Month: November 2012

An Open Letter to Bullies

     As the years go by, I watch as pieces of my innocence are ripped away.  After twenty-five years on this earth, the naiveté is finally dissipating.  Lucky as I was to lead a safe and sheltered childhood, the harsher it is to now accept reality.   Injustice abounds and far too many people are willing to stand idly by, myself included.  I lie awake at night, ashamed of myself and those around me.  How has the world come to this?  What has brought us to become so cruel and callous? 

     Children are taunting each other, torturing each other in such ways that their victims take their own lives.  Child’s play is no longer a game.  What used to be a simple tease has become a vicious attack and the shame of it is; we let this continue.  Some will argue the culprit is nature over nurture but I beg to differ.  I won’t deny that some people may be predisposed to argumentative and even some volatile traits but I refuse to blame mother nature for all the world’s ill wills.  Parenting, or lack thereof, has an enormous effect on a child and to turn a blind eye and pretend that we don’t see it is unacceptable.  Every time we talk disparagingly about our neighbor, the guy at work, or the woman at the supermarket, our kids are watching us, hanging on every word and mimicking our every move.  They learn from their teachers, from their family and their peers.

     The greatest shame lies with these grown men and women perpetuating bullying whether it be at work or just in passing on the street.  What do you care if the guy in the corner office has male pattern baldness?  Why does it matter that the checker at the grocery store is overweight?  So your friend’s neighbor is gay, who cares?  Does your life depend on how many nasty comments you can throw their way?  Will you suffer great harm if you do not taunt these people who are already struggling? 

               Please, I am begging someone to explain this to me.  What is wrong with human beings that we need to constantly hurt one another?  How, in this day and age, do we tolerate this kind of behavior?  We allow it to continue in our schools, in our offices, even our government.  I would like to plead with everyone who has ever hurled insults at another, and we are all guilty, please stop and think before you speak.  Please, ask yourself how you would feel if it were you on the receiving end; if it were your child.  If you still want to say it, by all means you have the right.  My plea to the world is that we open our eyes.  Don’t let injustice slip by you without a word.  Fight.  Fight for yourselves, and fight for others.     

Early Holiday Nostalgia

               Writers are always told to “use our baggage”, use the pain, the resentment, the animosity and turn it into something entertaining.  Luckily, I am a bitter, bitter person and thereby a fantastically entertaining, albeit cranky, individual.

               Last night as I was rummaging through the closet under the stairs, no Harry Potter pun intended, I came across an ancient relic; a VHS tape.  The label read “Christmas 1985/Father’s Day 1987” and as I was born in 1987 I felt the instant pangs of nostalgia.  Should I torture myself by watching home videos from a simpler time?  The answer was yes.  Masochists always say yes to the dumbest things.  I popped in the tape (Yes I do still have a VHS player.  Did you really think I was going to re-purchase all of my Disney movies just because they’re available on “Special Edition” DVD?  Ha!  I will not let you win, Disney Vault!) and began to re-live holidays past.

               Through fuzz and static, I watched my father and my uncles toss a football in the yard behind my grandparents’ house on a crisp fall day.  They were all so young.  My father, now barely able to walk from the couch to the TV without pain, was still spry, able to run and play with his younger brothers-in-law.  The flood of tears came, as I knew it would, but I continued to watch this simple and rather boring game of catch.  Uncle Mike throws the ball, Uncle Joe catches the ball, someone drops the camera, lather, rinse, repeat.  Fade to black, add some static, and I was then transported to Christmas in that very same house.  My oldest cousin, less than one year old at the time, traversed the living room floor beneath the Christmas tree on his hands and knees before being scooped up by a much younger version of my grandfather.  I fought to see the screen through a flood of tears, and a bout of nausea as my mother clearly did not have a steady cam at the ready that Christmas day.  I watched as my grandparents lay on the floor, cuddling beneath the Christmas tree fawning over their first and only grandchild.   I will always marvel at how strong a marriage my grandparents had.  I could always see their love for each other.  I could never say the same for my parents.

               I must admit, I had ulterior motives in watching these home videos.  I wanted to see my parents in the early years of their marriage before my brother and I were ever casualties.  I wanted to know; were they ever happy?  I’ve had my doubts.  Regretfully, my research was inconclusive as the shoddy camera work made me so sick that I was unable to finish the tape (this is why I can never survive IMAX theaters).  My parents were never on camera at the same time, making it very hard to judge but it did serve as a wonderful metaphor for their marriage.

               As the holidays approach, I find myself yearning for the simpler times.  I find myself missing the times when my family was still intact, dysfunctional as it may have been.  Parents and aunts and uncles have divorced and gone their separate ways, cousins are dating and going to another family’s holiday celebration and I am left with the uncomfortable decision of which parent to visit.  Holidays just aren’t the same anymore.  What is it about the holidays that brings back all of these emotions?  Perhaps we all just want to feel joyous during the holiday season and for many of us that leaves us wanting for the days of yore.

               This year for Christmas, I am regressing to childhood.  I will stuff myself with cookies and candy canes for all twenty five days of Christmas.  I will watch every Christmas movie imaginable.  When Christmas day arrives, I will play with every new toy before I bother getting out of my pajamas.  I will drink hot chocolate, build a gingerbread house, film my own home movies and build new memories to block out the old.  The ghosts of Christmas past will not get me down this year.

                 It’s about time I pack away that old VHS once again.  Christmas will always be my most favorite of holidays and I refuse to let it be blue.