Passover: the Best Experience I’ve Ever Had

Dear readers,

I’m going to take a break from Brave New World the show and book comparison shenanigans, and I’m going to talk about Passover. This is something I’ve been a big part of for some time. Passover is a holiday commemorating the Jewish freedom from slavery on their own terms, but the story goes back further than just that moment when they fled Egypt crossing a low lying Red Sea.

First, we go back to the time of Exodus, maybe even further back. The Egyptians had a big problem. There were twelve sons of Israel, the Sons of Jacob (not to be confused with those nasty commander types but we’re talking about Jacob of Bethel, or Israel that became known as Bethlehem, the burial place of Rachel and he still had a wife named Leah.) So he had twelve sons, as written in Genesis. Those sons tried to get rid of Joseph, right? But Joseph had God on his side, went to Egypt, and escaped danger because he could interpret the dreams of his fellow inmates in prison where he was sent because some stupid woman lied on him, some wife of an Egyptian lied on that guy. No, Joseph wouldn’t do anything wrong, right? Even when the Egyptian bureaucrat’s wife, I forget her name, asked him to sleep with her, he refused and she lied on him. So he was in prison, and he interpreted the dreams of his fellow inmates. So Egypt exalted Joseph son of Jacob, but when Ramses II ascended to the throne of Pharaoh, became the Egyptians’ living god at that moment, guess what? The Hebrews became the problem, and Ramses’ royal administration decreed they were slaves. Then, the trouble starts.

After the Israelites were enslaved, they multiplied a lot. So there were two midwives who were instructed to kill the baby boys, but God had a way of getting to those women. Shiphrah and Puah did not do as Pharaoh instructed, only what God did. According to the sacred texts, these women were rewarded with families of their own. What they did say to Pharaoh was this, “Oh, those Hebrew women deliver too quick on the stool before we can get to them.” They were clever and they probably saved a lot of baby boys from being killed. Now, the trouble was that pharaoh didn’t want boys and as any taskmaster would do, the overseers would whip slaves, probably rape their women, and do other things that would try to undermine the Hebrews’ ability to stay together as a people. But they wouldn’t have any of it.

The hope came to the Hebrews when Jochebed, the wife of a man in Levi’s tribe, family, whatever, gave birth to a little boy. Jochebed was a Hebrew woman who was enslaved like the others, but she was clever. She decided to hide her baby boy in a basket, and guess who picked up the baby? The Pharaoh’s daughter, in some sacred text she is called Bithia, and she said the Nile god brought her a son. She named the baby Moses, which had something to do with him being drawn out of the water. I won’t go into Moses’ story as a young boy growing up in Egypt and all that stuff, but I will say he had a wife called Ziporrah and two boys, one of whom was called Gershom, but I’m sure I’d like to use that for a boy because it has nothing to do with war or ruling. Gershom is a name that means, “an alien there” or “stranger.” So Moses left his wife and children to go free the Hebrews, and we all know the story of the Burning Bush, right? It’s written in both Biblical and Torah readings.

The trouble for Egypt began when Moses said the famous words, “Let my people go.” Moses said to Pharaoh that enough was enough, let my people go or you’ll suffer the consequences. God had it down, he put down ten plagues, I won’t say in order, but it began when the river Nile turned into blood, and crocodiles were eating bloody food. Then dead fish floated to the surface. Then you had frogs, flies, gnats, boils, the livestock died, locusts, three days of darkness. Then worse, there was a lightning storm among those plagues that lasted days and days, and hail. Oh boy, those Egyptians were mad. But then, God decided to show the ancients what a god he really was. His thought was that “I can kill anyone, just anyone. I’m not kidding. If you don’t let the Hebrews go, I can do something terrible.” And terrible it was.

Here’s how Passover gets started. God said to Moses to bring all the families together. First, they had to fatten and slaughter a lamb. That lamb’s flesh was for eating, if I may say, but the blood was to be sprinkled on the top doorposts of the slaves’ dwellings, and if that was done, all would be fine. But the Egyptians? Well, let’s just say Pharaoh and his people lost their firstborn sons. God killed the firstborn son of Ramses II and went all the way down to the son of a slave girl, as it says in the ancient texts. So what did the Jewish people do? They said, oh okay, we’re done with Pharaoh and his awfulness, so let’s go. Moses had instructions, they couldn’t make dough with flour for bread, so they used unleavened wafers instead. They fled across the Red Sea, and legend has it Moses parted the Red Sea. then, it gets better. Ramses II was all, oh no, my slaves have gone. This after he said, “Go, you stupid people you killed my son and you killed everybody and ruined my country.” Well, what do you do when you enslave an entire monotheistic people and try to force them to be like you, sir? Well, you get punished, sir. Right?

