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Jim Huggins
December 2nd, 2015
08:39 pm
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Wednesday Hodgepodge: 2 December 2015
The Wednesday Hodgepodge is courtesy of From This Side of the Pond.

1. Did you watch The Charlie Brown Christmas special Monday night? Who's your favorite Peanuts character and why?
"Most psychiatrists agree that sitting in a pumpkin patch is excellent therapy for a troubled mind."~Linus
Would you agree?

I did watch the special, though in passing.   The two-hour extravaganza around the forty-minute special really dragged on for me, though.

My favorite character: Charlie Brown.   I've always felt like the kid to tries to fit in and just misses.   (To a certain extent, I still feel that way.)

I would probably agree with Linus ... I find it extremely hard to sit still, which probably means that I need to do it more often.

2. Describe a sound from your childhood. What does this sound bring to mind?

This was a hard one for me to think about ... and then I finally came up with this one:

Growing up at home, in the pre-Internet era, we had a few Christmas music albums around that we played a lot during December.   My dad had a bunch of sound equipment, including an old reel-to-reel audio tape player.  Mostly, Dad used that for making recordings of various things.   One of the audio tapes we'd listen to, though, was a long tape of Christmas music from a bunch of different albums.  (I never knew where he got the albums; it was probably his version of a "mix tape").

The first album on the tape was the first Chipmunks Christmas album.  This was exceedingly cool, because the tape deck had a setting that would allow you to play the tape at half speed ... which, it turns out, was exactly the right speed to hear the Chipmunks singing in their normal tone of voice, over-exaggerating the consonants, cutting off together, and so on.  Imagine my delight to discover that David Seville was actually the voice of Alvin!   :)

Back to the tape ... the last album on one side of the tape was the John Gary Christmas Album.   I never knew the singer's name until I searched for it just now (and discovered, much to my surprise, that I could order a copy of the album from his estate).   This song was the last song on the album, and also the very last song on the tape, which meant that when I heard him singing the high note at the end of the song, I had to stop whatever I was doing and walk over to the tape deck and be prepared to shut it off and reverse the tape to play the second side.

Wow, that brings back memories ...

3. You've won a trip to a winter wonderland...would that excite you? Which one of the following would you most want to experience (or which one would you dislike the least)-see the Aurora Borealis in Norway, stay in Sweden's Ice Hotel, go dogsledding in Lapland Finland, take a winter wildlife safari in Yellowstone or celebrate Winter Carnival in Quebec?

I think a trip would be delightful.  Where's the best geocaching?  :)  I'm not sure which of the options would be the most interesting.

4. Who or what keeps you humble?

Parenthood.   Everything else that I've done in my life I've been trained for, in one way or another.   Nothing trains you for parenthood.   And when you make a mistake, it's your children who suffer.   It's incredibly humbling.

5. What part of preparing for Christmas do you like the most? Explain.

I wish I could say there was something that I liked about preparing for Christmas.   It's not that I hate anything about the preparations, but ... it's all work, one way or another.

Put it another way ... the part of prepating for Christmas that I like the most is the part where it's done.

6. Gingerbread-yay or nay? Is making a gingerbread house part of your family holiday tradition?

Never been amazingly thrilled by gingerbread.   My wife does tons of baking of Christmas cookies, but not gingerbread.

7. What's one thing you want to start, do, or complete before the calendar rolls into a new year?

I have to get my checkbook balanced and charitable donations done.   I'd really like to have all my grading done.

8.  Insert your own random thought here.

December is a hard month for me.

It's the last month of the semester, which is always hard no matter when it is.   You have to get caught up on all the grading that you didn't do all term, plus you've got to get your final exams written, and then you have to grade all the exams.   Of course, your students are just as stressed, dealing with your class as well as all the other ones they're taking.

And then it's Advent, which means a bunch of other things also need to be done.   Christmas decorating.   Christmas shopping.   Lots of extra events to attend.

And, somehow, I'm expected to reflect the fact that this is a season of joy.   Even if I don't feel particularly joy-filled.

Today, I had an interesting conversation with a friend.   Amidst the wide-ranging conversation, I realized one slight error in my thinking.   Advent isn't a season of joy: it's a season of expectation.

Think back to the first Christmas.   Martial law has been imposed by a foreign invading army.  The invaders have forced onerous travel on the population in order to fill their coffers.   The religious leadership of the era seems more concerned about preserving their own positions than fighting for justice.  

Looks pretty bleak to me.

And it's into that world that God makes his entrance.   Granted, just about everyone ignored the entrance --- the only people who seemed to notice were the foster parents, some farm hands working the night shift, and a few foreign professors.  

But God nonetheless made his entrance into this world --- a world that desperately needed redemption.   And if most people weren't willing to acknowledge his entrance, that didn't change the mission.

Advent is a frustrating season for me.   But I can take that frustration and channel it into expectation: looking for the One that will redeem all of this brokenness.

Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.
Israel's strength and consolation,
hope of all the earth thou art;
dear desire of every nation,
joy of every longing heart.

(4 comments | Leave a comment)

From:Suzanne McClendon
Date:December 3rd, 2015 03:29 am (UTC)

Wednesday Hodgepodge

I have always been the kid (and adult) that didn't fit in, too. Thankfully, Heavenly Father lets me fit into His family, because I will never fit in down here.

Merry Christmas.
From:Jo Daley
Date:December 3rd, 2015 04:08 pm (UTC)
Yes, parenthood is most definitely humbling.

I didn't grow up celebrating Advent in any formal way, although my family had many pre-Christmas traditions, most of them revolving around giving, helping, and church activiities. It's only as an adult I've come to appreciate the pause Advent seems to inject into the hustle and bustle. I like to have a devotional or reading plan that's been designed specifically for this time of year and have found it helps me begin my day in a better way aka not immediately jumping into my long to-do list.

Wishing you blessings in the expecting : )
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From:Denise Oldham
Date:December 3rd, 2015 09:23 pm (UTC)
good answers
Date:December 3rd, 2015 10:00 pm (UTC)

blog post

Oh wow - I really get what you are saying about the time for Christmas (I wrote abut the "dread" I feel). And I NEED Advent to help get me prepared, and to take it all in. Also, John Gary's Christmas Album! Yes! And we had some others... a collection from the Firestone Singers. I am not sure how we got them - but I loved those Christmas albums! I also remember listening to an album with an assortment of great singers of that time. Johnny Mathis, Julie Andrews, and more. I still love ALL of Johnny Mathis's Christmas songs!
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