Happy Holidays

December 26, 2011

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Seasons greetings and happy holidays to all of the Soap Boxers community! I hope that each of you has had a wonderful time celebrating whatever and however. For those of you who have exchanged gifts, I hope that you received what you desired or needed and I hope that what you gave was accepted with joy. For those who have taken this time of year to volunteer for the less fortunate, thank you. For those who volunteer regardless of the season, thank you as well.

Now I will launch into a critical commentary on the holidays in general. If you do not know the custom of a holiday, please do not wing it. Two weeks ago, the President of the United States offered a heart felt recognition of Chanukah and the Jewish community by lighting all of the candles of a menorah. This was wrong in two ways. First, it was several days prior to the beginning of the celebration. Second, one does not light all of the candles on the first day, it is a progressive event spanning eight days. This faux pas lays squarely on the shoulders of the president’s protocol office. One person cannot know all of the traditions of every religion. When he announced his intention to recognize the event, the protocol office should have made all of the preparations to avoid any embarrassment; they failed.

Then there are the twelve days of Christmas. I am really tired of people calling the twelve days leading up to Christmas by this name. The Twelve Days are the days between Christmas day and Epiphany. That would be the days traditionally recognized as the birth of Christ and the arrival of the wise men to offer their gifts (western or Roman tradition). In many Christian traditions, gifts are not given until Epiphany in remembrance of this event. The days leading up to Christmas are called Advent. This is a time of waiting, comprised of the weeks including the four Sundays before Christmas. The basic idea is to build up the excitement of the arrival of the infant, similar to the excitement most children have as the big gift giving day approaches.

On a happier note, I noticed that most of the news coverage this year was on the various celebrations. There were few stories of someone not being allowed to do something, such as a nativity or menorah on public property. To me this is inclusion. Keep adding to the displays to include as many groups and beliefs as possible, do not exclude just because it is not what you believe or like. We hear a lot about diversity, but that is of no benefit if it is not coupled with inclusion. You do not have to believe or agree with everything someone else espouses, but if you include them and accept them as people with valid points of view, you can only benefit from their acquaintance. Inclusion breeds diversity and true diversity breeds inclusion. By the tally of reports I have watched over the last few weeks, I am excited that inclusion seems to be the spirit this year. I truly hope that this spirit grows and becomes the predominant attitude in the future.


Office Party Time

December 12, 2011

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It is the time of the year for office parties. Whether celebrating a religious holiday or just the culmination of another year of work, the cold weather and the shorter days, this is the time when most offices have parties. Most of the groups I have worked with set up some kind of order for the food, some people bring appetizers, other vegetable dishes, others sides and some deserts. For some reason, almost every group I have been associated with has cornered the managers to provide any meat to be served or at least the main dishes. This year, no limitations have been put on me, so I will double down on what I bring.

As many of you know, I really enjoy making and eating cookies. This holiday season just gives me license to indulge. I have a set of favorites that I bake. Last year I provided my favorite dozen recipes as a free down load. This year I have added two recipes; Date-Nut Pinwheels (a favorite of my Father in Law) and traditional chocolate chip cookies. Here is a downloadable pamphlet of the 2011 updated version of Martin’s cookies. (attach here). I will be making way too many cookies for my office party. Some of the extras will go to the factory area of the company I work for. The rest will be for me and my family.

Just to have some appearance of a healthy attitude, I will also provide a side of pasta salad. When I make pasta salad, the pasta is sort of an after thought. I put in lots of vegetables including; corn, peas, green beans, lima beans, broccoli, carrots, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, onion, and black olives. All of this with the pasta (tri-color fun shapes), and diced cheese tossed with standard Italian dressing. Easy to make and filling. Now I am hungry. I guess the message today is, if you are not writing, start cooking!