So the Jewish people fled across a parted Red Sea, and they ended up wandering the desert for some time. Probably a hundred years, I forget the whole thing. But the Passover feast was mandated from then on. I could go on for a few lines more and talk about the Ten Commandments, but I can’t do that because it doesn’t have anything to do with Passover as a whole.

So what do the Jewish folks today do to commemorate Passover? Well, symbolic foods are eaten, including bitter herbs and radishes to represent the enslavement of the Jewish people, and the boiled eggs and so on. There are clear instructions on how to celebrate Passover, and I forget what the book is called, but there’s a lot to it.

One tradition I savor in a Passover seder is this: when you have a young child who is able, they have to ask, “How is this night different from all other nights?” I think that’s the tradition, don’t quote me, but I”m sure the youngest is quoted as saying such. What we do as a community in such celebrations is pass on the wisdom of the story of Moses to the youngest children and we want them to know what happens when you mess with people who stand behind a strong faith. People obviously don’t see that sometimes, and like Ramses II, they can get caught up in their selfishness. Ramses said he was God, but that got him in lots and lots of trouble. Passover is just one big huge result from the trouble Ramses caused a whole tribe of people who said, “No more.”

For more on the Jewish traditions, do feel free to read Your Guide to the Jewish Holidays: From Shofar to Seder by Cantor Matt Axelrod, written in plain English. I like how he writes about the Jewish stuff, including how he talks about each holiday and each thing that occurs in Jewish tradition. It’s not boring, I promise.

If you want more interesting fun facts about the Jewish tradition, do read the Newish Jewish Encyclopedia, which to me is pretty like a mini encyclopedia compared to Britanica, but it’ll do. It has all the different stuff in it pertaining to Passover, Hanukkah, and all the holidays between, plus celebrities and famous people’s bios and names and all sorts of fun stuff. Enjoy.

Beth

The 2020 rap up

Dear readers,

Let’s be clear: this year has been a real … as I said on FB, I said it was a cluster something. Some might call it a cluster fuck, a real conniving cluster fuck that ruined the futures of 300,000 people plus and their families. Let’s take a look though at some of the good and the bad that happened to me and this blog this year.

