Santa is Dead. Spread the Word.

myth of santa claus and St Nicholas

Every year, the spawnlings are asked, “Have you been good for Santa?”

Sometimes, they answer with a polite “We don’t believe in Santa but we like to exchange gifts with loved ones during the Summer Solstice.”

Other times, I can see they really are too tired to explain it so they settle for “We don’t believe in Santa”. That usually passes the accusatory glare to me, and I’m okay with that.

This year, we have a new winner for best response:

“No. Santa’s dead.”

Courtesy of the four-year-old fascinated with old people and how they die.

We don’t do Santa in our family

Yep, I’m a cold-heartless bitch who is depriving our spawnlings of the most sacred magic of childhood… Believing in a man who visits your bedroom, while you’re sleeping, after stalking you all year long. To top it off, he is the Master of Extortion by holding your gifts ransom dependent on subjective levels of behavioural management.

Or at least that’s how the 11-year-old tells it.

In our home, we don’t celebrate Christmas. We don’t do Santa. We don’t decorate a tree. And for the love of all things cool, calm, and collected—we do not do the big roast dinner. Why? I’m Pagan. EG Dad is an Atheist. And the weather outside our Lair is a balmy 36 degrees Celsius with 90% humidity and a storm threatening to dump all of three raindrops on my freshly-washed laundry.

Instead, we celebrate the Summer Solstice.

Summer Solstice

Solstice (Summer or Winter) is an astronomical phenomenon. It is science. It is set in the stars. There is no messing around with whether it really happened because it simply does. Every year. It can’t be manipulated, delayed, or even cancelled—no matter how frustrating my kids may be after only one week of school holidays. Five more to go…

The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year. It derives from the words sol (being our Sun), and stasis (being stationary). In astronomy, the Solstice is calculated for the moment the Sun appears stationary, or ‘rests’ a little longer in one position in the sky. In December 2017, we celebrated it last Friday 22 December.

We are not the only people in the world who celebrate the Solstice but we are still in the minority. So much so, when we are asked if the spawnlings believe in Santa, I always pause to consider if it would be easier to just say no and not spend the time explaining why.

Do You Believe in Santa Claus?

Truth is: We have told the spawnlings about Santa. We have told them the full story (as accurate as you can be based on a legend from hundreds of years ago).

Santa is based on jolly ol’ Saint Nicholas, a Greek monk who was very generous with gifts to help out less-fortunate people. Originally, the tradition was to give gifts to the bones of St Nick, kept in a Basilica in Bari, Italy. It was Martin Luther who suggested changing the focus to children; a rather successful albeit slightly political attempt at enticing children and families to Christianity rather than making it about Saint-worshipping.

When we tell this story to our spawnlings, we point out how old the legend is.  We point out how strong the legend is. Most importantly, we point out how wonderful the legend is, whether or not it is true. The ‘spirit’ of St Nicholas is about sharing our fortune with others. We give gifts, we share with others, and we think more about what we can give rather than what we receive.

The Lessons of St Nicholas

There are two benefits from this honest lesson: First, the spawnlings learn the real magic of Santa Claus. The spirit of Santa is so strong, it can be shared amongst many people all around the world. Every Santa you see in a shopping center is another person reminding us about giving and sharing with others. Santa may be dead but he made enough of an impact to inspire copycats everywhere. After all, imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

The second benefit is even more important: it has taught our spawnlings gratitude for every single gift they receive. They do not wake up in the morning and expect Santa to have left a present for them. Instead, they understand the love behind every gift they receive. They know the true person giving the gift and thus are able to understand the thought behind the gift. In return, the spawnlings place far more consideration in their own gifts. They ensure every gift means something and is not simply “stuff”.

Santa is Personal

Everyone has their own interpretation of what Santa Claus means to them. We ‘get’ that. And we respect that. The only rule we have is “DO NOT RUIN IT FOR OTHERS!!” Rest your panties, minions. We have made it very clear to our spawnlings they do NOT tell this to other kids. We are not responsible for other kids and their parenting but I will also not be responsible for revealing the betrayal between another parent and child.

