25 Dec 2013

Giving and getting

in·car·nate [in-kahr-nit]
in·car·nat·ed, in·car·nat·ing
1. embodied in flesh; given a body, especially a human
2. personified or typified, as a quality or idea
3. flesh-coloured or crimson

4. to put into or representing in a concrete form, as an idea: The building incarnates the architect's latest theories
5. to be the embodiment or type of: Her latest book incarnates the literature of our day


embodied; exteriorised; externalised; manifested; materialised; personified; substantiated; typified; human; in human form; in the flesh; made flesh; physical; real; tangible

Imagine the worst Christmas present ever. Maybe something along the lines of a plastic moustache from a Christmas cracker, chewed by the family dog. Or a pair of unwashed socks formerly owned by a teenage boy.

Contrast this with the bestest most amazingly extravagant present ever- maybe a mansion in the country with acres of gardens complete with personal cleaner, cook and gardener. Or a brand new car. Or (if you are a child in our house) a wii-U.

Now I know we don't give to receive, but that's generally what happens between family and friends at Christmastime. So imagine a gift exchange thusly:
• Give a wii-U to person X
• Receive a plastic moustache from person X
That would be insane and embarrassing. Insulting even. 

It doesn't even work the other way round:
• Give a plastic moustache to person X
• Receive a wii-U from person X

Unless you are God. 

The gift exchange there is:
• We give him our mess and sin which suffocates and enslaves us
• He gives us new life now, and the promise of life with him forever (Free to us, but which cost him his son).

I have believed this for a long long time, yet the more I get to know and love him, the less sense the whole arrangement makes. The more familiar I get with the nativity story the more mysterious and risky it all seems. And like moustache vs mansion, how is it even fair??

A deity of unimaginable power and creativity. Wanting nothing. Needing nothing. Omnipotent. Giving it all up. (Seriously- my brain is scrambled by this). The maker of a billion planets choosing to visit just one of them and making it his home planet for 30 or so earth years, living there in the guise of a created inhabitant in an age before Lynx grooming products, biro pens or tea bags. 

Not only that, but he first arrived there in a baby's tiny frame, dependant, incontinent and immobile. He grew up limited by the physical laws of gravity and time, subject to discomforts such as hunger, fatigue and the inconvenience of getting up in the middle of the night to pee, or to counsel people who couldn't make it during normal opening hours. 

Limited does not even begin to cover it. (And that's without even trying to factor in the torture of crucifixion). I really don't get it. I'm eternally thankful and loving Jesus more and more for choosing to go through with the whole thing, but I don't get it. 

Something happened this morning though that gave me a glimmer of how the exchange thing works. There were many, many presents under our tree at 7am. Most of them were for our 3 kids. They were revealed to be board games, books, sweets, clothes and toys. Our big family present this year was not a mansion or new car. It was a Wii-U! Yay!! The kids were made up. We are still playing on it now as I type this (NB- No Gadget Day was YESTERDAY this week, so this is allowed, Gareth Birt!).

My most significant present this morning was from our 10 year old who, inspired by the bulging rugby sock at the foot of his bed, took a pair of his own socks and put a pop up pencil and a satsuma in each one and presented them to K and me. Then apologised that his feet aren't bigger.

And so:
• Give a wii-U (Complete with Zelda's WindWaker, Pikmin3 and the promise of downloading Mario 3d as soon as the wii store is functional again)
• Receive a pop up pencil and a satsuma from your own fruit bowl

This is more than a fair exchange because I love him more than life itself and it's all he had to hand this morning.

14 Dec 2013


The place of technology in childhood is under much discussion in our town right now following a local primary school's decision to have every kid purchase and use their own iPad in lessons. I'm not sure how I feel about this really, and given that none of our kids go there, I'm not forced to consider it right now. It's a growing trend though so is something we won't escape for much longer. And like breastfeeding in public or military intervention in the Middle East, everyone seems to have passionate opinions one way or the other. 

You have the pro people over here who say In a few short years these kids will leave school and embark on careers that don't even exist yet and this is a fantastic tool that will help them adapt to a new workplace and a new world etc etc.

And then the people over here who say What about the parents who can't afford to participate in the scheme? Who's liable for damage? And look at this study here and this research here - we are spawning a generation of socially inept, obese youngsters who will constantly need entertaining and struggle to converse with anyone without using acronyms blah de blah.

This may well be true- the eldest child in our house is 13 and still speaks English (for now). But our house is full of gadgets. And people who love gadgets. And we spend more time using them than I'm comfortable with. But I also spend more time than I want to on my laptop so I would be a big fat hypocrite to ban them completely then ignore my kids while I deal with emails.

So as with every other aspect of life we aim for moderation. And once a week we have No Gadget Day when the kids are forced to play cards / Monopoly / chess / lego or help cook tea rather than participate in any screen based activity.

This has been met with some resistance, it has to be said. Which has only made me more determined to carry on. (I'm a bit stubborn that way).

Perhaps this is partly due to poor marketing? We should maybe try a re-brand...

• Lets Argue About Monopoly Day 
• Hide And Seek Until Someone Is Crying Day
• Build A Den And Defend It With Nerfs Day
• Look Sadly At DVD Boxes For The Best Part Of An Hour While Deciding What To Watch Tomorrow Day
• Nice One But No You May Not Consult Siri For A Cookie Recipe- Look One Up In A Book Day
• I Don't Know What You Can Do Now- Why Not Do Your Homework Day
• If This Is So Hard Then We'll Need To Do This On Thursdays Too Day

Whatever we end up calling it, resistance is futile. And until you realise this (Oh dear children) we shall continue to use this weekly exercise to covertly hone the essential debating skills you will need later in life.

You're welcome.

6 Dec 2013

Pets at home

E is touching cat's back, then hiding his hand when cat turns round to look. Repeatedly. If you time this correctly while he's washing himself, cat will turn round with his tongue hanging out, which is quite funny (for us).

Me: Is he annoying you Noodle? Ah don't worry, he annoys me too sometimes.

E: (Looks affronted)

Me: Don't give me that look- you try to annoy me on some of those occasions.

E: I know I do- but that's no reason to tell the cat is it?