  1. In January, things started out okay. When February came, Trenton and I celebrated four years together. It seems like a billion years ago we were able to go to a restaurant and eat. A restaurant such as red Lobster or perhaps Olive Garden would have served you indoors, period. But see below for why not.
  2. I experienced a pandemic year for the first damn time. It was 102 years ago that the Spanish influenza pandemic swept the world. What have we learnt? Well, in 1918, there were little hope for vaccinations for the flu, let alone polio and diphtheria and other diseases. In 2020, we somehow come up with a vaccine that took years in the old days to come to at all. In 1918, kids dropped like flies if they were under 5 years of age. But in 2020, we now have the resources to fix things like childbed fever and the common cold for crying out loud. This year is the year of the Corona Virus. That’s no Chinese New Year’s joke either. While the Chinese have tried to wipe off the Tiananmen Square massacre from their Internet, they are also trying to wipe off the Ouigars who are Muslim from their list of identities. YOu are either a Han Chinese person or you’re not. It all starts in Wuhan, in Hubei Province in China where all this got started, and I have a message for the people who want to sell the wet meat there. Don’t. Now you see what can happen if you don’t clean and do hygiene on yourselves and your meat wares. Just don’t let the virus mess your lives up, and watch with microscopes next time, eh?
  3. This year we had canceled events everywhere, including conventions and concerts. The blind conventions went virtual. And online learning is a priority, even for those with disabilities. But disabled students suffer now.
  4. In March of this year, I received a death threat. Note that I’m using the names that popped up in a screenshot I shared in March of this year. Wes Derby and Bill Boules’ names are written all over this screenshot, and they claim that police accountability boards are a way to give criminals power, and to add insult to injury, Mr. D. decided to tell me that the guardianship was correct. First and foremost, guardianships are evil, plain and simple abuse, and furthermore, allow the person in question to be beat up, imprisoned, and perhaps killed for money and or behaviorism. and ableism. There is a lot of white supremacist ableists in the blind community itself, which makes me sad. Wes and Bill had to go from my life, and I did something I thought I’d never even do. I wrote them off my Skype list, and furthermore, I am no longer afraid to say it. Thet Karen who called me up threatening me to death will not be named because she didn’t leave me her name, but let this be a lesson to anyone who strikes at the heart of my advocacy work: don’t do it. Target me and your twitter or Facebook might just get blocked. Target me and you might find yourself out of a job, out of a life of your own. I’m sorry, sorry that you have alcohol use problems or epilepsy or anything else, or if your socks keep walking away from you, but you are not invincible, but frankly neither am I. I’m not perfect, but if you target someone trying to work her way up out of poverty, you’re off your roster, or as Tom Hanks’s Woody says in Toy Story, you’re out of your box.
  5. In May and June of this year, there was nothing more to do. Trenton and I decided to change our commitment ceremony plans for like the umpteenth time and we had to do what we had to. We canceled an event that could have taken place in June, and moved it all the way to November. We could have easily tried a day in March, but corona virus ruined our plans. I’ll write more about the commitment ceremony in a bit.
  6. I was frequently trolled on this blog over evidence that my ex Jason Owens is a stalker and possibly could have committed murder. Well, while the evidence is there that he’s a stalker, and I received multiple calls from other sources confirming his pattern of abusive behaviors, I do not know where anyone would say he committed murder. As an old friend once told me, you do the crime, you do the time. Jason should have done time for what he did to me, what he also did to several girls in my community, and I had multiple victims come forward with stories about him individually. I may be talking about these on my new season of The Throne Room with Beth Taurasi. Stay tuned.
  7. I started my podcast back up again, and Anchor has changed a lot. For one, Spotify owns it. For another, I like the trailer part of the podcast where I made what is supposed to be a great ear catching trailer about what my podcast is about. I’ll be changing the trailer for season III soon. The first two seasons were good, but I had a lot to talk about. School is important and I covered that, and I covered all the things that needed to be covered. Shootings of black males became the forefront of the year 2020, and I was no exception to reporting that Jacob Blake was shot and paralyzed. Why? Police brutality. This is something Mr. D. would advocate, but worse off, there are other blind people who are sweeping things under the rug. As I’ve said in prior items, there’s supremacy and bigotry in my own community, and it needs to quit.
  8. In September, I’m pretty sure I went to Chili’s and the doc says I might have gotten corona virus, but who knew. I had the following symptoms: swollen throat, cough, loss of voice for a bit, two weeks of this crap, stuffy nose, loss of smell and taste. Before you run into me and say the corona virus taught me not to mes with certain people, I’m gonna say this. I could have died. Do you wish death on me? No. I hope not. But dear readers, you really should evaluate what your priorities are, and think about who you want to wish blessings upon. I’m only here reporting what needs to be reported here in WordPress, and the truth is the truth. I shared the screenshot in March, stamped out the stalkers and I’m going to be honest: I’m going to fight psychos and trolls throughout my advocacy journey, so … just shut up and keep reading. I recovered from the corona like symptoms, but don’t know if I truly had it. I couldn’t eat and couldn’t drink for some time and had to lay down a lot. It just makes me ill thinking that I might have had this big bad virus, it might have been a super nasty cold. Either way, my voice sounded like crap compared to what it could have sounded like on my commitment ceremony. More on that later.
  9. In October, I met my minister, Jenny, from Jefferson Unitarian Church, through nothing more than a casual google search for a UU church that might support a commitment ceremony. Jenny was amazing, and she was the intern minister, and best of all, a female which I refuse to take a male at that time because the male would or could charge a hefty sum, require counseling we couldn’t do because of the patriarchal nonsense I don’t subscribe to, and then there’s the point of religious churches who say you have to be a member to get married by the ministers there. JUC was amazing in allowing me to borrow their minister so I could have a better experience, and best of all, JUC is led by the honorable Reverend Wendy Williams, who is amazing at her work, and I’ve seen the main crew doing their thing at services. I’m proud of JUC for also confronting white supremacy in the face, making it safer for those of color and brown folks alike and white folks too. JUC has shown they are committed to ending the white culture embedded within the UU church, and confronting unsafe cultural practices so that those with color or women or blind people can be welcomed. I hope this church shows that it is welcoming to people with disabilities, including offering transport and such. When the services went completely online, I was thrilled to finally access church even though churches have since the pre pandemic days been unwelcoming. What JUC has done is something no church would bother with, only most churches as I’ve said time and time again make charity projects out of the disabled. Now, Jenny had the opportunity to perform a private spiritual ceremony for me and Trenton, did I say I was gonna write about that?
  10. I was committed on November 7, 2020. No, not committed to a hospital, but a spiritual commitment to Trenton. I want to do a two parts to this one. While the ceremony was great and grand, Jenny did a really great job of gathering great readings together to make the ceremony authentic to us, not some closed religious sect. For one, I couldn’t think of any but Biblical readings since I had so many biblically minded men in my life, but we had a reading by a famous author and several prayers that were amazing. The chalice lighting was beautifully done with a water powered thing so that Jenny didn’t have to burn down the building. We joked about the fire alarms, but Jenny said, don’t worry about this. She brought her water powered chalice and we did the ceremony right then and there. Our supports person was there and did the ring bearing job, something that should have been the job of a young girl or boy. However, we were only allowed five people total including our household of two. Therefore, we had Jenny, the supports lady, and her friend who volunteered to do camera angling so I could catch this ceremony on live video on Facebook. Why not Zoom, you may ask. I’ll tell you in part 2 of this item. That is, see next item.
  11. While the commitment ceremony was so beautiful, I wanted it to be a safe space for all to congratulate and wish us well, no trolls allowed, no Bills or Weses and crazies who would say that “You have a sick wife in your hands.” Not that my old friend’s godmother in law wasn’t correct about his divorce and I did advise my old friend Michael to let his wife Amy go because she could not communicate, could not do the things needed for a wife to be. Well, if I had to, I had to tell the truth. I wanted to make sure that nobody shared the link to our ceremony to the wrong people, so I blocked the bad guys on Facebook, blocked them on Twitter, and made our ceremony a hybrid so that Jenny could light the chalice at our apartment and do the spiritual part of things properly. That and I wanted the guests to feel like they could be safe, and nobody would have to mute since I didn’t allow guests in that video. Above all, safety was the number one priority for the ceremony. I had one friend who doubted we’d stay together, doubted marriage altogether but we’re still going and that’s what’s right about the year. When we finished our ceremony, Trenton had a ring on his hand, I am currently wearing both my rings. I am typing this at my desk on the Mac, and I love the mac, but Trenton’s resolution is that he’s getting his self a Mac Mini. I hope that the Mac Mini won’t be so bad for either of us. For Trenton, it will be an M1 chip. So what? We played RS Games with my mac, his PC. But still, we have pics of the wedding still. I now made my minister’s favorite pic my wallpaper, watch face, and so much more. Anyway, the big bad thing about this ceremony was that I had to order the dress online, not enough showed up on the video, only 13 out of 23 interested bothered to show up, and most of those were Colorado locals. So we’re not going to invite more than three quarters of the blind community in Colorado because they didn’t bother to invite me. Not anywhere, but they did leave a bad mark and impression on me. I’m not saying every single person here is guilty, but there are people who can’t be part of my life because they committed vile acts against me I can’t deal with anymore.
  12. In december of this year, we celebrated not only our commitment last month, but we know that Joe Biden was elected President of the United States of America. Thank you to JUC’s people for taking me and Trenton out voting, and we stole a moment to pose for a picture with our voting stickers on. It was liberating to see the election results, on top of that our wedding/commitment ceremony was held the very same day. We had a bunch to celebrate.

