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I came home late from work last night and found a small package on my front porch. The package was not a surprise. I was expecting it and I knew what I would find inside. I picked up the vintage gray, mottled paper envelope off the ground and carried it inside.
I had received a phone call a few days ago from my mom, telling me she’s coming to see her grandkids. I had to let her know I don’t have the boys this week, they’re with their dad and I won’t get them back until Christmas day. A day later, she left me a voice mail that she would see the boys over there and she would leave some photos by my front door. My mom came to town yesterday, left the photos, just as she had planned. I suppose she saw the kids too, just as she had planned.
Although I was expecting the package to contain photographs, I wasn’t prepared for the non-accidental, odd collection of them, depicting my life. On one end of the spectrum, photos of my parents before I was even born, at the other end, my pre-divorce family photos. What was I expecting? Some snapshots of my kids from her last visit to Frisco. What should I have expected? Anything but some snapshots. What did I get? Pieces of my life on tiny scraps of matte paper, some mocking happiness, others simply evidence of my existence, all carefully arranged into a loose album of heartache. Merry Christmas.
Enough of that. Wow, only one more day of journaling the 25 days of Christmas. Although the countdown is over, I plan to push the digital pencil one final time for this project, a summary of sorts, on Christmas day.
Transposing my insights, perceptions and visions into comprehensible words is so incredibly challenging for me. Images, no problem. Words, easier said than done. Also, there’s the fear of writing something that nobody will read. I realize I’m somewhat opinionated and can be a pushy activist when I’m passionate about something. To some people, that makes me interesting, to others, I’m probably just plain annoying. For now, we’ll say I’m interestingly annoying.
So many have asked, “Why are you writing? What’s the purpose of blogging the 25 days of Christmas?” I have many reasons.
I want people to see the fun, humor and creativity in everyday life.
Remember, this blog started as a way to showcase silly Christmas yard art. Why do we have plastic Santa statues and hang several strings of tiny bulbs all over the place for Christmas? Even though Christmas yard decor seems to be caricature representations of the Christmas spirit, it’s the juxtaposition of an important birthday and our cultural creativity. The evolution of the Christmas story is like hearing a story through a large circle of people. The story is told by each person in the circle, one person telling the next what they just heard. Once the story has made it’s way around the circle, there might be some small resemblance to the original story, but with personal and cultural embellishments, and sometimes, and element of fantasy.
We’re all quirky in our own ways and I’m simply pointing out that Christmas exaggerates these peculiarities. Let’s enjoy this! Not just around Christmastime, but all year long. I’m throwing out a challenge here. In the next week, take one photo of something amusing, creative or just plain weird. Upload it to your Facebook page, write a couple of sentences about it, then tag me on it. This exercise will change the way you see ordinary, everyday sights. And don’t blame me when you start finding ways to take secret photos, like pretending to talk on the phone while snapping pics. Of course, I would ever consider doing such a thing.
I want to challenge people to think differently about Christmas, including myself.
If you’ve read my previous blogs, this doesn’t require much explanation. Think outside yourself, don’t get sucked into the cultural Christmas entropy and keep making positive changes after Christmas is packed neatly away in the attic. I know I will fall back into my old ways, those of being too busy, but not busyness with a good purpose. I don’t want to forget about meeting Tom on the highway or forget about Flo, the ghost of Christmas future. I want to remember Christ’s birth all year long and be mindful of God’s wonderful gift.
Self expression and personal growth.
Some people cry to express feelings of anguish and sorrow, or some might even show displays of anger. My expression of negative feelings is necessary, however it is manifested through aesthetic, tangible pieces of art. I must convey my pain and pleasure through art, to the point that if I don’t fulfill this need, it will pull me down into the depths of depression. Until yesterday, I thought I was the only person on the planet that deals with emotion this way. I’m not. Just last night, I met someone that has the same affliction.
My writing, as well as my art, tells a story. When I take the time to read my written words and gaze at my own artwork, I learn things about myself that I didn’t know. This is my self-awareness process. Now don’t get me wrong, I have many issues, and some I’m sure many I’m not aware of (which I’m sure will be pointed out by my friends reading this), but it’s helpful to me. Sometimes it’s painful, like looking at the envelope of photographs last night, sometimes it’s helpful, gaining an understanding of why I do things so I don’t repeat the same mistakes.
If you’re looking for warm-fuzzy-happy stories, you won’t be reading this, as you would have clicked away long ago. If you’re looking for some thought-provoking, realistic stories with obscure personal views, then you’ve come to the right place. Christmas is hugely important, and I’m not talking about the stock market implications. The birth of a savior has been overshadowed with the cultural Christmas. I don’t want to be in that shadow.
