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GO HOME CHRISTMAS YOU’RE DRUNK

1christmas53Go home Christmas you’re drunk…
on power.

There’s no escape. Resistance is futile.

Yet what about those who don’t celebrate Christmas?
Or don’t have anyone with whom to celebrate?
Or those for whom it holds bad memories?
Or those who have other beliefs?
Or what if you love the holidays, but don’t like the commercialism and drama of it?
They still have to fight the crowds, listen to incessant carols, and have their world look like Christmas has been sick everywhere.

We’re still hearing abo1christmas52ut the War on Christmas when really, it looks more like Christmas has gone on a bender. Christmas is bigger than ever. Santa is still selling Coke. Jesus is still praised at midnight masses. Commercialism is still going strong.

Stores use terms like Season’s Greetings and Happy Holidays to allegedly be inclusive, really it’s to extend the shopping period. The sustained commercialism has made for sustained greetings. Offices use these terms because Christmas cheer reduces productivity. Also, Christmas isn’t the only religious or non-religious celebration this time of year, how about: Yule, Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Chalica, Bodhi Day, Sadeh, Pancha Ganapati, Hogmanay, Yalda and yes, even Feast of Winter Veil and Festivus. Including others, I can’t think of anyone, especially in the Bible who would be for that…oh wait.

I don’t understand how saying Happy Holidays offends. That’s like saying I can’t eat cookies because you’re on a diet. If someone saying Season’s Greetings will shatter a belief in Christ, there’s a problem. Poor Christmas, maybe it needs to stop worrying about what others think of it.

If only we spent more time worrying about peace, kindness, love, hope, and everyone having enough.


Shadows of what may be…

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What happens in this big wide world doesn’t always add up to what we know to be true or real. We scoff at some unseen forces yet believe others wholeheartedly. Fate, hope, deities, magic, miracles, spirits, destiny, love, supernatural beings…what we know may seem important, but it’s what we don’t know that’s really important.

Charles Dickens really spoiled us, setting a high bar for Christmas redemption stories with A Christmas Carol. It’s universal theme, the belief that no matter what we’ve done, no matter what mistakes or poor choices we’ve made, we can be redeemed, that we can fix it, do more, be more. So we tell the story again and again in various forms with: Muppets, Mr. Magoo, Doctor Who, Disney, Alastair Sim, George C. Scott, Jim Carrey, Patrick Stewart, Nicholas Cage, Albert Finney, Bill Murray, Tim Curry, Smurfs, Flintstones, Looney Tunes… hard-hearted, narcissistic Scrooges who learn the error of their ways and try to honour Christmas in their hearts all the year through. I always found Scrooge’s epiphany a little suspect, he doesn’t seem too affected by the spirits until he sees his own death.

As I watched Winter’s Tale I was in awe, first of Colin Farrell’s allegedly nonchalant haircuts and then by the joy of this fairytale of redemption. An ambitious1christmas46 allegory (loosely adapted from the 1983 Mark Helprin novel of the same name, definitely worth the read despite it’s rambling length) with an astonishing cast including: William Hurt, Jennifer Connelly, Graham Greene, Russell Crowe, Will Smith, Lucy Griffiths, Eva Marie Saint and Jessica Brown Findlay (most may know her as Sybil from Downton Abbey; the actress so far seems doomed to be popular playing parts where she gets involved with people below her station then dies from early 1900s ailments). While I was at it, I reread Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale, another story of love, grace, and redemption.

So many of these works pose age-old questions, can the unseen force of love really overcome the bad choices we’ve made? Can the invisible power of hope defeat the evil that stalks the human race, often hidden in our own free will?

Always good to be reminded, we don’t have to see to believe, perhaps we need to believe to see…or just believe.


Enhanced Christmas Infusion Techniques

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Evil wins when it destroys our belief in good. Santa knew that better than anyone, he specialized in good, he had a list for it. He also had a list for naughty and he was going to have to add to that list.

Santa grimly looked out the window, his white gloves absently touching the papers on his desk. He knew this report would forever change the way people viewed The North Pole and possibly Christmas.