Now, I want to talk about my New Year’s resolutions.

  1. First and foremost, I’m going to repair the damage that was done to me after the guardianship was held for fifteen years and about eleven months or so. It was discharged in December of this year, I’m reckoning.
  2. I will be losing weight, and doing fitness stuff. I want to try Apple Fitness Plus because yeah, the workouts are awesome, but I hope they work especially the high intensity trainings. I need those.
  3. I will also free Britney Spears singlehandedly if I must, so yeah.
  4. I will use the majority of my time advocating for all disabled adults to be free of damaging guardianships and bondage which can be compared to slavery. I’ll be around for the end of that practice, and I hope it becomes illegal by the end of this year coming up.
  5. No more corona virus, please, I want to get vaccinated.

Thank you all for reading this.

Happy new year.

Beth

Was Jesus Really Born in Bethlehem?

Dear readers,

It makes me wonder if our nativity scenes are even accurate, but I knew Jesus could not possibly have been born in Bethlehem, but has anyone asked to question Mary’s or … her peasant name was Marium, but her virginity. She could have, according to some finds, been raped by a Roman soldier because of the law of Rome back in the day. No surprises. But the virginity of Mary was mentioned because of the laws against maidens who were to be married at the time. Read the below story though and prepare to have your brain tangled up with questions.

a.msn.com/r/2/BB1cdOgc

Guidelines for Gifts with Adults in Mind

Dear readers,

Have you been invited to the office Christmas party and not been able to find the perfect gift? Well, with Covid, offices have had to cancel their Christmas parties, but you can still buy gifts for people online, but I’m not here to tell you specifics. I’m only telling you what sort of thing to look for when choosing the perfect gift for your loved one this Christmas. Here’s the skinny.

First, get to know the recipient of a potentially awesome present. Think of this as the beginning of Secret Santa. We did this in chorus a lot, and we also did stuff like this in other settings. Ask the recipient what they like, dislike, and what’s special about them. Examples include that the recipient likes dogs, their favorite color is red, and they are allergic to nuts. I’m not thankfully allergic to nuts, but that is just an example. If a gift recipient is blind, take note of this and find a gift that fits the budget specified in the event you’re attending, but make sure that gift is usable and not something that you wouldn’t see ever again, or something you’d get in a landfill real fast.

