My Twelve Days of Christmas

On the First Day of Christmas, my true love gave me a . . .
well, I’m not sure I even know who my true love is
And, well, nobody really special has given me anything,
So, let’s just assume Santa gave to me . . .
A shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . because, you see, I really don’t need a partridge at all; we do have enough pets to take care of around here . . .

On the Second Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
. . .Yeah, I’m still looking for a true love, but in the meantime it’s still Santa . . .
Two turtle shells
. . . which I’m pretty sure are illegal to import, and I’m really not sure what to do with, but they are pretty . . .
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Third Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
. . . Day three and still no true love, but Santa keeps bringing me stuff, so who’s complaining . . .
Three French Hens
. . . Now, I know I said we did not need any more pets, but these hens lay eggs and, well, I think they’ll be legal in Sacramento soon – I hope so . . .
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Fourth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Four Calling Friends
. . . which is really a cool gift, because a lot of my friends do not call very often and I’m thinking I’ve got a few more days of this, so I might hear from just about everybody . . .
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . did I mention that Santa did NOT bring the pear tree; so am I supposed to get my own or something . . .

On the Fifth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Five Golden Rings
. . . now, this is getting my hopes up that the true love might be on the way . . .
Four Calling Friends
. . . glad it was not the same four friends today; it is nice to hear from folks . . .
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . I am a bit worried about tomorrow, because I have the hens now and I certainly do not need geese – I cannot imagine them being legal in my lifetime . . .

On the Sixth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Six Peace Signs Praying
. . . Okay, I think it’s a psychedelic thing, but I like it – Peace out Santa! . . .
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Seventh Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Seven Swans a’swimming
. . . now you just have to understand that Swan is a family name and these were actually distant relatives and, yes, it WAS nice to see them . . .
Six Peace Signs Praying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Eighth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Eight Maids a’cleaning
. . . and, let me tell you, the house needed it; now, THAT is one nice gift . . .
Seven Swans a’swimming
. . . a whole different branch of the family today – how nice . . .
Six Peace Signs Praying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
. . . and, thanks for the messages, but I’m busy entertaining relatives from out of town and could not answer; I’ll get back to you after the holiday rush . . .
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . everybody’s getting shovels for Christmas next year; I have plenty now; still no tree . . .

On the Ninth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Nine Ladies dancing
. . . great, but next time let’s go out somewhere with good music and really let loose . . .
Eight Maids a’cleaning
Seven Swans a’swimming
Six Peace Signs Praying
. . . okay, I’m starting to pray for peace, too, now. . .
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
Three French Hens
. . . thank goodness for those eggs or I wouldn’t know how to feed all these relatives . . .
Two turtle shells
. . . and, boy, do these shells make great bowls, now that there is not a clean dish to be found anywhere in the house . . .
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Tenth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Ten Lords a’Leaping
. . . so, is one of these guys supposed to be my true love; I feel like the Bachelorette on that reality show . . .
Nine Ladies dancing
Eight Maids a’cleaning
. . . I guess I need to actually ask these gals to wash the dishes . . .
Seven Swans a’swimming
Six Peace Signs Praying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
. . . sorry about that ‘mailbox full’ message everyone; I’ll get around to listening to all the messages soon . . .
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree

On the Eleventh Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Eleven Pipers piping
. . . I always thought this was a musical reference, but, with all these guests, working plumbing is critical; I hope electricians are next . . .
Ten Lords a’Leaping
Nine Ladies dancing
Eight Maids a’cleaning
Seven Swans a’swimming
Six Peace Signs Praying
Five Golden Rings
Four Calling Friends
Three French Hens
Two turtle shells
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . still waiting for a tree to plant and practically holding my breath for Santa’s last chance at the true love thing tomorrow. . .

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas, Santa gave to me
Twelve Drummers Drumming
. . . I always enjoy a good drum circle and the dancers are loving it . . .
Eleven Pipers piping
. . . plumbing is now working fine, Thank you . . .
Ten Lords a’Leaping
. . . apparently, they were just here to entertain the dancing ladies and my out of town guests . . .
Nine Ladies dancing
. . . tap dancers today – just a bit on the noisy side . . .
Eight Maids a’cleaning
. . . and even the dishes got done, Thank you . . .
Seven Swans a’swimming
. . . I especially appreciate the invitations to Australia and Scotland; it will be nice to see you all again soon . . .
Six Peace Signs Praying
. . . I think it is starting to work – looking forward to tomorrow . . .
Five Golden Rings
. . . I don’t know what to do with all these rings; maybe I’ll get one of the envelopes they advertise on tv . . .
Four Calling Friends
. . . since my voice mailbox is full, I really have no way of knowing if four more friends called today; I hope they call back later . . .
Three French Hens
. . . still not legal, but the eggs are great . . .
Two turtle shells
. . . turns out these make great stepping stones in the backyard, so I can gather eggs without getting muddy shoes . . .
And a shovel to plant a pear tree
. . . Santa finally left a note saying this is not a good time of year for planting and suggesting I get trees in the spring; maybe I’ll pick up a true love in the spring too . . . 

