Wednesday, November 24, 2010

On My Mind

The energy to write a coherent essay this week is just not there for me, but I've actually had a lot on my mind lately. So don't expect anything in this post to relate to a single topic. Frankly, I'm all over the place right now. And it feels pretty good, actually.

Considering Christmas
Every year, I am annoyed that stores put up Christmas displays as soon as Halloween is over. This year, I saw plenty of displays before Halloween was over. Target, I'm talking about you. I think this gradual stretching out of the Christmas season is a sign of our increasing focus on stuff, the getting and spending. The focus during the Christmas season should be on love: for Christians, the love of God who sent his Son who inspires us to share His love with the world; for people of other faiths or no faith at all, love in a more general sense of generosity, kindness, goodwill.

That's what all the Christmas songs are about, isn't it?

So many homes are already lit up, with trees blinking in living room windows. People say it takes so much effort to decorate, they want to enjoy it longer. But when decorations are left up too long, you don't see them anymore. They just don't stay special. By the time Christmas arrives, where's the magic? The specialness of this amazing miracle that occurred 2,000 years ago? All the decorations have been out so long they're gathering dust.

Bah, humbug.

Plus, Thanksgiving gets lost in the commercial shuffle. I've very deliberately been thinking about how thankful I am this year, thankful for people, places, and things that make my life rich and interesting and fun. This has lead me to consider writing devotionals about thankfulness instead of Advent this year. Have you seen the annoying Buick commercial of the man whose wife gives him a car for Christmas and as he's sitting behind the wheel for the first time, a Buick drives by. It's obvious he really wanted the Buick and is disappointed in the CAR HIS WIFE GAVE HIM FOR CHRISTMAS!

I'm never buying a Buick.

For me, the Christmas season starts the day after Thanksgiving. I do NOT shop on Black Friday. I start to decorate my house for Christmas. I put out everything but the tree. We cut down a tree every year at a tree farm, and we don't want needles to dry out too quickly, so we wait to get the tree up until about two weeks before Christmas.

All the decorations come down New Year's Day, making our Christmas celebration last a little better than a month, one-twelfth of year. That's long enough to make it worthwhile and keep it special, don't you think?

Considering this Blog
Yesterday, I scrolled down and saw this.

30,000 hits. Wow. I'm blown away that so many people have been reading Questioning. That figure doesn't count the people who read it in email.

Questioning is just about me and my life. It's astonishing to me that so many of you like it. Thank you for your support and encouragement. I'm thankful for you. Each and every one of you.

But I know you really come here for Daisy.

Considering Mental Illness
Did you catch the Randy and Evi Quaid Act about a month ago? I was going to link to an article about their recent troubles, but I decided not to because it sort of reinforces my point that mental illness has become entertainment. Carrie Fisher's latest book capitalizes on her mental illness, as does Portia De Rossi's book. I'm happy Fisher and De Rossi can use writing to work through stuff, and since they authored the books, they controlled how much or how little they shared, and they profit from their self-exposure. The Quaids, however, were being paraded on morning talk shows as entertainment. The chatter on the Internet reinforced this, with most commentary I saw mocking them and cracking jokes about their mental problems.

It reminds me of my friend Karen H. She hated the movie Forrest Gump, and I asked her why. She'd seen it with some of her brothers who laughed at Forrest rather than for Forrest. It left a bad taste in her mouth to have seen Forrest's mental retardation as mocked entertainment rather than sympathetic portrayal of a powerfully engaging character.

It's all in the perspective, I suppose.

Celebrity alcholism, drug use, and mental problems confuse me. Oh the one hand, I think keeping these topics out in the open and talked about is a good thing. Sweeping stuff like that under the rug is never helpful. On the other hand, the discussion can cross the line into either exploitation, as in the Quaid case, or celebrating the problems themselves. I remember watching an interview with Richard Dreyfuss that gave the impression that he was proud of his problems. This may or may not be true, but that the interview provoked those thoughts disturbed me. Celebrities live under a microscope, and the rest of us assume they ask for it and the benefits of massive money and ego make up for it, but I wonder.

Considering Blown Light Bulbs
Many months ago, the bulbs in our bathroom overhead fixture blew out. This wasn't an emergency because we have 8 clear round bulbs over our vanity, so the bathroom still had light. After the overhead bulbs had been out for a while, George sarcastically asked if we were ever going to replace them, meaning when was I going to replace them. He said this just to get a rise out of me, and I knew it, but I'll be damned if I was going to change those bulbs anytime soon after that.

So, more months passed, days got shorter, and about a month ago, I finally replaced the bulbs. I did NOT like the extra light. It bothered me. Enormously. But I figured George would appreciate it.

