Posts Tagged ‘christmas’

Christmas Morning

25 December 2010

Dear J-

theVet is not a big photographer, so instead of a misguided attempt to get her something that I think I’d like (in this category: Contax T, Christmas 1996 and later, a Sony DSC-D770, which was intended to be a learning gift) and passing it off as a thoughtful gift, I’ve gone with cameras I would have given my mom — simple modes, lots of storage, full-automation. Her sister got a Kindle today which strikes me in something of the same vein; while it is a great luxury to be able to buy a book from anywhere in the house and have it delivered in a minute, for those diehard lovers of the feel of dead trees, a Kindle is a bitter pill to swallow until you’ve actually experienced one.

The nature of Christmas is that we take the rushed approach over a more considered, thoughtful process any time we can; the closer we are to someone else, the greater the likelihood of forgiveness and therefore we’re convinced we can get away with murder, gift-wise. Or is that just me? The Kindle is the one major device that doesn’t play well with library books, and for a reader whose stated mission in life is similar to mine — as many free, cheap books as possible — the Kindle’s a great thing for Amazon to sell you books, but there are equal or better devices for sucking down free books.

I’m only picking on the Kindle to make a lame point this Christmas; I do wish you all the best, and that your day is filled with as much happiness as ours was. Permit me the bah humbug moment of saying that gifts that cost money aren’t always the best choice; it’s easily the simplest way to suck down new books, but a library card is cheaper yet and a better deal besides. It’s too easy to conclude that there’s a best technological solution to a perceived problem — I’ve been splitting time, camera-wise, between two lately, one with a fixed normal focal length, the other with a wide-to-normal zoom range. There are definite things that one can do that the other can’t, but perspective-wise, it’s almost a toss-up when I can get mobile enough to walk around and get different angles. It may not be the tool: it may all be in your head.

Mike

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Time Holiday

25 December 2009

Dear J-

We’ve all got different Christmas songs we like; if it wasn’t for getting copies for myself, I’d never hear my favorites — The Waitresses Christmas Wrapping and The Pogues Fairytale of New York (can someone explain that song’s connection to Christmas?). I particularly like the stories of missed connections and crossed signals running through the songs — no real surprise there, as I’ve found myself fond of musicals for fifteen Christmases (at home for winter break, I found myself without anything to do and finally sat down to watch The Sound of Music with my mom — there’s been no looking back since then). I suppose it makes for an interesting song, but if you can avoid conflict it makes for a smoother holiday.

With all the buildup to this particular holiday that we were hosting, I’m glad everything ran as smoothly as it did, thanks mostly to theVet’s hard work (planning and executing an unlikely-sounding menu that turned out amazing, as always: brussels sprouts, parsnips, and ranch dressing all made their way into our larder this week); I almost worry more about the behavior of her parents than figgy, as there’s no one that spins us up as fast, and they were nothing but appreciative today, meaning that the day went amazingly well. Laugh if you want, but I’m calling it Holiday Magic; some day we may even be able to apply the threat of Santa Claus to keep her in line.

The things we get as presents are rarely memorable, at least for me; I tend to remember the things I give more than the ones we get, for some reason — I tend to run in themes, one year passing around books, another year with photographic gear in my attempts to inflict my particular interests on other people. After getting past a certain stage — probably when I started actually being able to afford gifts — it’s been all about looking forward to seeing people and the shared time; gifts of time are the most precious thing lately, and we’re wise to remember it.

Mike

Christmas 2008

25 December 2008

Dear J-

Thanks to late updates and geographic locations, I’m going to be one of the last people to wish a Merry Christmas to folks tonight.  It’s been a fun one for us, as figgy grows ever more aware that being allowed — even encouraged — to rip open presents today is something not quite normal, and the bounty of loud stuff in bright packages is definitely extraordinary.  Despite inflicting strangers and a sleep-depriving schedule on her today, she’s held up remarkably well and, after sufficient time, has warmed up to all the crazy folks she has in her life.

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I hope your Merry Christmas has brought all the faces important to you back into your life.  I hope your Merry Christmas has let you set aside the mask you wear for a day and upon letting your hair down, you choose to keep it down tomorrow and tomorrow.  I hope your Merry Christmas brings more acceptance and keeps turning down the intolerance and prejudgement bit by bit.  We all still have so much to learn.

Mike

Card Choice

23 December 2008

Dear J-

I was listening to NPR the other day; there was a nice-sounding Jesuit priest on who was decrying the current trend of sending family cards around for Christmas.  This I thought was unreasonable, but his argument went along the lines that if, on your birthday, I sent you a picture of my family, how would you react?  It’s been rolling around in my head for the last few days, but it’s clear how I would react:  I’d be happy.  If you choose to honor me by celebrating the things you love, the lives that make your life, so much the better for me, so much more enriched I’ll be.

I understand that Christmas is a celebration of Christ’s birthday; I also believe that the timing — nearly coincident with the winter solstice — is no mere happenstance.  Just as we may co-opt the celebrations of other cultures (ask a native, if you will, how big of a holiday Cinco de Mayo really is in Mexico), so too do we co-opt other celebrations to stand in for our traditions.  And if we choose to celebrate the birth of Christ through gathering family and friends, by showing our love for humanity (peace on earth, joy to the world, and goodwill to men strike any particular chords?), wouldn’t Christ be pleased with that?  It’s not that we deliberately exclude all mention; I just happen to believe that we can be holy in deed, if not words.

It sounds like a cop-out, I know.  And I know that I’m nowhere near religious (the storm I brewed over my head this morning, researching serial numbers and tracing their history, was dark indeed), so my grasp and perception is tenuous at best, and superficial besides.  But I’ll stand by my original assertion, that organized religion had to have its origins in a social code allowing people to live together without excessive strife.  It makes a neat sort of sense to me; should your religion promote killing each other, pretty soon you’re not going to have many followers left.  We believe in intangibles; we have faith in shaping forces; above all we’re bound to discover that what we have in common holds us together more tightly than we suspect, closer than any wedges we choose for ourselves.

Mike