Thursday, December 24, 2009

Habitual holiday message

"I'm not philosophical about Christmas," I said to Abby.

"I don't believe it," she said. "It'll come to the surface after those few layers of 'meh' get peeled away."

It's not like this lack of introspection is a loss to the world as a whole, but it was a bit surprising to me. I had just launched a newsletter, had to figure out travel plans, desperately wanted a few quiet days with family and hadn't thought much further than the logistics required to do as little as possible for the duration of the holiday. The best I can manage thus far is to call a truce against whatever's been bothering me for the last 90 days and recommend the rest of the world do so as well. Take advantage of everything being closed and quiet or indulge the few places that are serving really good Thai food and are open when you're bored.

If you're in a giving mood, you might want to think about this:

“The Ontario Association of Food Banks says there's been a record increase in the number of people turning to food banks in the province since last fall…The association says the economic downturn has made this its most difficult year, with the number of people served reaching historic highs.

There's been a 19 per cent spike in the number of people turning to food banks since last year — compared with an increase of 11 per cent in 2008 and 10 per cent during the recession of the early 1990s. In all, the association says 375,000 Ontario residents use food banks each month, even though one third of people in those households are employed. Many food banks have not been able to meet the increased demand, with one in four reducing the amount of food distributed in their hampers.”

- CBC News, Dec 1, 2009

In lieu of presents (and in response to the oft-repeated statement "I've got too much stuff" from various family members), everyone is getting a year-long donation to the OAFB via which helps you to do that sort of thing monthly. It supports a variety of Canadian charities right across the political spectrum, and in These Difficult Economic Times it won't go unwelcome. Just my two cents worth. And before this sounds too sanctimonious, I'm also coveting a LG Blu-Ray player at my local Best Buy. Full disclosure's always so embarassing.

Operation Eyesight was the favourite charity of my uncle, who passed away a few years ago. I maintain a donation in his memory. Both of my parents have been affected by cancer, I've made donations to the Cancer Society in the past but food banks seem more urgent this year. Karen Selick made a case against them in the National Post a few years ago that got under my skin; her case boiled down to them being inefficient and therefore should be eliminated. The whole hunger/unemployment/need aspect sort of fell by the wayside by her estimation (part of the larger problem that didn't get a fast cure) and yeah, there's got to be a better way. Agreed. Until then, you've still got to eat. Somebody does, at least.

As stated earlier, it's Christmas. The faithful can drag out the Dickens, dust off Dylan Thomas, dig out the long-past Christmas cards or photos or keepsakes or simply whatever image they hold of the season and try not to dwell (as unavoidable as it feels) on whoever is gone or simply lost from you. Allow a few hours for the unabashed sentiment (good or bad) and then look around at the present. My wife is making beeswax candles in the next room. My son, with a slight cold, is running around happily and I've made chicken soup with fresh carrots and celery and garlic and a little pancetta to brown it all at the beginning. I'm seeing family Christmas Day and the 27th. Nobody's sick this year. Everyone kept their jobs. There's enough for everyone and some left to share. That counts as a holiday for me.

Post-script, 1:07pm:

"What are you blogging?" asked Abby. "Something happy?"

"Let's call it happy," I answered.

"That'll do," she said cheerfully. "As long as it's happy."

'Tis the season.

Dec 24th, 2009

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The second shot went into the foot of an entire political party

This needs no introduction. Wait. Maybe it does. Some webmaster or some publicist or simply some screener saying "No. Really. This'll be great. Any publicity is good publicity. Let 'em scream. It's just a joke."

Inexcusable. Juvenile. Self destructive. Potentially harmful. Needlessly malicious. Providing fodder for their opponents and bringing the entire party down with one stupid gesture. Rabble and the National Post are weighing in with pretty much what you'd expect so...if you like that sort of thing, enjoy. If you're revolted, you're not alone.

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