Stand with the belt of truth around your waist, justice as your breastplate, and put shoes on your feet so that you are ready to spread the good news of peace. – Ephesians 6
I have to give props to the young people at our recent family gettogether. They not only tolerated the older crowd (yes, Boomers, that would be us) they seemed to enjoy engaging us in conversation, playing games, and more. Though I’m not really surprised, because they have always been great kids. What did take me off guard was how completely they all bought into the British traditional “crackers” and party hats.
Here’s what happened: Rebekah and I brought along a set of Christmas crackers and set them around the table for the big family dinner. The crackers just sat there, for the most part ignored, until I explained the tradition.
Crackers, it’s important to understand, are quintessentially corny, a study in holiday kitsch. They are garish; you pull them until they make a disappointingly weak “crack”; then cheap toys, paper hats, and lame jokes fly out all over the place.
“It’s all about the paper hats,” I explained. “If you can wear the paper hat with the right attitude then the toys are suddenly great and the jokes are always funny.”
The younger set totally embraced the crackers. They owned the crackers. Crackers may have become the new “thing” for New Year’s with the younger Alexanders.
A bunch of eloquent liars…
They also ran a hilarious sequence of parlor games. My favorite went like this:
- Everyone writes a short – two sentence – account of some interesting (but not generally known) incident that happened in their life.
- The slips of paper go to the moderator (in this case Jordan), who selects one of the stories
- The moderator then calls upon three people to explain the events surrounding the incident in question.
- The rest of the party-goers vote on who they believe actually had the experience in question.
Of course only one of the three presenters is actually telling the truth. With 16 people in the game we were able to get in several rounds, and they were all hilarious.
My (true) story referenced an incident (in England) where I parked a work truck outside a friend’s house when I was supposed to be out on my delivery route. Unfortunately, I wedged the roof under a tree limb and couldn’t get the truck out. What made it worse was repeating the same stunt two weeks later on a different street, this time puncturing the roof.
Joe and Jesse also came up with plausible narratives. At the vote, only one member of the audience was convinced by my version of events.
People tend to believe stories they want to believe, or accounts that line up with what they already think they know.
The Alexander side of the family have only known me since I was grown, and they simply could not see me as reckless or irresponsible – it didn’t fit the narrative already in their heads. At the same time, they readily accepted “fake news” from Joe because they were used to hearing about his antics and “teenaged Joe denting a work truck” was entirely plausible.
Joe’s account even held up under cross-examination.
My point here is that, if we want to see clearly in the year 2020, we must apply ourselves diligently to the task. It is not enough to be happy that something confirms or fits in with what we already believe. In politics, and in faith, we must not be afraid of asking good questions and being open to the possibility that we may well be wrong, or at least in need of a fresh perspective.
So thanks – Lindsay, Jordan, Seth, Jared, Sarah, Reed, and Samantha – thanks for being part of my continued learning curve. Not only that but y’all are a lot of fun too!
There is always something to challenge the way that we think – especially when it is 2020.
Peace, blessings, and clear thinking – DEREK
- images from “fun with the Alexanders”
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.