At Fifty

50

Well another Christmas has come and gone, which means 2015, the year I turned 50, is also almost over. My feet, my knees, my shoulders all turned 50 as well. Some of my parts feel 50, and some of them look 50; although I am not sure what 50 should look like.

At 50 am I now expected to reprimand people? Does one experience a higher level of maturity at 50? Must I get rid of my comic books? (Yes, I still like comic books.) Do I need to suppress my love of cookie dough ice cream?  Do 50-year-olds no longer eat Fruit Loops? And, what exactly is one supposed to be doing at 50?

I do know one thing for certain, at 50, how you think about things changes somewhat. Let me explain. The mantra of a reformed compulsive clutterer is if something new comes in, something has got to go to make room for that new thing. I am by no means a hoarder, but my house is not large and storage space is at a premium, so this mantra works well in my situation.

The moving of something out of my house to make room for something new coming in is not an automatic process. It is something I have to physically do, something I must actually think about before acting on it. And, it is something that at times, I struggle with.

My brain on the other hand has arbitrarily put this process on automatic. I think my brain has reached critical mass, so it has decided to dump stuff without my consent. Old stuff, new stuff, important stuff, there really is no rhyme or reason as to what it has chosen to become forever lost. Questions of where I put my keys; what was the name of that actor in that movie; and that omnipresent question, “Where did I park my car?” keep popping up at the most inopportune times.

The maddening thing about this is (As if losing something isn’t maddening enough.) I will often remember something when I absolutely do not need it. Really, who needs to know the name of that Secretary-General of the United Nations with the same first and last name convention while you’re in the middle of a presentation or watching a movie? Boutros Boutros-Ghali, a guy with a repetition of his first name in his last name? You’d think I’d be able to recall that easily when I needed it.

Then of course, thinking about all this at times like during a movie, makes me miss part of the movie, which sometimes leads to a re-watch. It’s even worse if I recall something during a conversation about something totally unrelated, and blurt out, “That’s it!” Then I have to apologize and explain my ramblings to the poor soul that I had just rudely interrupted.

Usually this sort of thing is followed with the fact that I don’t remember why I needed to recall whatever I needed to remember in the first place. To this day, I don’t recall why I needed Mr. Boutros-Ghali’s name. The good part is should I need his name again, I’m pretty sure I will remember it.

But now things seem different. When I was in my 20s and forgot stuff, it didn’t matter much to me. Now when I forget stuff, I wonder if my forgetting is a symptom of something else. I wonder if I forget more than I used to, or at the same rate. As long as I can remember I have been forgetful. Although still irritating, at the very least, it tells me that my forgetfulness is not due to my getting older; it is something that has always been part of my makeup, so I guess that is somewhat of a relief.

Also a relief is at least now I will no longer dread turning 50, because it will have already been done. As for my forgetfulness? That will probably never change. Besides, my go-to answer of “It’s probably not important.” has worked out quite well for me. Except for my car. Losing my car in a parking lot is actually quite important to me.

As the years go by memories change. They become less precise. The details become a bit sketchier and more clouded, sometimes to the point of no return. Barbra Streisand had it right with her description of “Misty water-colored memories.” I believe not recalling something may be a change for the good. Maybe it’s our brains’ way of making room for new memories. Yeah, I think I will go with that.

With less than a week to go, the year I turned 50 is soon to be a thing of the past. Certainly in this next decade, I will change some more. Maybe, in this next decade I’ll act my age. Whatever that means.

Five for Friday

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My Five for Friday post is turning into a Five for Saturday thing. Hopefully, I’ll try not to repeat that, but I’m not sure I can make any promises, so I won’t.

This week’s gratitude list starts out with my being grateful for my crow’s feet, because it means I have smiled and laughed a lot throughout my life; slow cooked maple sugar glazed ham, because it is as good as it sounds; new running shoes, because they always feel good; spare change, because it is always a handy thing to keep around; and music, because it is so powerful in so many ways.

What are you grateful for?

Five for Friday

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Yes, I am still reading the same book.

Sorry folks my Five for Friday post is a bit late. Due to my work schedule, I actually forgot it was Friday. Without further adieu, welcome to this week’s five things I am grateful for.

I am grateful for timesaving things like dishwashers, because you never know when you’ll really need that extra time; our cedar trees, because they are way better than a fence; art, because our world would be pretty dull without it; Netflix, because how could I ever binge watch a favourite tv show without it; and our slow cooker, because it cooks real slow and I’m pretty sure that’s why everything from it tastes soooo good.

What are you grateful for?

Merry Holidays… uhhh… Christmas!

ChristmasFor as long as I can remember, I’ve celebrated Christmas. I’ve said “Merry Christmas” numerous times. Lately I’ve been wondering, with all the fallout from Starbuck’s Christmas cup drama, when did political correctness step in to correct Christmas. More importantly, why exactly did we ever need political correctness for this in the first place? It seems to me, there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the Christmas holiday. So what happened?

You might say, “Well Lynn, we live in a multicultural society and we need to have respect for other religions. Besides, we can’t go around imposing our religion on other people.”

Wishing people a “Merry Christmas” and decorating a tree is not meant to be an imposition. True, we live in a country that is rife with the spirit of Christmas. It is a huge reason that during this time of year, Christmas really cannot be avoided. It is all around us. Despite that, Christmas is far from being an imposition on anyone. You just need to go back to one of the religious inquisitions our world has seen to really understand what it means to impose religious will on someone.

