FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

A Hell of a Time

A couple of years ago I wrote a piece that CounterPunch was gracious enough to publish, Death to Santa, that contained more than a little bilious ranting about the annual shop til you drop and droop, over spending, belly extending feeding  frenzy some folks like to call  ”Christmas “.  A lot of people liked it and emailed me as much, though some folks didn’t, expressing their distress that I had somehow sullied that one time of the year, (that one time, mind you) that seems to offer people an opportunity to dig deep and bring forth what’s left of their humanity and let their little light shine, if I may indulge a bit of Christian parlance.

One long time friend familiar with things I’ve written over the years remarked to me that she liked it better when I wrote from the heart rather than from the spleen. “Can’t I do both?” I asked. “I don’t know, can you?“ she replied. I’ve had a couple of years to ponder her question and am happy to report that the answer is, of course, sure I can. In fact, I think I can do both simultaneously. A case in point.

As a kid I learned about Christmas mostly from women ( my mother and aunt among them) many of them aged, who taught Sunday School once a week in the basement of a small, cut limestone Methodist Church situated in a  barely-even-a-little- town nestled among the bluffs of rural southeastern Minnesota. They taught me songs like This Little Light of Mine, Jesus Loves the Little Children and Silent Night, among others. They taught me that Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, that the meek shall inherit the earth someday, that the merciful are blessed, as are the peacemakers, who shall be called children of God. They taught from the heart and mine grew as a result, maybe even three sizes larger, though I don’t remember any of them ever mentioning the Grinch.

And while the broader trappings and nonsensical demands of adhering to the Christian faith would ultimately drive me from regular attendance at any church, or from any self identification as a Christian in any establishment sense, I never forgot those women or the things they taught me, or the section of the Bible they mostly taught from.  To this very day my favorite scene from Bible I had as a kid is the one of Jesus driving the money changers from the Temple with a whip in his raised right hand. I mean, what self respecting leftist wouldn’t like to whip a banker or two, for Christ’s sake?

But I don’t see any of the teachings of my youth in the contemporary American celebration of the birth of Christ.  I see a handful of nativity scenes lit up on lawns here and there. I hear Silent Night blaring at maximum volume over speakers installed on down town light poles near the shopping area. I read the occasional op-ed written by the local United Church of Christ Pastor making her best effort to remind people of the term “Prince of Peace”.  But I don’t see a whole lot of that at Christmas.

I see people throwing punches at Walmart. I read about the statistics of how the suicidal ideation rates spike over the holidays. I don’t see many peacemakers out there either. I see arms manufacturers, weapons of death makers, and the politicians who campaign with pledges to keep those death machine making jobs in their state.   I don’t see much in the way of mercy anywhere either,  I see the absence of mercy. And I sure as hell don’t see anybody whipping bankers. I see bankers whipping us.

So when I write that Santa Claus must die I’m not trying to ruin Christmas, I’m trying to save it. I feel like it owe it to those mostly grey haired old women, most of them now deceased, who took the time to patiently teach rowdy little kids, in the basement of that little,  cut limestone Methodist church, that the heart matters. It really does.

So here’s one from mostly the heart, with just the right amount of spleen thrown in for spice. Merry Christmas, everyone. Have your selves a hell of a time.

Steve Carlson is a semi-retired community/union/political organizer, social worker, educator, and the former Wisconsin state volunteer coordinator for Progressive Democrats of America. He can be reached at carlsonbbv@gmail.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

January 24, 2019
David Rosen
Roe: 47 Years and Counting
Joseph Essertier
Warmongering Over Warmbier: US Hypocrisy and a Double Standard on North Korea
Glenn Sacks
L.A. Teachers Strike Dispatch #9: What We Won
M. G. Piety
An Essay on Grief
Karen J. Greenberg
Creating a Global Lost Generation
Jesse Jackson
America Has Lost Its Common Sense
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv
Rebranding Canada’s Solitary Confinement Policy Doesn’t Change What It Is
Ramzy Baroud
False ‘Victories’: Is the PA Using the ‘State of Palestine’ to Remain in Power?
Binoy Kampmark
Eyeing the White House: the Democratic Field
Russell Mokhiber
Single Payer Gold Standard HR 676 Rest in Peace
David Swanson
The World Will End in Fire
David Macaray
Celebrity Bullshit
Dean Baker
How Worried Should We be If China’s Growth Rate Slows to 6.4%?
Wim Laven
What Makes America Great?
January 23, 2019
Paul Street
Time for the U.S. Yellow Vests
Charles McKelvey
Popular Democracy in Cuba
Kenn Orphan
The Smile of Class Privilege
Leonard Peltier
The History Behind Nate Phillips’ Song
Kenneth Surin
Stalled Brexit Goings On
Jeff Cohen
The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?
Cira Pascual Marquina
Chavez and the Continent of Politics: a Conversation with Chris Gilbert
George Ochenski
Turning Federal Lands Over to the States and Other Rightwing Fantasies
George Wuerthner
Forest Service Ignores Science to Justify Logging
Raouf Halaby
In the Fray: Responses to Covington Catholic High
Kim C. Domenico
No Saviors But Ourselves; No Disobedience Without Deeper Loyalty
Ted Rall
Jury Trial? You Have No Right!
Michael Doliner
The Pros and Cons of Near Term Human Extinction
Lee Ballinger
Musical Unity
Elliot Sperber
The Ark Builders
January 22, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
On the Brink of Brexit: the Only Thing Most People Outside Westminster Know About Brexit is That It’s a Mess
Raouf Halaby
The Little Brett Kavanaughs from Covington Catholic High
Dean Baker
The Trump Tax Cut is Even Worse Than They Say
Stanley L. Cohen
The Brazen Detention of Marzieh Hashemi, America’s Newest Political Prisoner
Karl Grossman
Darth Trump: From Space Force to Star Wars
Glenn Sacks
Teachers Strike Dispatch #8: New Independent Study Confirms LAUSD Has the Money to Meet UTLA’s Demands
Haydar Khan
The Double Bind of Human Senescence
Alvaro Huerta
Mr. President, We Don’t Need Your Stinking Wall
Howard Lisnoff
Another Slugger from Louisville: Muhammad Ali
Nicole Patrice Hill – Kollibri terre Sonnenblume
The Scarlet “I”: Climate Change, “Invasive” Plants and Our Culture of Domination
Jonah Raskin
Disposable Man Gets His Balls Back
Thomas Knapp
Now More Than Ever, It’s Clear the FBI Must Go
January 21, 2019
W. T. Whitney
New US Economic Attack Against Cuba, Long Threatened, May Hit Soon
Jérôme Duval
Macronist Repression Against the People in Yellow Vests
Dean Baker
The Next Recession: What It Could Look Like
Eric Mann
All Hail the Revolutionary King: Martin Luther King and the Black Revolutionary Tradition
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail