I've been consumed by consumer confidence, the economy, and how our purchasing effects the overall economy lately, and Christmas is the peak consumerism, all of this is on my mind.
But I love how the holiday's are laid out to tell you the truth. The year ends with a bang as we celebrate and remember God's gift to mankind by giving gifts to each other. And this rush to shop for one another puts a lot of people to work. People work all year with the Christmas season in mind. People should save all year, to then plunge without guilt to the shopping malls with wads of cash in their pocket to buy gifts for one another. Instead, we tend to come into the Christmas season a little short and plan on paying off our shopping the next year.
But its all a great time because if its done right, we get gifts we would never or could never buy for ourselves. How boring would life be if every possession we owned was purchased by ourself for ourself. My life, for one, would be less full. So yes, I love getting gifts for Christmas. And I love giving gifts for Christmas. And this Christmas was extra nice.
Here's what I got:
1) Clothes. I have an interesting relationship with clothes. Growing up, money was scarce, but I had to fit in with my peers, so I made deep sacrifices in quantity for quality. I would literally get by the year with two pair of pants, and rotate them each day, and my mom was forced to wash them every single day. And how did I get those pants? Well, my birthday is in August, just as the school year begins, and my Grandma would always give me a wad of cash as a gift. So, that money was used, every year (with some help with my parents) and clothes for the school year. And that kind of upbringing just sticks. I have a really hard time buying clothes for the year, so my wife supplements my wardrobe with Christmas presents. But she buys me clothes I would never pick out myself (for good or bad), but this year, I sincerely enjoy the clothes she bought for me. So, yes, my life is richer.
2) Scriptures, a scripture case large enough to carry more than just scriptures, and a journal. I really want to have a little personal time each and every day where I can study the scriptures. I really want to finish the Old Testament, the lone book of Scripture I have yet to read. And I want to write down notes in my journal. And I want all of this to be together in one place. I have started doing this, and I crave the experience. Its hard to do every day because there are so many ways I get diverted, but I feel that 2009 is the year to be doing this. So, I'm excited for this gift.
3) "The Audacity of Hope" by Barack Obama. I've started reading this book and it is really good. Reminds me of all the reasons I was blown over with excitement about Obama the president. He's started the book with the bitter partisanship of our politics, our obsession over wedge issues, and our failure to concede that the other side my have a point. He talks about how his mother was a early 1960's liberal, and how because of the way he was raised, he basically sidestepped all of the divisive Vietnam era toxins that have poisoned our politics ever since. Good to read a book written by our current president, good to have a president that writes.
4) A gift certificate to Barnes and Noble. I plan on buying this Algorithms computer science book, and I plan on beefing up my data structure and algorithm design skills in my spare time... I learned about trees, and lists, and hashes, and graphs, and other sorts of data structures, but I rarely use them at work, but when I interview, questions on these things get asked, so I want to find some proficiency. And if I'm proficient, I might find more uses for them in my every day work, and the code I write will be better.
Gifts that my wife got (that I enjoy):
1) The iPod touch. I have seriously enjoyed this gift more than she has, but it is so much better as an iPod than mine. Its interface is so much better, it has features mine doesn't. And we have been using it to track our daughter's diabetes. I hope my wife finds uses for it, but I'm really excited to have it in our lives.
2) Two ColdPlay albums. My wife really wanted a ColdPlay album, and she received two. I've listened to them as well, and I'm not a huge fan, but I am a fan. I love music, and I love new music.
The holiday season is even better because Christmas, my most favorite time of the year is followed closely with the beginning of the new year, a time to make goals, a time for hope for a better world. I have some great hopes for 2009.
This year I hope to:
1) Read scriptures/write in my journal most every day.
2) Pray for specific people in my life most every day.
3) Make specific home improvements, spend $6000 on those repairs, making my house at least $6000 better to live in.
4) Save additional dollars in my "I can take more risks in my career because I can live for a period of time without a job" fund. Yes, at some point it would be nice to take a risk and work for a startup, my own or another, but I need two things to happen. I need universal (or close to it) access to health care (come on Obama I'm counting on you), and I need more money in the bank.
5) Attend the temple once/month. Yes, we have a newborn, so yes this would count as at least doubling my temple attendance.
6) Have a significant something to contribute to next year's talent show. Not sure yet what that will be. I would like it to be something computer science related - a website? - a game? We'll see.
7) Gain some proficiency in Haskell (a functional computer language).
8) Make specific and more significant contributions to my wife's home schooling (not sure in what way yet).
Yes, I tend to get overly ambitious with my goals, but I feel these are achievable. The key is that I need to finish my complete abandonment of sports to free up time. And also place a bit more limits on my politicizing. We'll see.
But I do have a lot of excitement for the new year.
I hope your holidays were as good as mine.