Tag Archives: santa claus

Believing in God in All Shapes and Sizes

GodI thought I’d long ago gotten past believing in some sort of external “God.” (And by God I mean the anthropomorphized image of a guy in a beard and white robes meting out judgment based in rules of obviously human making.) And then, there I was, sitting in stop-and-go traffic one day.

A driver to my right was trying to get onto the road from a Safeway parking lot. Car after car crawled past his front bumper towards the next traffic light, never sparing an inch to let him in. Conscientiously I applied my brakes and gave him some space. He waved “thanks” as he nudged into traffic and I waved back, never thinking a thing about it. And then I suddenly realized…

I’d felt a fleeting sense of satisfaction about how “good” I’d been letting the guy into traffic ahead of me. And all of a sudden I saw the invisible belief implicit in that feeling. OMG! At some level I still believed there was some Guy In The Sky WAY UP THERE with a tote board taking note of my actions like Santa Claus, seeing if I was naughty or nice.

Really?

Really. I saw it and was horrified. Surely I was more spiritually evolved than this? Apparently not.

In that moment a whole bunch of other things I do and their raison d’être came sharply into focus. Rain or shine (and in Western Washington it’s mostly rain) after unloading groceries I always push my shopping cart across the parking lot from wherever my car is parked all the way into the cart-holders, no matter how sopping wet I get. I always let other drivers in front of me (does pissing-off drivers behind me count as a negative?); I often say nice things to clerks, noticing their smile or their efficiency or their new hair-do; I make sure I never let my impatience with slow service show, even if I’m seething and up to my eyebrows in thoughts like I’ve got NO freaking time for this! What’s fracking taking so fracking long anyway you fracking dilbert…??? (internal expletives modified of course for good taste and more points??? ack! )

Yep.

Seeing this, it didn’t take long until I was searching out all the other things I still do to  subconsciously placate this invisible Lord God In Heaven Who Is “Into Judgment.”

Any criticism of anyone I usually follow up with a “But s/he’s got good intentions” (or some such platitude). I guard my tongue against gossip. I try not to lie even whitely (and fail. It’s shocking how easy it is to whitewash even the most mundane incident in order to appear even marginally a better person.) Fortunately I’ve gotten beyond accepting compliments with the de rigeur Christian false modesty… “Oh, it was nothing…” But still…

All these actions are to the “good” I suppose. Being patient, being nice, being encouraging to others are wonderful things. The point I’m trying to make here is: what exactly is the motivating factor behind taking such actions?

Yes. I genuinely like to make other peoples’ days better. I like to pay compliments and only do so if said compliments are genuine. I do think patience is a virtue. Why add my shit onto anybody else? I mean, who cares if I’m in a hurry? Everybody’s in a hurry nowadays. And how nice to give others a break. But I’ve been SHOCKED to realize how much I still harbor the belief that by doing these things it will also pay off to some degree with You Know Who.

EEK! Surely I can’t be the only one with this ancient program nipping at my heels (and conscience?)  And what to do with it if you’ve got it?

Well, here’s what I’m doing. I now sometimes let my shopping cart stay in the walkway (not in the lot where it can (God forbid) actually obstruct somebody else’s ability to park.) And I (GASP!) don’t always take the time to shove the ridiculous amounts of postal junk mail through the teeny-tiny slots in the recycling bins at the post office. I occasionally plop my un-asked-for mail on top of the bins for paid employees (or other do-gooders?) to handle. Maybe if enough people do this they’ll replace the new closed-top bins with the old waste paper baskets that were so much easier?

I also don’t let quite as many drivers in front of me as I used to (easing the nerves, no doubt, on those behind me in traffic, so it probably balances out in the over-all scheme of things.)

Who knows what else is next? If God still made curlers I might even wear them in public.

photo by: Michal Osmenda

Do You Have the Grit It Takes to Follow Your Dreams?

