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Santagram

Uncle Santa needs you

Uncle Santa needs you

According to some Christian’s it’s no coincidence that Santa is an anagram of Satan. My wife doesn’t think fondly of St Nick. Who by all accounts was a lovely guy who anonymously and generously gave to the poor and downtrodden of his community.

There’s a long and passionate debate regarding the evils of Santa – and specifically the evils of teaching your kids about Santa. Is it a lie? Probably. But I’m not overly worried by it – if you’re going to tar all “fiction” with the same brush then go for it. Hate Santa, as much as you hate Harry Potter. Ironically, Harry Potter is probably considered evil by most people who hate Santa.

The other refrain as commonly heard as “Jingle Bells” at this time of year is that Christmas has been commercialised. That commercialisation is evil. That modern Christmas has been stripped of its meaning. Well yes. Christmas is commercial. That’s no reason not to support it. Particularly this year. Christmas means jobs. We’re facing the “economic downturn” since the great depression. Jobs are good. Spending money is good. Do it wisely.

I wonder sometimes if our spirit of Christmas protectionism – it’s our holiday and you guys can only celebrate it if you remember our God – damages what could be a great PR opportunity for the church. People are generally thinking nice things about us Christians at this time of year – we get them a “holy day”, they sing carols that often contain the gospel message. And here’s the church, harping on about commercialisation.

Did you know that in Scotland Christmas was banned for almost 400 years – right up until the early 20th century. In fact – the good old Presbyterians were so keen on the ban, they made their signing of a treaty with England contingent on its introduction there.

Scottish Presbyterians, when called on for support by the Puritans of the English Parliament in 1644, did so on the understanding that their allies would in exchange impose the ban on Christmas. For over a decade traditional English Christmas festivities were prohibited

Really. A ban on Christmas. That’s a public relations disaster. Like the “war on Christmas” being waged throughout churches world wide now.

Christmas in Australia is big business. $37.2 billion worth of business. If you divide that by the average Australian wage – or an aggregated household average wage of $115,000 – that’s 328,000 households who keep their jobs because of Christmas (unless I’ve got my zeroes wrong in the billions bit of the calculation… it’s nine in Australia right?). In very poor economic modelling. Of course, retail workers earn less per hour than the “average wage” – which probably means more jobs rather than less… and because we import a lot of the stuff being bought and sold a lot of the money leaves the country, and trickle down economics is dead… anyway. Christmas means jobs. Christmas means food on the table for families this Christmas.

In a second set of calculations – Mastercard reckons the average Australian spent $800 on Christmas last year. That comes up with a figure about half that of the above methodology. 20 million people, multiplied by $800 is $16 billion, which works out to 320,000 jobs paid at $50,000 per year – nice round figures. Whichever way you look at it – Christmas means jobs.

Unemployment is set to surge. Be a good citizen. Celebrate Christmas in the spirit of St Nick – who gave generously and anonymously. And buy me something useless from here… oh wait, that’s a Japanese site. In a slightly related note – the CASE blog has an interesting post about “ethical shopping” that’s worth taking into account. It’s not that fair trade garbage that has taken over people’s sensibilities when it comes to coffee – it’s just biblical advice for shopping with a clean conscience.

For those of you unconvinced by my argument – or more convinced by this (satire warning) those of you who want your children to believe Santa is evil – here’s an evil Santa generator – if you put pictures of Evil Santa all round your house your child will thank you for it later – and be much less messed up than they would be were they to believe in Santa. What do I know anyway, I’m not a parent yet.

Season’s Greetings…

Summer, Autumn and Winter say hi. Spring is going through a rough stage of cantankerous adolescence and refuses to contribute to this letter. That joke was bad enough to stay in.

The Christmas letter is traditionally a soul destroying exercise. Be it an update on the illnesses of a particularly insufferable suffering hypochondriac relative. Or the celebratory tones of conceited parents pompously proclaiming their darling scion’s achievements while adopting a sufficiently Australian air of “self deprecation” with regards to their own personal achievements for the purposes of humour – or to somehow make their ravings more palatable to the average apathetic reader… I have no such qualms. I’m good – and you all know it. So here’s a graphic retelling of my year to date – referring where possible to events not recorded in the archives of this blog.

