It is Christmas Eve – for me at least because I was raised in a Catholic family. From my father’s side came the Polish traditions – Wigilia, the poor man’s dinner consisted of a late night family meal where only fish could be consumed, accompanied by the beet soup called Borscht with mushroom perogies. We would sing traditional songs at the piano and attend a Midnight Mass.
Then the my mother’s Ecuadorian traditions took over. We would return from Mass to open presents until two or three in the morning. Often the most bearded member of the family would play the surrogate Santa Clause and everyone would take turns accepting gifts from him and take pictures and so on.
Our house was the central HQ for the holiday season and so all the uncles and aunts and their growing legions of offspring would descend upon it. We could numbers in the dozens and the piles of wrapping paper could become quite formidable.
These traditions often came with some bemoaning as we opined about the gluttony and greed and consumerism, but also they maintained something else that was very important – the spirit of togetherness in a time of year that becomes quite cold and quiet and dark. It was a reminder that we all came from somewhere and that the things we believe, our perception of the world has direct roots to our upbringing. They also provided some sense of constancy in such a volatile reality and thus afforded us an anchor in the storm.
Years ago I studied Kaballah under the tutelage of a mystic named Gahl Sasson. One year, when I couldn’t make it home for Christmas, Gahl talked about a pattern that existed among all the great religions and traditions at this time of year – that is – that they all celebrated the Light in one form or another. I never forgot this teaching and was never quite so jaded about the holidays again. I Googled Gahl and sure enough he had a recent blog entry recapitulating what he had taught us in that ashram years ago. Rather than paraphrase I include a quote from his blog at CosmicNavigator here:
Xbox 360 owners rejoice – the next phase in the set-top entertainment paradigm is upon us. As I mentioned in earlier posts, Microsoft was able to forge an exclusive partnership with online DVD rental mogul Netflix that brings the catalog direct to your home entertainment system (with an existing Netflix membership) at no additional cost.
Today, the New Xbox Experience (NXE) goes live, and Netflix HD streaming is already available. Here is the official press release:
Movies Instantly Streamed From Netflix to the TV Debut on the Xbox 360
More Than 12,000 Movies and TV Episodes are Available to Watch Instantly At No Additional Cost to Current Netflix and Xbox LIVE Gold Members
LOS GATOS, Calif., Nov. 18 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ — Netflix, Inc. (Nasdaq: NFLX), the world’s largest online movie rental service, today announced that Netflix members can have thousands of movies and TV episodes instantly streamed to the TV via the Xbox 360 video game and entertainment system when the New Xbox Experience premieres nationwide tomorrow. Adding to a growing number of Netflix-ready devices, the Xbox 360 is the only game and entertainment console that lets users instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix to the TV. There is no additional monthly fee for Netflix members who are also Xbox LIVE Gold members.
Netflix members simply add movies and TV episodes from a growing library of more than 12,000 choices to their instant Queues at the Netflix Web site. Those choices are automatically displayed on the TV screen via the Xbox 360 and, once selected, will begin playing in as little as 30 seconds.
“This is an important and exciting moment for Netflix and Xbox,” said Netflix Chief Marketing Officer Leslie Kilgore. “We believe the New Xbox Experience — with thousands of choices available to be streamed instantly from Netflix as one of its key enhancements — offers consumers a great at-home entertainment option and provides terrific value as a holiday gift idea.”
Netflix also said it is taking the first step in instantly streaming movies and TV episodes in high definition with the introduction of approximately 300 HD choices that will play with standard definition audio via the Xbox 360. The company said it intends to increase the number of HD choices available and will eventually add multi-channel audio. Classic, adventure, musical, foreign and comedy movies now available to watch instantly in high definition include “La Vie en Rose,” “Flawless” and “Heroes.”
All Netflix members can rent from over 100,000 titles on DVD. They can instantly watch movies and TV episodes from a growing library of choices on their PCs and Intel-based Macintosh computers, as well as on their TVs via one of the Internet connected Netflix ready devices sold by Netflix partners.