Monday, December 25, 2006

So this is Christmas?

12/25/06 Monday
So this is Christmas? A time when friends and families get together to show their love and affection? Sometimes but for many of us it’s just another day. The sun and the moon haven’t changed, the animals still concentrate on survival, much of the world still fights for power, domination, and riches that fade away. Killing and being killed in that never ending cycle that has been a part of mankind since the beginning of time.

So this is Christmas? Even this holiday is a focus of dispute and always has been. The early church selected this date to combat the pagan holidays that are based on the winter solstice so it’s inception was contention. That of course only grows as other religious beliefs vie for a chunk of this season along with those who seek profit in every thing they can. The profiteers seem to be on top of that heap so money rules as is usual.

So this is Christmas? A time when suicide and domestic murder rates peak along with heart attacks and strokes. When depression rises it’s head in triumph over the hopes that it crushes.

So this is Christmas? It is the yearly culmination of the constant tug of war between good and evil where the magnifying glass of life enlarges and focuses our attention on our faults, blessings, and failures. On one side there is the joy and love we prefer to see but on the other a different reality we choose to blind our eyes to. Out of this darkness shines the good that manages to make it’s way to the surface like a bright sparkling diamond on a black surface. These nuggets of light help those, whose daily lives are a struggle to keep their heads above the black mud of despair, have hope. For without hope there is no longer life.

So this is Christmas? Cherie and I will spend it together, missing those we love and in my case want to love. It is a day we will be glad to see go for then we can move on, we can focus again on the life we wish to create here. What is truly a labor of love.

I apologize for my dark perspective on this day. It is hard to be positive when I have daily reminders of the greed and darkness of those who I, naively, expected better of. I tried again to call my youngest son, Adam, with no luck. Ed again answered the phone and said Adam didn’t make it home yet. At least he did give me Bruce’s (my oldest) new home phone number, which I called only to get his machine. I left a message for Bruce but will send them both an E mail as that is more sure to be seen.

Last night was windy with gusts up to sixty miles per hour. I have yet to go outside to see what has blown away and has come in with the wind. Haven’t been in a hurry as it is still windy and only thirty five degrees out. The saw horses I had out for painting the baseboards blew over.

We’re not going to do much today. Perhaps finish painting the back room. Part of me wants to take the remainder of the trash from the bus and have a bonfire but that’s probably not too wise. The winds last night would have blown much of it away but that’s no way to get along with your neighbors.

Cherie and I took our walk down to the well and back. It’s something we plan on making a regular part of our routine. We both need to exercise and lose some weight. Skittles followed us about halfway up. He is quiet a part of the family now.

Right now we are watching a movie called “Radio”. It’s the kind of movie that touches my heart as it is one I can relate closely to. In it a young retarded guy who is picked on and ridiculed finds acceptance through a coach who took the time to understand. My entire childhood was one where I was rejected. I was the kid others beat up, I was the last one picked for a team and only because there was no one else left. I remember sitting at my desk in kindergarten and watching the rest of the class playing outside. I wasn’t retarded, in fact my tested IQ in high school was 136, the low end of the genius scale. I just had no social skills at all. This is something commonly found in children who have been abused. It is a recognized result of shaken baby syndrome and also with Asperger’s syndrome, a mild form of autism.

As I was writing this Cherie looked this up online.
By Barbara L. Kirby
Founder of the OASIS Web site (
Co-author of THE OASIS GUIDE TO ASPERGER SYNDROME (Crown, 2001, Revised 2005)
Asperger Syndrome or (Asperger's Disorder) is a neurobiological disorder named for a Viennese physician, Hans Asperger, who in 1944 published a paper which described a pattern of behaviors in several young boys who had normal intelligence and language development, but who also exhibited autistic-like behaviors and marked deficiencies in social and communication skills. In spite of the publication of his paper in the 1940's, it wasn't until 1994 that Asperger Syndrome was added to the DSM IV and only in the past few years has AS been recognized by professionals and parents.
Individuals with AS can exhibit a variety of characteristics and the disorder can range from mild to severe. Persons with AS show marked deficiencies in social skills, have difficulties with transitions or changes and prefer sameness. They often have obsessive routines and may be preoccupied with a particular subject of interest. They have a great deal of difficulty reading nonverbal cues (body language) and very often the individual with AS has difficulty determining proper body space. Often overly sensitive to sounds, tastes, smells, and sights, the person with AS may prefer soft clothing, certain foods, and be bothered by sounds or lights no one else seems to hear or see. It's important to remember that the person with AS perceives the world very differently. Therefore, many behaviors that seem odd or unusual are due to those neurological differences and not the result of intentional rudeness or bad behavior, and most certainly not the result of "improper parenting".
By definition, those with AS have a normal IQ and many individuals (although not all), exhibit exceptional skill or talent in a specific area. Because of their high degree of functionality and their naiveté, those with AS are often viewed as eccentric or odd and can easily become victims of teasing and bullying. While language development seems, on the surface, normal, individuals with AS often have deficits in pragmatics and prosody. Vocabularies may be extraordinarily rich and some children sound like "little professors." However, persons with AS can be extremely literal and have difficulty using language in a social context.
At this time there is a great deal of debate as to exactly where AS fits. It is presently described as an autism spectrum disorder and Uta Frith, in her book AUTISM AND ASPERGER'S SYNDROME, described AS individuals as "having a dash of Autism". Some professionals feel that AS is the same as High Functioning Autism, while others feel that it is better described as a Nonverbal Learning Disability. AS shares many of the characteristics of PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder; Not otherwise specified), HFA, and NLD and because it was virtually unknown until a few years ago, many individuals either received an incorrect diagnosis or remained undiagnosed. For example, it is not at all uncommon for a child who was initially diagnosed with ADD or ADHD be re-diagnosed with AS. In addition, some individuals who were originally diagnosed with HFA or PDD-NOS are now being given the AS diagnosis and many individuals have a dual diagnosis of Asperger Syndrome and High Functioning Autism.
There are many other causes of this lack of social skills but the results are universal, especially in the sometimes vicious realm of school. How much I longed to have friends, to belong, to be accepted. Anyway this is why I have such an affinity for others who are rejected or looked down on. The movie is based on a true story. It all boiled down to the coach’s compassion and of Radio’s (the kids nickname) simple love and acceptance of all around. In the Christian and Jewish faiths caring for the downtrodden is the core. Unfortunately it seems to be lost on some but…Nah I don’t have time to preach here. The movies over and it’s getting close to eleven so I need to finish this and get to bed.

Cherie baked an apple pie for Christmas. It was great. She made up a dish with the hamburger we had left and some rice based on Mediterranean influences. That also was good. I went ahead and burned some of the stuff out of the bus because the wind was blowing in a direction that made it safer to do. Still lots of nasty left on that thing.

Cherie called home and we talked to the family for a while. First it was Cathy because it was her cell phone we finally got through on, then mom got on the phone. She seemed to be doing OK. After that dad got on and we talked about lots of things. He started crying when it came time to say bye but that’s how it is when your little girl is miles away I suppose. We thanked them for their gifts of two fifty dollar gift cards for Home Depot. Between that and the gift card Robin sent we got a total of three presents for Christmas. All of them are practical gifts that we can apply as best needed. Much better than something like a tie.

Never did get to painting the other half of the back room. Maybe we’ll do that tomorrow. I need to post this and get to sleep so night all.

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