A Real American Holiday

A First-Class Holiday

Melonyce Mc Afee in Slate.com has an affectionate memoir about Kwanzaa past.

Two things I like about Kwanzaa– it starts on December 26, perfect for procrastinators, and you don’t have to buy a lot of presents. It’s also made in America.

But what’s more American than tweaking an institution to suit your needs? Some folks who don’t go to church pine for more than the dancing black Santa from Wal-Mart. Plus, Kwanzaa and Christmas are not mutually exclusive—’tis the season of peaceful co-existence. A rule of Kwanzaa states that one “should not mix the Kwanzaa holiday or its symbols, values and practice with any other culture.” But Kwanzaa starts the day after Christmas, so until Dec. 26, you can drink eggnog out of a gourd shell.

Melonyce may have Unitarian tendencies.

There’s a rainbow of religious holidays this month, all observed in America. From Hanukkah, at the start of December, to Watch Night on the 31st. Gathering in the dark time to celebrate the light began before history.

Yule has come and gone, and I’m trying to not peek at the Almanac. The root meaning of the word ‘solstice’ is ‘pause’. You don’t want to look at the times for sunrise and sunset if you are craving the light. The sun actually rises a minute later and the daylight is increasing only by seconds.

It is a good time to pause, if you have opted out of the mall madness. I’m gonna buy some gifts next week, just in time for Boxing Day.

Adele M. Stan at Alter.net says that giving up Christmas saved her sanity. She opted instead for a silent night where all is calm…

Now, I’m not anti-Christmas. I love the decorations, the special foods, and some of the seasonal music. I’m not religious in the traditional sense, but Christmas Eve often finds me in church, hearing friends sing in choirs, or play liturgical music. I love the Christmas story: the notion of the redemption of the world through the birth of a child is breathtakingly beautiful. And so I come back to that.

My solitude rarely lasts a whole day: it lasts just as long as I need it to. Friends drop by on their way home from their Christmas feasts. Or I decide to do something non-Christmas-y for a few hours, as I will this year, joining a Jewish friend for Chinese food and a movie with his little boy.

I got out to Central Congregational Church last weekend for a wonderful concert. At the end they turned off the lights and we saw the church by candlelight– which was how past generations saw the world.

Past generations had many ways of celebrating Christmas, from sitting on a hard pew listening to hellfire, to a twelve-day feast.

We can pick and choose, create our own rituals, start new traditions– they were all new once, and take a pause in the dark of the year to light a candle.

4 thoughts on “A Real American Holiday

  1. Kwanzaa was invented by an individual named Ron Karenga who ran a group called US(for “United Slaves”)back in the 60’s and 70’s.
    US was a rival to the Black Panthers in the California college system and the FBI used this rivalry to back US as part of COIBTELPRO.
    On one occasion US murdered two Panthers,one named Alprentice Carter on a college campus with the blessing of the FBI.
    Ron Karenga is a dyed in the wool bigot who hates White people and is a professor in the California state college system.
    I’ve seen him interviewed and read some of his statements-he’s a mirror image of David Duke.
    Most Black people I know through association as friends or family don’t pay two minutes’ attention to Kwanzaa.
    Considering the source of the “holiday”I can’t understand how you constantly can turn a blind eye to nonwhite racists-you give them a pass almost automatically.
    Do you have some guilt complex about being White?That is just plain stupid if you do.No one picks their racial background.
    Guilt is for people who’ve done something bad to someone else,whether collectively or individually.I can’t imagine you ever caused harm to someone over race.If you think you got an unfair advantage,it’s not your fault-it’s just the way things were.They aren’t now,thankfully.
    I don’t expect you to agree with me,but since unlike “klaus’ you always want sources when I allege something,I’d just suggest you look up Mr.Karenga.
    My grandaughter ,who is half Black,will certainly not be encouraged to celebrate a holiday invented by a hatemonger.

    1. Wouldn’t want to disappoint you.I just think emphasizing differences isn’t a very positive thing.
      There are only two kinds of people-those who are ok and those who aren’t.
      Race predetermines nothing in terms of character.

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