Christ back in Christmas

When we moved to the US more than five years ago, I was honestly a little surprised with a few cultural differences.  I guess that is what to be expected and all people talk about cultural shock.  It was not a shock where I went into seizure or panic crying, but more like “W-T-F?”.

I fully support political correctness, but we also have to be realistic and not overdue it.

keepchristWhen I first saw some adds for Christmas, or should I say festive holidays, I was surprised when I read “Bring Christ back in Christmas.  In my head I was like “oh no, another Christian fanatic message trying to preach about Jesus.” But as I’ve lived and worked in the US for a few years, I can start to relate to that message.

Not necessarily the religious message about Christ and waiting for his second coming.  But the fact that we cannot say Christmas any longer.  That is starting to worry me, and the political correctness has stepped over the line.

Why is it that we cannot say ‘Merry Christmas’ to our colleagues?

We are being told that we offend people who do not celebrate Christmas.  I understand that some people may be celebrating HanukkahKwanzaa, or other holidays like Diwali or Mawlid … or nothing at all.  And by using the political correct phrase “Happy Holidays” we apparently avoid discriminating or offending anybody.

I’m calling BS on that way of thinking.  Why is it that we should (and must) express our well wishes to other special holidays, but cannot share the same courtesy for Christmas?

I have friends from many different religions, and none of them seem offended when Christmas is mentioned, and they wish me a Merry Christmas.  I’m just as respectful for their holidays and will offer them my well wishes for their special days.

Some shops are even banning Christmas decorations such as Nativity scene, but will happily put up the Menorah.  I don’t see a problem showing baby Jesus in the manger, while the wise men are holding a Menorah.

For many, saying Merry Christmas may not even be a religious statement, but rather a celebration for the family, and admiration for Santa Claus.

Treat people the way you want to be treated.  This also means respect other religious holidays, without blocking out Christmas.  It does not give you the right to send a Merry Christmas card to people who do not believe in your holiday, but I may send a card to my Jewish friends wishing them Happy Hanukkah.

If this trend continues, then one day we are going to be a sanitised country, where we don’t celebrate any holidays in public.  We have to show that we are proud of being Jewish, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist and other cool religions.  We have to be able to celebrate and respect our holidays – that does not mean blocking them out with saying ‘Happy Holidays’.

Listen, if the atheists would have some sort of special day, then they are welcome to celebrate it too. They seem to be busy blocking everyone else.  I guess if they don’t have a special day, then other people can’t enjoy their days.  To me that is just rude and inconsiderate.

Anyway, Merry Christmas my friends … and Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Mawlid, and enjoy all the other special holidays. Don’t hold back celebrating your special days.

Thank you America!

thanksIt is the time of the year where millions of Americans travel across the country to celebrate Thanksgiving.  It is probably the only holiday they can agree to celebrate, no matter which religious belief you might have.  These mass migrations take place leading up to the last Thursday in November, and the entire road, rail and air systems are gridlocked.  They want to spend time with their families, and eat an innocent turkey.

It is a sense of belonging and greatfullness that started back in the day, when the firtst settlers sat down with the native indians to eat food.  And, just because of that gesture by the native indians, the settlers survvied and learned to integrate into the American ecosystem.

The actual meal in itself is ‘just’ another excuse to eat excessively.  There is a large selection of scrumptious pies, multitude of sides, sweet potato mash with marshmallows, and of course the main star of the dinner – the turkey.

The turkey itself is most times larger than the oven.  It is actual difficult finding a turkey less than 18lbs, and I often wonder what they feed these suckers since they are that large.  They are not obese, but nice and firm.

We moved here 5+ years ago, and the US has taken us in and made us feel very welcome.  99% of the people we’ve met are super friendly, and they never question why we are here.

One of the key things my wife and I have agreed upon, is that no-matter which country we live in, we have to integrate.  This integration starts with adoption and celebrating the holidays and key events.  You need to know these and show appreciation of the events.

We love thanksgiving.  We understand why it is celebrated and love the fact that this day is a very important family day.  It makes us feel part of the country and culture, especially when colleagues and friends invite us to their special days.

The other side which we we love is the food. OMG!

The food for thanksgiving is absolutely amazing.  No wonder I have gained 20lbs.  It’s another blog just to talk about food, but it is fantastic.  Many Europeans don’t really understand the excessive eating, but we have fully embraced it.

You will never integrate if you do not participate.  That’s what many foreigners don’t get.  It does not mean you have to give up your national identify and heritage, but merely that you respect the country you live in.  The country that has adopted you and given you opportunities to grow.  That is how you respect and thank it.

But why do we celebrate Thanksgiving in our family, since we weren’t here hundreds of years ago and have limited connection to the history of Thanksgiving?

We are proud to live here.  America has given us opportunities we didn’t have elsewhere.  We are thankful for being allowed to participate, and we are even more thankful for being included in their culture.  Our kids are flourishing.  We have met new friends.  We have a wonderful life.  We love life!

It is not easy to explain, but we feel at home here.  That is why we are thankful.  We thank the American people for welcoming us with open arms.

Thank you ‘Merica!

godblessus

Star Wars Spoilers

My wife had dropped a major bomb in our relationship before Christmas, stating that she never really liked Star Wars movies.  I was in utter shock and wasn’t too sure how our relationship could survive.  What other things was she hiding from me?

