I just had the pleasure of enjoying a heart-felt article written by Alister Kennedy of 42 Level One and Star Wars RebelsCast UK. It is so authentic and moving that I felt I really needed to open up more myself as we celebrate the holidays. I hope I get a chance to share Ali’s words but, for now, I hope I can at least find the courage to share what my heart and soul feels I should.
For starters, this year has been the hardest year for me and my family, though I try to shelter them from my pain and struggles as much as possible. It all started with when two folks, Patty Vollherbst and Lauri Flaquer, stole all the credit for the hard work I put into a web site I was developing. I was willing to do tons of work for free and on the cheap (and I did end up unpaid for most of the work).. But apparently the fact that I asked for money for the tons of work I put in didn’t make me a team player. I think it’s fair to ask for less than a fourth of what would have otherwise been a $15,000 job just for starters by other standards (I know because I check what the competition charges).
If you want to know just how much I hate thieves and stealing of credit for work, read my content/creative work theft article on Y3B. I am a very forgiving and understanding guy, more than most, but theft is something that really makes me a sad panda, whether you steal someone’s work or you refuse to pay for it.
Usually, I don’t like to call people out but I need to release this burden and, since addressing it calmly with the offending parties did not work, I will share with ears that will listen and hearts that care. This event set off a chain reaction. Rumors were spread that I was over-charging or trying to milk customers. Of course, these rumors did not include the fact that our Project Manager was MIA for over two weeks and the lines of communication / chain of command were vastly unclear. I lost other clients in the process because, you know, negativity is more pervasive than anything good.
Then there were deaths in the family, betrayals by loved ones, fighting off sickness, endless car problems, and much, much more. It all seemed to come together in spikes. Just when we started to see the light at the end of the tunnel, things went pitch black all over again. Needless to say, it’s been rough. Losing Robin Williams didn’t help either. Sure, I didn’t know him but it felt like the end of a great era, perhaps a portent of things to come. I’m not saying suicide is the right choice but I can relate. Depression really does hurt.
In spite of all that darkness, I still feel a glimmer of hope and joy. It’s hard not to during this time. I look back, even at recent years, and recall better days… I know better days will return, too.
So here I am contemplating, musing even, and remembering the merriment and goodness of this holiday season. I hope you’ll allow me to share these emotions and unadulterated thoughts with you today…
What Christmas Means To Me
Christmas has always been a special time to me. It’s not because I can expect some neat gifts and maybe extra spending money, though that is nice, but rather the love and spirit that the season usually brings. This is a time of reflection, family, compassion, and countless memories.
As a parent, I get to enjoy the merriment and laughter of young ones running about and opening presents frantically. Truth be told, this year won’t be big for gifts at all and we’ll be happy to at least enjoy one big meal. The key is that we’re together as a family. Hopefully, we can put our worries aside and enjoy some board games, reminiscing, and much needed laughs.
Friends and family. That’s what Christmas means to me. When I say “friends”, I mean the few that actually give a damn and stick around. Those are the rare treasures that the holidays bring us.
As a Christian, I do believe we should bring back Christ into the holiday but I do not force that upon others. As long as we all exercise a spirit of giving, compassion, and gratitude, we can all get along. With the weather getting colder and the days getting darker, it’s easy to fall into depression and angst. This is when we need hope and love more than ever.
Christmas now also marks the one-year anniversary of HorsePLAY! LIVE and the Geeky Antics network (well, almost).
HorsePLAY! EP53 – Christmas 2014 Special PART 1
After some crazy tech issues with HorsePLAY! LIVE Episode 52, we decided to keep the one-year anniversary celebrations going. With Christmas right around the corner as well, we were feeling particularly nostalgic. Most of the memories took us to happy places but there were some anger-inducing memories too. We try to keep the salt to a minimum as we share Christmas memories, favorite HorsePLAY! moments, and rants.
We play quite a few voicemail messages and enjoy many laughs with our live chat. One of my favorites was the drunken karaoke game review with DekardC. Of course, to kick off the episode, we have a hilarious (and pretty catchy) dubstep Christmas intro theme.
Please leave us some well wishes via voicemail – (206) 415-4987 – we love you!
Attacks On Christmas & Why It’s Silly
There has been lots of talks about attacks on Christmas and the rise of atheists and agnostics joining the supposed movement. I haven’t experienced this firsthand but I have noticed there is a lot of bitterness due to the over-commercialization of Christmas. We can blame the megacorporations for that.
