Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I Have A Shadow

There's been a shadow passing over me as I've prepared for these holidays and I've wondered what it could be.

My best friend's mom has been ill; she's nearing the end of her days. I thought that might be it, but really, I've been so grateful for the extra time I've had to share some smiles with her, hold her hand, be together. So that's not it.

I thought it might be that this'll be my last Christmas with Lucy as an elementary school student. (Yes, I'm that neurotic.) But I feel lucky to have had all these Christmases with her. Any more are just icing. With sprinkles. Dipped in sugar. And bacon. (Everything is better with bacon.) So that can't be it.

It could be that, like Lucy, the twins are getting older and more mature. The other day Sam handed me a baggie with his tooth in it and said, "Tell the Tooth Fairy I could grab the dollar out of his wallet instead of making him go all the way upstairs, if he'd like." (Of course, you don't get paid if you don't believe, so the Tooth Fairy told him to forget it.) But these guys are getting to be more fun every day. That's definitely not it.

We're dealing with the usual array of maladies and melodramas, but what's new about that?

We have the added sadness this year that we're saying goodbye to some close friends who are leaving the state just as the holidays approach. I won't say that hasn't bothered me, but I feel I'm doing a spectacular job of suppressing it! And in any case, we've had some great laughs together in the last few weeks, and some good wine, and a few tears, and it's all just made me feel more and more sure that we'll be friends for a long time to come, no matter the distance.

As I've looked back on it, this year has been a most full and wonderful year with new experiences, adventures, a few scares - just to keep it exciting - and nothing but love and more love with family and friends.

So I realize, of course, there is a shadow passing over me. A kind, generous, loving, and benevolent shadow, watching over me, caring for me, attending to all my needs, especially when I'm at my most desperate and most low. I am weak and my shadow provides shelter so I may rest and regain strength. I am at fault and my shadow allows me space to grow into my better self. I am faithful and my shadow rewards me with all that I need and more than I could hope for. Indeed, there is a shadow passing over me. And I thank Him.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Growing Up A Mutt

This is me and my cousin Damon. He's Italian. (Isn't he gorgeous?) I'm Italian, too. So when I'm with my Italian family, I'm loud and demonstrative and I focus a lot on food. I also argue a lot, laugh a lot and talk a lot, mostly about folks' medical conditions. It all goes swimmingly until I blurt out some phrase in Spanish. And then my Italian family and I are reminded that I'm notall Italian. I think for them it's mostly a curiosity - like an extra toe or a streak of red hair.

But to me, it is so much more.

Because for the last few weeks I've been spending an awful lot of time with my childhood best friend, Michelle. She's going to be furious that this is the best pic I could find, but Lord help me to understand this forsaken Mac computer - I can't find a darn thing!

In this photo Michelle's neurotically placing candles on her son's immaculately decorated cake, ensuring equal spacing between each candle. That's because she's Cuban and Cubans are nuts. I am also Cuban and Michelle is part of that piece of my life. T
ogether we rant about politics, fuss over every smudge on our children's faces, reassure one another that the world is a most dangerous place and the babies should never be out of our sight, and sniff arrogantly about the style failings of everyone we know. And lots of folks we don't know. Also we eat, but the food is way different.

The thing I struggle with is that because I'm not all one thing or the other, there are so many gaps in my cultural experience. There are things about me that belong to the Italian me, some are Cuban and still others are pure Chicago. But a few weeks ago a friend asked me if what a term in Spanish meant. I had no idea and he scoffed at me that it was a very common Cuban saying. And so I was completely de-Cubanized. I was at a funeral service yesterday and a common Italian saying was mentioned, to which everyone responded by nodding, repeating the saying in a murmur. I'd never heard it, and I was instantly de-Italianized. And I'm ashamed to say it, but I put ketchup on my hot dog. I love ketchup.

There are great advantages to being a multicultural person. I'm adaptable to any environment, I can talk to anyone, I make a mean plate of food - and by that I mean to tell you that I can cook anything as long as I have garlic - and I'm a really good, nurturing (some would say suffocating, but they're mean), loving mom. If there are some disadvantages - not being all a part of something, like a cousin by marriage, feeling a little lame when the hundred percenters bump elbows and smile knowingly - they are most
often far outweighed by the benefits.

I hope the kids feel the same. They're Cuban, which is awesome, they are Italian - so cool - and they are English, French, Spanish and Mexican Indian. I can't wait until they're all cooking!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

I'm About To Get Controversial

I'm cringing just thinking about how some may react to this, but far be it from me to walk away from a good cringe.

I don’t subscribe to a particular church, by choice. I am strong in my faith, knowledgeable in my faith, and true to my faith. I am so – usually – quietly, privately. I appreciate that some may rejoice in the community of faith that comes from church. I have no problem with that; it’s just not for me. I’m hoping the good Lord forgives as wantonly as I may need Him to, especially considering that period in the 80s when I may have tripped over some of the rules a little more frequently than others.

That said, I have a problem with how the concepts of faith, morality and church get mangled in our (global) society.

This is a link circulating right now on Facebook about a ‘church’ in Kentucky that has banned interracial marriage.

This is a link to an article about how one legislative body is wrangling with the issue of religious ceremonies for same-sex marriages.

And here’s a (disgusting) post from someone on a church forum trying to parse numbers in order to minimize the depravity of the Catholic church’s handling of abuse cases.

And then there’s the Bible. Here's Luke 20:45-47…
20:45 As all the people were listening, Jesus said to his disciples, 20:46 “Beware of the experts in the law. They like walking around in long robes, and they love elaborate greetings in the marketplaces and the best seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 20:47 They devour widows’ property, and as a show make long prayers. They will receive a more severe punishment."

And 1 Corinthians:12-14…
12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body – though many – are one body, so too is Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. 14 For in fact the body is not a single member, but many.

I’m afraid the folks who’re using the Lord’s name to foster fear, discriminate and injure – and do so with brag and bravado about their own holiness - really don’t get it. We best all hope for His great mercy.