Saturday, December 22, 2007

Seasons Greetings!

In thinking about what I wanted to post for Christmas, I decided to read what I posted last year. Amazingly, what I wrote 12 months ago is equally relevant a year later, so I decided to post it here again...
With rain and spring-like temperatures, it hasn't looked a lot like Christmas this year. In fact, I haven't encountered a single family member or friend who admitted to being "in the Christmas spirit" this year. I wonder why that is.

Perhaps its the ever-increasing commercialization (and attending stress) of the Holiday Season. I remember seeing Christmas decorations this year before Thanksgiving. Retailers seem to be dragging out prime shopping time for as long as possible. Perhaps its the incessant news stories about the ridiculous bickering that's going on in schools, airports, malls and town halls around the country. Apparently it's no longer politically correct to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. After all, someone might be offended. Or perhaps as our children grow up, family squabbles escalate and relationships fade, there are fewer "loved ones" to share this special season with.

Whatever the reason, it's been a difficult holiday season for many people. Perhaps that includes you... If not, consider yourself doubly blessed. Whether Christmas is turning out to be all you hoped for or not, it's important not to lose sight of the real reason we celebrate this special time. No matter how many gifts are or aren't under our trees this year, whether we even have a tree at all, we have all received a very special gift, God's unconditional love as expressed through His son Jesus. We all have a reason to celebrate - we have hope, we have forgiveness, we have redemption.

It's easy to get caught up in all of the wordly symbols of the holiday season, to compare the "success" of our circumstances to others, and for some of us, to become depressed by the perceived gap between how we spent this Christmas and how we'd hoped to. What's not as easy is to remind ourselves that no matter how alone or depressed or out of sorts we may feel, there is so much to be thankful for.

One of the most effective ways I've found for kicking that "poor me" feeling is to lose myself in service to others. Somehow, doing something for someone else always reminds me that even if I'm feeling helpless to make a difference in my own life at that moment, that I can make a difference in the life of someone else.

Last year I knit several scarves for a wonderful Bible College student to give as Christmas gifts since I knew she didn't have a lot of money to spend on presents at the time. I did a bit of Christmas knitting this year, but not as much as in years past. This year I decided instead to donate time to local charities. I coordinated the adoption of over 100 angels as part of the Salvation Army's Angel Tree program. It was the most gratifying experience to see the generosity of my co-workers in action as the gifts for the children started coming in. Bicyles, skate boards, Dora the Explorer items, educational toys and games, the most gorgeous outfits... seeing how these children were going to be blessed by total strangers on Christmas morning was a precious Christmas gift for me too.

I pray that you will have a joyous and joyful Christmas holiday season and that all of your Christmas wishes come true.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Hershey update

It appears that consumer outrage can make a difference. Apparently the Hershey Co. has decided to repackage it's new candy/breathmint that was practically indistinguishable from cocaine. I can't imagine how they ever thought this would fly, but it seems that wiser minds, or at least more litigation-conscious ones, have prevailed.

In a recent article on Hershey's change of heart, Philadelphia Daily News journalist Jill Porter reminds us all that Hershey's response to the public outcry against this product "is a compelling commentary on the power of public opinion".

Thanks to everyone who voiced their concerns and/or boycotted Hershey products. I now officially proclaim that we can all go back to eating Hershey's kisses!

Sock Wars

Apparently there's a lot of fun and excitement going on in the global knitting community that I am unaware of. For the second year now, there has been an international spin-off to the popular game, Assassins, in which knitters must knit a pair of socks for another knitter to whom they have been randomly assigned. Their mission, should they choose to accept it, is to complete and ship the socks they knit before they receive the pair of socks that another knitter knit for them. This year's sock pattern is called "Scar." There were 800 participants from around the world this year - I find that amazing! Click here to read more.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Hershey's is on the fence

It appears that Hershey's may be reconsidering it's recent decision to introduce a new breath mint/candy that resembles cocaine. I certainly hope so. But, until it's a done deal, I'm still not planning to purchase any Hershey's products and urge everyone who reads this to do the same and pass the word.

I was surprised to learn how many brands are distributed by the Hershey Company. Here's a partial list, which unfortunately includes some of my favorite candies:
  • Twizzlers
  • Ice Breakers
  • Hershey's (bars, kisses, morsels, etc.)
  • Reese's
  • Caco Reserve
  • Kit Kat
  • York
  • Almond Joy
  • Mounds
  • Jolly Rancher

Friday, December 07, 2007

What is Hershey thinking?

The Hershey Company has introduced a new powdered mint candy that is packaged to look like cocaine. I'd heard about this yesterday from a co-worker, but refused to believe it, until I read the article myself this morning. How could a long-standing trusted brand like Hershey do something this insane?

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out why this is a horrible idea. Here are just a few:
  • A child finds some blue packets on the street, in an alley, or on the playground at school. He or she assumes it's candy and "eats" it. The child subsequently (1) gets sick; (2) consumes enough to get addicted and starts doing who-knows-what in order to be able to get more; or (3) overdoses and dies. Who's ultimately responsible?
  • Children start bringing blue packets to school. Teachers and administrators don't know if it's candy or crack. What should they do?
  • The article states that police officers are already concerned about the impact on law-enforcement efforts. Because they can't tell the difference between the candy and a dime bag of cocaine, they will have to test all of the blue bags they find - not knowing whether it's candy or cocaine. Is this how our law enforcement officers should be utilizing their already limited resources?
  • It's well-known that drug dealers often try to mix or replace drugs with common household products, some benign, some harmful. Imagine the number of additional drug-related deaths that are likely to result from drug deals gone bad over selling candy instead of crack. While I'm sure there are some that this would be good riddence, but many innocent people are harmed by drugs, sometimes just by being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
I'm not an activist and can't remember the last time I boycotted anything, but I'm boycotting all Hershey products until this candy is either removed from the market completely or re-packaged more appropriately. This is one of those times that I believe that consumers can truly make a difference, and for the sake of our children (and I mean that collectively - whether you've given birth to a child or not), we need to take a stand.

So, I'm asking that you do 3 things: (1) join me in boycotting Hershey products; (2) pass this information along to everyone you know; and (3) if you feel so inclined, send an e-mail to Hershey at their website.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Beauty from Buffalos

I never ceased to be amazed by the ingenuity of artists who can make something both beautiful and practical out of just about anything. Forget sheep, llama, alpaca, rabbits and goats, imagine knitting a luxurious cap, scarf or sweater made from yarn from a buffalo! It's not inexpensive, but it certainly is a conversation piece. Check it out at American Buffalo Products.