Well, my bowels are running active! My stomach churns, my brain is fuzzy…it is boxing day.

I ate too much, I drank a bit, I am not a big drinker but 5 beers and a glass of wine over a day exceeds my normal limit by a long shot. And stuff… we seemed to bring more stuff home than we took!

Gifts, now I love stuff. For as much as I protest the consumer ways of our society I am the first one to put up my hand and say “I love stuff”. I have my weaknesses – Books, Outdoor Gear, Hardwear stuff, Comupter Stuff and so on…

Yes, I did manage to receive and give away a few goats, wells and mosquito nets to those with less than me in the third world, but it did feel token. I sometimes wonder what I would feel like if I asked for nothing. Just whatever I was to gain at Christmas defer it all…all elsewhere! My brother played a trick on me last night. We always get a stocking from Mum and Dad, to this day we have gotten ourselves a stocking filled with funny, useful, playful or just plain silly stuff every year. (Deodorant, blue-tack, a bouncy ball, a Tupperware bottle top opener, a stick of sunscreen and so on. Every year my bro and I wait for the other to open everything first and then proceed to open our stocking stash and pretend that there is an extra gift for me, a more expensive one. But it is never the case as Mum makes sure the stockings are identical, this is the case for Scotty our brother in law also. This year something backfired. Clint and Scotty set me up. They had gotten into the stockings and loaded their with extra wrapped gifts. Old watch boxes with some old watches in them and so on. And for me, they had a ‘fake’ stocking filled with crap like a lemon, a wrapped potato and so on. I wasn’t sure what was going on. Even after I guessed they had placed into my bag the lemon etc, I still couldn’t quite work out how they ended up with a watch each and I had a stick of roll-on. They were both playing it up… “Ohhh look at this lovely Seiko under water watch I got in my stocking”. I said,  “Well I did get a nice sleeping bag for my birthday last week, I shouldn’t get a watch too” They were in hysterics watching me squirm and pretend I had not been dealt a dud stocking! Very funny boys! The watches were fake and we all had a laugh.

I got some nice gifts. This nice Apple MAc bluetooth keyboard and matching Mighty Mouse!

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I got more books than you can poke a stick at. In fact Youth Vision gave me a voucher as a bye bye gift for $100 which I hated having in my wallet so I zipped straight down to the Bookshop Cafe in Como – THE best cafe Bookshop in Perth and spent it.

- Daughters and Their Dads, Bruce Robinson (A great local Perth guy)

- Man In The Dark, Paul Auster

- The Tall Man, Chloe Hooper

Then Kathy bought me 2 trashy kinds of novels for Christmas, and these are added to the list I made in the post or 2 below, that is sitting waiting to be read and Gillead which is being enjoyed right now. But I visited my cousin, Renee, just before Christmas, she is a Noongar Aboriginal. And we got to talking about books and movies one should read on indigenous issues, here is what she gave me to read;

- Two Men Dreaming, James Cowan

- An Aboriginal Mother Tells of the Old and The New, Labumore:Else Roughsey

- Voices of Aboriginal Australia, Irene Moores

- The World of the First Australians, R.M. & C.H. Berndt

There should be enough reading here for the next few years!

This year more than ever I heard adults say when asked the questions, :What do you want for Christmas?” - “Nothing really, I have everything I want. I I wanted anything during the year I just went out and bought it, so now it’s Christmas there is nothing I can think of that I need to tell people to get me”

What is behind this statement? This is not a judgement, just a question. What does that statement say about our prosperous times and culture? If I want a kayak, I just either wait for my tax and go and get it, or just put it on the card. No or little delayed gratification, just go and get it. If I want a new x-box, or a new TV and surround sound set up, a new woodwork tool – I just go and buy it.

So Christmas comes around and I want for nothing! Is this a good thing? Should I save up all my wants get them at Christmas? Or should I not? Is that not what Christmas should be about anyway? Should I just ask for socks and jocks and spend my time worrying about other people gifts? I think I would appreciate a gift more if I have thought about getting it all year. Hmm not sure.

Hey. Have yourselves a great post Christmas, have fun playing on the new totem tennis set, riding the new bikes, watching the kids stack it on the rip stick, surfing the new body board, straightening your hair with the new heat thingy, laying on the floor for hours playing with littlest pet shop toys or just curled up in the corner reading the new book.

