Christmas isn’t always merry and New Years isn’t always happy. And that’s okay.

Life wasn’t designed to conform to a strict holiday schedule.

Somehow, someday, everyone who lives long enough will hit a rough year, and maybe this was one of those years for you.  You might…for very good reasons…be feeling sad or lonely, uncertain or frightened, angry or bitter, overwhelmed or numb, and I’d just like to say that if you are, whatever you’re going through and however long it lasts, you’re still just as welcome in this Season of Miracles-That-Come-In-The-Night as everybody else.  In fact, maybe even more so.

Because feeling low doesn’t mean there’s not still gratitude or appreciation, wonder or love, lying underneath.  It just means that those things are buried and resting temporarily, like a landscape hidden beneath a mantle of snow.  They’re down there waiting patiently while winter does its different yet equally important job.

I guess this is one of those holiday seasons for me.  The last year held a variety of hits and scares that were tough for me to navigate and, while none were catastrophic and all will eventually work themselves through, the cumulative effect evidently took a lot more out of me than I realized. This is the first Christmas since 1995 that I haven’t written my annual Thoughts From The Yuletide letter to slip in with our Christmas cards because, with all the good will in the world, I just couldn’t burrow down to where my hope and light are usually cached.  (And I wasn’t about to send out the crap I was digging through to get there.)

So, since the main bulk of my twinkling words remained out of reach this year, I thought I’d borrow somebody else’s instead (along with music and breathtaking photography.)  Because whether I can currently reach it or not, this is what always lives in the deepest place inside me, and it’s what I always wish most for you, too:

copyright Dia Osborn 2011

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Terrible Best Buy Commercial(s): “Game on Santa”

(Update:  For those people wondering who the actress is in this commercial, she’s Jama Williamson who has a recurring guest role on Parks and Rec.)

Notice of change:  The holiday is now called Bestbuymas.  (Term comes from Paul in comment 289.  My thanks.)

What in the world was the management of Best Buy thinking here?  This offends me.  It offended the hubster.  It offended Beloved Daughter and her boyfriend.  It offended everyone in our extended family who had to sit and watch it during an otherwise fantastic college football game Thanksgiving night.  They’re actually dissing Santa Claus if you can believe it.  Here…you can watch for yourself:

What strikes me as wrong?

1) The message of the commercial seems to be that Santa Claus…Mr. Spirit of Christmas himself…is now not only inferior to a retail, big box electronics store, but pathetic and unnecessary.

2) It’s like a weirdly inverted Grinch Who Stole Christmas, only this time they’ve turned Mom into the Grinch. Mom. Now that’s twisted.

3)  The woman in the commercial is not only mean to Santa, she doesn’t even like her own dog enough to fill its stocking.  Evidently, only those members of the family who can consume electronics merchandise count in her home.

4)  Santa Claus is the mythical embodiment of generosity, tolerance, and good will to all.  His gifts are free.  Beating up on Santa is like beating up on charity.  Who’s next in the crosshairs?  Toys for Tots?  And worst of all, they’re doing this during an economic downturn when one out of every five children is living in poverty and more than a third of our population is struggling on a low income.  It’s tasteless.

5)  They seem to be championing materialism again.  Did they somehow miss the last three years?

6)  They’re running these commercials during prime time when little kids are watching TV.  I’m glad my kids are grown so I don’t have to explain to them both that I know you love Santa, honey.  Of course, I’ll still let him come to our house. 

Now don’t get me wrong here.  I think Best Buy is a great company.  I like their brand and our family has bought big ticket electronic items from them in the past, with no regrets.  We’d go again in the future, too…but not as long as they’re running this unfortunate ad.  I think they took a big risk here…which I respect, risks are necessary…but I think this time it was a big mistake.  That’s how it struck our family anyway.

Anybody else have an opinion on this one?  I’d be interested to hear what other people think.  (And for those who enjoy this style of humor and disagree with my take on the commercial, here’s an alternative post you’ll probably prefer.  Go and be happy there.  I don’t think any of you are soul-less.  I dislike the commercial, NOT you!)

