Well that was fun, or better put: BEST CHRISTMAS EVER, Road Trip 2006. Columbia to Greenville, SC to Gatlinburg, TN to Greenville, SC and home again. In between, there have been two church services, four big family meals, five present opening times, a walk in the Smokey Mountain woods and even a roller coaster ride.

Where to begin? I think in the realisation that Christmas happens in context of the life you lead, and culture that surrounds you. The starting point for Christmas reflection, begins where you are already, nothing wrong with that. It’s where the whole, big, small thing takes you is the key I think. If the holiday is nothing more than a grand Kabuki like dance, where everyone knows their place and their role, the routine established, then it seems as if the message of the season has been missed, might as well be celebrating Monday morning coffee break, talking about the weekend’s game.

Seems as if the point of the yearly observance is to come again, to the same remarkable, revolutionary story, within context of where your life is at the moment. It should strain you and make you face the disappointments of life, along with the celebrations. I have thought and wondered, if the shepherds who celebrated the birth of Christ, at the urging of the angelic host, had their own children become victims to Harod’s slaughter of the innocents. It would be hard to imagine that the first Christmas would always be completely about that ‘perfect, peaceful day’, the remembrance of the host singing praises to the new born saviour would seem to be mixed with pain, sorrow and anger. Good, I take it that is what it is supposed to do, and why a Saviour was more necessary than generic thoughts about peace and goodwill.

Anyway… along with all of that, I got some cool loot this week as well. Stylish clothes, useful cooking tools, good books and DVD’s, outdoor gear, and even a winter ride on a roller coaster. But first there is this:

What do these two images have to do with each other?

Everything and nothing I suppose. The first is from the Second Battle of Ypres, in Belgium, in April of 1915. The second image, which I received a colorized version of, is of my grandmother (she’s the infant being held) in April of 1915. Context can be everything. My grandmother, in a small South Carolina town going through her first Easter celebration, a backwater to that age’s main event, which in that month meant the first use of what we would now call a “weapon of mass destruction”, the use of chemical gas, on a battlefield. The age of, I’m sure, these long-gone, masked soldiers still haunts us in virtually everything. The infant in the photo, now 92 years old, sat across from me at Christmas on Monday, having long outlived the state’s of the Kaiser and the Czar, the second and third Reich, the Bolsheviks and all the various French Republics everything in-between. Context is everything, what is important today will be trivial tomorrow, and 92 years later its Christmas in a world unforeseen.

Christmas holidays? It’s a time to be changed by the same story, in a different context, year by year, that and great food and loot as well. Happy New Year!