Putting Christ Back In Christmas

The other day I was going into my local Home Depot when I noticed their holiday hours sign on the entrance door. For Christmas Eve and Christmas day, someone had written X-Mas Eve and X-Mas day.

I’m not one of those people who get offended easily at things people say or do. But I was more than a little perturbed that someone had decided for everyone coming into the store that Christ needed to be removed from the name of the holiday.

Christmas has long been a celebration of the birth of Christ as he came to be the savior of a fallen world and to bridge the gap, caused by sin, between man and God. But in recent years, there’s been a push by some to avoid any talk of God and Jesus Christ in relation to Christmas.

Instead, many today put more emphasis on celebrating a magical, obese, reverse burglar who enslaves flying caribou and little magical people in a bid to put toy stores out of business by giving everything away for free.

I’m a quiet person who usually doesn’t say anything about things that bother me in society. But the X-Mas thing really bothered me. Not only did I think it dishonored the real reason we celebrate the holiday, but it also looked very unprofessional. So I took the initiative to make my voice heard. 

I dug around a little and discovered that the Home Depot survey you’re prompted to take on your receipt is actually payed attention to by store managers. So I took the survey and expressed my displeasure in the sign. 

Sure enough, an assistant manager emailed me back that afternoon and when I went to the store the next day, the sign was changed to read Christmas instead of X-Mas.

 A temporary sign on a hardware store door might seem like a little thing to be concerned about. But unless we take action to correct the small problems we see in our daily lives, they will slowly grow bigger and bigger.

Unnecessarily Neat

I was wrapping presents over the weekend and thought about how nice it is that most wrapping paper comes with a grid of lines on the back. Gift givers used to really need to pay attention to what they were doing to get a nice straight cut. Now it’s easy to get a perfect cut every time. What a wonderful innovation! It’s so ingenious, it must have been a Google 20% project. Everyone should be happy about this.

But then I got to thinking, what do I care if my wrapping paper is cut perfectly. I was perfectly happy eyeballing it before. What’s more, nobody else cares if you cut paper straight. Kids tear open present without giving a single thought about the paper. They just want what’s inside. They wontonly tear off what you so lovingly cut, wrapped and taped.

Adults are no better. Think about it from your own experience. When’s the last time you got a present and thought “Gee, these seems sure are neat” or “what loving attention to detail Sam applied to his cutting and taping”.  Sorry, it just doesn’t happen.

Not only do people not care about straight wrapping paper cuts but the grid lines that make it possible also have negative consequences. Think about it, it’s going to cost more to print things on both sides of the paper. Don’t think you’re getting all that ink on there for free. Your wrapping paper is costing you more. Is perfectionism really worth the extra cost?

The cost of perfectionism has other costs too. It’s probably stressing you out, giving you high blood pressure, causing internal anxiety and outward shows of anger and aggression. You might find that every time your scissors veer off the line you start yelling at your children and kicking the dog.

But if health and relationships with those you love don’t move you in this discussion, there’s a more insidious consequence to these seemingly innocuous paper grids. Now that there are lines on the white side, you can’t use scraps of wrapping paper to make little To/From tags. You’re being forced into buying pre-printed tags that you might not even like.

I’ve always enjoyed using the paper I was wrapping with to make my tags. Now that I can’t do that, the joy of present wrapping has left me. Now all I can do is make my wrapped presents unnecessarily neat.

How to Spell Check Your Online Writing

When I write a blog post I have to choose what platform to type it on. Many times I’ll use word processing software Like Word or LibreOffice. I do this for two reasons. First, I can save a hard copy of the post to my local machine. Second, I get a robust and powerful spell checking functionality that I don’t always get online. 

But it can be a pain to type in one application and copy/paste it into my blogging software. Sometimes I just want to type out a one-off post right in WordPress. That can be an equal pain because WordPress doesn’t have out of the box spell check. You have to add a plugin and then maintain that plugin as it gets updated (assuming its author actually updates it)

I started looking around for a better solution. Eventually, I (re)discovered Grammarly, a free online writing tool. It lets you write an entire post (or whatever you’re writing) online. But that’s not what I like about it. My favorite part is that there are browser extensions (Chrome, Firefox, and Edge) for the app that put Grammarly’s spell checking power into every browser-based app you use.

The extensions apply to any page you’re on including WordPress and Gmail. That means you get the benefit of a spell checker without any additional add-ons or plugins. It’s been a great tool for me when I’m typing something up outside of a desktop app.

Grammarly has a lot of great uses. If you go with one of their paid plans you can benefit from cloud storage of your writing, advanced writing feedback (more than just spelling and punctuation), and team use. But if you’re just looking for a handy online spell checker, this is definitely one to check out.

Music to Work By

My musical tastes are extremely varied. Sometimes I’m in the mood for beautiful and melodic, sometimes harsh and loud and other times bouncy and light.

While I’m writing code (as opposed to planning and designing code) or building a map, I can listen to most styles of music but I prefer strong, driving rhythms and either no words, words I can’t understand or words that I know well enough to not have to think about while I listen and work.

This week I brought back a song into my mix from a band called Children 18:3. The song is called Moment to Moment and it puts a smile on my face because it’s just so fun. And it helps the time pass as I’m doing repetitive work.

Every choice before you was a challenge to succeed…
And every breath is a step to forever

Moment to Moment – Children 18:3

Bad Art Ideas: Toilet Seat Wreath

I’m all for abstract art but I think there has to be a limit. For me, that limit is a Christmas wreath made from a toilet seat. 

Don’t get me wrong, there are far worse holiday offenses out there like adults dressing up like pink bunnies, putting out cookies for fat reverse burglars and the worst offense – putting up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.

The toilet seat wreath, however, still ought to be considered at least a minor offender.  For one thing, it’s too obvious. It’s basically already a wreath. All you’re doing is hot gluing tacky things to it.

I get it, people think it’s funny to put something associated with defecation on their door or wall. Who wouldn’t want to be known for that? But just like bad posts on social media could cost you a future job, bad decorations at Christmas can cost you the respect of, well, everyone.

No, no, no and once again – NO!