Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas is a time for remembering everything that has come before us. It’s not a kind of memorial day when we remember what we lost, but instead a day to remember the great gifts that have come to us over the many years. The circle of gratitude is widened every year as the holiday expands with new love and new memories.

It may be more important this year than ever.

One tradition for many people about my age is “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. In many ways this defines the tension of Christmas itself, even though very little in popular culture has been willing to decry the commercialism that is the true “War on Christmas”. And in the process it gave us a new definition of holiday cheer, bringing Vince Guaraldi’s cool jazz into the warm holiday like a sprig of winter itself.

Continue reading

Advertisements

The Sensible Assupmption

There is still far too much on my plate these daze.  A repeat from 2007, when Barataria started, is a good lead-in to the upcoming tenth anniversary.  This basic philosophy still stands – the world is either magical or terrifying, depending on how you let your imagination run.  Whichever you pick is up to you.  But the systems which run the world are based on a very different assumption all around.

This time of the year, the holidays bring back memories that allow us to see the world, once again, through the eyes of a child. This is not some sentimental side effect of the rituals we go through, but is in many ways the reason they are important. A few moments spent contemplating this over a swirling mug of cocoa can show that seeing the world through the eyes of a child is actually a vital lesson.

Continue reading

Joseph’s Journey

Joseph was wandering, a stranger in a foreign land. He wanted nothing more than a refuge for the evening when he came into the public house full of people already for the night. It was nearly Christmas – a night when it wasn’t good to be loose in the cold alone and afraid.

But unlike his namesake, he had no family in tow and was not following a star. Joseph came that night to a bar lit up with neon beer signs to guide him.

Continue reading

Stop & Count Our Blessings

The snow came overnight, the first real blanket of white this year. It arrived with the Winter Solstice as if some weather fairy took pity on us for the earthy brown we’ve sullenly marched past the last month. “Minnesotans need this to be in the mood,” the fairy must have said, and made the grey air clump up solid and sprinkle down.

It has been that kind of year. Normal people would be thankful for the warmth, but those who are used to magic expect more than a climate of easy survival. The cold is supposed to invigorate the northern world, bringing a stinging cheer which says, “Keep it moving, you have work to do!”

The rest of this season said to us, “It’s dark, it’s wet, it’s time for a nap. It’s time to stop.” And now, with the sprinkle of white melting around the edges, we will shortly.

Continue reading

Charlie Brown Christmas

Christmas is a time for remembering everything that has come before us. It’s not a kind of memorial day when we remember what we lost, but instead a day to remember the great gifts that have come to us over the many years. The circle of gratitude is widened every year as the holiday expands with new love and new memories.

This is a special Christmas because fifty years ago we received one of the great gifts of television, “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. In many ways this defines the tension of Christmas itself, even though very little in popular culture has been willing to decry the commercialism that is the true “War on Christmas”. And in the process it gave us a new definition of holiday cheer, bringing Vince Guaraldi’s cool jazz into the warm holiday like a sprig of winter itself.

Continue reading

Empathy

This is a repeat from two years ago, but I think it should be said often – especially this time of year and with the horrible politics we have lately.

Empathy. It’s a powerful concept that’s become one of the hot buzz words at the end of this year. Much has been written and said about it lately, and for good reasons. Our politics, which is little more than the collective values of people forced to share a social space with each other, is often rightly criticized for lacking in basic empathy. The message of Pope Francis comes down to a call for more empathy for those who are in pain, not power. But what is empathy?

There are many ways to define it, but the simplest is “The ability to share another person’s emotions.” Empathy defies not just logic, but space – it’s about stepping outside of yourself for at least a moment. It’s a connection to the pain that others feel beyond any logical argument. And true empathy comes when you can do this for people you otherwise don’t even like.

The lack of empathy goes many ways, however. This Christmas is a good time to truly practice empathy.

Continue reading