Happy Holydays Redux

In the neighborhood of 30 newspapers ran the Happy Holyday piece along with a slew of websites. Alas, to make sure these sources knew I had not deceived them, I sent this out today.

Editor:

Thank you for publishing or considering for publication my recent article, Happy Holyday. The response to this piece has been significant with mostly favorable reactions.

My reason for writing has to do with some feedback from readers I have received pointing out that the Dodgeville School District in Wisconsin (mentioned in the article as the district associated with singing “Cold in the Night”) changed their program to allow the traditional singing of Silent Night at the end of the program in which Cold in the Night was to have been sung. Furthermore, I have learned that the song Cold in the Night was to be sung by an unwanted Christmas tree character as a part of a pre-packaged school program called “The Little Christmas Tree’s Gift” and not by all children. I wanted to send along this postscript and correct any misunderstanding about this event. I attempted to verify all the details before the piece was sent out but the school district did not return my calls. I sent the piece to Mat Staver of the Liberty Council as well but heard nothing back from them. Many of you printed this piece before these changes were relevant but I wanted you to hear this from me first and not disgruntled readers. (And I should clarify before I knew anything different than I reported).

If you have not run the piece and still wish to, please let me know and I will immediately send you an edited version. If you archive articles on a website and wish to have the edited version, please let me know and I can send that to you. In any case, it is archived here on the Internet: http://www.drthrockmorton.com/article.asp?id=175 or http://gcc.savvior.com/Happy%20Holyday.php and you are welcome to use the edited version.

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I can understand why those Dodgeville folks did not return my calls; they were inundated with calls and emails and probably carrier pigeons dumping on them for the Cold in the Night thing. Sigh. Happy Holydays to all…

ADDENDUM:

I wrote Mat Staver of the Liberty Counsel for more information so I could clarify in my own mind the order of events and why LC did not let their mailing list know about the context for the children’s play. Here is his reply:

When concerned parents learned that their children were being taught Cold in the Night they meet with school officials prior to LC sending a letter to them. The issue was not resolved. LC was contacted and requested to help. LC sent a letter to the school officials, including Ms. Diane Messer, the District Administrator and to Julie Piper, the Ridgeway Elementary School principal. The letter stated our understanding and concerns, addressed the law, and requested a response. Neither Ms. Messer nor Ms. Piper responded. The District never responded to dispute our letter. LC then sent another letter to Ms. Messer, stating that we needed an immediate response. Two days later, Ms. Messer issued a statement, saying “Silent Night will be sung. Cold in the Night will not be sung.” We then confirmed in writing her written statement, and based on her written statement, the concerns of the parents who contacted us were resolved. The school kept its word and did not sing the song.

The District has now stated to the media that there was a misunderstanding, that this song was part of a program about a Christmas tree. If it were a misunderstanding the District could have cleared this up quickly. The District did not.

No wonder the School district did not reply to my requests for information; they were not even providing context for the entity prepared to sue them. Only later, to the media did the school claim a misunderstanding.

Brokeback Mountain: Love Story?

I read the original short story Brokeback Mountain (you can too, follow the link) and I have to say it doesn’t seem like a love story to me. It seems more like a tragic tale of obsession and broken people. The reparative theory supporters will have a great time with the two main characters who fit almost all of the stereotypes. Abused/tragic boys grow up to become broken men willing to do anything to keep body and soul together. Alone with whiskey and each other, they have drunken sex, thus beginning a guilt tinged obsession that breaks up a marriage. I would think it would be an offense to call this a “gay-themed movie.”

Happy Holyday

Hope this brings a chuckle:

This Christmas season is just getting stranger as we go. All over the place people are trying to figure out what to say to each other (“Happy holiday(s),” “Merry Christmas,” “Get out of my way, I want that iPod”) and how to talk about the time of year we are in. I tried just saying Happy December to a few people and they just rolled their eyes. I agree; it didn’t do much for me either.

Schools are hotbeds for these kinds of scuffles. One school near Seattle spent $494 to reprint a cafeteria menu that had Merry Christmas on it. The news account in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer said “a new nutrition services employee mistakenly prepared them (the menus) with the greeting ‘Merry Christmas.’” Apparently, the new nutrition services employee missed an important part of the job orientation.

Another Seattle-area school district had a problem with a Christmas tree. Some shrewd people at Medina Elementary are aware that far away from the tolerant halls of the public school some children still celebrate Christmas. Thus, they put paper mittens labeled with gift ideas on the tree to serve as buying prompts for the students. Children were to take them and bring back the wrapped gifts to distribute to needy children as Christmas presents. Not on tax payer funded school time of course. The whole plan was undone by some thoughtless and probably bigoted person who put a star on the top of the tree, thus giving the tree an eerie and palpably offensive resemblance to a religious symbol. Naturally a parent complained and the school staff resourcefully covered up the star on the tree, calling it a “giving tree.” Brilliant.

However, the affront to the sensibilities of the offended parent was not assuaged by this clever subterfuge. And now, the tree is gone. In the nonspecific spirit of the nonspecific season, the school is continuing to distribute paper mittens and accept donations at the counter in the office. The school office manager explained: “We covered the star and called it a giving tree. We hoped it would suffice, but it didn’t,” Chris Metzger said. “Now we just have a giving counter.”

I can hear the school holiday program now. Instead of the strains of “O Christmas Tree,” the children will sing: “O Giving Counter, O Giving Counter, How Shiny is Thy Surface.”

