Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The War on Christmas

I've got a confession to make. Brace yourself, Internet...

I say "happy holidays".

I know that this is a grave offense to some. Every year, certain segments of the population get all worked up over some never-ending "War on Christmas" that threatens... I dunno, something, I guess? Apparently so much as neglecting to say "Merry Christmas" at every given opportunity is the equivalent of firing cruise missiles into the heart of Jesusland.

I admit I'm biased. Oh, you'd better believe I'm biased. But it doesn't come from a place of disrespect. I'm the ripe old age of 28 now, don't you know, complete with a few little traces maturity and wisdom and everything! I may have issues with the more extreme versions of Christianity, but "to each their own" is my philosophy these days; stirring up trouble is for hot-headed kids. But while having strong beliefs is fine and good, if you can't respect others for their own at the same time, that strikes me as more than a bit hypocritical.

And that's what it comes down to for me - just simple equality and fairness. I've got nothing against Christmas, I celebrate it in a secular, non-religious kind of way. And I'm cool with anyone's individual personal beliefs, so long as they remember the personal part. But the thing is, people in our society believe more than one thing, and celebrate more than one holiday, and the need to have one singled out above all others doesn't ring true to me in any kind of free, open culture. I just can't accept the mindset that not specifically mentioning Christ is somehow discriminatory, either. Nearly 80% of people in Canada and the United States identify as Christian, so yeah, I find it a bit hard to buy into the idea that they're somehow victimized over this. The argument has been made that "you can't say Christmas anymore". Which is funny, since I've heard it every day for weeks.

(And for the record, I don't get upset when I hear "Merry Christmas". It's not my religion, but it's just intended as well-wishing, so I just respond with a cheery "you too". And usually the opposite is true when I say "happy holidays" - not always, but usually.)

"Happy holidays" is all-inclusive. That's the beauty of it - whatever holiday you celebrate, it's covered. That's the ideal to me - it shouldn't matter if yours is the most popular or the most mainstream or whatever, just live and let live and wish everyone the best. Shouldn't be that hard.

Besides which, what we now call Christmas originated as a Roman Pagan holiday celebrating the god Saturn, so y'know, let's not get too defensive about "the reason for the season".

I'm essentially finished gift shopping for the year - just waiting on a few late packages to arrive. I only buy for my parents, my girlfriend and my dog. I like to keep it fairly small and simple, but it's easy to get a bit carried away, I guess. Gift-giving is pretty fun, far more enjoyable than gift-receiving to be honest. It can basically be a challenge to see how well you "get" someone you care about - though I'd argue that anyone who really cares for you in return should be appreciative regardless. I had fun with it this year. Sometimes nerve-wracking, but the reactions will be super rewarding.

I've received some really cool stuff from my girlfriend and my parents already - some birthday gifts, some early holiday ones:

My girlfriend gave me the gifts of mutual nerd obsession, a Doctor Who t-shirt (she got herself a matching one) and my own Sonic Screwdriver.

My mom got me this super cool hanging lamp for my studio. It's made up of a bunch of plastic pieces that lock together into this "ball", and the green glow it makes is phenomenal. Really completes my working space.

About a month ago, my mom surprised me with this Boston Terrier tree ornament. Because she's well aware that Logan rules this house.

That's it for now, gang. If I don't update this beforehand, have a happy holiday, whichever one you celebrate!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Then and Now

Christmas 1986 (I think):

Christmas 2011:

(Hair and height aside, I don't know if I've changed all that much.)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

The Difference

The big difference between me at the beginning of the year and me now at the end is that my dreams aren't haunting me anymore, they're reassuring me. I wake up so often now, feeling like my brain just gave me a hug and told me, "You're doing all right! Stay the course, good buddy!" (My brain is goofy, but I like it.)

Change seems to be a regular topic with me. Or at least it feels like it's been my basic theme this year. There's been a lot of it, and it's been really positive, overall. It's important to take these regular moments to appreciate that, and my immediate response is always to share that in some way, to talk about it - or write about it, in this case.

Today I posted the 81st "Welcome to Hereafter" comic, and this week the site's been active for a full year. I started drawing the comic sporadically in January 2009, posting them to my now-long-dead LiveJournal. I had no schedule. I had no discipline. Things went on this way for well over a year, and this meant I had very little to show for that time.

Toward the end of 2010, I was staring down the barrel of 27 ("officially in my late 20s," I'd say to myself) and decided I had to get serious about things before that imaginary switch clicked over. I understand now that the difference between 26 and 27 is meaningless, but buying into this mindset, seeing periods of life as a series of "levels", was actually pretty helpful at the time. I got to work. I set a schedule, I made a website, and I brought the comic back to life. Back then, I felt the need to have something, some outlet, some product to show for my time and energy. Something tangible. A year later, I don't see it quite the same way.

I took a hiatus from the comic earlier in the year when I was dealing with a lot of changes in my life and just couldn't feel the drive to work on it regularly. That drive came back, but it came back different - less about a feeling of need, now more out of simple enjoyment. I like doing it, and I'll keep doing it as long as that enjoyment lasts. I'm learning from it in a lot of ways. Getting comments and compliments from readers -- total strangers to me beforehand -- is a more recent development. And how amazing is that? Even one person who enjoys something I've done and feels the urge to tell me about it... That's huge. That means an absolute ton to me. So cool.

Not much else I feel like writing about right now, so here are yet more pictures of my best buddy and loyal ally, Logan:

You can't tell me that last picture isn't the cutest thing you've ever seen. You just can't.

And hey, wrapping this up with a really great song my friend Mike introduced me to a while back, but I kept forgetting the name of - "When I'm Small" by Phantogram: