Dear Aunt B,
Columns & Editorials
Believers, gather round. We are about to observe, or not, it turns out, maybe the least known of all Christian holidays. It is mentioned in the pages of Luke and Leviticus. Purifications and offerings of lambs and dove were referenced. It centers around the Abrahamic covenant of the religious rite of circumcision. 40 days after birth, and, based on a passage in Genesis referencing circumcision on the 8th day, 32 days after that rite, infant boys – some text say infant girls, as well – were presented to the temple. Calculating the celebration of Jesus’ birth on December 25th brings us to February 2nd. Biblical passages, including one in Isaiah, mention processions of lights (a light for revelation to the Gentiles), thus the use of candles in many Christian religions. It is time to celebrate Candlemas, or Candlemass, the holy day honoring the presentation of Jesus. But, wait, Dina, you’re actually writing a religious column on the religious page? Well sure, sort of. I keep my eye on the prize all of the time. I pray. I meditate on lovely, beautiful thoughts toward mankind. I do everything I can to move toward love, toward understanding, toward light, and toward God. But, just like the birth of Jesus morphed into Santa Claus – ok, there was a Christian bishop named Nicholas who helped the needy, was promoted to sainthood, and was eventually touted Santa Claus – Candlemas, too, was modernized and “improved” by way of Pennsylvania. Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, that is.
THERE’S AN OLD OAK TREE
Holy moly. Today, I had the pleasure of taking part in an hour-long Zoom class. The facilitator was an accomplished professional and entrepreneur. The participants were authors, business owners, creatives and professionals taking part in a vibrant collaboration of thoughts and ideas for the growth and development of all involved. The class was bustling, but orderly. I was honored and thrilled to be part of it.
Dear Aunt B,
I realized, very young, that my family did things a little, well, differently. We didn’t burn bridges. We didn’t even close doors that well. Take houses, for instance – actually don’t take them, just repurpose them. Once my father bought the old church in Pleasant Grove, right down from Charco Broilers, where the big bull was up on the roof of the building, and moved it out to the no man’s land between Seagoville and Combine (to use as a house), we didn’t get rid of the single wide trailer home with the bronze appliances and the midcentmod linoleum. We just used it for “stuff.” If Daddy was looking for his professional bacon slicer, ‘cause who doesn’t prefer their bacon in whole hog form, he needn’t look any further than the trailer. When Momma’s portable/ inflatable hair dryer bonnet went on the fritz, meaning I was a 6 year old child with a wet head full of brush rollers, she just summoned for her official beauty shop hair dryer chair with the huge plastic pull down dome and the brown naugahyde seat. After all, it was just in the trailer. Similarly, I recall my Aunt Johnnie’s house, but not her real house, mind you, just her first house – the one with all her stuff. I can’t remember what we were searching for that day, but I was haunted by all the antique furniture draped in white sheets. “DD, watch out for that floorboard over there. See the one that’s bucklin’ up? It’ll give way if you step on it.” Yes, there were actual holes in the floor of Aunt Johnnie’s “stuff” house. I was convinced hobgoblins were lying in wait, their gnarly knuckled twisted hands reaching out for the ankles of yummy tasting children. Yet, I wasn’t as scared as I was mesmerized by what those places held: stories, emotions, pleas born of the fear of being forgotten. Thus began a lifelong addiction to all things old & decrepit, objects with chippy peely paint, once loved things left to decay in dark corners, and, most especially, falling down and often abandoned houses. In the 80’s, during one of my failed community college stints aimed at becoming the next Frank Lloyd Wright, I found both kinship with like minds and a 70’s documentary with a cult following. Welcome to Grey Gardens.
Five Forney Mentors that deserve to be remembered.
