Saturday, December 24, 2005

Wishing you...

A "Fullmetal" Christmas....

Last night, Lavie and Alvis joined me on a Fullmetal Alchemist mini-marathon. We have been watching this anime series running on Cartoon Network for quite a long time. Since it airs after Alvis's bedtime, I tape it on the VCR (yep, no TiVo yet) old-school style. During the period from November to now, we have been quite busy and I let almost 10 episodes build up before we finally took the time to sit down and watch.

One of the premises of FMA is that of "equivalent exchange"--basically to get something, you have to give something. As the characters mature--they come to learn a deeper, and possibly more mature knowledge of this premise. Not to give away too much, but that creating things takes an element of energy from the alchemist that is never returned or recaptured.

Alvis mentioned that equivalent exchange is a lot like Christmas. Well, not really in my mind.

I don't see it directly applying to Christmas, either in a secular or religious sense. Christians celebrate Christmas as the rememberance of the birth of Jesus--who would later become the Savior of mankind when he gave his life on the cross. One of our former pastors would always point out during the Christmas Eve service that you couldn't look in the manger without seeing the cross as well. So in that case, Christ's birth led to his death, and sacrifice for all mankind's sin. Even stepping away into the secular holiday of Christmas, I would think that people give their gifts without any thought of reciprocation or gain. Gifts given out of love and charity to people who are treasured, loved, appreciated and cared for. Of course, the realist in me has seen it happen all too often that gifts are given at Christmas time to impress and obligate. That the gift giving becomes the focus of the season and overshadows even what began as the purest motives. I've been guilty of that.

Well, off the seasonal soap-box...

At the Valca home, we are prepping for the annual Christmas Eve traditional countdown. This involves making sure all gifts are tucked under the tree, all ribbons, name-cards, bows and wrapping paper is stored away. We let Alvis open up one gift (traditionally her new Christams pj's). Lavie makes "homemade" hot-chocolate. I pop some popcorn. We spread out on the couch and watch whatever Christmas movie we find. Tonight it will most likely be "It's A Wonderful Life". Then it's off to bed. Before turning in we will probably take a break from the regular "Harry Potter-chapter-a-night" fare we usually do nightly while piled in the parental bedroom: on the reading list tonight will be The Small One (Lavie's favorite), O'Henry's The Gift of the Magi (my favorite) and The Night Before Christmas (Alvis's favorite). Then it will be off to bed for Alvis while Claus patters around by the fireplace later that night.

Claus's Christmas observations this year:
  • Does anybody else seem to collect more and more Christmas wrapping paper each year? I just can't throw it out. I know I can wrap something next year with that last little bit, darn it!
  • We ran out of gift name cards, those to/from things. Lavie had some card-stock from her scrapbooking supplies and Alvis cut triangles out to tape on the top corner of the gifts. She even did some custom artistry work on each one! I did one better. I found Alvis's fancy pattern-cut scissors and trimmed the edges of my square ones. Lavie wasn't impressed I didn't suggest that to her earlier...
  • When your family members (or you) cut wrapping paper off the roll in odd-sizes for those smaller gifts, do they (or you) cut the whole section off the roll first, or do they (or you) cut off only what you need from the wrapping paper roll and leave the odd-size section still on the roll for the next person to find?
  • Does your wife look at you funny when you suggest that it would be nice to have a single theme (different colors are fine) of wrapping paper for the presents to better match the tree? Or is it better to have a mix of fancy ($$) paper, cartoon character christmas paper, and syles than run the mix from retro-cool to simple and plain?
  • Did you buy one of those fancy rolling paper cutters for your wrapping paper earlier in the year, only to forget or eschew it for the old scissors again?
  • Speaking of wrapping, did you wish you knew how to correctly wrap any gift to begin with?
Time for the sleigh-ride....

Tips for the Bloggers....

I've decided that I still like this blog's template. I've been tweaking it a little here and there but overall, like the simplicity of the design. That doesn't keep me from looking at others, just in case....who knows. There are a lot of Blogger templates, beyond those default ones they offer you when you create your blog for the first time. So for you, here's some linkage to dress up your blog.
  • These are really classy. I really like the floating images behind the blog articles.
  • Blogger Templates: These are top-notch as well. As a bonus, there are links on the side to do some clever "Tips, Hacks and Tools" for your blog. These alone are worth the visit.
  • How to Back up your Blog, #1
  • How to Back up your Blog, #2
  • How to Back up your Blog, #3 (Blogspot)
  • HTTrack: A freeware website copier program for Windows. Download your blog and archive it. I'm going to be trying this one out over the weekend.
  • RSS Feed Icons--Vectorized. Pretty and practical! Nice work Matt. We love people who share!
  • StopDesign: They have a stunning website and do design work. I like looking at their site pages for inspiration. By the way, they are they outfit that did the Blogger site redesign.
  • Anime Blog Muyo!: Included here because I really am inspired by the header image. Try clicking off the site and back. Notice how it rotates some really beautiful images? Cool! I gotta figure out how they do that!
  • Lorem Ipsum: Lavie asked me once when she was learning Adobe Illustrator, what the language the text they were using was. It looked Latin to her. Nope. It was Lorem Ipsum. Learn it, get it, and use it. It's nice when working with brochure layouts, documents, and writing. Or just generate some and email it to a friend just for fun.
Shortbread Stocking Stuffers:
Misc. News Bytes:
Finally, Last Call....
Merry Christmas to all our web-friends, and to all a Good Night!
--Claus and Family

P.S. Alvis, if you are reading can't get up tomorrow morning until after 6:30 a.m. (US CST)

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