What Do I Care about Christmas?

I’ve never made a secret of the fact that Christmas is no big deal for me, that it’s just another day that’s exceptional by virtue of being a sanctioned day off for everybody. I profoundly enjoyed spending Christmas alone last year, watching a ton of movies at home, indulging in food treats I’ve come to deny myself most of the year, driving to West Pennant on Christmas afternoon, and then going to the cinema on Christmas night to see two more movies. Although I have zero Christmas decoration at home, I enjoy other people’s Christmas lights and the traditional Christmas music. I cringe when I hear stuff like “Jingle Bell Rock,” but the 2nd chain of the French CBC Radio, Espace Musique, airs fabulous concerts from around the world, and that I like.

This year will be a bit different for me, although not by much. I’m looking forward to Christmas dinner with BeeGoddessM and Stephanie, and I’ll be bringing over an apple cake. And if Stephanie’s cold is better by Christmas night, they’ll join me to the cinema. Bareback Brokeback Mountain and The Family Stone will likely form the playlist.

Meanwhile, this year we’ve seen a crazy escalation, especially in the U.S., of the “Merry Christmas” versus “Happy Holidays” debate, which Mac rightly calls the faux War!On!Christmas! I’m the first to admit that there have been many excesses of political correctness, but “Happy Holidays” is just not one of them. Granted, attempts to rename the Christmas tree a “Holiday tree” are just plain silly. However, even among Christians, this IS a holiday season: Christmas (Dec. 25), New Year’s (Jan. 1), and the Epiphany (Jan. 6), so it’s factually correct to wish a Christian “Happy Holidays” before and after December 25. But what gets to me the most is that Easter is the highest holiday on the Christian calendar and the fact some medieval pope wanted to appropriate existing pagan rituals is the reason for Christmas as we know it today, yet this whole “Merry Christmas/Happy Holidays” hoopla has turned into a holy war of rudeness. Except that you know damn well that if everybody agreed to cave in and bannish “Happy Holidays” from the English vocabulary, narrow-minded, self-centered conservative Christians would find some other bone to pick at. Listening to them, you’d think we’re in the year 200 when Christians really were persecuted…

Workwise, An Odd Few Weeks

The title of this entry is giving away the punchline, but so be it.

After a (typically for me) long-winded explanation on November 1 as to where I’m finding myself these days with regard to the development of my cms, I told you two days later that I applied for an outside job much sooner than I thought I would. Even though I had to get my application in ASAP, I knew at the time that there was no promise that I would get the job, and that the hiring would likely not occur before the first or second month of 2006. Since I applied, I’ve been getting some indirect feedback suggesting that I’m definitely in the running. The latest encouraging note came today, when my middle-man wrote to me about his boss’s latest comments: “She is very very keen on hiring you for early February,” my middle-man reported. “She ‘has to’ have a bilingual officer so you fit the bill.” Interestingly, while I did clearly mention in my application that I’m fluently bilingual in English and French, I was given the impression that this feature would be an asset, but far from critical. Yet clearly it has now become a critical asset. Anyway, despite the positive tone of these comments, I’m still not counting on getting this job, but I can’t deny feeling increasingly hopeful.

While the possibility of my enacting a Plan B has been in the air, I’ve been busy trying to prepare my clients for my eventual transition to my business going part-time — preparations I must do even if this particular job doesn’t pan out. Unfortunately, this task has turned out to be more complicated than I expected as some of my clients discover just how much “free mothering” I’ve been silently providing them in the background, and a direct result has been that my work towards Version 2.0 of my cms has come to a virtual standstill. Arguably, much of the prep will enable me to concentrate on development if/when I do go part-time with the business, although I can’t deny feeling bad about having lost the momentum I had earlier this autumn. But since beating myself up over that wouldn’t do any good, I’m not.

Another strand this autumn has been that I’ve met this interesting fellow who might consider promoting my wares. We’re both in a similar transitional period professionally; we both love working independently, but this way of working has had its drawbacks and we’ve individually have had to come to terms with this fact. But the old saw that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts comes to mind. Maybe two sidelines might lead to a better whole one day. More slowly, perhaps, but so what!

It’s been several years now that I’ve been thinking that the coming year would be transitional. Much of this feeling has been based on optimism. But I think there’s a little bit more than that this year. And while I still find the new components a bit unsettling, I’m choosing to think that, really, in the end, it’s all going to work out. I’m choosing to assume that the worst in behind me and it’s all uphill from here.

What a Relief!

VIA Train“Management and 350 engineers and conductors at Via Rail reached a tentative agreement early Friday morning, avoiding a strike at the height of the holiday season,” reports the CBC. I’m sure my mother is relieved, as are the thousand other worried train travellers who didn’t know how they’d get back home after the holidays.

But let’s face it. The modum operandi of the few unions with which I’ve been involved is, one the one hand, to try to avoid a strike but, on the other hand, to threaten a strike at a time when it would be most disruptive in order to force management to go back at the table to reach a deal and avoid the disruption. The strategy doesn’t always work — witness the recent New York City transit strike, although that’s different because it was clearly illegal whereas this one at VIA Rail would have been legal — but it’s the only way for a union to have some leverage instead of being left by management to languish on the picket line.

I know I’m more pro-union than the average joe, but I don’t buy the argument that unions alone use the public as pawns during a strike. Management bodies do so as well. The ability to make this distinction explains why I take exception to the terms “labour disruption” or “labour troubles,” favouring instead labour / management disruption / troubles, for indeed, strikes and lockouts are the result of the relationship between TWO parties breaking down.