Friday, December 5, 2008

Life Lessons from Vacations

For many years I have often wondered what is the ideal length for a vacation. When we took our first “real” vacation to Honolulu years ago we were young, new parents, and could only stay a week. It was a lot of fun but by the time we really got into the groove of relaxing, it was time to come home. Having ruled out the “one-weeker” long ago we have tried our level best to make our vacations 10 days or more. These were certainly more satisfying but Christean and I still had that nagging feeling we had not yet grasped the brass ring on the vacation carousel of life. This year we were able to take the trip of a lifetime to Italy and Malta which lasted nearly 3.5 weeks. By the end of the trip we had been gone so long that we both couldn’t remember what we did the first day of our vacation. After the long trans-atlantic flight home we were greeted at the house by our youngest daughter and her little rat terrier named Jersey. Jersey was so excited to see us back again that she ran around the living room in circles about four times and then jumped up on my favorite easy chair and proceeded to urinate all over it. I think the lesson we can all take away from this is as follows: You know your vacation was the ideal length when your daughter’s dog is so excited to see you that she pisses herself.

Healthy Holidays!?!

I think the question most Americans are reflecting on this time of year is “to what extent does the slimming effect of black clothing cease and you just start looking like a swollen black tick”? One can’t help but think about ugly weight gain around the holidays especially with all the parties, goodies, and cheese balls that seem to always be around this time of year. But what I find even more insidious, diabolical even, are the news stories on the network morning chat shows about how to eat sensibly during the holidays and how to cut-the-calories on Christmas dinner. I can see why network reporters and television personalities are concerned about this. After all, their appearance is their bread and butter (whole wheat and reduced fat of course!) and being only two-dimensional on the tube does make every pound appear bigger. But I think the real issue is that deep down they resent those of us who are going to enjoy ourselves during the holidays even if our pants(uits) are a little tight come January. To be sure, most of our holiday dinners are high-calorie, fat-loaded, sodium-saturated, sugar-infested, alcohol-laden nutritional disasters. But then again salads with raspberry vinaigrette topped with slices of lean chicken breast hardly sounds like a celebration feast (unless you live in the 3rd world!). I think the wisest course of action to take in a dangerous and fallen world is to enjoy yourself during the holidays, eat and drink with a grateful heart, and switch TV channels immediately when someone wishes you a “healthy and happy holiday”.

Jesus and Baby Atheists

Well, it’s that time of year again. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without an annual protest by someone or some group who objects to any religious display related to the holiday on public property. Actually, I should be a bit more precise here. In my adult life I can’t remember any protests about the Hannakuh menorah or Kwaanza displays which have also been allowed. It’s really the Nativity scene which is objectionable because it is about Jesus Christ. And God forbid we bring Jesus into the public square; especially the baby Jesus because that might beg the question why his birth is so important and why his life and teachings are literally the foundation of Western Civilization. Recently an Atheist group posted a sign on public property in Olympia Washington near a Nativity scene wishing everyone a merry winter solstice and denigrated religion as enslaving human minds. What I found laughable was not the fact that the sign was stolen and thrown into a ditch within 12 hours of its posting, but that the atheist group was immediately blaming the unknown thief(ves) as being Christians or Jews. A spokesman for the group queried to the press “why don’t they follow their own commandments?”. First of all the demographics of belief in God and adherence to religions of every kind are so vast, it could have been almost any American. But more than that if religion is nothing but nonsense, why take offense at all? Who are the atheists to declare that stealing is intrinsically wrong. Perhaps they and society are wrong and theft really is a sign of highly adaptive behavior in a continually evolving culture. Who took the sign, Christian, Scientologist, Wiccan, or good old-fashion’ Washington redneck with a belly full of beer out for a laugh, is not important. What is important is that America is a country that respects people’s faith or complete lack thereof. I actually respect the atheist’s right to put forth their message of unbelief 365 and ¼ days a year. That’s the price of freedom of speech and freedom of religion. What I can’t respect is when people feel they need to take offense at the symbols of another’s religion especially in relation to a religious holiday that they are not forced to celebrate. What’s worse I can’t stand atheists who act like they’re so poor, persecuted, and marginalized. After all, they dominate the calendar all year long since most days we celebrate nothing and nothing is what atheism celebrates most.