I had taken her to the premieres of SW 1 and SW2, at midnight, and seriously thought she enjoyed the story.  She had gone to the dark side!awakens

When Star Wars Force Awakens was released in the cinema, I was stuck at home looking at trailers and listning to my colleagues at work raving about the movie.  JJ Abrams had done a great job, apparently, and the effects were above expectations.  It’s just not the same watching a 2:43 min trailer compared to a 2h 19min movie in IMAX.  I felt as if I was missing out on a lot of important details.

When the movie was finally released on iTunes, I bought it. No hesitation.  Just a quick one-click decision.  And, I didn’t tell my wife.  It was like cheating on her.  Buying stuff only for me. Something she didn’t like.  I felt naughty and the feelings of the dark side were stirring inside me.  It felt good.

But, this excitement only lasted a few days.  Suddenly our kids fell ill and I did not have time to watch the movie.  It was my fatherly obligations to choose kids over Star Wars.  Not really a hard decision, but my soul was still torn.

One morning, I had to work from home, and the kids wanted to watch the new Star Wars while having projectile vomiting on the sofa.  Why not.  I’m a good dad.  I launched the movie, and slowly walked back to my office computer.  The intro music was filling the house and I peaked over my shoulders like a schoolboy trying to watch Exorcist when parents weren’t watching.

It was pure agony.  I could hear the effects.  i could hear the kids being amazed with the story and movie.  They cheered, cried and laughed.  Then the movie ended.  I had passed the challenge and would pass into the West.

Unfortunately my six year old kid ran into the kitchen.  Big eyes and shouted “DAD!!!  Han Solo died! And the bad guy survived”

I was like  O M G.  What do I do?  Slap her for spoiling the movie or just laugh it of.  Corporal punishment is no longer permitted so I just laughed.  It wasn’t real laughter, but painful and tearful at the same time.

I had waited so long,  Finally got my copy of the movie and then my six year old tells me an important part of the movie.  oh well, the joys of parenting.  I was pleased she had her Star Wars moment, which she will cherish just as much as I, when I first saw Chewie and Han.

My the force be with you my little Sith Daughter!

Homemade Beer Brewer

braumeister… or Braumeister as we call them in Germanic language, given the old beer making skill was kicked off at a larger scale in Germany in the 13th century.

“But from whichever it is made, whether from oats, barley or wheat, it harms the head and the stomach, it causes bad breath and ruins the teeth, it fills the stomach with bad fumes, and as a result anyone who drinks it along with wine becomes drunk quickly; but it does have the property of facilitating urination and makes one’s flesh white and smooth.”  – Scully, Terence. 1995. The Art of Cookery in the Middle Ages

viking drinking hornAs part of my native viking roots, I always had the urge to make the God’s nectar myself.  Drinking with Thor himself from a traditional viking drinking horn.

That day was realised when my lovely Inca flower (wife) presented me with a beer making kit for Christmas.  It wasn’t mjød (mead), but awesome black Irish stout mix.

I rarely consider the skill and patience required to make beer.  It’s just something that I enjoy drinking.  Pop a few cold bottles or cans on the BBQ table, and they quell your thirst.  It goes well with most dishes, expect deserts 🙂

Hear ye! Hear ye!  Making beer is not that simple.  I can testify to that after having kicked off a batch of the Irish stout in my kitchen.  Thankfully the kit comes with all the necessary gear and instructions for making a gallon of Irish stout.

Personally, I prefer to dress like duck dynasty to make it more authentic, or just because I had not showered for a week. Any little ingredient makes it more personal 🙂

My photos only show until the fermentation phase, which takes 2-3 weeks.  Once that has completed, I will share the verdict.

Merry Christmas – hope you’re not offended

123ae2681b367cb92eb1d77ec787fdafIt is obvious – we live in a World were freedom of speech has become a misused verb.  It has lost its value and has been replaced by an exaggerated use of political correctness, which is driven into us by the media and daily routines.

Heck, even this blog might be considered inappropriate and offend people.  It may even go viral, but somehow I doubt it.  It’s just a post written by a middle class white immigrant dude, who’s enjoying life and living the American Dream.

What do I mean?

People can no longer express opinions, be assertive or even be proud of their heritage without worrying about how people might react.  We are stepping on glass, and at times that prevents us from being creative and drive progress.

Personally, I could care less what color, religion and political views you have, as long as you treat people the same way you want to be treated.  It’s rather simple really.

In an ideal World, we respect each others believes and traditions.  Just because you have a Christmas tree in your front-garden, and greet people with ‘Merry Christmas’ does not mean that you are attempt to offend people.  Heck, you are just happy and want to pass on your happiness to others no matter background.

  • I say Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends and Happy Eid al-Fitr to Muslim friends.
  • I hug my African-American friends just as hard as I hug my Irish/Danish relatives
  • I drink Guinness just like my Irish friends (not as much 🙂 )
  • I love food from around the World, no matter who cooked it
  • I’m utterly amazed with cultures and sights when travelling

We have to be careful we don’t put up too many obstacles for people to enjoy each others company. Some people will always be offended, and they will never be happy.

It’s like dealing with Father Jack (Father Ted series) or Archie Bunker (All in the Family series).  You just can’t make them happy no matter what you do.  But, let’s be polite to each other, respect each others celebrations and traditions.

So, my words to you during the festive season “Merry Christmas y’all.  I love you all and hope you will have lots of love in the future”.