Another Christmas Story

Another Christmas Story

Christmas movies are made with many different plots, story lines, characters and happy endings. Most Christmas stories are about love.

However, the most important Christmas story of course, is the first one.

I imagine Mary and Joseph making preparations to travel to Bethlehem from Nazareth, to Joseph’s hometown. The trip was a necessary one–to register themselves as a married couple and their baby that was due to be born any day for the census–as was the Roman law at the time.

The trip would have normally taken about 3 days in good weather and under good conditions. But Mary was 9 months pregnant. Travel must have been arduous and slow.

It is no wonder that all the homes were full by others complying with the census law when Joseph and Mary arrived.

And that the only place left would be a lower house where usually the family animals were kept.

By ancient accounts and histories, neither Mary or Joseph looked for any particular assistance or special treatment. Seemingly accepting their fate and destiny.

And so a baby was born that brought salvation to us all.

This is the Christmas story we celebrate each year:

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.  And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.  And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

Luke 2:11-14

This Christmas story is by far the most important and the one that leads us to all others. Why is this story so important? It is a story of hope, peace, family, humility and survival. But most importantly it’s a story about Love.

The Freedom of Dressing Up

The Freedom of Dressing Up

This weekend my husband and I took a little road trip to Todd Mission, Texas home of the yearly Renaissance Festival.

We had a wonderful time even though the temperature hovered in the high 40s and low 50s all day and there was a little rain.

But as my husband aptly put it, it is like stepping back in time. The festival is held in a forest of tall pines and other trees in which a small village has been constructed. By small I mean pretty big since it takes a good 3 hours to walk the whole park.

The village looks like it is straight out of central casting for a medieval movie set in 1400s Europe.

There are shops and eateries throughout with wonderful names like: “The King’s Swordworks” and “MiLady’s Fashions”. There are statues of dragons and suits of armor but my favorite part are the costumes.

Not only do the people who run the fair dress in period wardrobe but most of the people coming into the park come dressed as well!

The costumes are varied and elaborate and I noticed no one being self conscious or feeling out of place. They felt free to be who their character was.

We saw Queen Elizabeth and King Henry the VIII, soldiers of the realm, Scottish royalty, and lords and ladies galore. But we also saw peasants, serving wenches, and street entertainers.

Among some of the more imaginative costumes also included Jack Sparrow, Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts, the witches from Hocus Pocus, and Robin Hood.

There were many dressed as famous couples too: Merlin and Morgan la Fey, Ursurla and King Triton, and the devil walking with Jesus.

My favorites are always the barbarians–because they look so–barbarous!

The beauty of the day is that everyone is there to enjoy the atmosphere and each other. Dressing in costumes frees people from their everyday realities and lets them escape into the fairyland world of the medieval forest in a trip back in time.

Enjoy the freedom someday and visit a Renaissance park-it is an experience no one should miss!

Poor Columbus

Poor Columbus

Christopher Columbus has developed a bad reputation over time as an oppressor of people, an abuser of women, the destroyer of a culture.

This story has been slowly transforming the story of Columbus by people who want to influence other people’s opinions about a person who used to be revered as the one person who discovered the American continent which would later become our home.

It seems to me that this is being done, especially, by people with the idea that everyone must fall into some kind of victim status–and as victims, we must have someone to blame.

Worse than blaming poor Columbus–these people and ideas are influencing how the story–or the history–on how Columbus is being taught in schools.

In my childhood we were taught that “in 1492, Christopher Columbus sailed the Ocean blue…”, we were taught that thanks to him, Europeans continued to voyage to the Americas . That eventually led to the 13 Colonies that “soon”–in 1783–with the victory of the American Revolution,  became the United States of America.

Now students are being told that Columbus and his men deliberately killed native peoples, abused their women and stole their gold–by order, of course of the King and Queen of Spain–King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella.

Here are a few truths–as I see them.  Native Americans did die.  The majority died of disease because they were not immune to the viruses that Spaniards brought with them. That is an accident of nature.

They also died from wars, because there were conflicts between the Spanish explorers and the Native Americans. Native Americans, not happy with these new people coming to their lands looking for their gold, attacked them. Spaniards fought back. Many died–on both sides.

Now some Spaniards were also cruel to Natives–who they saw as heathens, because they were not Christian.  Remember these explorations are occurring at the same time that the Spanish Inquisition was occuring in Europe–in which scores of people died for their religious beliefs.

As for the abuses hurled on women by the Spaniards.  Well, as with every century in every land and every culture–there are abuses. Women are abused by men, men are abused by women. This is not a new phenomenon.  This does not make it right–but it certainly was not a new situation, nor is it one which humanity has yet to solve.

These were horrible times in the world–but certainly not the fault of any ONE man.

In hindsight, I think we–as much smarter and humanitarian people of today–should be honest, at least with ourselves, that these new attacks on one person for all the perceived ills on the humanity of the Americas of the 1500s–are ridiculous.

Let the children have a hero in Columbus for doing something good. He was one of the first people from Europe in the Americas.

