Commie

Commie:(n) a communist

Growing up, there were three great insults we used repeatedly to decimate the character of those around us, while greatly inflating our own sense of self-importance: retard, gay and Commie

Although they were often used interchangeably for all seasons and all reasons, there were specific times when “retard” was applied. Whenever anyone did anything that inconvenienced us he or she was a retard.

When anyone did anything the least bit unusual, and we were afraid they would ask us to do it, too, they were gay.

And when our parents told us that certain children had mothers and fathers who were questionable in their politics–well, those kids were Commies.

You could probably survive being a retard, as long as you didn’t get too upset.

You could flee from being gay.

But once you were identified as a Commie–an enemy of the state–a Ruskie–a member of the Soviet Union–a sympathizer with killers–well, it was just a little hard to shake that off.

I remember once when two friends and I refused to listen to a girl who came to school wearing jeans and a t-shirt (which was unheard of at the time) and spouted opinions on such things as ecology, civil rights, and even, God forbid, anti-war. She was especially upset with the war in Viet Nam.

In our freshman year, we had one view of this girl–but by the time we were seniors, the national opinion on civil rights had changed, ecology had been honored by the creation of Earth Day, and because of the Pentagon Papers, the Viet Nam War had been exposed as an unnecessary exercise in futility.

We were uncomfortable about it. The Commie had been proven correct.

So to compensate, we just started calling her gay.

 

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Alabaster

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

 

Alabaster: (n) a fine-grained, translucent form of gypsum, usually white and often carved into ornaments.

What a great word for the Christmas season!

I don’t know where I got the idea–I’m sure somewhere in my twisted history it slipped in through an available crack, but I always envisioned the wise ones from the East, who came to Bethlehem, bringing their gifts in alabaster boxes.

Maybe it’s something I just absorbed over the years from viewing artists’ renditions of the astrologers’ luggage. But it was always a beautiful sight–because truthfully, you can tell the value of a gift by its packaging.

Let me rephrase that. I believe you should be able to tell the content of the quality of a gift through its container.

A story: many years ago, at Christmastime, one of my children, lacking finance for the occasion, bought a good number of the one-dollar boxes of chocolate-covered cherries. The reason that I knew they cost a buck is that the store printed the price on the front of the wrapper, and my child was unable to dispel the evidence. Being a little bit embarrassed over offering such a cheap gift, he wrapped them beautifully in gorgeous paper, placing a bow on the top.

I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed, after commenting on the beauty of the packaging, to discover the cheap contents. I hid my disappointment pretty well, though, and acted like they were the best chocolate-covered cherries that God, the angels, or Russell Stover, for that matter, had ever come up with.

But the incident gave me reason to contemplate the issue of presentation. It’s why we dress up for formal occasions instead of showing up in t-shirts and jeans. The person inside is the same, but the outward appearance certainly advertises better possibilities.

So I imagine when these star-gazers from the East arrived in Bethlehem, and Mary and Joseph saw the alabaster boxes, a tingle went through them, down to their spines, because they suspected they were in for a good haul. Being simple folks on the fast track for sainthood, they probably attempted to hide these very carnal sensations. But I’m sure the presence of  alabaster  stimulated a great hope in their hearts, that just maybe they wouldn’t have to be poor forever. And sure enough, upon opening them, they found gold, frankincense and myrrh.

So you may think it’s funny to wrap a stick of gum in golden paper with ribbon and tinsel. Or you may want to play down your offering by placing the gold watch you purchased in a brown paper bag. But I will tell you, there is a power in at least attempting to match what’s inside with what’s outside.

For instance, it’s why I continue to diet … even though my efforts are mocked by the universe.