Not everyone believes in Santa. I have met some who are utterly repulsed by the idea, and to them, I say “Okay. You do YOU.” The thing is, you never know where someone stands on the issue, and no-one should be reprimanded for asking.

Thus how we ended up in our situation today. Our spawnlings are absolutely fine with their understanding of Santa. They are not afraid of your questions. You simply need to prepare yourself for the answer.

Santa is dead. Spread the word.

Happy Holidays for all your festivities at this time of year.

Edit: Just found this pic which suits Zaltu perfectly

Wonder Woman is spirit of Santa

Star Trek Discovery: Born Afraid

Star Trek Discovery - Saru 01

Last night, Evil Genius Dad and I caught up on Star Trek: Discovery with episode 8, “Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum”. Now, I don’t understand the hate some people have for ST:DSC. I am really enjoying it. Both EG Dad and I feel it has the same spirit as previous Star Trek series, from the view of capturing the curiousity of exploration AND its ability to elicit discussion. Sure, it’s a little darker and honest—much in the same vein as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, a VERY underrated Star Trek series.

Last night was another one of those conversation starters. The thing is, it’s never just one conversation. We end up talking a lot; sometimes afterwards, sometimes during. EG Dad and I really are the worst people to watch anything with. Good thing we have each other.

Episode 8 is split over a few stories, one of them focused on three characters visiting the planet Pahvo. Burnham, Tyler, and Saru find a sentient life-force of some shape, manner, or form, who seems to communicate with Saru. If you want a full re-cap, my colleague Jules over at GeekDad has a pretty good run down. I’m not summarising it here, nor am I giving spoilers. Instead, I have an example of how ST:DSC is keeping the magic of relevance that is so inherent in the Star Trek franchise.

Star Trek Discovery - Saru 02

My focus is on Saru, a character of the species Kelpians. His species have been hunted for generations, becoming a product of their evolutionary growth as prey. As a species, they are constantly in a state of hypervigilance.

“We are born afraid, we Kelpians. It’s how we survive.” – Saru, ST:DSC (ep8)

At first, there is a really easy way to compare Saru’s situation to our real world. There are thousands… no, millions of refugees in the same situation. There are children born in war-torn countries who have never known what it is like to NOT be in a war zone. There are third-generations now living in refugee camps, with children developing the same evolutionary patterns of hypervigilance as displayed with Saru (not with a heightened sense, but definitely with the same awareness and stress levels). What Saru is experiencing is not unknown in our world. But it is slowly being ignored. Partly because it is too easy for our Western ‘all-consuming’ society to see it once on the TV, sigh with an “oh, that’s awful” and then move on to the next media highlight.

AHMAD2

Taken from Magnus Wennman’s photo essay, “Where the children sleep”. This is Ahmad, 7yo. He is one of the too many children, sleeping on the streets at Hungary’s closed border. They were forced to flee their home, and now know even sleep is not a free zone. Follow the link to see more of the essay and learn how you can help. – http://darbarnensover.aftonbladet.se/chapter/english-version/

I get it. Sometimes the global problems can be a bit much for us to deal with it. We can feel overwhelmed with this horrible news and be uncomfortable with the feelings of inadequacy from not knowing what to do. I GET it. I feel the same way. Not everything is geeky in our Lair. We still want to take over the world because it seems like the only way to learn how to FIX this.

But Saru is not just about the refugee crisis. ST:DSC is not just about war zones and military conditioning. In fact, when Saru explained how he was born afraid, I didn’t even compare it with war.

It made me think of a situation I had seen earlier the same day, in my very own street.

I was walking with Zaltu to pick up Sinister and Nefarious from school. In a short distance up the hill, I could see a couple walking towards us, holding hands. The only thought to cross my mind was, “I need to move over so we can all fit on the footpath.”

