did not realize I was pregnant till 4 weeks later. But what my Dr told me is that 97% of all pregnant women give birth to healthy normal children. Hang in there and know we are pulling for you and your baby.

I love the in law X-mas topic. I will start it. My in laws seem to think my favorite color is sage green. Where they get this, I don't know. But for the last 3 years, I have recieved sage green sweaters. 2 of the sweaters were exactly identical given two years apart. I finally told DH to tell his mother I have quite enough sage green sweaters. So what arrives in the mail yesterday. Not a sage green sweater but a sage green blanket. Hmm, what ever happened to not exchanging adult gifts? I had gifts when people feel obligated to spend money and still get you something totally terrible. But now I am sounding ungrateful. I need to think of all the poor people who don't have a sage green blanket. I think I will donate it to charity next month, so I can feel better about myself. :)

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 9:49 AM

I would probably leave the politics out of my newsletters because I know that by including the politics, I would be offending at least a few dear friends and relatives, which defeats the point of the newsletter. Most of us have friends and family who hold different political viewpoints. In my family, we are at least aware of this, and during the holidays and most other gatherings, we just don't go there. It's not worth the shout fest that can ensue.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 9:50 AM

Don't worry, Ajax, I was 99% just kidding around.

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 9:51 AM

Wait a minute. Emily is saying that if her baby has Down Syndrome she would probably terminate the pregnancy? Is there more to her story than in this paragraph (i.e. she is currently taking care of other children with debilitating diseases?) I have worked with and volunteered with many children and adults with Down Syndrome and they are wonderful people who bring joy those around them. I cannot believe in this day and age with all that we know and the treatment/educational opportunities available someone would still think to terminate a pregnancy because of Down Syndrome. That is sick.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 9:51 AM

You can put away the torches and pitchforks ... this is the last manifesto post. I've appreciated the effort of everyone who took the time to write down what had worked for them, and I wanted to share that.

Thanks to those interested in having a constructive discussion today.

Posted by: Brian Reid | December 21, 2006 9:52 AM

I guess I'm overly sensitive, being a Non-American and all.

Posted by: Ajax | December 21, 2006 9:52 AM

Nope armchair mom I don't want to know about that stuff either. We got a newsletter from a family friend detailing her son's divorce, infidelity included. Add it to the list of thing I don't want to know .

Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 9:53 AM

9:51: Hey, that is really uncalled for. That is Emily and her husband's decision. People have a hard enough time making those type of choices without hearing ugly thoughts from strangers. BTW, I don't think that would ever be my choice but I don't interfere with other people's LEGAL choices.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 9:57 AM

New Topic: Santa, is anyone ready to just say there is no santa to your kids - here are your gifts and be done with the whole chirade?

My child is 2.5 and we are celebrating an advent christmas and I am giving her small gifts everyday (to make the holiday less overwhelming) saying they are from santas elve. The big santa comes on christmas.

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 10:00 AM

Ajax,
As an American (citizen of the birthplace of political correctness, sensitivity training, and whininess) I find your comment SO ironic. Maybe you are more American than you think...

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 10:02 AM

I actually knew someone would be upset by the decision to terminate if Downs or some other problem. That's okay. I do think it is an intensely personal decision, and I am not offended or upset by knowing that it upsets others. I don't take it lightly, and have though long and hard about it. It is an upsetting decision, hard to think about. But again, intensely personal. People are entitled to their opinions, and luckily, I have come to a place where these opinions don't have much of an impact on me.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 10:02 AM

Why take the magic out of Christmas? They find out soon enough. I think there's no harm in believing in Santa, elves, guardian angels, whatever. Children's imagination is pretty vivid anyway, including invisible friends and whatnot.

Posted by: To Single Mom From Ajax | December 21, 2006 10:03 AM

It isn't "sick" to terminate a kid with Downs' - just because you've worked with highly-functioning ones doesn't mean that's in store for all parents. People sometimes think long & hard about this question and don't need someone who has chosen to work in that field (and is thereby implicitly ok with such a disability) harping on them.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 10:04 AM

I agree foamgnome it wouldn't be my choice either, at least, I think it wouldn't. I have never been faced with that choice, so I feel that I can't judge others.

There are lots of things to think about when making that choice. What will happen to that child when you die? Who will take care of them? Can you manage the daily life with a special needs child, could your husband or significant other? Lot's of questions and I don't think it is something that we should judge other people for on a blog.


Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 10:04 AM

I have a 2.5 year old as well and we are not doing the Santa thing. Santa is more just a decoration of Christmas - this is what I had as a kid too.. you know, he is not real but is the spirit of Christmas, etc.

Posted by: Santa | December 21, 2006 10:04 AM

love the sage green story, anyone else have a weird gift story?

Posted by: experienced mom | December 21, 2006 10:05 AM

OS, now I'm worried you people have started rubbing off on me, after all those years :-)

Posted by: Ajax | December 21, 2006 10:05 AM

Yeah, thanks to my 9 month old, the whole neighborhood knows about Santa now, since he pulled off his beard at the nieghbor's Christmas party...

There was some fast talking about Santa's helpers dressing like him, and other impromptu explanations. High comedy.

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 10:09 AM

Singlemom: I actually hate the whole Santa Claus thing because it really has nothing to do with Saint Nicholas. St. Nick is the patron saint of the poor and protector of children. He did not run around giving presents to children on Christmas eve. There is a legend that he paid a young girl's dowery by dropping gold coins down a chimney that happened to fall into stockings that were drying by the fireplace. But that is really only a legend. He was very kind and did do wonderful things for poor people and children. But I always wanted to "celebrate" or honor St. Nick on December 6 (Saint. Nicholas day). I figured that would spread out the gifts and also keep some of the fun and magic of St. Nick. DH completely disagrees. He wants the stupid Coca Cola version of Santa Claus who brings MOST if not all the presents on Christmas eve as well as the stockings. It burns me every year but I concede because it makes him happy. I guess I won out with decorating the tree early (prior to Christmas eve) and taking it down before the epiphany. I like putting up the tree early because it is too busy christmas eve. Also DD likes the tree. I take it down earlier because DD's birthday is January 7.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:09 AM

Ajax, just out of curiosity, where are you from? Two guesses: your nick is inspired by the mythological figure, and you are Greek; or by the soccer team, and you are Dutch.

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 10:11 AM

While Downs Syndrome can be diagnosed in utero, it is impossible to determine the extent of the the disability until the child is born. Some people are only mildly affected. Others are severely impaired, and may never be able to function independently.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 10:11 AM

My sister in law insists on giving us crappy homemade gifts -- not homemade from the kids -- not homemade from her -- but flea market crafty -- hey if you like that -- no problem, but come to my home -- it has no knick knacks, no clutter (aside from the mail that is taking over). We have tried repeatedly to say how about just giving to the kids -- no no -- she will have none of that. Then Thanksgiving comes around and we exchnage "lists" of what we want. My brother's list -- Wrangler jeans, an extension cord and some other crappy thing that he can buy for himself. They are not poor -- they can afford to buy jeans -- WHAT IS THIS ABOUT !!

Posted by: Lisa | December 21, 2006 10:12 AM

San Antonio calls...

I hope each of you enjoys this holiday season, and takes some time to smell the frosty roses, instead of being rushed, rushed, rushed through mandatory family (and other) rituals that always seem to press to the forward.

I always take this time (like on Thanksgiving) to remember to be truly grateful for the important things in my life, and to learn to let the little stuff go.

See ya in 2007 (fattened up further, no doubt...alas)

Posted by: Texas Dad of 2 | December 21, 2006 10:14 AM

Foamgnome,

in my family, we do celebrate St. Nicholas day on Dec 6. The custom is to put one of your shoes in front of your room's door, and St. Nicholas comes over night and leaves a (small, forcibly) present in the shoe. On the evening of Dec 24, another creature comes along - a sort of white-haired, airy angel who flies around dropping off presents magically (i.e., not through chimneys necessarily).

Posted by: Ajax | December 21, 2006 10:14 AM

The decision to terminate a pregnancy under any circumstance is an intensely personal one - that I am very glad to have as a choice.

Upon finding out I was pregnant and knowing that I would be single, I felt that for me termination was not an option (I could raise a child, it would just be difficult). But I knew that it would be even more difficult if there were problems with the child, and I am not sure if I knew about them I would have been up to keeping the baby. Sad but true.

I had a little scare while pregnant - I was on Lexapro when I found out (which is not an approved drug for pregnancy), and being in a developing country the Dr did not know much about the effects of antidepressants on pregnancy and reccomended termination becuase I may have done some serious damage already to the embrio - sp (he referenced a very old book). This was on a Friday and I was only able to talk with a US Dr on Monday - very long weekend. I switched to Prozac and was told that the child should be fine. I spent that entire weekend contemplating what I should do.

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 10:15 AM

Girls, wrap your collective wisdom around these facts. According to Dr. Augustine Kposowa, older men who are divorced are 10 times as likely to commit suicide as older divorced women. The primary and overwhelming reason being the loss of their children and family structure at the time of divorce. The very laws the scream queens of this country worked so hard to put in place are killing your own fathers. Merry Xmas and hug your father if he's still alive.

Posted by: mcewen | December 21, 2006 10:16 AM

My crazy mil is always trying to "sophisticate" me to the tune of procelain figurines, decorative plates?, and the like. I have a mil box that I just put them all in and wonder why... why?!!

Posted by: S | December 21, 2006 10:17 AM

Lisa:It is about how different families view the holiday gift exchange. When I first married DH, SIL (matriach of the family-not the oldest female member but certainly the bossiest), handed me a list of "acceptable" Christmas/Birthday gifts. I was told in short if I gave a gift that was deemed unacceptable that she will donate it to charity. (I do that too but I don't tell people stuff like that). The list is funny too. Like socks is a bad gift but coffee mugs are good ones. Who knew? Then about two years ago, people started suggesting adult wish lists. Well, let me tell you, we bought off of everyone's gift list to the letter. What does foamgnome get? A sage green sweater! So I feel awful about it. I suggest every year, just gifts to the kids because really, I don't want another sage green sweater and DH doesn't need another gift card to Home Depot. But no, they don't like that idea. It takes all the fun out of Christmas they cry. Hmm, how much fun is it to open up a GC from Home Depot or your third sage green sweater? Oh well. I always tell myself, they are really not my family.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:18 AM

Alas, the explanation is much more mundane (I'd like to have been nicknamed after something lofty, mythological, Greek...). It's Ajax after the detergent, a nickname my cousin chose maliciously when we were little to tease me, and it stuck. I'm German. Used to like to watch Ajax Amsterdam, too, every once in a while, though.

Posted by: To Aging Mom From Ajax | December 21, 2006 10:19 AM

How offensive/appropriate is it for kids to be told the Christmas story in a public school setting?

Posted by: capitol hill | December 21, 2006 10:20 AM

MCEWEN - perhaps divorced men kill themselves at rates much higher than women because their former wives took care of them - and they just forgot how to do it on their own. so it seems that them women are relieved not to have to take care of their exes and live longer, and the men cannot survive and kill themselves... perhaps this should have been a part of the nenandrathal discussion

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 10:21 AM

"love the sage green story, anyone else have a weird gift story?"

I have a great-Aunt who is just one of those people you don't know how to describe -- it's all about her suffering, lots of guilt-inducing everywhere, etc. (example: a birthday card to me once read, Dear Laura, the doctor says my arm isn't getting better as quickly as I'd like, so he's sending me for an MRI next Thursday, and the pain is just terrible.)

But she is also the Queen of the Bad Gift -- one of the funniest parts of Christmas morning is opening the box from her. Past examples:

She knows I married a Jewish man. So the first year we were married, she sent him a Nativity Set. Mind you, she's not particularly religious herself. I guess she figured she knew he didn't have one.

But my absolute favorite gift was the toast press. It's a little plastic doohickey that you press into the toast once it comes out of the toaster, and it makes the imprint of a smiley face. The entire family was rolling on the floor, laughing over the Most Useless Gift of All Time. (of course, to truly appreciate this, you need to realize that I am about the least "craftsy" person of all time -- the only thing I even attempt to make pretty is a pie crust)

Posted by: Laura | December 21, 2006 10:21 AM

About asking for jeans and such - When people ask me for a wish list, I honestly have a hard time coming up with one, so I think of things I will use. I don't really "need" anything. Most things I want I can buy for myself. I am not into extravagant stuff, and hate to ask for anything that costs more than 30 dollars. This year, my wish list was a clock radio, some cds, books, and a giftcard to the movies. Yes, I could afford to buy them myself, but I appreciate them as gifts also.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 10:21 AM

How about my aunt who, one year, gave my 8 (!!!)-year-old brother a spaghetti-serving fork and to me, then 12 years old, a calendar issued by her local filling-station.

Posted by: Ajax | December 21, 2006 10:25 AM

OK, this is starting to be funny. Laura's last post cracked me up. Who has an elderly relative that still thinks your a child? When I was in graduate school, my mother's uncle sent me a book called, "The Big Book of Facts." I think it was written for grade school children.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:25 AM

My grandmother is the queen of useless and entertaining gifts. They usually are the highlight of gift opening because you never know what they are going to be. I have received cards from her addressed to her "dear nephew on your birthday" (I'm her granddaughter and it is christmas) and used socks that she has picked up for a bargain!

Posted by: S | December 21, 2006 10:30 AM

To CapitalHill mom: Yes, it is really offensive to hear the nativity story in public school. I am really shocked in this area that would happen. They all ere on the safe side and they don't even have holiday parties anymore. Got a flyer in the Tuesday envelope announcing a Friday pajama day party. Kids wear their pjs to school and eat junk food. Couldn't they just have an end of a year party? I guess the only thing worse is one of my friend's kids told her public school kindergarten class that Santa was coming to their house to give them presents. Now her Jewish son is demanding some gifts from Santa. Sacriest thing is, the mother is running to Target tonight to get some Santa gifts.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:30 AM

capitol hill - very inappropriate
(side note: I went to my daughter's middle school band concert last night and for the first time since I've been a parent (my oldest is a freshman), they played Christmas songs in a public school concert. They were mostly secular, but not entirely - and since it was band and not choir, you didn't actually hear the words ;o). But still, it was very odd - and it felt like the director was thumbing his nose at the "Christmas wars".)

Emily - just out of curiosity, and since you shared so much personal about your pregnancy anyway :o) - why are you planning on so much prenatal testing, even before you have any abnormal results on the early tests? Is it because of your age, or because you have had problems with prior pregnancies? I'm just curious because most women don't automatically go to genetic specialists rather than to their OBs for prenatal tests.

Posted by: momof4 | December 21, 2006 10:31 AM

How offensive/appropriate is it for kids to be told the Christmas story in a public school setting?

---

My oldest is in Kindergarten this year. They've covered Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, so it seems only fair that they address Christmas too.

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 21, 2006 10:31 AM

Ajax, that's funny, thank you.

Odd gifts? I have been immune, but my S.O. (significant other)'s mom keeps giving him pajamas. He has slept in a t-shirt since he was, like, 15! I think this year I will actually force him to give them to the Salvation Army.

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 10:32 AM

No Santa or other stupid lies for my kids. Do you lie to your kids about death?

Posted by: Liz | December 21, 2006 10:32 AM

"I suggest every year, just gifts to the kids because really, I don't want another sage green sweater and DH doesn't need another gift card to Home Depot. But no, they don't like that idea. It takes all the fun out of Christmas they cry. Hmm, how much fun is it to open up a GC from Home Depot or your third sage green sweater?"

Maybe the fun is in giving the gift, not opening it. It is better to give than receive. Have you ever heard that before?

Maybe I haven't had enough coffee yet today, but I find it slightly offensive that you and others are picking on people who are probably very good-hearted just because you don't like the gifts they give or the ones that they suggest someone give them.

Posted by: to foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:33 AM

I agree with Arlington dad.

I don't find it offensive at all. My daughter learned about Hanukah last week and I think Kwanza will be next week.

I think that when children learn about other religions and cultures it makes them well rounded and more accepting of people. I think as long as it is not told as the "one real religion" or the "one holiday" of the season it is fine.

Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 10:33 AM

I know someone whose inlaws gave her a burial plot for Christmas. Hmmmm...........

Posted by: Wierd Gift... | December 21, 2006 10:34 AM

I don't think it's inappropriate to tell the Christmas story, so long as it isn't followed by "and anyone who doesn't believe this happened is going to h-e-double hockey sticks." It's like teaching the Bible/Torah/Koran as literature. I might want to include how "Christmas" has changed over the years - including the introduction of St. Nikolas into the picture, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 10:35 AM

I don't lie to my kids about death. I think that would be harmful since it is a real, mostly painful part of life that they will find out about sooner or later. Santa, however, is pretty harmless fun and stirs up the imagination.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 10:35 AM

I was going to say this is totally off topic, but since today seems to be a free-for-all, maybe it is not. Remember the discussion on gender v. sex (and gender identity) a few days ago? Slate has a great article (in its "Explainer" column) about the case of the Indian runner and the issue of determining whether an athlete is male of female. The link is below:

http://www.slate.com/id/2155828/?nav=fix

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 10:35 AM

When did Christmas turn into something we do from Halloween to Christmas? Seriously. When I was little (about 40 years ago), Christmas didn't gear up until after Thanksgiving...and it's getting earlier and earlier. Before long, the stores will decorate for Christmas in September. What was it like in our parents' generation, and the one before that. Was Christmas ever something that was only done in December...or even just on Christmas??????????????

Posted by: Question................ | December 21, 2006 10:37 AM

to 10:33: What we are laughing at is that there is this pressure to give a gift. And frankly, I don't think a lot of the gifts have a lot of thought put into them at all. I think these people feel like they have to give a gift, so they give anything they can find. But if your offended, I am sorry.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:37 AM

Ditto, foamgnome. I am pretty sure my grandma doesn't put much thought about me into her gifts - especially when it is her nephew's birthday... so funny!!

Posted by: S | December 21, 2006 10:41 AM

Question on gifts for preschool teachers - on DCurbanmom it seems that the consensus is cash is best... around $50 - $100 per teacher (high for me, but I can do $ just a little less). What are the thoughts out there on gifts for teacher, service providors, etc... what is fair, nice, or just plain dumb and cheap?

When did christmas become a tipping/bonus frenzy?

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 10:42 AM

Ditto, foamgnome. I am pretty sure my grandma doesn't put much thought about me into her gifts - especially when it is her nephew's birthday... so funny!!

Posted by: S | December 21, 2006 10:42 AM

Ditto, foamgnome. I am pretty sure my grandma doesn't put much thought about me into her gifts - especially when it is her nephew's birthday... so funny!!

Posted by: S | December 21, 2006 10:42 AM

I'm not a mom-- curious why you think I am?