Screen Shot 2013-06-04 at 1.50.34 PMHave you ever wanted to give up on something that you really, really wanted because it was just too darn hard to keep trying? 

You can’t run one more step, write one more word, endure one more dead end? Join the club.

Can I Sit Down Now?

But, before you throw in the towel, there’s something you should know.

People who succeed at getting what they want in life aren’t smarter, more talented, or luckier than you.

They just might have something psychologists call grit: the ability to keep going no matter what. Grit, it turns out, may be one of the most powerful ingredients in your success recipe.

Smart Grit

I’m not talking about trying endlessly to reach a goal where the chance of victory is close to zilch, like opening an ice cream shop in Antarctica. Although never say never.

I’m talking about the grit you need to stay on your healthy diet, save money, or start that business. Grit is different from willpower, the ability to focus for snippets of time, say, just long enough to resist that cookie. Grit is willpower’s big brother. It’s endurance for the long haul; the stamina to keep going even when you stumble.

I Want Some Grit, Please

When I was writing my doctoral dissertation, an intense research project that was my final step before getting my PhD, I needed a giant dose of grit.

That’s because the dissertation experience can be pretty grueling. I’d met students who were in dissertation-anxiety support groups, and I’d watched exhausted graduates–sporting newly spawned gray hair–lumber down the aisle to finally accept their diplomas, some after ten years. It was clear; I was going to need some serious stick-to-itiveness if I wanted to make it to graduation before my social security benefits kicked in.

Santa To The Rescue

My own grit arrived in an unexpected flash of inspiration. In the midst of a late night writing session, I suddenly remembered a television show my brothers and I watched every year at Christmastime called “Santa Claus is Comin’ To Town.” In the show, there was a song I never forgot called Put One Foot In Front Of The Other.

I suddenly realized that to complete my dissertation, that’s exactly what I needed to do: put one foot in front of the other. Rather than looking at the enormity of the task ahead of me, I needed only to write one word, one paragraph, one page at a time. If I could do that–over and over again–I could find my grit and finish my dissertation.

To remind myself, on the wall over my computer, in big blue letters, I taped the words “Darlene, Put One Foot In Front Of The Other.” When I felt my spirits sag or there was a unexpected detour, I looked up at those words on the wall. I pushed ahead–one step at a time–and made it all the way to graduation day.

You Can Do It!

Are you chasing a dream that feels distant? Or do you want to improve your life in some way, but it’s hard to stay on track? I know it’s tough to keep going when you’re alone on your path or the road ahead is unclear.

That’s why I want to share with you the 3-minute video clip that inspired me. Watch it, and remember its simple message: put one foot in front of the other. Those words were so encouraging to me, they’ve since become my personal mantra. No matter where you’re headed–one step at a time–that’s how you’ll get there.

Santa Reveals His Personal Gout Story

Santa Describes His Gout

The elves are in a tizzy this year. The North Pole headquarters of Santa Clause has issued a release stating Santa is hobbling around with a large, painful, swollen big toe that acted up unexpectedly after eating a large burger and a beer. The poorly times event has made it difficult to get in and out of his sleigh.

Santa reportedly called Dr. Robert Keenan of Duke University’s Gout Clinic to discuss his symptoms. Dr. Keenan told Santa, “You’ve got the classic symptoms of gout, a type of arthritis caused by the breakdown of purine from certain foods. When purine metabolizes, it releases uric acid crystals. These crystals are typically excreted in the kidneys; but not so well in people with gout.”

“It must have been that burger and beer,” Santa responded. “Probably,” said the doctor. “The largest source of purines is in organ meats like liver and kidney. Red meats and shellfish are another source and so is beer and whiskey (wine has a bit less purines). The good news is that if you lose some weight and drink lots of water, it will flush out the uric acid crystals through your kidneys and lower your risk.”

Santa did not appreciate the comment on his weight but said after the holiday he would work on his diet again.