About a minute later, as we were about to cross paths, I noticed one of the couple abruptly let go and throw down the other’s hand. And this action filled me with sadness.

The couple were two men.

The look on one man’s face was a little fearful like he was nervous or afraid of what *I* might say or do because he was holding hands with a man.

There was nothing I could say or do, without making everyone feel even more uncomfortable. What I wanted to do was tap them on the shoulder and say, “If you want to hold hands, do it. I have no issue. It shouldn’t matter if I did. Love is love.”

It hit me when I was watching Saru, how this must feel in a relationship.

Imagine having your relationship, every relationship, born in fear. Imagine the beautiful, ‘new love’ high you feel with a fresh relationship…but it is tempered with the born-fear of not being able to share your love with the world. Imagine feeling that EVERY TIME you start a new relationship.

Imagine that hypervigilance with an everyday activity like starting a relationship.

This is why I love Star Trek.

Because the characters, the stories, the whole damn franchise, is presented in a way where anything is relatable. Everything is a conversation starter. There is always something that triggers my thinking on issues in my every day.

I want to see more. I want to see more social commentary. I want to see more discussion about the dark side of wartimes, even in Utopian settings like Star Trek. I want to see more of Saru, overcoming his genetic preconditions (or at least learning how to use them better).

I especially want to see more ST:DSC to encourage me to look at my immediate world in a new way. I have a lot of respect for a show able to provoke my thoughts on how to make it a better place.

That’s my Star Trek.

Star Trek Discovery - title

 

Marriage Rights v Marriage Rites: Why Marriage Equality is Overdue in Australia

 

Same-sex_marriage_cartoon_(18634736453)

If anyone knows the original artist of this cartoon, tell me in the comments.

 

 

Fun fact: EG Dad and I were never originally sold on the idea of marriage. To be perfectly honest, the biggest selling point was the party.

We spent months planning “The Reception” (almost as much time as we spent planning the honeymoon). We were going to have a marquee with a string trio playing variations of modern classics; fire-dancers would entertain outside; offerings would be given to the trees in the park; guests would arrive by ferry across the river. All four pagan elements would be invited for what would have been a night of absolute celebration. We had the venue (park) picked out, the savings plan underway, the entertainment was booked. The celebrant wasn’t organised yet, because … well, we weren’t really thinking about the legalities.

We kind of took it for granted our de facto relationship had the same legal rights as married couples. We had been living together for around five years…

Then I fell pregnant with Sinister. And being the good little legal professional I was back then, I learnt how wrong we were.

In fact, this is when we learnt that de facto relationships (and especially same-sex relationships) do NOT have equal rights to married couples. For example: When travelling overseas (eg. for a honeymoon), we would need to take the extra paperwork to prove both of us are parents. In most countries (including Australia) married couples travelling together with kids are automatically assumed to be the parents.

The thing is, the legal rights of our de facto relationship were always a little more vulnerable than a married couple. We just didn’t realise it until we factored in children.

Same-sex couples? They realise it from DAY 1.

They have added issues of proving their relationship when one of them is in the hospital. They have added issues of proving legal parent status. And I have heard from one family, passports to travel overseas are a paperwork nightmare.

Now, there is NOTHING in my sexuality or EG Dad’s sexuality that makes us better parents than those in same-sex relationships. So why should same-sex relationships be denied the same legal rights and simplification?

Equal marriage rights will NOT change any existing married couple. Hell, they won’t even change the marriage rites except for one small statement: instead of being between ‘man and woman’, it will be between ‘two people who love each other, to the exclusion of all others’. Isn’t’ that essentially what it is supposed to be anyway?

This will not change YOUR existing marriage. This will not devalue or demean ANY existing marriage. If you’re already married, then here’s a tip: This has NOTHING to do with you.

But it does change the rights of same-sex couples. It is about equal recognition and equal rights. It is about validating their relationship in the eyes of their loved ones AND most importantly, in the eyes of The Law.

And this should NOT be settled by a plebiscite or postal vote. It should be done by the politicians in the parliament where they are supposed to be doing their job. You know, like so many other nations have done already.