Posted by: to foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:42 AM

Question on gifts for preschool teachers - on DCurbanmom it seems that the consensus is cash is best... around $50 - $100 per teacher (high for me, but I can do $ just a little less). What are the thoughts out there on gifts for teacher, service providors, etc... what is fair, nice, or just plain dumb and cheap?

When did christmas become a tipping/bonus frenzy?

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 10:42 AM

I'm not a mom-- curious why you think I am?

Posted by: to foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:43 AM

I have decided to either do CVS or amnio because of my age. I am 41. I will decide on which one after the nuchal translucency test.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 10:44 AM

I thought you signed it capitol hill mom. Must have read to quickly. Sorry. Hard to keep up with all the personas.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:44 AM

To Question....
The Christian celebration of Christmas (as opposed to the secular retail sales driven marketing campaign) begins 4 Sundays before Christmas (Advent season).

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 10:45 AM

I don't have any issues with older students being taught about world religions in public schools - on the contrary, I think it's very beneficial.

But teaching about religious celebrations in elementary schools is sort of pointless. The vast majority of children in the US celebrate Christmas, either religiously or secularly. And even those who aren't Christians usually know about the nativity (my 6 & 4 year olds do, because we've told them the story when they've asked questions like "why is there a baby in that barn?") And trust me, it's difficult to tell the story without making it sound like fact. So what exactly do you gain by telling the Christmas story to the 2 children in the class out of 30 who haven't heard it before? The majority of them already believe in it, and you run the risk of that majority wondering aloud "why don't you believe in this? The teacher just told the story, don't you trust the teacher?" It's just too much for young children to deal with and only serves to point out differences and cause questions that kids may or may not be willing to or want to answer.

Kwaanza is not a religious holiday, so if teachers want to teach about it, fine. But it shouldn't be placed in a line with Christmas and Hanukkah - i.e. "Do you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwaanza?" or "this week we're doing Hanukkah, next week Kwaanza, next week Christmas" unless you're playing "which one of these things, doesn't belong?"

Posted by: momof4 | December 21, 2006 10:47 AM

"The Christian celebration of Christmas (as opposed to the secular retail sales driven marketing campaign) begins 4 Sundays before Christmas (Advent season)."

Has it ever been like that in America--how many generations do we have to go back to find a Christmas that wasn't all commercialized. I've heard it called the "Christmas Machine."

Posted by: To OS | December 21, 2006 10:47 AM

Capital Hill Mom, I agree with Scarry and Arlington Dad -- I don't have any problem if it's in the context of learning about all of the other holidays, too. I remember learning about all the different stories of the origin of the earth in 9th grade bio. Thought that was pretty cool (still remember the Hindu myth with the picture of everything piled up on the back of an elephant), thought didn't understand why we were learning that in bio (probably the school's answer to the creationist controversy at the time -- sure, we'll teach Genesis, along with everyone else's creation story)

But if it's the only thing presented, I get uncomfortable. For ex., last year, my daughter's preschool did a "holiday" concert that was going to include only Christmas carols and a Kwanzaa song -- nothing for Hanukkah. I was just really surprised, because her preschool has about every religion and culture represented there. So I mentioned to her teacher, you know, she's Jewish; the teacher was very upset that they had overlooked that and added in a Hanukkah song (luckily, even 4-yr-olds can learn "Dradle, Dradle, Dradle" in about 3 minutes flat).

Speaking off, off to this year's holiday concert (and Chick-fil-A to provide the requisite chicken nuggets).

Posted by: Laura | December 21, 2006 10:48 AM

"No Santa or other stupid lies for my kids."

What is the difference between a stupid lie and a smart lie?

I went to great lengths to preserve the fantasy of Santa for my children. Thee was nothing harmful, it was a lot of fun, and it sure does put a sparkle in the eyes of the children. If you don't want to play along, you don't have to.

As far as the kindergartener saying that Santa was coming, I see this as being no worse than the children who tell others that Santa is not real. Each family has its own beliefs and traditions and has to learn how to handle any situation where the child is presented with someone else's differences.

School music. The school has a "winter" concert, not a Christmas concert. The only "Christmas" songs do not really reference Christmas, e.g., Frosty the Snowman, but there are Hanukkah songs. I find this offensive. I don't see why there can't be at least one song that is about Christmas.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 10:48 AM

Singlemom: I should have checked with you first. Because I way undertipped the preschool. I gave the day care owner $100 and each of the five day care workers $50, preschool teacher $30 gc from borders, preschool bus driver $20 gc and each of the four pre school aides $15. Eeks, foamgnome's kids will be pegged spawn of cheapo parents. Will do better next year.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:48 AM

"The Christian celebration of Christmas (as opposed to the secular retail sales driven marketing campaign) begins 4 Sundays before Christmas (Advent season)."

Has it ever been like that in America--how many generations do we have to go back to find a Christmas that wasn't all commercialized. I've heard it called the "Christmas Machine."

Posted by: To OS | December 21, 2006 10:50 AM

So do any of you send gift to your children's grade school teachers? And if so, what do you send? Or is this inappropriate in public schools?

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 10:50 AM

I don't want my tax dollars paying for the teaching of any religious crap in public schools!

Posted by: EJ | December 21, 2006 10:51 AM

I'm not old enough to know the answer to that, but I do know that in the 1965 Charlie Brown Christmas special he opines about how commmercial Christmas has become...

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 10:51 AM

Our family used to do the "White Elephant" gift exchange every Christmas Eve. We did it by taking something from the house that we didn't need/want anymore (not junk) and wrapped it up. Everyone drew numbers and #1 picked first and opened the package, then #2, blah blah blah. If you wanted a gift of someone before you you could take that or a new one. The last person could pick anything. Amazing how many former gifts made it into the pile. We would all get a laugh out of it, not to mention figuring out how to wrap some interesting items (a 4 foot tall purple elephant one year).

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | December 21, 2006 10:51 AM

I gave my wife a new mop bucket and scrub brush for Christmas one year.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 21, 2006 10:52 AM

Emily: See my post and Singlemom's post about amounts. I was also embarrassed last year when the last day of gymboree everyone was giving the gym staff gifts and we did not bring one. I have also heard that some people bring in a gift to the classroom. Like a book or something. We gave a large bucket of foam stickers to the preschool class.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:55 AM

I remember a year we were all excited because my California aunt and uncle were coming to Christmas at grandma's house in Miami, OK. I was 13 or 14.

Imagine my surprise when I opened a gift that was a Magilla Gorilla child dining set (cup, bowl, plate). My sister got same thing but Huckleberry Hound, but then again she would have been 7 or 8 at the time.

We were brought up well so I took it in the spirit of giving and was polite. My aunt and uncle were rather chagrined. and I'm sure it was a while before my mom and the other uncles let them off the hook.

Posted by: dragonet2 | December 21, 2006 10:56 AM

No wonder the cost of living is so high in DC. Give your kid's teachers whatever you want, money, gift, nothing but a nice note, etc.

My kids are older, but in elementary school, the room mother gave parents the option of contributing to a group gift (any amount, even $5.00 was OK). It was usually a gift certificate to a nice store. The teachers seemed to like this better than multiple "No 1 teacher" coffee mugs.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 10:57 AM

Funny in-laws stories:

Last year, my MIL bought my 3-year old an outdoor thermometer and my 1-year old a manicure set.

Two years ago when we were my MIL's house for Christmas, she served a canned turkey "loaf" she'd bought at the dollar store. It looked like a sponge. I instructed my kids not to touch it (no problems there) and pretended I didn't feel well enough to eat.

In a non-holiday story, when I was having trouble breastfeeding my first born, she sent me an article about the benefits of breastfeeding and then wrote "What a crock! I fed my kids out of CANS of formula and they turned out okay!"

I still love her, though. After all, she must have done something right, because my husband's a great guy.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 21, 2006 10:57 AM

Christmas was at least slightly commercial in the late 1800s, although probably to a lesser extent than now. Ebenezer Scrooge bought a goose or turkey or some other large bird for the Cratchits. Jo in Little Women said that Christmas is not Christmas without any presents. I am trying to find some other examples from earlier literature, but can't think of anything.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 10:58 AM

10:48, it wasn't that a child told the boy Santa was coming. The kindergarten teacher told the class that Santa was coming on Christmas eve to deliver their presents. Of course everything the teacher says must be true. So the boy is convinced that Santa is coming to his house to give him some gifts. What is a parent to do? Tell the kid, your teacher is wrong? A liar?

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 10:58 AM

keep in mind that religion in public schools is not just an issue of comfort or discomfort but a legal issue as well (First Amendment separation of church and state). If the public school appears to endorse the Christian religion as opposed to other religions or as opposed to no religion, it is using the power of the government to advance it, and that is illegal.

And this is why it is probably best to have a "holidays of the season" program, with both religious and secular components.

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 10:59 AM

Look at "A Christmas Story" (the movie) - it's all about gifts and food, and it was set in the 1940's. (I love the movie so I'm not trying to be negative about it - just saying that commercialization is not a new thing.)

foamgnome - are you *serious* about how much you tipped the daycare/preschool people? You spent more on them than I did on my four children total! Now who's cheap? ;o)

Emily - gifts for public school teachers are more than appropriate. Imo, stay away from "#1 teacher" kind of stuff (they have more than they could ever use), baked goodies (they might not be comfortable eating it, they probably don't "need" it anyway), or other knick-knacky type stuff (nobody needs more knick knacks.) What we usually give is a gift card or certificate to a bookstore or local cafe'. This year I found out that my daughter's teacher gardens so I got her a gc to a nursery.

Some people say "gift certificates to teacher supply stores" is nice but I think that's kind of tacky. "Here's some money so you can go buy more stuff to teach my child." I prefer something for *them*, not for their job.

Posted by: momof4 | December 21, 2006 10:59 AM

Thanks for the gift card idea. I have a little shopping to do at lunch.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 11:02 AM

To momof4: NO, I was being serious. My one officemate tips $75 to each day care worker (her son doesn't attend preschool). So I knew we tipped under some and probably more then others. I have heard that teacher's like the gc to the teacher supply store. But that is suppose to be an option for the gift to the classroom. Since when did inanimate objects (the class room) need gifts? Just being snarky here. I think the idea of the gift to the class room is to defray the teacher's out of pocket expenses. Also teachers in school give gifts to the kids now too. I don't think they should be wasting their money. But DD arrived home with a stuffed animal from the bus driver and a container of lego type blocks from her preschool teacher.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 11:04 AM

I love all the funny present stories! I have to admit, we (in my family) remember all the ridiculous presents much better than we remember the good ones :) I have gotten a few odd things over the years, but my favorite exchange to witness was actually the packages for my college roommate from her father - a 10 lb box of mini hotel soaps, cans of tuna fish and green beans, and once, a four-foot long box that had about 53 barbie dolls in it, some with missing limbs - we laughed about that for MONTHS! It was much more entertaining than anything else that happened on Christmas!

Posted by: TakomaMom | December 21, 2006 11:05 AM

Isn't it the "magic" of the season? Kids are forced to grow up so fast. Let them believe in Santa, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, etc. as long as they can. They're only young once.

For the person who commented about religion in school -- considering the Middle East and "overseas" situations, do you just leave that out of the lessons (and how, since it's all over the news)? Isn't that religious based?? There is so much that young people can learn, lets start them young so that they don't grow up to be ignorant adults. And really, didn't this whole country start out because the British wanted religious freedom? Think outside the box before you ban "religion"...

Posted by: Just some thoughts... | December 21, 2006 11:07 AM

You just reminded me of an early Christmas memory. When I was in first grade (Catholic school), our first grade teacher told us that if we left our shoes out one night, that St. Nick would leave us some fruit in them one night. It must have been December 6, but I don't remember. So I did, but I never mentioned it to my parents, and when I woke, I was dismayed to see that my shoes by the fireplace were empty. I mentioned to my parents that St. Nick forgot me, and as soon as I got out of the bathroom, my parents announced that St. Nick was just a little late and lo and behold, there were some tangerines in my shoes. And of course, I believed it. Kind of funny in hindsight.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 11:09 AM

Foamgnome - I cannot believe how much you tipped the preschool!!! This is more than I am giving my entire family.

I did give the class a gift and was thinking of $30 for each teacher, and $15 for the aides (over $125). Part of me wishes that I just made some cookies and said thank you. It is just too tough to compete with that level of giving (nor to I want to, I need to save money just in case I ever lose my job or get sick).

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 11:09 AM

No Santa or other stupid lies for my kids.

Man, do I feel sorry for your kids!

Posted by: To Liz | December 21, 2006 11:11 AM

To Just some thoughts....

Of course you don't ban teaching about religions from school. What the Constitution prevents is the teaching of religion. (So, if a school wants to teach the kids how Christmas started and what it's all about, it can have a lesson that says something like: One of the major world religions, Christianity, believes that.... ; for Muslims, Jews, etc., however, Christ is not the Messiah, etc.) The important thing is that the school should not use its power as a government institution to promote one religion (or, again, religion over atheism).

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 11:12 AM

This year most everyone is getting gift cards. Oh, how I love gift cards! For one thing, you can put them in a regular Christmas card and mail them, thus saving postage and hassling with long lines, etc. at the post office.

Then there are no worries about whether the recipient will read the book, wear the sweater, and so on - they can buy one that THEY like. Three cheers for gift cards.

Speaking of horrid gifts, I have a cousin with gawdawful taste. One year she got me a pair of HIDEOUS painted ceramic cats - they were meant to be calico but the "calico" looked like someone had barfed on pottery. Another year she got me some body wash that smelled like rotting fruit. Oh well, it's the thought that counts, et cetera.

Posted by: Flyonthewall | December 21, 2006 11:12 AM

Wow - I had no idea people tipped preschool workers so much! I only gave a gift to my son's preschool teacher and aide. When the teacher said she was giving each child a present my first thought was also "why is she wasting her money" but then when I saw the gift - snowglobes with pictures of my son, my heart just melted.
Now I'm thinking I may have to go back with a gift certificate for her and the daycare directors.

Posted by: fabworkingmom | December 21, 2006 11:12 AM

Singlemom:It is hard to get a grasp on how much to tip. We don't tip the preschool much. We tip the day care staff a lot. I guess my thought is they are doing the most important job, nurturing my child and they are way under paid (even though we pay a lot to the day care, I don't think their salaries are very high). But again, a lot of this is hush hush. So I have no idea what the "right" amount to tip is. I am sure there are people who tip way more then I do. I heard when you have a nanny, your suppose to tip them a month's salary. Good golly, my employer doesn't give me a months salary at this time of year.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 11:13 AM

I baked the day care workers cookies and gave them a Christmas ornament.

Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 11:14 AM

Foamgnome - My sister's nanny was tipped one week's pay for each year she'd worked for them. We do the same for our caregiver. Maybe it's a month's pay in DC and big cities, but that seems kind of insane to me!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 21, 2006 11:15 AM

For the teacher who told the children that Santa is coming - first the teacher needs an email or other reminder that not everyone in her class is Christian. Second - if they are old enough to be in school the child is old enough to be told that Santa is celebrating Christmas (Christian holiday) and that as a Jew we respect each other's holidays and exchange presents with friends, because they are our friends, but as we don't celebrate Christmas Santa isn't coming to our house. Then remind the child about their Hanukah presents (anyone still wonder why Hanukah, a minor holiday, gets so much attention)
It is hard to contradict a teacher, but it can be done by saying that the teacher must have forgotten that the child was Jewish.

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | December 21, 2006 11:16 AM

" I don't see why there can't be at least one song that is about Christmas."

I don't see why there can't be at least one song that is about a Voodoo holiday.

I don't see why there can't be at least one song about a Wiccan holiday.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 11:17 AM

"Singlemom: I should have checked with you first. Because I way undertipped the preschool. I gave the day care owner $100 and each of the five day care workers $50, preschool teacher $30 gc from borders, preschool bus driver $20 gc and each of the four pre school aides $15. Eeks, foamgnome's kids will be pegged spawn of cheapo parents. Will do better next year."

Wow. You spent $400 tipping day care and preschool staff? Is that really expected? It seems waaaaay over the top to me, but then I don't have kids.

I don't understand this kind of tipping.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 11:17 AM

Um, yeah ... the tipping amounts are making me a little nervous ... I stick with cards - never tipped my son's daycare provider (although I suppose they didn't really expect it from me - half of his daycare was paid for by the good ol' federal government in subsidy payments).

Someone asked me just yesterday if my son still believed in Santa, and I said oddly (he's 10), I think he still does, and the person responded "either that or he's milking it for what it's worth!"

Posted by: TakomaMom | December 21, 2006 11:17 AM

WorkingmomX: I read that nanny tip suggestion on a Nanny website. Maybe it was exaggerated in hopes of getting better tips. Do you guys tip the mailman? DH thinks we need to. We give $25 to mail man. He also insists on tipping the garbage man. We give him $20. The funny thing is we don't even always have the same garbage man. So who is ever is working on that specific day, gets the tip. I do think we have the same mail man because he writes us a thank you card.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 11:18 AM

Man, these teachers make out like bandits this time of year! Think I should have pursued that career just for the gifts (and the summers off, of course!)

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 11:22 AM

There are Christians who do not celebrate Christmas.

Many of the first Europeans who came to the U.S. did not celebrate Christmas.

Posted by: DZ | December 21, 2006 11:22 AM

Why is it wrong to talk about festivals in school? As long as you do not try to force your religion on to the others, it is fine. There is nothing wrong with learning something more about other people. We are not Christians and we do not celebrate Christmas, but we do the 'Santa Claus' thing for my son. It does not have a religious significance to us. In the country that I grew up, we get holidays for every religious festival, be it Christmas or Id or Diwali. US has predominant Christian population, so obviously, Christian festivals are big here. I do not understand why non-Christians get upset about it. All I care about is that festival times are times to be happy and have fun, and if it not your religious festival, then join the fun and festivity of your friends and neighbors and be happy in their happiness!!

Posted by: TwinCitiesLurker | December 21, 2006 11:22 AM

Emily - PLEASE READ THIS

I understand your fears. I too have carried a baby that we knew would die shortly after birth. It really happened and is/was very painful. We could have this problem again. At this point I would be overjoyed to have a baby with Down syndrome! I see so much life in them and my heart aches when I hear people considereing terminating. I am very serious when I say, my husband and I would consider adopting your baby so that you don't abort. Please reply if this would be an option for you.

Posted by: help | December 21, 2006 11:25 AM

Last Christmas, I got a lump of coal.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 21, 2006 11:25 AM

OK - a month of salary is insane as a holiday bonus. I gave my nanny the week off with pay.

the most important job thing is a guilt factor thing. I chose a school where the teachers are paid well and have good benefits. I can barely afford that, and do not want the burdon of a salary subsidy on me - everyone choses their career!

At times I am bitter that I am underpaid being with a non-profit, and I have never recieved a holiday bonus - nor have worked with a place that has given them.

