Merry Christmas from Carbonear

December 31, 2012

Merry Christmas, dear readers. I’m filing this column from my hometown of Carbonear this week, writing most of it under the glow of the tree after a turkey feast. The cat is snoozing amid the boxes under the tree as I ponder my words.

The dust has settled since final exams ended on December 18. This past semester was a challenge and the exams rough. Why was it a challenge? The fall semester of second year is legendary in its difficulty curve not so much due to the workload (which actually wasn’t too bad), but to the sheer amount of math involved. If you don’t have a grasp of numbers, you’ll struggle. I pulled through, but not being a numbers person by nature, I battled with it. Supposedly, the worst is behind us now. The winter semester will offer courses in solid waste management, air quality, remote sensing, environmental site assessment, a continuation of the physics, and organic chemistry. The mathematics will still be there, of course, but we have the foundation laid to deal with it. (Due to the engineering concepts covered, College of the North Atlantic should update the program and give it a new official title of  Environmental Engineering Technology.)

After travelling across the island on a packed DRL bus for about 10 hours, I’ve arrived home in Carbonear for Christmas.

 

CNA Corner Brook Campus Christmas tree.

 

What does Christmas bring to mind? Does it bring to mind an image of families reuniting and gathering around a beautifully lit tree, listening to carols, exchanging gifts and basking in togetherness with the smell of turkey in the oven, with kids laughing and pets playing with the wrapping? Or hordes of shoppers scrambling through stores, squabbling over a certain toy, and yelling at the tired store associates because it’s not in stock? The commercialism engine behind Christmas gets stronger with each year, but at one time these mega-corporations did not exist. At one time, what evolved into Christmas was very different.

Christmas has a variety of origins that were meshed together. An underlying concept of Christmas could be that Christ was a gift from God to the world, bringing in turn the gift of redemption and everlasting life.

It’s unknown what the exact month was, but it’s likely that December was chosen so the Catholic Church could compete with rival pagan rituals also held at that time of year. The December 21 winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere is a traditional time of celebration among many ancient cultures.

Symbols such as decorated trees, mistletoe, holly wreaths and yule logs all have non-Christian origins. Christmas only recently adopted these long-standing winter traditions into its own identity. Many non-Christians argue that the most accurate description of this season is the “holiday” season, not the “Christmas” season, which only describes the religious celebration of Christ’s birth.

2013 is just around the corner. I’m looking forward to returning to school in the new year with clarity of thought, and entering the next phase of my career change.

Wishing you all a merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I very much appreciate your eyes on my columns since I started writing for CornerBrooker in July. Thank you very much.

Ian Hutchings

The Newfoundland Inkslinger

 

Lead photo: A shot of the Town of Carbonear and its harbour.