(Author’s Note: Yes, I’ve been away too long. No, this break up isn’t permanent. To demonstrate this, let me share with you a reading I performed that was received quite well at my company’s Holiday party.
Also note – I’ve turned off comments. This is permanent, for reasons that I will gladly share with you. If you feel the need to respond to any of my thousands (!!!) of posts, feel free to e-mail me via the contact form.
I’ve been doing Quality Assurance now for fifteen years. It is a very long time to be in that sort of job position, and it really begins to affect the way that one looks at the world.
To illustrate this, I would like to share with you a recent corrective action I wrote.
I am entering this corrective action against a feature that you had implemented upon your sleigh long after your initial design had been approved. I can find no documentation surrounding the implementation of your RLD, better known as your Rudolph Lighting Display. As you know, Section 21.93 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a major change as a change that affects fit, form, or function. Adding a ninth reindeer whose primary function includes illuminating a relevant pathway to the aircraft, fits that definition.
I strongly recommend sitting with your SME/DER to determine your best course of action in light of this finding. Perhaps documenting an alternative means of compliance? Regardless, I would expect at least you to be able to answer a question regarding what is the mean time between failure for reindeer.
I’m pretty sure I’m getting a lump of coal this year.
Before getting too much further into this, let’s take an opportunity to thank the members of the Employee Activity Committee. If you guys could stand up, lets take a moment to thank them for all the work they’ve done here tonight.
In discussing over the entertainment part of tonight with Norma, the initial thought was that I would read from one of my books. I understood where she was coming from, but the idea didn’t seem that…festive…to me. So I suggested that I could write something especially for tonight. The question though, was what? I asked Norma, and she said “I dunno, something that puts them in the Holiday Spirit.”
What is the Holiday Spirit?
It’s a simple question, really. One that is often asked in various holiday specials and sung in a multitude of songs found on light rock radio stations after Thanksgiving.
What is the Holiday Spirit?
My parents raised me agnostic, so I was raised under the holiday tradition of bright lights, family get-togethers, and many awful songs. I didn’t have access to some of the more religious components of the season. When I was a child, I didn’t connect with the sanctity of the season. As such, it has taken me far longer to understand what the “Holiday Spirit” entailed.
As a child, everything I knew of this spirit, I gleaned from the various animated holiday specials that I watched on an annual basis. A Charlie Brown Christmas taught me that procuring a sickly tree was a just reason to be mocked. The Year without Santa Claus taught me that Christmas is best left to the professionals, and, as an added bonus, also taught me that Global Warming and the Coming Ice Age is little more than a battle between the Heat Miser and Snow Miser. The Little Drummer Boy taught me that everyone digs a drum solo.
Let’s talk about The Little Drummer Boy for a moment, because it was my favorite Christmas Special. Sure, I recognized that the story was about the simplicity of the gift being appreciated by Mary and the Baby Jesus, but what had me enthralled was the fact that the drummer boy was able to connect with the animals with his drumming. The Ox and Lamb kept time! What a conceit!
The only time that I’ve been able to communicate with animals with music was when one time, when I was singing, my cat coughed up a hairball.
Anyways, somewhere in all of these shows resides the Holiday Spirit, but clearly I was too young to figure it out.
My misunderstanding was so bad, that, when in fourth grade, when asked by my teacher to give an example of what Christmas means to me, I wrote:
Christmas means to me, that even when someone steals your presents, trees, and roast beast, if you just stand in the middle of town and sing, the burglar will turn himself (and his dog) in, and we will hold a feast in their honor.
Yup, 9 year old me, not only plagiarized The Grinch who stole Christmas , but I turned it into an adorable story of felony breaking & entering with a touch of Stockholm syndrome. This was something my fourth grade teacher explained to me later, after I read her note on my homework which read simply “Please see me after class.”
My understanding of this “spirit” became even more confused as I entered my teen years, where I was apparently under the belief that the Holiday Spirit meant that I was to get whatever music I desired, and that the failure to get said music provided just reason to throw an appropriate tantrum. This belief led to the “REO Speedwagon” incident when I was thirteen, the “Night Ranger” incident when I was fifteen, and the “Metallica” incident when I was seventeen. While at the time I believed the change in my musical tastes illustrated some measure of maturity, in truth, all of the incidents are too similar in motivations to demonstrate any measure of understanding of what the Holiday Season is all about.
I would like to think that I grew in college, and to some extent I did. Mostly I renounced my material ways, and understood that the Holiday season isn’t really about gifts, either in the giving or receiving. Unfortunately, I painted everyone with the same large brush, mocking anyone who participated in such a gross, materialistic way, and that even a simple purchase of garland or tinsel meant that one was complicit in the great Holiday-Industrial complex conspiracy, and that even humming “White Christmas” meant that you were brainwashed.
Luckily for my family, I spent most of the holidays with college friends, where I attended various anti-Holiday parties with various English and Theater majors of the university I attended, and consumed holiday feasts consisting primarily of Wild Turkey, and Cranberry and Vodka. This was when I first understood what wisdom was. Let me say that if I now have to consider a choice between going to parties where their primary theme is “No one really understands how miserable the world is but us” against the option of oh, I don’t know….let’s say test witnessing, I’ll choose test witnessing every time. I have truly become older and wiser.
It wasn’t until my first year after college that I started to truly understand what the Holiday spirit meant. I was on my way to a family get-together, sharing a ride with my older sister. About halfway through the drive, long enough, mind you, to demonstrate that she had given full on consideration of what she was about to say), turned to me and said:
“Don’t be a fargle.”
Actually, she said more than that, to which I’ll get to in a minute, but I need to explain the word “fargle”.
You see, my family works blue. We curse, a lot. Not drunken trucker level of cursing, but certainly a level to which it would be appreciated by a drunken trucker. So when I say “fargle” , for the sake of decorum, I’d like you to fill in your own obscene gerund and/or epithet. The point I want to illustrate here is that my sister called me a fargle.
Actually, what she said was even more profound. What she said was “Don’t be a fargle. Christmas isn’t about just you. And…would it kill you to smile for the sake of the rest of the family?”
At the time, I took it as a personal admonishment, which it was. But upon reflection, I realized how much this correction to my behavior was an apt description of the Holiday Spirit.
We live three-hundred and sixty some odd days of misery, of stress, or of indifference to our fellow travelers on this planet. We live in our own tragic routine, a rote application of what we’ve defined to be our lives. Thomas Hobbes once wrote that the state of nature is “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”. But the collective “we” have been able to create this holiday season that allows us to celebrate what we can be – Joyous, Peaceful, and full of friendship and love.
The Holiday Spirit is the embodiment of that understanding. It’s a feeling where we understand that we’re all in this together, and that we share this planet with one another. And that for at least one day out of the year, we should try to smile with one another, or, at the very least, we shouldn’t begrudge another for striving for an uncynical joy. Because the holidays aren’t about you, or me. It’s about us.
And let’s face it: Our lives in this season would be far better off once we understand that we shouldn’t be such a fargle.
Happy Holidays Everyone! May you and yours have a full day of peace and joy.