Monday, November 30, 2015

A Real Thanksgiving

PM Trudeau, Mrs. Trudeau and children 
I should have posted this on October 20th, the day after the election, but I was too overcome with emotion, and busy pinching myself, and hoping not to awaken from the dream. 

I admit to having been in a long-standing funk caused primarily by living under the increasingly racist and scientifically hostile Conservative Government. 

Watching the policies of the Canadian Government dragged down by a man who represented the worst of his Party was painful in the extreme. But the recent election, in which the Conservative Party was rejected with decisive force, proved that Canadians will not stand for the institutionalization of racism and bigotry into their Government.

One of the many final straws in the game of political pick-up sticks was learning that not only had the Harper Government closed the monitoring stations for Fisheries, Oceans and Arctic Climate and Regional Libraries but he had 50 years of climate, fisheries and biological data destroyed so it could not be used to show climate change, including the life's work of biological scientists who had donated it to libraries expecting it to be preserved for future reference. If there was a sector of society Stephen Harper hadn't offended, other than his very wealthy friends in the oil sector, and the far-right "Dominionist" Christians who feel that protecting the environment is against God's will, I'm not sure who it was. 

Other than Albertans of course. Most Albertans are like the old Scot (with a very frugal wife) who went out of his own village to Edinburgh for the first time in his life to serve on a jury and stayed in a hotel. First day at breakfast the waitress came to the table; he ordered porridge. At lunch he ordered porridge. At dinner he ordered porridge. Second day; At breakfast he ordered porridge. At lunch he ordered porridge. At dinner he ordered porridge. Third day; At breakfast he ordered porridge. At lunch he ordered porridge. At dinner he ordered porridge. 

The waitress finally asked him, "Man, do ye eat nothin' else but porridge?" 

He looked up at her with a puzzled expression and said, "Is there else?" 

That's the Alberta voter. If he/she didn't come from away since last election they don't know there's else but Conservative.   

But as usual I have digressed. The Leader of the Liberal Party and our new Prime Minister, Mr. Trudeau, has a fine head on his shoulders. Within 24 hours of his swearing in he had begun setting the wrongs of the previous government to rights, a process he continues. 

As he said while addressing the Paris Climate Talks within the past few hours, “My very good friends, Canada is back.” 

And I will add, Thanks be to God!  

Friday, November 27, 2015

Zoot Picklemass

Really, I should just stay the hell off Facebook. I am by nature an essayist and no one has the attention span to read more than a seven word meme on FB. Honestly, someone posted a 20 word meme with the comment, "I know it's a bit long, but please take the time to read..." the other day. 

 So, I've decided to inflict my highly opinionated self on my blog reader, assuming I have one. And if I have one, I'm sure that difficulty will soon be quickly resolved.

The following tedious essay was written in response to the 10th or 12th  meme such as the one accompanying; the likes of which, as you may or may not know, are most often simply link bait. "Like" or "share" it and all the information you have shared with Facebook slides right into the database of the originators of the meme through a bit of clandestine software. 

 If your concern is to "Keep Christ in Christmas", then you should celebrate his birth in April, when it almost certainly occurred, ("There were shepherds in the fields keeping watch o'er their flocks by night.." ) The only time of the year shepherds are out in the fields at night is when the ewes are lambing, and this takes place in April, in the spring, not in the dead of winter.

 The big celebration in December is actually the continuation of the Roman Feast of Saturnalia, a 10 day orgy of drinking, uninhibited sex, gift exchanges and throwing off the roles of servant/slave and master which took place in Ancient Rome at the Winter Solstice. 

 The 4th Century Romans were so loathe to give up Saturnalia that it was a disincentive to join the newly adopted Christianity of Constantine's Empire. So the Roman Church simply said, "Let's rename it "CHRIST'S MASS", make everyone to go to church at midnight on the 24th and they can party hearty afterward." That solved the problem. 

 The party-pooping Puritans (have you guessed that I have several notable Puritans as ancestors?) came along in the 1600's and felt that even acknowledging Christmas was sinful. But then they thought having buttons on your shirt was a sinful adornment. They were very SOMBRE folk. (But I digress.) They and the Calvinists, another group of religious sour-pusses, managed to get the celebration of Christmas banned for a century or so in England. 

 Meanwhile German reformer Martin Luther began the custom of bringing an evergreen tree into the church, and placing small candles on the branches, to symbolize God's everlasting love for mankind. The custom of bringing a tree indoors came to America with German emigrants. Which is why we go to Walmart and buy a plastic tree made in China, with 600 fibre-optic lights which change colour every 15 seconds for only $149.99. 

 The modern celebration of Christmas didn't really take off until the Victorian era. Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" popularized the celebration of Christmas, but if you look at the book itself Dickens concentrates entirely on the precepts of societal responsibility for each other, kindness to others, paying fair wages, feeding those in want and helping the sick. Scrooge learned that true joy was gained by giving, not by grasping. 

 In short, though I have taken some 10,000 words (slight exaggeration) to say so, "Keeping Christ in Christmas" is not done by saying, "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays", or "Zoot Picklemass" (which sounds pretty awesome, and I may start saying it from now on!) Christ is kept in Christmas only when he is found living in our hearts, whatever the season, and with or without buttons on our shirts. So, "Zoot Picklemass" my dearly beloved reader. May this be one of your most joyous Picklemasses ever!