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Fight for Tradition – Against Prop. 8

I cried this morning as I passed a Proposition 8 protest.  I tried to hide my tears and the quiver in my voice from my daughter as she cheered for the No on Prop. 8 protestors.  I would have cheered if I had not been crying.  I honked the car horn instead, joining a noisy parade of other cars honking as we passed.  I was proud that the fight continues and even gains strength still.

I have listened lately to the Prop. 8 supporters cry foul because the Prop. 8 opponents will not just give up and go home, because the Prop. 8 opponents are protesting loudly and continuously and because there has been retaliation against Prop. 8 supporters.  As I listen, I am tempted to get out my violin and play the sad song that should be the soundtrack of their cries.  I have no sympathy. 

 

Please do not get me wrong, I do not condone any violent retaliation, but I cannot condemn those who boycott, picket and protest. 

 

I know a very strong supporter of Prop. 8, who I will not identify here in any way.  She believes homosexual behavior is a sin and homosexuality itself is an evil to be fought.  She believes it is appropriate to boycott gay-owned businesses and I have known her to refuse to do business with many local merchants for that reason alone.  She has also tried to persuade me to do the same.  She has offered me support in various aspects of my life, but only on the condition that I support her religious, moral and political views.  I have always believed it to be her right to live by her values, boycott people whose lifestyles she abhors, attempt to persuade others to her views, and to provide her support only where she believes it will support her own agenda.  I actually admire her, as one of the very few people I know who lives according to her stated principles.  She has integrity, misguided though I believe it to be. 

 

I disagree completely with her agenda.  I abhor that she writes letters to the editor that I find hateful.  I abhor that she videotapes even the spectators at gay pride parades (never minding that, by doing so, she becomes one as well) so that she can keep track of those whom she must boycott.  I abhor that she has forced her grandchildren to attend protests with her even when they disagree with her position or have so little understanding of the issues to even hold a position.  I abhor that she believes her views are the one true and correct view that all people should live by and attempts to force her views on others.  I abhor her lack of tolerance.  And yet, I admire her integrity and I can agree to disagree with her.  

 

For decades, I have watched the Prop. 8 supporter I know boycott, picket and protest against homosexuality, without a trace of remorse for her actions.  For decades!  And, it has not been only her.  Homophobes have not just given up on the issues; they have boycotted, picketed and protested.  They have retaliated in their own, sometimes even violent, ways.  And, they have condoned a society that allows even young school children to insult each other by calling each other fag or gay or lesbo.  Not an eyebrow is raised when these words are bandied about as pejorative terms as lightly as such innocuous terms as dweeb and dork. 

 

Is it any wonder, after decades of discrimination and abuse, a fleeting success in obtaining equal rights and the stripping away of those rights by the majority, that there is now a powerful backlash?  What amazes me is that the Prop. 8 supporters, who imposed their discrimination for decades, are complaining after only 10 days.  Please forgive my pettiness, but what wimps! 

 

My favorite of the comments I have seen so far is this from Andrew Pugno, the lawyer and spokesperson for the Yes On 8 campaign:  “This activity shows great disrespect for the will of the voters.” “It also shows religious intolerance,” he said, adding that his Catholic church was vandalized.    Forgive my bluntness, but a very slim majority that forces the minority to live according to its religious views by adopting its definition of marriage is hardly showing religious tolerance.  The disrespect here is that the majority really believes they should have the right to impose their will, establish their religious views as the law of the land and then play victim when the oppressed minority complains.
 
My family’s personal tradition and this country’s political tradition is one of fighting for what is right.  The revolution, the civil war and even, to a certain extent, the current war in Iraq (I know I’ll live to regret publishing those words) have been violent backlashes against injustices.  The civil rights movements of the last century were backlashes against injustice.  Had the revolutionaries given up and gone home at the first lost battle, we would not be a country today.  We would not have the freedoms that the Prop. 8 supporters are attempting to take away through the tyranny of their hateful majority. 

 

My ancestors committed treason so that we might have a better society.  That is our tradition.  That is the tradition I will support. 

