Ok, well maybe hate is too strong a word. Let’s just say I haven’t always looked forward to the holidays anyway. Specifically the trilogy we call Thanksgiving, Christmas & New Years, (TCN) that are slapped together the last two months of the year. I am skeptical about several holidays anyway. Most seem to have double meanings, in that its partial religious and partial if not mostly marketing.
Look at Easter for instance. I grew up simultaneously thinking it was about the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ and at the same time for bunnies and egg hunting. The same can be said for Christmas. Don’t even get me started on that one. Thanksgiving can’t get over with without stores opening up in anticipation of Black Friday and loads of shoppers coming to spend a lot of grip!
Speaking of Thanksgiving; It has its own set of issues as it inaccurately tells of a relationship between pilgrims and Native Americans. They talk about Native Americans helping the Pilgrims, but they don’t tell of the massacre and land grab the Pilgrims put down on them in return. With the amount of turkeys being sacrificed on one day, it shows how much it’s commercialized too. ****Side Note: Will someone please explain what this whole mess of the president pardoning a turkey is about?
I tend to get into holidays like Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day, or something like these. I mean they are commercialized too in that they do have Memorial Day sales in department stores. But they tend to have less. Labor Day is pretty straight forward. It celebrates the workers of the nation. And what the heck, if one wants to enjoy some savings at JC Penny’s for their hard-earned dollars who can argue with that?
Martin Luther King Day is almost a joke! As much as I think we should have it for I truly believe MLK is the greatest American ever produced, the talk of dreaming and speeches is sickening. It’s more memorial and legend than it is substance. Take the good with the bad I guess. But we, (black folk who want to deify King as a messiah who could do no wrong – and white folk who wish to use the dream message while eliminating the more meatier pieces of his words that challenged American white supremacy and classism at its core therefore rendering King a toothless lion) have basterdized Kings legacy as far as I’m concerned. But I digress.
Valentines Day is a funny one to me. Flower prices soar to astronomical proportion leading up to February 14 as men scramble and come up off them dollars to buy those roses and chocolate. If you have a woman and she’s into that stuff, you can forget it! Come off that grip or cancel Xmas cause if she feels dissed and can’t brag to her friends about what you did, there won’t be any presents for you under her tree! I’m just saying. As my friend Jim Thornber once wrote me about this same point, “I know I know. But I got to do what I got to do!”
I’m not a total Scrooge about this mind you. But even as a little kid I had love/skepticism relationship when it comes to holidays. When I was a child and thought that Jesus was born on December 25th, I honestly didn’t care as much about presents. I didn’t turn down any either. But I did make a point of saying, “Happy Birthday Jesus!” when I woke up that morning before running for the living room. As I recall I think I just thought us kids had the benefit of getting some presents on the slide. I didn’t believe in Santa Clause too long cause I couldn’t figure how dude could hit all the houses all around the world in one night. Just couldn’t wrap my brain around that. All possible illusions were put to rest when I heard my mother and then step father sneaking in the crib at 3:30 in the morning setting up my race track. I wasn’t disappointed at all. More so relieved that I wasn’t crazy.
Back in the day, another reason why I grappled with some of our holidays, (specifically the TCN trilogy) is because these holidays interrupted my otherwise action packed distractions layered lifestyle of mine. (When I used to work 2-3 jobs at a time as a much younger man) Most of my adult life I have struggled at times with depression, anxiety and stress. Back then I worked hard and I worked a lot. Therefore I was able to busy myself meandering with the important and the mundane. If it wasn’t one thing to do it was another. I’m still busy now but with a better plan. The distractions are no different though. Going from one side of town to another working or head to the coffee shop to wind down or jot some thoughts or view Delonte West free-styling in a KFC drive-through about buying $50 worth of chicken after a weed burn can keep one’s mind off his troubles.
I remember one year-long ago. I was driving on a Thanksgiving afternoon to pick something up from Walgreens. As I drove down the street I noticed how everything in the world has seemed to stop. Here it was broad daylight in the middle of a metropolitan city, during the week no less, and there were hardly any cars on the street. My neighborhood looked like a ghost town. Subconsciously I noticed the trees too. There were no leaves. Only traces of dead ones laying on the streets and along the curbs. Nothing was growing outside. Nature seemed to be hibernating and the chill of the air cause me to cover myself so that the cold couldn’t attack me as it was the rest of nature. That’s when it hit me. “Damn!”, I thought. These are the thoughts that flowed through my mind as I assessed the situation.
I have no place to go. No place to hide.
I knew instinctively that I was not in a good place. I felt lonely, and empty. I had no distractions to keep me busy and occupied. I never even realized how much I was hurting or missing. But here it was face to face now.
Whatever you really feel, wherever you really are, whatever state you are in for real, is always revealed during this time of year. It’s unavoidable.
So there I was. I knew it. Nothing I could do about it either. And Monday couldn’t get here fast enough.
For the most part nowadays I tend to look at holidays as an opportunity for me to rest. To take a load off and maybe sleep in a bit. I do see redeeming qualities with some of these holidays as they do give us time to reflect from busy lives and have a reason to stop, look, and hopefully listen to others. To realize that family is important and that there is a season of giving. Traditions can be a good thing when looked at properly. And these holiday traditions tend to give those fortunate opportunity to take stock of the many present blessings. I too will do some holiday shopping. And since I have ‘things’ in perspective I am free to give and be a blessing to loved ones without tripping off the commercialized contradictions.
But for the lonely, the depressed, the homeless, the destitute, this holiday season will once again be a not so gentle reminder of the bold and true reality of their lives. Let’s remember them too! As I know full and well, it can easily be us!