Frozen

We’ve all done this. Someone shares something on Facebook, you click on it, then another link catches your eye, so you click on it. A few clicks later you’re reading some off the wall article on a site filled with questionably unreliable information.

My journeys down the Facebook link-clicking trail usually start with the intention of catching up on current events. Then I proceed to waste an unsuitably large portion of my day watching viral videos and picking up sex tips from fashion magazines.

This morning I was lead down a different path. I managed to click myself into the blog of a self-proclaimed “Well Behaved Mormon Woman,” who had some strong opinions about the movie “Frozen.” Somehow this transcended into an oddly moving moment, complete with tears.

I don’t know that the article has gone quite as viral as the Christmas Jammies bit I wrote about a while back. But I thought I’d try my hand at another response. Writing about things that aren’t necessarily funny terrifies me (although I do cry in this one, which is always kind of funny. I’m an ugly crier). I’m not sure if I feel vulnerable or that I’m not skilled at “serious” writing or that what I have to say will come off embarrassingly trite. And also I’m sure I’ll offend someone somehow.

Frozen

I was in the middle of my customary morning coffee and Facebook hour when I stumbled upon the article. My intention was to read and discard it, as I do with the majority of my online findings, especially those that contain content I don’t care for. This time however, I continued to read. The gist of it is this: Ms. Well-Behaved believes the objective of Disney’s “Frozen” is to further the gay agenda to normalize homosexuality. Her words, not mine.

To be honest, I continued to read mostly because I could not figure out what she was talking about. I kept reviewing the plot over and over thinking, “Wait. Who was gay in this movie? I swear I don’t remember anyone being gay. I thought this movie was about ice. I’m so confused.” I’m typically pretty quick to pick up subtext and symbolism, but this movie I took at face value. It never even occurred to me that it could’ve been about anything other than someone with a very, very unfortunate case of super secret hand-freezing power.

For the love of all that is holy, this article could not have possibly been any less concise. I have absolutely no authority as a critic, but my intuition says she could’ve slimmed it down by sixty percent or more. I too struggle with over explaining. It takes self-restraint to refrain from spelling out exactly what you’re getting at.  But at some point you have to stop writing and give your audience credit. If you’ve done your job well, they’ll understand what you mean.

I just rambled about rambling. Awesome.

I finally waded through the excess text and found the heart of the content. I really wanted to know what I had managed to overlook. Of course I figured it out myself about five sentences ahead of the explanation. I don’t know how I missed it. Probably because I was too busy being mesmerized by Elsa’s secret lesbian snow powers. Here’s the gist of her interpretation, broken down into formula:

Secret ice power = same sex attraction
Hiding secret ice power = hiding said attraction
Feeling sad about hiding your ice powers = not coming out makes you feel bad
Advising your sister not to marry someone she met a few hours ago = heterosexuals diminishing gay marriage (This advice given by the so-called victim???)
Not isolating yourself in an ice palace = coming out = using your gayness to benefit others

And then she posts the lyrics to “Let it go.”

At that point I felt the need to impulsively download the soundtrack and listen to it while going about my household chores. She’s right. I failed to notice the obvious. The movie is absolutely about hiding yourself away and the freedom and that comes from opening up, asking for help, and even acknowledging your own value.

And then I started to cry. My super secret hand freezing power presents itself in the form of addiction. I hate really hate crying. I hate crying even more when it’s over a Disney movie. I feel embarrassed just typing this. I don’t know where the line between meaningful and sappy cliché is. I decided to write another letter.

Dear Well-Behaved Mormon Woman,

I read your post regarding “Frozen.” I agree with you. It could be about being gay. It could be about a lot of things; hidden talents, insecurities, abuse, failures, anything a person fears about him or herself. For me it’s crippling alcoholism.

I happen to think you’re doing yourself a great disservice by assigning the process of self-acceptance to a singular group, by the assuming that any media suggesting someone take pride in who they are somehow automatically translates into an agenda.

Let’s say the person who wrote the script actually was writing about acceptance of homosexuality into the mainstream. Why does it matter so much to you?  It’s about someone in pain, scared to cope with who they are or what they’re struggling with. Never at any point did they say you had to like that person. They’re just asking you to acknowledge how much it hurts to live under lock and key.

In a sense, by insisting the film was created only as a means of promoting the gay agenda you’re giving that agenda more control over your life than it would have otherwise. There’s something to be said about the power of self-control. Let it be someone else’s agenda. It doesn’t have to be yours. You’re missing out on an opportunity for personal growth. Take the movie and make it about you. It could just as easily be about a person hiding less than popular religious beliefs and the desire to share them. That’s your call.

I listened carefully to the soundtrack.  Somewhere in the midst of my second time through I found myself in tears. It was the snowman song, not the epic ballads, that got to me. Just a simple song about a sister asking another for a few minutes of her time. I happen to have not one, but two, sisters who have placed a lot of unanswered calls. We used to speak often. Then one day I started letting my voicemail take over and quit responding. I’m familiar with shutting out the people who care most about me. My phone doesn’t ring much anymore.