(Update 2:  And here’s a head’s up from commenter Jen:  After a series of similar themed commercials, Best Buy has now come out with one that may be closer to what  they wanted to convey all along.  At least it seems that way to me.  There’s finally at least a little give and take going on between parties, which makes it look more like a gift giving competition that Mom is trying to win rather than a situation where she’s being intentionally cruel to someone who’s trying to do some good. It sounds a little more like teasing and less like abuse. The name calling still really turns me off, but I get that it’s part of the set up for Santa’s response.  I laughed at the end where she’s giggling.  It’s a big step up from the usual look of contempt. Thanks Jen!)

copyright Dia Osborn 2011

The Linda Series

Image from Wikpedia

As I roll on into the Christmas season my time to blog is shrinking.  The extra demands are growing exponentially and the juggling is getting hairy.

But that’s okay.  I don’t really mind.  The stress is worth it to me because I adore the holidays.  (Well, mostly.  There have been tough years.) My love of Christmas is a legacy from my childhood, the gift of parents who bent over backwards to create as much magic, wonder, and joy for my four siblings and I as they possibly could.  They loved Christmas, and therefore I learned to love it from them.

It’s funny how, every once in a while, life really is that simple.

Anyway, this is all just preamble for what I really wanted to tell you:  For the rest of December I’ll (probably) only be posting on Fridays.  At least about dying.  (During the rest of the week I reserve the right to succumb to moments of yuletide exuberance and post snippets about holiday moments.)

There.  Notice served.  Now, on to the real topic.

In a recent post, “Dying” Is Still Alive”, I talked about the mistake a lot of people make in assuming that dying and death are parallel or even, in some people’s minds, the same.  In the following comments, Linda said something that, in my opinion, really helps shed light on the reason why this mistake gets made.  Here’s most of it (the emphasis is mine):

Death & dying…yes, I think I’ve probably considered these two words/ideas as synonyms. Given the choice between the two this very moment I would strongly resist BOTH. To be honest, I think I’d prefer to be dead than to be dying. Like most people, I think I fear the process far more than the fact. I subscribe to the notion that the best way to dye would be blindingly fast like a stroke or heart attack during the night from which I never woke. (My ex-husband went this way, and while the abruptness makes the loss very difficult for those left behind, we all agreed that he was the lucky one because he never saw it coming.)

But I see your point about the tendency to go from fighting death to dead without having had the opportunity to embrace the process, thereby, leaving with unfinished business: sentiments not shared, history not shared, apologies unsaid, ….

But where, I wonder, do we draw the line between fighting illness and accepting impending death? Certainly the will to live is what propels many people through God-awful illnesses and injuries. Sometimes they come out at the other end in-tact, or nearly in-tact. I’m curious how you feel about this aspect of dying. Is it possible to embrace dying to soon, too forfeit the opportunity to rise above it and live longer?

Linda’s last question is an important one that, I suspect, is on the minds of a lot of people these days, and therefore bears exploring.  She also suggests a couple other areas of consideration that I think are equally important.  (I’ve chewed on them a lot, anyway.)   I’d like to address them all but, since it’s way too much ground to cover in one post, I thought I’d break it down into four separate questions and handle them in a series.

These are the specific questions I’d like to explore:

1)  Will accepting that I’m dying interfere with my will to live? (I may actually have to break this question down into a few sections of its own because…well…its that big.  I’d like to cover whether love of life or fear of death is a better motivation during treatment, how most of us will have to consciously choose when to die as a side effect of today’s successful medical interventions, what the real value of positive thinking is when fighting an illness, Hint: it’s not for survival as many currently think, and how it’s never really a question of whether we’re going to live or not anyway.  Of course we won’t.  The only truly meaningful question is about how best to use the time we have.)

2)  Which is scarier, dying or being dead?

3)  Is there anything about dying that might be worth living for?

And the last thing I’d like to cover isn’t  necessarily something Linda brought up, but it’s a related and vitally important point.  It involves a question of context, or how we choose to look at dying:

4)  What are some possible metaphors we can use for dying and how does each one help or hurt our ability to navigate the process?

I figured I’d start next Friday with Linda’s main question:  Will accepting that I’m dying interfere with my will to live?

copyright 2010 Dia Osborn