The CIA (Christmas Intensity Agency) could be a little overzealous in their protection and advancement of Christmas, but he hadn’t known or let himself think about the lengths they might have gone to in the War on Christmas.

In their zeal to m1christmas42ake people believe in Christmas the CIA had done unspeakable things. People had been forced to: untangle tree lights for hours on end; eat fruitcake, gumdrops, candy, candy corn, candy canes, cookies; watch hours of Christmas movies, even the made-for-TV ones; had been sleep-deprived so no visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads; were syrupboarded; made to wear holiday cheer; stand on broken candy canes; endless Christmas songs, and even had their families threatened. Not to mention blowing a large portion of the Christmas budget and for what? The conclusion was clear, the Enhanced Christmas Infusion Techniques were not only sadistic and inhumane, but ineffective.

Santa couldn’t understand what had caused the CIA to do such horrible things. He opened the book entitled, The Naughty List, picked up his pen and dipped it into the inkwell, shaking his head again in anger and disbelief, they’d never even asked if those people believed in Christmas.

Evil only wins if it destroys our belief in good.


The Last Gift

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Image: D. Parker

 His breath danced in the cold crisp morning air, heart still imitating the rhythm of youth. The shoppers rushed by, cardboard cups of fleeting minutes steaming in their cold hands, urging them to shop more, do more, fit it all in. He fondly remembered that compulsion to experience every part of the Christmas magic that kept the monsters of work and corruption, grinding their hideous jaws, at bay. Candy cane peace on earth, gumdrop goodwill.

He grimaced at the pain, knowing he would do better to escape to the warmth, reluctance tugging at his reason. Just awhile longer, he told himself, scolding the menace that would confiscate his hard-fought joy. His daughter would chirp at him for being out in the cold; her concern a pinprick, well-intended, pointing out how tenuous his survival.

Hearing the jingle before he saw them, little dog straining at his harness, a tiny reindeer in its festive jacket. Pushing a smile past a grimace, he waved at the boy and small dog running through the snow toward him.

Boundless energy restrained, the two pups halted before him in the snow, fresh-faced Christmas enthusiasm stamped on rosy cheeks.

“Hey, I got you something.” The boy thrust a wrapped gift toward the old man.

“You shouldn’t have, Jake, but I thank you all the same.” The old man took the gift and handed the bag sitting next to him to the boy.

“For me? Cool! Thanks! ” The boy ripped open the bag and pulled out a watch, it’s long gold tail dragging in the snow before he whipped it up, mopping off the snow with his scarf.

“The watch itself isn’t worth much.” The old man smiled, his face ashen snow. “It symbolizes the greatest gift, one I never appreciated, time.”

The boy squinted one eye, shrugged and nodded toward the gift shaking in the shrunken hand, “Open yours.”

The old man tore the paper, choking down a sob, coughing to hide his distress.

“It’s a calendar, I made it myself, see, I drew pictures for all the months, so I guess we both gave each other the gift of time!” The boy laughed at his joke, oblivious to the agony slashing the old man’s heart.

After a long moment the man composed himself, “This is the best gift I’ve ever received, Jake. I will treasure it.”

The boy smiled, his feet tapping on the ground as he looked over to where some children were skating on the rink. “I gotta go, I promised Sydney and Dave I’d meet them, we’re going skating.” He waggled the skates flung over his shoulder to illustrate his excitement. “Don’t know why we exchanged gifts before Christmas, but it was fun. See ya later!” The energy burst its gates, boy and dog flying to their next adventure.

The old man smiled as watched the boy go, looking down at the calendar he’d never use.

“We both had the gift of time, my dearest boy, I just hope you use it better than I did.”

The old man wobbled off the bench, one last look at the shoppers then his grandson before retreating to the consolation of his waiting bed.


The 13th Gift

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We wander through this life being given gifts, sometimes ones we don’t even recognize as gifts.

