Don’t Get Boxed In

Yes, today is Boxing day. No, it doesn’t mean we put gloves on and fight. Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants and tradesmen would receive gifts, known as a “Christmas box”, from their bosses or employers. Today, Boxing Day is a bank holiday which generally takes place on December 26th. It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and some other Commonwealth nations.

I would like to indulge in a wide sweep of thoughts, some on current topics and I hope you can hang in there while reading this long enough to consider these thoughts and if any apply to you.

Let’s begin by talking about the business side of Christmas and how the tradition evolved in western culture. Before 1880, commercialization of Christmas was more or less non-existent in the United States.  The type of gifts exchanged were fruits, perhaps some home-made sweets and a few stories here and there. The idea of exchanging purchased gifts wrapped in brightly colored paper sprang forth from retailers of the era who wanted to find a way to improve end of year sales and become part of a larger spirit of giving tradition. So, marketing and commercialization became intrinsic to the ancient idea of gift giving.

In the Middle ages the celebration was intensive covering a two-week period of celebration from Christmas Eve to the twelfth night of January 6th, hence the Twelve Days of Christmas carol written in 1780.  The middle age twelve days was a time of feasts, parties, and the giving and receiving of seasonal gifts.  The Christmas gifts would include generous lords giving items such as clothing and firewood to their serfs. The origin of the English word ‘Christmas’ is from the Old English middle age ‘Cristes Maesse’ which literally means ‘Mass of Christ’.

The biblical story of the nativity gives the classic narrative of three wise men from the East presenting gifts to the baby Jesus of gold, myrrh, and frankincense. The idea of giving gifts extends before Christ.  The winter solstice (shortest daylight) has been celebrated in one way or another since antiquity, and involved some form of gift giving.  North Europeans called this celebration ‘Jul’, still reflected today in the word Yule, meaning Christmas.

What has happened now is a reflection of how things have been altered by those wanting to gain something by promotion of toys, clothing, jewelry, electronics, vacations or anything that sells. For some it is the pleasure of the moment taking over rational thought usually resulting in credit card bills or going into debt for things that typically lose value over time.

Where are we today?

Let’s begin by dismissing the stupid right away. 1st thing I noticed was an argument over whether Santa is black or white. Really, are we that caught up with being so petty as to argue over what color Santa can be? Please let’s not get caught up in the historical concept of where Santa Claus came from, a man who lived in the fourth century. We will all go to sleep reading about that obscure connection.

Why not a black Santa Claus?

Why not a black Santa Claus?

Santa Claus as we know today is a large happy elf who lives in the north pole with small elves building toys all year, to deliver in one night to kids all over the world by flying around in a large sleigh pulled by reindeer. His preferred method of egress is the chimney and he really appreciates it when you leave milk and cookies on a side table near the Christmas tree. Now if that ain’t a work of fiction, then you don’t know the meaning… So if some children find more comfort in Santa being black instead of white, what’s the harm in that? Why sit around arguing about the color of a fictitious character?

The Japanese got real smart when it comes to fiction. They came up with people changing into giant robots and the fiercest fiction character of them all, Godzilla. Who’s going to argue with all that? Speaking of arguing about color and fictitious characters, why aren’t we discussing the color of Darth Vader. The man spoke like James Earl Jones and then when unmasked, he’s white! Something is definitely wrong there people…

2nd stupid argument was over the remarks made by Phil Robertson, made famous by a regular A&E television broadcast called Duck Dynasty. I didn’t know we had so many rednecks and redneck wannabes. Who knew that so many people, straight, gay, lesbian, religious and atheist would hang on every word this man speaks? When he speaks, we listen, or at least that’s what the news is all about when they asked his opinion on the status of gay people with respect to their salvation. A&E executives aren’t stupid. They’ve been showing this family for over 3 seasons and they know he’s outspoken in his beliefs. I think they’re having us all on and laughing all the way to the bank, stirring up controversy. I say, who cares? Free speech for all, they even let Nazis march in Illinois in the 1970s. The Blues Brothers was a box office movie success with a comedy theme spoofing the Neo-Nazi event. Maybe someone clever enough could make money off this too. Oh, A&E along with Dicks Sporting Goods, WalMart, Cracker Barrel and a few other stores already have.

We Are So Gullible

If you like works of fiction, you will love government (mis)managed health care. So far, it’s been a real hit on the Internet. You can buy books, electronics, toys, clothes, even cars and airplanes through the Internet, but since our glorious government has taken the first step in nationalized health care, you’re experiencing difficulty in purchasing insurance on-line. Just wait until you want customer service. There’s no need to rush to make the deadline for sign up people, the IRS will be more than happy to apply the penalties on future tax returns for non-compliance.

There’s no end to the gullibility of the American people, because we believe our wonderful, benevolent and honest leaders will take care of us if we just go along with each new program. Sure it’s going to cost us all a little more. That was just a slight mis-speak last spring by President Obama on how we’ll all save if we just willingly sign up for the new health care program. Young people are going to be especially happy because they have to pay more to take care of us older people. You see, all the while I and my employers have been paying on social security, the government has been using that money elsewhere and so none of it was saved toward my retirement. This means the younger generations will have to pay more as more of us older people retire. When we really start to have problems like cancer, hip, knee and heart valve replacements, think of us as the kindly older person you once saw as a young person with long straggly hair, flashing peace signs telling everyone to not trust anyone over 30.  Aren’t you glad the government is so kind and wants to help by taking more money from each of us?

Could I come over and watch TV on your nice big flat screen TV, mine is the older glass tube type with the fuzzier picture. I have a right to a large, high-definition, flat screen TV!

Speaking of gullibility, the national debt is increasing as I write and you read. It’s going to soon be over $20 trillion but not to worry. Some young person will pay the bills. Let’s have more babies and let in more illegal (errr — undocumented) people to pay for our extravagance. While we’re not able to close our borders because the technology isn’t quite there to do it yet (wink-wink-nudge-nudge), may I end this tale of soon to be New Year… Here’s a new video from Edward Snowden. Yes, we should all hate him because he’s an international terrorist and a naughty revealer of secrets. Oh, what did he do? Well, he dispelled the notion about how our government protects us while we sleep. The great Federal defenders store our phone calls and our email because they want to protect us from evil doers. Ask those people during the last Boston Marathon how well the federal government protects us through violating our privacy.

Bletchley Park - BBC image

Bletchley Park – BBC image