Friday, 31 December 2010

New Year, Old Habits

Every New Year's Eve I do it: I resist the urge to make resolutions. I once read somewhere that it's a bad time of year to try and change habits, but I think it might just be that I've never liked the idea of feeling forced/coerced into doing something simply because others are doing it. I'm a rebel at heart I guess. An armchair rebel perhaps, but a rebel nonetheless.

Let's face it, most resolutions are broken within a few weeks. But maybe there are some kind of resolutions that really could work at this time of year. I'm sure that if I decided to, I would be able to keep a resolution that had me increase my chocolate intake, hug my dog more often, go for more/longer nature walks, or play more board games with the kids. So maybe I've just been looking at New Year's resolutions the wrong way.

What resolutions are truly worthy of us? Of course, that all just depends. And, what is the best timing for making changes in one's life? For some, it might be September. For others, the spring might be best. And some changes are best accomplished now.

So once again, while others worry about such things, I am going to approach the holiday in a mellow state of mind. My family and I will pull out our shoebox full of this past year's memories--ticket stubs, brochures from outings, photos, programs, business cards, awards, etc. and reminisce about the past year. We'll either visit with friends or go see the local fireworks display, then we'll come home and toast the new year quietly before heading off to bed. And we will not feel guilty at all.

Happy New Year! May 2011 bring you health, happiness, love, peace and joy.

Thursday, 30 December 2010

Frankincense and Myrrh: Gifts of the Wise Men

Most of us know what gold is, but frankincense and myrrh are not nearly so well known, at least not to most of modern western society.
Frankincense and myrrh are resins from trees found in the Arabian peninsula. They are commonly powdered and burned, often along with spices such as cinnamon, as incense. Both resins were highly valued, possibly worth as much as or more than gold as they held (and still hold) medicinal, religious and cosmetic value.
Part of the symbolism and importance of the story of the Magi is that even wise, learned men of the time easily misunderstood the nature of the baby Messiah. What would have been appropriate gifts for your average king held little true value for an impoverished infant, except, perhaps for the parents to trade for necessities. It is a reminder that items of material value often hold little spiritual (or practical) worth. On the other hand, the spirit of honouring and gift giving itself is of great value.

This reminds me of all sorts of spin-offs; The Little Drummer Boy, The Gift of the Magi, The Littlest Star, The Littlest Angel, etc. The moral of each of these is that the true value of gift giving lies in the love that goes with it. In these days of rampant consumerism, gift cards, etc., many of us would do well to remember these messages regardless of religious or spiritual beliefs.