Dr. Keenan went on to tell Santa that, “uric acid crystals stay at high levels in the blood and sprinkle down like sediment into the joints, and that leads to inflammation and pain so bad that even touching the skin with Christmas stocking can be unbearable.”

Santa nodded his head.

Keenan told Santa, “The most common joint that is affected is the one at the base of the big toe; exactly what happened to you. But the ankles and knees are the next most common places.” Santa also found out gout is much more common in men, but after menopause, lower estrogen levels can reduce a women’s ability to clear uric acid crystals from the urine.

Santa made a mental note about this in case Mrs. Claus developed a painful joint and downloaded a FREE menopause ebook.

The pain of gout usually comes on quickly, and after a day or so, it starts to subside. But over time, the crystals, which stay in the joint, can destroy the entire joint.

Santa found out he could be getting symptoms of gout either because his kidneys can’t excrete uric acid well enough or because he eats too many foods that contain purine, especially during the Christmas season; and that overloads his kidneys.

Santa got off the phone and searched the Internet and found out that 8 million Americans have gout and if he doesn’t take action, it could become chronic gout, a type of arthritis, with sore achy joints.

Sometimes the uric acid crystals can even deposit in the soft tissues of the body like the elbows, ears, and finger joints.

Santa decided to fly in early to see the doctor. He found out that to make the diagnosis, the doctor must place a small sterile needle into the inflamed joint and remove a tiny drop of fluid to look at under a microscope to look for uric acid crystals

In the meantime, Dr. Keenan suggested starting daily exercise like going for a walk and helping the elves load the sleigh. He also suggested taking analgesics like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory treatments. If those fail, he’ll get a prescription for colchicine and corticosteroids to reduce inflammation.

He also started changing his diet. Now Santa:

  • Limits servings of meat, poultry and fish to 4 to 6 ounces at any one meal since they all contain purine.
  • Eats less fat. The more fat eaten, the harder it is to excrete uric acid.
  • Replaced most of the meats, poultry, fatty fish and shellfish with vegetables, beans and legumes.
  • Steers clear of beer. Alcohol in general makes it harder for kidneys to excrete uric acid, but beer is the biggest offender followed by hard spirits. According to Mayo Clinic, it’s ok to drink one to two 5-ounce servings of wine daily without increasing your risk of an attack.
  • Eats little high-fructose corn syrup. Santa reads the labels. Soft drinks and juice drinks are a real risk for flaring up. Pure fruit juices that are 100% fruit don’t seem to be a problem.
  • Eats complex carbohydrates. Santa says, “It’s not easy eating more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and skipping the refined sugar, white bread and candy, but it’s worth it!”
  • Drinks lots of water. Eight to 12 glasses of water can flush the crystals through your kidneys and help eliminate the crystals. Some research suggests drinking several cups of coffee daily is a good way for men to lower their gout risk.

So if gout has your goat, do what Santa does; follow doctor’s orders.

Based on my recent interview with Dr. Robert Keenan, Assistant Professor of Medicine at Duke University.

For more valuable health information, sign up for my FREE Health Accelerator Three video series. Learn the diagnostic tests and test results you must have to stay well, how to prepare for your annual exam, and 5 tips to jump-start your health today.

The Close of My Santa Poll…

From Universal Collective Prayer

Today being the last day of the Advent season also bringS my Santa poll to close. So as we take down the Christmas decorations I thought I’d give you the results of the poll.

