Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas is Coming!

One week from today will be Christmas day.  I keep thinking that this cannot be right; it does not yet feel like Christmas.  Perhaps because the weather has been so mild, or because we are living at my parents' house and thus have not pulled out our own Christmas tree and decorations to decorate our home. It's a strange thing to feel so at home in my childhood home, my parents' home, and yet be a bit homesick for our old community. Perhaps my surprise that Christmas is upon us because I seem to be doing less Christmas shopping every year. I started and finished my Christmas shopping for nieces and nephews during a recent grocery shopping trip (thank you, Superstore), and have been picking up little things for O over the past couple of months. T is too young to really understand presents, and therefore have any expectation of gifts, so I'm only attempting to make him one toy before Christmas.  Amongst the adults on both sides of our families, we buy charity gifts.  I like to make a small token gift like a tree ornament to go along with the charity gift to make it more fun, and to remind us in later years about the gifts.  We'll see if I actually get that accomplished in the next week!
I'm so thankful that we do the charity gift giving, even though I was kind of resistant to the idea at first years ago when we first started this tradition.  My emotions caught me off-guard the first year we did this when I realized all the good our collective money was going to do for people who really needed it, rather than the annual exchange of gift cards and coffee mugs and ties and red sweaters.  Lots of red sweaters.  It's also a lot less stressful than trying to find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.
As I reflect on the sentiment of it not feeling like Christmas, I realize that this might not be such a bad thing after all.  The sentiments of Christmas build from year to year, as more memories become wrapped around the nostalgic recollections of childhood Christmases, a time when Christmas seemed like the most magical time.  I love Christmas carols, and Christmas cards, making gingerbread men and Christmas crafts.  I love remembering Christmas gatherings of years passed, and looking forward to seeing family and friends over the holidays.  I love it to feel like Christmas, but, as it doesn't yet this year, it gives me at least a chance to reflect on what Christmas truly is to me:

The seed of hope; God in the flesh.  

Monday, December 5, 2011

The News

I grew up in a family that watched the evening news so religiously, that the timer on the television was set to turn the t.v. on at 6:00 to the news channel automatically.  The news anchors kind of felt like they were part of our extended family; I think I actually thought the main anchor was my uncle for a while when I was really young.  When my sisters and I were given free run on the video camera recorder to quell summer holiday boredom, we recorded hours and hours of made-up newscasts.  Over the last two or three years, I haven't watched very many newscasts.  I think it's a combination of factors: giving up cable television, and having young children in the house whom I don't necessarily want exposed to all the things that show up on the news.  Perhaps I was just oblivious to certain things when I was young, but it seems that the visual array of "news" nowadays is much more likely to need shielding from young eyes.  The other day I noticed the sportscast reporting the results of the latest UFC match, including videoclips of the fight.  The entertainment (or was it perhaps a commercial?) had Victoria's Secret models walking the runway wearing angel wings and precious little else, while my three year old said "Look, Mommy, angels!"  I know I'm verging on sounding prudish here.  Perhaps what I notice more about watching the news now is that I'm a much more anxious person when I do watch the news on a regular basis.  I know I'm the type of person who is generally more prone to anxiety than the average person, so maybe it's just me.  But doesn't it sometimes feel like the evening news could be subtitled "Things to be afraid of" or "Things to make you angry, or, at best, jaded with the world"?  Are we better off not watching "the news"; are we better off not occupying our minds with a list of things that a group of individuals thinks we need to know about?
Or, as some people suggest, do we have some kind of duty to be aware of as many things as possible that are going on around the world?  After all, if we didn't know about the drought in Africa, how could we help?   If we didn't know about the latest toy recall, how would we know to take away the toxic toy our kid has been sucking on for the last six months?  Thoughts?

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