With my treasure chest of words, I can only hope to make a tiny impact in this large cultural crater. Whether you stumbled upon these blogs by accident, found them through a subject search or you know me and I pestered the crap out of you to read them, my hope is that there might be one tiny little piece of meaningful wisdom that means something to you. If not, this has still been a great experience, as I can use it to better my own life journey. The tattered gray envelope and its contents may represent my past, but does not predict my future. Merry Christmas.
Three days until Christmas really means only one more day to get all of my work done. This year we have Christmas eve and Christmas eve, eve services. Yikes! Short blog today? Probably not. ;)
Last night, someone found by blog with the search words ‘why do people choose chaos’. I doubt they found the answer to that question here, as I choose to embrace it, but now I’m pondering the question.
First, what is chaos? Let’s take a look at the definition. It is defined as ‘a state of utter confusion or disorder; a total lack of organization or order.’ Synonyms: disarray, jumble, turmoil. Antonyms: order, peace, calm. Or in other words, my writing style? Well…
So do people chose chaos, or is chaos a result of human actions? Is it something that we’re born into, and on some level, will always have to react with accordingly? I believe life itself contains chaos, and from what I see, an abundant quantity of it. I do believe we can choose our own level of participation though. Now I’m not talking about a person just choosing to be disorganized and live in a messy house, I’m talking about cultural chaos. The chaos that results from masses of people coexisting on this planet, the development of our interactions and the outcome of our participation in society.
Cultural chaos is not only having too many choices, but the expectation that we are to participate in all of them on some level. Since this is the 25 days of Christmas blog, let’s look at Christmas chaos. Before I do that, I want to share a conversation I had yesterday with a couple of coworkers.
This little guy was sitting on the desk, inside a plastic bag, smiling at me. Of course I took him out to play with him, and I also got him a car to ride. Zoom, zoom! Peppermint wheels! I’m glad Sonic still believes in peppermint wheels. (see Jody’s List from 2 days ago for the reference)
As a few us us were talking, someone said, “It’s the Wal-Mart symbol.” I immediately argued that Wal-Mart cannot own the smiley face, as it’s a representation of happiness in the 70′s. Can anyone copyright a smiley? One person in the room asked, “Somebody designed it, don’t they own the rights to it?”
The answer is yes. Harvey Ball designed it and owns rights to it, and as you would expect, Wal-mart and their high priced attorneys tried to claim ownership. In 2008 they lost… or did they?
If we see the smiley and consciously or subconsciously think of shopping and happy prices at Wallyworld, mission accomplished, right? It hurts me that this symbol of happiness makes people think about a money hungry retail giant. They might not legally own the smiley face, but make no mistake about it, they do own it.
Now, back to Christmas chaos, which by the way, is just a more specific form of cultural chaos. Why do you do all of the things you do at Christmas time? Because you want to? Because you feel you have to? Maybe because you’ve been doing it this way for so long, it’s a programmed holiday response? Is it a tradition? I recently heard about a child asking her mom what a tradition is. The mom answered, “It’s something that was started long ago, things we still do today, but we don’t like to do them.” So why? Christmas chaos is the fusion of many old customs and countless new practices. We try so desperately to hang on to something magical from the past and try fiercely to make it work in the present, all the while adding new things, creating a new framework of chaos every year.
Adbusters magazine, a radical, yet thought provoking publication, or as they call themselves, a journal of the mental environment, addressed the christmas chaos in one of their issues a few years ago. They encouraged people to not buy anything for Christmas and to remember the real meaning of Christmas. Here’s an image from the article…
The article encouraged people to do a ‘Jesus Walk’, cut out the Jesus face and walk around with it at shopping malls. They also asked people to photocopy the ‘Garbage Christ’ image and tape it up in any public location they could. Now, I realize this is radical, and being an activist would be considered reverse chaos. I also know some people might find this offensive, but is it anymore offensive than celebrating Christmas without Christ in it? That’s celebrating the ‘mas’, or mass.
Civilization creates icons of all sorts, placing in our subconscious, the type and location of where they want you to participate in their piece of the chaos. I don’t want people or large companies dictating what I do and why I do it. Yes, we have brains and we have to respond, but we don’t have to be clones of society. They create chaos that we can choose to be a part of or we can learn to coexist with in a healthy way.
Chaos is a really deep subject and I can only hope to scratch a tiny, barely noticable mark on the surface of it in it on a daily blog. You’ve heard the saying if you can’t beat them, join them? Chaos exisits, whether we like it or not. I don’t know if the person searching for the chaos answer was looking for this answer. In my mind, the answer? I think it’s ‘comfort zone’. We choose chaos because it’s what we know and it’s comfortable, even if we don’t like it. This Christmas, you can beat the chaos, join the chaos, make fun of the chaos or embrace the chaos. Get out of your comfort zone. Even if it’s just a little bit, baby steps are good. Try it. You can always return to the chaos, if you choose to do so.