Make sure you have a budget. For my chorus gifts, I think the budget was $20. Reasonable, as some of the things people want would be very highly expensive, but even a $20 gift would suffice. Here’s another idea for your budget: make sure you think about gift card values in $25. If your budget allows, ask your recipient where they like to go on a good day, what they want to do with money, etc. Gift cards are always a great idea or perhaps these days, purchase them something they can use. Does your friend or family member like Disney movies? Purchase them a free month of Disney Plus, the Disney streaming service. Does your friend like to read? Audible gift cards are a must. So, if you really want to buy something thoughtful, those are definitely good go to things to try.

When you are opening a gift with family, you want to know what that gift says in the symbolic nature of things. Never ever give out guns and rifles to anyone who is experiencing depression or suicidal ideations, etc. It is imperative that when you give a gift, especially for someone with disability or mental illness, you keep the message in mind. What does a gun say about your relationship with that person? Giving that recipient the family’s old weapons could lead to disaster. Always keep in mind what the person actually wants. If you give me a box of red and gold Christmas lights, I’ll be darned happy about that, but however, I want to make sure that those Christmas lights are used every year. And it has to be done in my own home. I got the most inconsiderate idea for a gift, a white elephant thing of party lights although it was a luck of the draw thing. Wrong colors, I thought. They were orange and blue, not reddish gold. Those are inappropriate to use for holidays, I thought. It’s not that I’m ungrateful for your gift, but you didn’t consider or take notes. White elephants are usually not thoughtful things, so I wouldn’t participate if I had a choice. In any case, please make sure your gift is inclusive, thoughtful, and kind this year. I had to tell my own parents that Denver has no indoor dining, same with Lakewood, etc etc. I told them that Olive Garden likely isn’t my choice of restaurant this year. GrubHub or Door Dash gift cards would be a better option and or a visa or something more flexible. It’s not that I’m telling them that I”m expecting this or that, or entitlement or all that. We are in a pandemic year, and restrictions are everywhere, so my parents should no doubt buy accordingly. If they send me that stupid card again, I’ll have to do curbside pickup for Olive Garden, the only restaurant that card goes to in Colorado. The other restaurants are in Florida, how convenient. But they have no locations near enough for myself and my partner. So we need to change how we do things, especially during Covid.

I hope everybody has a safe shopping experience. For tips on online shopping, you could turn to just about anyone for that. Pay attention to shipping deadlines, buy before deadlines and all that stuff. There’s something called shipageddon going on, which is sort of … well, shipments are overwhelming the system. Please, whatever you do, pay close attention to the deadlines for your kids and the adults in your life as well. Thank you for reading, and have a good Christmas. I hope to write more here soon.

Beth

Children’s Holiday Gift Guide

Dear readers,

While I don’t have any links to specific toys for your child, I do have some guidelines for parents shopping for a blind child today. For one, a lot of toys are interactive, board games seem visual, and there are a multitude of coding kits and so on, but almost none of the robots, board games, and educational games were made with blind children and adults in mind. I have blind parents who are enthusiastically trying to raise girls and boys and … well, nonbinary people too, of all ages and types. The big thing is that if your daughter wants a science toy, more power to her, but when you look at toys for blind kids, you have to look at toys the child can easily play with. Think about, for example, the toys you played with as a child if you’re the parent in this case. Did you like fashion dolls? Did you do beads? Sewing/ I can’t stand doing needlework, but I did do fashion dolls and stuff, but here’s the big thing: if youru son wants a doll, more power to him. Buy him that doll, even though your gendered programming may say otherwise. Here are some toys for all children you could try, and I’m not naming specifics, but here are some to buy and some to avoid.

1. Buy toys that educate, and think simple. Examples include Play Dough and slime. I did a ton of work with play dough when I was a kid, and there are still play dough kits and sets you can purchase online through Amazon. They have a compound kit for kids that’ pretty hot this year, so be on the look out. Play dough is a tactile alternative in my opinion to coloring books and such, where the coloring book has no tactile lines to color within. My mom had to puff paint one such book, and I’m not so sure those will work with totally blind kids with no color or light perception.

2. You can always get Star Wars toys. Those are always fun, but then there’s the risk of losing half the small pieces/parts and your 2-year-old mouthing those small parts and choking to death. Avoid buying small figures and small parts for the obviously very very small child. Just be careful, but if you have an older child who loves these toys, go for it.

