I was ready to celebrate Christmas, or as it is known in our family, Tuesday. Tuesday with twinkly lights and music. There’s always something to celebrate in this big beautiful world, and the things worthy of celebration are more likely to appear to you if you’re not all fried with obligation: the shopping, the postal schedule, the traffic. We keep things pretty calm around here. Life comes with enough challenges without picking up burrs of distress.
Dave and I don’t even exchange presents. We get each other what we most desire: nothing.
You don’t need much when you have goldfinch butts right out your window. Our Lesser Goldfinches like to grab water out of the central reservoir of the nectar feeder. They show us their cute little fuzzy white butts. It’s not a butt butt, of course; no cleavage. But it’s still interesting. As is the hummingbird that hovers at them hard, giving them what-for. He could totally boop them right in their fuzzy finch fannies, he wants them to know, but he has discretion. And also there are twenty more finches in the tree, and the hummingbird has no friends to speak of. But–he wants them to know–he could totally boop.
There’s stuff worth celebrating online too. Lookit, there’s a dancing parrot! Oh look, someone made cream puffins! Cream puffs with little puffin heads on top!
Oh look, someone started a thread about transgendered people using the wrong bathrooms! There are several commenters, and they’re all in agreement. Penis: male. Vagina: female. You use the bathroom that corresponds with the gear you were born with. That’s it. Simple, end of story.
My goodness, we’re on the eve of rendering the entire planet uninhabitable, we’re on the verge of extinction, we’re creating refugees faster than we can wall them out, and the possibility that someone we don’t understand is going to want to pee at the same time we do is what’s keeping us up at night?
I stood at the edge of the pit just to observe, but there comes a time you just want to pop in a word in case someone is reachable–someone who hasn’t sunk into the mire all the way. Sometimes it works.
Okay, it never works.
I suggested that although this is a simple matter for most of us, it isn’t for everybody. I suggested it pays to listen to someone who does not have your own experience. I suggested that person might be someone’s child, or even one’s own.
I was swiftly reminded that this whole issue had already been decided by God. And that I should “stop placating that which is abnormal,” and that “the country needs to go back to basics.”
And that I was a “typical puppet lefty, calls people hateful & running away cause they can’t think for themselves.”
I reviewed. I had said something about advocating for my friends, people I actually knew. I had said something about listening. I had not said anything about hate.
Got to give the hateful fuck points for mind-reading, though.
And this coup de gross: “If you’re not helping your friends get mental help then I hope you celebrate when they get their ass kicked or kill themselves because you’re the one helping that to happen.”
I’m the one helping that to happen.
This is just the sort of thing that brings on despondency in a person, every bit as debilitating as the Christmas despondency we’ve sworn off of. It’s not that I can’t win the argument. It’s that these awful, dreadful people are out there at all, let alone in droves. It’s all too much: the ignorance, the racism, the xenophobia. It’s almost more than I can bear, sometimes. I ceded the last word and stepped away from the pit for my own peace of mind, but it was long in coming. Dreadful, godly people were squatting in my mental real estate.
We decided to get a tree. Decorate it, for the babies that will be here for the holidays. Turn this thing around.
Guess what? There is a Christmas tree shortage in the biggest Christmas-tree-producing state of all. One week before Christmas, all the lots were swept out, except one. We pulled in. The trees were presided over by the most unpleasant human being I have met in the real world in a decade. He was a horror. Nasty. The kind of man who gets described as body parts. We waited, and waited, to pay by far the most money for the crappiest tree we’d ever had while he conducted loud and seedy business on his phone, and finally he deigned to run our credit card while sneering and grumbling as dramatically as possible. Under my breath, I called him “Mr. Personality.” He turned on me so fast and with such anger that I recoiled in fear like a woman used to being abused. It was the most thoroughly unpleasant transaction, I think, I have ever made in my life.
I drove away and pondered the loss of my equanimity. I rarely take things personally. I am seldom so affected by an unpleasant encounter; as a postal carrier, I looked at those as a challenge to win people over. But on this day my soul had already been steeped in a stew of small and hateful minds. I was already tender. You could drop a fork right through me.
I pulled out of it. The solution is surprisingly simple. If you want peace, you must find it within yourself. You must share it with the world. You must be the light you want to see in others. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine.
Also? All the dreadful people need to be swapped out for goldfinches. Soon is good.
