holiday


The scenes of Christmas are varied and all have their beauty (or at least a bit of interesting effects that entertain). This season has been busy as usual but despite the heartbreak of the year, so far it’s been okay. I praise God for surrounding me with wonderful people and reminding me of what’s important.

Before I get into the silliness of some of the seasonal decorations and parties, I want to say that my heart has been breaking for the families of the children and teachers killed in the recent shooting in Connecticut. Any loss is terrible, but the thought of our babies being hurt and killed is beyond understanding and beyond what most of us can handle. May God comfort those affected by that horror.

Okay, so we move on and we keep going and of course the reason we celebrate is the coming into the world of Christ our savior. The King came in a modest setting but one that was more beautiful than all the gold palaces of the world. Tonight I went to see the live nativity at a church near my house. It was very nice and I enjoyed the story and song they played. I walked over with Grendel, who saw his first donkey and sheep. He really wanted to go check them out but I kept him away thinking of the stampede that might ensue and the little baby Jesus that may get trampled if Grendel scared the donkey too much.

On the way home I saw a variety of houses lit up. Some were done up Clarke Griswold style—which I LOVE seeing (it’s always better when it’s someone else who does the work and pays the electric bill). And then there was the mansion. These people bought a lot next to my neighborhood and planted a mansion on it and their decorations consist of a small plastic Santa and a string of lights on one of the pillars that frame their multimillion dollar doorway. To tell the truth, I’m not too surprised. In the summer we get to see the plastic-like mini palm trees lining their front side and in the winter we get to see the cheap blue tarp that covers the tacky non-working fountain in the driveway.

It’s been fun seeing friends’ trees and celebrating with friends and co-workers. But I’m most looking forward to the Christmas Eve service and the beauty that resonates inside the church with the candles lit while everyone sings Silent Night. Happy Birthday Jesus!

What are your favorite seasonal scenes? What makes you want to shake your head at the tackiness?

 

santa commute

Good morning Santa! Santa greets commuters coming into Old Town, Alexandria.

Mansion with a couple tacky lights.

nativity

Angels in the nativity scene. Crappy night time iphone shot.

grendel nativity

Grendel sees his first sheep and donkey at the live nativity.

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Each week during this advent season, the worship team at National Community Church (NCC) in Washington DC and Northern VA shows a new Christmas hymn via video. It’s been a true pleasure to watch and to feel the love of Christ through these songs. Thanks guys!

 

O Come All Ye Faithful from National Community Church on Vimeo.

I am Santa Lab. And here is my Christmas list for my mom. I let her put this thing on me because, you know, she’s my mom. I’m sure you’ve heard the stories about her. Anyway, this is what I want for Christmas.

  1. Bonesanta lab
  2. Bone with marrow
  3. Peanut-flavored bone
  4. Chew toy shaped like the cat. You know…the one who hides behind the post and then slaps me when I come up the stairs..yeah that one.
  5. Uhmmm
  6. Bone
  7. New home for aforementioned cat.
  8. Meat flavored treats
  9. Actual meat
  10. Bone

Mommy asked the cat what she wanted and this is how it went.

Mommy: Hey kitty, can you make out a list of what you want for Christmas?

Cat: First. No. I can’t. I can’t write and you know that. And I wouldn’t, even if I could. Why should I wait for some stinkin holiday to get treats from you? You know I can just jump on top of the fridge and knock over the can myself. But then that stupid dumb dog you brought home would just eat it all. You want to know what I want? Get rid of it. He stinks, he’s always knocking things over with that stupid happy tail, and he takes up all the room on the couch. Now stop bothering me during my mid evening nap. When I want you to pet me I’ll come within three feet of you and you can reach out arms length and rub my chin. Now be a good human and fetch me some cat nip, some paper to rip up, a glass of your latest filtered water, and the choice cuts of meat that dumb dog wanted on his list.

Mommy: I know you love me.

Cat: Only because I let you think that.

Well that’s the pre-holiday planning in our house. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

santa g2

This video was made by the worship team at my church. We watched it last Sunday at the start of advent and all I could think of while listening and watching was “this is so awesome.” I love Christmas music, especially when it moves the Spirit in me. Thanks guys. Beautiful. I can’t wait to see the next one!

O Come O Come Emmanuel from National Community Church on Vimeo.

Stereotypes tend to have a kernel of truth, although certainly we can say there are always exceptions to the rule. But regardless, the differences in us is what makes life wonderful.

