As I See It: Traditions
December 16, 2013 Victor Rozek
It’s during the Christmas season that I miss my parents most. All I have left of them are memories and an old album of faded pictures; familiar faces frozen in time like insects caught in amber, remnants of a different era. Each year, as I look around the holiday table, it’s poignant to notice not only who is there, but who is missing.
Among the gifts passed down to me, was a ritual which we practiced on Christmas Eve. Like many customs and rituals, this one arrived with immigrants–my parents were both born in Poland–and it was maintained as a way of honoring what came before. And although they have long since passed, I retained the ritual and adopted it as my own.
As a rule, technology moves so swiftly that it has little time for nostalgia, but as we approach this season of reminiscence, it seems appropriate to share it.
Two people stand facing each other, each holding a piece of unleavened bread called oplatek, a small, rectangular, flat, white wafer of the sort Catholics use during Communion services. They alternate, breaking off a small piece of the other’s bread while expressing heartfelt wishes for the person in the coming year. With each wish or blessing, another piece of bread is taken, and when both people have finished speaking, they eat the bread they have broken off, and move to the next person.
Even as a child I was touched by this simple exchange and so, as we approach these holidays, I want to offer you some virtual oplatek and to earnestly thank our readers and advertisers–you make what we do possible. It is our privilege and pleasure to inform and entertain, and although we will not have occasion to thank each of you personally, know that your support and continued interest in IT Jungle is appreciated. Our hope and our aim is that you get full value from the time you invest on our website.
Particular thanks to all of you who have taken the time to comment on one of my articles. You have been most kind and, even when we disagree, your observations have proven to be unfailingly insightful. Know that your thoughts are always welcome.
For 2014, I wish you all good health. It’s a cliché to be sure, but no less important for that. In my youth, I seldom took time to consider my health, believing it to be an article of faith that it would never fail me. But aging helps me understand that we are all just one diagnosis away from having our lives take a horrific and possibly irreversible turn. And so I wish you healthy habits, and the discipline to maintain them.
I wish you an abundance of vital and worthy work. Work that inspires and pulls you out of bed in the morning. Work that you can’t wait to share with friends and strangers alike because it excites you. Work that fully aligns with your vision and purpose.
I wish you ease with technology as it continues to evolve at interstellar speeds. If change is inevitable, may it also be manageable, and may you delight in being a life-long learner.
May all your backups be current, your personal information secure, and your systems inviolate from the malignant intentions of the mean spirited and misguided.
May your digital devices complement your life without becoming your life.
May your manager be supportive without being intrusive. May your skills be wisely used and justly celebrated. And may you be fairly compensated for your contributions.
May your workplace relationships be cordial and collaborative. I wish you the gift of working with people you genuinely like and willingly respect; and of having an employer whose values stretch beyond the dollar.
May your personal relationships be filled with kindness and discovery, full of opportunities for growth and shared journey on which fond memories are built. I wish you visibility, and may you be a safe harbor for the authenticity of others.
May you maintain a sense of wonder for the daily miracles technology endows, and preserve a sense of caution for the horrors it can unleash.
I wish you ample time to unplug. Time that moves slowly because it is sheathed in silence. Time to turn down the static, close your computer, quiet the persistent phone, and venture outside into the Big Fresh. Sit by a stream. Marvel at the mountains. Hike without a GPS and get a little lost in the backcountry. Then stop and listen. The stillness is the message. May silence be your antidote for a world full of distractions and digital anxieties.
May you play games with your children that don’t require a screen.
And may you be in service to a cause greater than your own.
Over the years I have tried several times to remember the last Christmas Eve when my entire family was together. I try to recall what was said, what we wished for each other as we stood breaking bread together for the last time. But I cannot. The false promise of endless days diminished the importance of that moment.
So, kind reader, while I’m still here to say it, and you are still here to receive it, allow me again to express my thanks and gratitude to all of you who have participated in the endeavor that is IT Jungle.
You are appreciated.