Lets discuss a list of people that need tipping around the holidays for doing their job;
- newspaper person
- child care providors
- front desk people (if live in apts)
- etc

PS - why tip the director of the school?

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 11:25 AM

Did anyone hear the NPR story about St. Nicholas this morning?

They were interviewing a little Muslim boy from the town in Turkey where St. Nicholas came from. His father owns a shop selling St. Nick icons to Christian tourists.

The boy said "St. Nicholas was a very good man, but I don't think he will bring me presents."

Why not, the interviewer asked.

"He's dead."

Almost spit up my coffee. Kids are great.

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 11:26 AM

I don't see why there can't be at least one song that is about Christmas."

I don't see why there can't be at least one song that is about a Voodoo holiday.

I don't see why there can't be at least one song about a Wiccan holiday.


OH, PLEASE. The overwhelming majority of the people in this country celebrate CHRISTMAS. Majority rules. It's the way life is, people. Get over it and if you prefer to participate in a Wiccan event on the side, have a great time, but don't expect the rest of the world to give a crap.

Posted by: GIVE ME A BREAK | December 21, 2006 11:28 AM

OS:love your dead santa story.
Singlemom: We tip her because I feel she goes out of her way to take good care of our children. She organizes special events, celebrates each child's birthday, allows a lot of latitude for parents to have input. Also she never questions parent's who are late to pick up their kid due to traffic, emergency etc... She really acts as a support to the whole family. I have gone to her for child rearing advice (mother of 5 successful kids). This is not some nameless day care. It really is a place where the kids feel at home.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 11:30 AM

Dad of 4, I can beat your lump of coal. This year, I sent my dad a can of worms.

Oxfam America has this onling thing where you can send people oddball gifts that benefit developing communities. Everything from camels to outdoor toilets. (The gift recipient gets a card with a picture of the gift.)

Well, one of the cheaper items was a can of worms to help a community establish agricultural resources. I recalled how, when I was a little kid, my dad and I used to go out at night and hunt night-crawlers in the grass which we'd take fishing with us the next day. He also used to read me a story called "Angle-worms Creamed on Toast."

He'll get a kick out of it, I think. (And he has already gotten the assortment of baked goods we sent him, so he has something yummy, too.)

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 11:38 AM

Ok - why is it called tipping for daycare workers, teachers, etc? Why not call it a holiday gift?

"I don't see why there can't be at least one song that is about Christmas"

That statement was made because there was a Hanukkah song. If you can have Hanukkah, then why not Christmas? Either it's ok for any or not ok for all.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 11:41 AM

mom of 4,

I understand your point of view, but maybe I don't want my kid to learn about Kwanza either because I don't believe in it. I am not saying that I don't, but I am just saying that things should be fair.

Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 11:43 AM

"Majority rules"

No, the Constitution rules in the public schools, not the mob.

Get over it, Queen Bee!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 11:43 AM

11:41: Our tips are always given in a holiday card. So you can call it whatever. I usually get a thank you for the gift. I guess we call it a tip when it is cash and gift when it is a gc. But it is just semantics. I just hand them to the person and say thank you for taking care of my DD.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 11:44 AM

My day care center has a wonderful arrangement where they put out a box for all the parents to put the holiday tips in, and then they divy it up amongst the staff for holiday bonuses. I LOVE this arrangement, because then you don't have to stress about the "right" amount, you give what you can afford (Which is the right amount, of course.) I've been unemployed for a while now, and was very relieved to just be able to slip my gift into the box. The way the teachers rotate in and out of classes during the day, I'd have to tip all the teachers at the school, anyway!

Posted by: unemployed WOHM | December 21, 2006 11:46 AM

"I gave my wife a new mop bucket and scrub brush for Christmas one year."

And let me guess--she was oh so grateful you thought of her?

I'm surprised it wasn't another kid. Guess she should be grateful for that, too.

Posted by: please | December 21, 2006 11:47 AM

Okay, so tell me again why it's "One Nation under God" and our currency says "In God We Trust"?

Enough of this PC crap. Go ahead and look up how many people celebrate Christmas vs. Hanukkah vs. Eid vs. Winter Solstice. Don't make me laugh.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 11:47 AM

mcewen

Do you have a link for the Dr. Augustine Kposowa study?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 11:49 AM

The statement was that the Christmas song was winter (ie secular) and the hanukah song was religous. (I don't know of any secular hanukah songs) Personally this is why I hate this forced celebration at this time of year (you should have a winter concert, you should have a holiday party, etc). Someone gets offended and then in trying to not offend that person and then another person gets offended. Maybe we should all just start celebrating New Year's early. Champagne anyone?

Posted by: Divorced mom of 1 | December 21, 2006 11:50 AM

Bad gift? Last year I got a pair of Eeyore socks from my grandma. I hate Eeyore. I am not a fan of a cartoon where the main character's name reminds me of excrement. But I don't complain. My grandparents are retired and have to support my loser alcoholic 40-something uncle, who's unemployed and living with them. Plus, I'm hard to buy for...I live in the city, they live in the country, and I prefer stuff from shops that they've never heard of. Anyway, the socks are warm and comfy, and truthfully, I do wear them when no one's around. So I guess if that's the worst gift I get, I shouldn't complain, right?

Every year I hold my breath and be prepared to be horrified to open a tray of meat jerky, barbecue set, or leather or fur. I'm a hardcore vegetarian, PeTA member, petition-signing, button-wearing animal lover. I keep expecting pelts from family members who know better but delight in hurting people's feelings...but it's been ten years and it hasn't happened yet, so I'm grateful.

Regarding Emily, who said she would terminate her pregnancy if the child had Down Syndrome, and her subsequent attackers: abortion is legal in this country. Women can abort for any reason, whether monumental like genetic disorders or trivial such as she doesn't want to get fat. It's her choice. And anonymous blog contributors don't get a say in the matter. I agree that Down Syndrome children can be lovely to have in one's life (volunteering for Special Olympics has taught me many things), but if a woman is unprepared for motherhood and wants to abort, who are we to say anything about it? Leave her alone! She has her reasons, and it must be unimaginably hard to go through a difficult pregnancy, not knowing from day to day if your baby will be healthy. She needs our support, not our insults and finger-pointing.

Oh, and Lawgirl/NC lawyer, if you're reading, I got into American! :-)

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 11:51 AM

11:47, thanks for the reminder! Happy Winter Solstice, everyone!

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 11:54 AM

anon at 11:47, there are a number of Supreme Court decisions you could look at if you really wanted to know about why certain exceptions are made to the principle of separation of church and state. A Google search would probably lead you to the most important ones.

The language in the Constitution that underlies the idea that the government is not to sponsor religion is found in the First Amendment, as follows:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

The idea is that you get to practice your faith in whatever way you want without the government butting in, but that other people also get to practice their faiths (or not to practice any faith) without the government telling them what is right.

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 11:58 AM

Mona,

As someone who loves to smoke, bbq, and grill (and respects the dietary preferences of all humans), grills (and the tools in the set) can be a great and fun way to cook all kinds of non-meat items. Barbecue sets aren't just for carnivores.

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 11:59 AM

Ok, regarding Holiday concerts and "religious" Hannukah songs and "secular" Christmas songs: there are no religious Hanukkah songs. By definition, all Hannukah songs are secualr because music doesn't play much of a role in Jewish worrship. Having kids sing "Hannukah, Hannukah, fesitval of lights/candles glow in a row, seven days eight nights," which merely describes the holiday is much different than having kids in public schools sing "Silent Night" which proclaims, "Christ the savior is born" or another religious Christmas song that goes beyond describing the holiday.

Posted by: Hanukkah | December 21, 2006 12:00 PM

Actually Mona, we do have a say in the matter when she publicly posts about a very personal decision. I equate it with child abuse. I speak out against it becuase I think it's wrong. Should I let my neighbor abuse his child? No. Same goes for how I feel about abortion. Even though it's legal, I think it's wrong and therefore will work to stop it.

Posted by: to mona | December 21, 2006 12:00 PM

I understand what the Constitution says. But the fact remains that the highest elected officials are sworn in on a Bible and our own money betrays our hypocrisy.

Posted by: Queen Bee | December 21, 2006 12:04 PM

It's not that I don't appreciate all the defenders of intensely personal decisions, but really, you shouldn't worry about how the anti-abortion folks affect me. They don't.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 12:05 PM

Regarding multi-faith holiday concerts -- I can teach my kids about Jesus, the Nativity, the silent night, and the angels singing -- but their favorite "Christmas song" is always going to be about that dradel!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 21, 2006 12:05 PM

hanukah-
There are plenty of religious songs - how can you say songs do not play much of a role in jewish worship; most of the liturgy is song.
For example for Hanukah there is: Maon Tzur (an ode to God) and Hanerot Hallalu (about the miracle performed on behlaf of the jews)

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 12:06 PM

queen bee-
Our highest elected officials are sworn in on any book of their choice or no book at all. It is the chocie of the individual, not dictated by our government and that is a distinction you really don't grasp. You need to stop reading right wing blogs and learn a little actual history.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 12:07 PM

"For example for Hanukah there is: Maon Tzur (an ode to God) and Hanerot Hallalu (about the miracle performed on behlaf of the jews)"

You know a lot of schools that are having kids sing those?

Posted by: ? | December 21, 2006 12:08 PM

to mona (12:00 pm), thanks for the input. While freedom of speech is a guaranteed Constitutional right for all of us, including bloggers, and you do have a right to express your opinion, you can speak out against it all you want and it won't change anyone's stance.

People on this blog have talked trash about vegetarians who preach against eating meat. That's also their right. I can still speak out against eating meat, but it's not going to change anyone's mind. People don't respect you when you talk trash about their habits. People respect a live-and-let-live attitude. As long as you are respectful and don't call names or preach, most people will listen to you. But you'll have no more luck stopping abortion than I would stopping the fur industry.

OS, thanks for the info. I've never had barbecued anything, mostly because I'm a pyrophobe, but also because I'm a bit of a purist (meat does not ever touch my food, etc.) and it creeps me out to have my veggie burger sitting in a puddle of beef grease. But you never know, maybe I will someday eat a grilled veggie dog. I wonder if they're any good?

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 12:09 PM

Are you Jewish? you stated "because music doesn't play much of a role in Jewish worrship" I am sure my Cantor would be shocked to hear that.

Jingle Bells - secular no mention of Christmas just winter
Eight Candles - refers to the miracle - religous content.

Posted by: To Hanukkah | December 21, 2006 12:09 PM

Queen Bee, I believe most positions in government if now all now offer the person being sworn in the choice of swearing (presumably on a religious object such as the Bible) or "affirming," i.e. making a solemn promise without religious support. We have yet to have a non-Christian President, so I am not sure whether this would be extended to him or her; I certainly would hope so.

But I certainly take your point: there are some aspects of our communal life where "God" is traditionally invoked. Generally, when these aspects have been challenged, the Supreme Court has held that the "ceremonial" aspect is more important than the religious one. I am unaware of a challenge to the currency, although if you really think about it, it actually seems offensive to put God on a dollar bill. Talk about idolatry...

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 12:10 PM

to ?-
Other than jewish schools no and that is really the point. They could choose to teach religiosu jewish songs but no public school ever would and they should make the same decision around the substance of christmas songs they choose.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 12:10 PM

"People respect a live-and-let-live attitude"

Please tell it to the Nursing Nazis!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 12:13 PM

When my son was small my MIL used to give him large or noisy toys. One year she gave him a Batman car that he could sit in and drive around. It was huge. We lived in a tiny little apartment and the only place for the Batman car was in the hallway. we had to climb over it to get to the bedrooms. I hated that thing.

Posted by: Melt | December 21, 2006 12:13 PM

Sorry all, I didn't have time to read all of te posts so this may be redundant.

Emily, please read "Expecting Adam" by Martha Beck before making any decisions. I believe that every woman has the right to choose to terminate, and I am not trying to talk you out of it. Just make sure you have explored all avenues before you make a choice that you cannot undo.

My thoughts are with you.

Posted by: Never regret... | December 21, 2006 12:14 PM

We had a 'friend of the family' (she was a nutcase that latched onto my grandmother after her last target, our wonderful neighbor passed away) that was notorious for her gifts. She loved to drag my grandmother to the salvage store (where they sell railroad salvage, etc) and buy hundreds of pounds of fruit, preserves, etc. and then beg my grandmother to find her used canning jars at garage sales. We would then get 'home canned' fruit and preserves that were RECANNED from the stuff she bought at the salvage store. Not embellished, not changed in any way, just put into jars to look homemade.

She also gave us wrapped gifts at Christmas - I got a Hickory Farms-knockoff gift tray (with the meat byproduct summer sausage log moldy under the wrapper) that had expiration dates years past for the Christmas I was 13. My sister got one too - hers was the 'meat lovers assortment' and my sister was vegan at the time! Mom still got the best gift of all - a nightgown that was five sizes too big at least (and mom's not a small woman) and was obviously used (pilled in the back from someone sitting in it, stained, etc). It became a Christmas tradition for a few years to open hers last, one at a time, as we all collapsed from laughing. Best. Christmas. Gifts. Ever.

Posted by: RebeccainAR | December 21, 2006 12:15 PM

I don't think I was disrespectful. And not true about respecting a live and let live mentality. If I am hurting someone, I would want someone to call me on it.

So when the drunk gets in his car to drive home, do you just "live and let live"?

Posted by: to mona | December 21, 2006 12:16 PM

I don't have a bad gift story (or rather, too many to be able to single one out), but one that is almost the reverse.

One year, my grandparents came to our house for Christmas day. My grandmother was both crazy and mean (trust me on this, I'm not just being disrespectful) and so family gatherings were always, um, interesting. Well, this year, my grandmother felt strongly that Christmas dinner should be served at 2pm; however, my mother had been planning on serving it at 4pm and had timed putting the turkey in the oven accordingly. My grandmother became completely enraged, called both my mother and I a nasty name, took our canopener and our dustpan and drove off, leaving my grandfather. She came back for him the next day, but kept the can opener and the dustpan.

Posted by: Megan | December 21, 2006 12:19 PM

To 12:16
Driving drunk = illegal
Abortion = legal

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 12:19 PM

It is highly offensive to tell religious stories in public schools. And there are many more religions than those covered by Hannukah and Kwanzaa. Are you going to explain that the whole season is really about pagans celebrating the return of the sun? What if that was the only story told? Parents are perfectly capable of presenting their beliefs to their kids.

Posted by: random | December 21, 2006 12:20 PM

We were finally able to convince both families to only give gifts to the children and for the adults we would all make donations to the charitable organization of our choice in the names of the different family members. THis year we were able to "purchase" 2 goats, 1 pig and a sheep for Heifer international in the names of our family members. So far we've had a camel purchsed in our name. It feels a lot better on both sides and fits a lot better than another crummy sweater.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 12:21 PM

Whether or not to talk about different religious celebrations in public school is such a tricky thing. Where we live now, there are very few non-Christians, and it has to be hard for kids who don't celebrate Christmas. Many, many adults here don't know the first thing about Hanukkah, not to mention Kwanzaa or Ramadan. Actually, I don't know much about Kwanzaa.

One of the goals of our government IS to protect minorities. So I think it is appropriate to present other religion's celebrations, but wouldn't it be more appropriate to teach kids about the Jewish High Holidays, for example, instead of Hanukkah, which I understand is a minor holiday religiously? Similarly, maybe kids should learn about Easter (a much bigger deal, religiously) instead of Christmas? But the Easter story is kind of heavy for elementary school.

I hate it when they mangle Christmas carols to keep the word "Christmas" out, though. Is the word really that offensive?

Armchair Mom, I'm with you on the TMI Christmas letters. However, the worst one I got this year was written by someone who is having a real rough time, so I'm inclined to cut her some slack.

Posted by: YetAnotherSAHM... | December 21, 2006 12:21 PM

Emily, fingers crossed that this won't even be an issue. But for what it's worth, my husband and I have already decided that when/if we have kids years from now, we will make the same decision you have regarding chromosomal abnormalities.

"Okay, so tell me again why it's "One Nation under God" and our currency says "In God We Trust"?"

Because Congress in the 1950s decided that a good way to fight the Red Menace was by religion, since Communinists (and the USSR) were atheists.

Most of the founders of the country were Deists - they believed in a god, but found their proof in the natural world. They did not subscribe to particularly Protestant or Jewish or Catholic dogma about the deity- for example, they didn't really care about the Bible (it wasn't "the word of god" to them) whether anyone had been a messiah. They believed in reason and nature's law. That's why the Declaration of Independence refers to "Nature's God," not "Our Father" or "Christ" or anything like that.

If we're going to argue the nation's religious history, let's please do it based on fact ...

Posted by: Kate | December 21, 2006 12:22 PM

in england under cromwell, the celebration of christmas was forbidden as a "papist" or Catholic holiday made up to pacify the pagens. with the restoration of the monarchy many people who fled england first to holland & then to the new world brought those same ideas about "no christmas" with them. the industrial revolution also put a squash on celebrating holidays as society transition from agrian to industrial. charles dickens, courrier & ives, & norman rockwell all contributed in showing how christmas "should" be celebrated. it was probably during the 1950s that the holiday became commercialized since before that was the war & before that was the depression. rudolph, the red nosed reindeer was just a character made up by a department store.

Posted by: quark | December 21, 2006 12:22 PM

She came back for him the next day, but kept the can opener and the dustpan.


Too funny.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 12:24 PM

to mona (12:16), there's a huge difference between driving drunk and abortion. Legality, for one thing. However, while I adore a good debate, Emily has suggested that it makes no difference to her, and since I was posting on her account anyway, I'm stopping. I'd rather talk about bad holiday gifts anyway. You're anti-abortion, I'm pro-choice. Let's agree to disagree, and yes, live and let live. :-)

12:13, good point! Maybe I was wrong about that.

Emily, I do hope that your pregnancy goes off well and that your little one is extremely healthy. Please know that you will be in my thoughts.

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 12:25 PM

Oh, and to the person who asked about the commercialization of Christmas, I recently read in a Slate article that it started becoming a major retail/presents oriented holiday in the 1920s.

Posted by: Megan | December 21, 2006 12:25 PM

Moxiemom - I hear you on trying to convince family into giving to a charitable cause/org instead of gifts. I have tried for years to get my in-laws and parent to do it and finally my mother in law relented this year and gave to The Fisher House in my name. It was like pulling teeth.

We gave charitable donations to Animal Shelters in 2 different states as gifts to family members and the kids got to draw cards explaining the gift. They thought it was great - they love animals so they were happy to helping homeless animals.

If I get a sweater this year I am throwing it over my shoulder like Ralphie with the socks in "A Christmas Story."

