Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Gatherings

The shopping season, motivated by gift giving occasions in several traditions, is a time for overtime, extra shifts, being busier than ever, for some service industries, not just retailers. So these Hollywood images of families relaxing, apparently with nothing to do except drink eggnog and sing around the piano come across as perplexing. Where are these goldmine consumers with all that disposable dough?

Our family is quite on the busy side, being service sector, although I admit to assuming a sedentary posture as I frequent the coffee shops, chatting with owners sometimes, yakking about LCDs, wall art. Sometimes I snap pictures, the better to compare notes. The Internet makes collaboration easier. Company principals needn't all live in the same town.

Santa Sings
That being said, we're not averse to attending parties, including ones with pianos, although I'm no John Ashcroft when it comes to belting out a tune. My inward pattern is to reflect on the Manger Scene in two ways: I ponder the non-humans and their participation in the mystery of life, and I focus on the three oriental kings ("we three kings of Orient are").

I don't think it trivializes our humanity to honor our animal sisters and brothers (cousins and aunts), as co-sojourners aboard Spaceship Earth. On the contrary, I'd say our humanity is transhuman, if that makes any sense. We lose a part of ourselves when a species is lost to us, a part of our heritage. I'm not saying we're in a position to prevent every kind of extinction. I'm saying it makes sense to honor and value our heritage.

Jesus wouldn't have minded knowing about dinosaurs I don't think. Given his time and place, that wasn't an opportunity for him. He didn't pretend to omniscience in that know-it-all sense, nor need we in his name. Humility, not hubris, is the way to go, though let's admit to bravado -- as mammals, some flamboyance goes with the territory (it's not "vain" to spend some time on one's appearance -- or it can be, but why make oneself the judge in every case?).

Last year, we drove all the way to Whittier and back for Christmas and New Year's. Given Carol's late start on her winged migration, thanks to the Geneva trip this year, we're thinking to try a different mix for this transition to 2009, and staying in Oregon (with brief trips to Washington).

There's no sense of "closed for the holidays" over here then, much as some of my business competitors might wish that I'd shutter my shop and quit the field. Too many of my friends are on the street, getting squeezed by predators, or whatever. Not stuff I'm able or wanting to turn my back on.

Fortunately, some R&R is part of my job description (e.g. a gym membership), lest burnout be a problem. As the old saying goes "if you teach a work horse to pace himself, you won't have to lead him to water or make him drink" (OK something got lost in translation maybe, but you get my point).