I remember my fascination with Christmas lights as a girl child. In fact, I would situate my bed in such a way that if I left my door open at night, I could see the Christmas tree in the living room, two rooms away from my bedroom. Sometimes I’d even sleep on the sofa, just to daze at them. I always loved Christmas. My mom dressed me up and introduced me to the world of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker. My parents would take my brothers and I to see Christmas in the Oaks, a New Orleans tradition. We got new outfits for church and after church. On top of all of that, it had its perks, most especially because I was the child of two households, which means that I received double trips from Santa via my three parents. I loved the sights, the scents, the sounds…everything about Christmastime had me enamored.
Then I grew up and changed religions. Well, that’s not fair. Let me clarify. I graduated from college, became African-centered, stopped being a Christian and THEN decided that Christmas was an overrated gimmick that celebrated the birth of someone who was probably not born on that particular day and was a reason that everyone went broke come the first of the year for the extreme consumerism that took placed, all for the sake of spreading joy and good cheer, I mean celebrating little baby Jesus. (Yes, I know…that was both a mouthful and a super run-on.)
So what happened? Instead of hustling through airports, baggage claim and malls with millions of other Americans, I stayed at home wherever I lived on the East Coast. Meanwhile, the rest of my family gathered over gumbo and good times in New Orleans. This went on for a few years. Year #1 – I was glowing in my self-righteous excitement and not participating in the system. Year #2 – I avoided hanging around my friends’ families who took pity on me, because it made me sad. Year #3 – I was just plain ole depressed. I ba hum bugged my way through the entire holiday and sang Christmas carols to myself until the madness was over.
At some point, I gave up. I realized that there was nothing wrong with Santa. Besides overseeing countless of elves, Santa, to my knowledge, never did anything to anyone. I put the extremist views aside, and embraced the fact that I absolutely LOVE the holidays. Other than the fact that I still don’t buy into the hype of (nor the actual act) of spending ridiculous amounts of money on presents, especially on children who will be over them 5 minutes after they’re unwrapped, (it’s ok, maybe I’m cheaper than I thought), I go for the gusto when it comes to the celebration of good ole St. Nick. Yeah, Yeah, I know that Jesus is the reason for the Season and truth be told, little baby Jesus never did anything to me either. It was just the enslavers who used his name to rape, murder, enslave and colonize my people that I have beef with. But I digress.
This year, a couple of weeks after my return to the States from the Netherlands, I boarded a plane and came to Chicago to chill with my parents who decided to spend the holiday here with my younger brother and 3-year old niece. Other than the temperature wars that go down anytime I’m with my family (some, like myself, like it hot…and others, like them, like it cold. Go figure.), I feel blessed, to spend this time with these people, my people. Of course all families have their issues and mine is no exception. However, having moments like last night, when we took the 3-year old to see the lights at the zoo, was pretty much priceless. No amount of soapboxing or consciousness can compete with her and I skipping through sidewalks lined with light bulb tyrannosaurus rex’s.
Since I’ve been here, Mama has cooked gumbo. I’ve been playing Christmas in Hollis on repeat, with snippets of Charlie Brown’s Christmas Special intermittently. The 3-year old baked cookies with her best friend at her other grandparents’ house. I’ve watched the Nutcracker at least once. And I even put a few gifts under the tree.
This probably isn’t my most intellectual moment of them all but I write all of this to say, Happy Kwanzaa’s Eve/Festuvus/Hanukkah and all that Jazz. And lastly, a Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night.
Enjoy a few of my faves!