Posted by: cmac | December 21, 2006 12:26 PM

"Whether or not to talk about different religious celebrations in public school is such a tricky thing. "

No, it's not a tricky thing. Don't do it, period.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 12:27 PM

One of the goals of our government IS to protect minorities.

I thought the government was suppossed to protect everyone? My mistake, I thought we were all equal.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 12:28 PM

To 12:19--

I acknowledged that it is legal, but I still think it hurts people. Mothers, fathers and obviously the babies.

So just because something is legal, does that make it right???

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 12:29 PM

To aging mom- that article says CONGRESS SHALL MAKE NO LAW respecting an establishment of religion. The Constitution does not protect public schools from the teaching of theology, etc. Public schools are an appendage of the government, but they are not part of Congress - the first article was to avoid states establishing Anglican, Congregational, etc. churches and from levying taxes to pay for glebes. With respect to religious issues that occur within public schooling - these are much more gray and are why so many of the cases make it to the Supreme Court - busing kids to parochial schools is different from bible/koran/talmud study after school on school grounds is different from Amish kids having to go to school until 8th grade, etc.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 12:29 PM

Megan,
Your grandmother story is too funny. Last year, we were supposed to spend Christmas eve at my MIL's house, but apparently there were some issues, and we got a call at about 5 to go to my brother-in-law's instead. Then about 6 another call that to go to my MIL's instead. So we show up at 7:00 at MIL's and no one is home. So my husband call's his brother and it turns out that at the last minute, it was changed to his place, so we drive over there (not far at least). But when we get there we realize that there is some kind of cold war going on between my MIL and my brother-in-law's wife, and right as dinner is served, my MIL packs up some food and leaves with her daughter, telling my husband and I to tag along. It was very awkward, but in the end, we decided to stay at BIL's because we just couldn't see leaving them with their dinner. MIL kept calling my husband on his cell to urge him to leave, so we just turned it off. Never did find out what the big fight was about. Really did not want to know.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 12:31 PM

I have suggested stopping all adult gifts and donating to charity instead. In laws felt that was just plain wrong. Whined it won't feel like Christmas. Because, of course, Christ wanted us to go into debt buying sage green sweaters, cheese rolls, and gift cards rather then helping the unfortunate. Hmm... My own family designates gifts through college. After that donations are made in your name or just a good deed is done in the spirit of mankind. We always deliver and provide food baskets for the underprivileged, brother cuts a cord of wood and delivers and stacks it to an elderly relative, Grandma gives to a 100 and 1 charities. But heck, I am going to love that sage green blanket.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 12:31 PM

Just wanted to remind everyone who is getting all upset at the prospect of Emily's aborting a Down child that so far there is nothing wrong with her pregnancy and that she was speaking in hypotheticals.
So, instead of getting tied up in knots over something that is quite unlikely, let's all send good thoughts Emily's way, ok?

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 12:35 PM

Thank you, aging mom. I appreciate the good thoughts.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 12:36 PM

I think that public schools should teach about religious holidays and practices. They just should do it properly as a unit not just "oh, its christmas so let's talk about the Jews". Theology is a major force in shaping culture and politics and an understanding of world religions is critical to being a properly educated adult. That said, I'm an agnositic who certainly favors a more academic study of religion.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 12:39 PM

Emily: I am 37, 7 months. pregnant, I did the CVS for the same reasons as you, skipped the NT, because I wanted to know for sure and not a probability. I'm sure it will be fine, looking back, I wish I hadn't stressed so much. the night before was anguish for me, and as a result, for my husband. The test/procedure itself wasn't so bad.

Momof4, as an older mom, your obgyn will let you know your options and statistics as an older mom and based on family. You make the decision on your own. I had done research prior so I knew I would opt for it, but my obgyn was able to personally recommend someone who has a lot of experience with performing the CVS.

Posted by: Ashley | December 21, 2006 12:39 PM

Less than 25% of the world population is Cristian. So if the majority rules- NO MORE CHRISMAS!!

May the Goddess bless you on this sacred night of Yule ;-)

Posted by: childfree and equal | December 21, 2006 12:39 PM

"Women can abort for any reason, whether monumental like genetic disorders or trivial such as she doesn't want to get fat. It's her choice."

Mona --

I agree with your comments on it being Emily's business whether or not to have an abortion. You're absolutely right; it's not anyone else's call.

But I do think that statements like the one above are the sort of thing that lend undeserved credence to the anti-abortion campaign. Technically, yes, a woman can legally abort for reasons of vanity and/or personal inconvenience. But rubbing people's noses in this fact, when a woman's right to choose is at stake, just gives ammunition to the other side.

I think we have to be careful with our rhetoric lest we undermine the importance of our own position.

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 12:40 PM

Holidays are terrific. I teach my DD about Chanukah and day care does Christmas. Right now we have a Chanukah CD our car but it will need to go on "vacation" after
the holiday is over.

Fortunately Passover is soon and we can listen to that one for a week non-stop.

Happy and Healthy 2007 to all.

Posted by: shdd | December 21, 2006 12:41 PM

Emily, that's quite a story! Wow. We also one year drove to my grandparents - normally about a 3 hour drive but there was a horrible snowstorm and it took us almost six. When we got there, she handed up some of her kitchen implements through the door and told us to go home!

Also, I wish you the best of luck with your pregnancy - I hope you will not have to make any of those difficult decisions, but from your posts, I am sure that if you do they will be well thoughout and carefully considered, and that is really the most anyone can hope for.

Posted by: Megan | December 21, 2006 12:42 PM

Megan: Your grandmother really has a thing for kitchen appliances.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 12:44 PM

"We were finally able to convince both families to only give gifts to the children and for the adults we would all make donations to the charitable organization of our choice in the names of the different family members".

Why is it up to you to convince everyone else? Why does it have to be your way? If you would rather have a donation to a charity in your name than receive a gift, it's fine to let people know that. But you making a gift to the charity of your choice in someone else's name is something you are doing for yourself, not for them.

Posted by: to moxiemom | December 21, 2006 12:45 PM

"But you never know, maybe I will someday eat a grilled veggie dog. I wonder if they're any good?"

Mona,

Don't care for the dogs, myself, but grilled veggies are tops. Have you ever grilled thick slices of eggplant? Or made up foil packages of mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, basil, and olive oil? To die for! Grilled corn on the cob is divine.

And grilled fruit? Pineapple slices are awesome.

Uh-oh. I'm getting hungry...

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 12:48 PM

Emily - You are obviously still reading this blog. I would at least appreciate an acknowledgement. I put myself out there in a very vulnerable and sincere way. I would hope you could respond that way as well.

Good luck with your pregnancy.

Posted by: help | December 21, 2006 12:48 PM

To the person who doesn't know why you shouldn't bring a STRAW sippy cup- when you flip open that straw it squirts everywhere due to pressure change.

Posted by: SAHMbacktowork | December 21, 2006 12:48 PM

Grilled vegetables? So your Vegan recipe is the same thing as my South Beach Diet recipe?!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 21, 2006 12:51 PM

To to moxiemom - umm because we all have way way more than we need and there is nothing that I can buy for my family that they can't buy for themselves and vice versa. What I really want is to finish my attic - nobody can pony up for that. If I want a new sweater then I generally can buy it. I found it offensive that people as comfortable as we are were literally throwing money away on things that none of us wanted or needed while people in this world were hungry, cold or dying for lack of medicine.

As for "But you making a gift to the charity of your choice in someone else's name is something you are doing for yourself, not for them."

They give to a charity of their choice in our name so there's a balance there and I say to you when there are people in need does it really matter "who" the donation or gift is being given for or that the person in need is helped.

Only on this blog could one be criticized for donating to charity. Sue me and enjoy your sweater.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 12:52 PM

To the person who doesn't know why you shouldn't bring a STRAW sippy cup- when you flip open that straw it squirts everywhere due to pressure change.

Hmm, is that really true? Because I bring straw sippy cups on airplanes all the time. Never had the squirt issue.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 12:53 PM

ppat nailed it, just about anything can be grilled, and it usually (at least to my tongue) tastes better than the indoor version.

I also feel like (and this is probably just self-delusion and/or gratuitous self back-patting) that one who controls the grill controls the party. It's a feeling I like.

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 12:53 PM

to anon. at 12:29
Yes, that's what the First Amendment says. The way it has been interpreted, of course, goes much beyond the possibility of Congress directly founding churches. You obviously have read some caselaw, so you know the explanation: if the state's money and power sponsors the dissemination of a religion, that is effectively equivalent to actually building a church.
Again, there is a ton written on this, but I don't feel it is appropriate to start citing cases here. I'll just say that I think this is a good principle--it ensures religious freedom and prevents the state from becoming too entangled with one religion.

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 12:54 PM

Thanks for all the feedback.

Does it make a difference to those who are against it if it is a child telling the story rather than a teacher? the situation I am asking about is where all the kids are asked to stand in front of the class and talk about any special customs their family has during the season and one kid repeats the story as it is told during the Christmas pagent at his church? this is at a public school in Iowa, but the fundamental issues seem universal. This was relayed to me by a parent of the child who is now worried the family may get sued. I said I doubt it, especially as a Jewish child talked about the story of Maccabees and the miracle of the oil AND the kid was just saying this is what my parents do, and not saying this is what you all should do.

Posted by: capitol hill | December 21, 2006 12:54 PM

Emily, trying to send good thoughts your way. You'll get prayers from my 4 year old too.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 21, 2006 12:58 PM

Our all-adult Christmas gathering still has the piles of presents under the tree, even though we don't really need anything? Why? Because it tickles my mother to no end. She grew up in the Depression, and had very little most Christmases.

Posted by: RM | December 21, 2006 12:58 PM

capitolhill:(not mom :)) Yes, it is a big difference if it was a kid. I think if it was a kid, they school needs to suck it up. And think about rephrasing the assignment next year. I know a girl in some ps was not allowed to talk about Jesus as her hero on an assignment to talk about heros in your life. I think that kind of sucks. Gives a totally different meaning when the teacher (establishment-government official-position of authority) tells the story of the nativity in ps. But I am not a lawyer.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 12:58 PM

"To the person who doesn't know why you shouldn't bring a STRAW sippy cup- when you flip open that straw it squirts everywhere due to pressure change.

Hmm, is that really true? Because I bring straw sippy cups on airplanes all the time. Never had the squirt issue."

It probably depends on when you open them - if they are open during takeoff, it would probably be fine; if you wait till after take off and the corresponding pressure change, you might have a squirting problem depending on how well the cup is sealed.

Posted by: Megan | December 21, 2006 12:59 PM

re: sippy cup with straw.

That would be even messier!

Posted by: RoseG | December 21, 2006 12:59 PM

and why shouldn't you clip a newborn's fingernails? Sorry if I missed something!

Posted by: new mommy | December 21, 2006 1:02 PM

Moxiemom

"We were finally able to convince both families "

What happened to majority rules? Who made you the Queen Bee? You don't have moxie; you are a tyrant. Off to the holier-than-thou cave!

Posted by: DZ | December 21, 2006 1:03 PM

Pittypat, thanks for the input. That I was undermining my own argument didn't even cross my mind--sad but true. I saw it as pointing out a fact, not rubbing noses in it, but I can definitely see how it could be taken that way. It's true that women abort for seemingly trivial reasons such as inconvenience, but that does not take away from the difficulty one faces in such a personal decision. However, the reasons a woman aborts are of no consequence and are no one's business--there are some women who simply do not want to be mothers, and that reason should be treated as just as serious as any other.

And thanks also for the veggie food tips. I still don't know if I'll ever grill, but it's good to know that I don't always have to be excluded from the fun. :-)

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 1:05 PM

Ok - If someone wants to give to a charity rather than a gift to a person, i really am fine with that. Just don't act like it is a gift to the person when it is about the giver and how they feel about gift-giving. I feel strongly about this because I have a relative who donates to a charity on behalf of my children rather than give them a gift. She does it because (pick one or both) she wants to be charitable and/or she doesn't think we are teaching them to be charitable on their own based on her own sense of what it means to be charitable.

Posted by: to moxiemom | December 21, 2006 1:06 PM

Emily-
I hope you're still around reading this. While we don't always agree, I like having such a worthy adversary. I've been where you are. I know what I thought about at that time. Please know you have my support regardless. Go one day at a time. My thoughts are with you and yours.

Posted by: dotted | December 21, 2006 1:10 PM

"We gave charitable donations to Animal Shelters in 2 different states as gifts to family members and the kids got to draw cards explaining the gift. They thought it was great - they love animals so they were happy to helping homeless animals."

CMAC --

We agree on something! Actually, several things.

Donation gifts are terrific; luckily, my in-laws are very big on doing that, too, so all goes smoothly.

And anything to benefit homeless animals -- after my own heart.

Finally, teaching kids such compassion and selflessness -- wow.

We may disagree on most everything, but we sure do agree on how to share our hearts with others.

Merry Christmas, CMAC!

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 1:10 PM

"kids are asked [by teacher] to stand in front of the class and talk about any special customs their family has during the season" in a public school.


It was inappropriate of the teacher to do this. The family may get sued, but they will win the case and could sue the teacher for the costs of defending the case.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 1:10 PM

I feel strongly about this because I have a relative who donates to a charity on behalf of my children rather than give them a gift. She does it because (pick one or both) she wants to be charitable and/or she doesn't think we are teaching them to be charitable on their own based on her own sense of what it means to be charitable.

I understand your issue here. But the underlining issue is why do we feel the obligation to give a gift at all? Is it really a gift if it is simply an obligation? Someone asked why do we call it a tip to the day care rather then a gift. Because a tip is saying thank you for quality service rendered. I don't tip grandma for being a good grandma. I give her a gift because we love her. So the point (and sometimes silly, sometimes slightly offensive) is that people think it is insane, silly, down right laughable how American society has turned gifts (something given with no expectation or obligation) into a sense of yearly obligation in the name of the Christian Lord. Am I right or am I totally off base?

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 1:12 PM

"Grilled vegetables? So your Vegan recipe is the same thing as my South Beach Diet recipe?!"

Yikes, Arlington Dad. Must be!

Actually, I firmly beieve that any vegetable you can slather olive oil on can go on the grill with super results.

Although, I've never tried rutabaga...

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 1:13 PM

to anon at 1:10
"kids are asked [by teacher] to stand in front of the class and talk about any special customs their family has during the season" in a public school.

"It was inappropriate of the teacher to do this. The family may get sued, but they will win the case and could sue the teacher for the costs of defending the case."

I am totally lost. Under what law would the family be sued for doing whatever they do?

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 1:14 PM

It was inappropriate of the teacher to do this. The family may get sued, but they will win the case and could sue the teacher for the costs of defending the case.

Yes, what happened to freedon of expression?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 1:17 PM

On religion in schools: The First Amendment prohibits the federal government from establishing a religion. Later caselaw holds that the government should not endorse a religion to the exclusion of others and should avoid "unnecessary entanglement" with religion. None of these concerns are implicated if the school children themselves are bringing up the issue. Mostly the issue here is teachers and school boards being afraid of being sued, not with any real constitutional concern. These lawsuits cost time and money, and are not generally fee-bearing, so the state will have to foot the bill.

Posted by: oklaw | December 21, 2006 1:18 PM

'But the underlining issue is why do we feel the obligation to give a gift at all? Is it really a gift if it is simply an obligation?'

Partly because many people cannot graciously accept a gift without feeling that it must be reciprocated. I am guilty of that as well. However, I have reached a point in my life where I am able to give token gifts to show appreciation or reciprocation without spending a lot of money or effort worrying about it being the perfect gift. And i always include a gift receipt :).

Posted by: good point | December 21, 2006 1:18 PM

http://www.jimbob.info/

Click on the family album, bottom right.

Posted by: thoughts? | December 21, 2006 1:19 PM

" it is insane, silly, down right laughable how American society has turned gifts (something given with no expectation or obligation) into a sense of yearly obligation in the name of the Christian Lord. Am I right or am I totally off base?"

I am totally with you foamgnome. I love to find gifts that are just right for the people I love, and to receive those types of gifts. But giving and receiving generic gifts that have no real thought or meaning to them just because there's an obligation or expectation seems so silly to me. After I posted last week about ideas for office gifts, I discovered that the custom in my office is that I (and others in my position) give a gift to EVERYONE in the office (about 20 people) - everyone usually gets the same thing, except the top three senior people who are supposed to get something different and better. This type of thing drives me nuts - the gifts end up being something generic and somewhat useless (does anyone really need another santa mug, star ornament, or box of cookies?), it's a lot of money, and no real personal meaning. So I did a charitable donation in everyone's name and am giving them an "honor card" from the organization, a personal card, and some homemade cookies. I sometimes do charitable donations for family members or friends as well when there's nothing special that I really want to give them, and others have done the same for me, which I appreciate. I'd rather see the money go to a good cause than get another fleece blanket or sage-green sweater.

Posted by: Megan | December 21, 2006 1:22 PM

To 12:19 --

so because slavery was legal before 1863, that means it was right?

Posted by: JMT | December 21, 2006 1:22 PM

"Under what law would the family be sued for doing whatever they do? "

Probably no law. People file lawsuits every day that have no merit. The cases may be thrown out, but there can be expenses related to the defense.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 1:23 PM

"Our all-adult Christmas gathering still has the piles of presents under the tree, even though we don't really need anything? Why? Because it tickles my mother to no end. She grew up in the Depression, and had very little most Christmases."

RM --

What you describe is my experience, as well.

My mother grew up during the Depression, and she was completely over the top in terms of gift-giving. All year round, actually.

She loved having Christmas Eve at her home and making obscene amounts of Ukrainian food to go with the outrageous pile of gifts.

For her, it was all tradition. No religion involved. She just loved being able to cook and give stuff to her family.

Since she died, we've made a lot of changes that we wouldn't have been able to do while she was alive. As none of my family -- with the possible exception of my brother -- is Christian, we view the holiday as celebrating the birth of a great teacher. We keep gifts modest where we give them; most of our gifts are charitable donations.

But, for my mother, Christmas meant feeding people and giving them things, and she wouldn't have had it any other way.

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 1:26 PM

There is no legal basis I know of that says the school is responsible for whatever the kids say. So, oklaw, I agree with you in part. I sort of disagree with you only in the sense that a lawsuit based on something like this seems so far-fetched that I cannot imagine anyone would actually bring it, and even if it was brought it would be very quickly dismissed. Not a lot of legal fees there.

At any rate, the only entity that could possibly be sued under these circumstances is the school district. There is NO WAY you are going to be sued because your kid says something at school about your Christmas tree. If this is what you are being told about the "war on Christmas," it is just not true.

