A place where I can share interesting ideas and maybe get a few things off my chest

Posts tagged ‘family’

Scans From A Shoebox

Have A Coke

I have know idea who this is; I just like the composition of the photo.

That’s the name of the folder open on my desktop. The photos aren’t in a shoebox now; they’re in a copy paper box, because the boot box they were in for as far back as I can remember finally deteriorated beyond the point of keeping anything contained. Aunt Helen, Mother’s older sister, had rows of photo albums with pictures of family and her trips to Europe neatly labeled in chronological order. We had a boot box that had originally held workboots that Dad had worn out and discarded before I was born.

I’ve been meaning to digitally scan these photos for years, and finally started a few days ago. Most of them are of family. Many are of people I don’t know and except for a couple, the only clues are notes I made in pencil on the backs of some of them over three decades ago. I would like to go through them with Mother and ask her about the people in them, but I’m afraid the exercise will be frustrating for both of us.

The photos of family members I recognize, I’m dividing into large envelopes to send to representative members of each family group. They may already have copies of these photos, but they might not, and maybe they can pencil in all the details and make interesting albums and give the pictures somewhere to live besides in a box in a closet.

‘Tis The Season

2013 Xmas Tree

My concession to Christmas decorating

The holiday season always brings about a certain dilemma for me. I just don’t quite know what to do with it.

By the time I was born, my family didn’t really go to church anymore. When my brother and sister were little, I think my family attended a Baptist church, although it may have been Methodist. I vaguely remember us attending a service once or twice around Easter, although the Easter Bunny always visited our house and we hunted boiled, dyed eggs in the back yard. We always had a Christmas tree and Christmas presents, and I left milk and cookies out for Santa, and while we may have sang a few Christmas songs that actually mentioned the baby Jesus, the ones I remember most were about Santa Claus. I don’t remember a formal Christmas story or any Nativity scenes included in our holiday decorations.

When I was in grade school, I went with a neighbor child to her family’s church, and it being a Baptist church and big on outreach, they got me signed up to ride the Sunday bus and I attended church on my own until I was about 17 and became incredibly disenchanted with organized religion, Southern Baptist flavor in particular.

Fast forward a few years to when my children were very young, and their dad decided that the dad-thing to do was to attend church as a family. Never mind that I had never heard him give any opinion on religion or even knew that he had been confirmed in the Lutheran church. Fortunately, the church he chose was part of the most liberal of the Lutheran synods, we became members, and I made many very good friends in the almost two decades we attended. All through that time, when the children would ask me about religious concepts, I would answer, “Lutherans believe….” and then give an answer based on the tenets of ELCA-based Lutheranism.  Well, until they came home from Sunday School one Sunday and asked me about Hell. I told them it was a myth, a loving God would not throw anyone into a fiery abyss for eternity, and not to worry about it.

All during that time, though, in addition to the Christian inspirational books I was reading, I was reading about neo-paganism, Wicca, and other earth-based matriarchal religions, along with books on Buddhism, reincarnation, self-hypnosis, and meditation. And a bunch of other stuff, too. I loved the rituals of the church, the chanting of the Psalms and the liturgy. But sometimes I would be kneeling at the communion rail wondering how anthropologists from other worlds (I read a lot of science fiction, too) would interpret the widespread behaviors of ritual cannibalism, and if one were to fully believe in the Catholic transubstantiation, then the belief in the literal cannibalism of the half-human and half-divine God. And sometimes I would just accept the pastor’s blessing. I guess it depended on the day.

Fast forward again, and I now jokingly tell people that I am Lutheran-Buddhist-Heathen, except that it’s not really a joke; it’s actually a pretty accurate summation of the amalgam of my beliefs set. My husband is a Jewish agnostic/atheist, his  parents the same. My husband’s children were raised going to the Episcopal church with their mother, but I don’t believe they attend church anymore, either.

So, we come to the time of Midwinter Festivals and I am compelled by a sense of family to bring ours together in all their motley glory. But it seems strange to celebrate the birth of a Divine Child that I don’t believe literally existed. If there was an historic Jesus, I believe he would be quite taken aback to find that he has become raised up to Godhood and the center of quite an elaborate mythos. And since my husband has no emotional attachment to any of the traditional Jewish rituals of the season, there doesn’t seem to be much reason to attend to them, either.

This year, I have decided we will have a Festive Yule Feast, a Solstice Celebration. We have some wood from the grocery store to approximate a Yule log and I’m trying to find a market nearby that sells cabrito, as I understand a Yule goat is also a traditional festival food, although a pork roast standing in as a Yule Boar is also a possibility.

I like the idea of celebrating the point in the year where the sun changes its mind about going away and starts coming back a little more each day. Festival of Lights. Light of the World. Return of the Light. Ultimately, I guess we’re really all celebrating the same thing – our opportunity to come together to fight back the darkness of the longest night.

What To Name The Baby

Image

Ina Mae Pepper

My second grandchild is due to be born any moment – last Friday was the actual due date – and as far as I know, s/he still doesn’t have a name ready for his or her arrival. My granddaughter, Eva, is 7 years old, and when she was born the name field was wide open. But since then my daughter’s many friends and cousins have had many babies and she doesn’t want to duplicate any of those names. And some of the names she likes, she doesn’t like the probable nicknames. Patricia is pretty, but not Patty. Joseph sounds respectable, but not Joey. Some of the names Dad put on the Name Board were from anime shows – Mom doesn’t want to tell the baby that his/her name came from a cartoon.

If the baby is a girl (they didn’t want to be told, so that part is still going to be a surprise), they have chosen the middle name Ruth, shared by both of the baby’s maternal great-grandmothers. But as far as I know, that’s as far as they’ve gotten. When my daughter and I talked about family names, we quickly discarded most of the ones from my side of the family – Etta Olivie, Dorcas, Dortha, Edna, Alta Mae, Geraldine, and also Elvis, Tillman, Mott, Jefferson, Terrell, and Augustus.

Then we talked about my grandmother’s name – Ina. Ina Ruth has a nice ring, doesn’t it? None of my daughter’s friends have used that name, and my cousin named after our grandmother is over 60 and lives in California, so there’s not too much room for confusion there, either.

And then I heard the playground talk in the back of my mind. Not something my cousin had to worry about 60-ish years ago as it was not a word in common schoolyard usage at that time, but I could clearly hear small, munchkin voices making the rhyme “Ina Vagina” and I knew that if I had thought of it, there would surely be at least one 7-year-old, and probably more, who would think of it, too. *Sigh*

Maybe Etta Ruth wouldn’t be such a bad choice, after all.

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