Saturday, November 21, 2015

Holiday Ruminations For A Benighted World

It's that time of year again when millions of turkeys are losing their lives in order to fuel a feast of consumption here in the U.S., and retailers and manufacturers of gadgets, trinkets and toys (many of them for adults and many of them electronic) are using every enticement known to man in order to lure  adults with fattened wallets to financial slaughter at various Black Friday and pre-Holiday sales and movie theaters.  Only, there are not many adults with fattened wallets this season - and their numbers are rapidly diminishing.  (Maybe there's an economic "plague" among the "cattle.")

Me, I am again abstaining from spending money this season.  My reasons include the unresolved reasons of last year, and the knowledge that the owners of the present economic and political order would like to use my participation in that order in order to expand their robbery and oppression not only people of color here in the U.S., but citizens of poor nations abroad.  So this year end, as I did last year end, I am not buying anything for Christmas except food, unless a critical thing (like a refrigerator or water heater) breaks and I have to replace it.  (No "upgrades" either.)  And no movies or any other form of paid entertainment.  Whoever reads this can join me, if you'd like (and even spread the word, if you feel inspired).  Let your conscience be your guide.

To help guide your conscience, if you're open to guidance, I am also providing a link to some entertainment you can download for free.  Here is a complete audio dramatization of A Canticle for Leibowitz, a Roman Catholic science fiction novel written by Walter Miller, Jr., back in the 1950's and published in 1960.  It nicely and powerfully illustrates the role that original sin plays in the behavior of nations.  Its ending makes me think of these present days, when the governments and great and wealthy men of a number of nations are employing every weapon including outright lying to try to hold onto their endangered power and prestige.


Aimee said...

I admire your abstention, and slyly and obnoxiously wonder if you have children to disappoint. Myself, as usual, I am trying to walk a middle path - the turkey who lost his life to feed us next thursday was one we raised ourselves, and the rest of the food will come from the Gleaner's Pantry, an organization that rescues good quality food as it is being discarded by local grocery stores. Almost everything I serve will be either from the farm or from the GP, exceptions being coffee and butter and spices. As far as presents go, well, it's an uphill battle. In my family, my sister and I have tried all sorts of strategies to tone it down - from suggesting presents for children only, to "family" presents only, to donating to charities in lieu of presents, to Secret Santa type exchanges. Alas, none of them have worked, and we have had to accept that buying less crap means being willing to accept more and "better" gifts than we give, with all the attendant guilt and shame. I am willing to do this, but my husband (who comes from a culture where gift-giving is even more important than it is here) cannot, and so it has become a source of marital strife as well. It all kind of makes me hate Christmas. What I try to do every year is put emphasis inexperiences rather than things, like decorating the tree (oh - yes, we buy a tree, but we buy live trees ands then plant them. When we lived in the city and had no room to plant trees we made do with paper facsimiles) and making gingerbread houses.

I just had a total brain wave. Oh my gosh this is such a good idea! There are in my small town, as in most, I'm sure, a million christmas activities planned - tree lighting ceremonies, public caroling, concerts, card-making for kids at the library, stuff like that. I am going to make AN ADVENT CALENDAR OF EVENTS!!! Am I genius or what? I'll search the local papers and online event calendars, and I have no doubt I can find SOMETHING for almost every day between Dec 1st and Christmas day. Choirs visiting various churches. Craft Bazaars. Showings of Christmas movies at senior centers. I'll make an actual Advent calendar, with little paper doors that open, and behind each door will be that day's event! We won't have to go to all of them, but I bet the kids will LOVE opening the doors and seeing what we could go do.

When you add that to our usual Christmas activities - making our own wrapping paper with potato stamps, a christmas cookie decorating party - that will give us a ton of things to do that don't revolve around shopping. I'm so proud of myself right now.

TH in SoC said...

Hello Aimee, and thanks for your continued readership. I like your ideas for the holiday season. One of these days (when school is not so pressing), I'd like to write more about creating home-grown cultures. Have a good day!