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 1:26 PM

I even believe that for gifts for my kids. But I refuse to Mamma Scrooge, so I let the gift frenzy continue. But DD is 3 and has already received 25 gits and Christmas has not even started. She received those from 2 relatives and family friends. There are approximately 10 gifts under the tree from non family members and she will receive approximately 30 gifts on Christmas day. Her birthday is 2 weeks after Christmas and the insanity starts again. What are we suppose to do? Can't be a scrooge and tell her no gifts. Begged friends not to send gifts, to no avail. I love giving my kid presents. I love to see her face light up. But really guys 75 gifts in one month? All in the name of Jesus. It is really just sick. But god forbid I donate one of those gifts to charity. It would offend the giver.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 1:27 PM

Because Congress in the 1950s decided that a good way to fight the Red Menace was by religion, since Communinists (and the USSR) were atheists.

Most of the founders of the country were Deists - they believed in a god, but found their proof in the natural world. They did not subscribe to particularly Protestant or Jewish or Catholic dogma about the deity- for example, they didn't really care about the Bible (it wasn't "the word of god" to them) whether anyone had been a messiah. They believed in reason and nature's law. That's why the Declaration of Independence refers to "Nature's God," not "Our Father" or "Christ" or anything like that.

If we're going to argue the nation's religious history, let's please do it based on fact ...

Posted by: Kate | December 21, 2006 12:22 PM

Okay, Kate, I'm waiting for the facts . . . You have not cited a one.

Posted by: Queen Bee | December 21, 2006 1:29 PM

anon--if you bring a lawsuit that is based on absolutely no possible legal theory, the judge has the power to sanction you. Meaning $$$, among other things.

Yes, people bring frivolous lawsuits all the time, but you'd have to find a pretty nutso lawyer for suing you over something that is expressly guaranteed by the Constitution, i.e., your right to practice your religion and your freedom of speech.

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 1:30 PM

"However, the reasons a woman aborts are of no consequence and are no one's business--there are some women who simply do not want to be mothers, and that reason should be treated as just as serious as any other."

I, too, believe this with all my heart. It's hard for any woman, no matter the circumstance, to wrestle with this decision. Second-guessing women's choices in this matter just makes their lives so much harder.

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 1:31 PM

Aging mom

There are consequences of lawsuits, even the ones that are quickly dismissed. There must be disclosed and explained on many background checks, etc. They appear on a lot of public databases without explanation.

People sue the wrong party everyday. You cannot say "There is NO WAY you are going to be sued" about anything.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 1:35 PM

"So I did a charitable donation in everyone's name and am giving them an "honor card" from the organization, a personal card, and some homemade cookies."

Megan --

I have received this kind of gift from coworkers, and I've always loved them. (Especially the ones that include cookies!)

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 1:36 PM

to help -
I acknowledge having read your post. I actually don't know what to say. I'll cross that bridge if and when I come to it. Right now, I can't even consider it.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 1:37 PM

queen bee-
It is a fact that 'In god we trust" was declared the national motto ina joint resolution in 1956 with an eye towards differentiating us from the communitsts (who actively did not believe in god).

It is also a fact that many of the influential founders of this nation where closer to Deism than Christianity (including Jefferson, Franklin and Adams) though it can be argued that they are strictly speaking neither fo the two because they don't perfectly fit into the orthodoxy of either. They clearly were not christian as they not only dismissed but ridiculed the notion of jesus' divinity and they were not perfect deists becasue they tended to give some wieght to providence.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 1:41 PM

Unless we also start monitoring the reasons why people choose to have children at all (more than one), we cannot make abortion illegal. Only when government sticks their nose in that side of the choice, will it be a two-way street.

Just be thankful we don't live in China, where you are shamed for having more than one child. And let's not talk about it if you have a girl. (Cause you know that's ALL the mother's fault.) /sarcasm

Posted by: two-way street | December 21, 2006 1:41 PM

To JMT: If you want to do a laundry list of historical wrongs go ahead. We are talking current day.

Posted by: 12:19 | December 21, 2006 1:42 PM

Emily, we're all pulling for you. Remember that the chances of you having a perfectly healthy baby are overwhelmingly in your favor. Think positive thoughts, and just look forward to meeting your child.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 21, 2006 1:43 PM

anom-
Civil suits are not decalred on background checks and lawyers who bring truly frivolous ones can be sanctioned and the one bringing the suit can be ordered to pay the defendants cost - so truly frivolous are rarer than ht 'conventional wisdom' would have you believe

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 1:43 PM

Since you are going to get that many gifts (wow!), why not encourage your dd to do good acts in order to receive gifts? or encourage her to pick out a few to give to charity?

Posted by: to foamgnome | December 21, 2006 1:44 PM

Actually, aa, our nation's third president was a student of Scripture who attended church regularly, and was an active member of the Anglican Church, where he served on his local vestry. He was married in church, sent his children and a nephew to a Christian school, and gave his money to support many different congregations and Christian causes. Additionally, Jefferson's outlook on religion and government is more fully revealed in an 1802 letter in which he wrote that he did not want his administration to be a "government without religion," but one that would "strengthen religious freedom."


Look it up.

Posted by: Queen Bee | December 21, 2006 1:47 PM

Kate,

On our Founders being Deists...

I have often (especailly on blogs) seen this repeated, and wondered about how true it really is. It would be cool to see a list of the signers and their religious tendencies side by side.

I know, for fact, that Roger Sherman of CT, and Robert Morris of PA, the only ones who signed the Declaration, Articles, AND the Consititution, were devout Christians. Sherman was a theologan known to quote scripture often, and Morris worshiped at Christ Church (Episcopal) in Philly, with George Washington.

That's just 3 dudes I know of though (pretty influential ones though, no?)

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 1:47 PM

to 1:44: I think she is a little young, just turning 3 in January, to be fully involved. Last year, I put unwrapped new gifts in the closet and tried to distribute them through out the year. I must have done a bad job because I had a garbage bag full of gifts to donate to Toys for Tots this year from Christmas 2005. It is hard to remember to distribute them and relatives send gifts through out the year. Like when did Easter and Valentine's day become gift giving holidays. But as she gets older I can try to have her be more involved. But some friends are warning me that high drama ensues over the loss of even a happy meal toy.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 1:48 PM

Also, aa, the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837, prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by the Congress. In December 1863, the Director of the Mint submitted designs for new one-cent coin, two-cent coin, and three-cent coin to Secretary Chase for approval. He proposed that upon the designs either OUR COUNTRY; OUR GOD or GOD, OUR TRUST should appear as a motto on the coins.

FYI.

Posted by: Queen Bee | December 21, 2006 1:49 PM

When I was nine years old, my uncle gave me a copy of "Lolita" by Nabakov. He was really into literature. However, I still think that was a remarkable choice of gift for a young girl.

Posted by: TS | December 21, 2006 1:54 PM

you must have a bigger family and more friends than we do. Plus my kids have summer birthdays. I guess it depends on what type of gifts they are receiving. In our house, they get clothing as well as toys which allows us to contribute higher amounts to college funding and charity during the year since we don't have to buy as much clothing during the year. Christmas is good for the winter wardrobe and birthdays are good for the summer wardrobe.

Posted by: to foamgnome | December 21, 2006 1:55 PM

I loved "Lolita" -- both the book and the movie. But it is definitely not appropriate for a nine year old. Yikes!!

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 1:56 PM

why is it inappropriate for the teacher to ask the kids to talk in front of the class about special customs during the holiday season? It sounds like a good combination of having kids practice public speaking skills and a bit of sociology/ cultural anthropolgy thrown in as well.

Posted by: capitol hill | December 21, 2006 1:57 PM

queen bee-how's this for looking it up:
Jefferson (from his bible) "The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the Supreme Being as his father, in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter."

Adams "The Doctrine of the divinity of Jesus is made a convenient cover for absurdity."

Your cut and paste from the treasury's website is nice too. Yes, it was palced on a coin during the civil war but it was not the official motto of the U.S. until the 50's and it was not even on coins uninterrupted over that period (or did you not read the rest of the web page you cut and pasted from?)

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:01 PM

All I am saying is that school children are not an arm of the state. It is highly unlikely a school board would be held liable for allowing a child to talk about her Christmas tree. Indeed, children do not check their First Amendment right to free speech at the schoolhouse door, although that right is getting more circumscribed as days go by, due in part to fear -- fear of school violence, fear of terrorism, and fear of frivolous lawsuits.

If we let fear keep us from sharing what is important to us, the First Amendment is of little use and is in danger of becoming irrelevant.

So I say let children be children, and let them embrace and share whatever faith they were raised in or chose. Children are becoming an oppressed minority when it comes to being heard. Once again, because of fear.

Posted by: oklaw | December 21, 2006 2:01 PM

to 1:55: It is a combination of large family, first grand child on DH's side, last grand child on my side, and lots of childless friends. Like my best friend sent her 5 gifts. Some of these gifts are quite small-a book, a DVD, or an art kit. But to a 3 year old, that is still a lot to focus on and open up. Her birthday just confuses the whole issue. Some people send clothes but not a lot. People seem to get pleasure out of giving gifts of toys, books, etc... I wouldn't mind all clothes but you can't tell people what to buy your kid. I think as she gets older the # of gifts will go down because the price of each item goes up. It is not too hard to find a $15 item that a three year old will love. Harder to do for a 15 year old. I just feel it is excessive and don't know how to stop it. I am guilty of it myself. I sometimes buy things because I think she will like it, even though I know she has way too much already.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 2:02 PM

capital hill-
Because it assumes that this is a holiday season for everyone and that one must have special customs. Rahter than tie it to this season which is particularly of importance to christians why not do it in the fall as a general assignment.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:04 PM

Queen Bee --

Jefferson's real views on Christian religion are revealed in the bible he redacted. Have you seen what is called "The Jefferson Bible"?

He went through the New Testament, cut out all the text that wasn't Jesus' words/teachings (i.e., the history and commentary given by others), and pasted up the remainder into a volume that he believed was the essence of Jesus' beliefs.

It's worth a look.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 2:06 PM

aa, you are missing the point. The concept of God in government is hardly something that happened in the 50s to wipe out Communism. And it is a FACT that the notion that the founders of this country were deists as opposed to Christians has been long debated and probably continue to be.

Well spotted on my treasury excerpt . . .

Posted by: Queen Bee | December 21, 2006 2:08 PM

What do you do when people give gifts in your name to "charities" you do not support and outright disagree with?

Posted by: catmommy | December 21, 2006 2:08 PM

http://www.adherents.com/gov/Founding_Fathers_Religion.html

That web site tries to do what I wanted to see before. It points out the known diests, but I guess you really can't tell who was part of a congregation in name and deist in thought...but still, doesn't look like "most" were diests...

Posted by: OS | December 21, 2006 2:09 PM

To aa: "Because it assumes that this is a holiday season for everyone and that one must have special customs. Rahter than tie it to this season which is particularly of importance to christians why not do it in the fall as a general assignment."

What is the problem with children learning about other people's customs if you are not enforcing them upon them?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 2:10 PM

Holy Cow, foamgnome, that IS a lot of presents for a 3-year-old - don't think my son has ever gotten that many, though we do have a big family (albeit a poor one). I must admit, I reacted somewhat guiltily to your post, as I have a friend who has two kids under five, and I am always finding some cute book/toy/whatever I want to send to them (my own son is SO far past the "cute stuff" stage) - and because I have no nieces/nephews (yet) or any other friends w/ young kids, she gets it all ... and I can see that that might be a bit much as I am sure I am not the only one who does it! Why do they make so many cute toys for kids these days?!

Posted by: TakomaMom | December 21, 2006 2:11 PM

What do you do when people give gifts in your name to "charities" you do not support and outright disagree with?

If it is a close friend or family member, you find a gentle way of telling them the charities you do support. Non family member, then you just suck it up.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 2:12 PM

thomas jefferson went thru the new testament gospels with scissors & cut out all references to jesus' deity and the supernatural. this is known as the jefferson bible.

i have several coins from the early 1900s & not one of them says "in god we trust"

Posted by: quark | December 21, 2006 2:13 PM

Re: Civil suits on background checks

When I applied for admission to practice law in NYS, I had to list any case in which I was a named party or witness. I also had to explain the facts and the dispositions of the cases. I later had a "Character & Fitness" interview where these cases came up and were discussed.

It can be a nuisance for some and a big deal for others.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 2:15 PM

foamgnome - just a suggestion, but you could donate a lot of the excess to a daycare, homeless shelter, domestic violence center, etc. as well as Toys for Tots. Then, you could get rid of most of it early in the year rather than having it all at the end.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 2:15 PM

DZ - you found me out! I am indeed a heartless b*&^h who strong arms wealthy people into doing good. What with all the shopping going on, how dare I direct the attention away from the individual and outward to the suffering in the world as viewed from the warm hearth of our McMansions, SUVs safely tucked in the three car garage.

I don't know who I think I am. You want to know other things I secretly do? I hold doors for people, I help animals, I volunteer for the elderly and I encourage my children (gasp) to give of their time and talents to those less fortunate than us.

Honestly, whenever there is something positive said on this blog it is shot down. It should be renamed On Balance for the miserable and self-loathing - If you are at all happy and satisfied with your life you need not post. Happy Christmas DZ

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 2:16 PM

To 2:15: That is a brilliant suggestion. I have a bag of stuff preChristmas because one of her holiday parties was cancelled and I am too darn lazy to return the 5 gits that were purchased prior to cancellation. I hate storing plastic junk.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 2:18 PM

moxiemom - you still don't get it. No one cares how charitable you wish to be. That's your choice. "Convincing" others to be charitable is not up to you.

We do not all live in McMansions and drive SUV's and have way too much stuff. Charity begins at home.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 2:19 PM

Moxiemom, keep on doing what you're doing and ignore the crabby folks. Great post!

Posted by: WorkingMomX | December 21, 2006 2:20 PM

Emily,
The odds your baby is healthy are in your favor. But my worst fear came true when my amnio showed full Downs with cardiac defects (among other minor defects). I had always said 'oh, I'd definitely not abort a Downs child' in theory, but I made the opposite choice in real life. And I am totally at peace with it. I was guided through that horrible time by a wonderful genetics physician who has years of experience with Downs children and adults, and who unbiasedly gave me the good and bad of the life of someone with Downs, and the best and worst scenarios.

In the end, the choice is supremely personal. As I sat in the abortion clinic with protesters outside and other sad women waiting for their names to be called, I was given a gift I will never forget - total humility and understanding that we cannot judge others. For me, the decision to abort was borne from the very depths of my motherhood - I felt more of a mother that day than any other. And when I awoke from the anesthesia, my first thought was 'he's safe now - he's free'.

I did not burden my older child with a sibling she would likely care for for the rest of her life. I took the medical knowledge that the 21st century has given us and gave my unborn son the gift of not being a Downs child. I gave my yet-to-be-born son (who is healthy) a chance to come into our lives. Our children are but borrowed, and our job is to be their best advocates. I'm very sure that many of you will completely disagree that aborting is ever setting someone's soul free, but I thought I'd share my beliefs with you in the unlikely event you receive such news.

Thanks for listening.

Posted by: anon today | December 21, 2006 2:21 PM

2:21: Wow, that was beautiful. Something to think about.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 2:24 PM

I think it is a pretty fair assumption that every family does something special around the end of December! My family isn't at all religious, but we have a custom of doing fondue on New Years Eve. The idea that the teacher was been inapproriately presumptuous for assuming that every child in the classroom had at least one custom or memory that they could share with their classmates is too harsh to my mind! give the teacher a break! Should teachers not ask children to write a report on what they did during their summer vacation because there may be a child that did nothing special during summer? And even assuming that there were some mythical family that truely does absolutely nothing special and treats every day in Dec like a day in May, that would also be something of value to share with the other kids. That didn't happen in this class, but if it had, I'm sure the teacher would have said something like "Isn't it great that everyone does something different-- or even nothing at all?"

And how would moving a discussion about winter-time customs to fall (or spring for that matter) resolve the underlying issue? Kids may still talk about the nativity scene. Is talking about the nativity ok in fall but not in December? Why?

Posted by: capitol hill | December 21, 2006 2:24 PM

I am indeed a heartless * who strong arms wealthy people into doing good

Moxiemom -- You're the Robin Hood of the On Balance Blog!

Posted by: Arlinigton Dad | December 21, 2006 2:25 PM

anon today - thanks for sharing. It must have been a tough position to be in, and am glad to hear you are at peace with your decision.

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 2:25 PM

"It should be renamed On Balance for the miserable and self-loathing"

Or just plain cynical.

cynicism: (from wikipedia) Presently the word generally describes the opinions of individuals who maintain that self-interest is the primary motive of human behavior, and who are disinclined to rely on sincerity, human virtue, or altruism.

Posted by: to moxiemom | December 21, 2006 2:25 PM

Pitty: Merry Christmas to you as well.

Please don't be surprised that we love animals and want to help those in need! There is so much excess during this time of year and I have been fighting it tooth and nail ever since my kids were born. This year the kids donated part of their allowance to several charities - I told them even 1$ makes a difference.

I will agree with you on sharing hearts and helping others and frankly, I don't care to fight about the rest today.

Oh yeah - my grandmother - who is also Ukrainian - is exactly the opposite. She grew up during the depression and it made her very hard. Economic difficulty can make you go either way - very sad. Boy can that woman cook though!

Enjoy the season.

Posted by: cmac | December 21, 2006 2:25 PM

to anon:
"What is the problem with children learning about other people's customs if you are not enforcing them upon them?"

There is nothing wrong with that - but when you put in the context of customs that are special because this is 'the holiday season' (it isn't for everyone you know) than you ahve to recognize that you can be alienated people who have different cusotms from the norm. If the goal is to teach other people's customs then you should strive to do it in a context outside of any one (partiucarly the dominant) culture's time frame.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:27 PM

So, what should I get my wife, Fredia, for Christmas? Need some help here!

Posted by: Fred | December 21, 2006 2:30 PM

queen bee-
"The concept of God in government is hardly something that happened in the 50s to wipe out Communism"

The concept of God in government was dismissed by the founders - the use of refernce to god in mottos on coins is not the same as God in government. And as for the 50s, it happens that there was a partiuclar push to dramatically increases the imagery of god associated with the U.S. in that time frame (the motto, adding it into the pledge of allegence etc.). Take that for what you will

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:31 PM

or perhaps the teacher is inviting the entire class to share what their customs are because the majority are talking about santa and she wanted the others to feel involved as well and to feel less alientated.

It is the New Year for most of the world - in the US it is a holiday - the kids can reference that...

Also for those of you that do not celebrate christmas, do you go to work that day? To you change that holiday for another day off that reflections your religion?

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 2:32 PM

Fred -- Under no circumstances should you buy your wife a sage green sweater!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 21, 2006 2:33 PM

This whole anti-holiday thing makes me sick and tired. If it is so offensive people should go back to where they came from.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 2:34 PM

capital hill-
It is very presumptious. Nearly every muslim I know does not have any customs associated with december - it is no different than may.
And the mere fact that you don't think it presumptious is driven by you being part of the dominant culture and not viewing it through the minority cultures lense; that is why teachers must be ultrasensitive to that lense becuase those of us in the dominant culture will not be.

