Monday, December 24, 2012

From our hearts to yours

Image found here:

Did you ever hear the story of the Christmas tree
Who just didn't want to change the show?
He liked living in the woods and playing with squirrels,
He liked icicles and snow.

He liked wolves and eagles and grizzly bears,
And critters and creatures that crawled
Why, bugs were some of his very best friends!
(Spiders and ants and all).

Now that's not to say that he ever looked down
On a vision of twinkled lights
Or on mirrored bubbles and peppermint canes
And a thousand other delights

And he often had dreams of tiny reindeer
And a jolly old man in a sleigh
Full of toys and presents and wonderful things
And a story of Christmas day

Oh, Alfie believed in Christmas alright!
He was full of Christmas cheer!
All of each and every day,
And all throughout the year!

To him it was more than a special time,
Much more than a special day
It was more than a special story, it was more than a beautiful story
It was a special kind of way.

You see, some folks have never heard a jingle bell ring
And they've never heard of Santa Claus;
They've never heard the story of the son of god
That made Alfie pause.

Did that mean that they'd never know of peace on earth
Or the brotherhood of man?
Or know how to love, or know how to give?
If they can't, no one can.

You see, life is a very special kind of thing,
Not just for a chosen few,
But for each and every living, breathing thing
Not just me and you.

So when you're at Christmas prayers this year
Alfie asked me if I'd ask you
Say a prayer for the wind and the water and the wood
And those who live there too.

A very merry Christmas from my heart to yours, Readers! 

Monday, December 17, 2012

Musings of a former grocery store clerk during Christmas

I always get a little bit nostalgic, Readers, when I do my grocery shopping at Quality Food Centers (who, Readers, I promise, did not pay me to write the following post).

I worked part time at a QFC for about two years. It's amazing what skills and personality quirks one can pick up from working in a food/retail environment; during my stint as a bakery clerk I learned how to use a multi-line phone, how to make little roses out of icing, got into the habit of wiping down every surface of my kitchen after cooking, and had developed a working knowledge of the phonetic alphabet ("Sure, Ma'am, I'd be happy to write on that cake! Now, the birthday girl's name is Mary spelled M as in Mike, A as in Alpha, R as in Romeo, Y as in Yankee?").

During a recent shopping trip, I was reminded of another little "quirk" I developed during my years behind the bakery counter: I almost always instinctively roll my eyes whenever anyone mentions the so-called "War on Christmas".


It seems as if mentioning Christmas is a bit less taboo lately than it was in years past; Target, Wal-Mart, and other retail establishments seem to be abandoning the "Happy Holiday" blanket greeting. Not all establishments are getting rid of the dreaded H words, and as we all know from FOX news, there are a few Angry Shreiking Christmas Crusaders out there who are NOT happy about it. Unfortunately for me and my former co-workers, QFC was one of those companies that encouraged the "Happy Holidays" greeting and still does, as far as I know.

I have to give my (former) managers a lot of credit here: they anticipated that this might bring some problems with customers and were able to deal with those problems quickly and gracefully. In addition, they did a fairly good job of nipping any potential tension in the bud:  for example, employees at our store were allowed to say "Merry Christmas" to a customer IF THE CUSTOMER SAID "MERRY CHRISTMAS" FIRST. That practice alone diffused most of the potential Angry Shreiking Christmas Crusaders; although if a HARDCORE  Angry Shreiking Christmas Crusader (which we got every now and again) wished to make their presence known, they'd throw a fit no matter WHAT we said.

I did get a few ASCCs while I was working at the bakery counter. Mostly, this was not because of me saying the dreaded "H.H." words but because the music we were playing in the store didn't include any religious Christmas carols (why anyone would think complaining to the bakery clerk would make "Joy To the World" play over the PA system is beyond me). I learned VERY quickly to just smile apologetically and nod as the ASCC would aimlessly rant about how corporations are stealing their "right to be faithful" (as one memorable customer put it). Even then, I knew that it would be MUCH easier for me and for everyone else in the store if I just let these trolls have their moment of deluded self-righteousness and get on with my duties.

A very wise person once said that silence is the best response to a fool.

I believe Rachel Held Evans says it best: When somebody decides to throw a tantrum because some overworked temp working the cash register at *insert retail establishment* says "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas", they are doing nothing to bring Christ's message to the world. In reality, they are just making themselves look like a spoiled toddler who had their favorite toy taken away.

Readers, God has given us the greatest gift that any of us could ever hope to receive. We have been given our ETERNAL SALVATION. We have been given the gift of our GOD INCARNATE. But, for so many of my Christian brothers and sisters, it isn't enough. Rachel Held Evans puts it beautifully:

Suddenly it’s not enough that Americans spend millions of dollars each year marking the birth of Jesus. Now we’ve got to have a “Merry Christmas” banner in front of every parade and an inflatable manger scene outside of every courthouse... or else we’ll make a big stink about it in the name of Jesus.  Having opened the gift of the incarnation—of God with us—we’ve peered inside and shrieked, “This is not enough!  Where are the accessories? We want more!” 

When our Lord and Savior said, "Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be Done on Earth as it is in Heaven", I don't think he had religious music playing at the supermarket in mind.

People saying "Happy Holidays" is not taking Christ out of Christmas. You want to know what is taking our Lord and Savior out of Christmas more than anything else, Readers?

Being a dick.

So don't be a dick this Christmas, Readers. When you're out doing your shopping, be mindful of those who are working to help you. We are not actively trying to destroy Christianity, we're just trying to do our jobs without getting complaints from corporate.

Be nice to retail employees during this time of year, Readers. They have to put up with a LOT of abuse and overt stupidity.

Americans spend millions and millions of dollars marking the birth of Jesus every year, Readers.

Perhaps we should focus less on Christ's birth, and focus more on what Christ taught us:

Love your neighbor.
Love your enemies.
Turn the other cheek.
Blessed are the Meek and Humble.

In short, Don't be a Dick.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

It's that time of year again!

Readers, it's that time of year again!

Tomorrow is the Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition! 

I am yet again directing a group of singing lawyers/administrative staff, and we will be caroling at the Westlake Center tomorrow starting at 6:15! We are raising funds for the Pike Place Market Senior Center and Food Bank! If you are in the Seattle area, please, come on down and immerse yourselves in Christmas Cheer! 

Image found here:
Readers, if you find yourselves unable to attend the contest, please, PLEASE consider donating. The need for assistance and resources for seniors is now greater than ever, and financial support has been diminishing with the uncertain economic climate. Please, PLEASE support your local senior citizens! 

While I'm on the topic of charitable giving, I  wanted to give a shameless plug to one of my favorite charities, World Vision: 

My husband and I have been giving gifts to friends and family through the World Vision gift catalog for the past two years! Last year, we bought my parents a goat (that was sent to a needy family). It came with an adorable plushie. It was pretty awesome. 

In addition to getting gifts for friends and family from the World Vision gift catalog (This year, we're probably going to split our donation between providing vaccinations and small business loans), the hubs and I are going to sponsor a child. We are very excited! 

The need for financial assistance is greater than ever, Readers, but there is also a great need for time and talent! If you are unable to give a financial gift to those less fortunate, please consider giving your time! Volunteer! 

Now more than ever, Readers, the world needs our three "T's"; our Time, our Talent, and our Treasure! 

Until next time!