We put up our Christmas tree last week. I’m risking blasphemy here, but I like fake Christmas trees better than real ones.
Growing up we always had real Christmas trees. On the day after Thanksgiving we loaded into the truck, drove out to the Christmas tree farm, rode a wagon out to the field and chopped down a real live Christmas tree (after rejecting plenty for being too fat, too thin or too bare).
It’s a fine tradition, but I’m happy with a fake tree. It’s cheaper, you don’t have to pick up all the needles, and you don’t get stabbed by all those needles when you’re putting the ornaments on. Plus we travel so much at Christmas it doesn’t make any sense.
It also seems like a lot of effort to chop down a real tree every year just to put it up in your living room for a month. Real trees can be recycled, but there’s still a lot of energy and effort that goes into that industry. The fake tree can at least be reused every year—and they’re used so infrequently they could easily last 20 or 30 years.
So call me a Scrooge, but I like my fake Christmas tree.
Maybe someday we’ll have a digital Christmas tree and then it’ll be even easier!
Curiosity alone is not enough to get my attention. If you’re spreading the word about something, marketing anything or just telling your friends—curiosity is not enough.
Now I’ll concede that some level of curiosity is always necessary. But if you’re completely relying on curiosity, it’s going to fail.
- E-mails with vague, generic subject lines like “check this out” or “newsflash.” The sender is hoping curiosity will prompt people to open them. No, it won’t.
- Twitter posts that link to articles and give vague explanations, like “This is so cool,” “I can’t believe this,” or “Interesting”. Tell me what’s so cool, interesting or unbelievable.
- Direct mail that comes in plain, unmarked envelopes. They’re trying to trick you into opening it, appealing to curiosity. But instead I open it to make sure it’s not a bill and then recycle it. Immediately.
What’s most frightening about relying on curiosity is that it begins to border on deception. If your message itself isn’t enough to get my attention and you have to rely on curiosity, I can’t help but wonder if you’re trying to trick me.
It reminds me of Guy Kawasaki’s comment in defending his Alltop auto-tweets that each one is intentionally different so they’re harder to spot as auto-tweets. That’s deception, Guy. Lame.
If you’ve really got something worth sharing, don’t rely on curiosity to intrigue me. And don’t even think about deception. Just let the idea stand on its own. Otherwise it’s not worth sharing. Be specific, be up front and let the content speak for itself.
For all intents and purposes Christmas has become a secular holiday. Sure, if you dig down deep the root idea behind all the gift giving, Christmas trees and Santa Clauses can be traced back to Jesus. But you have to do a lot of digging, and despite the continual reminders about the ‘reason for the season,’ Jesus really takes a backseat.
That’s why I like projects like Advent Conspiracy and Water for Christmas. The idea behind Advent Conspiracy is to remind people what Christmas is all about and encourage a radical redefinition and reinterpretation of the holiday. Water for Christmas is a challenge that as Americans we spend $450 billion on Christmas, yet it would only take $144 billion to ensure that everyone has access to clean water. (Shane Claiborne writes a little more passionately about these issues as related to Buy Nothing Day.)
As a family we’re trying to redefine what Christmas means for us. This year we’re instituting a new idea. Half the money we spend on one another is going to be donated to a cause. Part of the Christmas fun will be picking what cause (or causes) you’d like to donate your Christmas money to. It means we’ll get half the usual presents from each other and we’ll be able to donate more. It’s a small step, but I really like the idea.
Continue reading You Can Change the World: Redefining Christmas
On Dec. 5, 1998 I started blogging with these inspiring words:
So I’ve decided to cement my daily thoughts in immortal type, and plaster them here on the world wide web for all to read. What kind of an idiot am I?
Ten years later, I’m still an idiot. In that time:
- I’ve written 2,537 posts, which works out to an entry every one and a half days.
- I’ve received approximately 2,700 comments. My banana allergy post is still the all-time winner with 263 comments. (And to be fair, I’ve only had commenting for five years.)
- The blog has been hosted on five separate sites: Bethel, ReAL Magazine, Blogger, Monkey Outta Nowhere and now KevinDHendricks.com.
- The blog has had four different names: Daily Ponderings, ReAL Thoughts, Thoughts and whatever the heck you want to call it now (Kevin D. Hendricks? Worst name yet.)
- The blog has been powered by five different platforms: NotePad with straight HTML (shudder), Dreamweaver, Blogger, Movable Type and now WordPress.
To celebrate one decade of blogging I was going to comb through the archives and pull out some gems. But that’s a lot of work. Besides, nobody wants to read the introspective and completely incoherent ramblings of the early years, or sift through the years when I used only Simpsons quotes as entry titles, or have to struggle with the countless typos, botched em dashes and half-missing entries that come from switching platforms multiple times.
Mike, The Cat
Instead I thought it might be fun to share my first ever book: Mike, The Cat. I’ve talked about the book before, but now I’ve made it available in PDF in all its terrible glory.
I wrote it in 1986, nearly 22 years ago, as a first grader at Scotch Elementary School. I hope you’ll forgive me for reveling in the past like this, but it seemed more entertaining than just digging up old entries.
Thanks for reading my blog. I should give a shout out to Ben Tramm who inspired me to start blogging in the first place. Yes, you can blame him. I should also give a shout out to anyone who’s been brave enough to read along since the very beginning (fess up in the comments—we’ll get you some therapy).
It’s been a fun ride. Let’s see if this thing can survive another decade.
Earlier this week I singled out author Anne Lamott for not having a web site. But the sad fact is she’s not alone. A number of noteworthy authors lack official web sites:
- Jonathan Franzen
- David Sedaris
- Sarah Vowell
- Alice Sebold
- Kathleen Norris
- Robert Pinsky
- Seamus Heaney
- David Rakoff
- Russell Banks
- Frederick Buechner (supposedly coming soon)
Granted I’m doing a quick Google search. If an official site doesn’t show up in the first page of results, it doesn’t exist (quite frankly, if you have a site and it’s not showing up on the first page of results for your name, you’re doing something wrong). Even Wendell Berry, the Kentucky novelist who still uses a typewriter has a web site (granted it appears to be maintained by his publisher). So why do none of these well-known authors have a web site?
Continue reading Authors Without Web Sites
We got the call today. We’re adopting a baby boy from Ethiopia!
He’s five weeks old, weighs about six pounds and is incredibly cute. Woo!
A flurry of activity begins now, but the major next step is the court date when we receive guardianship. That gets us a birth certificate, which means a visa, and then we can travel. They estimate roughly two to four months from referral to travel, so hopefully we’ll bring him home early next year.
We’re pretty excited right now and flying high. This finally means some answers have slid into place, but it only opens up a whole slew of new questions and challenges. We’re happy to answer questions, but we also have to be careful to protect our child’s privacy and his story. We can’t share his picture yet (don’t worry, as soon as we can, we will!) and we won’t be sharing details about his story (his family, his background, the circumstances of his birth and placement for adoption). That’s his story to share if and when he’s ready to do so.
Big thanks to everyone who has helped us out along the way. We’re not there yet, but we’re so much closer!
A couple weeks ago I discovered that one of my favorite authors, Anne Lamott, doesn’t have a web site. She’s got a Wikipedia page, the speaking agency representing her has a page, Salon.com has a list of her columns—heck, there’s even my Anne Lamott Squidoo page. But Anne Lamott herself has no official web site.
How can a well-known author not have a web site in 2008?
Sadly, I asked that same question in 2005.
So here’s the deal, Anne: Drop me a line and I’ll build you a web site.
Continue reading Why Doesn’t Anne Lamott Have a Web Site?