If she wants to teach about 'winter customs' in particular fine, why not do it on the day of the solstice and combine it with a lesson on the relation between astronomy and our seasons. The problem isn't having a kid talk about the nativity the problem is having that done in a context where everyone in the calss except for a few will assume it is normal.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:35 PM

'but when you put in the context of customs that are special because this is 'the holiday season' (it isn't for everyone you know)'

It may not be the holiday season for everyone, but I think you are being too literal. Hunting season, fishing season, ski season, spring break, etc. don't apply to everyone either. How about football season, basketball season, or baseball season? Many people don't care about sports, but that doesn't stop people from discussing the superbowl.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 2:37 PM

single mom-
In my profession there would be little benefit to switchign days off but do a quick count of the ratio of jewish doctors on call on christmas versus any other day and you will have your answer.

Anonomous who stupidly said" This whole anti-holiday thing makes me sick and tired. If it is so offensive people should go back to where they came from"

I came from here, what are you going to do about it?

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:39 PM

To Moxie - the agnostic

A very special place is being reserved for you in the holier-than-thou cave.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 2:41 PM

"We do not all live in McMansions and drive SUV's and have way too much stuff. Charity begins at home."

Anon - so easy to be snarky with no name. Nonetheless, we'd be happy to add you to our charitable list next year if that would make you feel better.

Jeeze Louise, I'm talking about my family - if you really want/need a green sweater more power to you - if you read closely no one in my family NEEDS anything. Not sure how it is so wrong for us to give. I'm sorry that you are so unhappy that you pick on strangers who are.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 2:41 PM

anon:
"It may not be the holiday season for everyone, but I think you are being too literal. Hunting season, fishing season, ski season, spring break, etc. don't apply to everyone either. How about football season, basketball season, or baseball season?"

But the christmas season has a specific religious conotation based on the notion that jesus is the son of god - it is different in kind from those other secular 'seasons'. I realize that most people don't understnad that it is substantively different and that is precisely why they should be oversnesitive this time of year to the minority who do.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:42 PM

Today is the shortest day of the year (or tomorrow). I'm thankful for all the pretty lights!

Worst gift giver in my family: MIL. One year she gave both her sons sheep skin rugs for Christmas. This year she came to town and gave my husband some coasters and a coat hook for his birthday. I swear she goes to Tuesday Morning and just goes nuts. Now, she tends to give really large cash gifts, which are AWESOME, but she's not so good with the gifts. Her dinners are legendary for their randomness, as well. It will be Thanksgiving, and we'll have the normal spread, but she can't resist cooking everything in her freezer that came from Sam's, as well. So there will be a giant lasagna, some spanikopita, and mini quiches. Maybe she'll even pull out some leftover hummus.

Posted by: atb | December 21, 2006 2:42 PM

AA - christmas is more of a commertial season than anything - even cristians can agree that there is more focuse on gifts and frills than baby jesus (at least in the external celebrations). the christmas tree is a german pagon symbol that was adopted.

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 2:45 PM

Many people I know who celebrate Christmas observe the traditions of family, food, gift exchange, goodwill toward others, and Santa Claus and do not go to church or otherwise consider this a religious holiday. These are mostly people who were raised with Christmas and still follow the non-religious customs.

Posted by: anon | December 21, 2006 2:45 PM

i have muslim friends and they are raising their kids to believe in Santa Claus! They do the Christmas tree and the whole bit. Plus the kids can talk about NEw Years celebrations, or even just things that their family does when the days are shorter than they are in May. "We eat special foods that are too heavy to eat in May." "we go out to Chinese restaurants on Christmas Day and swap tales with the Jewish kids."

Posted by: capitol hill | December 21, 2006 2:46 PM

single mom- but it is more than a commercial season. The very word christmas implies that it is celebrating soemthing more, the nativity scenes, many of the traditional carols. There is no arguing that we have commercialized the hell out of the holiday and many non-religious christians and non-christians don't give a second thought to the meaning of the celebration but especially to religious non-christians you cannot simply shake off the meaning by dressing it in modern consumerism.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:49 PM

capital hill-
That's all well and good but it is still outright ignoring that the onslaught that is 'christmas' is offensive to some and is compounded (especially for children) when you are made to beleive that you are the exception and are different for not believing that god had a flesh and blood son who was born in a barn in december.

If the teacher wants to turn it into a lesson on diversity she would do better by severing it from christmas altogether.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:52 PM

And when I awoke from the anesthesia, my first thought was 'he's safe now - he's free'.
**************************

With all due respect for all that you went through, there is nothing unsafe or unhappy about a person living with Down's syndrome. I wonder if your "safe" child is happy that he is dead, rather than alive. He is not free, but dead.

*****************************************
I did not burden my older child with a sibling she would likely care for for the rest of her life. I took the medical knowledge that the 21st century has given us and gave my unborn son the gift of not being a Downs child. I gave my yet-to-be-born son (who is healthy) a chance to come into our lives.
**********************************

What a slap in the face to children with Down's. Their parents, siblings and millions of others think of them as a beautiful "gift".

And how will your living children respond to knowing that their mother and father decided not to have their sibling because they were imperfect? Will they worry that if they are imperfect, their parent will want nothing to do with them?

I am not trying to make you feel guilty for your choices. What I am trying to relay is that what ever your justification, there is always another side to the story.

When you get pregnant, life is no longer about just you and what you want. There is another equally important life to consider. My heart aches for your child.

My best to your family as it deals with this loss.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 2:53 PM

I still think that people should celebrate as they see fit. People of other religions and customs can share theirs as well; I enjoy learning about them. While in the middle east during ramadan I enjoyed breaking fast with families, eating goat during tabaski and learning the reasons behind those celebrations. Children should learn about other customs, and they will make them more culturally sensitive when they get older. We do live in a global village and by doing so we should not have to give up what makes us americans... our culture was created by the merging of many

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 2:53 PM

anon 2:53

You're not trying to make her feel guilty? Really?

She made her own choices, just like everyone else here does. She has to live this, not you.

At least have the decency (and b*lls!) to sign a name when you post crap like that.

Posted by: J | December 21, 2006 2:56 PM

single mom-
I agree, people should celebrate as they see fit and children should learn about other cultures. If the teacher does a series which includes an in-class diwali celebration, soemthing around ramadan or one of the otehr eids, a passover seder, a christmas something etc. that is very different from asking kids to present what they do this time of year which happens to align with christmas. Having this single assignment this time of year does little to help children understand the differneces across the global village.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 2:58 PM

"When you get pregnant, life is no longer about just you and what you want. There is another equally important life to consider."

Yes, and as a mother she is making the best choice FOR her family.

Posted by: a mother's choice | December 21, 2006 2:59 PM

These pro-lifers are really putting a downer on todays discussion.

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 3:00 PM

AA- these activities can be initiated by the parents of the muslim and jewish kids. most likely the teacher is christian and does not know enough about these holidays to celebrate them (without further insulting the groups if done improperly). It is partially the job of the minority to educate the majority about their customs rather than make them feel like they are doing something wrong -which will only make them more resentful.

Fact - in the US more americans celebrate christmas than those who do not. it would be like ignoring the 2000 pink elephant in the room by not addressing what is on the minds of lots of the kids

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 3:03 PM

"To Moxie - the agnostic

A very special place is being reserved for you in the holier-than-thou cave."

Awesome, I can't wait to move in! Things always work out so very very well for me. Have fun in the cave of misery and self-loathing. However, since I'm agnostic, I'll rename it the cave of mirth. Hmmmm, warm, toasty and privileged in this cave - let's keep out the riff raff.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 3:03 PM

"When you get pregnant, life is no longer about just you and what you want. There is another equally important life to consider."


Shucks, Emily would have never thought of that! Thanks for the profound insight.

Rack up another candidate for the holier-than-thou cave.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:05 PM

I suffered several miscarriages, one at 8 weeks and the other at 13 weeks, and I know someone who delivered a stillborn. Not having an abortion does not guarantee the birth of a child. No one knows what the future will bring and we all have to make the best choices for us and our families based on the information at hand.

Emily, good luck. Anonymous poster who made a tough choice, I am glad you are at peace.

Posted by: different view | December 21, 2006 3:06 PM

single mom and aa --

Several of my Jewish friends volunteer at a local hospital on Christmas Day so that the nursing aides and other non-professional caregivers who are Christian can have the day off.

It's a long-standing tradition in our area.

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 3:09 PM

Moxiemom -- Robin Hood hid out in a cave!

Posted by: Arlington Dad | December 21, 2006 3:10 PM

"I am not trying to make you feel guilty for your choices. What I am trying to relay is that what ever your justification, there is always another side to the story."

. . .And here comes another side.

My husband's brother, though he doesn't have Down's syndrome, is mentally retarded, and his disability has been tough on the entire family. Siblings of those with various disabilities may consider them a "gift" but at the same time, they may wonder, as my husband did, why their big brother doesn't play with the other kids. They may be embarrassed by their sibling's behavior in public, deeply and repeatedly. And they may feel like traitors to their sibling as they begin to outpace them developmentally. My husband struggled for years with feelings of inferiority about his own intelligence because he figured that since his brother was mentally disabled, he must be too. Also, as it became clear that my husband was smarter than his older brother, his brother became frustrated and violent (which I recognize is rare in people with mental disabilities and Down's syndrome in particular). Not understanding the consequences of his actions, he sent my husband to the emergency room a few times as a child, simply because he had lost a game to someone younger.

His disabilities have stretched already thin family resources to the breaking point, and he now resents his siblings who are growing up and making families of their own because he doesn't understand why he can't. His siblings also worry constantly because as they build their lives, they have to constantly plan their finances around his care, in case something happens to his mother. There is so much pain and resentment in this family, and they're not bad people. They are in a difficult situation and live in an area that makes it difficult to utilize public services. They also miss the brother they could have had if disability hadn't stolen him.

So, before you make the anonymous poster feel guilty (because that's exactly what you were trying to do and saying otherwise doesn't change that), consider yet another side.

Posted by: annon in support of annon. | December 21, 2006 3:11 PM

single mom-
That is exactly why we need schools and teachers to be extrasensitive and aware. Because you are right, they probably don't know, then they should reach out to the non-christian kids nad families. Tehre are plenty of resoruces out there for teachers and they should strive to use them - otherwise they shouldn't be suprised when something they do causes an uproar.

As for acknolwedging the season that can be done without reference to christmas, santa clause or a manger.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 3:11 PM

I have to say that if the pro-lifers spent more time working to give unwanted and underprivileged children better lives, instead of wasting their time criticizing the personal and very legal choices that are available to women today, the world would be a much better place. The fact is that because many women don't consider the consequences of pregnancy, there are a hell of a lot of children in this world who are born to poverty, neglect, and abuse. There are children who are born drug addicts. The pro-lifers could better spend their time attending to the lives of these already born children, if they wished to do some good, rather than judging those who make different choices based on their values, morals, and life situations.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 3:12 PM

Re: being sued because your child talked about the Christmas tree at school

Look, sure, it is *possible* that some kook will sue you for something like this. They will very quickly be laughed out of court. The same kook could sue you for wearing a sage green sweater. You'd have to reveal THAT, too, during a background check. Who cares? You explain it, your reader laughs, everyone moves on.

The point is: there are certain things that are actually prohibited, for good reason. (E.g.: a public school having taxpayer-supported, government-endorsed Christmas events). There are certain things that, though legal, can make life uncomfortable for others, particularly religious minorities. (E.g.: office-wide Christmas parties with trees and all the trimmings.) And then there is this hysterical idea that there is some sort of conspiracy against Christmas. There is no such thing. Chill. Have your Christmas tree and your baby in a manger if you want, and talk to your kid ad nauseam about it and let your kid tell her classmates. Nobody cares. Just try to make sure your kid understands that just because she and you believe Jesus is God, it doesn't mean everyone else does or anyone has to. What's so hard?

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 3:13 PM

Know what I'm going to do tonight? I'm going to steal the oscene inflatables from my neighbors lawns and deliver them to the lawns of the poor. YOU CAN'T STOP ME!

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 3:14 PM

unclench

Posted by: to moxiemom | December 21, 2006 3:15 PM

I personally don't think that the school should be teaching religion, that's what the home is for. But the REASON is that the teachers typically only know about one religion, so the ones they don't know about they learn about from books - so they are not teaching MY religion properly (case in point, my son's preschool). That's my thought.
As for christmas songs, I went to a very jewish (public) high school (we had off for Rosh hashana and yom kippur even tho it was a public school) yet we sang christian songs in chorus. Why? Because those were the best classical songs there are. So what? I learned my religion from my home - I know I'm not christian, but that doesn't mean I can't sing beautiful songs (okay, so none of you know me, and I really sing horribly, but still...).

And muslims don't have any celebrations devoted to a certain time of year because their calendar is lunar and they don't account for the solar calendar, which is what most of the rest of the world (including nature) is on - unlike the Jewish calendar, which is *also* lunar - but which has leap years so that all the holidays come at the same season.

Posted by: atlmom | December 21, 2006 3:15 PM

to moxiemom: But be sure you dress baby J is a sage green sweater!

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 3:16 PM

Thanks to those who supported me, and actually thanks to the anonymous pro-life judge who did not. Your post was a re-affirmation to me that others' accusations can't hurt me if I'm true to my beliefs. I'm not bothered by your comments at all.

There is no right or wrong decision here, and my reasons to abort are not a 'slap in the face to Downs children'. These children ARE a gift. I'm 100% confident that my decision is borne of love rather than selfishness. Being the object of someone else's guilt-inducing comments is a very small price to pay for my family. I would bear far more.

Posted by: anon today | December 21, 2006 3:16 PM

AA - for the holidays you celebrate - why not volunteer to go into your childs classroom every year to talk about what your family celebrates. that would be a good start to encourage other families to do the same. You can take the god discussion out of the cultural celebration.

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 3:17 PM

aa listed any number of useful facts, but here is one more:
Thomas Jefferson was the first to write that there should be a wall between church and state. He also opposed taxing the citizens of Virginia to pay for churches, and wrote the following: "Millions of innocent men, women and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burned, tortured, fined and imprisoned. What has been the effect of this coercion? To make half the world fools and half hypocrites; to support roguery and error all over the world." (thanks, wiki)

I'm certainly not opposed to Christianity; I am a Christian. But I am opposed to pushing ideas or actions onto others simply in the name of Christianity. I believe the government should strive to do the things Christ did because those things are good and right - we should treat others as ourselves, we should protect the poorest and weakest among us, we should respect our elders, we should value our world as a God-given gift. But why do those things need to be done in the name of Christianity in order to be done at all? Why can't they just be done because they're right?

So many Christians protest so many things - Harry Potter and the fact that Target greeters say "happy holidays" and the lack of public nativity scenes in the town square. But where were they when poor people were starving and dying in New Orleans after Katrina? Where are they now when hundreds of thousands of Iraqis are dying in a war that is being fought in our name? Why do we worry so much about the least important things and worry so little about the most important?

Posted by: Kate | December 21, 2006 3:17 PM

to J - you know what I live?---losing a full term baby that we wanted really badly. Hearing stories about people purposely getting rid of theirs because life wouldn't be what they expected makes me ill, literally. My stomach hurts.

Why is it that a hero by today's standards is one who risks their lives for strangers and we applaud that, while a women who stops the beating heart of her own child, is just "making a very hard personal decision". That's bs.

We all have difficult times throughout life. I just don't know why these babies have to pay for it.

foamgnome - sorry about the downers, but sometimes the truth is painful.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:18 PM

"This whole anti-holiday thing makes me sick and tired. If it is so offensive people should go back to where they came from."

I'm from Maryland. I'd go back to where I came from, but I'm already there! What should I do?

Moxiemom, I love you a little more with each posting of yours I see. :-)

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 3:20 PM

"The pro-lifers could better spend their time attending to the lives of these already born children, if they wished to do some good, rather than judging those who make different choices based on their values, morals, and life situations."

Ah, yes.

But then, as we all know, the right to life begins at conception and ends at birth.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:23 PM

single mom-
My kid is three weeks old, no classes yet...
I don't think we should put too much pressure on teachers to accomplish this (if we really want to lets build it into the curriculum) but then the teacher has to be aware of what the ffect of extra-curricular assignments that even touch religious issues may lead to. They are just going to be better off leaving it alone altogether.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 3:24 PM

To the anonymous poster who lost her baby full term.

I cannot imagine what a painful loss that must have been. You have my sympathy. But the choices of other women to carry or not carry their pregnancies to term have nothing to do with your loss. It is not their fault that you lost your child, and it is not their responsibility to compensate you for that loss. It really has nothing at all to do with you.

I do hope you get the child you want someday, and that the pain subsides.

Posted by: Emily | December 21, 2006 3:24 PM

I think whatever poster that said that maybe the teacher asked kids to do this to actually HELP those kids that are under the onslaught of Santa, Santa, Santa and aren't actually in a family that does Santa has a very good point. That is something that I hadn't thought of. It is far more likely than the idea that the teacher did this to make the minority kids feel bad about being in the minority. If there was evidence of it being a sadistic plot, that is one thing, but the prima facie evidence suggests it was more likely a way to show all the kids that everyone is different, but we all treat these days at the end of the year in a special way.

And by the way, the kid that talked about the Chistmas PAgent and the Nativity Scene was raised to ignore all the Santa stuff, so he learned a lot in the discussion (like kids leaving carrots for the reindeer) even though he is Christian and therefore what "aa" assumes is part of the monolithic body of christian Americans. Lots of diversity out there in fact!

And the kid didn't present the story as "and so God became flesh" or anything like that. But even if he had, the other kids would likely have though, "well that is his opinion and I'm entitled to mine." fifth graders should know about critical analysis-- heck, preschoolers should practice it!

anyway, my knee jerk reaction was of course it is fine to hear about the Nativity Scene as long as it is presented as a story that many believe in, but I am surprized by the distinction many make between a teacher telling the story and a kid telling the story-- i.e. absolutely not OK for a teacher but OK for a kid. It is a valid distinction and I appreciate it being point out.

Posted by: captiol hill | December 21, 2006 3:24 PM

mona maybe you should just suck it up and let people enjoy the season.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:25 PM

to 3:18 -

My father abandoned his family when we were small and my mother is now dead. I hear people complaining about their parents all the time. I could think, "How awful, they have parents and I don't, yet all they do is complain" and I could be sick about it, but I'm not.

Have you considered getting help? Seriously, you sound quite depressed.

Posted by: anon | December 21, 2006 3:25 PM

likewise Mona - who doesn't like a gal named Mona?

