Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Christmas the way it was meant to be

Every year, for the last decade, I have been getting a bit more sceptical of Christmas, and a bit more appreciative and traditional. Sound contradictory? You bet - welcome to my life.

I loath Christmas for it's commercialism, and cringe at the commercials that tell us it's all about "getting", so get one for yourself, NOW, before all the mad Christmas shoppers get a bigger, better one for you.

But slowly, over the years, as I have traded bought presents for made presents - or even better, made presence - I have come to like the holidays more and more. This year, so far at least, Grinch be damned, I feel that the good side is finally taken over from the bad side. Whoville is in the house! The force is with me.

Here is what I like about the holidays:
- my husband's annual birthday party, which is all about getting together with friends and just happens to be before Christmas
- donating to our favourite charities, a family affair
- writing letters to our sponsored children in Mongolia and Tanzania
- the first snowfall when we meet our neighbours on our local sledding hill. Yes, we can walk there, and it's fabulous walking in the snow at night
- being invited to holiday parties to spend good time with good friends
- our annual staff parties - time spent with friends away from the boardroom
- grrls gift exchange - homemade presents under $10
- the kids and cousins running around the house before turkey dinner
- memories of Christmas eve on Gordon Street - what Christmas will always means to me
- rye and ginger, my holiday drink since I was 12
- my mom's crescent moons, lemon tarts, sugar cookies, rum balls, nanaimo bars, chocolate covered cherries, etc, etc
- quiet Dec 24 dinners with the inlaws - picnic style in front of the fire
- opening the stocking and finding a mandarin orange, a magazine, and chocolate
- making presents for the all the kids in my life
- old t.v. specials - Frosty, Rudolph, the land of the misfits, the Grinch, Charlie Brown
- wrapping presents
- hugs when all the presents are open

So here is what I have figured out. If you just keep everything about Christmas, but remove the buying, it is a wonderful event. Which leads me to this...

A list of things you can choose to replace the buying.

But don't get me wrong. I am all in favour of buying the RIGHT things. As written by Chicken-Scratch about the Adbusters Buy Nothing Christmas campaign, "Buy Nothing Christmas is not really about refusing to spend a dime over the holiday season. It’s about taking a deep breath and deciding to opt out of the hype‚ the overcrowded malls‚ and the stressful to–do lists. It’s about reminding ourselves to really think about what we are buying‚ why we are buying it‚ and whether we really need it at all."

I love what I bought for my youngest son - a $6.95 present he has wanted for months, and will love, no, really, LOVE! And I equally love what I picked up for free for Paris. I love what I made for all of my nieces and nephews and grrlfriends. I love what I have picked out to buy for my mom.

Every year, I try to add a bit more meaning to Christmas and a bit less buying. Last year, we added a toboggan party on Mount Seymour. The year before I donated a bit more to local charities. The year before I stopped sending Christmas cards, but phoned friends instead.

This year, I will try my hardest to not watch any commercials on t.v., listen to commercials on the radio, read advertisements in the papers, or flip through any holiday flyers. Christmas is so much nicer when you pay attention to friends and family and select gifts for them, as opposed to reacting to advertising.

A little bit here, a little bit there.

Ho, ho, ho, off we go!

Squamish Valley Wildflower

This was once my favourite photo:

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Some days you are the pigeon, and some days you are the statue.

Today, I feel like the people in the piazza watching the antics.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Elvis is in the house!

I bumped into another mom from my younger son's school the other day. She said that all the girls just love him...

"Yep, the girls love it when he gets on the back of his dad's motorbike for a ride home. They think he's hot," she said.

"The other day," she continued, "while he was leaving the parking lot, the girls chased him down the street, shrieking like he was the second coming of Elvis. Eeeeeek! Ha ha."

Oh dear. Elvis is in our house.

Kinda also makes me wonder what all the moms think of my husband (yes it's true - there are still way more mom's picking up than dad's). I wonder if they watch him ride off too. I'll wait to see if he sports a pompadour any time soon.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

This is juicy

Found this yesterday. I kinda like it. Make-at-home JacksonPollock art. Just move your cursor and click.

