Posts tagged with "christmas" - Faerye Net 2011-01-07T17:41:38+00:00 Felicity Shoulders Dickens on post-holiday blues 2011-01-07T17:41:38+00:00 2011-01-07T17:48:42+00:00 <blockquote>Oh these holidays! why will they leave us some regret? why cannot we push them back, only a week or two in our memories, so as to put them at once at that convenient distance whence they may be regarded either with a calm indifference or a pleasant effort of recollection! why will they hang about us, like the flavour of yesterday&#8217;s wine, suggestive of headaches and lassitude, and those good intentions for the future, which, under the earth, form the everlasting pavement of a large estate, and, upon it, usually endure until dinner-time or thereabouts!<br /> <br /> Who will wonder that Barbara had a headache, or that Barbara&#8217;s mother was disposed to be cross, or that she slightly underrated Astley&#8217;s, and thought the clown was older than they had taken him to be last night? Kit was not surprised to hear her say so—not he. He had already had a misgiving that the inconstant actors in that dazzling vision had been doing the same thing the night before last, and would do it again that night, and the next, and for weeks and months to come, though he would not be there. Such is the difference between yesterday and today. We are all going to the play, or coming home from it.<br /> <strong>-The Old Curiosity Shop</strong></blockquote> <p>I myself have been happily free from post-holiday blues this year. Perhaps such equanimity is the curse of growing maturity, for as Dickens&#8217;s closing figure suggests, the descent into melancholy is the obverse of a glorious ascent into joy. I am sure I do not enjoy Christmas nearly so much now as I did when I was a child, for all I do not grieve its going so bitterly.</p> <p>Oddly, in spite of the Christian (culturally so, for <a href="" target="links">I see that it&#8217;s imputed to a medieval abbot</a>, not to Jesus) image of the road to hell&#8217;s paving stones, this passage reminds me of the Buddhist idea of <a href="" target="links">samsara</a>, as I learned it in high school. This churning rise and fall of desire and disappointment, aspiration and disgust, does seem to be cyclical, a bit sad, and oh so human.</p> Robot Christmas 2010-12-25T14:04:43+00:00 2010-12-25T14:05:04+00:00 <p>Our household has taken a bold leap into the future: <a href="" target="links">Ryan</a> got me a <a href="" target="links">Roomba</a> for Christmas. While I insist I&#8217;m not sure I&#8217;m ready for the ethical conundrums of robot ownership, I also admit that those questions don&#8217;t really apply to a vacuum whose intellectual capacity is less than that of a <a href="" target="links">mouse droid</a>.</p> <p>A much greater quandary attends the gift Ryan received from <a href="" target="links">his mom</a>, an <a href="" target="links">aerial drone</a> you control with your iPhone. I maintain that this is patently <em>not</em> a robot, because it&#8217;s not autonomous. However, I was soon contradicted by the drone starting and taking off by itself when Ryan switched away from the control app. I am now convinced we&#8217;ve invited a primitive <a href="" target="links">agent of Skynet</a> into our home.</p> <p>I hope the Roomba is on our side.</p> Winter Holidays 2005-12-26T13:25:00+00:00 2008-06-08T16:28:07+00:00 <p>I&#8217;m kind of a strange mixture of holiday spirit and cynicism. I love to decorate for Christmas, but I&#8217;d say my favorite Christmas movies are <a href=";fc=1;ft=21;fm=1" target="links"><em>Bell, Book and Candle</em></a> and <em>Die Hard</em>. I love old-fashioned carols, but <em>Jingle Bells</em> brings me out in hives. Sometimes, when I haven&#8217;t read <em>A Christmas Carol</em> recently enough, I wonder about me and Christmas. If I&#8217;m not religious, am I part of the commercialized Christmas problem? Am I co-opting Christmas? A good dose of Ebeneezer and Tiny Tim relieves me of this and fills me with secular humanist Christmas glow, but I think it&#8217;s worth saying that it&#8217;s a silly worry.</p> <p>Haven&#8217;t you ever wondered why most cultures seem to have a winter holiday? (Most cultures in the Northern Hemisphere, that is. Maybe I should look up June holidays in the Southern hemisphere&#8230;) Christmas itself, some scholars hold, should really be in early January, but it got scooched back towards the Solstice, probably to compete with and co-opt existing winter festivals like <a href="" target="links">Yule</a> (I won&#8217;t even get into Zoroastrianism). I figure that we need our warmth and merriment, our festivals of light and celebrations of life, in order to get through the dark part of the year. It can&#8217;t be entirely due to pagan traditions that they tend to fall on either side of the Solstice instead of marking the end of the cold; it&#8217;s like a Hump-Day party for the year &mdash; we&#8217;re getting through the hardest part. There&#8217;s a certain dark humor to it, if you think back to the way things must have been in societies with a meager food surplus, less insulation, and so on. Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow our food may run out.</p> <p>I doubt this is an original thought at all (probably been said many times, many ways), but I find it comforting. I don&#8217;t have to feel vaguely hypocritical because my memories of Christmas are about that (pagan) tree, the little family traditions my parents made up, stockings and Santa, waiting for people to open MY presents to them&#8230;Christmas belongs to me, too. Christmas, Saturnalia, Yule, Chanukkah, Dong zhi, Modranect, Yalda, whatever. I think we&#8217;re hard-wired for winter holidays, to celebrate inside with fire and food while Nature frowns. It&#8217;s our right as children of a tilted planet. Enjoy, and happy feastings.</p>