So take with you, if you’d like, a mental image of me. I’m in my son’s room, sitting in a pile of Legos, sobbing because I never built a snowman with my sisters. That was my experience and it meant something to me. Please don’t take it away.

Sincerely,

Person trying to find her way out of an ice castle

I came up with my own formula:

Secret ice power = Personal struggle
Hiding secret ice power = Isolating yourself to avoid pain
Feeling sad about hiding your ice powers = Feeling the pain of avoiding pain
Advising your sister not to marry someone she met a few hours ago = Advising your sister not to marry someone she met a few hours ago
Not isolating yourself in an ice palace = Coping = Using the resulting positives to benefit others

I don’t like fighting with others.  I highly doubt many people are successful in persuading others through insults and criticism. I’m pretty sure Ms. Well-Behaved already has an inbox full of them. I choose to leave my feelings out for others to see. When everybody is screaming at everyone else, no one gets heard.

If you’re still with me and you don’t hate me or haven’t left to vomit over my extra-sappy words, there’s a link to the snowman song below. You’re welcome to picture me and enjoy a laugh at my expense.

Though fortunately my parents were not killed in a tragic maritime disaster.

“Do You Wanna Build a Snowman”

Christmas Card

I’m sure you’ve all seen it. The infamous “Christmas Jammies” viral holiday card.

If you haven’t had the pleasure yet, I’ll fill you in. A family of ridiculously attractive overachievers, with what appears to be a pretty nice house, put their heads together and created a video Christmas card, in which they spell out their various achievements to the tune of Will Smith’s “Welcome to Miami,” replaced with “In our Christmas Jammies.”

Here’s rundown:

They bought a new Prius V.

The daughter (7-8ish):
Completed a triathlon
Counts to 100 in Chinese
Reads advanced literature
Plays the piano
Sings

The son (age 4):
Wears superhero shirts every day
Bats his eyes and the teachers swoon
Had a featured role in a play
Began hip hop dance lessons where he is fine-tuning his emerging musical abilities

The mom:
Met Robert Downy Jr.
Had a role in “Iron Man 3”
Completed an Iron Man triathlon, which I believe was 70.3 (miles???) in 6:40

Dad:
Had a vasectomy (though I’m pretty sure a lot of men did that this year, but thanks for sharing)
Ran the same Iron Man triathlon
Also had a (tiny) role in “Iron Man 3”
Interviewed the state governor on television
Was the hilarious guy we all wish our husbands were and cut his leg doing the worm
Has taken on Crossfit
Is quitting his job as an anchorman to work with his wife

I usually steer clear of viral videos, but this showed up on my Facebook feed around eight times in the same day, so I figured I needed to check it out. For the first thirty seconds, I was horrified that anyone would create something so embarrassingly… well… completely and totally dorky. Then I got sucked in. It went something like this:

What the??? This can’t be for real. Nobody could possibly think is cool… Wait, what? How does a kid that age run a triathlon? Counting to a hundred in Chinese? No way she’s reading those books. Why don’t my kids play the piano or sing?… Look at that kid in that play. That’s adorable. He’s not a half-bad dancer…. 70.3 what, miles? How is that possible? I can’t even jog an entire 5k!… “Iron Man 3?” are you kidding me?… Oh, man… That could be used as some serious blackmail in the future, ‘You want to go with John, the kid who has two DUIs at 17, to the prom? Sure. But first let me get out this video of you throwing frozen peas at your dad’s junk…’ … So he ran the triathlon too… and also had a role in the movie…  the governor… too bad it wasn’t the governor from “The Walking Dead” that would’ve been awesome…. Look at that. That’s hilarious, I wish my husband would put himself out there like that. He won’t even go swimming… No way. I would never in a million years, be able to work with my spouse. Sorry, but we require time apart. If we tried to work together within six months one of us would be dead and the other in prison…
 
I feel so inadequate.

After watching the dancing Christmas jammies extravaganza, I started wondering what an honest holiday card from my family would look like. So I wrote one.

Christmas Card

Dear friends and family,

We hope this letter finds you well. It’s that time of year again! Can you believe it? 2013 has been quite the whirlwind year for our family. So much has happened that we’d love to share with our valued friends and relatives. I just couldn’t think of a better place than a Christmas card!

Dad is currently recovering from a serious case of bursitis, which he actively ignored for many months, resulting in several torn muscles in his legs, all the way down to the meniscus. Though he is assigned to a relatively elite mission, he has been taken off flight status indefinitely. He continues to give his all and is still going in to work Monday through Friday, though the family has absolutely no idea what he does all day. He certainly still arrives home angry! He is working toward his goal of obtaining a commercial pilot license, but his progress all but slowed to a stop due to increasingly poor weather and lack of funds. In October he made the decision to upgrade to a whole-home DVR system. It’s been such a blessing. No one in our home ever has to be in the same room anymore!