Speaking of catchy and inclusive holiday pageant tunes, an elementary school district in Wisconsin caught flack over their presentation of the play “The Little Tree’s Christmas Gift.” In the play, an unwanted Christmas tree sings a song called “Cold in the Night.” The words are “Cold in the night, no one in sight, winter winds whirl and bite, how I wish I were happy and warm, safe with my family out of the storm.” These words are to be sung to the tune of “Silent Night” (for those of you who don’t know or remember, Silent Night is a Christmas carol).

My sympathy goes out to the little tree with hypothermia. But not everyone was touched.

After receiving significant heat, both in the night and the day from Christmas defenders, the school district warmed to the idea of including the real Silent Night in the school program. And so, the school’s Winter-time celebrations included Santa, Kwanza, Chanukah, a Christmas witch, and the Holy Infant, so tender and mild, sleeping in Heavenly peace.

All of this holiday happiness got me thinking. What is a holiday anyway?The dictionary reminds us that holiday is derived from two words: holy and day. A holy day. So at root, a holiday is a day set aside for religious observance. Seems like we’ve come full circle.

Here’s how I am going to think of it. When folks say “happy holidays,” they are really wishing me a pleasant holy observance. In my tradition, during December, that would be Christmas. I appreciate that. And I will smile to myself knowing that one cannot completely avoid the reason for the season, even when tolerantly trying to do so.

In any case, whatever your holy tradition, here is wishing everyone a Happy Holyday.

Depression: The New Sexually Transmitted Disease?

Nearly every discussion about sexual education focuses on preventing sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. However, recent research published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine finds that, especially for girls, the discussion needs to include a third negative possibility: depression.

Most medical and mental health professionals would agree that there is a link between depression and sexual and drug using behavior in adolescents. However, it is commonly assumed that depressed teens use sex and drugs to “medicate” their depression. Thus, when faced with a depressed, sexually active teen, adults may overlook sexual or drug using behavior with the hope that the risky behavior will cease once the depression is gone.

Although the depression followed by sex and drugs link seems to make sense, a new study, which followed over 13,000 middle and high school students for two years in a row, found that depression did not predict risky sexual or drug using behavior. Instead, the study found that depression often follows risky behavior. Lead author of the study, Dr. Denise Hallfors told me in an interview that her research team found evidence that heavy drug and alcohol use significantly increased the likelihood of depression among boys. For girls, the findings are stunning: Even low levels of alcohol, drug or sexual experimentation increased the probability of depression for girls.

Read the remainder of the article at DrThrockmorton.com.

Also, I confess, I read the comments at Exgay Watch about this article and they are comical.

SSA with a great same sex parent relationship?

Email me.

Over the years, a number of people (gay and ex-gay) have contacted me to say that the reparative model just doesn’t fit their relationships with their parents. I have kept some but not many of those emails or letters. If you fit this description, please contact me via email (ewthrockmorton@gcc.edu). I am piloting a possible research effort and would like to correspond.

Post Christmas Stress Disorder (PCSD)

With the Christmas season upon us, I felt it would be a public service to provide the signs and symptoms of a common but not well-researched malady known as Post-Christmas Stress Disorder. Be warned and well.

Diagnostic Criteria for 311.5x Post-Christmas Stress Disorder

A. Four (or more) of the following symptoms have been present during the same two-week period and represent a change from previous functioning.

(1) refuses to take down Christmas decorations within one week after Christmas. (In chronic cases, leaves decorations up year round.) Note: In children, makes Christmas related requests year round;

(2) seeks out shopping opportunities on the day immediately following Christmas;

(3) depressed mood, more days than not (e.g., sings “Blue Christmas” repeatedly);

(4) vocal tics (e.g., “Ho, ho, ho”);

(5) compulsive Christmas related behavior (e.g., Wraps and unwraps presents even though no gift is inside);

(6) catatonic, expectant behavior (e.g., Stands for long periods of time, immobile, under mistletoe);

(7) gift returns outnumber presents;

(8) avoidant of references to Christmas (e.g., refers to “holiday trees,” “holiday ornaments,” or “the Sparkle season;”

(9) irrational interpersonal behavior (e.g., Calls the time and temperature guy to wish him a Merry Christmas); and

(10) inappropriate startle response (e.g., jumps or easily startled by video game or other novel noises).

B. Symptoms do not meet criteria for Post-Christmas Adjustment Disorder

C. Symptoms cause clinically significant distress

D. Symptoms aren’t due to effects of a substance (e.g., eggnog, fruitcake, punch, etc.)

Specify (for current or most recent episode)
.x1 Mild – minimum number of symptoms are net
.x2 Moderate – six or more symptoms
.x3 Severe – nearly all symptoms but without delusions/hallucinations
.x4 Severe with hallucinations (e.g., Converses with “ghost of Christmas past, present or future”)
.x5 Severe with delusions (e.g., Arms self to protect against Grinch)
.x6 With trauma associated (e.g., Witnesses mother kissing Santa Claus)
.x0 Unspecified

May we be spared this fate.

Feliz Navidad or happy holiday if you read only English


This photo indirect from the Tammy Bruce blog via email from Errol Phillips.

Apparently, Lowes doesn’t mind offending Spanish speaking non-Christians. (Navidad means Nativity or Christmas.)

Tricky.

Update: Lowes issued the following statement:
“To ensure consistency of our message and to avoid confusion among our customers, we are now referring to the trees only as ‘Christmas Trees.’ We have also removed a banner that read, ‘Holiday Trees’ from the front of our stores.”

I love that sculpture but I would love it better in pieces.

Now here is something I am going to learn to treat. Maybe Freud was correct; everything does go back to sex and aggression, sometimes simultaneously.

I do think the “David Syndrome” is the result of a developmental arrest. My son does this all the time. He builds things and then delights in tearing them down. He draws things and then he rips them up. I think it should be called the “Lego Syndrome.”

DSM-V, here I come.