Sooner is better.
We don't do Christmas. No tree, no gifts, nothing. It was all just too stressful and seemed to be all about spending money you don't have to buy useless crap for people you don't like. When people ask if we're "ready for Christmas", and we tell them we don't celebrate it, you'd be surprised at the look of shock we get. (Maybe you wouldn't.) It's like we told them that we're roasting live babies for the holiday dinner.
Ha! I usually get looks of pure envy. I think there are a lot of people ready to jump off the consumer wagon if only they could persuade their family to join them. We decided all in one year. "What?" said I, who was the one who suggested it. "You all don't want my fabulous homemade presents anymore?" Yeah, they were fine with going without.
Now that Tuesday is over, happy Wednesday!
And isn't this a fabulous day as well!
I've spent a lot of time – wasted far too much time – over the past 20 years trying to convince people online of things that seemed like common sense to me. Not sure it's ever worked.
I hope I stop doing that in the new year.
There is so much else I could be doing. Maybe in 2019, I work on myself and make sure that I'm a model of behavior that other people can see and seek to emulate. I don't know.
There are decent people out there.
It's a resolution of mine too. Not being a better person, but not engaging online. I have to keep reminding myself: there are millions and millions of other dickwads out there that also require my correction, and I can't do them all.
Hooray for bird butts. An excellent antidote for a lot I find incomprehensible (and/or hateful).
Today we got a major swatch of robins. I have no idea why. They were't here yesterday. It's always something.
I think that the robins are here because the mistletoe is ripe with berries and the hawthorns too.
I do know robins don't migrate anywhere in particular, but they travel along temperature lines. The temperature at which worms wiggle, I think.
You're absolutely right. we need more goldfinches!!
The Lesser Goldfinch is a bird I'd never even heard of before about five years ago, and we get ZILLIONS of them. What in the world did I think they were?
Amen to all that! (But, I still don't understand….if the Goldfinch's butts don't have cleavage, then how do they avoid getting messy when they poop? Or do they all faithfully douche in the bird bath, after doing number 2?)
And consider how white their butt down is! How do they do this without toilet paper a/o a bidet?
I would remind you both that it's the cleavage that needs all the wiping. If you just had a nice flush hole to shoot stuff out of, you'd be in 'em.
Bird butts are definitely a step up from Christmas madness.
The one time I saw a varied thrush butt it changed my life. Changed my life, I tell you.
As I read "Sometimes it works" I was already mentally going, Nope nope nope it NEVER works, but you got there in the next sentence. The best you can hope for online is that no one will respond, or that they will say something like "we can all have different opinions" while the way they say it tells you they're privately thinking "… even if you're wrong" . . .
I've read, and tend to believe, that sitting down face to face with other willing participants, especially over good food, is the only way to really build bridges. It's easier to hold unassailable opinions online than in real life.
Birdie butts are as cute as the rest of the birdie. That's just a fact.
I think maybe once or twice I've been able to insert a new thought into someone's head by approaching them as gently as you would a wild animal, but maybe I didn't.
I much prefer the asses of my chickadees and nuthatches to those of the trumpanistas out there. We have managed to simplify the holidays, but we still eat well for a day or two.
Food! Food and music and twinkly lights. That's the whole shmear.
I do love your posts. Thank you for letting it shine!
You don't think that might create an over-abundance of goldfinches?
I try not to let those types of people and problems get to me and mostly I succeed. If that's called living in a bubble, then so be it. I'm happy within my bubble. I've found that too many people don't want to hear any opinions that don't agree with their own. so I avoid most people and stay at home or walk along the beaches here, watching nature, reading books, keeping calm.
It would be a TON of goldfinches, and I'm willing to take the risk.
Throw some baby grins in with the goldfinch butts and you’ve got the recipe for living well. Happy New Year, dear ones.
I got me some of those! I don't know how I got so lucky as to acquire baby grins without first manufacturing a baby of my own, but I did.
The first time I saw a Lesser Goldfinch, he was perched on a dandelion stem, eating dandelion puff seeds. The stem didn't even bend. I was enthralled. So tiny. They have the sweetest little voices. Here's to goldfinch butts.
People think I'm a birder, but five years ago I didn't even know there was such a thing as a lesser goldfinch. And right now they're by far the most-represented species in my yard. What did I think they were?
little yellow sparrows