But here we are. And now we have an obligation… nay, a duty to equal the legal rights. If you still want to vote no, then recognise you do not believe in equal rights. Own it. Be honest with yourself and others. Because once you tick that box, it is a slippery slope trying to differentiate between which human rights you think are acceptable and which are not.

If you vote yes, then you are a part of protecting ALL rights. Because we cannot ask for rights to protect us if we do not offer the same protection to all.

Equal Marriage Rights will mean Equal Marriage Rites. That’s all any of us want.

That and the huge fabulous party I will be invited to the next day.

480px-Equal_Marriage_Wedding_Cake.jpg

 

International Friends and National Trees

There are so many ‘official’ days or ‘recognised celebrations’; it is hard to keep up with them. Pizza Day. Tiger Day. Red Shoe Day. This social responsibility with my geek calendar is exhausting.  Believe me, I try.

And then one day, when the planets are aligned and you stick your tongue out to the side at the correct angle… BAM! You score a two-for-one you can work with.

tree hug

Sunday 30 July is International Day of Friendship, as recognised by the United Nations. It’s a day to promote solidarity of the human spirit.

Buddy. Bro. Mate.

That network of people who listen when you rave about the last Doctor Who episode, whinge about the Australian Senator with the tin-foil hat, and cry about the state of the Great Barrier Reef.

Sometimes they are fellow-parents you catch up with for a coffee every month or so. Sometimes they are the lovely ladies you meet with to talk about comic books and superhero movies and chocolate brownie recipes. Sometimes they are a roughly-thrown-together bunch of scruffy looking nerf-herders who are trying to convince you to travel all the way over to the United States of America to join their cosplay. BTW: I’m totally in.

And this is where I love the internet. I’ve said it before: the internet is awesome for friendship. Not just for me, but for the spawnlings too. Take Zaltu, for example. She has this amazing friendship with the daughter of a minion over in the States. Let’s call our spawnlings Z1 and Z2.

International Day of Friendship

 

These girls chat about everything over Facebook Chat. They show each other their Super Hero Girls, they give tours of their bedrooms, they talk about dance moves. When my phone starts having a long series of buzzing fits, I know Z2 is sending Z1 a bunch of stickers and GIFs through Facebook Chat. And I know my bundle of joy is returning the favour to her friend… usually at 2am in the US morning, thanks to time zones (we have finally figured out how to use this to our advantage – teaching the girls about day/night and summer/winter… see, we’re educational and stuff).

Zaltu has friends at preschool and in the neighbourhood, but not all of them have the same interests. And not all of them want to talk about Wonder Woman for the umpteenth time. Yeah, I don’t understand that either. But this is where the technology works so well because I can show her a real person, just like her, who DOES want to talk Wonder Woman. It’s a bit like those pen pals ever so popular during my childhood. Except Zaltu can SEE her friend and talk with her in real time. For Zaltu, that’s what makes a true friend: support, connecting, and availability. It really doesn’t change much as we grow up older.

Now, before you get all excited about celebrating your friendships all over the internet I have a bonus for the Australian readers.

Sunday 30 July is also National Tree Day. Which means you can look twice as savvy by combining the two! Take your friend out for a picnic under a tree. Or plant a tree in honour of a special friend. If your special friend is far away, go and hug a tree instead.

tree-friend-day.jpg

Don’t be overwhelmed with the social calendar of the internet. Choose your days wisely. Look for overlaps to instantly double your cool geek status. But most importantly, stick with the ones that mean something to you as well. There’s no point in celebrating a day if you aren’t doing the celebrating part.

This one is easy. Friends + Trees. Zaltu is already heading over to the tree with my phone for some Facebook Chat… wait, that’s MY phone… DAMN IT!!

The Fan Who Found Me

I am not surprised the spawnlings abandoned me for the NERF exhibit at Sydney Supanova last weekend. To be perfectly honest, I would have been disappointed if they hadn’t.

