19 December 2017

Heroes of Boucharde Painting Update. . .

Just about done with the four "heroes" for my planned Christmas Week 'Boucharde Raid' refight.

An hour or so of painting tiny metallic bits and pieces.  Almost there, but still a few small brush mishaps to correct, and then I'm calling these done, and it will be time to apply the usual two or three coats of acrylic gloss varnish.  Then it's time to do something about all of those replacements infantry standards.  I know, I know.  How many times have you heard me say that before?

Another quiet old illustration of Father Christmas, once again in blue robes.  


On a completely different note, when did the Christmas season become so loud?  And I mean that in a figurative as well as an aural sense.  The general over the top atmosphere riddled with superficial hyperbole that begins in September and, if retailers are anything to go by, ends abruptly on December 26th seems all wrong somehow.  The season actually lasts into January.  

Of course, it isn't simply retailers that do this to us.  It seems to be our whole culture.  Movies, television, radio, and everyday people as well.  The endless, exhaustive, misdirected, tacky, plastic elf-on-the-shelf "half-time" holiday extravaganza of the 21st century that assaults our senses each year at this time bears little resemblance to the quiet, contemplative, calm, unplugged holidays of my childhood and younger years where we actually enjoyed each others' company and talked to rather than blurted at each other.  Yeah, it was still like this as recently as the 1990s. 

Maybe it is simply age (the wrong side of 50) that has brought on this rather frank examination, but with age sometimes comes perspective.  It seems the relatively disposable gadgets and noncommittal attitudes of "If you don't like it, I kept the receipt so you can exchange it" have become as pervasive as having the TV switched on in the corner from early morning to late evening.  But no one is actually watching anything.  Do people really put so little forethought into what they do for (?) others?  Is this really the idea behind Christmas?  

The first time I came into contact with this sort of thing was with the family of a young woman I came close to marrying 20+ years ago.  A near run thing that.  And we won't even mention the apparent addiction suffered by so many that has come along more recently.  No, not opioids or methamphetamine.  I refer, of course, to people of all ages who walk around and even sit with Iphones forever in hand, or on their knee, and check incessantly for incoming text messages.  Even. While. At. The. Dinner. Table. 

Newsflash, ladies and gentlemen!  Few of us are that interesting or important.  Put your gadgets down for a few minutes.  We all have them at this point, and I'm not impressed.  Leave the ostentatious display of your relative affluence for another time, thank you.  "OMG!  Can U b leave wut he jst sd?" as so many might rashly text their besties filled with righteous indignation and invective in response.

Returning to the real point at hand, which is the the now rather generic holiday season in which we are awash, I have a modest proposal for society at large.  Maybe we should do things differently in moving forward?  It might be time to turn off the constant flow of largely pointless information for a time and engage more with the people across the (figurative) table from and to either side of you.  It might also be time to reevaluate our collective attitude and how we approach the Christmas period.  Maybe we ought to scale back a bit in how we go about it?   Does everything honestly need to be the biggest, baddest, shiniest, blinkingest, newest, fastest, talkingest?  Maybe we need to reconsider what is most important?  Various things worth thinking about in the last week or so before the festival begins in earnest.

I suggest taking a slow approach to Christmas, and indeed life in general.  Turn off, tune out, and drop out for a week or ten days.  The virtual world ain't going anywhere.  Return to the physical world.  Find and take pleasure in small things.  Read a book (Shock, horror, gasp!).  Have a game.  Toy soldiers, cards, Yahtzee, chess.  It doesn't matter.  It's time to reconnect with people.  Have a drink or a cup of something warm at home or at a cafe.  Talk to each other.  Help others.  Be kind.  Visit an elderly family member or neighbor who is alone.  This time of year can be very hard for some people especially when they have no one nearby, or their family is all gone.  Show that person you care.  Take some holiday goodies along, or even invite that person out.   He or she will appreciate it to no end, and I'll bet you might even get a smile in return.  Stranger things have happened.

What else?  Take walks in the park or around town on a brisk day.  Look around you rather than at your lap or hands where the phone usually resides.  Have some completely idle and unproductive time.  You don't always need to be doing something.  Just say no to data collection or vapid, pointless time wasted online!  Sit  still for a while.  Watch the world go by.  You'll see some beautiful and interesting things in the next couple of weeks if you take the time to look up and move your head from side to side.  Who knows?  You might find that the "cute," ironic, or downright snarky holiday texts from your latest Bro/BFF/friend-with-benefits, the 24-hour marathon of It's A Wonderful Life on TCM, and that singing plastic bass on the wall (a particularly tasteless Christmas gift from years gone by.  Remember it?) aren't all they're cracked up be.  

In closing, it's high time for more of us to live life instead of simply observing it via a tiny screen and things like Snapchat or Instagram with their carefully curated (but largely artificial) versions of others' lives.  If you'll pardon the rather obvious reference (in my best Hugh Grant intonation), life actually is all around us.  If we just turn off the TV, stop being slaves to our portable electronic devices, and turn our backs on the passive spectator lifestyle that has taken over everywhere, it seems, we might have more time to begin living life once more.  That might have a direct bearing on our own self-esteem, mood, sense of purpose, and humanity toward others.  Just a thought.

-- Stokes

Wednesday P.S.

