Friday, December 25, 2015

Trees of Christmas Past


The Travelled Monkey - Trees of Christmas Past
Weaver family Christmas tree

When I was a kid, after the holidays ended and the new year had begun my dad would often take our Christmas tree out in the yard and plant it somewhere near the house. Once in the ground, however, these trees which had occupied a magical place in our home and our hearts were soon forgotten about, lost in a landscape with a thousand other trees. 

It sounds a bit sad, this Christmas amnesia. But maybe that’s when the real magic begins. 

The Travelled Monkey - Trees of Christmas Past
Weaver family Christmas tree

Think about it. Independently of our care and love, the trees continue to grow, taking on new proportions of size and strength, their warped and natural beauty forged by winds of time.

In the house, our Christmas trees contort to our wants and wishes. Outside, they are free to grow wild. Inside, we believe in their promise of good things to come. Outside, our myths have little consequence on what tomorrow might bring.

The Travelled Monkey - Trees of Christmas Past
Weaver family Christmas tree

There’s a Christmas story here.

The fir tree doesn’t lose its needles, symbolizing the enduring, everlasting power of Love. It’s a Love that sustains, takes away, and gives new life – and it’s completely outside our control. But what happens when we bring this Love inside? Suddenly we remember, and even celebrate, something beyond ourselves. We act differently until a short time passes and we inevitably forget to pay attention and stop seeing it for what it is.

And that’s when, like the wind that shapes the trees, the real magic quietly begins its work on us too.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Pic of the week

Christmas lights on the Bruul in Mechelen

Reading list: December 6-11, 2015

Good reads

Here’s a list of articles, stories, news and other scraps of unique things happening in the world that I thought you might also enjoy. Please share any reactions or other interesting links that you’ve come across in the comments section. I’m always curious about what others are curious about!

Once you go black…
Saint Nicolas’s sooty little helper, Zwarte Piet (“Black Pete”), continues to cause controvery in Belgium: Flemish Minister Rejects Racism Accusations After Blacking Up

Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Con-men, grifters, liars – call them what you want, we can all be duped by a scam. Find out why we were all Born To Be Conned

America: Made in China
There are Chinatowns across America. But did you know there’s an Americatown in China? Jackson Hole, China: A new frontier for the American West, in the Far East

Should I stay or should I go?
America might not seem very welcoming to foreigners right now, but new research suggests that For Immigrants, America Is Still More Welcoming Than Europe

Right at the museum
How one Dutch museum is looking at the language used in its collection to right wrongs from the past. Rijksmuseum Removing Racially Charged Terms From Artworks’ Titles and Descriptions

A labour of amore
If you’ve ever tried to learn another language, you’ll know it’s not easy. This is a beautiful essay about the process of change that anyone that takes on a difficult task and succeeds undergoes. Teach yourself Italian

Speaking of fake Italian, the American pizza chain, Papa John’s, announced this week that it’s planning to open stores in a number of European countries, including in Belgium.

Aren't we lucky? For those not yet acquainted with Papa John’s, here’s a little taste:

(If any of the links on this page don’t work, please let me know and I’ll try and correct it.  - Thanks)

Saturday, December 5, 2015

The roof is on fire!

Pic of the week

Brussels Policewoman & Fireman
In the first picture below, you can see a cloud of black smoke rising into the sky. If you look a bit closer, you can see orange flames on the rooftop of the building in the center of the frame. I took this picture this week from my office, where I was surprised to look out and see that the building where my friend lives had caught fire.

My friend - and old neighbor when I lived two buildings to the left of the one on fire - lives on the first floor. Another friend used to live on the top floor of that building, right under where the fire was. Many a night we all hung out on his balcony, gazing over the rooftops of the city. The second photo below was taken from that balcony, mirroring back the view from my office.

The fire was started accidentally by the roofers who were working up there. Luckily no one was hurt and there was not too much damage, mostly just a lot of water and foam in the corridors to clean up. I went over on my lunch break where I met some the heroes of this story, shown above.