3. For children who love being a bit nerdy or perhaps the child who is curious about the world around them, there are augmented reality toys and things that will quiz your kid on things like world geography and such, but I’d avoid those toys since they may require vision to operate and is the app accessible? That’s a question your blind child or you the parent should always always ask before you want to up and buy the latest gadget for your child.

4. For any child who is curious about women’s history, Pleasant Company has the American Girl collection, and I think they’ve come out with inclusive story lines and other things. If anything, books in the dolls’ collections may be in print, but there are Bard equivalents in the American Girl series available through NLS. Your child historian will enjoy these kinds of things, and these are stories as told through the eyes of such characters as a runaway slave, a Mexican immigrant, a Native American girl, a WWII era girl, a WWI era girl, and a girl from the Vietnam War era, and oh did I forget there’s a turn of the twentieth century girl too? And to round off all the girls, you have a colonial girl from Williamsburg, and it’s pretty interesting what the American Girl collection has in store for us these days. You could buy your own subscription to the American Girl magazine, I would hope it’s still there, but then there’s more to it than this. You can create customizable dolls with a variety of skin tones, abilities, and stories of their own. You can also buy lots of accessories for that doll. I want to point out that the Native doll is amazing, and she comes with different clothing and a powwow outfit and stuff like that. Through these dolls, your child will learn more about American women and, as an added bonus, literacy will come right along for the ride. Like I said, there are American girl stories available on NLS Bard, and you will be able to look at the history of each doll online.

5. Avoid toys that promote violence and gender discrimination. This may sound odd, but certain Disney characters may include the princess as a marriage piece. While it is okay as an adult to go through the Disney classics, I don’t want the next generation to get hurt when they realize that singing doesn’t get you anywhere, that marriage is not the end all destiny of every woman, and that dresses are not just women’s clothing today. These days, the princess culture can be seen as gendered and specifically geared toward putting a girl in her place. If your three year old daughter, however, wants a baby doll, fine. Just don’t necessarily emphasize caregiver roles for her. If your 6 year old son requests a paint ball gun, be smart about it. Why buy a paint ball gun for a boy his age? What will that encourage? My brother kept asking for a damn paint ball gun one year for Christmas, to which my mom said, I’m not buying it. Smart move, as this would have promoted violence against people. I don’t think paint balling is any fun when women in their underpants are forced to run around a little arena where men hunt them down and splatter them with paint from a gun. The women get paid, but I would feel sick about giving any male or female child a gun of any kind for Christmas.

6. Avoid toys that don’t include the child should this child be disabled. Also, if you have a black or mixed race child, there are plenty of inclusive options. There’s a Rosa Parks doll out there, but black fashion dolls are now becoming more needed than ever. Kids need to see themselves in the toys they play with, see themselves in stories they read. Refer to option 4 and learn about the American girl dolls I mentioned earlier. they have lots of dolls that are black, white, brown, whatever. Girls can customize the doll if they want to see themselves and write their own story.

7. For very young toddlers, see option 2, but avoid small parts and only buy toys that are easier to manage for this kind of child. Between 2 and 4 years of age, toys become things that a child can or will put in their mouths. You don’t want that to happen, so try buying toys that don’t promote wasteful packaging, contain small parts, or don’t have the bright fun coloring kids like. Toddlers of all types enjoy playing, no kidding, but plush toys and bigger packages and parts will work fine. IF your kid has any kind of diseases that include Pika, be careful when purchasing matchbox cars. Most kids love matchbox cars, even I had a couple of those myself.

8. Encourage your child to dream big. Buy them legos. when in doubt, buy legos, and legos are awesome. Why? Because everybody can play with them. Just remember, you don’t have to buy Lego Friends for your female child but if you wanted to buy that Harry Potter castle Hogwarts set for her, fine by me. You could also encourage your child to build legos into things they dream up, and here’s another reason why we need brainy people in the world. A seventh grader made a very much in need product out of lego blocks, a Braille embosser. Who knew! Legos are one of those fall back things you could try and when you buy them, encourage your kids to build the world they want to see.

9. Avoid the toys that belonged to a dead person. Depending on the psychological ramifications of a person’s death, please, I beg parents everywhere, listen to your child. the toy that belonged to someone in the family that choked to death or killed themselves is a recipe for disaster for the living child. Be extremely careful. Also avoid used and broken toys because what will your child say if your toys are broken before they have a chance to play with them?