I asked the question:

"Do You Believe in Santa Claus?"

to my readers allowing them to choose one response only of the following:

-YES
-NO
-MAYBE

I created the poll on Sat 6 Dec 2008 to compliment my post ‘Do You Believe in Santa Claus?- Saint Nicholas Day’ which I posted to commemorate Saint Nicholas Day and to join in Universal Collective Prayer with the great Saint who acted out his Universal Collective Prayer by giving gifts to children. I wanted to make his name unsullied from the commercialism that had done so while still embracing the fact that many American traditions that may have gone on to sully his name had also made him into the image he now is and perhaps preserved him so long too. So not all is bad in Americana and commercialism cause perhaps not for that the saint would be dead to our brain’s memory although perhaps still in our superconscious hearts or soul…but as the American iconography keeps him so real it also reminds us of him much like iconography in Hinduism and in so doing perhaps opens us up a bit more to his spirit than if he had no form. You see giving him a form keeps him real to us on this material plane as much as an image of Baby Krishna stealing ghee does for opening up the heart of the Bhakti Yogi…one who practises pure love to reach enlightenment. So for this I salute the American Santa Claus! And in so doing I give you the results of the poll:

Out of 11 persons casting their vote here on Universal Collective Prayer…cause others did vote on Intent. Here is the break down:

Yes = 7 votes (63%)
No = 1 vote (9%)
Maybe = 3 votes (27%)

So the ‘I s’ have it! YES WE BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS! 🙂

And because we do and it is the last day of the season…as you take down your stockings or tree I give you this tune to hum to one last time:


 

and this to ponder on:

Advent Calendar:Tue 16 Dec-Yes, Virginia

 


Image take from Newseum:Newsman Francis Pharcellus Church who wrote The Sun’s response to Virginia.

You can read about the strategy for the Advent Calender postings that I’m doing on all three of my blogs today on this post on my parent blog Meady’s Musings.

Just for you today on Universal Collective Prayer my Advent Calendar gift to you will be words from ‘Yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus’ which I reference in this prior post on here and was written in 1897 by the editor of the then New York Sun. Here it is accompanied by an appropriate film clip based on the story of how it was written! 🙂

As taken from the website Newseum:
‘Eight-year-old Virginia O’Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of New York’s Sun, and the quick response was printed as an unsigned editorial Sept. 21, 1897. The work of veteran newsman Francis Pharcellus Church has since become history’s most reprinted newspaper editorial, appearing in part or whole in dozens of languages in books, movies, and other editorials, and on posters and stamps.

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, ‘If you see it in THE SUN it’s so.’
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?

"VIRGINIA O’HANLON.
"115 WEST NINETY-FIFTH STREET."

VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men’s or children’s, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that’s no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby’s rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.’

From Universal Collective Prayer

Do You Believe in Santa Claus?- Saint Nicholas Day

As published on Universal Collective Prayer

 

In some parts of the world (mainly Europe)today 6 Dec is celebrated as St. Nicholas Day. I don’t know much about it personally but on the web I stumbled on a site that seems to be very complete into all things Saint Nicholas…St Nicholas Center.

Here is some info summarized from the site:

"The true story of Santa Claus begins with Nicholas, who was born during the third century in the village of Patara. At the time the area was Greek and is now on the southern coast of Turkey. His wealthy parents, who raised him to be a devout Christian, died in an epidemic while Nicholas was still young. Obeying Jesus’ words to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor," Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to the those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships."

"Widely celebrated in Europe, St. Nicholas’ feast day, December 6th, kept alive the stories of his goodness and generosity. In Germany and Poland, boys dressed as bishops begged alms for the poor—and sometimes for themselves! In the Netherlands and Belgium, St. Nicholas arrived on a steamship from Spain to ride a white horse on his gift-giving rounds. December 6th is still the main day for gift giving and merrymaking in much of Europe. For example, in the Netherlands St. Nicholas is celebrated on the 5th, the eve of the day, by sharing candies (thrown in the door), chocolate initial letters, small gifts, and riddles. Dutch children leave carrots and hay in their shoes for the saint’s horse, hoping St. Nicholas will exchange them for small gifts. Simple gift-giving in early Advent helps preserve a Christmas Day focus on the Christ Child."