With a degree of symmetry and some synergy – my year ended where it began – in Townsville. Well, technically I wasn’t in Townsville until the 20th of January when I made the trek North in pursuit of work experience. Those who know the back story realise I had other motives when making the trip north. The less said about that chapter of this year the better – but this story like all classic Disney tales has a happy ending. Spending three weeks in the newsrooms of Townsville’s finest broadcast media outlets (WIN and 4TO take a bow) was enough to give me a taste for life in the tropics (the employment opportunities in Brisbane for underperforming journalism graduates also had me searching for jobs in a more regional millieu – I like the word millieu and will therefore use it…).

Upon my return to Brisbane I bid a fond farewell to my abode in Lorimer Terrace – the Lorimer House of Fun dissolved (some would say that the fun truly left when the original fellow occupants entered wedlock, parental domiciles and fled the country due to “visa” complications only to return at a later date and resume occupancy – but what would those naysayers know). I returned to my parent’s place of residence in ensuing weeks as I secured employment in the North and said my fond farewells to life in the state’s capital.

This brings us to March and my relocation to Townsville had immediate ramifications for the city with the significant change in air pressure caused by my arrival resulting in the onslaught wraught by Tropical Cyclone Larry. Sometime this year I realised the professional value of a good anecdote – and my “baptism by cyclone” – where I was truly “thrown in the deep end” and kept my “head above water” became a favourite tale at networking functions.

In June I adopted a small stingray named Max who had an inherrent distrust of khaki – he was released when he failed to come to terms with my love for footlong chicken fillet subs (on parmesan oregano with thousand island dressing, barbeque sauce and a smattering of sweet chilli – add salad “to taste” for the perfect Subway experience).

In July I was subpoened to appear at the trial of Saddam Hussein – my evidence was eventually striken/struck/smote from the records as my complete ignorance of the Iraqi judicial process was revealed. Some suggested this occured when I tried to offer Saddam’s body guard wheat for weapons – an action completely against national protocol. The subtle change in nuance was lost on me.

August saw a lengthy debate on the correct spelling of the word ‘ey’ when used as punctuation – and the different inflections/variations required when using ey in a variety of sentences. A valuable learning experience for all those relocating to regional Queensland. And in real life my stunning record of 22.75 years of being romantically unattached (at least mutually) came to an end.

In September I virtually climbed Mount Everest – In summ(it)ing up… I stopped to rescue several others who were struggling with backpacks loaded with spam and other novelty kitchen equipment provided on loan by an Australian snowboarding champion.

October and November were notable only for the discovery of the “cat poo coffee” and my attempt to radioactively assassinate several ex-employees of the Kremlin. I’ve always stood by my belief that sushi is bad for your health.

In December I conducted extensive experiments into the effects of Christmas chocolate, steak and alcohol on the waistline/weightline. I hypothesised that there would only be a moderate effect and was wrong to the tune of about 5000 grams. Which leads me to my decision to take up a gym membership today. On the first business day of the new year. Just in time for the “new year’s resolution specials.”

For a more serious summary of my year continue reading the following paragraphs…

The Townsville adventure continues with my enjoyment and satisfaction with the decision to move north still trending upward on the great graph of life. Work is challenging, satisfying (at least for the stomach), and gives me free reign to play with words and write puns. Basically it’s my ideal job. The home front is also enjoyable – the change/holiday dichotomy/equilibrium/paradox holds true. Having fled the chaos of a house full of 5 (including me) argumentative males (including me) I find much relief in my new domestically blissful house of just 3 (including me) not so argumentative males. Church is also good – moving from a large, established church with working programs and teaching in place across age groups to a growing church in a state of constant flux due to the incredible population turnover that seems to be heading in the right strategic direction with a strong focus on bible teaching has been a mixed blessing. I’m enjoying the highs and lows that come from being part of the early stages of something dynamic while sharing the frustrations of having sporadic attendance dependent on uni timetables and the population change associated with hosting Australia’s largest military barracks. On the personal front, Robyn has been a joy to me – and I take back any criticism I ever levelled at mushy headed boyfriends in my past. I do miss my family, friends and life in Brisbane (particularly the soccer team – my regular weekly indoor fix is a poor substitute for the joy of romping around the grassy fields of Brisbane’s Baptist League) – but have enjoyed meeting a host of new people in Townsville (and reaquainting myself with the particularly outstandingly robust Mr Canavan who always feels like partying).

QED