My own busy-bodiness aside, the above is  as much a comment on our shallow, totally self-absorbed society of 2017 as it is on our commercialism, consumerism, and false bonhomie throughout the year.  An unpleasant  phenomenon that becomes especially pronounced each December.  The good is out there, but we are sure forced to wade through mountains of garbage to find it.


CelticCurmudgeon said...

My Dear Heinz Ulrich, Christmas greetings!

Your thoughts have re-energized my flagging holiday spirits. Thank you so much for articulating a method for enjoying these blessed days that does not focus on things.

Be well and happy during this Christmas Season and may many blessings befall you and your lovely family!

Gerardus Magnus
Archbishop Emeritus

Der Alte Fritz said...

Nicely said, especially the last paragraph. I would add, "take some time to read a book" to your list.

The Christmas season goes by so fast that it is gone before we even have the time to blink. So thank you for the reminder to slow down the pace and take it in. Something Ferris Buehler said about life - just cant recall the quote right now.

BTW, somehow, NBC was able to buy and re-establish the rights to It's A Wonderful Life and so the movie is only televised once a year now (Christmas Eve?). I do recall the days though when you could practically see the movie every day of the season.


Tomo said...

I can agree with what you've written. My wife is actually one of those whom believe the Christmas season ends abruptly at Midnight Dec 25th. Down comes the tree, and away all the trimmings are stored...


Fitz-Badger said...

I think the Ferris Bueller quote goes as follows:
"Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."

I don't bother with what other people do or how they "celebrate" the holidays. I focus on my own ways of celebrating them. Happy Solstice to all!

Regarding the Santa/Father Christmas in brown robes - I have an old Santa ornament, which I think is from the early 1900s, and he has brown robes (although it could be they were originally red and faded over time; I just prefer to believe they were always brown, like Radagast the wizard).

Robbie Rodiss said...

Ah Stokes, welcome to my world and probably the world of many of a certain age. A little tip for you, keep away from the poisonous world of Facebook where stupidity and ignorance is saluted continually.That can really upset your peace. Because one begins to reassess the environment we have lived in, and probably help create you begin to realise that only few things are truly important. I agree with the 'noise'created around Christmas, but I think thats because people are so desperate to be seen to be 'excited' by the event, while forgetting what it is about. Family, kindness, contemplation etc.As for youth and i phones, I really worry about what is happening there as they lose the ability to differentiate between what is real and what is fantasy. I always find an hour or so pottering about with my toy soldiers alleviates the worries and somehow makes me feel happy.

guy said...

I hope I am not one of life's grumps and I do try to see the positive in most things at this time of year but can I add one more hurdle to be overcome at this time of year - the office staff party. We have ours on Friday and regretfully I just can't think of a decent excuse to miss it this year. We go through the same pretty dire meal every year and enforced jollity. A number always get totally sozzled. There's always the discreet race for the table settings so you are not sitting next to the office loon. My holiday starts if I manage to escape from that reasonably unscathed.


Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Thank for your comments and observations, everyone!

Guy, I can certainly empathize with your plight. Fortunately our son is still young enough that he provides a ready excuse any time something approaching an office party (Christmas or otherwise) rears its ugly head. Either I must be at home to meet him when he arrives home from school, or the still very handy, "So sorry, but we haven't been able to find a baby-sitter in enough time" for later evening affairs. What we'll do once he is a teenager and responsible enough to leave at home unsupervised for a few hours, I shudder to think.

Robbie, I think you hit the nail on the head. I'd even go so far as to say that stupidity and ignorance are celebrated across much of society at this point, not just via online social media.

Best Christmas Regards Everyone!


Simon Millar said...

Well said Stokes and the other responders. Merry Christmas all.

ECW 40mm Project said...

so many good points! Pace, yes, and get free of gadgets. Fortunately, at almost 50, most of my friends do not expect me to be constantly holding my phone to get a text, nor do I. I played go fish with my son the other day, over breakfast. Loved it. If someone _really_ needs me [occasionally I do, nature of my real job] they call and actually speak to me.

Hmmm, so what has been managed? Elderly parents over Christmas Eve with service at church next door. Presents after. Christmas day at in-laws. Pretty low-key. Home to tidy up and work off a few pounds of cookies and other delights! quiet evening. Lots of time reading to the Young Master about Christmas stories, and more. Some sorting of gaming stuff, finished up a QRS I made some mistakes on [like, left out all the ranges for shooting...all of them!], preparing for a game this Saturday with some vets who will help re-fight the battle of Orewin bridge [winter battle, suitably] and imbibe some wassailing punch. Sunday another medieval refight probably of same battle but with other people. And last week big battle game of Totensonntag, Nov 23 1941 in the desert south of Sidi Rizegh.

At the end of the day, howeever, the point of Christmas has to be about Christ. Aside from that, it's just another day off. What other religions do with their various holidays, I don't know, but if we want to observe our Holy Days [holi-days] then we need to see into the purpose of them. so, hey, my 8yo and I sang Happy Birthday to Jesus yesterday. He loved it.

Hmmm, must finish clearing off test gaming table for Orewin Bridge test run! Made a Word.doc of likely banners to use this afternoon before in-laws visited for some punch, hors d'oeuvres and some Christmas cheer.

Merry Second Day of Christmas to all, and to all a Good Night!
Best, Alex


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