Saturday, December 24, 2016

Rituals and Holidays and Christmas

CHRISTMAS, celebrating the birth of the Christian God. Thanksgiving day, giving thanks for the blessing of harvest? Do we point the cursor at religious feasts? Spanish explorer in San Elizario, Texas in 1598 or in Saint Augustine, Florida in 1565, or the Virginia Colony or the Berkeley Hundred in Charles City County, Virginia in 1619? The New England Calvinist Thanksgiving? Or do we gather and mourn this day to restoke the fires of anger in our chest, memory of that tragic day in 1637 in Mystic, Connecticut, the blood of the 700 Pequot humanity?

          Or what is Saint Patrick's Day, or what the Irish call, “Lá Fhéile Pádraig”? The death date of the most commonly-recognized patron saint of Ireland, Saint Patrick—who brought forth Christianity in the land? Or do we also pause and light a candle to those who perished from the creeks to the pulpit in the name of religion? Or what about Christmas Day? An exalting convergence central to the Christian liturgical year? Mistletoes and Santa Claus? Or should I turn back the pages of time that it was the Christian cross that subjugated my people and pummeled their beautiful, wealthy earth to submission?
          Or is Thanksgiving simply an Earth Fare turkey baked with Food Lion stuffings, Saint Patrick's Day is a keg of Guinness, Christmas is an ornamented tree circled by colorful gifts recycled from Goodwill, flea market, and Dollar Tree purchases? Maybe. For whatever it is, and whatever historical, political, or commercial backstory or front-story that we choose to interject with these holidays, these are simply moments of pause and ease. Moments of family, friends, community.

          So let us cease to crowd our template of dogmatic hatred with more hatred. Holidays will never be “just another day,” because “just another day” is a tedious grind in the workplace, lumbering traffic of harassed souls in the street, necks and wrists bloodied by credit card gallows, and unmitigated smoke of war in the prairie of our discontent. There must be a day or days when we just have to easy up on the psychoanalytical bombast or sociopolitical bravado of knowing too much and too deeply, lest our spirit starts to slip slide away to a swamp of numbed, synthetic existence.
          Rest the redundant bickerings with mom or dad, set up the chess set for bro and cousin, start the grill with compadre and comadre while Bee Gees music plays along, hand over a slice of appleberry cake to the new neighbor, share a PBR or Guinness with whoever happens to be without a family around that time and talk about Kobe or LeBron or Pacquiao or Kim Kardashian, nothing heavy.

          Somewhere in an island-galaxy so far away, I was born in and around a wounded humanity that bury their dead in thousands after almost 6 months of calamities, and they weep and weep days and nights—enough for tears to nourish the earth again for springtime harvest and summertime revelry. On Christmas season, they pause and take it easy for more than 30 days—and just live, just live like what life is all about. Let life and love happen while these gifts are still beating from within and without. There are no Thanksgiving or Saint Patrick's Day where I came from. But there are people, diverse people from 7,107 islands who speak 19 languages and worship a dozen or more different gods—who gather when a holiday ensues and just, well, they just gather. It's all about a holiday of hearts that talk and speak with a singular language. Maybe that language speaks about love, sumptuous turkey, or queso de bola, or best brew ever. Whatever it is, it's all good.
          MERRY CHRISTMAS to one and all!

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