Monday, December 12, 2005

I Am Not a Caveman

My older brother is always good for a laugh. He has this idea that there are two kinds of people in the world: upstanding Christian conservatives like himself, and liberal crackpots. Since I am not in the former category it follows, in his mind at least, that I must necessarily be in the latter category.

He never hesitates to tell me what I think.

Last summer, at a family reunion of sorts at a park in my home town, my brother informed me that, if it were up to me, "we would all be living in caves."

Thursday, December 8, 2005

A Fir Tree By Any Other Name

Today was the last day of class for the semester, and I unwound a bit by having my students discuss a simple question: "When we get up to leave today, should I wish you a Merry Christmas?"

The discussion in each case was livelier than many we've had this semester, and covered a lot of the ground I've covered in this blog in the last few days. My students helped me to clarify my thinking.

Plan Ahead and Keep Moving

It's an unusually cold morning in Atlanta, and there's a good chance of rain this afternoon.

Yesterday, looking ahead to today with a certain dread, I once more consoled myself with the thought that this is the kind of weather that makes us know we're alive.

On my way up the hill to my office this morning, mulling over the idea, it occurred to me why it is so: it's easy to die in this kind of weather. When I lived up north, I experienced winter days that could easily kill a person in a matter of minutes. All you would have to do is go outside without heavy clothing (coat, scarf, hat, gloves) and stand still for a while.

But then, this is generally true. To stay alive, we always have to plan ahead and keep moving. Winter just makes that necessity more pressing, closer to our immediate awareness.

Wednesday, December 7, 2005

Yuletide in Public and in Private

While I celebrate Yule and accept that others celebrate Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa, and the Feast of Acquisition, I think it is important to draw a line between the public realm and the private realm regarding the various observances of the season.

Tuesday, December 6, 2005

Happy Chanuchristnicholanzaa Yulestice!

I have a guilty secret that I always have to grapple with at this time of year. I am no longer a Christian, but I love Christmas.

This may be just an artifact of my upbringing. With my family, Christmas has always been a big deal, with unrestrained decoration and big family gatherings with lots of good food. There were church services for Advent, pageants, the works.

I don't go to church any more. I don't celebrate Advent or the birth of Jesus. Even so, the lights, the music, the food, even the shopping (especially now that I have children), all of it is still strangely moving to me.