Reasons to Believe

The Take Two Christmas Spectacular

In the spirit of Christmas giving, this week we’re offering a double dose of Take Two goodness. We’ll be back with more “sci-phi” blogging in 2010!
 
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God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen
 
For many, the day after Thanksgiving marks the beginning of chaos—the Black day that sets everyone running from one errand or event to another. Put up the decorations. Hit the mall during lunch. Call Mom about plans for the weekend. Buy the gifts you forgot to get on your last trip to the mall. Eat more cookies (okay, maybe that last one is just me).
 
It’s ironic, then, that songs like “God Rest You Merry, Gentlemen” serve as a soundtrack to the mayhem. Yet, though this particular song was written long ago, its significance still rings louder than the Salvation Army bell outside the supermarket.
 
The notion of chillaxing during the busiest season may seem odd, even impossible. After all, Christmas comes just once a year. But rest—real and deliberate rest—is important. Yes, Angelinos, that means us too.
 
Just the other day I was chatting with Fuz about this need and he mentioned that even our body’s cells rest. This resting phase prepares the cell for the next stage of its life cycle. The cell won’t get to the next stage unless it has properly completed the previous stage. Fuz says this demonstrates that cells are highly fine-tuned in terms of gene expression.
 
So, amid all the excitement of the season, we would do well to find time to rest our bodies, minds, spirits, and credit cards. Without a little downtime between the holiday events, we may find ourselves longing for the New Year just so we can get back to the tranquility of everyday life—or worse we may end up being the Debbie Downer at all Christmas festivities.
 
Even if we manage to hold it together through Christmas, who wants to stumble into 2010 already exhausted? So my prayer this Christmas is that God will rest you merrily, dear readers. And eat more cookies!
 
– Sandra
 
 
*****
Love and Joy Come to You
 
Here we come a wassailing
Among the leaves so green,
Here we come a wandering
So fair to be seen.
 
Love and joy come to you,
And to you your wassail too,
And God bless you and send you a happy New Year.
And God send you a happy New Year.
 
I bet you’ve heard this English Christmas carol at least once this holiday season. It’s a joyful song, but what the heck is “wassail?” Well, I’m glad you asked. “Wassail” is descended from Old Norse (ves heil) and Old English (was hál) greetings, meaning “be in good health.” As far back as the days of Vikings and mead halls, people used this phrase as a toast to express blessings and good will. (The beverage* took its name from the expression.)
 
It seems to me that we could use a little wassail in these modern times. Anonymity provided by the Internet has helped weaken restraint and encouraged people to verbally thrash one another. The playground chant “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” belies the real impact.
 
Words hold great power. As Proverbs 15:4 puts it, “The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.” We have it in our power to speak harm or to speak blessings over one another—and ourselves. Belittling comments, gossip, and slander (this includes spiteful emails that get passed around) do as much damage, sometimes more, to the person who spreads them. On the other hand, “pleasant words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.” The Bible even lists encouragement among the gifts of the Holy Spirit!
 
The phrase “wassail” may be antiquated, but the sentiment it expresses is not. I hope you’ll join me in making it a New Year’s resolution to be a “tree of life” all year round.
 
Love and joy come to you!
 
— Maureen
 
*“Wassail” also denotes the traditional drink used to make such a toast—a concoction made with spiced wine, ale, or cider. Mulled wine makes a delicious wassail beverage, but hot apple cider is a wonderfully aromatic nonalcoholic substitute. Just add orange slices, whole cloves, and cinnamon sticks to a big pot of cider and heat it up! (See here for a look that the intriguing tradition of wassailing.)
 
*****
And now, a special message from Maureen “Silver” Bell and Sandra “Claus” Dimas:
 
 
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!