Wednesday, December 29, 2010

A Few Suggestions Concerning Christmas

            So, um, Jesus? First off, I just want you to know that I am totally behind the whole Easter thing.   Eternal salvation, dying for our sins – those are great ideas. We totally owe you a big thank you for the salvation of mankind, and I am completely behind celebrating the holiday by eating chocolate rabbits, hiding plastic eggs for 5-year-olds, and singing all six verses of  ‘I Know that My Redeemer Liveth’.   

            But I do wonder whether you ought to rethink this whole Christmas thing. I know that everybody enjoys having their birthday celebrated (or at least remembered), and I guess you're probably not any different in that regard. But the way we’re celebrating your birthday nowadays makes me wonder if we wouldn’t be better off renaming the holiday Saturnalia and giving it back to the pagans. So, I have to ask you, Jesus, are we really spreading your Good News by spending money we don’t have, to buy presents we can’t afford, to give to relatives we can’t stand? Or by listening to bad renditions of Jingle Bells every time we turn on a radio? Or by changing the color scheme of the guest bath towels to red and green?  

            Because, honestly, between the shopping, and the decorating, and the errands, and the cooking, and the relatives, there aren’t a whole lot of hours in the day left over for the church bits. I did manage to make the Christmas Eve service, Lord, but that was mostly because it starts at 11pm, so it doesn’t much conflict with anything except sleep. 

            So here’s a suggestion, Lord. Can we put off celebrating the church-y stuff for, like, a week? Or even better, let’s just celebrate it after New Year’s. We can get all of the gift-buying, meal-cooking, family-hosting, house-decorating, champagne-drinking obligations out of the way in one go, and then a little bit later we can go to church, sing some carols, and actually think about love, and the brotherhood of mankind, without worrying about whether my sister’s dog is going to eat the poinsettias before I get back from church.   

            Wouldn’t that be a great way to start the New Year? By doing something contemplative, and hopeful? It could be one of those holidays that sort of sneaks in and takes everyone by surprise, like Columbus Day, or president’s birthdays. Those are holidays you can actually enjoy, because they come free of any familial or social obligations. No one has to put up a George Washington tree. No one is obliged to visit their in-laws, or buy knickknacks, or put up lights.   It could all be very low key. Perhaps I’m wrong, Lord, but wasn’t that what you were getting at by arranging to be born at a stable in the first place?   

            All I’m saying is, I could enjoy Christmas a lot more if it didn’t happen during Christmas.   I don’t think I’m the only one that feels this way, either. How many people don’t actually attend Christmas services because they’re trying to get their plum pudding to stand up, or because their kids want to play with their new toys, or because they’re driving all over the state trying to make four different family dinners? If we just held Christmas after all the fuss had died down, I’ll bet there would be a lot fewer conflicts.   

            Then a few weeks later, the credit card bills show up, and before you know it, we’re back into Lent.   It would all work out very well.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Things I Did in 2010

            Saw a whale from my kayak.
            Saw bears swimming.   Twice.
            Sold expensive wine, fancy cheese, crappy used cars, and overpriced household goods.
            Tangled with angry campground bear.
             Almost ran over salmon-eating  bear in kayak.
            Did not get eaten by bear. 
             Wrote powerpoint presentations on Alaskan marine life (and did far too much research on the deepwater horizon oil spill…)
            Learned to sea kayak.
            Learned sea kayak rescue techniques.
            Did not have to rescue any sea kayak clients.
            DID get to ride in the rescue boat.   Twice.
            Epically failed to learn to scuba dive.
            Wrote a novel.
            Fried my laptop computer.
            Wrote sixty pages of journals about my summer in the national park.
            Miraculously recovered sixty pages of summer journals from fried computer.
            Learned to play bar chords on the guitar.
            Performed music I wrote on-stage.
            Learned that the sweetest thing on earth is a sunny day in a rainforest.
            Followed one dream.   Gave up on another one.
            Discovered that you cannot put bananas through a juice machine.