Ichabod's Kin
A place for politics, pop culture, and social issues

CHEER UP, ALREADY

          No, the Season is not just about Christmas: early America disliked it so much that they outlawed it: here in Massachusetts, stores and public offices remained open to staunch the flow of paganism—which is what they deemed Catholicism. More on that later.

          Truth be told, there are over two dozen religions, old and new, that celebrate this time of year, all for one reason: Light. After all, it’s a dark month. Until the Solstice, the REAL “light of the world,” when the longest night ends, and daylight extends till all of nature bursts to life again in the spring, but not before earliest humanity thought they would die a cold death.

          When you’re freezing your buns off, what’s not to like about that?

          So it truly is a “merry” time for Christians, a “happy” one for Jews and their Hanukkah, and on and on. No time or ink here to make a List of celebrators, let alone to check it twice. I once remarked in this space that it would help out the rest of us if Jews made up their minds how to spell theirs—Hanukah, Hanukkah, Chanukah, etc? Then a reader sent me the daunting info that there were more ways of spelling it than I ever dreamed. But safe to say, it has to do with Light.

          I once was invited by a Jewish family up north to see what they called a “Hanukkah Bush”—that otherwise looked very much like a Christmas Tree, only smaller. Later, in Atlanta, I set up a tiny such “Bush” on my editorial desk—till my Jewish Art editor said what the hell is that and vehemently advised me that there was no such thing. One shouldn’t scream at her editor, but unlike Joseph, I did not wish to put her away quietly, or at all.

          So I was at sea again regarding Hanukkah/Chanukah/whatever. Then Meg Greenfield, one-time columnist for Newsweek, admitted that for ages it was a minor Jewish celebration till Christmas got all big and Jews needed something to shut up their kids who kept asking why they couldn’t have a Christmas tree like all their friends. Hence the “Bush,” so-called. But lots of Jews don’t buy into that.

          Nonetheless, Hanukkah/whatever is about Light–you know, those candles that wouldn’t go out, as good a story as any this time of year, and more than worthy of note. But the other problem is that it moves all over the end of the calendar; were it just in one place that too would help us gentiles. For now it wanders all over and at times competes with Thanksgiving. It’s not just the Chinese that are notably inscrutable.

          Not till 1836 (60 years after Independence) was Christmas made an official holiday—and that was in Alabama of all places, where snow is hardly in abundance, not in Dickensian New England where sleigh bells ring to a maddening degree.

          But as boatloads of Catholics migrated to our shores they were enough in number to make their celebration stick, and the fight over Christmas abated; no knockout, they just won on points, i.e, social and cultural osmosis—till they felt entitled and insisted that anyone who didn’t celebrate it was waging “war” against their holiday. This of course is something they wouldn’t have thought, or cared, about were it not for Fox News, which likes nothing better in a month of Peace than to have a brawl over something.

          But this has died down too, with the departure of Gretchen Carlson the little beauty queen, who was Fox’s face for said War; she left because the moral and spiritual leader of that network kept trying to put his hand up her dress. So now that channel on your TV cares less about the Christmas War and more about Donald Trump as the Savior of the World. Soon your holiday Tree may be sporting orange lights.

          I don’t mind that early Christianity shifted its Birth celebration to December and took over the Roman Saturnalia which was the latter’s Big Light Party at that time. After all, Jesus wasn’t born that month and shepherds didn’t hang out on hilltops in rainy seasons.

          But I don’t care. This time of year is for magic, and mainly for kids. I don’t care either that Santa is now as important as the Christ Child, or that Rudolph is the anchor of a very secular story about an elfin benefactor from somewhere in the North Pole who brings not spiritual but very material gifts to big eyes and grasping hands.

          It’s a time literally of Lights! (on the Tree)…Camera! (to capture those kiddie moments)…and Action! (tear into them packages, kids!).

          I just want everybody to be happy. You say Merry Christmas to me, I say it to you. You say Kwanzaa, I do too. You say to-may-to, I won’t say to-mah-to.

          Just cheer up, already.


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One Response to “CHEER UP, ALREADY”

  1. John,

    I can’t remember what my sign in info was, but thank you for sending this. I feel enlightened!

    Love you,

    Char

    Sleepless in Seattle


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