Ok, so TEAR do it, Compassion do it, Amnesty do it, Oxfam do it (probably the best campain in my opinion).

BUT – Now the organisation that I work for Global Mission Partners are doing it.

The Christmas gift catalogue for the poor.

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COCOA Great Gifts catalogue
Most of us have everything we need. But there are plenty of people in the world who don’t. If you are agonising over gift choice this year, COCOA (Churches of Christ Overseas Aid) can make it easy for you with a whole catalogue of Great Gifts. Gifts such as these share with others our abundance and God’s love and compassion. To make someone else feel great, check out these Great Gifts. “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40 TNIV)

It really is a good idea, we do it for friends and extended family every year.

We actually have a temporary website up for the next few weeks, but if you can handle the not so functioning site, you can buy some gifts for people this year that will keep on giving…think – GOAT (milk for a long long time), think – Well (water for a community that keeps on running!) And many many more gifts to choose from. GO ON YOU KNOW YOU WANT TO  :)

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I read this great article on Tom and Christine Sine’s site and couldn’t help but share it  -

By Samantha Evens of InnerCHANGE Cambodia

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As a parent at Christmastime, I am more fortunate than most. My family lives in the Buddhist country of Cambodia, so we get to miss most of the commercialization of Christmas. Christmas isn’t even a day off here. But still, we sit at home on the 25th with our coffee cake and stockings in the tropical heat while our neighbors go to work and school.

No matter where we live, many of us are searching for new wineskins for the traditions we have inherited. Being in another culture and not having television has given me the opportunity to re-frame and rediscover the traditions that make up my faith without distraction. In the West, Christmas is a season fraught with empty sentimentality and traditions whose roots have been lost in time and eventually co-opted and commercialized to serve the goals of consumerism. But in Cambodia, I have space to sort through the intersection between my faith and the culture in which I grew up, and I can more intentionally choose with what traditions I will raise my kids.

As a child, I greatly enjoyed the anticipation of Santa Claus and the delicious agony of trying to stay up all night to catch a glimpse of reindeer. But as an adult, I struggled with whether I wanted to go down that road with my own kids, laden as it is with Coca-Cola ads and an emphasis on presents over the gift of God’s Son. Santa as we know him today feels so far from the baby born in poverty, who became a refugee in a politically violent age and a fragile, yet powerful, hope for a dark world. My indecision on the whole Santa thing led to me do a little research—my very own quest for the historical Santa.

Santa, or rather Saint Nicholas, was a real person, though it takes a little digging to sort through fact and fiction and figure out from which specific person he was actually derived. But as far as I can tell, the real Saint Nicholas is worth telling our kids about—more so, I would argue, than the overweight director of toy distribution working out of the North Pole that has evolved over time.

The original Saint Nicholas was a bishop from Myra in Asia Minor (today Turkey) around 300 AD. His parents died when he was young, and he gave away all his inheritance to help the poor and sick. He was also imprisoned for a time when the Romans were persecuting Christians and capturing Christian leadership, but was released when the Emperor Constantine politically legitimized Christianity.

The legend of Santa Claus came about when Bishop Nicholas decided to help a widower who had three daughters. The widower couldn’t support his daughters, and the girls didn’t have dowries, He felt the only way to save his family was to sell them into prostitution. Nicholas heard of this, and remembering the biblical value of giving in secret, left a bag of gold under the cover of darkness to provide for the dowry of the first daughter. When the second came of age, he left another bag of gold, and then once more for the third. Some say that he threw the bags of gold down the chimney.

Bishop Nicholas also helped free three innocent men from execution. The governor of the area had accepted a bribe to imprison and execute them, but when Nicholas found out about it, he physically halted the executioner before verbally upbraiding the governor until the governor confessed and repented. The men were set free.

Until recently, Saint Nicholas was remembered as a man who was generous to the poor, prevented human trafficking, and stood up against injustice in the name of Christ—all values that, I believe, are close to the heart of Christ, and values that I would love my children to embrace as they grow. The true story of Santa may be one worth telling after all. Justice and mercy in action are far more compelling than sentimentality any day. As we sift and sort the historical mishaps and debris that have collected around our important faith celebrations, we can bring new life to some traditions, discard some entirely, and in others, like that of Saint Nicholas, we may be able to rediscover with the light of truth.

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