It’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and momentum of Christmas. The lights, the stores, the sales, the rushing around, but it always reminds me that having so much has made us poor in many ways.

In the spirit of Christmas I was reading The 13th Gift by Joanne Huist Smith (Harmony Books) where grief and loss are wrapped in the bright and sparkly tints of Christmas. Getting through Christmas after losing someone can seem cruel and impossible. In this book, a family is helped to remember the joy of life after loss when mystery friends leave small gifts on their doorstep for 13 days before Christmas (although actually The Twelve Days of Christmas begin on Christmas Day, sometimes Boxing Day or St. Stephen’s Day, December 26 until Twelfth Night, the eve of Epiphany, January 5). Sweet and optimistic, this book reminds us gifts don’t have to be expensive, big, signed, or even a physical – it can the gift of your time, company, or skills…it just has to be sincere.

1flush2I was disappointed the author added the part where prescription pills were dumped in the toilet…I understand the dramatic effect, but why do writers keep doing this? A while ago, on NBC’s The Blacklist, pills were dumped down the sink. Aaaargh! It’s a horrible message. I’d like to watch or read where a character walks up to a pharmacist and says, “I don’t need these anymore, please dispose of them safely.” Dramatic and non-toxic! Please don’t flush pills, hazardous waste, personal hygiene products, baby wipes, etc. down any drain. Give yourself and others a great Christmas gift – tell authors, studio execs, producers, directors, publishers, writers, actors, etc. that you don’t want to read or watch anything where items go down any drain.

The best gift you can give or receive this Christmas? Knowing you can make a difference, a positive one.


Do you want to build a snowman?

“This is Anna Bjo1elves15rgman, reporting from The North Pole where it appears protestors from The Occupy Movement have set up camp to Occupy The North Pole.” Shivering in her Canada Goose parka, the young woman bravely places the microphone in front of one of the Occupiers, “Excuse me, why has the Occupy Movement decided to Occupy The North Pole this Christmas?”

A handsome young man flashed a smile whiter than the snow around him before answering. “Actually, the Occupy movement is so three years ago. We’re the Change The North Pole Movement, because we believe the climate up here needs to change!” Pushing his iPhone6 into the pocket of his Moncler parka, Christian continued, “Santa is a fat rich old white man who has his own town, slave labour, and only works one day a year!”
Christian paused to point to the various tents, barricades and a handful of protestors milling around the streets of The North Pole.
1angry6Santa’s the ultimate symbol of capitalism! He teaches children to be materialistic!”

A beautiful young woman holding two large Starbucks cups handed Christian one cup, “I got you a Double Tall Soy Latte, Christian,” Bianca crooned before turning a dazzling smile on the reporter. “We want human need, not corporate greed!

The reporter, slightly stunned by the dazzling smiles and wondering where they found a Starbucks at The North Pole was momentarily at a loss for words. Recovering, she nodded at her cameraman Hans to follow her as she walked with the protestors toward Santa’s Workshop. “What do you hope to accomplish by Occupying, er, Changing The North Pole?”1elves13

Christian took a sip of his latte, looking thoughtful before answering. “The income inequality and wealth distribution between the wealthiest 1% and the rest of the population is no more obvious than here at The North Pole. The elves are the 99%. We want to bring awareness that while Santa sits around smoking a pipe and being jolly, there is social and economic inequality worldwide.”

Bianca stepped forward. “We want people to think, to ask questions, not just blindly follow the Santa Laws!” She gaily waved at another protestor, texted what looked like gibberish before continuing, “There is no better slave than a slave who doesn’t know he’s a slave. I think Bono or Ariana Grande said that and they were so right. People need to wake up and see what’s in front of them!”

A cold wind blew as the reporter watched the two young people start texting, knowing she’d lost their attention. With strains of happy Christmas songs emanating from Santa’s Workshop and chants of We Are Changing the Climate of the North Pole! behind her, the reporter smiled at the camera and threw it back to the station with, “This is Anna Bjorgman, umm, do you want to build a snowman?”