Supnova Sydney 2017 NERF

But it was at that precise moment, without spawnling or security blanket, I was found at my most vulnerable…

While I watched all three of them bound into the play area, with NERF guns as big as them, a man dressed in black tapped me on the shoulder.

“Look up there, and you’ll see yourself on the television.”

Sure enough, I looked up and spotted an advertisement for Zedtown, the NERF Zombie War RPG event. I had reviewed the media day Zedtown for GeekMom (TL;dr – it was awesome. But now you must go to GeekMom and check out the photos).

Zedtown Preview EG Zombies

I laughed. He laughed. I said well done for recognising clean-face me at Supanova under all the zombie makeup at Zedtown. He said, “Hey, can I guess the school your kids go to?”

Nothing makes your stomach drop like hearing a stranger refer to your spawnlings personal details.

“…, uhhhhh… sure… what makes you think…”

“Oh, don’t worry! My girlfriend is a teacher at their school and recognised you in the tv ad. She squealed with laughter seeing you in the ad! She had no idea you were even interested in NERF Zombie wars, let alone a writer to review it!”

Minions: You have no idea of the relief that washed over my body.

Turns out, he is one of the organisers behind Zedtown (I think) and said girlfriend is one of the few teachers who has known the spawnlings since Sinister’s first day at school. And she figured I wasn’t quite like the other parents at school… She just didn’t realise how different.

It’s a fairly conservative, straight-laced kind of area. Perfect for corruption to my way of thinking, one family at a time. 😉 As a collective, they will claim to only know a few shows or books… but individually they are as much a fan of David Tennant in Broadchurch as they are of his performance in Fright Night.

So, once again, we laughed. We talked about Zedtown. We watched the spawnlings gang up on their father. Good time had by all.

And then I spent the next 12 hours, scouring every post I have ever made to ensure there is nothing about our school name in any post about the spawnlings.

Oh yeah, and I’m pretty sure that teacher has now been updated on exactly how awesome we are at NERF wars.

*throws down the glove*

 

International Women’s Day (… And The Childcare Strike)


And I thought I had a twisted sense of humour. 

But I’m not the one who arranged a Childcare Centre strike on International Women’s Day.

I kid you not.

Around 1000 Australian Childcare workers are going on strike at 3.20pm on Wednesday 8 March 2017.

Look, I get it. I get they want to make a point: they are protesting the large difference in pay between male-dominated and female-dominated professions. 

And it sucks. No, the word ‘sucks’ trivialises the matter. It is the most ridiculous bullshit* that still exists in our modern society. 

We live in a society where we are blessed… Yes, BLESSED to have high quality childcare services with trained staff and plenty of resources. In a large majority of cases. 

But to be honest, is a strike on International Women’s Day the best idea?

Because when a childcare centre strikes, when it closes early for the day, which demographic is hit the hardest?

Women

That’s right, minions. The majority of people effected by any changes to childcare are women. 

This is not denying there are plenty of guys out there, being a part of the whole childcare process.

But the stats are in, and women draw the short straw. Previous submissions to the Australian Productivity Commission have shown how good childcare can boost the economy for everyone. It gives opportunity to women where they usually see hurdles they need to manage. 

Take away that opportunity, even for just a few hours, and you are reminding women exactly how fragile their opportunities are. How brittle their rights are. 

And what a slap in the face on the one day their rights are supposed to be front and centre, both here and around the world. 

There are plenty of battles to be had for women’s rights this Wednesday. The last thing we need is for one of those battles to bleed over the  grounds we have already fought. 

Be bold. Be brave. Be vocal, and stand tall for women’s rights on our internationally recognised day.

But don’t do it on top of the beaten bodies of those still trying to hold the frontline. 

* Due to the fact EG Sinister reads my blog (taking notes for his own world domination one day), I find I need to … Manage my language. Trust me, there are better words to describe this mess than Bullshit, but it’s best I can do without paying for his tertiary education via swear jar.