I don’t have a strong recollection of being called names as a child. I’m sure I was, because hey, kids are mean and I had a really great set of buckteeth before orthodontics kicked in. What I do remember is what we used to say, or what we were supposed to say, when someone called us a name: Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.
Or, my preferred saying: I’m rubber, you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you.
Neither one of these made very much sense, especially the one about being rubber and glue because while sound waves may bounce, they don’t exactly stick. Also, being made of rubber is almost as silly as being made of glue, unless your name is Elmer. I can’t, however, deny that a stiff beating with wood and rock would probably hurt pretty bad.
Yet here we are, a society ripped apart by politics and the ability to exercise our very important right of free speech in many different ways. Whether it’s in print, in person, or the copious posting of opinion via social media to our so-called friends, we should never forget how lucky we are to put our big mouths to good use.
In the wake of the election and the wake of most everything else, I have stayed fairly quiet. I did not cheer, I did not cry. I didn’t post funny cartoons or comments about outcomes or any large issue. Some may call me a coward for not standing up for what I believe in. I suppose that’s partially true—the little girl with the buckteeth would do just about anything for a friend. But that’s not the reason.
We are rolling downhill, headfirst, into the holiday season. This is the time of the year when we gather to celebrate all sorts of goodness. We think of all of the things we are thankful for: food, warmth, friends, family. Many of us gather again to celebrate Christmas or Chanukah or Solstice or even the first day of the New Year. No matter what you celebrate, chances are you come together with people you love and feel all warm and gushy inside and even hug the relatives you don’t even like very much.
Or at least I do. I love the holidays. I start telling everyone how much they mean to me and there’s no way I want any of that happiness to be jeopardized by differing opinions that we may have.
So this holiday season I am going to enforce a rule of positivity. I declare that at my table, in my home, there shall be no names, no sticks, no stones, no rubber, and no glue. If you’re going to open your mouth to say something, it had better be nice. Or I’ll shove a piece of pie or a cookie right past those teeth of yours, bucktoothed or not.
Originally written 11.20.16