Slightly Less Stupid

1bang2If I worried about doing or saying something stupid I’d never open my mouth, write anything or probably leave the house, but as I get older I hope I’m slightly less stupid.
For me, the Christmas season seems to come with the gift of introspection. Maybe it’s because the season brings out the best and worst in people.
This year the news is filled with bizarre, almost surreal images that still seem vaguely familiar.
Terrorism. Shopping frenzies. Economic manipulations by the rich. Protests against the police for what can only be categorized as cataclysmically abysmal conduct. Since the police aren’t getting in trouble, their behaviour must be explicit or implicit policy, which makes it more disturbing.

Wrapped in a cloak of civility we shiver against the winds of change. As we become more and more comfortable, any discomfort sets off a fear response in us. We’ve been the white meat for a long time now, worth more, and as much as we say we’re not prejudiced, we are. And we’re fearful, why else would we vote in politicians that are self-serving fear mongers who only want to further their agendas?
People hide their fear, but it’s there. As society becomes more inclusive, more politically correct, the fear festers. It’s Christmastime and there is a need to be afraid, about what’s really fearful.
Fearful that corporations run our governments, who don’t serve in the best interests of their citizens.
Fearful we’re more worried about apps, vacations, eating out, fashion, and entertainment than about the environment.
Fearful that a lack of respect for each other has lead to arguing, bickering, even, as we’ve seen, death.
Fearful households are sagging under the weight of their debts, countries are struggling to stay afloat.
Fearful poverty, hunger, inequality, injustice, and war are still accepted.
Fearful in a world of constant connection, we seem further apart than ever.

Police are hired to protect and serve.
Governments are elected to govern.

Kindness and compassion are a language understood by all, we need to remember how to speak it.

We all want to change the world, but not enough people want to change. Waiting in line for a new iPhone, or Christmas wrapping services, or Drake’s new store, concert, movie, restaurant, etc. we have the power in our wallets – stop waiting and stand up for something that will be a positive change.

Sometimes there’s too much going on to see what’s really going on.
As we grow older, wouldn’t it be better if we got slightly less stupid?
This has all happened before and it will all happen again…history doesn’t have to be a broken record.


Holiday Open House Opportunity #HOHO

1HOHOOver the years people have had many a Holiday Open House, like a Christmas party. It was a way to include people from various parts of your life – family, friends, work colleagues, neighbours, etc. In this virtual age, let’s do a virtual Holiday Open HouseThis way we won’t have to worry about: food allergies, muddy boots, childcare, parking, cleaning, innuendos, over-indulging, coat storage, backhanded compliments (Your outfit is so interesting, I wish I could pull off that look; You’re so brave to eat all these holiday treats, I’d be huge if I ate that much; You’re new haircut really helps slim your face…), and no discussions about why you’re still single when even Charles Manson is getting married, etc.
So it’s BYOB (Bring Your Own Blog) this holiday season.

Posts don’t have to be about Christmas, they can be current or from the vault, hash tag #HOHO (Holiday Open House Opportunity – only 140 characters, so #HOHO).

#HOHO Rules:
1. Tag your posts with #HOHO
2. Remember to flush. And No peeking in cupboards or medicine cabinets.
3. Be polite and respectful. These are our homes – no rudeness, racism, sexism, homophobia, or picking fights. You will be reported.
4. Stick with sharing blog posts #HOHO; pop over to Facebook if you want to share inspirational or business stuff.
5. Don’t ask for follows or retweets, that could put you on the naughty list (and not in a good way).

I’m on twitter @yadadarcyyada 1HOHO2
Let’s see if we can visit each other this holiday season and spread some #blogjoy

No need to RSVP, just share your blog posts on Twitter with the hashtag #HOHO


We are Santa’s elves

1elves11Unseasonably warm, it seemed a beautiful day to go for a long walk. Little did I know chaos had broken out at The North Pole. As I wandered off to do errands and go to the library, behind the scenes, disgruntled elves had declared war on Christmas! Tired of deplorable working conditions, the Elves went on strike.

