HOLIDAY SPIRIT – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Today is the final day of Chanukah while throughout the land, holiday spirits are peaking. This wildly enthusiastic holiday excitement is something I’ve heard about my whole life, but never fully experienced.

I’m Jewish. Christmas is a holiday which I don’t totally understand. I know for some Jewish families, the High Holidays — Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur — as well as the festival of Passover are very big deals. Households are cleaned, there’s lots of cooking and families gather for traditional meals and ritual celebrations. In many homes, gifts are exchanged too.

Table set for Passover Seder

I have a very small family, so for us, those holidays were nothing more than a small dinner party with a theme.

Even with my observant friends, Jewish holidays just don’t rise to the level of obsession and frenzy that Christmas does for my gentile friends. We don’t have to buy gifts for every friend and every family member. We don’t spend huge amounts of time buying and putting up decorations in every room in the house We don’t have anything like the Xmas tree, lovingly chosen and decorated, to act as the centerpiece of the holiday.

My experience of the Christmas season is through my Christian friends and family members (my second husband is a Protestant-ish). Most of them complain for weeks about their exhaustion and stress from endless shopping, decorating, wrapping gifts, planning family gatherings, sending out cards, going to parties and often cooking for large numbers of people.

That’s on top of the out-of-town family who are usually coming to visit over the holidays. That can be wonderful, but it involves another layer of work, planning and often additional stress.

I’m told that the actual Christmas eve and day festivities make all the blood, sweat and tears worthwhile. The few that I’ve experienced seem rather anti-climactic after the rush everyone gets from opening presents. However, for families who may only be together just this once during the year, it must be a very special and cherished time.

Looking at Christmas from the outside, it feels like putting on a play. Lots of time and energy is spent putting the show together. Then there’s the euphoria of performing in front of the audience. After everything is cleaned up and put away, there’s a warm afterglow.

Being Jewish, I miss out on a big, two-month-long cultural phenomenon. Everywhere I go there are Christmas decorations, Christmas foods and Christmas music. It’s all enjoyable, but it doesn’t do for me what it must do for people who really get into the holidays. I wish I could experience the orgy of merriment and excitement that the holiday spirit imparts. It looks like a lot of fun.

But I’ll have to settle for looking in with my nose pressed against the window. At least I don’t need a long spa vacation after the holidays are over.

SIX LETTERS INCLUDING R? PHOTO SCRABBLE?

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: R – Needs to start with the letter R or have at least six letters including an R – or anyway, that’s the way I did it, so if I did it wrong, oops


If we go to seven letters, do I get an extra 50 points? Aren’t we lucky that one out of every two words has an “r” in it? I don’t know if that’s true, really, but it certainly seems like it … especially when you are trying to play Scrabble without an “r” … or an “e.”

Radiating light on the new bedroom quilt covering
Grooming Gibbs
Radiant Christmas
Brightest sky over earliest snowfall

THE BEST OF THE MONTHS OF 2017

And what a year it has been! Terrifying politics and weird weather. Dogs and new dogs and a summer that wouldn’t end … plus an autumn that never quite began. Now, here we are. December, the last month of the year. Christmas is just days away and you know I haven’t wrapped anything. This may be the year I skip the wrapping and just hand them out!

Okay, I’ll try to do better than that.

Month by month, this was the year that was.

JANUARY


FEBRUARY


MARCH


APRIL


MAY


JUNE


JULY


AUGUST


SEPTEMBER


OCTOBER


NOVEMBER


DECEMBER


I participate in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge 2017

THE FUTURE WENT ON TRIAL AND LOST

INHERIT THE WIND AND THE SCOPES TRIAL


On this day as I write this, Alabama made us smile. I never thought I could say that, but it happened. It gave us hope. Not a solution, but hope that the future may yet be better than the present. And so, because the words spoken by Spencer Tracy are more true today than ever before, let us remember “Inherit the Wind” and the Scopes Trial during which they put the future on trial.

When the jury was polled, the future lost.


scopes trial image 2The Scopes Trial, officially The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes and typically referred to as the Scopes Monkey Trial, was a famous trial in  1925. In it, a substitute high school teacher — John Scopes — was accused of violating Tennessee’s Butler Act, which made it unlawful to teach human evolution in any state-funded school.

The trial was deliberately staged in the town of Dayton, Tennessee to attract publicity. Scopes was unsure whether he actually had taught evolution, but he purposely incriminated himself so the case would have a defendant.

William Jennings Bryan argued for the prosecution, Clarence Darrow for Scopes and the defense. The trial publicized the Fundamentalist–Modernist Controversy. This pitted Modernists — who believed evolution and religion were reconcilable — against Fundamentalists, who believed the word of God (as revealed in the bible) was the encapsulation of all human knowledge.

scopes trial image 1

Scopes was found guilty and fined $100, though the verdict was overturned on a technicality. Despite all the publicity and hoopla, the issue was never truly settled and remains a political, religious and emotional issue today, which doesn’t say much about our ability to advance our society.


Fanaticism and ignorance is forever busy, and needs feeding.

It’s a great line from a great film based on an historic trial that settled nothing and left the controversy between science and creationism alive and well, as much of a political hot potato today as it was 100 years ago.


 

Inherit the Wind (1960), was directed by Stanley Kramer. Much of the script was taken from the actual transcripts of the 1925 trial. With a few minor changes of name, fundamentalism has morphed into creationism. We are stuck in the same conflict today.