 

I challenge all Prop. 8 opponents to be traditional – continue to fight for what is right!  Please try to do it in a way that respects the rights of even those who would deny the fundamental truth that we are all equal, but do it.  Take to the streets, the steps of city halls, the steps of the Capitol, and blogospheres.  Boycott, picket, protest and chant.   Be loud.  Drown out the crying of the wimps.  Do not give up and go home.  My daughter deserves the better society our ancestors fought for.  Let’s give it to her.  And, let’s set an example of doing what is right even when it is difficult, because who knows what injustice she will be fighting against in the future and she just might need a tradition of strength to call upon. 

Don’t be shocked: I Vote For Tradition

The Proposition 8 vote in California continues to ripple outward in every-increasing circles.   I knew Prop. 8 was not just a pebble tossed haphazardly in a pond; I thought it was a fairly substantial rock.  As it turns out, it was a boulder of unprecedented proportions.  And the ripples are large and will continue for a long time to come.  

 

Setting aside the retaliatory hatred that some members of the gay community (a phrase I hesitate to use because I do not believe that all gay people are of one community as this context proves) have shown toward supporters of Prop. 8, I think the ripples have been a force for positive change.  For myself, these ripples and the entire debate have brought my thought process down to its most fundamental (another word I hesitate to use for fear of being misconstrued, especially in this context) levels. 

 

While most of my concern during the debate was about what we are teaching our children and the hypocrisies exposed by the campaign, some of the other issues that have been rippling through my mind are of much broader significance.  They are issues of how we, as a country, can remain united in some common principle as we resolve this debate.  They are issues regarding the role of the government in our personal lives and the role of religion in our political lives.  They are issues of what exactly the nature of marriage is. 

 

Then, the details, struck me.  During the debate, Prop. 8 supporters talked about tradition and the sanctity of marriage.  I have always thought I knew what sanctity meant:  something is really, really special.  Well, obviously, that definition was insufficient for this debate and, while I have not yet checked the Oxford English Dictionary, a quick web search pulled up these definitions:

 

1. Holiness of life or disposition; saintliness.

2. The quality or condition of being considered sacred; inviolability.

3. Something considered sacred.

 

These definitions sound very religious to me.  What is sacred, saintly or holy is, clearly, a matter of religion.  Of those definitions, only “inviolability” seems to be a non-religious definition – something that, perhaps, our government might be concerned with.  My quick dictionary lookup defines inviolable as incapable of being transgressed or dishonored.  But, in fact, our government is not concerned with inviolability or it would not permit divorce except where some greater principle takes precedence.  Many have suggested that the logical route to protecting the sanctity (read inviolability) of marriage is to outlaw divorce. 

 

I think there are greater principles that take precedence.  In some cases, the inviolability of marriage is transgressed not by divorce but by the acts that precipitate it: abuse and neglect, adultery, failure to uphold the marriage contract itself.  Marriage is, after all, simply a contract between two people.  Granted, it is a contract that our laws imbue with innumerable rights and obligations automatically, regardless of the actual intent of the parties.  Should our laws limit the rights of two adults to define their contract as they desire?  I think not. 

 

So, when our political process results in an act intended by most of its supporters to protect the sanctity of marriage, are we establishing religion?  Are we simply protecting the free exercise of religion by those who agree regarding what is holy?  Are we hampering the free exercise of religion by those who do not find the same thing holy?  Or, are we simply stating as an electorate that marriage should be inviolable? 

 

If the latter, the logical course, which many have suggested, would changes in the divorce laws.  Perhaps “no fault” divorce is justified by no greater principle.  It is worth a healthy debate – more worthy than a debate about limiting the right of gay people to marry.

 

I propose, instead, as have many others, that the government get out of the marriage business entirely.  Leave “marriage” to religion and the personal contracts entered into between two consenting adults (of whatever persuasion).  If the many rights and obligations are worthy of being incorporated into those contracts, provide a mechanism for registering the union of the two people, so that it is clear who has those rights and who is bound by the obligations. 

 

We should then turn the debate to the more fundamental issue of what principles unite us.

I think we can, and should, unite behind the principle that no religion or religious ideals should govern this country.  To allow even the majority’s religious beliefs to guide our laws is a risky proposition.  Majorities change.  Next year, instead of Judeo-Christian concepts, Buddhist concepts might hold sway; the year after perhaps it will be Muslim concepts.  There are many religions and any could become a majority in the future – we have no crystal ball to know.

 

Do we want to blow with the winds of changing majorities or truly honor tradition by holding fast to the ideals of the Founding Fathers that there should be no tyranny of the majority and that religion and government should remain separate.  The supporters of Prop. 8 will tell you that this all comes down to tradition.  The question, then, is which tradition – the founding principles of this country or a majority’s religious tradition?  I vote for our political tradition.