Keep in mind, if Columbus had not discovered the Americas–certainly someone else would have–and then I’m sure people would be blaming him.

So enjoy Columbus day! Celebrate the courage and innovation of a man and his crew to create progress in their time–so we could enjoy a wonderful country and a day off in ours.

Old School

Old School

The older I get the  more and more I realize that it is not just because of my age that makes me the person I am but my old school attitude.

This is also what is missing from young people today–they are NOT old school.

More and more or I should say less and less there is no one to teach the next generation how to BE old school.

What makes me old school? I think there are 10 traits that seal the deal on being truly old school–here they are:

  1. If you say you are going to do something, do it.
  2. Do everything with integrity.
  3. Always be early to where ever you need to be.
  4. Respect your elders.
  5. Say please, excuse me and thank you.
  6. If someone is paying you to do a job, don’t do your best do the best they are expecting of you.
  7. Adversity occurs to make us stronger, better, smarter.
  8. Honor your God and respect the God of others.
  9. Hard work always pays off.
  10. Always save some money for a rainy day.

So if you want to be old school or you want the next generation to be old school you have to teach them and lead by example.

I’m proud to be old school, and to be surrounded by old school people. Old school is what has been the fabric of our productive society–don’t let anyone take those ideas and values away from you!

You Animals!

You Animals!

We are all animals! We may be the most social and intelligent animals on the planet—but animals nonetheless.

When thinking about our nutritional needs I reach back into my study of anthropology days.

So here is a quick lesson:

“modern” human beings have been on earth as far as we know for about 315 thousand years. Thank goodness those folks figured out how to survive so that all this time later we are here to write about them!

How did they survive? They kept it simple. Our theory is that the first peoples were nomadic which means they moved around all the time.

And by moved- I mean literally physically moved on foot with their possessions on their back. Kinda like backpacking through Europe without the cool travel guides.

Where did the move to? Well, wherever the food was. And by food I mean animals and wild plants that were in bloom. They ate whatever they could catch or harvest and they drank water from lakes, rivers, streams etc.

These people—our old ancestors—were healthy and fit. They exercised–through walking and hunting–and like animals they used their food for fuel in the body. The body instinctively knew how to use it efficiently and store some for times of scarcity—as fat in the body.

In this way we are just like animals.

Over time, many thousands of years, man found fire, taught themselves to farm, developed different lifestyles, settled, created cities, established centers of trade and commerce, learned to travel by different means and discovered spices.

Through these cultural and social changes–food changed from being not just a source of fuel and survival but a source of comfort, well being and status.

But the animal within us remains. The animal inside is still breaking down the food we give it to use for fuel and storing some of it for when the scarcity comes.

Unfortunately, 310,000 years later we don’t have to look for our food. We live in a beautifully abundant world. A beautifully intelligent world! A world full of convenience–full of processed and artificially colored, flavored,  and shaped foods–and the drive through windows from which to obtain it. And we are killing the animal which was never made to break down all the chemicals and mixtures we have invented to simulate food.

That does not mean I recommend eating tree bark. But it does mean we need to be more mindful of what we eat and how we eat and how we use that fuel.

If we did not see every meal as a celebration to overload ourselves on the abundance available to us but to honor the function that food has in our lives–as the fuel that gives us energy–we would be as a species, in a much better place.

I can just imagine what my cousins of 200,000 years ago would have looked like and felt like if sugar had been discovered that much sooner.  They would have never made it across the continents to create the different nations we are today!

Those ancestors were smarter–or at least more practical–in the foods they ate.

So how do we marry the two time periods of now and then to benefit the animal we are today?

In my humble opinion, these are the steps I am taking–which I started late in life–but which I hope will please the animal and improve my health.

  1. I am eating less–we intelligent humans have already figured out serving sizes of every food we have and the calories included in those servings.  Instead of eating the whole bag of potato chips or carton of ice cream–have just a serving. I know at first the servings will seem small but I am fueling my body not trying to give it all the food it will need into the next millennia.
  2. I am eating better–science is a beautiful thing and because of science we have the ability to feed ourselves without the scarcity or lack of food in our societies.  Each of us has a choice in the foods we use to fuel the body. I am choosing the best and most natural foods–that I enjoy–that will provide my body with the energy I need to perform, heal and survive in our current world.
  3. I am drinking more water–maintaining the proper hydration for the animal within helps the body regulate everything–cell growth, organ function, muscle repair and hunger control.  When all that is happening it is easier to eat less and eat better because I am not craving the empty calories that do not serve me.
  4. I am exercising more–survival no longer means walking miles and miles in search of food. Survival is more about being able to survive in a society that values the exchange of goods and services for money that is used in the exchange of more goods and services. Foods of all varieties–and prepared for us by thousands of different restaurants–being a major good and service we entertain ourselves with.

So in the end, perhaps it is not my particular DNA in my animal body that will advance the species for another 300,000 years–but my example on caring for the animal that will be helpful.

Do what is right for your body instead of what is easy. Embrace the animal within you!  

And have fun with it!