The bombardment of Christmas scenes, colours, and music at this time of year is also why people should not be worried that the use of pleasantries like “Happy Holidays,” “Joy for the New Year,”or even “Season’s Greetings” could somehow eventually eliminate Christmas. The perception is, under the guise of political correctness, Christmas is slowly being eradicated from the public landscape. I don’t think we have anything to worry about. “Season’s Greetings,” however, could be problematic; it is my least favourite greeting.

I also understand the position of companies like Starbucks choosing not to put Christmas images on their cups. They serve all religious denominations, including those people who do not believe in any religion. A non-descript cup may be the best solution for them. Their solution does not offend me. I also believe, however, that putting images of Christmas on coffee cups offends no one. It is simply an act of sympathizing with the spirit of Christmas—a tradition that is not only respected by over 160 countries worldwide, but has also been celebrated in Canada since its inception. But, what Starbucks chooses to do is their choice and I respect that.

The real issue is not that Christmas exists in a multicultural society. It is how to manage all religious celebrations that are a beautiful part of a multicultural society. If we respect one religion, we must respect all religions. By not doing so, we risk “offending” other cultures. Although, I highly doubt anyone is really offended by Christmas. We know that governments of multicultural societies must not show favouritism towards any one religion—this is a really good thing. Starbucks and many other corporate entities have followed suit to adopt a holiday neutral ideal to become all-inclusive—this is not a bad thing.

However, it is just sad to me that the fix for all this necessitates doing away with Christmas symbols altogether. I don’t think it is necessary, because I don’t think anyone was offended to begin with. Adopting this method of Christmas cover up; hiding Christmas like it was some embarrassing relative hidden in the back room where, hopefully no one notices, to me does not seem like the right thing to do.

The perception that “they” wanted to do away with anything to do with Christmas is wrong. No one of any religion has ever asked anyone to do away with Christmas. People of other religious groups have only wanted the same allowances Christians receive at Christmas time, especially when it comes to respecting holidays and time off. Their customs and celebrations are every bit as important to “them” as Christmas is to “us.”

I do think this a non-issue, because we do have a choice. If you are angry because someone chooses to say “Happy Holidays,” or Starbucks no longer uses symbols of Christmas on their cups, you are sadly missing the point of the spirit of Christmas. You still have the right to say, “Merry Christmas,” and to celebrate it with friends and family. Alternatively, if someone came up to me and said, “Happy Hanukkah,”  “Happy Kwanza,” “Eid Mubarak” or any other religious celebration pleasantry, I certainly would not be offended. I would say, “Thank you” and hope for the same for them, because they are not insulting me. They are not forcing their religious holiday on me. They are only wishing me well in the spirit of their holiday. If I choose to say “Merry Christmas,” because that is what I celebrate, I would hope you have no problem with that either.

Everyone should feel free to express whatever he or she is celebrating. A celebration of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year; or Eid, the passing of Ramadan should be celebrated and expressed just as easily and openly as a Christian person would celebrate Christmas. Whether you are Jewish, Ukrainian, Cree, Chinese, or whatever your cultural background, you have the right celebrate and express your holidays freely.

Our Charter dictates that “freedom of conscience and religion.” is a constitutionally protected right in Canada. In a 1985 Supreme Court case, R. v Big M Drug Mart, Chief Justice Brian Dickson wrote regarding the inclusivity of this freedom, “the right to entertain such religious beliefs as a person chooses, the right to declare religious beliefs openly and without fear of hindrance or reprisal, and the right to manifest religious belief by worship and practice or by teaching and dissemination.” ~R. v. Big M Drug Mart Ltd., [1985] 1 SCR 295, 1985 CanLII 69 (SCC), <http://canlii.ca/t/1fv2b&gt; retrieved on 2015-12-16

Regardless of whether you believe Christmas is a holiday of worship to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, or if you believe it is a purely secular act, where family and friends exchange gifts, or even if you do not celebrate Christmas at all, the spirit of the season should not be wrapped up in divisiveness, full of anger and ill will. It is certainly not celebrated to pit “us” against “them.” The spirit of Christmas is to hope for peace and goodwill for all people. The bottom line is my wishing you a “Merry Christmas” is all-inclusive and certainly does not stop anyone else from celebrating his or her holiday. We all have the same right to celebrate any religion we want, which makes us all, no matter what our religious belief, lucky to live in Canada.

I know Christmas is not yet here, but just the same, Merry Christmas to everyone!

Five for Friday

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The books that end up on this table are books I am currently reading.

Once again, another instalment of Five for Friday brought to you by the letter A. “A” is for Awesome, because that is what the next seven days are going to be.

I want to share a quote from Laura Hillenbrand, the author behind the book that inspired the movie Seabicuit.

“We are all showered in gifts, most of which we never really see.”

I am trying to see them all now with these Five for Friday posts. I hope you enjoy this week’s instalment.

This week, I am grateful for my glasses, because although I do not have perfect vision, I am still able to see; freshly baked bread, because the scent of it always fills the house with what’s to come; my full-length kimono-type housecoat, because it does the best job at keeping me warm; a snowfall at Christmas, because it just makes that day all the more wonderful; and my grandfather being accepted by Canada as an immigrant, because without that, none of this would exist.

What are you grateful for?