In Trinidad the idea of Santa Claus is more celebrated than Saint Nicholas and is mainly influenced by the North American traditions of Santa Claus. So little children are told that this ‘mythical character’ is real and then told later on or when they figure it out that really the gifts given are by their parents and not Santa Claus. Parents put gifts under the Christmas tree at night when kids are thought to be asleep. Some dads will even dress up as Santa Claus…perhaps the inspiration for the song "I Saw Mummy Kissing Santa Claus".

But do you believe in Santa Claus? Another website called The North Pole talks about the origins of the American Santa Clause image as follows:

"American Origins: (As sent to me by Brian Dodd)
Quote from ENCARTA 95

The American version of the Santa Claus figure received its inspiration and its name from the Dutch legend of Sinter Klaas, brought by settlers to New York in the 17th century.

As early as 1773 the name appeared in the American press as "St. A Claus," but it was the popular author Washington Irving who gave Americans their first detailed information about the Dutch version of Saint Nicholas. In his History of New York, published in 1809 under the pseudonym Diedrich Knickerbocker, Irving described the arrival of the saint on horseback (unaccompanied by Black Peter) each Eve of Saint Nicholas.

This Dutch-American Saint Nick achieved his fully Americanized form in 1823 in the poem A Visit From Saint Nicholas more commonly known as The Night Before Christmas by writer Clement Clarke Moore. Moore included such details as the names of the reindeer; Santa Claus’s laughs, winks, and nods; and the method by which Saint Nicholas, referred to as an elf, returns up the chimney. (Moore’s phrase "lays his finger aside of his nose" was drawn directly from Irving’s 1809 description.)

The American image of Santa Claus was further elaborated by illustrator Thomas Nast, who depicted a rotund Santa for Christmas issues of Harper’s magazine from the 1860s to the 1880s. Nast added such details as Santa’s workshop at the North Pole and Santa’s list of the good and bad children of the world. A human-sized version of Santa Claus, rather than the elf of Moore’s poem, was depicted in a series of illustrations for Coca-Cola advertisements introduced in 1931. In modern versions of the Santa Claus legend, only his toy-shop workers are elves. Rudolph, the ninth reindeer, with a red and shiny nose, was invented in 1939 by an advertising writer for the Montgomery Ward Company."

There’s the history but here I ask a personal question again – DO YOU BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS?

Well yes I do believe in Santa Claus…:) And why not? I know this is not a linear world and there are so many unknowns so just cause I don’t have proof doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. If we believe in the spirit world, the supernatural and the existence of God or something more that the material world we see before us well…Of Course there can be a Santa Claus.

Perhaps he may not fit the image we have in our mind that we were fed by our traditions…which if you read about it above was more defined in the US by the writers and poets but then churned out in masses by the businessmen. Perhaps American commercialism has sullied the good old Saint’s name but I think he does exist. Perhaps he is just that force or spirit of giving or perhaps he works in mysterious ways and puts gift when they would not have been given. Can any of us wholeheartedly say we’ve not experience things we can’t explain or don’t wonder if there is something more?

So I agree with the editor of the New York Sun who in 1897 wrote…"Yes Virginia There is a Santa Claus"
And maybe it’s not that when we become adults our parents tell us the truth but that when we become adults we lose our childlike innocence. Think about it would our parents really be that good at make believe or fooling us normally? So it’s not that the told us so and we believed but cause we knew something then that as we grew into this world we forgot. As Jesus says if we make our hearts like children only then can we enter the kingdom of heaven/God/The Father.

Perhaps when we see kids lost in their own world when <5 they are seeing something we don’t…like in the film Polar Express…we stop hearing the bell…no discussion without Santa Claus would be complete I think without reference to the film Miracle on 34th Street and tonight I wish you all a good night and leave you with that clip where they explain about the sound of the bell and how adults can’t hear it in the film Polar Express and a clip from Miracle on 34th Street. Believe…

I DO BELIEVE IN SANTA CLAUS! I DO! I DO!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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