10. Set a budget for all toys you buy for your kids. Given the Covid pandemic and so many families struggling financially, you might want to consider toys that are in budgetary consideration. Example, say you want to buy toys for four children, and you have a lot of bills to pay. Try setting a budget, say about $20 per child per toy. Or, you could try $25 per child per toy. Either way, budgetary concerns are real and you and your family may want to consider those a priority. $150 for all the kids’ toys is another idea, but don’t just go up and buy that Arendell play set from frozen because you can, and don’t just up and let your child purchase that thousand buck dollhouse and cookies. Oops, one six-year-old girl actually did that and her mom was like, what???? the mom and daughter eventually gave the stuff away to charity, and the mom? Well, she set up purchase pins and disabled voice purchasing for her daughter. Good on her because she couldn’t necessarily afford the cookies and the dollhouse. Ugh, the only thing a child really needs is validation, but pay attention to what the child says and does not say when you are surfing the web for gifts this year. If you are struggling, and cannot buy toys for your child at all, consider applying to do Toys for Tots. Toys for Tots is a very awesome organizational effort done by the U.S. Marine corps. they’ve been doing this for a long time. If you do have enough money, and you want to donate, consider donating money or a new unwrapped toy to Toys for Tots.

Be on the look out for the guide for adults, but for those families who fear Santa won’t be there, do not be alarmed at all. Santa will be socially distanced, or physically distanced should I say, for photos with the kids. Also, if you want to write a letter to Santa, write to 123 Elf Road, North Pole, 88888 as far as I know, and get your letters in for Operation Santa as soon as possible. The big man isn’t taking the year off.

Beth

Connecting with Your Family during Thanksgiving in a Pandemic

Dear readers,

This post is primarily for the technically challenged. However, if you already know how to use some of the things mentioned in the video chats 101 post I did months ago, you might find this a bit less redundant because I’m going to offer some suggestions on how and when to connect with family during Thanksgiving inn a pandemic. I’m going to be real. We have a lot more resources than we did in the 1918 Spanish flu pandemic, so unlike in 1918, when we had no internet, FaceTime, or zoom, we have that resource today. Here’s what to do, in case you forgot, about all the options you have in connecting with friends and family.

1. Zoom is a wildly popular meeting app. For this Thanksgiving, they will lift the 40 minute video limit on calls for families celebrating together over the platform. If you know how to use Zoom, great, but keep this in mind. You need a camera in order to do video calls, and for some of us, particularly blind folks who are totals who can’t see the video, you’ll need to give us a bit of a hand by telling us where to aim the camera. Don’t be afraid to tell us where to place it, and camera placement will do the video call a lot of good. Zoom has lots of protections in place, but my concern is zoom bombing which is inappropriate especially for a Thanksgiving feast. To combat the bombers, just use a password when dealing with your meeting setup. When you set up a new meeting, just make sure you email or message people the link so they can follow the link to your meeting, but don’t forget the password. Passwords should not be easy to guess, but you can also use euphemism in your alpha numeric password, but it might be that you have to use numbers, which is cool because people will try to guess alpha numeric names like “feast1247” for example. This is only an example.

2. Do you have a family member who has I things? Perhaps your friend or family member uses FaceTime. IF you don’t use FaceTime video, it might be useful for totally blind people. Here’s an idea though. FaceTime will support groups up to 24 people, which is a number typical of my pwn family’s Thanksgiving. So if you want to hold Thanksgiving over FaceTime, do the following things: make sure you have an iPad or iMac or whatever. IF you’re sighted and a video aficionado, make sure you have a good GoPro or similar camera. Be sure the camera is angled so everybody is seen and connected with while you interact with your household. When you put the camera in the right place, everybody will be able to wave and Grandma might just wave back at you and you will see her do that.

3. Google Duo takes groups of up to … wait for it … 32 people, which is more than enough for a good family feast for Thanksgiving. IF you want to do a duo call, you can do it on a Google Nest Hub, a smart display made by Google and partners with Nest. When you have this thing set up in the right place, the cameras will track every movement and you will be able to do a video chat with your grandpa. IF he has a phone such as an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy s whatever, he can also join in the call. Make sure you have the home or nest hub set up. Oh and by the way, the hub is accessible through Talkback, and so is a Facebook portal. I am very happy to report that the portal has talkback, and it’s thanks to a fellow blind tech aficionado who wrote some interesting stuff on Facebook about it too.

4. What else can we use to connect with family? Well, dropping in on an echo show is also great. However, you can only have one to one drop ins, so if you are dropping in on a group of people, this might be helpful. I would recommend the echo show for those of you who like videos in this style. Echoes in the show category range from eight to ten inches to I think about twelve or fourteen. Pick a size of screen that works for you. You can also drop in on a fire tablet from the same company that makes the echo show. Just put it in show mode and away you go. I love my fire tablet, and I also like my echo dots too because they have good bass in them. However, I don’t have a hub or echo show. We are a bit camera shy around here.