This morning my pastor spoke about the importance of being present in people’s lives. Giving our time and focus to our loved ones and to the individuals we interact with can make a huge difference in their lives, how they behave for the next day or minute, and choices they and we ultimately make. One of the names Jesus is called is Emmanuel, which means “God with us.” His presence in us affects us every minute. When He came to us that Christmas so long ago He brought with Him hope for all of us.

So I’m going to try to go against my nature—which is to run away from strangers, hurry through life, and constantly be looking toward the future—by slowing down a bit in my interactions, whether they are with a store clerk, a friend who’s chatting during the day, or a child who is taking a bit too long to tell a story. I’m going to try to be in the present, give my “presence” to others, and appreciate the differences in all of us.

I want to share a very funny video that showcases the basic nature of dogs and cats and their interactions with us. Why? Because life is good in a house that enjoys the eccentricities of both the Grendel dog and the Karma queen. They need my attention and my presence. And it shows how we can live in harmony with all types of personalities.

During this Christmas season, I wish you love from friends and family and the pure joy that comes from having the presence of Jesus in your heart. And I hope that you will enjoy the differences in the people that surround you throughout your day.

 

I just got back from a fun, relaxing, anti-Washington, DC vacation and am feeling the Florida vibe. I haven’t done one of these mid-winter long-weekend trips down to Bonita Springs in awhile but after seven long months of having too many clients and too much to do, I decided I needed to decompress. And I think half my facebook friends were down there with me.

Southwest Florida is so nice this time of year. Perfect weather for being a complete sand bunny (or pool bunny—there was a choice—yes I’m so blessed). The order of the week was sleep, read, eat, repeat. That’s about it folks. That much-needed vitamin D (it seems in DC there is an epidemic of vitamin D deficiency) plus hours of snoring on the beach has given me a little energy boost. I finished two books, watched a couple of fun movies, caught up with my parents, took some nice walks among houses that are so, so, so out of my price range, and then came home to my gloriously comfortable bed and pets who really missed me—awwwww.

The highlight of the trip was an airboat ride through the Everglades with my parents. Now that was REALLY fun! My expectations were kind of on the low side to begin with, but it turned out to be completely worth every cent and minute spent away from my beach chair. The price of the tour from a company called Corey Billie’s Airboat Rides, was at least half of what the others were. As we were driving through the Everglades and passing various tour operations and national park land, my dad asked me what the name was again, so I told him to just look for the biggest rednecks he could find and make a right. As it turned out, Corey Billie is a Seminole Indian who owns the land and the tour company. I’m going to have to ask my neighbor John if a Seminole Indian can also be a redneck. Regardless, as our tour guide remarked, “It’s his private property, just like if you or I owned it.” (Hmmm, let’s not think too much on that—it was said with respect after all.)

Anyway, after our airboat driver opened up the throttle, away we went, speeding through the water at 40 mph. That may not seem like much, but it was just the right amount of “holy crap” for us. He did a donut at one point and moved around those random channels of water like a true pro. He was a totally awesome guide! He stopped the boat to let us get a close up view of one of the local alligators who hangs out in the area. I have to admit, I was impressed with how close he got (see photos of him holding the alligator’s mouth open) and how the alligator and the guides actually knew each other—like a pet-type relationship. There was one gator we did ignore because in the words of our guide, “He has an attitude and likes to bite, so we’ll leave him alone.” We also saw some beautiful birds—spoonbills and herons and more. So very cool! I totally recommend this tour to anyone visiting or living in Southwest Florida.

I also managed to have some yummy meals—including a wonderful (but expensive) meal at Coconut Jack’s Waterfront Grille on our last night and some mouth-watering white fish at the shrimp shack on another night. Both get the thumbs up from Mom and Dad (and me).

So now back to the diet, the yucky weather, the traffic, the fast-paced and too hurried business of northern Virginia. That’s why vacations are so great I guess!

Oh my goodness, even Santa is going digital. What will those innovative, 21st century elves come up with next? If they lived in a capitalistic society like we do, they would have figured out how to monetize the YouTube channel greetings from Santa. Actually, it’s a Twitter and YouTube partnership.

If you want to create a greeting for someone, just tweet #02Santa a message and he’ll deliver it via YouTube. Here is Santa’s message to my wonderful nieces and nephews and Grendel’s cousin, Scooby.

Merry Christmas, HO, HO, HO!

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