I was wrong. He completely agreed with me that the bathroom was now painfully bright in the morning.

Isn't it amazing how accustomed we can get to the lack of a good thing, so much so that we resent its renewed presence in our lives? Our brains really are very strange places.

Of course, now, we're used to the bright light. It seems normal. The way things ought to be. When they blow again, we'll be annoyed. Until we get used to them being blown. Then we will replace them and resent the bright light all over again.

If there's a lesson in this, I can't find it. But it does vaguely relate back to getting used to Christmas decorations if they are left up too long.

And with that, I say Happy Thanksgiving to all my American readers and Happy Thursday to everyone else. Make it a day of gratitude and thankfulness. And food.


  1. Susan, I saw that Buick ad tonight and I feel the same way!! Hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family!

  2. Enjoyable read tonight...thank you. I love your humor...and your insight...and your writing, of course!

  3. At least your Christmas season starts late October! In Australia it starts after Father's Day which is the first weekend in September!

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts through this blog. It just shows that problems or concerns (and giggles) can be the same the world over.

  4. Thanks for another thought-provoking post. I also stay home on Black Friday, which I set aside every year to address 100 Christmas cards and enjoy football games and turkey leftovers. On Sat. we drive to my sister's for dinner with my side of the family. Then on Sunday, with more football (it's a good thing I love it) I put up the tree and decorate. All in all, it's a relaxing 4 days!

    Thankfully, being home during the week allows me to shop weekday mornings when there are less crowds and parking spaces closer to the door. Having the internet helps too. I try to ignore the commercialism and just concentrate on what I need to do and why I'm doing it in the first place.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving--we do indeed have so much to Thank the Lord for!

  5. Another great post, Susan. We, too, saw the Buick commercial, and felt the same way. On Tuesday, the St. Louis news showed a lady that was alread in line for Black Friday sales. In October, we walked into Lowe's, and there in front of us was a ginormous hodge-podge of Halloween blow up yard decorations, and light up Christmas decorations. That's just wrong... Our family enjoys a very relaxing Thanksgiving. Friday morning, we will put up the nativity set on the mantle, praying as we set up each piece. We will enjoy it, and each other, and on Friday night, we will begin putting up other decorations before the kids leave to return to their homes on Saturday morning. We don't even begin Christmas shopping until December. Anyway, I didn't mean to go on and on, but I wanted to let you know that I loved your post...

  6. It should not amaze us that the holidays are being bulldozed over by commercialization.
    We live in a world that values things instead of people.

    It annoys me every time I go into a store, and before we celebrate a holiday, another one is being displayed. We are as rebellious and wicked as those in the Bible; history repeating itself.

    No one takes the time to be thankful anymore for things like: running water, food on the table and in the fridge, washer and dryers, clothing, a place to lay our heads, a place to keep us warm and safe, a MIGHTY God who provides all our needs. There are so many with out basic needs in the world while we have more than enough.

    Our idols have become the things of this world: money, electronics and the pursuit of vanity. Woe is this world.

    I do not put up my decorations until the first FULL weekend in December. We do not join others in long lines on Black Friday. We sit back, watch a movie and enjoy being together. Simplicity.

    Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and count your blessings one by one and know that you... yes, you.. are loved unconditionally.

    Peace to you

  7. Lisa M. in CaliforniaThursday, November 25, 2010

    Happy Thanksgiving from one of your 30,000 readers! Reading your blogs is something I look forward to every day. :) "But I know you only come here for Daisy." ....only a teeny bit true! LOL! Have a great day!

  8. I haven't read all of her stuff, but I think Carrie Fisher has been trading on her illness forever. That is completely and totally her right, of course, but I'm not sure that I like when it is comic relief.

    It's like the new tv show "Mike and Molly" that stars two overweight people. I have never watched it, but all the previews are full of 'fat jokes'. Just because the people saying these things are big people doesn't mean it is okay to laugh at them for it. This argument made more sense in my head.

  9. Loved your blog Susan and found myself agreeing with much of what you said. Here in the UK we don't have a Thanksgiving Day but that doesn't stop anyone from giving thanks to whoever they wish to
    On the subject of Christmas, we never put up decorations or the tree until Christmas Eve and our reasons for that was to make the house look magical for the young ones who would go to bed with the house looking as usual and the following morning there are the decorations, the greenery and the tree. The look of wonderment on their faces was something to behold. The older children were allowed to help with the decorating and they enjoyed the excitement of it all.
    Hate going to stores where the Christmas trees and lights are all up, I think it takes that magical spell away from children.

    Hope you had a great Thanksgiving.


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