Hunting enthusiasts anxiously look forward to the first day of hunting season, a date chosen after local gaming authorities carefully consider a host of factors. Conservation of both game and the hobby hunters love so much are two of the driving forces that determine when hunting seasons begin. Local gaming authorities want to protect wildlife from overhunting, and they also want to ensure hunters won’t have to confront dwindling animal populations that will affect their hunting. Estimates of local animal populations are one of the main factors gaming authorities consider when trying to figure out the best time to start a hunting season. If local authorities deem that the animal population is too large, thereby adversely affecting local residents, they will time hunting season in such a way as to give hunters an advantage. This can help control local wildlife populations and make communities safer. On the opposite end of the spectrum, if population estimates are especially low, authorities will time hunting season so fewer animals are likely to be killed. These efforts at managing local animal populations can benefit hunters, animals and even local residents who don’t participate when hunting season begins.
Student misbehavior is a part of every classroom. However, there are times when student misbehavior is so volatile, violent students need to be separated from the rest of the class for their own sake and the sake of other learners. Students who are this volatile are often placed in classrooms for students who have difficulty managing their behavior or who may have one or more disabilities that manifest in anger or aggression. Within these classrooms there may be a much smaller room, perhaps the size of a large walk-in closet, designated as a “cool down” area for students who need a place to pull themselves together after an angry outburst.
THE ADVERSITIES GOD USES TO GET OUR ATTENTION. Joshua 7: 5-9.
Dear Aunt B,
Note: this column was authored before the events that took place last week at the US Capitol. In lieu of our topic, we have to take a tack from history. In the case of the Holocaust, or the day of 9/11, or the horrors of both our civil and international wars, to stop talking is to forget, to forget is to repeat. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that repeat performances of horrible things actually CAN happen, and often do. As you read this column, you might not even realize what Monday holds for you. For many with office jobs, you get a day off. It’s Martin Luther King Day, after all. Why, if it were summer, we’d all be donning our flag festooned swim trunks and bikinis and cooking out at some lake, indulging in adult beverages and playing horseshoes or corn hole with Kidd Rock in the background, rocking a bad word for a woman up and down the coast. After all, what are national holidays for, if not this? A national holiday is a country’s equivalent of a personal milestone celebration, like a birthday or an anniversary. Our forefathers thought it would be nice for us to take a day and remember our history and celebrate as a society. I’m not sure they meant for us to confuse Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day, but that’s a column for another time. I’m not sure they meant for us to choose to show up at the post office only on these days, cursing under our breath because we really needed stamps. But, it’s just MLK Day, the national holiday that almost wasn’t. Do you remember all that controversy over the American people not needing yet another day off? Still, I happen to think it’s the most important one of all. But first, let’s hop into my hot tub time machine and head back to the 40’s when Michael King (who would legally change his name to honor Protestant leader Martin Luther) forged his path. I’m embarrassed at how little I knew about this civil rights icon. We shall learn together, yes?
A few days ago I was on the internet when I surfed across a YouTube video featuring one of my favorite actors Jimmy Stewart telling “The Funniest Joke I ever heard.”
The holiday season is that time where we spend hours upon hours stressing over family gatherings, finding the perfect gifts and making the holidays magical for our children. In all our efforts, we often overlook the most valuable gift we can give our children, our time. Our children, especially when they are young, typically want our time and attention more than toys, trinkets, or other goods that won’t make it to New Year’s Eve intact. Somehow, we seem to have bought into the folly that gifts must be trendy, spendy and wrapped in a box. Not so. The best gift we can give to our children is the gift of ourselves. Here are a few suggestions for spending quality time with potential for continued learning throughout and beyond the holidays.
Celebrating the new year on January 1 is a relatively recent phenomenon. The calendar as we know it today has evolved several times and months have gone by different names. On the early Roman calendar, March was the first month of the 10-month calendar. That is why the last four months of the year have prefixes that coordinate with the seventh (September), eighth (October), ninth (November), and tenth (December) numerals. King Numa Pompilius reformed the calendar around 700 BCE by adding the months of January and February to the original 10 months. But the calendar still required some additional tweaking to be more aligned with the seasons. In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar introduced a solar-based calendar that was an improvement on the ancient Roman one, which was lunar-based. During this time, the month of Quintilis was renamed July in honor of Julius Caesar and Sextilis was renamed August in honor of Augustus. Shortly after the introduction of the solar calendar, the beginning of the year was moved from March 1 to January 1.