Sixty-seven days until Christmas morning. Of course, we still have to fly by Halloween, Veteran’s Day and Thanksgiving before we even hit the Advent season, but living in this strange period of time that we find ourselves means that we are already being warned/cautioned/threatened/alarmed with the specter of waking up Christmas morning, and the cherished, dreamed of packages of joy that we wanted to share with each other (not even considering Santa’s big project) are all missing, the victims of the evil “supply chain” foul up, which promises to leave the aforesaid dreamed of presents stuck on a container ship moored 5 miles off the coast of California. Oh, the humanity! Not enough dock workers, not enough storage facilities for the thousands of containers that made their way across the ocean from China – and worst yet, not enough semi-truck drivers to move those presents to the stores and shopping malls so I can take my carefully earned money and blow it all on items for Christmas that I “might” think everyone wants. I mean, who doesn’t need another Slinky toy? When we were little and got Slinkies for a present in the stocking, their life-expectancy was about two hours, which was an hour and a half before we opened them, and a half hour to have them become hopelessly tangled on themselves, which, when you carefully worked to untangle, meant that somewhere along the way, part of the metal coil got a little stretched, and so instead of a perfectly crafted Slinky that could do all the things you ever wanted it to do – like go down stairs – you ended up with a kinked, stretched out, horribly disfigured metal disaster… but hopefully you were smart enough to leave your own Slinky safe in its box, and played with your little sister’s Slinky for those few moments before disaster struck.
Ok – setting the Slinky aside, estimates are that this year, there will be a choice of more than 80 BILLION different toys on sale, including, but no limited to the Disney Princess Raya and Sisu Dragon water toy, or the WowWee Got2Glow Fairy Finder… Yeah – I know – I have no idea what they are either, but they exist in the toy buying kingdom, just around the corner from where you live. Again, understand that ALL of these are threatened endangered species because SOMEBODY screwed up in the management of the supply chain. By the way, it also means a better than even chance you’ll be having hot dogs instead of roast turkey for Thanksgiving… Now, if you thought the experience of having to slap face masks on your tiny little toddlers, raising an entire generation of kids who don’t quite understand the English language because they spend most of their time at school and other activities trying to learn how to talk with the equivalent of a down pillow shoved in front of their mouths for hours at a time, well I can tell you it’s nothing compared to the thought of waking up on Christmas morning, and having your sweet little angels running down to see the tree all lit up, and there, under the tree are dozens of little white envelopes instead of presents, all carrying the message: “To be redeemed when the supply chain opens up, and the toy you wanted today will be available sometime in April..” That, along with three pairs of socks. We almost hope for a pandemic relapse, just as an excuse.
So, what are we to do with all of this future handwringing? Well, the best solution, of course, is one that always sits in front of us. All we have to do is to trust the Federal Government to step up and save Christmas, and make our lives simpler and more wonderful than ever – right? I mean, that’s the role of government, isn’t it? To make sure that little Anthony or LaTicia gets their heart’s desire? I mean, that’s who I always count on to make my life happier – the Federal Government, of course!
And the solution that our wise leaders offer to all the families across America? Here it is – get ready to write it down…. Their recommendation: Shop early. Instead of enjoying a walk through rustling leaves on a cool autumn day, or going to a football game or even using one of those last non-freezing evenings to grill some steaks or hamburgers – NO! You must get to the store TODAY! Bring all the money you have and the credit cards and two or three carts, and start filling it up with those toys and other gifts that by next week will be swallowed up in the “supply chain,” never to be seen again this season. For some reason, apparently right now, we may have enough – but it you dare wait until after you have enjoyed your turkey (which you also may not get!), when you make that drive to Walmart or Target, it will look like Stalingrad at the height of the siege, with fights and napalm and shredded toy aisles… but your government warned you, didn’t they? Shop early! Slide that panicky, battling pre-Christmas spirit up into October, but certainly no later than Veteran’s Day, and you will be guaranteed the outside possibility of finding at least one or two items on your list…
Well, it is said that the best way to show absurdity is through talking about things in an absurd way. So, now that we have done that, let me offer another option: Don’t. Don’t let yourself or your family get caught up in the frenzy of reacting to what “might be.” Don’t make this the end of the world, or even a contest. Instead, take this external mess that seems to be amassing on the border, and set it all aside. What? We couldn’t possibly do such a thing! Let me ask another question: can you name five things that you received as Christmas presents last year? How about three things? Nope – that special gift came a couple of years ago – the fact is, most Christmases are kind of blurs on the landscape, where we spend too much, worry too much, and create a “holiday” (ready holy-day) that consists of getting and giving stuff.
Cheri and I stopped giving each other Christmas presents back in the mid-1980s. The stress and the cost just made it no longer fun, so we instead just filled our stockings with stocking stuffers of a silly nature. There hasn’t been a Christmas is more than 35 years when I have been disappointed. Sure, we provided a nice Christmas for the boys as they grew up, and that was tons of fun, but even today, we are considering simplifying things even more, and letting special gifts and presents be part of birthdays, or just other good days of the years. I don’t need the Federal Government to run that part of our lives – that’s for sure.
It’s something to consider, in these 67 days before Christmas. In fact, there is a better than even chance we won’t even have to worry about the supply chain, if we do… It’s called living intentionally, on purpose, with a focused and reasonable life. Just don’t forget the Slinky.
Word for the day. Alembic. Pronounced all-EM-bick. If you do a lot with chemistry and such, this word may be familiar to you – if not, then it’s a helpful new way to express something. “Alembic” is actually from a number of different roots, including Arabic, al-anbik, or even Greek ambix, both of which mean a certain kind of cup. In medicine or chemistry (or moonshine making!), an alembic is actually a distillation vessel. It describes something that either transforms, purified or refines. As a substance is heated, and evaporates, it distills and is accessible as a purer and stronger substance. Every good Frankenstein movie will have a scene with alembics bubbling and steaming, just prior to the lightning bolt being zapped into the monster’s neck bolts….
After 43 years of ministry, Randy Cross lived his "fourth life" and shared about retirement, living boldly and intentionally in our world. To be sure, there was some North Dakota thrown in.