Meaningful Gifts for Children At Christmas Time
Today I was curious about finding some Christmas gift ideas that might be more in line with the spirit of the holiday versus the traditional accumulation of “things.” At the top of the search results was this blog post from 2014 on nourishingjoy.com.
I found myself really enjoying the list of 31+ non-toy gifts that you can share with your children. Tickets to an event (i.e., movie, concert, other cool event) would be a great way to do something special and have something to look forward to with your kids. You could even get dressed up, etc. to make it even more special.
Memberships to a zoo or aquarium - that’s great too. Bored on a day off when the kids aren’t in school, your problems are solved by being able to head to one of your favorite museums or places that will provide you with new and different experiences each time you go.
Some other things that really popped out for me were Monthly mail, a piggy bank, nature up close, art and craft supplies, books, and more. Truly if you are looking for some ideas or things to get more ideas flowing, this list will help you find things that might provide a little longer lasting value and connection for your child than the latest and greatest toy that everyone is clamoring for.
The Power of Belief
I found an article on Time’s website from Alexandra Sifferlin from 2018 about the Placebo effect. As I have been looking deeper into my own faith in recent months, I have run across some interesting materials that help one realize the importance of believing in “miracles” in order to move forward in your faith. In all truth you have to believe and accept that miracles and the supernatural are indeed possible in order to progress in faith - or at least that’s my opinion.
But it made me ask some questions that brought me to this article. I started asking myself, what are some examples where science may not have an explanation for something that “shouldn’t” happen. The idea of the placebo effect popped into my head and I think it fits. Many of us know what it is, but we often discount what it means.
Medical studies have to have a control and a test group in order to make sure that a drug or treatment is actually doing what it is supposed to do and that it can be measured. They therefore give people in the control group a placebo treatment which is often just a sugar pill or some other treatment. The weird thing is that some people in the placebo groups may show improvements, just as much as or more than their test group counterparts.
This article talks about medical professionals who were testing the idea of the placebo effect by actually telling patients that they were getting the placebo treatment. And even knowing they are getting the “fake” treatment or a treatment that shouldn’t make any material difference, many will still experience improvements in their conditions. The big question is “why”?
There are mentions of mindset, approach to the condition, patient desire to be better, etc. They illustrate the power of our own psychology when it comes to our overall health. It also alludes to the fact that we may have more control over our bodies than we might give our bodies credit for.
The article and this post are by NO MEANS looking to replace sound science and discovery of treatments that are verified to improve our well being, but it is meant to open our minds into admitting that there are other things out there we don’t understand as of yet that could benefit us - and make us whole, or at least as close to whole as we might get. It gets at the root of how powerful belief CAN be in our lives.
I am pleased to see scientists looking into this phenomenon. By not closing their minds to an alternative they are in fact doing the job that science is meant to do, identify a phenomenon, test and observe in order to verify whether or not the hypothesis behind the phenomenon holds true. And also, be open and skeptical at the same time. Being closed minded to hypotheses based because nothing to date would have allowed it to happen should be the furthest thing from a scientist’s mind.
So if you are curious as to how our own mindset might be able to impact our health, read this article and learn about some of the things that people are testing out there. And don’t be afraid to be skeptical, but ALSO, don’t be ashamed to be curious and open to new discoveries.
The Dangers of Rewriting History to Support a New Narrative
I have come across a lot of stories of late about rewriting the rules around art. Art is for me, freedom to express one’s mind and inner emotions in a medium that allows them to do so effectively. On top of that, art also has the opportunity to create and inspire feelings in others. But the effect on others shouldn’t likely be the motivation to create one’s art…for me art is highly personal and is really created for an audience of “one”. It’s a pure form of expression.
As of late I have seen things that ask people to re-form their opinions about art based on past behaviors of the artist, etc. Essentially saying that art is only valuable if you represent a certain acceptable mindset or behavioral practice. The other issue with this is that the mindset seems to be very fluid and always moving. Here’s a couple of examples:
Should I feel guilty about liking Michael Jackson’s music because of what he is accused of? No. Knowing what he is accused of changes my opinion of the man, and “may” change whether or not I choose to listen to him, and THAT may change whether or not radio stations play his music etc. But we shouldn’t just remove his music because of accusations.
I recently heard that there were some in the social media sphere who were attempting to qualify whether Paul Gauguin deserved to have exhibitions in public museums because of his sexual immoralities and exploitations of young women in Tahiti over 100 years ago. Now, placing judgment on people in history who lived during a different time, and lived according to different beliefs is a dangerous game to start playing. But let’s just say that he doesn’t look like a model citizen, but his work has inspired millions…and I would would be willing to bet that his work didn’t necessarily inspire people to follow his moral example, but rather inspired the way they viewed color and helped them to re-evaluate the lens they use to express themselves.
The reason for this post was inspired by the article below about a school system in Canada that is removing many or all of the literature classics off of its list in favor of more acceptable authors in today’s world. That includes Shakespeare and George Orwell (Animal Farm and 1984). I am not one to say that change should never happen, but I guess I would also say that you don’t need radical change that obliterates the past in favor of a new view that will inevitably change.
The past, however ugly it “can” be, is also filled with wonderful examples of human redemption and compassion. Ultimately, our past is where we came from and is a part of “us” - erasing it only means that we ignore the fact that we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us.