I feel that gift exchanges become awkward because people focus on price tags rather than the thought behind the gifts. Gifts show us how people perceive us and what we really mean to them. They are physical symbols of invisible, often-unspoken truths. That is special on it’s own. Sadly, we get stuck in this loop of trying to buy better gifts for each other so we feel “even”.. Surely, that kills the spirit of giving. That’s not generosity or love, it’s obligation. Where’s the fun in that?
Of course, the most bitter of trolls will argue that most of what we hold dear in Christmas is stuff that was fabricated by megacorporations like Hallmark and Coca-Cola. Fair enough. These icons are more symbols of the spirit and essence of this holiday season, not idols we worship or focus on.
For we the believers, Christmas is still about Jesus Christ. To me, Jesus represents the values I hold dearest: love, compassion, and forgiveness. Sadly, these are things that lack in Christians and non-believers alike. I feel that people need to stop being offended by the fact that folks believe in something they don’t; instead, try to appreciate the values and principles thereof. Don’t worry: I won’t force my beliefs upon you but don’t go crazy if I say “Merry Christmas” when all I am really saying is “I wish you the best”.
I recall when the mantras and taglines for the Christmas season included messages like “peace for all” and “good will towards mankind”. We’ve lost this in the shuffle. If everyone put the bitterness and stubbornness aside, we could all enjoy this season together. It doesn’t matter if you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, Three King’s Day, or whatever. We can and all should get behind working towards peace and love.
If you just happen to be the sort of person that enjoys complaining, ruining things for others, or just being controversial for the sake of being controversial, I hope you find what you are looking for. I don’t get that sort of behavior but I guess it’s easy for some to live with no rules and alienate yourself complete. Attacking Christmas is silly for the aforementioned reasons and so much more. It’s part of a global culture beyond Christianity, America, and the UK. Christmas has, in many ways, blurred boundaries. I feel it’s one of those things that can and should unite people. What’s wrong with that?
Understanding Compassion & Mouth Garbage
I keep mentioning compassion but what is that really? And how about this notion of “mouth garbage” that keeps coming up? These are both huge topics that deserve their own time to fully discuss but there is an important overlap. Everyone has their own mouth garbage so it’s not something we should harp on just for the sake of harping on; after all, you may succumb to mouth garbage in your own so-called “social justice” efforts.
The big kicker with mouth garbage is when people lack compassion and feel they need to seek justice but, really, it’s vengeance and self-gratification under the guise of righteousness. This is the very definition of terrorism. So many atrocities, big and small, are committed under the banner of goodness.. And it’s not just chest-beating religious folks.
Mouth garbage is one of those smaller things that can do massive damage. The anonymity of the Internet lends itself to verbal vomit and diarrhea of the mouth so well. For example, I know people that use bots to send mean-spirited and trollish messages. The mouth garbage where there are personal attacks and clear intention to be hurtful is the worst kind.
Jokes can be offensive at times but you can always tell when it is done with good intentions versus in poor taste. In a similar manner, there is playful trolling and malicious trolling. That thin line is tricky. We live in a world where people are hyper-sensitive and ready to pounce on anyone that seems remotely offensive. I say the nature of compassion starts with tuning yourself to employ more empathy. Try to feel what others feel or would feel given your actions and words. This is a great way to transform your behavior.
Compassion works both ways. It’s easy to read into something a context or intent that is not there. It’s amazing how much more you can get done and how easily you can forgive when you simply give others the benefit of the doubt. This holiday season reminds me of just that. Rather than allowing the evil of others to bring me down any further, I am choosing to hold on to love and goodness. We all deserve some peace as we go into the new year. We all deserve a happy home to call our own.
Well Wishes To You This Season
My wishes to all reading this article on this dreary Christmas Eve is that you find the light in your life, wherever it is. I know that has been hard for me and so many folks that I know. Maybe that is why Christmas trees really do it for me. In the darkness of your home, there’s the beautiful, shining light that reminds you that there is always hope.
I hope and pray (if you’ll allow me to) that you find peace. I hope that others do the same. I hope that we can all set aside the bitterness and skip the usual Winter blues. Let’s enjoy the season, not just a day or two, with love, family, peace, and joy.
Let’s live more in the moment. Let’s enjoy the laughter, merriment, and even some silliness. I see our children living so frivolously and care-free. I almost envy them. Perhaps we can discover that lost innocence and just live life. We can make our own moments any time, any place… But we’ll miss those moments if we are stuck on petty things like regrets, jealousy, and revenge.
I am looking forward to a wonderful 2015 with you all. I appreciate all the encouragement and love. For those who continue to be bitter and angsty, I forgive you and I hope you find the light as well.