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 3:26 PM

anon at 3:18, while you lambaste women for making personal choices, your motivation comes from your own personal experience. That the thought of abortion makes you ill because you lost a child makes it about you! So in truth, it's not about the babies at all, is it?

Nevertheless, I am very sorry for your loss. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard that must have been for you. You have my sincere sympathy.

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 3:27 PM

"losing a full term baby that we wanted really badly. Hearing stories about people purposely getting rid of theirs because life wouldn't be what they expected makes me ill, literally. My stomach hurts."

Can you at least admit that you're viewing this subject through the lens of deep grief, tragedy, and sadness? And that, given this is so, you may be very biased in your opinion about what constitutes "truth"?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:27 PM

altmon-
The jewish calendar is actually called lunisolar becuase it is aligned to both the moon and the sun. The primary reason why the muslim calendar is lunar is because when mohhamed found islam they were not an agrarian people - they were nomadic herders int he desert - so the orbit of the moon was a more valuable calculator than the seasons of the sun which primarily benefit farming and agriculture. The Jews on the other hand went from being a nomadic tribe to an agricutlrual based people when they settled in 'Israel' and adapted their previously lunar calendar to account for that.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 3:28 PM

'mona maybe you should just suck it up and let people enjoy the season'

When in Rome .....

Posted by: I'll second that | December 21, 2006 3:29 PM

3:18:

Perhaps you should become a hero and adopt a child that is already here, who somehow escaped the mother's decision not to abort, but yet didn't keep them after they were born. Adoptive parents are the biggest heroes of all in my book.

Don't assume that because YOU wanted a child badly and didn't get what you wanted, that EVERYONE wants the same thing.

It is a personal decision, despite what you might think.

It's personal until the decision (hopefully not) gets taken away, and women no longer have control over their own bodies.

Posted by: J | December 21, 2006 3:34 PM

Hi Brian,

Sorry today's blog got hijacked. I think your idea is a great one and I look forward to reading more. Lots of good advice out there! Keep writing, as I enjoy your perspective!

Posted by: Lou | December 21, 2006 3:34 PM

3:25, if you're the same poster as 2:34 (and I really wish you people would sign some kind of moniker so we could tell you apart!), then please make up your mind! Do I go back to where I'm from, or suck it up? And on that note, I DO suck it up every year. I buy presents for ungrateful kids in my family though I don't want to, I travel to the country to spend time with my family though I'd rather stay home, I don't go through Target upending holiday displays, and I don't burn down Christmas trees. I don't pull a Grinch and steal presents. I buy presents and bake cookies. I hang up lights and hold my tongue (with the exception of this blog, of course) until New Year's, when the real fun begins. I fake the holiday spirit. Though I do have to admit I mute the TV and turn off the stereo when I hear a jewelry or car commercial. Dear me! What a Scrooge I am!

Mox, thanks so much, but my name is actually Laura. Mona's my cat's name...and it works out well because there's another Laura on here, and I'd hate to be given credit for her well-written, informative posts.

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 3:35 PM

It's funny, up until now, my son has attended a Jewish preschool, so it was never a problem. This year, he's in a public school, and they are having fights on the playground: christmas is better! No, hanukkah is better! it's quite cute.
And we say: what are we going to do on christmas? and my son answers: We don't celebrate christmas. So we have to make him understand - somehow - that dec 25 comes whether we want it to or not, and we can have our own traditions (chinese food and movies!).

Oh, and Dec 21 is the day with the least amount of sunlight. All days are 24 hours - the same length. ;)

Posted by: atlmom | December 21, 2006 3:35 PM

Mona, that you have a cat named Mona makes you even more appealing. I bet she's a cool kat.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 3:37 PM

Do I have to stop using birth control because a woman lost a baby she really wanted? Do I have to conceive and bear every child possible? Can one woman tell millions of other women what to do?

None of it's going to change a thing about her loss.

Posted by: EJ | December 21, 2006 3:39 PM

Mona I am not the same person and if Christmas bothers you so much then why celebrate at all? Ungrateful kids, boy I wish you were my aunt/grandmother/cousin. I can feel the love.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:40 PM

Like the anonymous poster at 3:18, I too lost a baby that was very badly wanted. However, hearing about people who have children that they didn't want and can't take care of is what makes me physically ill. I have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that we would have cherished our baby when so many others treat theirs like an inconvenience or worse. I am consequently very much pro-choice. I don't think any baby should be born that is not wanted and loved, ever. I can't stand people that never stop to consider if they have anything to offer a child before they bring one into the world.

I guess my point is that personal experience and grief has very different effects on different people. Until you've lost a child, you really can't predict how you'll feel. It's just too enormous. But despite our difference in opinions, I also send my deepest sympathy to the anonymous poster. The hurt is truly something unimaginable.

Posted by: TS | December 21, 2006 3:42 PM

"Hi Brian,

Sorry today's blog got hijacked. I think your idea is a great one and I look forward to reading more. Lots of good advice out there! Keep writing, as I enjoy your perspective!"

I'm glad that today's blog got sidetracked - has been much more interesting then talking about Brian's future book deals.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:42 PM

I was passionate about the pro-llife issue before losing my own. It just reinforced to me how wrong it really was.

Adoption is a valid option for Down's babies. That's all I'm trying to say. Someone wanted that baby.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:43 PM

Fred, Christmas ideas. this is from a guy who has trouble with the retail emphasis put on the season, but the creative aspect and the journey to the gift can sometimes add mileage.

for instance, when I gave my wife the mop bucket and scrub brush, inside the bucket was wrapped a stuffed bear with the cute earrings my wife mentioned would make a good gift.

The treasure hunt is always a hoot, especially if you are getting her a jewerly box. Last year the hunt led my wife out to the shed with the next clue on the ladder which she had to bring into the house and go into the attic...,
And then you can make her call friends or family for the next clue, or have her go on the computer and open a file, a Bible verse is always good too, especially if you get her to open the family Bible and it contains the next clue folded inside the page where the gospel reading was taken on your wedding day... Be creative, have fun.

Chicks love that sort of stuff. You may score if you do it just right.

Posted by: Father of 4 | December 21, 2006 3:46 PM

Do a lot of people adopt babies with downs syndrome? I am just wondering.

Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 3:47 PM

"I was passionate about the pro-llife issue before losing my own. It just reinforced to me how wrong it really was."

Wrong for YOU. Not so for everyone who has made that decision. Remember that.

Posted by: J | December 21, 2006 3:47 PM

father of 4 I didn't know you were so creative! You are right, chicks do love that sort of thing.

Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 3:49 PM

Fred,

I hope you don't have to go through all that BS to score with your wife! Father of 4 is too much!

Posted by: EJ | December 21, 2006 3:49 PM

"Someone wanted that baby."

That's funny, because there are upwards of 100,000 American children awaiting adoption right now. Why did no one want those children?

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 3:50 PM

Scarry - you can google it and research it yourself. Plenty of people do.

Adoption is a great option for any of these babies who are unwanted or unloved (TS--this is for you). Why don't people choose this option more? I am truly curious. That would be a hero to me!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:50 PM

there are lots of babies around the world without parents that are alive and need to be adopted. Please consider one of those... everyone has a different definition of when life begins (birth, inception, implantion, after 12 weeks etc). Lets worry about the ones that are on this earth an need a loving home and food.

Being a single parent it is amazing to me how many people object to abortion on the grounds of family values and the need to protect life - but how little support there is for people that do decide to keep their child but have very limited means to do so. We do more to protect life before it is born than after. Taking all of this into account is part of the decision making process of keeping a child especially a special needs child!

Look in the mirror and ask yourself what you do to make the world a better place for a child

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 3:50 PM

"Someone wanted that baby."

That's funny, because there are upwards of 100,000 American children awaiting adoption right now. Why did no one want those children?

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 3:51 PM

Mona, I'm really laughing now about the name thing. :-)

Posted by: Laura | December 21, 2006 3:53 PM

Where do you get that info? I have always been under the impression that there were more couple waiting for children, than children to adopt??

Posted by: To Mona | December 21, 2006 3:53 PM

Mona, I'm guessing that a lot of those children are of color - the unfortunate truth in our society.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 3:54 PM

Anon at 3:50 - You're right, adoption is a wonderful option. I was referring to children who are unwanted and unloved but are not placed for adoption. Adopted children are very much loved and wanted. My own husband was one of them. It is the ones left to languish in unfit homes or just generally ignored that break my heart. But I should have clarified.

Posted by: TS | December 21, 2006 3:55 PM

Anon at 3:50 - You're right, adoption is a wonderful option. I was referring to children who are unwanted and unloved but are not placed for adoption. Adopted children are very much loved and wanted. My own husband was one of them. It is the ones left to languish in unfit homes or just generally ignored that break my heart. But I should have clarfied.

Posted by: TS | December 21, 2006 3:55 PM

to mona - people are in line to adopt perfect babies and not children that are a little older or with health problems

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 3:56 PM

"Mona, I'm guessing that a lot of those children are of color - the unfortunate truth in our society."

Bingo

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 3:59 PM

As for acknolwedging the season that can be done without reference to christmas, santa clause or a manger.

Here I go again . . .

aa, I would be delighted to hear how you think this can be done. Please, do reveal.

Posted by: Queen Bee | December 21, 2006 4:00 PM

"Someone wanted that baby."

Hrm, let me guess---you???

So go get one!!

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 4:02 PM


KB Silver Spring,

My youngest's Daisy troop (all kindergarteners) did a white elephant gift exchange by those rules last year (inexpensive new gifts, but the same choice of either open a new gift or 'steal' an already-opened one). They did it as an activity to earn their orange petal (be responsible for what to say and do). The idea was to practice manners and graciousness, giving thanks for a gift no matter what it is, and graciously giving up your prized item if the rules of the game let someone else 'steal' it. They loved it! (fortunately the excitement of opening a new present offers more than enough consolation to the stealee, when she's 5). It's become an annual tradition, even now that they're Brownies!

Posted by: KB | December 21, 2006 4:08 PM

To Mona (3:53), wikipedia lists the number at approximately 118,000 in the US alone. The reason they are not adopted is exactly what moxiemom said at 3:56. People do not want a toddler, adolescent or teen, or non-white or non-Asian baby, or any child that may have developmental problems or disabilities. Down Syndrome children are not readily adopted. No one wants to adopt a child born addicted to drugs. Yet these children still need homes. How about we find a way to take care of them before we demand that women bear children that they don't want? Those couples waiting ten years for a baby want one that's made-to-order: blond hair, perfect health, no physical or mental deficiencies. What they should be told is that the purpose of adoption is to find parents for children, not to find children for parents. It's not like picking out paint samples at Home Depot.

As scintillating as this debate is, I want more bad gift stories!

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 4:08 PM

Looking forward to the Easter bunny discussions next year......

Also, the Stork and the Cabbage Patch..

Posted by: Jane | December 21, 2006 4:08 PM

Mona, a hearty, agnostic Amen. I'm not gonna touch that issue with a 10 foot pole. I don't think people know until they get there what it is going to by like and I most certainly don't want someone telling me what to do should I end up there - no siree.

I don't see a lot of pro-life homes filled up with crack babies and those kids on Wednseday's child who are looking to be adopted at 11. I think a lot of the people who many don't want adopting (singles, gays) are the ones willing to accept the imperfect children. Nothing empirical to back that up - just my experience.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 4:12 PM

As for acknolwedging the season that can be done without reference to christmas, santa clause or a manger.

This is stupid. I don't tell other people how to celebrate their holidays and no one should tell Christians how to celebrate theirs.

However, if we are making suggestions, I suggest that Hanukah be celebrated without candles, Ramada without a fast, and Kwanza without a talk of our struggle.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 4:13 PM

"the purpose of adoption is to find parents for children, not to find children for parents."

Mona,

What an excellent line. I must remember it!

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 4:14 PM

"As for acknolwedging the season that can be done without reference to christmas, santa clause or a manger."

Thetre is no need to acknowledge any of this stuff in a public school. Why is this so hard to understand?

Posted by: VC | December 21, 2006 4:17 PM

"I think a lot of the people who many don't want adopting (singles, gays) are the ones willing to accept the imperfect children. Nothing empirical to back that up - just my experience."

Yes, I've read about many gay couples adopting HIV babies.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 4:17 PM

people are in line to adopt perfect white infants. those children who are none of the above have to wait.

there is an agency, & i forget its name, that specializes in placing downs syndrome children in homes.

Posted by: quark | December 21, 2006 4:17 PM

Well, thanks for the advice on gifts. I can summarize in this way,

Buy something gold and not green, leave clues in some cute way and then hid it in a clever place.

OK, I got it, Gold chain hidden in a breast pump! The clues obviously have to point to this blog so Fredia knows to look in the double pumping kit! Brilliant!

Posted by: Fred | December 21, 2006 4:20 PM

***Mona, I'm guessing that a lot of those children are of color - the unfortunate truth in our society.***

Here's an interesting article from Essence magazine about transracial adoption:

"Are you my mother? Can a white woman mother a Black baby? Black social workers say no. But others say love has no color"
by Karen Grigsby Bates
Essence, April 1991

In 1972, the National Association of Black Social Workers (NABSW) issued a statement which took "a vehement stand against the placement of Black children in white homes for any reason."

In 1989, the ABSW reaffirmed the belief in their statement.

The Black social workers' stand and subsequent activism effectively stopped the practice of state-funded transracial adoption...

Source: http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1264/is_n12_v21/ai_10514741

I think it's sad. What does everyone else think?

Posted by: MBA Mom | December 21, 2006 4:22 PM

A child can and should be raised by any family willing to love them - despite race and sexual preference. It seems that there are many families out there doing quite well adopting asian babies from china/korea/etc so why is it so different to adopt a black child.

Perhaps there should be one big adoption list for all families interested, and a family has to commit to just taking the next child made available - despite color, gender or health problems?

Posted by: single mom | December 21, 2006 4:26 PM

http://barbaracurtis.com/downs

Posted by: Touching | December 21, 2006 4:28 PM

Super topic MBA mom - I've got to go make dinner, save it for tomorrow. I think it would be a really compelling discussion with a lot of different and interesting viewpoints.

Posted by: moxiemom | December 21, 2006 4:30 PM

I have a friend who recently adopted an African American baby. She is white. She did not wait years for the baby. It worked out less than a year after she signed up with the agency. I think this is because the baby is African American. If she had insisted on a white baby, she apparently would still be waiting.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 4:31 PM

to Kate,

In response to your question about Christians and Katrina victims, I can speak to that with first hand knowledge. Faith based groups have and continue to give the most help to the hurricane victims in New Orleans and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Literally thousands of Baptists, Mennonites, Amish, Lutherans, Methodists and others have volunteered their time to help clean and rebuilt the devastated areas. Many individuals of faith are still coming down to help. We had a small surge who gave up their Thanksgiving to help. We have college students down right now helping. The faith based individuals have helped more than any other group be it the Red Cross, FEMA, state or federal governments.

We thank these individuals for their help and could frankly use some more.

Posted by: Fred | December 21, 2006 4:31 PM

"maybe I don't want my kid to learn about Kwanza either because I don't believe in it"


Scarry and others who think Kwaanza has *anything* to do with religion - repeat after me:

"Kwaanza is not a religious celebration.
Kwaanza is not a religion.
Kwaanza is not something you can "believe in.""

Kwaanza is an African-American celebration of the new year and of the history of blacks in the United States. It is not religious, it doesn't involve something to "believe in", it is simply a celebration of a specific race of people. Comparing it to or even using it in the same sentence as Christmas or Hanukkah is ridiculous.

Posted by: momof4 | December 21, 2006 4:32 PM

i find it interesting that lynn cheney's pregnancy is refered to as an "abomination" by some of the more right wing organizations. would this be a case (a lesbian having a child) where they would support abortion? i mean, if the pregnancy is an abomination wouldn't that make abortion logical?

has anyone read the book "heather has 2 mommies"? i got the chance to read it the other day. pretty innocent.

Posted by: quark | December 21, 2006 4:37 PM

Has anybody read the book Jobe has 2 wives. I just read it the other day. Pretty innocent.

Posted by: To Quark | December 21, 2006 4:48 PM

Maybe Heather's moms are Job's two wives?

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 4:50 PM

I agree that the topic MBA mom proposes is very interesting, but have been reading a different article:
http://www.nabsw.org/mserver/PreservingFamilies.aspx?menuContext=757
about the NABSW position. It brings up other issues such as the fact that black babies and children are more likely to be removed from their homes in the first place - makes it harder for me to say at this point how "sad" I think their position is. I'm still reading ...

Posted by: TakomaMom | December 21, 2006 4:51 PM

I heard that the Job-Heathers have 3 cats and a dog and they are thinking about putting in a pool but that's on the QT.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 4:53 PM

Don't even get me started on Lot's wife.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 4:55 PM

Didn't Lot leave his wife for a girl named Pepper? Ahhh, Bible humor.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 4:56 PM

Sometimes I think we have gone way over the edge with making sure we don't insult anyone. Too much political correctness is not a good thing in my opinion. You can't walk thru like walking on eggshells. Kids need to learn that sometimes people aren't necessarily nice. That sometimes people say things that hurt even if they don't mean it either my mistake or out of hurt or anger. If we don't help them learn how to react without violence or anger we will be in big trouble down the road. They also need to learn how to confront someone when they are hurt - something I still find hard to do. Most people don't do things on purpose to hurt/insult but if you don't politely tell them they will never know. "When you say things like that it really hurts my feelings/insults my religion, etc" is hard to do as most people feel it is confrontational and shy away.

Posted by: 12:19 | December 21, 2006 5:00 PM

I don't think it is utterly ridiculous to refer to Chrismas and Kwaanza in the same sentence since they are both celebrated at the same time of the year.

aa-- I looked over the posts and noted that Capitol Hill said the teacher asked about customs in "the" season. You then twisted that into "holiday" season and then into "Christmas" season. Something to think about.

Posted by: to momof4 and aa | December 21, 2006 5:02 PM

I should probably be offended by that joke, but for some reason, I think it's funny.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 5:13 PM

mom of 4,

I didn't say I didn't want my kid to learn about Kwanza. I said that things should be fair and it is not fair to celebrate some holidays that people hold dear and not others. I don't know what is so hard to understand about that? It also seems to me that this holiday is an offshoot of others including Christmas and Hanukah. I mean there are candles and gifts, mediation, etc. Learning about African American history does not have to include a holiday, so there must be something more to Kwanza then just African American history.

Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 5:14 PM

one of heather's mommies has a brother named steve and he's married to a guy named adam.

i think that trans-racial adoption along with the pros & cons would be a great topic. especially if we could hear from people who grew up in families that were a different race from their own or even from bi-racial people who weren't adopted. i found the article that the young woman who was the daughter of a single mom & a sperm donor to be interesting.

