Thursday, December 3, 2020



I stumbled across an old “Christmas-themed” post while on the hunt for something else the other day. Entitled “Greetings from Santa’s Village”, it describes my new-found obsession with playing an app on my iPad - - something that was new and cutting edge for me in December of 2011. Embedded in the piece is my humorous take on what the Santa’s Village game might represent in Columbia/HoCo local current events. As I read it yesterday it seemed the perfect time capsule of what was at the forefront of the local consciousness at that time.

1. Santa and his elves are trying to build a better Columbia.  The Grumpkins are the naysayers who want everything to stay the same. 
2. Santa and his elves are the overly-abundant ruling party who are merely displaying their power-hungry desires through land-grabs and graft. The poor, misunderstood Grumpkins can do nothing but express their dismay over this untenable situation.
3. Santa and his elves are really big money developers.  The Grumpkins are devoted Pioneers, trying valiantly to preserve Jim Rouse's vision.
4. Those elves are renters, dagnabbit!  The North Pole just isn't the same since Santa started that affordable housing program. 
5. Santa and his elves are doing their best to provide for people who might otherwise be left out. The Grumpkins are disillusioned elves who think that it's nothing more than Socialism.
6. The app was created to train CA Reps how to relate to CA Staff.
7. The entire app is a metaphor for the Howard County School Board. (Choose your own particulars.)

Plus ça change, non?

I wonder if I would see all that many different themes today. What do you think?

In the mean time, I am still loyally hauling out a Wii game (released in 2009) called “Wii Wish You a Merry Christmas” even though everyone else in my family has outgrown it. I’m sure that to most it’s appallingly simple but what I love most about it is that that it has an Advent calendar that you get to open each day, unlocking various aspects of the game. No doubt I’ll still be playing this in my dotage even as the nursing home staff has to rig up increasingly antiquated systems to make it possible for me. 

In the meantime, if you have kids they might adore it if you can find it second-hand. It’s compatible with the newer Wii U systems.

New at our house this Advent season is a little deck of playing cards we received from our church with a different activity or meditation for each day. Our college-aged daughter took one look and dubbed it the Advent Tarot Deck. Even though we are all grown over here and our overall festivities are likely to be subdued, taking a moment at dinner to pull out a card and see what it says provides a nice contrast to the same old, same old of COVID life.

Moving to an entirely different religious tradition I noted something in the Baltimore Sun obituary for Robert Tennenbaum that caught my eye.

Mr. Tennenbaum donated his time as an architect and artist for the Lubavitch Center for Jewish Education in Columbia. He designed a multiuse building for religious services and schoolrooms, including 23 stained glass windows. (Jacques Kelly, Baltimore Sun)

Does anyone know where this is located? There’s a lovely photo of Mr. Tennenbaum with the stained glass windows in the obituary. I’d love to learn more about the evolution of the Jewish community in Howard County as Columbia grew as a place separate from Baltimore. Have any good leads? I’m interested.

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