Preparing your feast should not be so hard. For us, this means we won’t buy the seven pound Tom turkey at all. The sides will be a breeze, but still, the side dishes will have to be carefully monitored because of lactose intolerance, which is beginning to be a boon on my cooking. Honestly, I’d rather have a casserole with a half cup of cheese as required by most recipes than to have to waste my time with vegan or veg recipe books. I can’t imagine eating vegan cheeses, those with lactade labels on them because some of those recipes don’t accommodate that. I was going to make a broccoli casserole, but oh no, too much cheese. … Before you make a feast side dish, you would ordinarily have to ask if all people can eat it. However, people are also allergic to foods these days. Peanut allergies are common, but egg allergies are more serious. I had an ex who was allergic to eggs, and as he put it, if you gave him egg by accident, you’d have to call the fire department. That’s no joke. This guy was really allergic to eggs, and he couldn’t get a flu shot.

When you do your feast for Thanksgiving, whether it’s a mini feast or a bigger one, try to remember what the day is really about. As Linus in the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving and Christmas and Halloween specials puts it, Thanksgiving is a very important holiday and the only national holiday dedicated to giving thanks. Let’s do a quick history refresher.

First of all, nobody in the Thanksgiving story was a pilgrim. What is a pilgrim? Well, a fine example of a pilgrim would be someone who makes a journey to a sacred spot like Mecca in Saudi Arabia for Muslims or Israel for the Jewish people. Those are true pilgrims if I should say so myself. The Native Americans who celebrated with the so called Pilgrims had enemies everywhere, but the Pilgrims as we call them weren’t pilgrimaging at all. These were Puritans, the first refugees before the Trump era bullshit hit the fan. These guys sailed in on the Mayflower in 1620 or whatever. In 1621, thanks was given to the “Indians” as Linus would say, but yeah, these first nations fellows who helped the Puritans through the wintertime and taught them to grow corn and such because the refugees lost half their people then. What we do in a family today is not quite so similar.

The colonists, or puritan refugees, actually had food that was not similar at all to the foods we eat today. They had weird food,, and I bet Charlie Brown would be proud to see toast on the menu, and he made all that toast. In the special I watched on Apple TV Plus, Linus suggested making the feast for his friends, Marcy and Peppermint Patty among them. However, what Peppermint Patty would not understand later on in the meal’s progress is that the refugees actually had what we call eel on toast for their first feast. The regulatory feast we know today became a thing with Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, and he gave us the third Thursday in November tradition we know of today. So, our Thanksgiving this year 2020 will be November 26. Let’s be real though, turkey is not a requirement for Thanksgiving. Some people simply won’t eat meat, but my husband is a carnivore. HE eats every bit of meat he can, including the bacon. Talk about bringing it home only to have him eat it all up.

So what am I thankful for this Thanksgiving? Well, I’m thankful for yet another year gone by, not having caught the big bad virus floating around, and being able to have at least my partner around if things got rough. I couldn’t ask for a better lockdown/quarantine buddy. Trenton has proved to be a great source of humor, jokes, and optimism during this difficult time. I’m also grateful that this year, A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving is fully described on Apple TV Plus for subscribers who are blind or visually impaired and that Apple has made a full commitment to describing a big huge chunk, practically all of their material. It makes it a lot easier to watch things and love the dialogue, but also to understand the images that flop across the screen. I figured, thanks to descriptions, that Lucy is a real dork and should never be trusted by anyone on a football field. Charlie Brown indeed falls on his back and almost hurts himself, oops. Descriptions really help the viewer who is blind to understand the imagery the sighted are viewing on the screen. Another good example is Snoopy and Woodstock being weird at the end of the special, but I think it was kind of weird Snoopy made popcorn and toast but let’s add another gem to the history refresher. The colonies had popcorn in their food stock, so I don’t think Charlie Brown and his friends were far off but Peppermint Patty was not able to access info about the colonies’ food choices so she quietly assumed the role of food critic. Peppermint Patty was flabbergasted by Charlie Brown and Snoopy’s selection of food, saying, “What’s this? A piece of toast, a pretzel stick, popcorn? What blockhead cooked all this?” She goes on to ask where the turkey, mashed potatoes, and cranberry sauce are. Given whwat we know, however, she’s wrong. Puritans didn’t have access to cranberry sauce like we do, and the puritans also didn’t know anything about turkeys. As far as I know, they indeed had toast, but the thing would have fish caught in the sea somewhere. If I had toast, I’d have put some sort of preserve or jelly on it because that’s a fancy way to dress it up. Now that’s something Peppermint Patty could have done better.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my friends who celebrate, and please take care of yourselves and stay safe and healthy. The pandemic will be over soon, I promise.

Beth