Posted by: quark | December 21, 2006 5:15 PM

Oh and correct me if I am wrong, but are these the seven principals? They seem to be very exclusionary of other people who are not African American. Still, I do not object to my child learning about Kwanza, I just think that if you are going to teach about holidays, teach them all or teach none of them.

The Seven Principles

The seven principles, or Nguzo Saba are a set of ideals created by Dr. Maulana Karenga. Each day of Kwanzaa emphasizes a different principle.
Unity (Umoja) - (oo-MO-jah)
To strive for and maintain unity in the family, community, nation, and race.

Self-determination (Kujichagulia) - (koo-gee-cha-goo-LEE-yah)
To define ourselves, name ourselves, create for ourselves, and speak for ourselves.

Collective Work and Responsibility (Ujima) - (oo-GEE-mah)
To build and maintain our community together and make our brother's and sister's problems our problems and to solve them together.

Cooperative Economics (Ujamaa)- (oo-JAH-mah)
To build and maintain our own stores, shops, and other businesses and to profit from them together.

Purpose (Nia) - (nee-YAH)
To make our collective vocation the building and developing of our community in order to restore our people to their traditional greatness.

Creativity (Kuumba)- (koo-OOM-bah)
To do always as much as we can, in the way we can, in order to leave our community more beautiful and beneficial than we inherited it.

Faith (Imani) - (ee-MAH-nee)
To believe with all our heart in our people, our parents, our teachers, our leaders, and the righteousness and victory of our struggle.

Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 5:16 PM

There was a made for tv (yes, Lifetime)movie about Heather and her two mommies. It starred Brooke Shields and Anne Meara and was quite moving.

Posted by: KB Silver Spring | December 21, 2006 5:17 PM

Fred, I don't think you and I are talking about the same groups. A lot of people from local churches have helped in various ways, as have any number of Christians around the country and world. God bless those people. But the people I know who have helped the Katrina victims are not the same people who protest the "happy holidays" greetings so vocally or try to get local elementary schools to ban Harry Potter books - they're too busy doing the same sort of work in our community that they did with the Katrina victims. The people I know who can't quit complaining about what they see as a "war on Christmas" don't have time to help with the Katrina relief, because they're too busy saving Christmas.

Posted by: Kate | December 21, 2006 5:18 PM

Last time I checked mom of 4 faith and righteousness were linked to religion.

Posted by: to mom of 4 and scarry | December 21, 2006 5:19 PM

Scarry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kwanzaa

Posted by: k. | December 21, 2006 5:20 PM

I though one of the main reasons people adopt foreign babies over domestic ones is because there is a MUCH MUCH smaller chance of the parent of a foreign baby wanting the kid back. Also, it's not completely unreasonable to want a young baby who hasn't been dreadfully treated and neglected. The changes to the brains of these children are permanent. As far as color, I think the fact that Asian and now African adoptions are in the norm argues against color preference on the part of the parents.

More bad gifts, please.

Posted by: atb | December 21, 2006 5:20 PM

to anonymous:
"This is stupid. I don't tell other people how to celebrate their holidays and no one should tell Christians how to celebrate theirs"

No one is telling you how to celebrate yours just suggestion how teachers witha captive audience of children should. If you can't understand that difference I'm sorry.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 5:23 PM

in order to give African Americans an alternative holiday to Christmas. He later stated, "...it was chosen to give a Black alternative to the existing holiday and give Blacks an opportunity to celebrate themselves and history, rather than simply imitate the practice of the dominant society." [3]

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 5:23 PM

My sister is more mentally and emotionally disabled than any Down's child. Taking care of her was the greatest font of joy and learning of my youth. I have three brothers, all of whom feel the same way. Taking care of her has been difficult for my mother. We have never been anywhere approaching wealthy, and my family had to make sacrifices. However, none of those sacrifices have in any way been as significant as the joy of loving my sister. When my parents are unable to take care of her, my wife and I will take over. Many of the difficult and seemingly unsurmountable obstacles to raising a disabled child can be solved with a little effort and sacrifice.

I've also experienced years of infertility. Watching people abort babies that you would give your left arm to have feels like a starving person watching people throw away food because it would make them fat.

I've also adopted a minority child from this country, so please, no accusations of hypocrisy. We had to wait a year. The stats about the 100,000 children needing to be adopted is misleading. Those are foster children with the goal of adoption, and can be anywhere along in the process. The majority of those will be adopted. The thousands of people flocking to China (who just significantly tightened their qualifications for adoption, btw, so thousands of parents can no longer look there for a child) testify to the fact that there are many, many more parents who want children than there are children to adopt.

And one other thing, those decrying how little pro-lifers do to help those in need should really check their statistics. (I'm a democrat, so this shames me) "Red staters" give a much higher proportion of their income to charity than do "blue staters." Some pro-lifers (like me) are horrified about the war in Iraq and the death penalty, so those often-misused ad hominim attacks are really worthless.

If adoption is about finding parents for a child, not a finding a child for the parents, isn't pregnancy about creating parents for a child, not creating a child for the parents?

Posted by: Brian | December 21, 2006 5:24 PM

Why isn't promotion of atheism or secularism also promotion of a religious belief (i.e. lack of religion or God etc.)?

It seems that the correct interpretation of the literal language of the constitution, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof", when taken in whole maybe should also prohibit promotion of atheism and/or secularism because they either are an establishment of religion or prohibit the free exercise of other religions. In fact maybe we should be required to discuss/promote all religions (including satanism, atheism, and secularism) in one fashion or another.

Random thoughts and fodder for the fire.

Posted by: lurker | December 21, 2006 5:25 PM

My grandparents adopted at a time when it was pretty unusual (the 50's). They found out not long after marriage that they couldn't have kids.

They adopted two children: a son and a daughter, a year apart. While my family was far from perfect, my grandparents loved their children. I think their only regret was not being able to adopt more, but I suppose finances did not allow.

My grandmother died about two years ago. When we were cleaning out her house, I found a newspaper clipping, worn, yellowed and tucked into her wallet. I can't remember the entire piece, but the last part is what sticks with me.

It read:

"You may not have grown under my heart, but you grew into it."

I think the capacity to love and raise a child who is not biologically your own, speaks volumes in regards to character and demonstrating the desire to TRULY be a parent.

Posted by: J | December 21, 2006 5:25 PM

I am waiting for someone to call scarry racist. I know it's coming.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 5:26 PM

To anon @5:19

You noted, "Last time I checked mom of 4 faith and righteousness were linked to religion."

I have a deep faith and strong sense of righteousness, and I've never been affiliated with any religion.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 5:27 PM

Can't you have FAITH in others without being religious?

Posted by: 12:19 | December 21, 2006 5:28 PM

"Red staters" give a much higher proportion of their income to charity than do "blue staters."

Red staters can afford to.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 5:29 PM

I think it's coming too. maybe because everytime something skirts around African Americans or African American culture, she comes up with examples of how black people are racist and exclusive.

With the exception of the black male criminality debate yesterday, but I don't think she was online.

Posted by: to 5:26. | December 21, 2006 5:30 PM

If adoption is about finding parents for a child, not a finding a child for the parents, isn't pregnancy about creating parents for a child, not creating a child for the parents?

Nope. Because the parents already exist. Pregnancy is about procreating. It is about the biological need to create a new generation in order for the species to endure.

The point of adoption is to provide parents for children who have none. It is not to provide children for parents who have none. Unfortunately, some people can't have children. That does not make it the responsibility of those who can to provide them with children.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 5:30 PM

"If adoption is about finding parents for a child, not a finding a child for the parents, isn't pregnancy about creating parents for a child, not creating a child for the parents?"

That's a ridiculous analogy.

Adoption is about solving a homeless child's problem -- the fact of existing but having no one to care for you. Pregnancy is not the same thing.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 5:31 PM

think it's coming too. maybe because everytime something skirts around African Americans or African American culture, she comes up with examples of how black people are racist and exclusive.

With the exception of the black male criminality debate yesterday, but I don't think she was online.

Sorry that is just not true.

Posted by: scarry | December 21, 2006 5:35 PM

to lurker:
"Why isn't promotion of atheism or secularism also promotion of a religious belief (i.e. lack of religion or God etc.)?"

Because it turns the standard definition of religion on its head. That's not to say it is appropriate for teachers in public school to push on their students but it is not religion as traditionally understood in refernce to christianity, judaism, zoroastrianism etc.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 5:36 PM

To 5:30,
Pittypat's comments seemed to imply that adoptive parents should not be selective in their choices, since the important person in the equation is not them, but the child. Why, after procreation has occured, is it not similarly a duty of the biological parents to not be selective? By the way, I disagree with the quote. The point of adoption is to create a family for all involved.

I'm not implying that it is the duty of those who can have children to supply those who can't. It's just wasteful and tremendously ungrateful of the tremendous gift that you have. Those "things" that are so cavalierly discarded have tremendous value to others.

Posted by: Brian | December 21, 2006 5:38 PM

Wow, I need to get another adjective besides "tremendous." Feel free to substitute "amazing, great, or awe-inspiring" as you see fit.

Posted by: Brian | December 21, 2006 5:41 PM

"I don't think people know until they get there what it is going to by like"

There was a really interesting (and to me, slightly infuriating) article in the WaPo about 2.5 years ago about women aborting fetuses that had tested positive for genetic problems - several of the families were staunchly pro-life before they found themselves in that situation. Most of them did not tell anyone for fear of being judged by others; at least one, who aborted a downs baby, maintained that she was still pro-life and what she did wasn't "the same" or wasn't really an abortion (that's the part that I found so infuriating).

I don't think you could have spoken a truer sentence, moxiemom, you really just don't know.

Posted by: Megan | December 21, 2006 5:42 PM

50,000 breeders at 50,000 keyboards...

Posted by: James Buchanan | December 21, 2006 5:57 PM

"Pittypat's comments seemed to imply that adoptive parents should not be selective in their choices, since the important person in the equation is not them, but the child"

Huh???

Brian, what did I say?

I don't think I said anything about that, just said I liked Mona's statement.

Posted by: pittypat | December 21, 2006 6:00 PM

"50,000 breeders at 50,000 keyboards..."

No, JB.

Only 49,999.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 21, 2006 6:03 PM

Is there something wrong with being a breeder?

Posted by: anon | December 21, 2006 6:30 PM

***I took the medical knowledge that the 21st century has given us and gave my unborn son the gift of not being a Downs child.***

***There is no right or wrong decision here, and my reasons to abort are not a 'slap in the face to Downs children'.***

How is it not a slap in the face to suggest that it is better for children with Down Syndrome to be dead than alive?

I have a brother with Down Syndrome and autism. When he was two months old, he had open heart surgery to repair two holes in his heart. He has always been loving and sunshiny, much more so than 99% of "non-defective" people. He is stubborn but sweet and loves animals and babies. He is very content. If my parents ever become unable to care for him, I or one of my other siblings will care for him. As far as handicaps go, Down Syndrome is quite manageable.

In all honesty, before my brother was born, I was afraid of handicapped people. But living with my brother and helping to take care of him showed me that he is simply different, not someone to be feared. As one of my college economics professors pointed out, we are all smart at some things and dumb at other things. My brother did much to teach my high-achieving family about the inherent value of human life.

"First they came for the Communists, but I was not a Communist so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Socialists and the Trade Unionists, but I was neither, so I did not speak out. Then they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew so I did not speak out. And when they came for me, there was no one left to speak out for me."

--Martin Niemoeller

Posted by: MBA Mom | December 21, 2006 7:00 PM

Well I could hardly believe my eyes, when I came home today. A big package was waiting at my door step. I take it in and open it. I gasp, the sage green blankets cousin showed up for christmas-the sage green SHEETS. LMAO!

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 7:26 PM

On adoption: I stated several times that we are in the early stages of adopting our secound daughter from Vietnam, my country of birth. I am also an adoptee. The numbers of 100,000 is a bit misleading because not all these children are truly waiting for parents. Some of these kids are in different stages of the foster care system. I read an interesting article that was trying to dispel some of the myths about domestic adoption:mainly there are no healthy white infants and bio parents want the kids back. Before we get into a long battle of why not adopt American, let me preface I wanted to adopt from my country of origin because it mirrored my experience more closely. And what greater gift can I give my adopted child but the gift of understanding where she was from, a sense of heritage, a sense of connection. And personally, I feel a great connection to my country of birth. I am not at all saying that I don't like the US because clearly I am still here. But you can have attachments to both countries. As far as transracial, well I really don't understand the black protest about black children being raised by white parents issue. But I am not black and do not begin to understand their struggle. But it seems obvious to me that a transracial (homosexual, trans gender etc) family who loves and nurtures a child is better then endless chain of foster care. Adoption allows you to make unnatural decisions. Or decisions that seem unnatural. Yes we wanted a healthy child, yes we preferred a toddler (not an infant in our case), and yes we preferred a girl. I guess age aside, gender really wasn't a big preference. We would take a boy if it was our only option. Or if we felt called to a certain child. But regardless of how unnatural the choices that adoptive parents can make, the choices of biological parents are becoming increasingly unnatural as well. With the help of science, parents can screen embryos for genetic disorders (health), gender selected embryo implantation (gender), and parents going to sperm donor banks can choose a number of different physical characters (namely race, hair color etc...). So really are adoptive parents any better or worse off then biological parents. I know that in my heart I envision a child. And that I feel I was called to adopt this child. It is a grueling long process filled with endless paper work. But in the end, I don't think I am going to get the perfect child. I think I am going to get the child I was meant to have. The child that God called me to find and make a part of my family. So yes, we requested a healthy child. But we know that all children spending time in institutionalized care do experience some developmental delays. We take what God gives us. Even adopted children can develop diseases, diagnosed with serious issues. Unlike Cal and other posters, we would not "return" our adopted child if something like that occurs. We truly believe that we will be a forever family. Requesting a healthy child through adoption is no different then when I was pregnant I prayed every night that God gave me a healthy child. And if God did not, I certainly would not have given that child up for adoption. To the poster who mentioned the yellow paper: The poem reads, "Not flesh of my flesh, or bone of my bone. But still miraculously my own. Remember that you did not grown under my heart but in it."

Posted by: foamgnome | December 21, 2006 8:01 PM

Sorry, Pittypat, I guess I only scrolled up to see that you liked the quote and attributed it to you. It wasn't anything you said, it's just the quote itself. I didn't mean to join the anti-pittypat bandwagon, and I like your posts.

Posted by: Brian | December 21, 2006 8:10 PM

What about New Years? Isn't it offensive to talk about "New Years" in public school! As if January 1st were the "real" New Years day. What about the Chinese New Years, and the Jewish, and the Moslem New Year days?! We're a multicultural society, stop imposing western culture on our children!

Posted by: LetsHaveSomeTolerance | December 21, 2006 9:10 PM

"I said that things should be fair and it is not fair to celebrate some holidays that people hold dear and not others. I don't know what is so hard to understand about that?"

I'm not having a hard time understanding - I agree completely. But originally (when you talked about your child's class) you were talking like if we celebrate "Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwaanza" in the public schools that we're being fair - that is simply not true. You've covered a major holiday of one of the major world religions, a not-so-major holiday of one of the major world religions, and a holiday celebrated by one race of people in one country. You have not covered the holidays of any of the other major world religions, of any lesser known religions, any other ethnic group's celebrations, or any other country's celebrations.

There is no possible way to be 100% "fair."

Posted by: momof4 | December 21, 2006 9:58 PM

"What about New Years?"

New Years is not in any way religious. Its origin is more an accident of how calendars were printed and was not adopted as the start of the next numbered year in europe until the 16th century and in the u.s. in the 18th.

Its the absurd equivocation in questions like this that really illuminate the problem.

Posted by: aa | December 21, 2006 10:12 PM

I think the comment about the calendar was not serious, but rather a suggestion of a 'slippery slope' argument, i.e., if we start with religion, soon cultural relativism will gobble everything up.
Obviously, the calendar is an arbitrary and secular instrument. Not the same thing.

Posted by: aging mom | December 21, 2006 11:25 PM

Lets, I LOVE Chinese New Year. It's SO MUCH FUN. I also love American New Year.

Posted by: Mona | December 21, 2006 11:38 PM

mom of 4,

Mom of 4,

That was my point. If we can't be fair to everyone, then lets not celebrate any holidays in public schools. Some people's "fair" is everything but Christmas and Jewish holidays. As far as celebrating western holidays and making your children participate, I hate to break it to you, but you are in the west. If I went to your country of origin, I would be celebrating your holidays and you would tell me to bad. Tolerance goes both ways and I have no problem exposing my child to different cultures, do you?

I used Kwanza as an example, but I am sure there are many other holidays that I don't celebrate that would be exclusionary to my child and other children. Here is an example of one, St. Patrick's day, it excludes my daughter, an Irish American because it is not taught nor celebrated correctly and it means something very different to use then it does to the teacher who says it is a day to celebrate a man who chased snakes out of Ireland. She doesn't go to school on that day anyway, but last year they talked about it before she left for break and that is what the teacher said.

As far as being racist goes, that is really funny. I've dated black men, have Mexican cousins, and in general, am sensitive to all people. Just because I think that racism goes both ways and all ways does not make me a racist, it makes me a realist.

Posted by: scarry | December 22, 2006 8:00 AM

Beautiful stories! And I utterly appreciate you sharing them. If you are still reading! I wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday, whichever applies to you! But I can imagine, the holiday at your house has more meaning than most!!

Honestly, I would want to meet you and your families one day because those are the kind of people I want my children to know.

Posted by: To Brian and MBA Mom | December 22, 2006 8:24 AM

BTW, we really need a more inclusive word for days of celebration than "holiday." That word means holy day and is potentially offensive to secularists.

Posted by: LetsHaveSomeTolerance | December 22, 2006 8:44 AM

So what do you suggest???

Posted by: Anonymous | December 22, 2006 8:58 AM

Foamgnome from about 200 posts ago -- As a government employee, postal workers are prohibited from accepting cash gifts or gifts valued over $20. However, a small gift valued under $20 is fine (ex. cookies, chocolate, gift certificates). Wine is not a good option since carriers cannot have any alcohol in their vehicles. Better yet, write a letter of appreciation on behalf of your carrier to the postmaster.

Posted by: Columbia, MD | December 22, 2006 9:35 AM

Why do people need tips for doing their jobs.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 22, 2006 10:06 AM

why do people need tips for doing their job?
i guess then you don't ever want any acknowledgement that you do your job well? have you told your boss that you don't want any bonus or any expression of gratitude?

Posted by: quark | December 22, 2006 11:33 AM

I am not the post man's boss.

Posted by: Anonymous | December 22, 2006 11:52 AM

but you are his customer. i guess then you don't want any feedback from your customers unless they complain.

Posted by: quark | December 22, 2006 12:11 PM

Thank you!
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Posted by: Rhonda | January 17, 2007 10:17 PM

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