Thoughts: How about a hundred dollar Christmas?

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Only $100? Right!

Only $100? Right!

I hope the season finds you well & good, and that you’re making plans to be close to friends & family & loved ones. My little gift to you: I’d like to offer what I think is a pretty reasonable suggestion: Don’t go broke this holiday season.

For the past several years (back into the nineties, at least), my family & I have enjoyed a hundred dollar Christmas – spending no more than that. Does that mean no presents?

Hardly! It means homemade candles (one year), specially burnt CDs, certificates for babysitting, log-splitting and other “chores,” home-cooked banana bread, homemade calendars…great fun.

I just noticed how many times I said “home.”

Anyway, I’ve posted this before, but I’d like to offer this essay by Bill McKibben once more as an articulate explanation of this notion – see what you think, then see what you do:

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A Hundred Dollar Christmas
A small revolt takes hold in the author’s New England hometown.

By Bill McKibben

from the November/December 1997 Issue of Mother Jones

Can you keep it under a hundred?

You CAN spend less, ya know….keep it simple. :)

I know what I’ll be doing on Christmas Eve. My wife, my 4-year-old daughter, my dad, my brother, and I will snowshoe out into the woods in late afternoon, ready to choose a hemlock or a balsam fir and saw it down — I’ve had my eye on three or four likely candidates all year.

We’ll bring it home, shake off the snow, decorate it, and then head for church, where the Sunday school class I help teach will gamely perform this year’s pageant. (Last year, along with the usual shepherds and wise people, it featured a lost star talking on a cell phone.) And then it’s home to hang stockings, stoke the fire, and off to bed. As traditional as it gets, except that there’s no sprawling pile of presents under the tree.

Several years ago, a few of us in the northern New York and Vermont conference of the United Methodist Church started a campaign for what we called “Hundred Dollar Holidays.” The church leadership voted to urge parishioners not to spend more than $100 per family on presents, to rely instead on simple homemade gifts and on presents of services — a back rub, stacking a cord of firewood. That first year I made walking sticks for everyone. Last year I made spicy chicken sausage. My mother has embraced the idea by making calendars illustrated with snapshots she’s taken.

The $100 figure was a useful anchor against the constant seductions of the advertisers, a way to explain to children why they weren’t getting everything on their list.

So far, our daughter, Sophie, does fine at Christmas. Her stocking is exciting to her; the tree is exciting; skating on the pond is exciting. It’s worth mentioning, however, that we don’t have a television, so she may not understand the degree of her impoverishment.

(Here’s the rest of the story)

Writings: We are SO alike….

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SO alike. Hard to tell us apart....

SO alike. Hard to tell us apart….

Just wanted to share, my friend:

It was a couple of years ago that I was having lunch with my Indian friend Anand. He said something clever (can’t remember what), and I responded, “Yeah, I do it that way, too. Great minds think alike, hey?”

He smiled and said, “In India, when we have a situation like that,  we say, “Fools seldom differ.

Love you, all the same,
Brother Ian

 

CBC: Whale wars: humpbacks versus orcas focus of new study

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A new study in the Marine Mammal Science journal has found that humpback whales (left) will defend other species from orca (right) attacks. (First image: Joe Kearney; second image: Ken Balcomb/Explore)

A new study in the Marine Mammal Science journal has found that humpback whales (left) will defend other species from orca (right) attacks. (First image: Joe Kearney; second image: Ken Balcomb/Explore)

It’s a strange marine phenomenon: humpback whales actively defend other marine mammals like seals and grey whales from orca attacks, according to a new study.

But while some people might call it a rare example of interspecies altruism, the study also found that these attacks are likely a survival behaviour due to orcas’ tendency to feed on humpback calves.

Robert Pitman, a marine ecologist in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center in southern California, is the lead author of the study recently published in the Marine Mammal Science journal.

He told The Early Edition he first became intrigued about the phenomenon during a research trip to Antarctica.

“One day, we saw a killer whale chasing a seal. [The seal] started swimming out towards where a humpback was at the surface, and the humpback rolled over, and lifted the seal up on its chest,” he said.

Read the rest of the story:
http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/whale-fight-1.3718931

Writings: Living the answer

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1536490_10154067926960157_3623193719837876300_nI would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.

Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them.

And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Rainer Maria Rilke,
Letters to a Young Poet, 1903