The overwhelming imagery of the Crucifixion

The child that was me experienced the lead-up to Easter as foreboding rather than inspiring

The overwhelming imagery of the CrucifixionI was never big on Easter. As a Catholic schoolboy in 1950s Ireland, Easter played second fiddle to Christmas. In fact, the competition wasn’t even close. Christmas had several advantages. For one thing, school holidays were longer. Whereas Easter only delivered a week and a half, Christmas tacked on a further full week. The tone,…

The real work of Christmas begins after Christmas

The season of giving should remind us how to live the rest of the year

The real work of Christmas begins after ChristmasThe company has gone. The tree flops sadly at the curbside. The decorations are stowed away for another year. As we resume our normal activities, the feel-good generosity and goodwill of Christmas fade. With the Salvation Army kettles out of sight, the needs of others are out of mind. Howard Thurman, an African American whose…

Five little tips for surviving the Christmas holidays

Accept your limitations and honour those activities that make you feel good when you do them

If you’re struggling with the holiday season, know that you are not alone: many of us scramble with all the responsibility and the desire to get things done. The perfect gift, the perfect wrapping, the cookies, sending out cards, attending school plays, paying the bills: the list goes on and on. With all this perceived…

In search of the perfect Christmas? Good luck

How to avoid a Clark Griswold meltdown and having a SWAT team invade our home

In search of the perfect Christmas? Good luckNational Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation has become a holiday season staple in many homes. The film, released in 1989, portrays the misadventures of the Griswold family as the main character Clark tries to create the perfect family Christmas. While the film is genuinely funny, there’s something more profound that appeals to us. Perhaps it’s the fact…

Last minute wow gifts for the holiday season

Scrambling to find just the right gift for this holiday season?

Last minute wow gifts for the holiday seasonIf you’re still scrambling trying to find just that right particular gift for this holiday season, here’s a few practical, innovative and extremely useful gift ideas with a little wow factor. SleepPhones If your loved one likes to listen to their favourite tunes or podcasts while drifting off to sleep and standard earbuds are just…

Celebrating Christmas in 18th and 19th century Alberta

Christmas was more primitive in the 18th and mid-19th centuries, but it was still Christmas

Celebrating Christmas in 18th and 19th century AlbertaTurn the clock back to the late 18th century and mid-19th century Alberta, and chances are you’d be eating fish, beavertail, and stewed moose rather than roasted turkey and honey-glazed ham for Christmas dinner. Instead of rockin’ to tunes emanating from audio systems and streaming services, you’re more likely to be dancing the jig to…

Why Christmas matters in a secular society

It is shortsighted to restrict ourselves to a candy cane diet of Christmas cuteness

Why Christmas matters in a secular societyWe go to extremes to avoid the religious aspects of Christmas in the public sphere, and we are worse for it. Christian beliefs about Christmas might offend someone in our secular and multicultural society, so we ignore its religious and historical background. The reluctance to mention the origins of this much-loved holiday permeates early childhood…

Why Santa Claus matters, regardless of your faith

If we share peace and goodwill with others, we find them growing within us

Why Santa Claus matters, regardless of your faithThough it’s technically the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ for Christians, many traditions merge to form what we call Christmas. Some traditions are indeed Christian but others aren’t. Some date from eras before Jesus was born and some are more recent. One of the most endearing today is that of Santa Claus, the…

Blue Christmas: How Elvis turned it into a seasonal classic

How something quite ordinary can be transformed by a specific performance

In late 1965, coming to Canada from Ireland had its revelations. My Dublin hometown may have been more architecturally distinguished, but it couldn’t match Toronto’s relative abundance of decently paying jobs. There were also things like diners – which I’d only seen in American movies – and the language esoterica pertaining to “double-double” coffees. Top…

O Tannenbaum symbolizes the entire celebration of Christmas

The Christmas tree is a universal symbol that delivers a message of endurance and light during the dark winter months

The traditional German song O Tannenbaum is often translated as O Christmas Tree. This translation is only partly accurate, however. The English version is quite different from the German: the essence of the German song is far more universal. One of the beauties of learning languages is discovering what words and poetry mean to those…

What your Christmas tree says about your leadership style

Are you a dominant or conscientious or steady leader, or an influencer?

What your Christmas tree says about your leadership styleThanks to the women’s suffrage movement and their demands for equal work for women, I was at home last week while Margaret was slaving away at the university. Because she’s only in her 11th year at the university, she has to work until Christmas Eve. To make matters worse, Margaret was worried – as she…

How Santa knows if you were naughty or nice

Here are some of his secrets

How Santa knows if you were naughty or niceHave you ever wondered how Santa Claus determines whether to leave you a present or a lump of coal on Christmas? How he knows if you’ve been naughty or nice? I don’t have any hard evidence to back me up, but I’m pretty sure that he must be a first-class lie detector. If so, here…

Are you one plum pudding away from a Christmas meltdown?

The pre-Christmas preparation can turn the jolliest of elves into Scrooges

Are you one plum pudding away from a Christmas meltdown?I have a holiday cocktail napkin that reminds me to keep a sense of humour during the busy weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The napkin depicts a spotless 1950’s kitchen where a mother and daughter are preparing to take Christmas dinner out of the oven. The little girl looks excited about the feast ahead,…

Not feeling the holiday magic?

There are no perfect holidays. Accept your limitations and honour those activities that make you feel good when you do them

Not feeling the holiday magic?Not feeling it this season? Started getting stressed as soon as you saw the Christmas decorations go up the day after Halloween? I’m guessing that it’s not because you’re famous for being able to give the Grinch a run for his money. You get by most of the time without people thinking your heart is…

How to shake off your Christmas stress

Remain calm. You'll make better decisions than those who are stressed

How to shake off your Christmas stressIt’s almost that time of year again – the shops are filling up, along with the roads, and people’s stress levels are increasing. Christmas is a time of tradition. Some people have huge family gatherings with relatives (lockdowns permitting) from all over the place; others prefer a quiet evening – fireplace, wine, blanket and time…
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