Thursday, November 30, 2006

Christmas - Not Holidays

I don't know when 'they' decided that it's not the done thing anymore to use the word Christmas in adverts and stores and even in common greetings. Tomorrow is Dec 1st and although decorations have been up for weeks and it seems store displays have been going for months, as far as I'm concerned, from tomorrow we'll be in the Christmas period.

Now whether this is a happy or sad time for individuals, that's a different matter and simply reflects what's going on in your life right now........and I'm not going to get into that here. Since I started coming to America in 1989, I've only spent a few Christmas periods in the UK. I always knew that over here they say Happy holidays from a few days before Thanksgiving and keep it going till the first few days of New Year. I can see some logic in this as after all, that greeting and the mental imagery behind it, combines the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year.

We Brits don't have Thanksgiving of course as we were glad to get rid of those pesky pilgrims ! Only joking. As with several other countries, we do have Harvest Festivals but these aren't important events and certainly not on a par with Thanksgiving Day in the US with it's Macy's Parade, turkey meals and of course, a few NFL games to send us all to sleep while the eaten turkey processes nicely. Gotta recharge the batteries for the exertions of Black Friday after all !

So, ok then, saying Happy Holidays is fine by me. What I DO have a problem with, however, are those people who don't want the word Christmas used at all and try to ban it from schools, stores and just about everywhere - presumably in case it offends those of a non Christian persuasion. Bah and humbug to them all.

I realise that anything to do with Christ is based more on faith than on any historical facts and I think we're all aware and accept that if HE did exist, then he certainly wasn't born on 25th December and all the palaver that goes with this in the sky, wise men, gifts and so on. But so what ? Many special holidays and celebrations aren't based on any facts and as long as they serve to focus our thoughts and actions on something good, then I'm all for it.

Again I know that commercialism has taken over Christmas but that's another post topic entirely It seems that the pressures get worse every year for parents and friends to spend way beyond their means and sink deeper into credit card debt to buy presents that may or may not be appreciated by the recipients who have such high expectations now. "Hey mom/dad, what were ya thinking ?? A pc with an 80gb HDD for goodnesss sake !!! How am I supposed to store my ipod tunes on THAT ? And I said widescreen, people. That's WIDE screen ya know. Not this little plasma thing. Geez. I was 'good' all year and this is the thanks I get "

Ok so much for saying that was to be the topic for a different post ! Off my soapbox now.

Well it looked like it would be a good evening for some more sunset watching here and so I jumped on my bike and with my camera around my neck, I headed off down the road to the lake. I went along the edge of the water but before I got to the gazebo (see a previous post for why I call it that), I came upon this critter.

It was walking slowly along finding a few morsels of food every now and then. It was pretty timid and I had to hide behind a thick tree to get this photo - at least that's my story, officer !

The sun had actually set and the bird was almost black but the flash went off and cast a nice light on it.

I was anxious to avoid being bitten again, so I didn't hang around to get any more shots. I was quite pleased with this one anyway and thanks to this plus point for digital photography, I could see the result and leave there and then.

On the way 'home' I decided to go on to get some photos of some of the wonderful CHRISTMAS decorations being put up on homes here in the park. It would be tempting to think that few residents would bother with decorations given that we're in Florida, in a retirement community and we're all oldies But this is far from the truth and many homes are beautifully decorated already and it's still November - just.

This is my favourite and the work that has gone into it's creation is just amazing. Sadly I had my telephoto lens with me and so wasn't able to go back far enough to get the whole display in the photo - but you get the idea from this shot. I also need to experiment more to get better night-time shots But I was also getting bitten and so I wasn't able to mess around too long.

By now it was pitch black and I've no lights on my bike. Many of the evening events start at 6:30pm so a lot of cars and golf carts were out and about in the park and I was a little nervous about riding my bike home. It's not that I couldn't see my way but more that I couldn't be seen by those out driving around.

As a last shot, I zoomed in on the false chimney on top of the car port. If you click on the photo above to enlarge it and look closely at the car port roof, you'll see a red chimney and parts of the outline of Santa and his sledge approaching it from the left.

I didn't realise until I zoomed in that there were bubbles coming out of this false chimney. How cool.

The owner was a bit puzzled as he said they were on a timer and shouldn't be 'blowing' right now. Well maybe not, but it was a bonus for me and I'm glad I was able to get a shot of it all.

Again you'll need to enlarge the photo and you'll see the bubbles over and down the right side of the chimney.

It was time to peddle off and like I said before, I did so with some trepidation. I skirted the pool area without mishap and avoided the golf carts coming towards me and was on the final leg when I almost had a disaster. I was going around the final corner when I came upon a lady out walking her dog. I'm not sure who was the most surprised but i think on reflection that it was her. At least I saw her first and so was prepared for the swerve I had to do to avoid her. She, on the other hand, never saw me until I whizzed past her and she actually jumped. I'd like to apologise to her here and now but I've no idea who she was - mostly as it was VERY dark and I was by her in a second. Sorry, ma'am.

I'd like to think she's forgiven me by now as after all, it IS Christmas and isn't this the time for peace and love to all MEN ??!! If not, then I wish her Happy Holidays. There, I've covered all the bases.

1 comment:

Daphne said...

I didn't know that Americans said "Happy Holidays" to each other. - - Ah, THAT's where that song comes from. I realise that my knowledge of the USA comes almost entirely from the film Midnight Cowboy, and Laura Ingalls Wilder's series of novels of which Little House on the Prairie is one. Oh yes, and a few cowboy films.

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