Santa seemed bemused, telling the media, “I’ve spent more money on elves, especially Veteran elves than any other Santa in the history of Santas.”

The elves shot back with a list of demands.

“We’re tired of being pushed around!” Chief SpokesElf Snowball exclaimed. “We don’t have glamorous jobs like fighting to save Middle-earth, making cookies in trees, being a warrior in Hyrule, or saving Harry Potter, we just make toys!”

Other elves murmured their agreement.

“We love making toys, but day in and day out, it’s torture!” Snowball climbed up on a festive stool to point at the growing crowd of elves. “No one talks about the harassment we endure when we go into town, we can’t even walk down the street without hearing, Hey Sugarplum, or Twinkletoes, Peppermint Buns, Angel Ears, Sprinklepants.” Snowball sat down heavily on the stool, head in hands, as if unable to carry on.

Another elf patted Snowball on the back and continued, “We want to work, but we have to sing the whole time and some elves, I won’t mention any names, cough cough, Buddy, sing loud for all to hear, off key. And why does Santa’s Workshop have to be at The North Pole, why not Aruba or Belize?” Holly sighed and raised her hands in a gesture of defeat. “We have a mandatory diet of cookies, candy canes, gingerbread, candy corn, do you know what all these gumdrops are doing to my diet?”

Cries of Here, Here! and One Two Three Four Eating Cookies is a Bore! rang through the workshop.

“We have to wear these outfits all the time,” Holly sighed, pointing down at her tacky elf outfit. “And now they’re loaning us out to sit on shelves, what’s with that?”1elves8

But while the elves were rallying, the reindeer escaped and went flying around the world, stuffing themselves on fast food and samples at Costco; getting liquored up before knocking down unsuspecting pedestrians. This is where I come in, one minute I was walking, the next I was on the ground, in the mud. The reindeer didn’t even stop, it kept talking on it’s cellphone, at least, I think it was a reindeer.

With only 19 sleeps before the Big Night, let’s hope Santa and the Elves can work this out.


It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

1digitald9Christmas is a time of cheer…
but what if you’re alone?
During the holiday season people
are bombarded with images of social wealth -
family dinners, parties, drinks with friends,
walking looking at the lights together,
hugging, skating in pairs,
spontaneous snowballs fights,
Secret Santa and gift exchanges,
and people meeting and running into each other’s arms at airports or train or bus stations…
but what if those things aren’t in your life?
People now have to deal with social media holiday depression as well.
Facebook is filled with images of people together, having fun with messages that family and friends make life worth living.
TV, Twitter, MySpace (kidding, wanted to see if you were paying attention), Instagram, Google+ -
all full of images of happy, shiny people enjoying the holidays.

Here’s a few things you can do to make the holiday season singularly fun:
1. Insert yourself into someone else’s family, photobomb their Christmas, so to speak.
2. Marathon you way through the season – watch all your favourite shows and others you’ve missed; soon enough it will be January (I’m assuming you don’t have anyone for New Year’s Eve either so I just skipped ahead). Then you’ll have a few weeks before the Valentine’s Day trauma begins.
3. Find some dating sites/apps and go a holiday dating spree. Eggnog your way through stories about his/her ex, mom, ex’s mom, work, football, baseball, fashion, cars, and who knows, maybe you’ll find a Christmas miracle.
4. Adjust your expectations – social media is like one long high school reunion – everyone has lost 10lbs, is wearing their best outfit, and telling you the highlights of their life.1digitald10
5. Read, write, clean, bake, declutter, exercise, sleep, get Chinese food or pizza and go to a movie – do what you want to do, it’s really just another day.
6. Have a Single Christmas party.
7. Be careful of TV, movie, and music choices, don’t want to add to the emofest.
8. Start a new tradition with yourself or others, hopefully a legal one.
9. Help others this season – the best way to keep your mind off your problems is to help others with their problems.
10. Do not under any circumstances drink heavily then call, text, or email an ex, or watch other people having family time, especially through a window. Though oddly specific, it’s good advice.


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