Daughter has grown so much, though she still experiences a number of age-inappropriate meltdowns. Early in the year, she completed second grade and was forced to spend most of her summer at a youth center so that both of her parents could work full-time. In August she flew all by herself to visit her cousins in Portland and came back with an adorable case of “Teen Beach Movie” fever! I tell you, we must’ve listen to that soundtrack five hundred million times! She’s presently obsessed with the Disney channel and has seen “Good Luck Jessie: NYC Christmas” an impressive six times. After a series of uncomfortable nights, she chose to make the switch from comforter to electric blanket. The results have been amazing, she has even quit waking me up in the middle of the night to complain about being cold! She’s so spirited, just yesterday I was forced to reimburse her school for a lost library book.

Son continues to grow and learn. He’s spent most of the year fine-tuning his Minecraft skills and building Lego structures that are so complex, it’s unfathomable. In August we took him to the Legoland Discovery Center in Kansas City and he upstaged a builder holding a seminar. He has so many interests, each of which border on obsession. He’s been through everything from Dreamworks Dragons to the violin! He just moved to paper lunch sacks over a traditional insulated lunchbox due to his tendency to forget them at school and eventually return home with rotten food. Most recently he’s expressed interest in dropping out of his school’s high ability learner program to free up more time for his Lego building.

Last but not least, there’s mom. She’s definitely been up to a lot this year! Her year started rough due to multiple relapses into alcoholism. She managed to drink in secret for months before anyone knew! In April she made the choice not to return to inpatient rehab, but instead attend outpatient therapy, which was extremely difficult due to work and home stress. In May she began Antabuse and thanks to being physically unable to consume alcohol without becoming violently ill, she hasn’t had a drink since. This is a genuine miracle. In September she was forced to choose between dentures or $8800 in dental work. She chose to keep her teeth and currently has an outstanding balance of over $3000 at her dentist’s office. In October she left her job to make her children and mental health a full-time career. Due to a combination of Lamictal, Antabuse, Wellbutrin, and Seroquel, she is stable and content for the first time in her entire adult life. Thanks to her life changes, she’s lost 53 pounds. She has decided to worry less about the state of her home and drop everything at a moment’s notice to take her children ice skating or play board games. Most of her free time is spent blogging about her various baking mishaps and other predicaments such as dropping a urine sample in a public place.

Happy holidays and best wishes for a prosperous 2014,

Family whose last name ends with a Z and can’t figure out how to sign Christmas cards.

Now that you’ve had a good laugh, I’ll tell you how I really feel about “Christmas Jammies.”

The bottom line is, holiday cards are tough on both ends. On the giving end, one has to decipher just where the line between celebrating and bragging is. On the receiving end, one has to remind him/herself to look at the bigger picture. It’s nice to be acknowledged and there’s nothing wrong with being proud of your accomplishments. Do some people go overboard? Absolutely. Do most people mean well? Absolutely.

If dancing around like fools in pajamas makes you happy, by all means, dance on. That’s more than a lot of us will ever have in our lives and there’s no reason they shouldn’t shout it from the rooftops. It takes a lot to offend me and pjs don’t even crack my top 100.

Here’s my real holiday letter.

Dear friends, family, and readers,

It’s been a tough year. The last few years have been tough.

I made some really poor decisions that I’m not proud of. I don’t know how to make it right, except to continue making better choices. I’ve worked harder than you could ever imagine to become healthy. Yes, I do take a lot of medication and I will for the rest of my life. I’m nothing but better for it. I am willing to admit that I was very sick for a very long time. I’ve decided to stop beating myself up because my life didn’t turn out the way I expected it to. Last I checked, my life was still in progress and hadn’t yet “turned out” any way. Despite my stay-at-home status, I have turned into an exceptionally poor housekeeper who continues to ignore housework in favor of acting like a fool with her children. In 2013, I learned to choose my children first.

Dad works hard. Period. He’s put 22 years into the military and he’s trying to figure out how to move on because like it or not, he’s going to have to quit when his time is up. He’s worried about how he will feed his family and he’s got about a year to figure it out. He’s happy and frustrated at the same time and no matter what we do, he keeps coming home at night and putting money into our bank account.

The children are fine. They are exasperating at times. All children are exasperating at times. They’re also resilient and their grades are average. They aren’t academically gifted, but their mom is just not worried about it even a little bit. She knows they have a better understanding of life than most children their age(s). They are unbelievably intelligent. They tear apart the basement to make movie sets. They forget their lunch boxes and their rooms are messy. One of them succeeded in setting my couch on fire. They are kind and hold doors open for others and always say please and thank you (to other people, not their parents). They make their mom laugh. A lot. They win at board games against adults and others often comment on their use of  “big words.” They don’t compete in triathlons. They are enough just as they are.

We are infinitely better today than we were in 2012 and hoping to say the same about 2014. Happy holidays,

Once again, the family whose name ends with a Z and can’t figure out how to sign Christmas cards

And I really am excited about the whole home DVR. Really.