22 December 2010

Let Your Heart Be Light

For some reason, I feel defensive of the Spirit of Christmas this year. Maybe also disillusioned and disappointed. Before I wrote this post, I wondered why.

There was a blog post at work recently referring to Santa, who visited some of our branches. The photo with the post was tagged with the identity of the individual who dressed up as Santa. A Christmas Spirit-minded staff member suggested in comment that there must be some mistake about someone having dressed up as the jolly elf and that surely this was the real Santa.

My mind began to meander along a Santa path.
I thought of adding a comment, some quick clever quip.
I was leaning toward some cutesy take-off on "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

I had a vague familiarity with the Yes, Virginia story: a young girl sends a letter to a newspaper asking if Santa Claus is real. But that was really all I knew about it.

I wasn't even sure if it was an actual event or if it was some old Christmas After-School special that missed the Yakima television stations when I was growing up.

I typed 'Yes Virginia' into Google and clicked the fourth link down.

Even with just a quick scan, my eyes began to water.

According to newseum.com, in 1897 an eight year old girl, named Virginia, wrote a letter to the New York Sun:

Dear Editor: I am 8 years old.

Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.

Papa says, 'If you see it in The Sun it's so.'

Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon

Newsman Francis Pharcellus Church's response begins:

Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds.

This was in 1897, mind you. Not 1987, 1997 or 2007. I'm amazed at the December 2010 applicability this holds. If 1897 was a skeptical age, what are we now?

I had not read this newspaper editorial before. What a shame. I immediately printed up a few copies. I taped one to the door of my 'office.' I placed one on the counter with the half dozen Christmas cards sent to my department from other departments. I sat wishing I had more time before Christmas so I could print up many copies and send them out as my Christmas 'letter.'

I won't include the complete text here, although it is not long. I trust you to click there now and read it in its entirety. http://www.newseum.org/yesvirginia/ (Then, of course, you know... come right back and finish reading here when you're done.)

The parts that resonated most within me:

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.
Where did we lose our way, People? Humanity?

Certainly we were not created for our current, and apparently long held adoration and celebration of all things edgy, negative, fast-paced, confrontational, adversarial, skeptical, cut throat, violent, 'get them before they get me,' empty, distrustful existence that we live and breathe and market and support and encourage and exalt and aspire to and revere and buy into with our last copper cent.

We bow to The God of Cruelty, Cunning and Cleverness.
(The poet Rumi said; Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment. Cleverness is mere opinion, bewilderment intuition.)

We would never dare admit that we do not, in fact, know it all. That our strong and long held opinions and life philosophy, might be useless and arrogant and utter nonsense.

We are addicted to news. Bad news.
We live in a culture that thrives and celebrates the downfall of others.
We scour the celebrity rags in hopes that the 'stars' of our small minded culture have stumbled and crumbled socially, emotionally, physically.
We relish and willingly wallow in the energy of ego and avarice.
We strive to out-do the neighbors over the fence in what ever area we feel most materially insecure.
We seek to beat the car next to us off the line when the light turns green.
We grumble and grouse when those around us shine and succeed.
We resent and we covet and we begrudge.
And we stoop to our lowest self, as opposed to soaring to our highest truth.
We fear vulnerability, that we'll be revealed as frauds. And rightly so, as we cannot muster the courage to be authentic and true and wide open. Even within, or perhaps especially within our most intimate of relationships.

How moronic is it that over one hundred years after these apt observations were pointed out to Virginia, we are even more guilty in our small mindedness, in our refusal to see, to scoop up, to celebrate, to shout the truth?

I don't know about you, but to quote Ben Stone from Family Stone: "I'm ashamed of all of you. Even you." We are all complicit. We all participate and support, if in no other way, than in our refusal to refuse. When will we learn? When will we stop? When will we finally see that our constrictive and controlling cultural status quo no longer serves our collective spirit? It does not serve you. It does not serve me. When do we say 'enough?'

Have yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Let your heart be light. Be light! Be Santa! Be Belief. Be an example. Be filled with Faith and Poetry and Romance. Be Magic this Christmas. This next year, Be Santa, Santa, Santa! Every single day.

Grow and Expand in your humility. Your bewilderment. Your willingness and honesty.

Forsake edgy and dark and hate-based adversarial minded energy, from within and from with out. It comes only from a place of fear!

Instead Rejoice!.

Repeat the sounding JOY!
Do the best thing for our weary spirit: Let your heart be light!

15 December 2010


I love movies. I love snow.

Snow movies might not be a universally recognized movie genre but universal recognition is over-rated.

The movie genres used at the library system where I work are:
For the Youngest (Sesame Street)
Family (Toy Story, Big)
Comedy (That Thing You Do, Splash, Turner & Hooch, Money Pit)
Drama (Forrest Gump, Cast Away)
Action (Apollo 13, Band of Brothers, Saving Private Ryan)
Suspense (Angels & Demons, Da Vinci Code)
Sci-fi (The Green Mile, City of Ember)
Horror (The 'burbs, Ladykillers, okay maybe not 'HORROR' but horrible for sure!)
Anime (Your guess is at least as good as mine, here....)
Special Interest (Concert for George, seriously go look it up. He plays one of the Mounties!)

I recently participated in an Intervention which took the form of a Tom Hanks marathon. A bit of deprogramming for the sake of the greater good, and in retrospect I have this to say:
Fuckin' Hanks, Baby!

Okay, way off track there.

Back to Snow Movies. Movies we seem drawn to around the holidays and through the winter months primarily because of serious snow seduction. (Not including out-right Christmas flicks.)

Here's my list:
  • Family Stone
  • Snowball Express
  • Grumpy Old Men

Barbie's Honorable Mentions:
  • New in Town
  • Mystery, Alaska
  • Day After Tomorrow
  • Dr. Zhivago
  • Bridget Jones
  • Cold Mountain

Also Groundhog Day and Snow Dogs (Yes, yes, I know. Shut up.)

I also love the snow scenes in the Harry Potter movies. I wish there were more.

And even though I don't want to hear about your edgy, horror snow favorites, I'll say it:
The Shining. I have erased all the dark disturbing stuff from my mental data banks but I do recall loving the snow.

Now, tell me your favorite SNOW Movies! This is important stuff, who knows what I might be missing?

12 December 2010

Here's the deal, if I had a magic wand...

...I'd wave it over those people who do not put up Christmas lights at Christmas time.

Not that I'd smite them or anything. I have no hard feelings or any ill-will. Live and let live is my motto, (or at least it was once a long time ago for about five minutes).

If you do not put Christmas lights up, that's fine. Suit yourself. But if I had a magic wand, I'd wave it over your Grinchy green head and make it so that you could not see the Christmas lights of others. None!

You would drive, as usual, along your regularly beaten path: To work, to the grocery store, to Walmart, to the strip club off you go, but each house you pass would be the same dark, unfriendly houses they are the other eleven months of the year. You would not get to leech Christmas Spirit from others.

If on the other mittened hand, you are not too cool to show some sweet, shiny, twinkly holiday cheer to anyone who happens down your Santa Claus lane then (and only then) you would get to fully soak up and enjoy all the Christmas lights of those generous souls around you.

This 'too cool' thing is driving me crazy and you'll be hearing from me on this again soon.