Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Spirit of Christmas

Here we are, on the eve of Christmas. I am a religious person but I never can quite seem to find the way to express that on my blog. I feel like I do, but in subtle ways, congruous with the tone and feel of the place. When I first started ye olde blog, I learned some things. One was that I didn't want to share everything. It wasn't a confessional. I also didn't feel super comfortable when divulging all my secrets even though I'm generally a pretty open person. But I wanted to establish a somewhat specific tone for my blog which could be labeled as "strange," or, "unique" or, "trying to be funny."

The other day my mom and I were chatting about being online and she was telling me how someone was sort of expressing frustration to her (this story is off to a great start) how everyone paints themselves in the best light online, that they never share the real stuff or the sad stuff.  It's all, oh my life is perfect, and so beautiful all the time, look at all the fun I'm having, etc.  I responded saying that the idea that anyone would expect your online persona to be real or at least complete is flawed.  It's not going to happen. It negates the very nature of the internets. I think it's fine to choose to paint yourself in a certain light (and along with the "my life is amazing!" type of people, there are plenty of "my life is horrible" people as well).  The fault, in my opinion, lies with the person who believes the things they read and makes false deductions or inferences based on it. Worse still, when they choose to compare or hold themselves and their own lives to these false interpretations. When the internet was invented, no one ever said, "now remember, rule number one: be your FULL self, all of the time, in all ways. Share and divulge everything, no matter the audience."  That's just silly. Even in situations when you're interacting with other humans, you're not going to be your complete self. You have your professional/work self, your church self, etc.  This is not to say that we shouldn't strive to be authentic in all situations but we adjust and filter and that is fine. But in terms of the internet, it wasn't even cool to use your real name in your email address. You had to come up with a clever moniker.  This is why I feel it is completely pointless to engage in any kind of commenting that will stir up controversy or agitate in any way. Nothing good can come of it. You will never accomplish what you hope to. Ever. But that is a post or ten for another day.

This isn't even what i sat down to say. What i was going to do is make a list of things that put me in and out of the Christmas Spirit and I began the way I did to explain that yes, there are far more important things that put me in the actual Christmas spirit, but the little frivolous things help too. And this blog is nothing if not frivolous.

Not to be a Scrooge but the thing that sparked this was that I'm busy cooking and baking things today for a big family thing and have some Christmas music on. Every so often i make the mistake of selecting "today's christmas radio" station on Pandora-- for me, with the exception of Manheim Steamroller, it's usually go Bing or go home.  I mean, how much Buble can a person take?! And even though I would thumbs down it time and again, Pandora persists to say, ahhh c'mon, give them a chance, continuing to play an a'cappella group called Pentonix which makes me rage like a thousand Grinches. So let's see how far i get with these lists:

Spirit Suck

 A'cappella groups.  I hate them. I hate them with such a fiery passion, they make my very veins roar with boiling fury.  It didn't start out this way. I didn't love them in the beginning but I didn't know how I felt. But something did rub me the wrong way and the more I hear them the more it is decided that if I could, i'd abolish them ALL.  It's not that I dislike music without instrumentation. It's that I don't believe voices should replace instruments. Sing without instruments, fine, but stop with all the dissonant harmonic nonsense, trying to sound like instruments.   Find some people to play for you and focus your vocal talents in a way they should be used. So when I hear Christmas songs sung in this manner, I want to throw daggers.

Spirit Swell
I've decided to offer an opposing item to balance things out. As mentioned, Bing Crosby equates Christmas. Even better is when he riffs for a while. Am I using that right? What does it mean when a singer chit-chats for a minute before singing? My favorite is when he's about to sing The First Noel and says something like, "sing along with me now. If you don't know the words, then hum along, tap your foot, do something!"  And then this slow song starts. That's a toe-tapper, alright.  Makes me laugh every time. Every. Time.

Spirit Suck

I'm going to continue the music category. And another thing-- all these modern, made up Christmas songs. What's that about? Some are ok but enough is enough! Sean really loves Last Christmas, I Gave You My Heart, But the Very Next Day You Gave it Away.  (I don't know the title so I just kept going.)  I don't know how I feel about it. It might be catchy but does it feel like Christmas? i just don't know. Maybe give it 30 more years.  Or have Bing sing it.

Spirit Swell

Watching A Christmas Story. This isn't new but it's been a long time since i've seen it because I think i used to every year and I felt like i was done. Well, it's awesome. I don't know if it's because I grew up watching it, grew up listening to my parents' Christmas stories which are around this time period, or if that's just actually what Christmas should be.  I love everything-- the bully moment (speaks to my heart), the dream of writing the world's best theme and your teacher being in love with it. I've definitely had that one.   The little family things like the washing your mouth out with soap, which my mom used to say but never did, and how his mom hadn't had  a warm meal in 15 years.  It's all good. It makes me feel very Christmassy.  

Spirit Suck

Going to the mall at the end of it all.  It's fun at first. Who doesn't love the mall and all the decor?   But at the end it's a real killjoy.

Spirit Swell

Attending the Lower Lights concert.  My pal Dom is a part of this big hodgepodge group of singers and musicians and they have such a fun folksy spin.  I've been wanting to go every year and always missed it so this year Brooke and I went. It was de-lightful. So much fun and variety and talent. We also saw Mitt Romney dance which was just... words cannot express. It was a true gift of Christmas.

Another Spirit Swell

Christmas attire.  I am ALL for it.  One of my dreams is to have an ugly Christmas sweater-making party. But nowadays, I don't even know what makes a Christmas sweater ugly. To me they are beautiful.  I just really love them, and not ironically.   I have a few what I would call Christmas sweaters. They have been on constant and perpetual rotation since Dec. 1.  So let's get excited for a slideshow of a bunch of Jens in sweaters.

I found this in the mall in one of those cheap teen clothing stores that I somehow can't resist. But can you blame??


It's a vest-on-sweater! My niece asked me why there were pauses on it. Took me a decade to realize she meant the black "buttons." Heh heh. Made me smile.  

Here's another of the same sweater. I guess I love this sweater so much because when I was absentmindedly naming this pic when emailing it to myself I called it "Sweater and Sean."  I don't even see me; I only see the sweater.  But Sean's shirt is awesome. We made them earlier this year and I am pleased.

This next one was given to me by one who knows the very soul of me.

I love this red sweater. Too bad I had to taint the sweater joy by wearing it to the DENTIST. Amazingly I had one filling and was in and out in 30 minutes. It's a dental Christmas miracle. Probably because of the sweater.

This year I baked a million sugar cookies for a bunch of youths to decorate. I have several Christmas cutters but when my eyes gazed upon the sweater cutter, I had to have.

I'm pretty sure I've posted this pic. I love this sweater. Fair Isle 4 Ever!

More Christmas Swell

The theme this year has been Country Christmas. I have decided to seize this. I've dreamed of it for years and now we're living it.  We live in a tiny cottage in the woods and occasionally come over the dirt road to find deer romping about. Because that's normal. It's normal now. 

We decorated mini gingerbread houses.  Sean took one for the team and sacrificed his artistry to help a young child.  I worked on one house, became dissatisfied, then worked on another and felt better about it. That one is the church on the left.  Another dream of mine is to decorate gingerbread houses with an unlimited supply of frosting and peace and quiet. Just cover the whole thing with frosting snow, with embellishments of candy. Maybe I need to take a class or something.

Happy Christmas Eve!

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