Here is my "painting."

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

All about the shiny, shiny

"Stop Mom, there is a wish on your cheek." My younger son gently lifts my stray eyelash onto his finger and tells me to blow.

"What did you wish for?" he asks.

Of course, I believe in wishes coming true. Especially if you share your wish and allow others to help you make it come true.

"I wish that we will be the happiest family for ever and ever," I reply.

"Oh, shiny, shiny. I just need shiny Pokemon," he says rather excitedly, the water in our bathtub swirling and threatening to spill onto the floor.

"How will shiny Pokemon make our family happy?" I ask

"Well, shiny, shiny makes me happy. And if I'm happy, you're happy, right Mom?"

Hmmmmm.... he's got a point. Shiny, shiny it is then.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

7,700 computer viruses

A friend recently brought her computer to the doctor only to find out it was infected with 7,700 viruses. I must admit I laughed loudly at this. 7,700 viruses! That's a lot.

Later, I thought about the human body, and it's capacity to be inflicted with viruses, and well, other stuff. Here's what I found. According to Wikipedia, the human body is estimated to contain 500 to 100,000 different species of bacteria. Of which, each species can have millions of occurrences. That's a lot too.

Many of these bacteria live in the intestines and can be referred to as gut flora. I kinda like that. Makes me think of little Dr. Seuss plants living inside me. And maybe even little Dr. Seuss people, like from Who-ville in "Horton Hears A Who!"

Yesterday, I took our inside bowl of compost to our outside bucket of compost, which I then emptied into our backyard compost bin. The buckets had turned liquid inside. Gut flora indeed! Those little bacteria buddies have been busy! Forget gut flora, let's talk about gut rot. I barely managed to get away from the stench before heaving my 100,000 bacteria species onto the lawn. Okay, so I didn't thrown up, but my insides were more than ready for the launch of lunch.

Moving rapidly away from bacteria, I have been having trouble figuring out just how many virus strains are evident in flu vaccines, and therefore, injected in humans every flu season. But I did read this morning (again, Wikipedia) that the flu vaccine is usually grown in fertilized chicken eggs. Gut flora, again, and a strong enough visual to make me not want to get eggs benny for brunch.

So appetite gone, I am going to go brush the 40,000 bacteria on my tongue, then sit down with the 100,000 species of bacteria in my body, to see how many thousand of viruses are on my computer.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Lego, Playdough, and Paint

Earlier this week, both my boys needed help with homework.

Grade 1: read out loud in french...mais oui!

Grade 8: build a Lego structure, cover it in tinfoil, paint it with bright colours, make a few playdough eyeballs and worm looking things, paint them too. Look Mom - it's a biological cell!

Hmmmm... makes you think doesn't it.

Please write for what's right

I wrote this letter today (below) and sent it to both David Emerson, MP and Stephen Harper, PM. I thought if you had time and inclination you could take a few minutes to copy and paste it into a few letters as well. A simple and easy present for people around the world. I was inspired by attending a recent conference where Mia Farrow spoke about her eight visits into Sudan / Chad. As she said, "things are getting worse, not better."

For more information:
Mia Farrow: http://miafarrow.org/
BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/3496731.stm
MSF / DWB: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org/news/2007/10-25-2007_2.cfm


Hon. David Emerson, P.C., M.P,

I write to appeal to you, on humanitarian grounds, to put forward every effort Canada can muster, to:
  • put an end to the genocide in the Sudan and neighbouring countries
  • support displaced peoples with food, shelter, and health care
  • shelter women from rape, children from violence, and all victims from indignation
  • support NGO's in the good work they are doing now to provide care and comfort like no other organization can
  • ensure we no longer tolerate another Rwanda
As a member of your Vancouver Kingsway constituency, I assure you the importance of stopping senseless violence against innocent people around the world is as important as stopping the senseless violence happening on Vancouver's streets today. We are all people of this world, and I request the Canadian government do more for the people of Sudan.